2017 Year In Review

skeeze / Pixabay

Another year has come and gone.  2017 has been an interesting year in the world, that’s for sure.  Definitely one for the record books.  But personally, it’s been a pretty decent year.  I’m ending it nursing an injury, so sports-wise I’m a little frustrated, so it’s been good to look back at all that I accomplished over the year.

At the beginning of the year, I set some goals.

  1. Continue with Swim Bike Fuel Nutrition Plan
  2. Increase my FTP
  3. Volunteer More
  4. Spend an Hour a Week Crafting
  5. Try to Keep My House Clean

I’d say I hit about 50%.  Sometime mid-year, my diet fell off the rails, but I didn’t start gaining weight back til November.  It’s the holiday eating, I’m sure, and I’m hoping to get those few pounds back off by the end of January. Getting back to basics will surely help.

I did manage to increase my cycling FTP by leaps and bounds.  I’ve still got plenty of room for improvement, but this was an awesome year for biking.

I got in some race volunteering, though not as much as I would like.  Planning to continue to step that up this year.  Race day volunteering is so much fun.  It’s also exhausting.

Crafting… yeah, that didn’t last.  Maybe I should go for one hour a month.  And my house, well it’s a total disaster, especially since I was so busy through December.  I think that getting the house clean is probably a more important goal, but it’s way less exciting.

Race wise, it was an excellent year.  I broke my five year old half marathon PR and had some amazing triathlons.  I PRed a couple of races and I even jumped off of a ferry to start a race.  I got to hang out with friends and Coeur teammates all through the race season.  It was an incredibly fun year.  I definitely missed doing a big long race, but I had a blast with the shorter races (and when I’m out doing 60 mile rides, I’ll probably regret the decision to race long in 2018).

Still figuring out what 2018 has in store, but I’m sure it’s going to be a great year!


Recipe – Crock Pot Sweet Potato Chili

So I don’t know about you, but I have been leaning in to this “fat and jolly” season just a bit too much. My pants are feeling tight, and as much as I would like to blame the dryer, I’m pretty sure that isn’t the case. Right now, my big plan is to get back to meal planning and batch cooking. This is so much easier to do in the winter. Soups and stews are easy to make and they freeze well. I like being able to just pull a container out of the freezer and put it into the microwave for a quick meal.

One new recipe I have added to my list is Crock Pot Sweet Potato Chili, a recipe put out by Cigna. I love easy Chili recipes and I really appreciate that you can make this as spicy as you want. While I believe that spicy food should make you sweat and your lips burn, not everyone agrees with that.

Crock Pot Sweet Potato Chipotle Chili


  • 2-3 sweet potatoes (peeled and chopped). Turns out to be around 3 ½ – 4 cups
  • 3 cups broth (use less for more chili texture)
  • 1 lb ground lean pork, beef, chicken, or turkey (see notes for using precooked meat)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 14 oz diced canned tomatoes (drained). You can use garlic or onion flavor canned if you like.
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 2-3 cup chopped cauliflower (add as much or little as you’d like).
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 chipotles in adobo, chopped, found on Spanish or Mexican foods aisle or, ½ cup to 2/3 cup hot chipotle salsa may be substituted.
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 shallot (diced) or 1/4 cup red onion (optional)
  • Herbs to garnish
  • optional cheese toppings


1 First chop and peel your potatoes. Place in a microwave safe bowl and steam with 1 tbsp water in them for 90 seconds.

2 Next add your ground meat to the crock pot with broth and oil. (Other option is to brown meat beforehand so you do get as much grease in crock pot.)

3 Add your tomatoes, sweet potato, onion, cauliflower and mix all together.

4 Finally, add your seasonings and chipotle peppers with sauce.

5 Stir and cook on high for 3 to 4 hrs.

6 Add your shallots the last hour if you adding them.

7 Add more paprika and or black pepper and sea salt when finished cooking if desired.

8 Garnish with fresh herbs such as cilantro, or basil works well, too.

Inside Tracker Update – December 2017 Test

I have been avoiding my latest Inside Tracker test because my diet has not been great lately.  As we joke in the office, we’re just leaning in to the “fat and jolly” part of the season.  And all that is great – in moderation. Moderation is not something I’m good at.  But I’m working on it.

So last week, I finally sucked it up and had my blood drawn for my Inside Tracker test.  I have written about these three times before, and while I did get a discount on this test as a member of the Coeur Sports team, I was an Inside Tracker user long before I got a discount, and I’m in no way being compensated for writing this.  I just really love the service.

It turns out I had no need to avoid the tests.  Because while I’ve been eating garbage, I’ve also been putting good things into my body, and all my work is showing!

So my total cholesterol is looking a lot better than it was.  This is something that I really struggle with, and a lot of it is due to genetics.  But that doesn’t mean that it’s not something I can’t work on.  The big thing here is going to be to lose weight.  Right now, my weight’s up a bit (see previously mentioned “fat and jolly”) but I’m not concerned, and will get that back off in the new year.

I know that weight loss is a polarizing thing for a lot of people, and I’m not here to tell you whether or not you can be fat and healthy.  But what I can say is that my numbers are not ideal, and therefore, for me, weight loss is a good idea.

Look at that HDL climb!  Come on little line, you can do it.  You can get into the green zone!  Unfortunately, HDL is a tough one to improve.  The big recommendations are:

  • Lose weight
  • Exercise (at least 60 minutes of moderate exercise a week)
  • Avoid trans fats
  • Medication

Clearly, I’m trying to avoid needing medication (though it may be inevitable due to genetics).  And I’m already working on the other three.  So I just need to keep going.

Boom!  This one makes me really happy.  Look at that drop out of borderline high LDL.  Okay, so it’s not a huge drop, and is just barely squeaking in, but I’m so pleased.  The big change here has really been just having oatmeal every day.  Yes, it’s not the most exciting food, but it’s easy, filling, and it’s helping.  I’m also trying to a dose of psyllium husk every day.  It’s not the most exciting, but it definitely seems to be helping.

Boom!  My triglycerides are back into the green!  The Lipid group is probably the part of the test that always gives me the most concern because there are some clear health issues, and I love that I have some key things to work on.

I was really expecting this to be worse, given the sugar in my diet as of late.  It’s still not great, but not as bad as I thought.  Guess what’s going to help here?  Cleaning up my diet and losing weight, which really go hand in hand.

B12 is one that’s definitely important for athletes, and I’ve seen a solid jump here.  I wish I could say that it was entirely due to diet, but it’s not.  I’ve added a supplement, and I’m pleased to see that it’s put me right into the optimized zone, but not too high.

This one was a surprise.  Two possibilities here.  Dehydration, which is something I struggle with in the winter months.  My office is freezing cold and so drinking enough water is tough.  But I’m going to keep at it (and also drink a ton of herbal tea).  I’m also going to add an electrolyte supplement to some of my water.  Finally, I need to pay attention to the sodium levels in my food.  It’s not something that I really think about save for right before and after a race – because I know that if I don’t have enough salt, I end up with a crazy headache post-race.  I’m going to see where my sodium intake falls and then make some changes based on that.

So there you have it, my latest test.  If you’re interested in Inside Tracker, I highly recommend you check them out.  It’s a great service and their team is incredibly responsive and helpful.



What’s In My Bag: Purse Edition

Various magazines often post lists of what celebrities carry in their purses.  It made me wonder how my purse stacks up.  Plus it was well past time to clean it out, so I thought I would document the process.  I pretty regularly switch between purses, and try to carry a smallish bag, but haven’t switched out from my big purse after my trip to Florida at the end of November.  That means it’s starting to fill up with ridiculous things.  

Starting out, it’s not looking too crazy.  From top to bottom:

  • Portable phone charger
  • iPhone earbuds
  • Giant keychain with way too many things for the small number of keys
  • Pen case (for the fancy fountain pens I carry) plus two “regular” pens.  Note that the fancy pens aren’t currently in the case and instead are strewn about my office and house
  • Two snacks.  Because everyone needs snacks.

Still pretty normal purse contents.

  • Sunglasses case (with sunglasses inside)
  • Reusable bag
  • Altoids and weird licorice candies
  • Cough drops, which are weird, only because I’m not sure when I last had a cough.
  • Business card case

This one’s a bit misleading because I didn’t open up the pouch, which contains all sorts of ridiculousness.

  • Pouch with lipstick, mirror, hair bands, spare contacts, medications, and other random tiny things
  • Wallet
  • Bottle of hotel lotion from a trip I took in May
  • Mickey Tsum Tsum lip balm that I bought on a whim (which is now stacked on my desk)
  • More chapstick

And now we get into the random stuff

  • Passion Planner – I LOVE this thing
  • Holiday CD from a coworker
  • Massage ball
  • Pile of garbage
  • Gum, plus loose gum that fell out of the container
  • An Action Wipe… in case I sweat and need to wipe down? I’m not sure why this is in my purse.  Usually these are in my gym bags.
  • You are Beautiful stickers

So that’s the full list of what was in my purse.  Most things went back in, save for the trash and the Mickey lip balm.  Anything random in your bag?  I think next up I’m going to dig through my tri bag, because that thing is a disaster.


A Reluctant Yoga Practitioner

I can’t do this post at all. Nope. Pretty sure my arms don’t work like that. StockSnap / Pixabay

Guys.  I have never liked yoga.  I just can’t get into the whole “center yourself and feel the strength of the earth move through your body” thing.  When that happens, all I can think is “Hurry up, I’ve got things to do, let’s get this show on the road!”

But I may have been too quick to judge.  Turns out there are all sorts of types of yoga.  Which means that there’s probably one that’s right for me.  And one where I don’t have to envision the powers of the ancestors flowing in and out of my finger tips.  Or whatever.  Like I said, I stop listening when things get weird.

I’ve been dealing with some nagging issues in my hips and glutes.  It’s probably all tied to my piriformis and general tight muscles.  I have never been flexible.  I’ve been seeing a PT and doing a lot of strength work, and I’m definitely noticing improvement, but it’s been slow.

Since my calf muscle is still healing after tweaking it at Space Coast, my coach told me that I needed to be doing yoga every day to get my body stretched out and healed.  She recommended Yoga with Adriene as the best option, so I’ve been doing some of her videos daily, mostly the ones for runners, and I have to say, my piriformis feels almost perfect.  Now, the not-running as I heal is probably helping, and of course my PT exercises, but it wasn’t til I added in yoga that I really noticed an uptick.  I might just be ready to try a 30-day yoga challenge.  It’s on YouTube, so I can really do it anywhere.

Also, my shoulders are perpetually tight.  I try to stretch them out, but I don’t have anything structured that I do.  You know what might help with that?  Yoga.

So I guess I’m going to be sticking with this yoga thing.  You still aren’t going to find me in yoga class every week, but I can certainly do a 15-20 minute video after my workouts.  Maybe someday I will be able to touch my toes.