Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Our Honeymoon - Cozumel, Mexico

It's about darn time I get on here and write about our amazing trip to Mexico!  It's hard to believe that we have been back for almost two weeks and I have yet to get back on track as far as sleep, eats, and workouts.  It didn't help that I came back to a week full of 12 hour overnight shifts… Oh well.

Even though we got married in October, we decided to wait off on our honeymoon.  We knew we wanted to go somewhere warm and with a beach.  Winters get so long and dreadful in Wisconsin, so we were aiming for January, but it got pushed back to February.  But, that's okay!  We flew out on Terry's birthday when the "feel like" temperature was -34 degrees.  Brrr.  Mexico welcomed us with a beautiful 85 degrees.

This was the view from our room.  Simply gorgeous!  We were on the sixth floor, so perfect enough to always leave our balcony doors open to enjoy the breeze and view.  We fell asleep each night and woke up each morning to the sound of the waves crashing on the beach.  Heaven!

Our main goal for the entire trip was to just RELAX.  We're not big into sight-seeing and being adventurous every single day of vacation.  When I get home from a week long vacation, I don't want to feel as though I need another week off from work to recuperate.  We arrived at our resort around 3:00PM (Cozumel happens to be in the same time zone as Wisconsin, so we didn't have to deal with any time adjustments) and changed right away.  We grabbed lunch and a margarita.

All of the drinks were delicious!  We fell in love with the margaritas, daiquiris, mimosas and melon drinks!

Our first day consisted of beach lounging, sipping on drinks, and swimming in the ocean!

We were pretty exhausted from the early flight and the excitement of finally being in Mexico, that we fell asleep right after the sun went down around 6:30PM.  Yes, I know, we're losers.  But we woke up the next morning ready to explore!

We took a taxi to the pier and rode a ferry over to the mainland to visit Fifth Avenue in Playa del Carmen.

Fifth Avenue is a mile plus long strip of stores, restaurants, bars, and markets.

We walked around, shopped, and made pit stops for drinks!

It was so much fun!  We also had the opportunity to take a tour of another all-inclusive resort that we almost booked for our trip.  It was really cool to see the resort, but I'm so glad we chose the Melia in Cozumel over everything else.

We got back to our resort around dinner time and relaxed after all of the walking!

The next two days were devoted to taking it easy.  We stayed at the resort both days and alternated between the beach, the pool, and our balcony.

On Sunday night, we walked on the beach to the pier during the sunset.

In case you were wondering; yes, the sunsets were this beautiful every.single.night.  I couldn't believe it!

On Monday, we decided to spend the day being a little more adventurous.  We rented a Jeep for the day!

We had the entire day to cruise around town and do whatever we wanted!

First stop, the Mayan Ruins!

We decided to do a self-tour instead of going on one and it was nice to walk around at our own pace and check everything out.

However, we did learn that Cozumel is known as the "Island of Fertility".  Apparently people used to get married on the mainland and then take a boat over to Cozumel and come back a year later with a baby.  Hmmm… Interesting thing to learn while you're on your honeymoon.

We also found out that it is mating season for the iguanas, so they were EVERYWHERE at the Ruins. Literally, everywhere.  Terry heard me legitimately scream for the first time when I accidentally got too close to one (I didn't even see it) and it scurried away.  Terrifying for me, but Terry was having a blast.

After the Mayan Ruins, we traveled to the far North end of the island and made pit stops at a bunch of popular bars/restaurants and enjoyed something to eat and drink at each stop!

Our first stop was at Coconuts Bar & Grill

The decor and music was super fun!  They had tons of t-shirts, license plates, and bumper stickers hanging up that would have taken hours to read everything.

A waiter even made me a grasshopper!

We split a margarita and some chips and guacamole.  The guacamole was AH-MAZING.

Our next stop was at Bob Marley's Bar where we had strawberry margaritas and split a quesadilla!

We made a stop at another Mayan Ruin site before going downtown.

We went downtown to a restaurant called "La Perlita" which a couple of friends referred us to.  Since we had been eating most of the day, we stuck to the appetizer menu and split another margarita.

Terry got shark empanadas and I got shrimp tacos… They were so good!  We also had chips and guacamole but both agreed that the guacamole at Coconuts was much better.

We walked around downtown for a bit since traffic was really congested and found out why it was so backed up: The Color Run!

So neat!  We did a little bit more shopping then called it a night and headed back to the resort.  Renting the Jeep was so much fun!  It was definitely the favorite day of the trip for the both of us.

The next day was our last full day on vacation so we scheduled a 90 minute couples massage and made reservations at the fancy restaurant in our resort for dinner.  The massage was so great that the 90 minutes felt like ten and we both couldn't believe how fast time went.  We then got dressed up for dinner and enjoyed a five-course candle lit dinner on the beach!

Terry had a t-bone steak and I had salmon.  I took a bunch of pictures but because of the dim lighting, they didn't turn out that great.  Take my word for it that dinner was delicious!

We had a few drinks at the lobby bar where there was live music playing and then called it a night.  We wanted to wake up early the next day to soak up all the sun we could before heading to the airport at 1:00PM.

Our last Caribbean sunset
We lounged by the pool, enjoyed a few more cocktails, packed up, and said goodbye to our beautiful room.

We took a taxi to the airport and said good-bye to Mexico.

It makes me so sad to see these pictures and not be there still.  I joked several times throughout the trip that we could make a living down there and be able to experience those sunsets every night (a part of me still isn't joking).

To say the least, this is not our last time going to Cozumel or staying at the Melia resort.  We spoke with many other couples at the resort who have stayed elsewhere, yet time and time again they return to Melia.  I can't wait for future trips with my husband!  :)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Running for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

I posted on the Life After Morning Coffee Facebook Page last week that I registered for the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon Lottery.

The Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon was my third half marathon and it is where I have ran my best half marathon time in 2:24.

The race is held in Duluth, MN and it has to be the most beautiful race course in the midwest!  It runs along the shores of Lake Superior and finishes in Canal Park.  I knew right away that I would be back for years to come!  You can read about my first experience at Grandma's HERE!

I was able to get into the lottery last year, but this year I wasn't so lucky.  However, I'm not giving up!  I have decided to team up with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and run for charity!  If I can raise over $1,500, I will receive a race bib to run in the 2014 Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon!

The mission of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (from their website) "is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment.  Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion, or a family's ability to pay."

Did you know that it costs $1.8 million a day to operate St. Jude?

Did you know that 70% of the funds come from the public?

Did you know that because of donations, no family ever pays St. Jude for anything?  That includes lodging, food, and travel.

Wow.  I couldn't think of a better reason to run.

Want to see me run another half marathon?  Want to see my get another personal record?  Want to be a part of it?  Visit my fundraising page and help me reach my $1,500 donation goal.  Every penny counts.  Thank you in advance!

Any businesses want to donate?  I'll gladly sport your logo during all of my training runs here in Eau Claire and during my race up in Duluth!  Contact me for more information.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My Last Week of the Paleo Challenge

As most of you know, I joined a 40-day Paleo challenge at the beginning of the year through my CrossFit gym.  The challenge officially ended on Friday (Valentine's Day… What a perfect day to end a diet challenge, hehe).

Here are the week-by-week recaps of how my challenge went:

Week One

Week Two

Week Three

Week Four & Five

With Terry being gone for a week, a weekend trip out of town, Superbowl Sunday, and the challenge ending on Valentine's Day, I would say that the challenge was a surprising success!

I was weighed and remeasured yesterday before my 4:00 CrossFit class.  Within 40 days, I have lost exactly eight pounds and 4% of my body fat percentage!  We did body fat percentage measurements at three points: triceps, super iliac, and thigh.  I lost 9mm in my tricep, 4mm in my super iliac (above my hip bone), and 0.5mm in my thigh.  Pretty huge results in only 40 days!  I can't wait to see what another few months will do.

The picture on the left is the day I started the challenge and the picture on the right is the day I ended the challenge.  But this is only the beginning… I have a long way to go!

I'm starting to feel thinner in my midsection and stronger every day.  When I look at these pictures, I definitely see a difference in my face -- it's amazing how much my face has changed throughout my weight loss journey.

2011 vs 2012
I have learned so much with this diet and have tried so many new things!  Egg bakes, cauliflower "mashed potatoes", meatballs, spaghetti squash casseroles, cedar planked salmon, homemade guacamole, sweet potatoes, mustard glazed chicken thighs, roasted veggies, and almond butter!  All amazing meals that don't include a speck of grain.

I absolutely love being in the kitchen and have learned that the time spent in the kitchen is way more important than the time spent in the gym.  Whenever I go grocery shopping, I spend the following couple of hours to wash, cut, and prepare everything so it's easy to grab and ready to use.  I'll even prepare a casserole or two, hard boil eggs, and baggie up veggies so packing lunches is super quick and easy.

Terry has been awesome throughout the process and has even tried many new things!  There have been many nights where we made two separate meals so that I can stick to my goals and he can eat whatever he wants.  I never pushed the diet onto him or forced him to eat anything.  I stuck with things I knew he already liked and if he didn't want to try something, I would make him something else.  One night last week, I made "chicken fingers" using ground flaxseed, "mashed potatoes" using cauliflower, and green beans.  He ate it all and even admitted that it was good!

The information that I have learned on this diet can't be taken back and I will apply what I've learned from now on, not just because I'm in a challenge.  I've been sleeping great, my moods have been more stable, and my confidence is always improving.  CrossFit has definitely been a major part of that.

I just signed up for an unlimited membership and look forward to more results, more knowledge, and more confidence!

If you have any questions about the Paleo diet, CrossFit, or anything in general, please ask!  The Paleo diet is not for everyone and this post is not about pushing the Paleo diet on anyone.  I'm here to share my journey and would love to help you start on yours!