Friday, July 25, 2014

my fitness journey - continued

i first wrote about how i was exercising and eating healthily (for my body's specific needs - no gluten, soy, dairy, sugar) back in may. you can read that HERE. sometimes i cheat on the sugar and dairy part because ice cream. but anyway...

since that time i've beefed up my workout efforts even more, still going to pilates class twice each week but increasing cardio to 3-4 times a week. that means i've been working out 5-6 times a week since the end of may. and i'm loving it.

more than anything i'm loving the benefits i've gained - improved strength, decreased stress, improved emotional health, much improved hormonal health. TMI ALERT: my period has gone from lasting ten days to only four days. this is a biggie for me because my GYN's next suggestion (for all the troubles i've been having) was a hysterectomy. if exercise can prevent me from having surgery and make my menstrual cycle better, i'll keep doing it.

yesterday i was on the treadmill for 42 minutes totally 2.75 miles, 1.75 of which i was jogging.



i made the very brave decision to try running on the treadmill approximately four weeks ago. i was scared to do it because of the likelihood that i might fall on my face or faint or die but i did it anyway.
for two minutes.

the longest two minutes of my life.

now here i am four weeks later and although i still need to slow down to catch my breath after a mile or so, i am fit enough that i can speed back up again. my cardiovascular strength is improving, my heart rate recovers much more quickly than it used to, and i no longer watch the seconds tick by. i actually don't really think about the time anymore...i just jog. 

the biggest thing that's helped me run/walk/run longer is music. i use to go to the gym so i could watch rachael ray while i worked out. hey, whatever got me there, right? now i prefer to zone out and listen to tunes. here's my get-my-butt-moving playlist:

ten songs. 42 minutes. a warm up and a cool down. all upbeat. a great mix of rock and pop. it's good for running, good for walking slowly at a steep incline, just good for getting ya movin! it's the perfect playlist, in my ever-so-humble opinion.

1. city of blinding lights - u2 - fave lyric: do you see the beauty inside of me
2. shake it out - florence + the machine - fave lyric: i am done with my graceless heart
3. raise your glass - pink  - fave lyric: we will never be anything but loud, nitty gritty dirty little freaks
4. i love it - icona pop - fave lyric: (lyrics are ok but what i really love is the beat)
5. roots in stereo - p.o.d. with matisyah - fave lyric: now dance your way back to zion
6. it's all i have - blindside - fave lyric: i know i can't make you wear it but i sure will try
7. summer - calvin harris - (don't love the lyrics, just the beat)
8. fix my eyes - for king & country - fave lyric: fight for the weak ones
9. withering - blindside - fave lyric: hey i'm still glorious but i'm withering like roses in the fall
10. waiting here for you - christy nockels - fave lyric: you are everything you promised...all we need is you

p.s. if you don't have any interest in working out, this playlist is also really good for living room dance parties or for car rides with little boys who love to get their wiggle on!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

puerto vallarta vacation - the hotel

casa velas boutique hotel is an all-inclusive resort. except it just might be the very best all-inclusive resort ever. unlike other establishments that offer watered-down drinks and buffet-style meals, casa velas offers top-shelf everything - l'occitane toiletries in the suite, premium liquor and incredibly delicious, superbly served meals.

the pool and swim up bar (under the palm branch roof). we never had to "swim up" to order drinks. miguel and carlos frequently walked over to us to ask how we were doing.

the hotel's small size lends to it's luxury, private feel. it was not at all uncommon for us to be the only couple in the restaurant and the only couple at the pool. the staff was welcoming, accommodating and just downright amazing at anticipating and providing for our needs/wants before we could even ask. 

 a view of the private hotel entrance.

 the architecture.

 a photo of the grounds.

upon our arrival we were greeted with a comfy sofa to sit while we went through the quick and efficient check-in process, a back massage, a cool washcloth for after-travel refreshment and a glass of hibiscus water. many staff members greeted us by saying "welcome home" and that's exactly what casa velas became by the end of the week - our home away from home.


 the back of the hotel.

casa velas offers excursions, parties to attend and classes to take but i believe their specialty is helping their patrons truly, deeply relax. they provide a beautiful, tranquil environment and all the services/amenities that make one feel completely pampered and special.

one example might be our dinner at the beach club. jeremy and i had a lovely outdoor meal while watching the sun set over the ocean. after the plates were cleared our waiter asked if we'd like a mexican coffee. not knowing what that was, he explained it to me but i was still surprised and enamored when it turned out that mexican coffee wasn't just a drink, it was a spectacle!

 the ingredients.

 heating the glass.

 adding cinnamon.

 pouring the tequila (i think) back and forth.

 finishing off the drink.

another example was our final dinner at emiliano's. one of the staff members, francisco, asked us why we were vacationing and we told him it was to celebrate our ten year wedding anniversary. he insisted on planning a special dinner for us. we started dinner with a bottle of veuve cliquot champagne (the whole bottle, all-inclusive), a lovely green salad with strawberry viniagrette, a delicious artichoke soup, an entree of beef tenderloin, potato and asparagus and this for dessert:

jeremy snapped this of me. i was very happy.

as a side note, the staff did an amazing job of making sure all my food was gluten-free. now that made me feel very cared for and special.

this has become a picture-heavy post so i'll stop here. i think i still have one more post to share with photos from the private beach club and downtown.

puerto vallarta vacation - wildlife

there were many friendly creatures living among us at casa velas.

we saw quite a few of these guys. i think he's a baby iguana.



the female peacocks were interesting - much more colorful than the females i've seen at the denver zoo which are entirely brown.

this duck and his friend sat around the koi ponds then flew away, landed and sat in the tops of the palm trees. do ducks in the states hang out in trees??

we nicknamed this little bird bernardo. jeremy fed him bits of toast each morning at breakfast. sweet bernardo seemed quite old, never flying away from the patio to find his own meals, only living off table scraps. or maybe he wasn't old, maybe he was just very smart.

my favorite animal to observe were the iguanas. the iguanas moseyed down the trees mid-morning to chill in the koi ponds then climbed back up in the afternoon to bask in the sun. they typically walked slowly across the grounds, unless i was walking toward them with my camera to take a picture. the little buggers were camera shy.

there were gorgeous plants too. i only snapped pictures of a couple.

casa velas has it's own botanic garden which provides much of the fresh produce (most of it organic) for their restaurants.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

home from puerto vallarta

we've been home from puerto vallarta, mexico less than 48 hours and life is already back in full swing. i went to my 6am pilates class this morning and my abs screamed "welcome home, rachel!" and "yo tengo mas tequila!"

it's hard to return from paradise.

sometimes i long to take a trip and see the world. sometimes i long to take a vacation and do absolutely nothing. that's how this ten-year anniversary trip was intended to be and that's exactly how it was. we chose the most perfect place to unwind and relax.

our home for the week was the casa velas boutique hotel, chosen because it's on every top ten list for all-inclusive mexican beach resorts (travel & leisure, conde nast...). it lived up to every positive tripadvisor review and then some. the service was world class. we wanted for nothing. our every whim was met with a "claro que si!" and our every expectation was exceeded.

most of our time was spent sitting by the pool, either this one pictured above or the one at the private beach club. both were lovely.

one of my favorite things to do was watch the iguanas climb in the trees, walk across the grounds or wade in the koi ponds. can you spot the three iguanas above? they greeted us each morning at breakfast.

i'll be sharing a few more photos from our trip over the next couple days. i didn't take seemed like too much effort to get out of my lounge chair!  :-)

Friday, July 4, 2014

summer 2014 - week five

a very brief update.
let's see...this week...

monday - drove home from the mountains, just hung out close to home.
tuesday - met our preschool friends at the park and then ate lunch at mcdonald's.
wednesday - miss kayla came to play with the boys. they went to the library.
thursday - uncle zach came for a visit in the morning and then the boys and i spent all afternoon at the swimming pool.
friday (today) - jer is off work so we'll spend time together, try to get some housekeeping done and packing for our trip next week. we are also grilling with friends this evening!

things of note:

harrison lost a tooth yesterday and due to the fact that jeremy and i don't ever carry cash i had to stealthily sneak harrison's own piggy bank out of his room and borrow two dollars from him in order to be the tooth fairy. i know. brilliant, right?!

we are just finishing the boy's read aloud book, charlotte's web. goodness it's taken us forever to get through it. i think we are all just slowing down on our reading and filling our time with other endeavors. i finished the hypnotist's love story and have moved on to attachments.

i'm making these yummy treats to share with our friends tonight - vanilla chex bars!

i think that's all i got for this holiday weekend. happy fourth of july!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

thursday things that make me think

this satire - yup!  i have to admit i sometimes feel this way up at the condo which i clean nearly every single weekend. but i feel the need to clean it because i want it to be nice and welcoming the next time we open the front door. jeremy and i are leaving for mexico next week and i kinda feel this way about all the planning and prep it takes to be away for a week. p.s. i heart the onion.

favorite quote from this piece: "in the midst of raising kids and giving yourself 100% to them, god has not forgotten the things in your hearts". the author mentions the biblical character gideon, whom i studied last fall/winter. she relates how god equipped gideon with ordinary things that helped him do extraordinary things.

jeremy and i were just discussing our need for a trip to estes park, colorado when i saw this blog post. she mentioned things to do that we, as locals, didn't know about! i think this would be a great family vacation destination or, for us, maybe a day or overnight trip. she doesn't mention the main street in estes, though, which i consider a must do. it's touristy and crowded but you can't go to estes park without buying salt water taffy and fudge! and if it gets a bit crowded you can always find a shady spot along the river (within walking distance from main street) to eat that delicious sweet treat.

what being a bff means in your 30's - yes!!

fave quote from this essay: "and crumbs on the counter. forever. for the love, ALWAYS the crumbs". ha! so true!! i would add "crumbs on the counter AND THE FLOOR". i'm actually considering getting a dog for the sole purpose of licking the crumbs off the floor. carpe tomorrow is such a great motto!

gorgeous photos! bird's eye views of cities. i think vietnam is my fave? hard to choose.

i think that's all i got for today, folks! sending love to you today!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

a rainbow and a refund

last friday afternoon a thunderstorm moved over the mountains and we looked out our window to see this.

such a beautiful sight.

i love the small porch at our condo. each morning jeremy and i sit outside to drink our coffee and savor the view. the hummingbirds are plentiful, their high-pitched flutters constantly announcing their presence. my favorite sound is the restful white-noise of the wind blowing through the aspen trees. the boys have taken to ordering a cup of hot cocoa so they can join us in those peaceful moments.

last saturday morning graham accidentally tipped over his cocoa and he was heartbroken. he went inside and curled up on the floor. i told him it would be okay, it's just cocoa, no big deal. he lifted his head and cried, "i want a refund!"


happy humpday friends!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

lower cataract lake loop - part two

my post yesterday about the lower cataract lake loop had photos taken with my dslr camera. the photos today were taken with my phone. note to self: charge camera batter before going on adventure.

it's called a loop because it does just that - circles around the lake. it's safe to say no matter where we were along the trail the views were gorgeous.

the boys loved the run-off from the waterfall (i did too!). they wanted to walk across the trees that had fallen across the stream. i vetoed that idea.

we walked over the bridge instead.

we came upon a rocky incline and were startled by a small snake. can you see him? he was more afraid of us than we were of him.

we started out with long-sleeves and fleece but ended with t-shirts. although graham is my high-energy, trail-running buddy for parts of the hike he likes to catch rides from daddy periodically too. we need to get the boys some quality hiking shoes so their feet don't tire out as quickly but they easily handled this loop in their keen sandals.

see what i meant about how it seems as though we are creating our own path through the brush?

wildflower photos:

jeremy took an amazing photo of a columbine blossom (colorado's state flower, not pictured here) which were in full bloom all along the trail. apparently we went at just the right time to see them.

after we finished our hike we were hungry! next time we visit this trail we plan to pack a cooler with food and drinks and picnic by the lake. but last saturday we stopped at the mountian lion cafe, a kitchy hole-in-the-wall joint with the most delicious food!

both boys ordered adult-sized breakfast platters and finished every bite! harrison said it was the best pancake he's ever eaten - high praise from him because he eats a lot of pancakes! he said "i'm not in heaven. i'm higher than heaven!"

i ordered breakfast too and i'm telling ya, i could eat at the mountain lion every single day of my life. jer got a double cheeseburger and said it was to die for. i highly recommend this diner. friends who come to visit us in summit county will get the pleasure of eating there!