Now what?

People have been asking me now what?

I’ve been living the last twenty-one days on a rigid schedule. Today marks my LAST day of the Beachbody Ultimate Reset (BUR) program.

As a non-type A personality, this was challenging but FUN! I learned a lot about my body, my thinking and addiction with food, and the impact of food on my life.

There are three phases to this program, each lasting a week. I will write a blog about each phase and my experience. This post will be about my final thoughts and feelings.

Yes, I lost weight. Yes, I lost inches. Yes, my clothes fit better but that’s not all. People say that I am glowing. There were some tough days but at the end, I feel great. I’m not taking any more naps. My energy has soared to incredible levels but I feel like I’ve plateaued now to the point where I’m functional at 8am without any caffeine until 11pm without being cranky.

Beachbody Coaches encourages participants who completed the program to go “backwards” on the program after the end. Many people have negative reactions to eating meat, dairy, wheat again if they quickly add it to their diet. BUR is also a great way to identify triggers to your body– stomach pains, headaches, tiredness, etc.

I plan to follow this advice. I will continue to eat vegan meals for a week or so, while slowly adding different food into my diet. I will start with almond milk, almond/peanut/PB2 butter, and adding a few fruit that are higher on the GI list. I will watch how my body reacts to certain things so I can avoid any future stomach pains (which I got often before doing BUR). I miss my daily Shakeology very much so I look forward to having that every morning!

I was never a big fan of steak, tri tip, heavy red meat. However, I do (or perhaps did) enjoy cheese hotdogs, hamburgers, pork, etc. I learned how dangerous sodium nitrite can be to your body. These are found in packaged meat such as bacon, pepperoni, sandwich meat, hotdogs, sausage, etc. I aim to not eat these meat, unless they are from grass-fed farmers (local restaurants committed to sustainability). I also aim to not eat meat any more than once a week, if possible. Through BUR, I learned a lot about getting protein from other sources such as legumes and certain vegetables. Chicken and most fish are still considered safe for human consumption.

I learned a lot of new cooking techniques. Many of you know the motto in my house, “Greg cooks, Megan cleans.” This was NOT the motto for the past 21 days and I was mostly okay with that! I found cooking to be relaxing. It gave me a sense of ownership over what I was putting in my body. There were a few times where I REALLY did not want to cook so I learned about the benefits of PREPPING in advance and cooking my food a day or two in advance. I hope to continue some of these practices so I’ll be an expert when we have little ones running around our home. :)

I highly recommend you try BUR if you are struggling with your health, eating the right food for yourself, and have body aches that might be caused by food. This gives you an opportunity to really clean out your body and start fresh.

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Go Away Debt: Part 2

This will be a series of blog posts about how we plan to pay off our debt. This part will give a background of what debt we have. I write this in hopes to have YOU, my readers, hold us accountable as we grow in our marriage and prepare our lives for our future.

Greg and I went to university out of state– him in Ohio (from Pennsylvania) and me in New York (from California). We both went to 4-year private institutes. I received two scholarships that paid for all of my tuition. I also was an Resident Assistant for three years and worked a part time job for all four years. This helped pay for my housing and meal plan. On the other hand, Greg received a couple of small scholarship and his parents agreed to co-sign for loans to pay for college. His parents contributed a little bit, along with some scholarships, and got loans to pay for the rest.

When Greg and I went to grad school, we both worked 20-30 hours assistantships that paid for our tuition, housing and a meal plan along with a $8k stipend. Our stipend went to buying ridiculously expensive books, school supplies, professional organization membership fees, conference fees, buying professional clothes, etc. Of course, being in graduate school, some of our money went to alcohol and a little bit of traveling on the side. Greg did a study tour in United Kingdom and paid for that with cash. I wasn’t able to save any money and Greg saved some of his money for my engagement ring. I took out a student loan for one year in grad school to pay for my job search (site visit, interviews, suits, etc) and my study tour class to New Zealand and Australia.

Greg and I also both bought new cars the summer we graduated with our Master degree. We were in a long distance relationship at this time and could not consider carpooling or sharing cars. Both of our cars were falling apart and the repairs were more than the value of the cars. I realize we both do not need to buy new cars but very viable options were available. Greg purchased a brand new Hyundai Elantra for a very good price. I bought a used 2 year old car from a dealership after hours and hours of negotiation. Naturally, we both took out loans for our cars.

So, we have a total of four loans at this moment. We are fortunate enough to not have any credit card loans or mortgage.

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New Year Resolutions

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Happy New Year!

I’ve never been one to create New Year Resolutions. I never stick to them. It’s in my blood, seriously, my Myers Briggs type indicate that I am not good at sticking with long-term goals. This is anti-climatic in everything I do– work, life, school, etc. I’m not saying I don’t have any goals or not get anything accomplished. But in order for me to meet my goals and expectations, I need to create mini-goals. These mini-goals help me take baby steps and prolong my motivation for the bigger picture.

My big picture for 2013 is RESULT. This word will serve as my #oneword, as an over-arching theme to help me stay focused all year long. With that being said, I have a few mini-goals this year to get me results in 2013.

1. I want to run a half marathon as a result of my training. I recently started running (about 3 months ago). I am learning proper running form and trying different tips to improve my pace and distance. However, my mini goals are to run at least 3x a week. I would like to run at least 35 miles this month, increasing by 5 miles every month (without injury or sickness).

2. I want to have at least 6 months of expenses saved up. My husband and I are in our mid 20′s with a few debt and a small savings account. I really want to get ourselves into a comfortable place financially before we consider a home or having children. Specific goals about money will be covered in my Go Away Debt series, which will result with a bigger savings account.

3. I want to read more and update my blog more often. I purchased a nook in 2011 and only started using it more this past year. While I didn’t count how many books I read, I believe I read about 15 books in 2012. I would like to continue this habit. I also started this blog to keep people updated about my wedding, which has since passed. I want my blog to indicate a growth in quality and quantity of blog posts. As a result of this action, this blog should serve as a journal of all the things Greg and I accomplished together but also help me become a better writer.

4. I want to grow my professional network. This past year I spent a good amount trying new things and planning events. However, I really lacked in developing working relationships with my colleagues. I want to spend some lunch meals with colleagues, supporting them in their efforts in their positions, and getting to know them professionally and personally. I result to spending some time with colleagues at least twice a month outside of work.

5. I want to be a stronger wife. Being newlywed, Greg and I are still in our honeymoon phase, enjoying each other, gaining better understanding of our good and bad habits, etc. I know I am not the perfect or the best wife, regardless of what Greg says. There’ve been times when I yell at Greg for no reasons because I’m stressed out or I’m looking for someone to blame. I want to become more supportive, kinder, and more positive with my husband to result into a stronger and happier everlasting marriage.

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Go Away Debt: Part 1

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This will be a series of blog posts about how my husband and I plan to pay off our debt. This part will give a background in how we started this process. I write this in hopes to have YOU, my readers, hold us accountable as we grow in our marriage and prepare our lives for our future.

What 26 & 27 year old college graduate (each of us twice) doesn’t have debt? Debt can be from excessive spending or buying something beyond your original means. Our debt is from buying things beyond our means. We chose to go to universities that cost us more than what we could afford to pay upfront. In the USA, many people can’t afford university on their income or even their parents’ income(s) if they have any or are willing to share. This all brings us to the beauty of loans. Loans can help you obtain something that will hopefully bring you to a better place– education, a home, a car, a business, etc. However, I believe we have way too many loans for our lifestyle. These loans are inhibiting us from saving more money to prepare for our future. So, my big goal is to pay off our loans to increase our savings account and give us more flexibility in our monthly budget.

There are a few steps I believe that need to be done in order to eliminate our debt. These steps will help me reach one of my 2013 goals in becoming more financially stable.

1. Recognize that we got ourselves into debt. This is the first step we need in order to be committed to paying off our debt.
2. Outline what debt we have, how much we owe, interest rate, and the deadline to pay off our debt.
3. Develop a budget that allows us to live within our means but also pay off our debt, quicker than just the minimum.
4. Execute the budget and review frequently.

We made the choice to get loans in order to purchase things out of our means. In the next Go Away Debt post, I will outline the debts we have and why we have them.

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Traditions

Every family has their own traditions whether or not it has a meaning. Growing up, my traditions consisted of just my mother and my older sister. We stayed home and cooked paella and tortilla de patatas and called my grandparents in the Philippines late at night. We would check out Christmas in the Park in downtown to get into the spirit. We go to the movies on Christmas Day. Once in a blue moon, we would go up to San Francisco to celebrate with extended family.

My step-dad joined our family in my early teens and our traditions adjusted a little bit. Our family grew and we shared special days with grandparents and cousins. We would drive up to the Santa Cruz Mountains to chop down our Christmas tree. My step-dad made apple and pumpkin pies for our dinner table. Football was turned on the TV and played all day long. We open one gift on Christmas eve. Sometimes we would travel to the old small mining town where his family originated from. We have flowing Sangria (when staying home of course). Really, the last part is my mother’s family tradition but my sister and I were too young to drink when she re-married. So we practice that tradition now, haha.

Now I’m at another crossroad in my life where I learn about new and different traditions. My husband’s mother is from Italy and his dad is from a Pittsburgh-bred family.

They go to Penn Mac to buy meat and cheese from an Italian family. They have 7 Fishes (Italian dish, even though we only had three lol) for Christmas Eve dinner. For Christmas Dinner, they have ham and ravioli. They also head over to Moio’s Bakery for some Italian pastry for Christmas dessert. They don’t put presents under the Christmas tree until Christmas Eve or the morning of Christmas (when Santa comes even though there’s no one under the age of 25 in the house LOL). They go to Downtown Pittsburgh to check out Christmas Around the World (statues of Santa Claus from different parts of the world and how they celebrate the holidays).

None the less I’m having fun!! I look forward to learning more about their traditions and eventually making my own when we have children. What are some of your favorite traditions? Did you or will you continue any of these traditions with your future children?

May your Christmas be bright and merry. Have a little bit of whiskey in your egg nog to help you stay calm with crazy family members. :)

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How to get into the Christmas Spirit

1.) Get a Christmas tree. Preferably from a local store or organization to support the local economy and small businesses. Decorate the tree to your heart’s desire. We bought generic ornaments from Target last year but over the last two Christmases we’ve been collecting ornaments from family and our travels.
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2.) Make Gingerbread Snaps. These came from a bag and they were very snappy. Decorate them with icing. It adds flavor and makes the cookies look festive!! If you want, you can make them from scratch.
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3.) Learn how to make homemade chai to stay warm in your home. My longtime college friend taught me how to make chai a few weeks ago. I’ll post instructions soon!! My partner and I are addicted to them now and make it 1-2x a week!
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4.) Join in your friend’s first Gingerbread House making experience!! You can buy a kit from Target, Walmart or Walgreens for less than $10 or you can do what I did. Use graham crackers and make homemade royal icing! It was so easy and so much fun!! I was the only one who has made a gingerbread house from scratch so it was fun teaching others what to do. Three of us joined together and made this gorgeous two story house with a chimney for Santa to enter! ;-)
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These are just a few activities I took part of this year. There are many more ways to boost your Winter Holiday spirits. What do you do? :-)

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DIY Snow Candle

You know how you have some family members who have just about everything they have or want. It’s so difficult to come up with a gift to buy them that is sentimental or meaningful. This year I decided to make a gift instead of buying a standard one. I got this idea off Pinterest and decided to make a post with step-by-step details.

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I made two “Snow Candles” and wrapped them up as a gift. This project only took less than 20 minutes to make (including dry time and wrapping time).

Supplies needed:
Plain mono-colored candle(s)
Epsom salt
Mod Podge
Paint brush
Wrap bag (not essential)
Ribbon (not essential)

Step 1:
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Cover your craft table so you don’t get salt or glue everywhere. I cut up a large garbage bag (thanks mother-in-law for the idea!) and covered up the kitchen table. Make sure you have all your supplies.

Step 2:
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Paint a thin layer of mod podge all around the candle.. I used the wick to help me tilt the candle over to the bottom edge as I turned the candle.

Step 3:
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Roll the freshly coated candle into the plate filled with epsom salt. I placed my fingers on the side of the candles as I rolled it in the plate to avoid touching the glue or epsom salt. Be sure to shake the plate every once in a while to level out the salt so it is evenly spread across your candle.

Step 4:
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Allow 5-10 minutes for the mod podge to dry so the epsom salt can stick on the candle better.

Step 5 (optional):
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Feel free to wrap up your candles. I did since it was a gift. I bought wrap bags from Michaels and ribbons. Look how pretty they are next to the garland mantle!

Hope you enjoyed these instructions! Enjoy your holidays! Stay warm where ever you are. :)

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Wedding Wednesday- Week 3

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3. The Proposal: How it happened, how long you were engaged for? was it a total surprise? pictures of that.. etc

Whee!! The most popular story of our relationship (other than our honeymoon). Details can be found on our proposal page. I suspected that he would be proposing that weekend even though we talked about getting engaged the following summer.

We were engaged for a little over 18 months. When we first decided on our wedding date, we felt this was ample time for us to get out of our long distance relationship and find stable jobs. Greg relocated to St Louis right before our 1 year engagement anniversary. Once Greg moved in, I was ready to get married.

I am SO in love with my rings. It is absolutely beautiful. Greg picked great (with help from his family! thanks!)

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Honeymoon Trip!

I can’t believe I put this off for so long. Our honeymoon was blissful. It was SO nice to actually turn off my phone and just RELAX. Wedding planning and work were both making me very stressed out. This honeymoon came at the most perfect time. Thank you In-Laws for the best honeymoon anyone could ever get!

The hubs and I flew from St Louis to Pittsburgh for a wedding reception with Greg’s side then to Seattle for two days then jumped onto a roundtrip cruise to Alaska. Our stops consisted of a cruise through Tracy Arms Fjord to Skagway then Juneau then Ketchikan to Victoria BC Canada.

Pittsburgh PA with my parents and sister
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Some family and friends on the Incline in Pittsburgh
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On top of the Seattle Space Needle on a beautiful day!
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With our Italian Captain of the Ship!
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We saw so many wild animals including a whale!
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Checking out the massive glacier in Tracy Arms Fjord from our suite patio!
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Went hiking on the Chillikoot Trail in Skagway Alaska
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Then we floated down a river after the hike. Absolutely breathtaking
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The husband’s wedding gift to me! A helicopter tour of Juneau and to a glacier
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On top of Mendenhall Glacier. We saw a 200+ feet tall waterfall and drank fresh glacier water!
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Fresh King Alaskan Crab meat in Ketchikan Alaska! So delicious!
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We ended the cruise with an evening walk through Victoria, British Columbia Canada. This is our cruise in the background.
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5 Months

Yesterday was our 5 month anniversary. Hard to believe this much time has lapsed since our dream wedding. While no marriage is perfect, I am beyond thrilled with our marriage. With both of us working in Higher Education, I usually categorize our times by semester. This semester by far has been intense.

I feel much more confident in my position– both at work and in my marriage.

I am starting to take the time to remember to recognize the little things– when a co-worker volunteers for a project I organized or when my husband cleans up the apartment when I am gone for the weekend.

My communication skills are improving– when I give instructions to my staff or when I share my feelings with my husband.

I try to sneak in a little bit of personal time– while doing a haunted corn maze trip with my staff or taking Greg on his first float trip.

I look forward to growing more as a professional and as a wife. Thank you babe for an amazing Fall semester thus far.

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