Friday, July 29, 2011

Operation Gym Coup: Final Review

The whole month of June I had been gearing myself up for the last week and shuffling plans around in my head to find time to hit the gym on Friday, the last day of the month. After all, how can I finish the mission strong if I don't even go to the gym on the last day? The problem was, my man is coming home on Friday! It had only been a month since I'd seen him, but it had been two months since he'd been home and I could not wait! So I had been playing out the day in my head...should I go before work which I hate doing or should I go after work and be stressed out because I gotta get ready to pick him up at 8 pm from the airport.

After all of that stressing, I got pretty excited when I found out what you probably already know. Did you say, "huh?" when you read that Friday is the last day of the month? Well, you should have. I was checking out the calendar during that week guess what I learned. Thursday was the last day of the month! Not Friday. I totally knew that Stud was coming home Friday, July 1st, but for almost the whole month I kept thinking that Friday was still part of June and therefore, part of my mission month. I think this happened because I associated my husband being gone with Operation Gym Coup since the mission took place the (almost) entire length of time between my visiting him in San Diego and his coming home. Makes sense, right? Either way, I will have completed the mission on Thursday and wouldn't have to worry about squeezing in a gym visit on Friday after all! Halelujah! That was a good surprise.

Officially, I have to say that I really shouldn't get so excited about not having to go to the gym just because the month is over and, technically, my mission only lasted one month. I mean, that makes it look like I didn't learn anything, doesn't it?

Officially, I should want to go to the gym on Friday anyway...and most days after that as well.

I got so excited about not being required to go to the gym on Friday that it really reminded me that my attitude about working out isn't where I want it to be. Granted, most of the reason that I didn't want to go on Friday is because, frankly, I didn't care about anything that happened on that day except seeing my husband.  However, there was still a big part of me that wanted the mission to be over so I didn't have to go to the gym and that's the part of me that I'm trying to transform. Like any lifestyle change, one of the hardest parts is establishing new habits. I figured that if I made myself go to the gym enough to make it a habit, after that I would actually want to go to the gym. Either I was too preoccupied during the month of June for this to take a effect, or it just took a little longer than expected.

At this point, I know I am a month late in writing this review, I feel like I am much closer to that ideal "workout attitude" than I was at the end of my mission. So I guess it's a good thing it took me so long to write this because back at the end of June, I would have still been just hoping for it. Yeah, that's why I didn't update you right away. Ha.

So if you've been following along on this mission, you're probably wondering if I succeeded. Did I get my name on the list of Top Ten Biggest Users?

Take a look: 

Are you hearing that pathetic game show music when the contestant loses? Yeah. I was hearing that too when I saw it. What made it MUCH worse was that it was my bright idea to run by Anytime and check with Stud on his last day home. I was already either crying or thinking about crying most of the day since Stud would be leaving that day and then I had to go and check the stupid list. Man, I was disappointed. And frustrated. And angry. I had missed the list by two gym visits. Stud tried to give me a pep talk on the short ride home, but I knew I could have done it...I just didn't. My husband is super good at helping me keep a healthy attitude about fitness. He's challenging but understanding. He told that I had had a lot going on and that I couldn't get down about it because that would probably keep me from going to the gym the next month. Luckily (sort of), saying good-bye to him later that afternoon put the whole mission-failure woes right out of my mind.

When I came back to focus on it, I decided that it was already too late into the month of July to try to start over the very next month and log enough gym visits. Stud was here from the 1st through the 10th and though we did workout together twice, it was not the focus. On top of that, I was in San Diego the weekend after that (to read about that awesome last weekend check out this post). So I decided that I wasn't going to push the issue during the month of July. I did, however, get right back on the horse and have been to the gym several times in the last couple of weeks and it has felt great.

It is still my goal to make it on the list one of these months. It just may be August too so stay tuned!

Oh, and by the way, when you saw "Andrew B." on the list did you have to look twice? That's the second miserable time that that name has crushed my spirits. Waaaaay back in 4th grade we were getting ready to end the school year and my teacher was giving away prizes of things that we had used during the year but weren't needed for the next year. When each item was to be given away he would draw a name and then write it on the board with all of us watching. I don't remember what the item was but I clearly remember my teacher writing "A-N-D-R-E.....W." UGH. Stupid Andrew. What a letdown. That last letter was suppposed to be an "A"! You know, you see five out of the six letters of your name it and it never occurs to you that the 6th letter won't be what you're expecting. At least, those are my feelings. Sorry to anyone of you named Andrew reading this. It's not that I don't like you, it's just that your name has caused a decent amount of disappointment in my life. But perhaps so has mine for you so I guess we're even. 

It's been such a long time...

If you aren't hearing Boston after reading that didn't grow up with my dad. Loooove Boston! But, really, it's been forever since I posted. Sorry about that. The end of June and July so far have been pretty whirling for me. The last week in June I was preparing for my hubby to come home for his last leave before he deployed. Ten amazing days flew by and then he was gone again.We packed a lot into that time. We saw lots of family and friends, got to visit the newest addition to our family (my cousin's sweet baby boy), caught a movie, went to the gun range with our dads, had a party for Stud and saw fireworks on the Fourth, had a date night at the Melting Pot (yum!), managed to work out twice together, went to church, kayaked, played laser tag, hung out at the pool, finally picked out some wedding pictures (it's been a year and a half!) and just enjoyed being together. It was great. Saying goodbye, though, was really not great. Man, do I hate that part. Stud had to go back to CA for about a week before he actually left for Afghanistan.

By Wednesday of that next week I was in the swing of my normal routine, though still missing my husband terribly especially knowing that we were now in the long haul and that it would be several months before we would see each other again. That night on the phone, Stud casually mentioned that he had the weekend off and all I could think about was how much I wished I could be there to spend that time with him. Thursday morning I couldn't help but texting, "Would it be ridiculous to try to come out this weekend?" Expecting my much-more-level-headed husband to say something to the affirmative, his response of, "No, it wouldn't. Last chance to see me," sent me into a frenzy of surfing travel websites and making calls. Just a few hours later I had the approval from work to take a half day on Friday, the commitment from my dad to bring me to the airport and pick me up and a seat on a flight out to San Diego.

I gotta admit, I felt a little like a crazy person making such an impulse decision to leave the state, but that didn't last long. I was so excited to spend one more weekend together, and it was such short notice that I didn't even have to spend more than two days in aggravating anticipation!

I wasn't able to get a direct flight there (or back), but even leaving at 2:45 pm I got to San Diego at about 6:00 pm (I love gaining those two hours in the time change). The plan was for him to get a ride to the airport and meet me there, but he didn't get released until an hour and a half after he expected so he was running late. I decided to go ahead and take the shuttle to get our rental car and meet up after that. I had arranged to rent a Dodge Charger to surprise Stud because he is all about the Charger right now. I was pretty bummed, though, to learn that they didn't have one on hand when I went to pick it up. I was informed that one was supposed to be coming back very soon and, since I had to wait for Stud to get to San Diego anyway, I decided to wait at the car rental station and see if the car would come in. I waited FOR-E-VER. The lady who had helped me felt bad for me for waiting so long so by the time Stud was getting to San Diego (over two hours later than expected), she offered me ANY car in the place. "Take the convertible!" she said. Oh yeah! So out of the rental station I drove in a pristine, white Mustang convertible. They were so nice that they even said they would call when the Charger came in and we could switch out the cars if Stud still had his heart set on a Charger. The minute, though, that he got in the convertible he assured me that there was no way we'd be exchanging it for the Charger. Ha! We absolutely loved driving around in that baby all weekend.

That whole experience of waiting for Stud and not getting the car I thought I wanted was the only hitch in the entire weekend...and look at how it turned out! Free upgrade! The whole weekend was beautiful. Absolutely amazing.

Stud is gone now. He's in Afghanistan and I won't see him for 7-9 months. We've both been treasuring the memories from that weekend and letting the good times be our comfort when we're missing each other.

So, partly for my own therapy and partly so you can share in the magic, here are some pictures from our blissful final weekend. Oh, and I apologize for the crappy picture quality. They were all taken with my phone.

Our ride for the weekend: 

Ha! Just kidding. This baby was parked outside of a great restaurant we love called Escape Fish Bar in the Gaslamp Quarter on Friday night. It caused quite the scene. The owner, wherever he/she was, left it like that with the doors open for at least a half hour causing everyone to gather around it staring or get their picture taken with it. 

You seriously MUST go to this restaurant if you are ever in San Diego. The food is delicious and both times that we were there (we went there the first time I went to visit Stud), the owner was there working and mingling with the customers. It's a small operation but I think that's what makes it so good. Can't wait to go back there.

Check out their website here.

Ok, serioulsy. Here's what we got to drive all weekend: 

Who is that handsome man?!

 That car was a blast. Driving around was fun all by itself...just had to remember the sun tan lotion! All the guys on base wanted a ride (partly just because almost no one has their own vehicle) and we had a ton of fun testing its limits on freeway.

Now here is a look at some of the fabulous food we ate at a restaurant in Seaport Village called the Harbor House: 

Check them out here!

We ate on the patio overlooking the water: 
Photos courtesy of the Harbor House website.
Oyster shots! What a kick!

After an amazing dinner we took a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, just like we did on our honeymoon in New York City. 

His name was "Doc"

And a little later that night...

ZnQAsf on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs
Fireworks on the water.
make animated gifs like this at MakeAGif

And here is where we stayed: Camp Pendleton (45 miles North of San Diego).

Where Brandon was living; the front gate to Camp Pendleton.

Stud had to spend some time packing

That little roll is one day's worth of under clothes: shirt, shorts and socks.

And getting a haircut

Those guys can cut a head of hair in about 7 minutes! Haircuts are a weekly requirement for all Marines.

On Sunday, our last day, we visited Old Town again (we had gone there a couple times the last time I visited Stud). That area, and a lot of San Diego, is filled with beautiful, flowering trees.

It almost makes up for the fact that San Diego is sooo dry. I'm always happy to be surrounded by green when I get home.

I wouldn't know how to reproduce the shots below but I think they're kinda cool!

The nature here is so different from home. There's always something really cool to look at.

You can't really get more vibrant colors.

It is such a beautiful place and there are shops everywhere. It's the historic heart of San Diego so most of the shops have a Mexican theme to them and their are lots of Mexican restaurants from which to choose.
We happened upon a lovely wine bar with the most inviting outdoor seating.

We lounged there for awhile and shared a bottle of our favorite wine. It was so relaxing and lovely.

Even their bathroom was a sight to see, painted as a scene from the bottom of the sea:

I definitely want to go back to that place. We were the only ones there so it was marvelous. Of course, not many people are drinking wine at 2 or 3 in the afternoon, but, hey, it was our last weekend and we can't help what time of day we stumble across a delightful wine bar.

The fantastic thing about this weekend, other than the simple fact that I was with my husband 24/7, was that it was a bonus. Completely unplanned. We had no idea that we would get this time together and since we had already spent several days in San Diego a little over a month before, there was no pressure to "see" San Diego. Of course, no matter how many times you go to San Diego, there will always be new things to see and do, but we didn't really do anything new this time. It was low-key and perfect. It was comforting and romantic to visit some of the same places that we had seen the first time around, like they were "our" restaurants or "our" nooks. So to finish off our last day, we headed to La Jolla, a place where we had dinner with a view of the sun setting on the ocean that last time we were in the city. We were too early for the sunset this time, but that didn't matter. The restaurant is called Brockton Villa and it has a great patio that sits a couple stories above the road that runs along the coast. From there you can see and hear the seals sunning themselves on the rocks and playing in the water.

This was our view last time:

And this is where we sat this time:
Click here to see a virtual tour of this ocean-side restaurant.

After we ate there, we walked down to the coast and explored a little. It was really pretty.

I do wish we would have had a little more time there. There was so much to explore there and it was beautiful. They even had a little cave/tunnel down by the water that you could go in.

Here are some more pictures of the incredible wildlife.

We got a glimpse of the sunset at the very end. 

From there it was back to San Diego to drop off the Mustang and catch the shuttle to the airport. The USO at the airport conveniently offers rides from the airport back to Camp Pendleton so Stud was able to be with me right until I had to go through security. We got to the airport with about 30 minutes for getting checked-in and saying goodbye. Brandon waited right on the other side of security to wave goodbye at the very last moment that we could see each other, just like I had done when he left Minnesota and we thought we wouldn't see each other again before he left. That goodbye was super hard. You wonder if you're hugging him for the last time ever and seeing his face for the last time. Even if you try not to think that way, it creeps in. 

God must have known I needed a distraction because that flight (to AZ for a quick layover) was the first time I've flown where I chit-chatted with the person next to me. Without that person to talk to, I probably would have wallowed in the sadness the whole flight. In no time I was on the next flight on my way home to Minneapolis and was thrilled to learn that I had been upgraded to First Class so that they could seat a family together. I didn't believe it at first but after checking and double-checking my ticket I was delighted to sink into the extra big, leather seat where a pillow and blanket were waiting. I slept almost the entire flight home, even it was only two and a half hours. I had to work the next on only about three hours of sleep but I would have put myself through a lot worse than that for the chance to spend that last weekend together.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Operation Gym Coup: Week Three Review

Wow! It's already the end of week three! Do you know what that means? It means Stud comes home in ONE WEEK! I can't wait. Until then, I still have some major work to do.

This mission has been going well but I haven't always been super enthusiastic about getting myself to the gym. In fact last Thursday I was practically in tears on the phone with my hubby. It was probably like 9:30 pm and I still hadn't gone to the gym and I hadn't gone the last two nights either. I couldn't afford that kind of slacking if I were still going to meet my goal. On top of that, I was going out of town that weekend and for sure wouldn't get to the gym Saturday and if I were going to go Friday, it needed to be in the morning before work. So there I was, on the couch, not wanting to leave the house knowing that not only would it be a late night, but also an early morning if I were going to get to the gym before work.

But Stud definitely encouraged me. He reminded me that a goal is a priority. Since when can you achieve your goals without having to sacrifice anything? Wasn't I going up north to relax all weekend? Couldn't I just push through the next twelve hours? How important is my goal anyway?

Needless to say, I got up, put on my gym clothes and made it to the gym by 10 something AND was right back there at 6:20 am the next morning. It sure felt good to follow through and I'm pretty appreciative of my hubby's motivational speeches.

Lately I've been thinking about what I like too much that prevents me from making my goals the priorities they should be. Here's a list of things that I've come up with so far:
1. Sleeeeeeeeeeep!
2. Relaxation/down time
3. Talking to Stud on the phone (that one seems fair!)
4. Crafting
5. Movies

All of these things often seem way more enticing than hitting the gym. However, I've been trying really hard to not see the gym as a drag, but as a commitment to the lifestyle that I want to have. It's like that song from the Sound of Music: "Nothing comes from nothing. Nothing ever could." I can't expect to get fit without putting the work in. By the way, I think there's something to learn from that song, Big Bang theorists...helllooooo!

I was also really encouraged this week by getting a chance to meet and talk to one of the new owners of the Eden Prairie Anytime Fitness. She and her husband just bought it a couple of weeks ago and they happened to be there later at night one night this week. I was happy to see someone in the office because I had noticed that on, where I can track how many visits to the gym I have made, it only logs one visit per day. When I realized this I was pretty bummed because I needed to swipe my card twice a couple of days to get credit for doing the MS 150 (especially since I was gone those days and couldn't get to the gym if I wanted to) and I was also banking on getting some more double days in on the weekends to make up for some of my slacker days during the week. By the time I realized it was only counting once a day, I was already to the point where I thought I wouldn't be able to catch up even if I went every day until the end of the month. However, I talked to Amanda, the new owner, at the gym and she was able to look me up on their computer and confirm that all of my visits are indeed being counted, just not on my personal page at 

Not only that but she looked at some other numbers and told me that I was currently in second place!

Yep. There was only one person who had logged more visits that I had (three more, to be exact). Wow! That was such a boost! This victory is mine for the taking! And it IS that dramatic. Ha. 

So with the pep talk from my husband, the knowledge that all of my visits are being logged and the little tidbit that I'm scarcely behind the top biggest user,  I had no problem getting to the gym almost every night this week. 

This last week is the final push and I plan to go twice both days this weekend since I have most of the weekend free. I'm even getting better at doing some weight-lifting and not just cardio while I'm at the gym. It is really important to add weight training to your routine. A lot of the time I feel like lifting weights is just robbing from my cardio time but the more muscle you have, the more calories your burn at rest so it's really not a bad trade-off. Plus, feeling sore the next couple of days really makes me feel like I did something and it's tangible evidence of your muscles (and your body) transforming little by little. 

This is what I got to see on my way to the gym one night last week: 

Couldn't ask for a better backdrop!

Here's to finishing out this last week strong!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Operation Good News

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you have learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

2 Timothy 3:14-17

As a Christian, it's not just a nice idea to read the Bible. It's of utmost importance...and it's not optional. Matthew 4:4 reveals what we can already intuit, that physical nourishment isn't enough to satisfy a child of God: "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." In John 4:13,14 Jesus himself told the woman at the well, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." We must be convinced that we are not just flesh and bones whose only needs are physical. We need and crave spiritual food just as C. S. Lewis wrote, "You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body."

Moreover, it's our responsibility to know the truth that is found in God's word (2 Timothy 2:15 compels us to be someone who is "rightly dividing the word of truth") and we are indeed commanded  in Joshua 1:8 to "meditate on it day and night." With verses as plain as that, there's no getting around the fact that Christians need to be in the Word. 

Lack of direction can be one of my biggest obstacles to staying in the Word. I can't tell you how many times I have sat down to read my Bible and couldn't think of where to start. Should I start a new book? Read some psalms or proverbs? Do a topical study? I've even opened my Bible to a random page and started reading from there. Part of the incredible beauty of the Bible is that you can be fed even through such haphazard methods. What you have read 20 times can reveal new truth the 21st time and what you randomly read one night can be more perfect than anything you could have methodically been searching for. Hebrews 4:12 explains why every bit of the Bible is so powerful: "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

Unfortunately there are a variety of things that keep me from reading the Bible as much as I know I want and need to. And what's a great way to turn this situation around? Make it a mission! If this is your first look at one of my missions, you can check out my whole philosophy behind missions here. For those of you already up to speed, you know what's next: OSMEAC.

O Here's where I am: I've got more Bibles around the house than days of the week but they are read far too sparingly. 

S Here's what's happening: I'm not getting the spiritual food I need. Just like a relationship with another person, your relationship with God needs to be cultivated. I wouldn't expect to grow closer to my husband if I never talked to him, would I? And how foolish would I be if I never read the emails and letters and texts that he sent me? All relationships require time and effort. As a Christian, I have so much to gain from reading the Bible and yet it often seems like a struggle to make it daily habit. 

M Here's what I'm going to do: My mission is to read the entire New Testament, the Good News of what Jesus has done for us, by the end of the summer (that is September 1st). There are 27 books in the New Testament...."each one a special part. So I learned this song and it didn't take long till I knew them all by heart!" Sorry. Those songs you learn as a little kid really stick with you! So, like I was saying, 27 books make up the New Testament and, in my Bible, that's almost exactly 500 pages. 

E Here's how I'm going to do it: There are approximately 10 weeks left of summer so that breaks down to about 50 pages a week, which is less than 10 pages a attainable is that?! Honestly, this mission almost seems too easy. But I'm gonna stick with this time line so that I really get the most out of this mission and don't just rush through these truth-packed pages. I typically like to read my Bible before bed but I'm going to be flexible about when and where I read. 

A Here's what will help: As usual, being intentional is key to most of life's pursuits. Reading my Bible is something I think about every day, but it's not something I'm intentional about every day. This mission will not only help me organize a plan and provide direction, it will remind me that I have to consciously pursue the things that are important to me. It will help motivate me to read because I'll know exactly what I'm going to be reading when I open my Bible instead of picking a passage on the fly. 

I'm also excited to make this my first mission with a call to action! Something that I think would be an awesome support for this goal is to partner with other readers. If you are interested in joining me on this mission, please let me know! I would love to share what we learn and the new things that stand out to us as we go. I'm looking for at least five partners with this mission (and would be extremely excited to double that), to read the entire New Testament by September 1st and to share what is revealed to you in the process. I encourage you to leave a comment stating your intent to join in on this journey that will surely be rewarding. Who knows who will be encouraged and motivated by your commitment (you know it will at least be me)! 

Finally and foremost, the thing that I believe will help the most is simply getting started. Hunger for God's truth and promises is both satiated and augmented by the reading of scripture. There's no doubt in my mind that I'm really going to enjoy and be challenged by this mission!

C Here's the accountability: As always, this blog offers much of the accountability that I am relying on to accomplish this mission. I will be posting updates, though probably not weekly as I have done with other missions simply because this is a longer term mission. I will also be communicating my goal to some of my mentors in the faith to make sure that I am progressing at a nice, even pace instead of trying to read 450 pages the last two weeks of August.