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My excessive energy, extreme narcissism, and intense love of neon-colored spandex is both managed and fueled by my addiction to fitness. I push myself to extremes and I push other people's buttons. Obviously I needed my own blog.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Hello Again

Hi friends. It's been a while so let me reintroduce myself. My name is Allie Echeverria. I started this blog in 2010 when I was an elementary school teacher in the New York City Department of Education and a Teach For America corps member. I turned to fitness to manage the stress and anxiety I felt from feeling like an underprepared teacher who would never be good enough to measure up to TFA standards. I lost over 20 lbs from a lot of group fitness and a pretty strict diet. No one seemed interested in listening to me talk about what I was doing, eating, or reading so I started writing about it. And people seemed to really like that. My friend Trevor named my blog In Shape Out of Mind. He was the wittiest person I have ever known.

photo credit: Evan Torch

Sometime during my first year in the classroom, so 2008-2009, I learned what a dietitian is and that you can actually have a job in nutrition outside of being a personal trainer. No shade on personal trainers - that's just not a job I wanted and now I know how limited the scope of practice in nutrition is for fitness professionals. Back then, TFA teachers weren't expected to stay any longer than two years in the classroom (I lasted three) and I was looking for what I should do after my commitment. Many people went back to school or completely changed careers. I looked up what it would take to become a dietitian and I didn't have any of the math or science courses needed. I had actually never taken chemistry, even in high school. I wasn't ALLOWED to take precalculus in high school because my math grades weren't very good. I'd like to point out that I went to one of the most competitive boarding schools in the country, Choate Rosemary Hall, and being a not great student there was probably being above average in a regular high school where anyone can attend as long as they live in district. But as a recent college graduate with a sociology degree and a minor in writing rhetoric, I was convinced that I could not do well in math and science courses and decided that being a dietitian wasn't in the cards for me.

Trevor and me on his birthday in 2010.

I got into running. I got into long distance running. I ran ultramarathons. I decided that that much running sucked and threw myself entirely into CrossFit. CrossFit changed my life. It made me a better person, brought me back to God, and triggered major changes. I found the confidence to finally leave New York and I moved to Atlanta. I found a great CrossFit gym called CrossFit Identity and I've been there since 2014. 

photo credit: Rock the Ridge 50 Miler

I transitioned to working in education nonprofits after the classroom. I continued that kind of work while living in Atlanta. I worked remotely and I traveled a lot for meetings and conferences. I kept telling myself I loved my job and my field, but it wasn't true. I listened to a CrossFit podcast with Nicole Aucoin as the guest and I started thinking about becoming a dietitian again. Within one week, circumstances allowed me to leave my job and enroll at Georgia State University as a post-baccalaureate student. I was finally taking chemistry at 32! I spent two years completing the math and science prerequisites and last June I was accepted to the coordinated nutrition program that combines a masters degree in nutrition and the dietetics internship. I will be eligible to sit for the registered dietitian exam when I graduate in August 2022.

photo credit: CrossFit Hell's Kitchen

My favorite parts of CrossFit have always been lifting heavy and odd object training. Turns out those are the Strongman components of CrossFit. I attended some Strongman Saturday classes at CrossFit Syosset back in New York (thanks Chad!) but I didn't really get into it until a Strongman competitor named Andrew Hanus started training at CrossFit Identity. He hosted an in-house competition and I fell in love with the sport. I also won, so that might of helped. I now get to train at Growler's Gym with a great community of Strongmen who have welcomed me to the sport and teach me so much each week. I've had some injuries and setbacks that prevented me from competing at a sanctioned Strongman competition until this past March (so 2.5 years later). I thankfully figured out that my copper IUD was causing my back pain (for the past 7 years!), had it removed, and now I am hungry to throw myself into training, hit crazy PRs as a 35-year-old (birthday is in August), and achieve freaking greatness. 

photo credit: Blackjack Images

Old friends - Thank you for being on this journey with me for the past 11 years. From step aerobics and classroom antics to log presses and internships, I appreciate your support. New friends - Welcome! I'm glad you're here.

I started this blog before Instagram was even released. That's crazy to think about. You can find my daily check-ins and training videos over there at @inshapeoutofmind. I'm thinking about how to repurpose this space now that Instagram is the better platform to connect and communicate with internet friends. I'm leaning towards using this for education and competition related content. Don't worry, it will still have that In Shape Out of Mind flair.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Weight Loss and Sobriety

Good morning! I am feeling great about my body. Brad took my progress photos this morning and I'm proud of the visible results of my hard work. In addition to looking good, I am feeling better on the inside than I think I have ever felt before. I am happy. I am proud of my behavior. I am proud of the work that I put in at school, at my graduate assistantship, and at the gym.

This is a post about weight loss but it's also a post about giving up alcohol. Last spring, I decided to abstain from drinking from April 1 through June 30. I just wanted to do a challenge and set a big goal for my Gym Gypsy. Once it became clear that we were going to have to follow pandemic and lockdown procedures, I was even more resolute in my challenge. I didn't think it was a good idea for me to be drinking alone at home while I faced the uncertainty of a global pandemic. So while many people drank excessively, emotionally ate, and gave up their exercise routines, I did the exact opposite. I made all my own food at home, started doing CrossFit at-home workouts and running, and had a lot more energy because I didn't have a hangover. I started going to CrossFit classes once my gym opened at the end of April.

This is me on March 7 compared to me today on November 6, 2020. I am definitely hungover in my March photo. I look miserable.

June 24, 2020 compared to today. I feel great in both photos, despite them being taken early in the morning. Fifty plus days of no alcohol for both photos.

August 31, 2020 compared to today. The changes between June and August is the result of weekend alcohol consumption. I stopped drinking on most weekdays when I stopped working in an office when I moved to Georgia six years ago. I just didn't feel the need to go to happy hour anymore since I didn't have any coworkers to go with to a bar. Look how quickly just drinking on the weekends adds up. I was still exercising regularly. My eating habits were the same (cooking at home) unless I was drinking because that means bar food and greasy hangover food.

I stopped attending CrossFit classes on August 31 and switched to working with a coach for strongman training. I put on 1.5 pounds of muscle and lost 4.2 pounds of fat by October 3.

October 3, 2020 compared to today. In addition to changing my training style, my alcohol consumption changed. School started on August 24 and I became very busy with classes, studying, and my 5 days of week of training. I only went out 3-4 times and then gave up alcohol entirely on September 14. 

I decided to stop working with the coach. It wasn't a good fit. If you'd like to know why I came to that conclusion, please feel free to message me about it. I had been doing 3 days of lifting and 2 days of cardio. Then I had a week at my parents and then a week of trying to figure out what to do after I parted ways with the coach and didn't really workout at all. For the past three weeks, I have been following a beginner's Wendler 321 template with some modifications because I have been trying to get a handle on my schedule. I squat and bench press one day and I deadlift and press on another. I fit in a day of CrossFit-esque stuff plus sandbag carries and a day of sprints. I barely workout compared to before and I am still making progress. My recovery is so much better and my food choices are consistent and I know this is entirely because I gave up alcohol.

Some of you are reading this and thinking, Allie gave up alcohol and is now trying to convince the rest of us to stop drinking too. Not at all. I believe adults should be trusted to make their own informed decisions. I just want to share the information that has helped me.

For a long time, I believed that only people who can't drink alcohol don't drink. So basically alcoholics, pregnant women, and Mormons. I kept trying to make alcohol fit my lifestyle when my lifestyle doesn't really have room for alcohol. My longtime readers know that I used to really like to drink. This blog was about getting drunk and then running really long distances and then drinking again. But as I got more into CrossFit, I could easily tell how different I felt in a workout if I had had anything to drink the day before. I now wear a Fitbit that tracks my sleep and one glass of wine or beer drops my sleep score. Most of the athletes I admire rarely, if ever, consume alcohol and that's probably why they're so good. You can find some pretty interesting studies on PubMed if you input ALCOHOL and SLEEP.

I've been pretty transparent about my anxiety, struggles with depression, and panic attacks. What I didn't know was the extent to which alcohol affects your central nervous system. I noticed that my panic attacks stopped and my anxiety lowered in May. We were in the middle of a global pandemic and the Waffle Houses closed and my anxiety was lower than it had been in years. If you're familiar with the Waffle House Index, an informal metric used to determine the scale of assistance needed for disaster recovery, you know that closed Waffle Houses mean shit is REALLY FREAKING BAD. But I was feeling great. My anxiety and panic attacks returned this summer (a little after I reintroduced alcohol) and then I made the connection. Within three weeks of giving alcohol up again, my panic attacks are gone. I haven't had one since September. This reason alone is enough for me to never drink again.

This week we covered alcohol metabolism in my macronutrient nutrition course. Have you ever heard that alcohol is poison? Yeah, so have I, but lots of things are bad for you in excess but totally fine in moderation. Except any alcohol turns into an extremely toxic substance. 

Alcohol is metabolized by several processes or pathways. The most common of these pathways involves two enzymes—alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). These enzymes help break apart the alcohol molecule, making it possible to eliminate it from the body. First, ADH metabolizes alcohol to acetaldehyde, a highly toxic substance and known carcinogen. Then, in a second step, acetaldehyde is further metabolized down to another, less active byproduct called acetate, which then is broken down into water and carbon dioxide for easy elimination.    source

So I've been scared to eat oatmeal, legumes, and nightshades all these years (thanks Whole30) but I routinely consumed a substance that turns into acetaldehyde in my body and then my body has to convert that toxin into other substances that can actually be used and eliminated? Our bodies prioritize alcohol metabolism over lipid, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism. I spend a lot of time measuring and tracking the food I eat, making sure I get adequate macro and micronutrients. It feels like a lot of work to do only to undo it by drinking each weekend. 

One time a guy passionately argued with me about the evils of white bread and how it was poison to the body but I knew this guy regularly used cocaine. If you're going to be scared of a white substance in that scenario, Wonder Bread shouldn't be it. I spent many years vilifying sugar and soda consumption but drinking a lot of alcohol, and now I'm realizing I sounded a lot more like Mr. Low Carb High as a Kite than I care to admit.

So these are all the reasons why I stopped drinking. Happy Friday. We made it.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

First Week of Dietetics Grad School

I can hardly believe that it's my first week of my nutrition graduate school program!

My first day of 21st Grade!

For those of y'all who need a little recap, I graduated from Trinity College in 2008 with a bachelor of arts in sociology and absolutely no idea what I wanted to do for my career. During my senior year, I was recruited to serve as a Teach For America corps member and so I taught elementary school for three years in Brooklyn and the Bronx. I earned a master of science in teaching from Pace University while teaching full-time to fulfill my transitional B teaching license requirement. By 2011, I was working in the Teach For America offices, I moved to Georgia in 2014, parted ways with TFA during the great layoffs of 2015, spent 5 months on a culinary tour, and then worked for a not-going-to-be-named-here school managing their AmeriCorps program. The summer of 2018 rolls around and I hate my job, hate my travel schedule, hate my boyfriend, hate his travel schedule, and start pretending my life is an Instagram highlight reel because who wants to admit that they date a psychopath (like an actual one who will try to kill me a year later) and their soul feels like it's dying just a little bit more each and every day. My dogs were awesome this entire time because dogs are the best.

God intervenes. I leave the job that makes me miserable and I get myself enrolled as a post-baccalaureate (it's been two years and I still can never spell this word correctly without Google) at Georgia State University. I have to take general chemistry 1 and 2, organic chemistry, anatomy and physiology 1 and 2, all the labs for those courses, college algebra, pre-calculus, and principles of nutrition before I can even apply to this graduate school program. I take them, I do very well, and end up being pretty dang good at chemistry and precalculus. I move in with the unfortunate boyfriend and then thankfully realize the error of my ways and leave him, which you can read about in its very own post. And then, on a magical day this past June (June 10th, may or may not be on my calendar to be remembered forever), I was accepted to the coordinated program at GSU for the Fall 2020 semester.

And now we're caught up to present day.


The coordinated program combines a didactic program in dietetics (DPD), a master of science in nutrition, and the 1200 HOUR dietetic internship, which will allow me to sit for the registered dietitian exam. Once I am done with this program and exam in August 2022, I will be a registered dietitian with a master's degree in nutrition.

This semester, I am enrolled in macronutrients, lifecycle nutrition, research methods for health professionals, and restaurant analytics. My first supervised practice rotation (the internship component) will start this October. And I have a graduate administrative assistantship with the office of sustainability. I get to work on nutrition sustainability projects and create social media content.

This week has been overwhelming but I'm just trying to lean into it. It feels really good to feel like I have a purpose again. I worked really hard completing my prerequisites but sometimes I felt a little embarrassed saying I was taking gen chem with a bunch of 19-year-olds. If you're a college student and reading this, please, for the love of all that is holy, take the science and math courses that would make you eligible to study health sciences, even if you don't think you'd ever want to be a doctor or a nurse. I had no idea that a dietitian was even a job when I poo poo'd the notion of taking any STEM classes not required by my major, which by the way, were ZERO. Okay, that's an exaggeration - I took a statistics class designed for soft social science majors and a fake human biology course that had so much extra credit, it was nearly impossible not to get an A.

Today @instantloss (fantastic IG account) shared Arun Purang's words, "Either push your limits or suffocate in your comfort zone." This resonates with me because I felt suffocated by the limitations I set on my life because I was scared to leave people and jobs. I also felt suffocated when my ex tried to choke me to death so sometimes I guess I need to really physically feel my emotions. We all learn in our own ways. You're never too old to scrap what's holding you back and chase your dreams.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Budget Update May 2020

Where can you cut some fees?

The Budget Mom workbook has changed my life. It's been 5 months since I started the TBM method and I have not created any new debt. My budget hasn't matched up perfectly, but I have had the money to cover all of my purchases. Prior to COVID-19, I was making pretty good money with my babysitting jobs. If I wanted to go out to dinner or buy someone a present, I just picked up an extra job. I haven't babysat since the beginning of March and so I knew I had to further curtail my spending. I cancelled a couple of subscriptions I didn't use and changed my Amazon Prime Student account to a one-time fee annual account. This is saving me some cash each month.

My goal is to cut or lower as many fees as possible. I have a paid off American Express Delta Skymiles card. I've had this platinum card since 2015 and the benefits made a lot of sense when I was in an airport every single week. The free checked bag benefit paid for the annual fee within a month. AMEX raised the annual fee to $250 this year and my card renews in July. I considered cancelling the card but I feared for my credit score. I have a $29,000 line of credit and it drives my credit utilization way down. I've been fretting about this for a couple of months, when I see that The Budget Mom had shared her blog post on cancelling credit cards. I commented and someone suggested switching to the no annual fee AMEX Blue Delta Skymiles card. I didn't even know this thing existed!

A quick call to AMEX customer service today and now my account has been switched to the blue card. I will receive a prorated credit for my last annual fee, keep my current credit limit, and keep my skymiles. I lose the member benefits of the platinum card but I was rarely in the airport to use them.

I'm glad that I am keeping a Delta Skymiles card because Brad and I have been talking about taking an amazing trip to Australia and New Zealand after I graduate. Turns out that this has been a dream trip for both of us. It's kind of nuts that we have so much in common and still surprise each other with these similarities. I am so excited to plan and save for this bucket list of an adventure.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Running to Process

I wrote earlier this week about how I've gotten back into running. I've been running longer than my training plan requires because getting outside with my thoughts is one of the few things keeping me sane during this pandemic. I know many of us are struggling with our new reality. Going to the gym is my way to let off steam, work through tough emotions, and figure stuff out. I've been enjoying how running outside with no music is helping me to process some heavy feelings I've been trying to squash for a long time.

I'm not proud to admit it but I lost my mind over some Facebook posts the other day. I saw my ex-boyfriend in photos with his new girlfriend celebrating his birthday. I wasn't allowed to take photos of us together, and if I did, I was definitely not allowed to post them on social media. And if I did post them to social media, I couldn't tag him and he would untag himself if I did. And I was never allowed to spend his actual birthday with him because birthdays are to be celebrated with the guys, but I could take him out for birthday dinner after his birthday, but the food was never as good as it is somewhere not here in Atlanta.

I am tired of keeping this hidden like a shameful secret. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for three years. I was repeatedly put down, lied to, and convinced that I was imagining things. I became obsessed with winning back his affection and attention, to the detriment of all other aspects of my life. I now say that I was never as good a friend, child, sister, or employee as the day before I met him. For three long years, I engaged in a cycle of abuse and self-blame where I would tell him off and try to leave, only to be bombarded with calls, messages, in-person visits, and gifts until I gave in and agreed to be with him again. I recently learned that the term for this behavior is called love-bombing.

I regretfully decided to move into a new apartment with him last March. He had to travel for work almost immediately after the move and so I had several weeks of unpacking alone and getting settled. He returned one week and the arguments got worse than ever before. One night I was studying for a college algebra exam for my Maymester course. He told me he was going out with his friends so I could have the apartment to myself to study, which I appreciated. He came home around 8 PM, drunk, and proceeded to tell me what he really thought of me. He told that he couldn't stand me, didn't find me attractive, that he was the only person who could ever love me and even he didn't like me, that everyone we knew had told him that they hated me, and that my own family hated me because I was so awful. An epic argument ensued and continued until he took my two dogs into the bedroom, locked the door, and passed out. I was used to sleeping in the guest bedroom at this point because my presence in what was supposed to be our bedroom upset his sleep. I cried hysterically while trying to study until about 4 in the morning. My exam was at 11:30 AM and I figured I had enough time to catch some sleep before I had to leave for school. Just after 5 AM, he came into the guest bedroom and tried to touch me, telling me he was sorry that we had a fight but he forgave me. I told him to get the hell away from me and repeated all the awful things he had said to me. He alternated between denying it and apologizing it away by saying he had been so drunk he didn't remember any of that happening. Needless to say, I did not do well on that exam. That was the day that I decided that I hated him and that I could never forgive him. I emotionally checked out of the relationship. I started to drink more and go out often. Sometimes I stayed out all night just to be away from him. But I didn't leave.

I was financially and legally tied to him. Thank you apartment lease. I spent my entire adult life saying I wouldn't live with someone until we were married (no judgment, just a personal decision), and yet he convinced me to do otherwise. I was embarrassed to admit that I had made such a terrible mistake. And I was scared to ask my parents for more money to leave because they do help me financially so that I can attend school.

Only when he became physically abusive, did I speak up to my parents and ask for their help. A weekend trip that was his idea of fixing our relationship turned into a living nightmare. I had been drinking so I couldn't drive back to Atlanta, I didn't know anyone else in the city where we were staying, and he was drunk and very angry. I was terrified for my life.

It still took me two months to move out of the apartment we shared. He called into work sick repeatedly so that he could be home for 52 straight days. I had to be in Atlanta to attend class. He has a crash pad for work and an apartment in another southern city. I never got to be alone unless I was in the bathroom and sometimes he would follow me in there too.

I was so used to the way that he treated me that I rationalized his behavior. I justified the sketchy, rude, and cruel things he would do by blaming it on my bad attitude or the hurtful things I said during an argument. How dare I criticize his drinking when I was drinking too? Of course he's in a bad mood. He spent all day traveling home to see me and I didn't show my appreciation enough when he arrived. He's right, I did gain too much weight and that's why he won't touch me. I am so inconsiderate. I put ice in my coffee and he was trying to sleep.

Do those statements sound as effed up to you as they now do to me? But I was an addict who craved his attention, even if it was of the awful variety. I moved out at the end of December. Even after I moved out, all of my thoughts and actions were based around him. I own the washer/dryer and moved them to my new apartment. On the day of the move, I washed all of his towels and put them back into the old apartment so he would have clean towels when he got back from his trip. I even considered doing all of his laundry until I was explicitly called out about it by a loved one. Only recently have I recognized the truth of what happened. I am a victim of emotional abuse and now I'm working to process through the emotions I'm having. I'm really angry - at him and at myself. I know it's not my fault but it still feels like it is sometimes.

I share what happened to me because keeping it inside has been poisoning me. And maybe by sharing my story, someone who is reading this will recognize abuse in his or her life, and know he or she is not alone. If you are being abused, there is help. There are people who will believe you even if you don't have bruises or broken bones. I will believe you. If reading this makes you want to talk about emotional abuse with others, I think it's a conversation more of us need to have. There should not be a stigma and we shouldn't feel weak or stupid when people hurt us. But I do ask that you respect my decision to share on my blog and talk to me directly if you have questions about my story. Please don't speak with my family about this. They are very aware of what happened. I do not need you calling up my mom and telling her you read on the internet that her daughter got abused.

I will get through this. It's just going to take time. I am very thankful that I am able to run.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

10k Training Week 2

I'm training for a 10k and I'm going to look cute doing it.

Good morning folks! I hope everyone is surviving sheltering in place, both literally and figuratively. I'm trying to keep in shape and my mind in one piece (see what I did there?) so I've set two goals for myself this April:
  1. Move every day
  2. No alcohol
I'm defining movement as doing something active every day, may it be a home CrossFit workout, yoga, running, stretching, or walking. The weather is gorgeous in Georgia and I'm trying to get outside as much as possible. I have wanted to get back into running and this feels like a great time to do it. I found this 10k training plan from Snacking in Sneakers and I'm on week 2.

Monday's run was supposed to be 1.5 miles but it was so nice out that I kept going. That last mile was entirely uphill and it was a bit of a doozy.

My bedroom has turned into a home gym but this apartment is finally beginning to look and feel like home. There are no overhead lights in the bedroom (WTF I know), but I found these floor lamps at Walmart for $10 each and they make a huge difference.

  • Sports bra: Born Primitive Moxie sports bra. It is no longer available in this leopard print but you can get it in vibrant cheetah instead.
  • Shorts: Oiselle Roga shorts in brown. These are my favorite running shorts and the colors change each season. There are some BEAUTIFUL floral prints available right now. The Roga is available in this original inseam, as well as a long and short (Mac) inseams. You can also get a toolbelt version that are great for long runs.
  • Shoes: Brooks Ghost 8 leopard print have been out of stock for a while, but the Ghost 12 is for sale. I'm eyeing the all white pair. You can sign up for Brooks emails and they'll let you know when limited releases, like these sweet snow leopards, drop.
  • Sunglasses: Knockaround black on black polarized Classics. They appear to be out of stock, but the Premiums are basically the same pair, just a little heavier. I own several pairs of Knockarounds, including Classics, Premiums, and Mile Highs. They are the best because they are quality and inexpensive. You'll never cry if you lose them. Their customer service is the BEST.

Wednesday's run was also supposed to be 1.5 miles. There's a house we're interested in 1.6 miles away from my apartment so my plan was to run to it and check it out before having the realtor meet me there this week. Loved the house and the weather was great so I ran back. I knew I shouldn't run so close to eating lunch but I did it anyway and I got some cramps so I was running slow

Sometimes a run that is almost identical in route, weather, and gear to another can feel drastically different. I went to sleep really late on Tuesday night because I had been up taking an organic chemistry exam. I turned off my iPhone alarms but forgot about my Fitbit alarms and only got 4.5 hours of sleep. I felt like garbage all day. Just getting outside made me feel better and then I was able to get a great night's sleep last night. TEN HOURS AND 57 MINUTES! I have to remind myself that my workouts don't have to be perfect. Getting them done makes me feel better and pays off in other ways, such as better sleep.


Sports bra: DYI Elevate bra
Shorts: Oiselle New Lori shorts in Denim
Top: DYI The one I'm wearing isn't on the website but they have cute similar styles. My mom bought these for me at her Pure Barre studio. BTW, it is silly to name your company DYI because Google wants to correct it to DIY. 

As we know, I love tracking things to keep me motivated. I use a Garmin Forerunner 630 paired with Strava to record my runs, but that's all digital and so it doesn't do it for me. I wrote my training plan out on my calendar and I put a running sticker on it when I complete my run.

Getalong Dachshund Rescue releases a new calendar every year in time for Christmas. Daisy Mae was Miss February, and Frank and DM are featured in July.

These stickers are from FayeCreates on Etsy. She makes the BEST stickers and can do custom designs if you want.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Get Your Ducks in a Row

If you're going to be trapped inside your house for the foreseeable future, you might as well make some life improvements.

I really want to get pet ducks!

I'm REALLY over social-distancing, sheltering in place, and not being able to get my freaking nails done, but I don't want your nana to die, so I'm complying. No promises that I won't start a riot on May 1. Since I'm stuck inside my house, I have been finding ways to work towards my physical, academic, and financial goals.

Online Sinking Funds
One of the coolest things I started using this year is SoFi Money. It's a money management account that had a pretty high interest rate (1.60% APY) before the world ended but it's still higher than a regular savings account at 0.20% APY. I love The Budget Mom but I'm not keeping a bunch of cash in my apartment. Instead I have SoFi vaults for my sinking funds because I can get the money out of my checking account where I might accidentally spend it and into a designated account that earns interest. SoFi sends you a debit card you can use as payment or at the ATM. Or you can transfer the money back to your primary account. For example, I have been transferring money to my tattoo sinking fund for months. I used my SoFi debit card at the ATM (transaction fees are refundable) to take out the cash I needed to tip my tattoo artist. I transferred the remaining balance back to my Bank of America checking account. I paid for my tattoo using my cash rewards credit card and then paid the card with the money I had transferred to the BofA checking account. Are there easier ways to pay for things? Sure, but these extra steps earned me interest and cash back. Here is a referral link to SoFi Money.

These are my current vaults. I take annual expenses and divide them by 12 and transfer a small amount into the sinking fund each month. My executive Costco membership is $120 a year so $12 goes into the vault. I also use vaults to save money that I didn't spend. I had $77 left in my dogs monthly spending category so I transferred the amount here to put towards larger future purchases, such as heartworm medicine or vet visits. If coronavirus taught us anything, it's that we need adequate emergency funds. We have to start somewhere so I've got $50 in mine.

Tidy Your Space
I cleaned my desk and I feel so much better. I am obsessed with this Wayfair desk and chair in my home office, but I started stacking a bunch of stuff all over it in March. My productivity took a hit because I kept getting distracted by things when I would start digging through the mess to work on an assignment. Take 30 minutes to organize and disinfect your workspace.

Back when I was an elementary school teacher, I learned that I am motivated by displayed trackers. I use Canva to create trackers for just about everything, including studying, exercising, and paying off debt. There are some sweet existing templates that you can tweak to fit your needs. I used one to make this organic chemistry study tracker. I pay myself a dollar for each action completed and I'm going to use that money for something fun this summer.

Writing in a notebook with pretty pens brings me joy. I invested in these workbooks and I'm more likely to use them consistently because it makes me feel good. I'm loving my new Gym Gypsy journal and will post about it soon.

Read Something Interesting
I use the Libby app to checkout digital library loans for my Kindle. I finished Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining last week and loved it. Last night I read about optimizing protein intake in adults because that's the kind of thing that gets me all jazzed up. 

Find Community in Fitness
I rejoined my CrossFit gym, CrossFit Identity, because they have been slaying online community and accountability since this nightmare began. I have felt connected more than I have in the past year and I get excited to do the workout. I usually film us and post to Instagram and I fill out the daily workout from home competition survey. CFID has started offering Zoom classes four times a day but I haven't attended one yet. Lots of places are offering online fitness, but I think the key component is finding one that makes you feel connected in this time of isolation. Dancing Dogs Yoga is also doing this well if that's more your speed.

I gave Brad a pair of Nanos for his birthday. We do CrossFit in the apartment parking lot.

Let me know what has been working for you during this bizarre time. I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Semi-Homemade Ramen

I don't have a problem, I have priorities. 

In case you are not addicted to Fleo and perhaps live without Instagram, the Katie Crewe x Fleo collaboration dropped tonight at 9 PM ET. As of 9:39 PM, the scuba blue El Toros are still available but those beautiful babies have garnered so much hype, we should expect to see them sell out shortly.

I'm driving home from chem lab tonight and construction leads me to take the road that forces me to pass all of my favorite take out places. I tried to hold it together but then then I see the sign for Thaicoon Sushi Bar and I start crossing lanes of traffic. But then the voice of reason (my boyfriend Brad) comes over the car speaker telling me to be strong. So I get back in my lane and drive on home, proud in my decision to order more Fleo and make dinner at home. Then I pass Pig and Chick and decided I need to find a new way to my house.

Daisy Mae-approved meal

I'm in the mood for noodles, meat, veggies, and Asian flavors. I have thawed Costco chicken tenderloins in the fridge so I cut them into 1-2 in pieces. I start a pan on medium heat with a little oil (not olive because I've noticed I can taste it in my Asian-flavor inspired dishes) and diced white onion. I season the chicken cubes with salt and pepper before adding them into the pan. Keep it moving around to avoid burning but it basically takes care of itself. Sprinkle with sesame seeds while cooking to get that roasted flavor.

Now I start trying to teach myself to make ramen soft boiled eggs. Since I didn't marinate eggs in mirin and soy sauce last night, I settled for regular soft boiled eggs. Only two out of my attempted 6 came out edible. Next time I'm really on the Instant Pot. I've been told it makes foolproof eggs. 

As I get increasingly frustrated with egg gate, I add some sesame green beans I prepared earlier in the day during bulk food prep to the chicken and onions. I've got the heat on low just to keep everything warm and ensure everything got cooked through.

Give up on the eggs and hope for the best, because now it's time to reboil your water for the noodles. I found these tasty packets at Costco up in Duluth, which has inventory we basic bitches inside of the perimeter can only dream of. I get my car serviced in Duluth and always add a Costco run after. The noodles cook for about 2 minutes, then you drain them, and then add the sauce. The sauce definitely passes my picking sauce standards. 

Combine the noodles, sauce, chicken, and vegetables together. Arrange soft boiled egg on top. Hide the one you broke but still looks totally edible underneath the noodles so it doesn't show in photos. Season egg with salt, pepper, and more sesame seeds. Add fish sauce liberally. Viola!

I put fish sauce and sesame seeds on pretty much everything these days. You can see that my fish sauce is almost empty. The salty and roasted nutty deliciousness glams up a basic rice, protein, veg meal instantly.

I had time to prepare, cook, and eat this meal and clean up my whole kitchen before the release dropped. I'm now the proud owner of the scuba blue El Toros and the aqua splash reinette bra.

This story has a happy ending because my Reinette and El Toros are secured!

If you enjoying reading about how I experiment with making my favorite takeout meals at home, let me know. It's my current kitchen passion. And remember, if I could teach myself to cook in 2015, there's nothing holding you back.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

January 2020 Goals Update

I managed to not spend all my money on UberEats last month!

January was a successful month. For the first time in what feels like forever, I budgeted my money for the entire month and didn't overspend. I took steps to minimize the amount of interest I pay on debt. I used this debt reduction calculator to figure out the best way to pay of my loans and cards with the least amount of interest. I also opened a new credit card and initiated a balance transfer on my existing credit card debt so I can now pay it off without paying interest. I got a Citi Simplicity card and have 0% APR for 21 months. If you've got debt and your paying high interest fees, look into this option.

I took all of the food delivery apps off of my phone. I can obviously still order delivery if I want to but deleting the apps and unsubscribing from their emails has changed my behavior. We didn't order food at all in the entire month. We did go out a few times because I'd probably die if I couldn't eat La Parrilla. La Parrilla has THE BEST margaritas and I consider myself an expert on the topic. I started making hard boiled egg avocado toast and chicken caprese salads. Very tasty and not that difficult to eat in the car.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

New Nails

It only took 6 years but I've found a way to have my bling nails and still hook grip!

Weightlifting has been a real pain in the ass for my nails. Prior to finding CrossFit, I sported a French manicure of decent length and this was before I regularly used gel polish. It took serious effort to keep a regular polish French manicure chip-free. I carried around a little polish pen because I am neurotic and extra. I kept my nails short because longer nails hurt in a hook grip and I had an unfortunate incident where I missed a lift and my thumbnail got lifted by the barbell but the gel manicure didn't have much give and it was really really painful.

My friend and fabulous manicurist Kayla has patiently polished my short nails for like 3 or 4 years now. We upgraded to dip powder but I was still hesitant to grow my nails out because I like to hook grip. I felt like the edges of my nails were digging into my skin whenever I would lift. But Kayla has finally convinced me to try a new nail shape and these almond nails are a game changer. Not even the God awful power snatch and thruster workout last Saturday bothered my fingers. :: insert praise hands emoji ::

Kayla's new salon MOD Nails and Beauty is located at 736 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30306 in the same shopping center as Bookhouse Pub. It shares a parking lot with Southern Star Tattoo, MJQ, and the Drunken Unicorn. Kayla is also pretty dang amazing at home decor so this salon is gorgeous.
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