Monday, May 25, 2015

DONE: Compete in a Mud Run

I did it! I participated in a mud run and had a great time. Not only did I learn a few things about myself, I have a few tips for those of you thinking of doing a mud run but aren't sure what to expect. Before I get to the details of the mud run I participated in, I want to share with you some tips.


If you are thinking of competing in a mud run...

Don't spend all your training time pounding pavement.

Let me just come out with it. I'm NOT a runner. Never have been and I'm not sure I will ever consider myself to be a runner. I've ran a 5k and a 10k in the past and did sub-par. I ran about 50% and walked the other 50% both times.

Going into this mud run, the only thing I focused on was the run. I trained by running a 5k nonstop. Now that I've done a mud run, I want to tell you, don't focus on running. Strength training, specifically upper body and core, would have served me well in this particular mud run. There were a total 18 obstacles, including monkey bars, dredging through a four foot mud pit (that was within the first 10 feet of the race), and scaling numerous wooden hurdles.

Dress in layers and bring a towel or two.

This doesn't sound like a good idea at first because you will be soaking wet but that's the point. Do you want everyone to see your goodies? There was a point in the race that really drove this home for me. I was coming down a steep hill and fell. When I stood up, my pants were half way down my butt! I was very thankful that I had on some Zaggora Hot Pants underneath. I believe being in layers also helps me stay warm when one obstacle required wading through some ice water. Talk about brutal.

By the end of the race, I was ready to go home and take a hot shower. There were some changing tents but nothing modest. Luckily I brought a towel that I laid out over the car seat. I got a little bit of mud on the floor of the car but it all cleaned up well.

Remember it's all for fun.

A mud run can be tough but the best thing about it is that everyone really rallies behind you. It's all for fun and part of the fun is cheering people along.


My experience

I'll be honest. I was very nervous going into this mud run. I had no idea what to expect and that scared the living shit out of me. The fact that there was a mud pit within 10 feet of the starting line didn't help either. The Boof has some very incriminating footage of my takeoff at the starting line. I have to admit, even I laughed at myself when I saw it.

Unfortunately, half way through the race, I slipped down a hill and twisted my ankle. I kept it moving though and heard a pop when I sprinted across the finish line. No bueno. 

It was a great experience and Pres thought it was fun. She didn't see me fall, thank goodness. It was a great way to start off our morning. Due to the running I had done in preparation, I wasn't very sore the next day. 

Would I do it again? Yes! And perhaps, now that I know what to expect, I'd train differently and be a little more bold throughout the race.



Sunday, May 3, 2015

5 Money Saving & Earning Apps You Should Be Using Now

Before you read the five apps that will start saving and earning you money, it's important to know that I'm not the most technically savvy person. I'm still rocking an iPhone 4s and I have no desire to trade it in as long as it's still doing it's job. That being said, I am a rather frugal person. I LOVE saving money. Sometimes to a fault. Over the course of about two years, I've used a number of apps that claimed they would save money or a way I could earn it. Quite a few were a big waste of time. Through trial and error, I present to you the five apps that WILL save and earn you money.

Money Saving Apps

Ibotta

This is the first money saving app I ever downloaded and I use it every week. Sometimes twice or three times a week. It's easy to use and has a lot of rebates available. Once you've downloaded the app, you have to select a category and store, for example Grocery and Vons. You will then see a list of rebates available (see below). As you can see, there is a mix of branded items and non-brand specific items. Click on the rebate you'd like to add to your list and complete the task. Tasks range from watching a short video to answering a question. Once you've gone to the store, scan your items with the app, then take a picture, and wait for the money to be added to your account. The great thing about Ibotta is that their payout is only $10. Very easy to reach. Invite friends to join and you now have a team. As a team, you can save and earn together with monthly team challenges. Since joining in February 2014, I've saved $101.50! That easily pays for my Starbucks fix.


Checkout 51

Another money saving app, like Ibotta, Checkout 51 allows you to earn rebates on products you purchase. Over the course of six months, I've racked up $12.50 in rebates. Unfortunately, the cash out threshold is $20, so I still have a little ways to go. However, what I like about Checkout 51 in comparison to Ibotta is that the rebates aren't store specific. So those bananas that I buy at the 99 Cent Store work for a rebate with Checkout 51. Unlike Ibotta, there are no tasks to complete. Simply upload your receipt.



Snap by Groupon

This app helps me satisfy my love of the chase. With new deals loaded each Wednesday, it's important to claim those rebates as soon as possible. A limited number are release and often go fast for non-brand specific items, such as lettuce or milk. Just like Checkout 51, Snap's rebates can be redeemed if purchased at any store. The cash out for this app is also $20, which is easy to reach if you stay on top of the new rebates released every week. I'm really loving life when I can redeem a rebate for the same product in two different apps. Extra savings!


Money Earning Apps

Shopkick

I just downloaded this app a couple of weeks ago and I'm regretting that I didn't do it sooner. The first day of joining, I earned 500 kicks which translates to $2. Not bad for simply opening the app as I walk into Target, a planned shopping trip. Aside from walk-in kicks, some stores offer scan kicks. All you have to do is scan the specified product as you are going about your normal shopping routine. Sometimes I can't find a product and have to do a little extra searching but it still only adds about 5 minutes to my trip. With a redemption of just 500 kicks, you can score a $2 Target card. Acquire more kicks if you want more options. Like I mentioned, I started using this app two weeks ago and already have over 2,000 kicks, well on my way to a $10 gas card.


Receipt Hog

This is another great app that allows you to accumulate points for doing your regular shopping. Simply scan you store receipts and watch the coins add up. Once you've uploaded at least one receipt every week for five weeks, you go "hog wild" and earn a spin on the "Hog Slots" as a way to earn additional coins. Refer friends and you'll earn 10 bonus spins. After 1,000 coins, you can redeem them for cash via PayPal or Amazon gift cards. Not too shabby!



Since using all five of these apps, I'm well on my way to earning at least $500 extra a year. Who couldn't use a little extra money, right? Try them out and let me know what you think.

Friday, April 17, 2015

DONE: See a Movie in Hollywood Forever Cemetery

It's no secret that this girl loves bucket lists and cemeteries, so it shouldn't be a surprise that I've been dying (don't mind the tasteless pun) to see a movie in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The Boof and I visited this cemetery years ago and fell in love. There are a number of well-known people buried here. Jane Mansfield, Rudolph Valentino, Cecile DeMill ("I'm ready for my close up Mr. DeMill."), Dee Dee Ramone, Johnny Ramone, Bugsy Siegel, and Toto from The Wizard of Oz just to name a few. The grounds are beautiful too. You may have seen them if you've watched the movies The Green Hornet with Seth Rogen or Valentine's Day with Ashton Kutcher. If you've seen Valentine's Day, you have an idea of what watching a movie in the cemetery actually looks like. It sounds really creepy but it is quite the opposite. The movie is projected on a mausoleum wall and the audience sits on low rise lawn chairs or blankets in a grassy knoll that doesn't have any tombstones. For the most part you don't even know you're in a cemetery.  


After years of saying we were going to see a movie, The Boof and I finally did. Boy am I glad we waited too. We managed to get tickets to see the 30th anniversary screening of Purple Rain. This is major! Our first date was a Prince concert. Our wedding song is a Prince song. Presley's first concert was Morris Day and The Time. As you can see, we're fans.




Before and after the movie a guest DJ spins tunes (eek, that sounded like an old lady). Guess who was the guest DJ on the night we went? Nope, not Prince. I would have fainted. It was QuestLove of The Roots. Pretty damn awesome, right?


If you ever decide to do this, I have a few tips.

1. Sign up for email notifications at Cinespia.org

This is the company that puts this event together. Since it is Southern California and our summers are pretty long, screenings start in April and continue until October. Every month Cinespia will email you the monthly screenings. Another great thing about Cinespia. They take polls throughout the year to see what movies their customers want to see. I've suggested a few. Although I'm not too sure how much L.A.'s hipsters will like a screening of Mean Girls.

2. Bring cash for parking

We parked in a small, private lot along side Paramount Studios. It was $10. There were a number of private businesses offering parking for $8-12. We just stopped at the lot that was the most convenient and looked like our car wouldn't get bashed.


3. Bring food, drinks, and a tarp

Snacks and drinks are permitted, even alcohol. Just wine and beer but still pretty cool.
Also, I highly recommend a tarp for under your blanket. Luckily we brought two blankets that we were able to stack on top of each other. When we left, the bottom blanket was pretty wet. A tarp would have been better.
If you can hold out for some munchies after the movie, find a local food truck. L.A. is crawling with them, especially on the weekends. The Boof and I made a point to find Roy Choi's food truck, Kogi. It's Korean and Mexican fusion food. Damn good food!


If you are in L.A. don't let the location spook you. It's the perfect summer option for reacquainting yourself with an old classic.

Monday, April 6, 2015

5 Things Losing 30 Pounds Taught Me


Earlier this year I made a vow, or what some call a resolution, to lose weight. Specifically, lose 50 pounds. Well that goal has changed. Originally, I started with 50 pounds because it nearly seemed impossible. I'm now 30 pounds lighter and KNOW I can reach my goal weight of 135 this year. How much does that leave me to lose with 30 pounds already gone? 50 pounds. Sure, it's a lot to lose in one year but I know it's possible now. Here are a couple of things losing those first 30 pounds has taught me.

1. Use the 24 Hour Rule

This may sound like a nightmare but just hear me out. Think about the first day of any lifestyle change you've made in the past. How excited were you when you woke up that day? Did you find yourself deflecting your normal temptations? I guess I can only speak for myself but on day one, I always (I say always because I've had a lot of day ones) have more ambition and discipline than on day two or day 100. Why? It's just 24 hours. That's what I tell myself and it helps me get through the day.
So when I found myself having a bad day; maybe I went out for lunch or skipped a workout, I told myself it's just 24 hours. Then I realized I could use that mantra every day. If you've ever tried to lose weight, I'm sure you understand where I'm coming from when I say it's a slow tedious process. Some days seem like they are moving backwards, while others zip by like a blur. If I wake up and tell myself it's just 24 hours, I find it less daunting than thinking about the 50 pounds I want to lose or even just the two pounds I want to lose that week.
I'll admit not every day is easy. Occasionally I just want it to end, and if The Boof is around I'll ask him to put the kids to bed so I can tuck myself in. I've only done this a handful of times but a nice rest does the trick and usually leads to an awesome morning workout.


Pave your own trail. Your beginning may not be someone else's and that's okay.

2. Stop Comparing Your Journey 

Okay, I'm guilty of this on more than one occasion. In the past, I would hear how someone lost 10 pounds overnight on a kumquat diet and jump on the bandwagon only to be disappointed by not achieving the same results. This time, however, I learned to just stay the course. Don't worry about following a specific diet or what worked for others. Being a fitness magazine hoarder, I know the things I should and shouldn't be eating. So I started simple. I actually opened the My Fitness Pal app I'd had on my phone and started using it to track my food intake and exercise. I also dug my Fitbit out of the jewelry case and consistently tracked my steps. Initially it was just to get a feel of what I had to do to hit my goal of 10,000 steps a day. Then I started having competitions with friends that have Fitbits. If you're interested in a little competition, you can request me on Fitbit via nikkiraeink@yahoo.com.
My point is that you shouldn't think too hard about another person's journey. Sure, those success stories are hard to stay away from and have some great tips but no one knows your body better than you do. When you find something that works for you, stick to it and don't let yourself be enticed by the kumquat diet.

3. Create Visual Aids


I'm a huge fan of vision boards which somewhat explains my addiction to Pinterest. Earlier this year, I made a vision board mainly focused on my fitness/health goals. A small 8x11 didn't seem like enough so I decided to devote the bottom half to my goals for the year. In the past I kept my vision board in the closet so I could see it every morning, but this time I put it on the refrigerator. I have quite a bit to cross off still but it serves as a reminder when I want to snack senselessly.
I also love using Pinterest to pin outfits I can't wait to wear. As a plus sized individual, I've never felt comfortable in clothes. However, as I've shed some weight, I'm really enjoying the process of discovering what does and doesn't work with my body. I've been wanting to try on some jumpsuits but don't have the guys. Perhaps another 20 pounds and I'll be more brave.

4. Learn to Love Yourself

This is a very hard lesson and perhaps the most important. I've struggled with weight my whole life and I've dealt with commentary from family about my body. Somewhere along the line, I started to care what they thought and viewed myself through rather negative lenses. I'm not blaming anyone for the way I was, I knew I ultimately had control. After the first month of exercising and eating better, I caught a glimpse of myself without clothes. As I stood in front of the mirror admiring the changes I'd worked so hard to achieve, I felt suddenly lighter. Not just physically, but spiritually. I had released hatred and doubt that served as commentary for much of my adolescence. After I finally let go of those feelings, I couldn't get enough of myself. I found myself constantly putting my hands on my waist and doing my best model pose. The Boof thought it was amusing at first, not he just ignores me. It's pretty out of control. I caught Presley mimicking me the other day. I wasn't even around and she pulled the same pose in the bathroom mirror. Hands on waist, just like me. I thought for a second about sneaking up on her and bursting her bubble but I realized something rather amazing. Through observation and imitation, Presley had started to view her own body in a more positive light. As I stood there enjoying her little show, I finally saw a reason to keep going. So many parents say they want to lose weight for their kids. To play with them or to live longer. I, on the other hand, was handed a gift. In that moment, I realized my own self worth would inevitably rub off on the girls. Lucky for me, I learned that lesson before either of them developed and mimicked my negative body image.

5. Celebrate Every Victory

Once I got out of my head and started to love myself, flaws and all, I stopped allowing the scale to run my life. Let's be honest, it's not easy when the scale stops moving. It can be hard to remain positive. Screw the 'effin scale! It's not the full picture. It doesn't account for those inches you lost around your waist or the fact that you can now run a mile without stopping. It doesn't keep track of the countless donuts you rejected or the 5k you completed. Stop being prisoner to the scale. Celebrate your accomplishments.


Now go out there and be 'effin awesome!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

#BodyTakeover

Sometimes when you are ashamed you go into hiding. Sometimes you reach a state of denial. Sometimes you just throw your hands up and say, "I don't give a shit!" Sometimes you do all the above.

For the past couple of months I've done just that. Why? It's hard to say. I reached a state of comfortable laziness. A state of complacency. It may have been the seasonal change in weather; however, being that I live in Southern California where we are at a fully thawed out temp of 65-77 on most days, I can't bring myself to "blame it on rain. yeah, yeah." (Milli Vanilli, anyone?) To be honest, I really don't know how I got to that state. My only reasoning is laziness. Routine laziness.

So what changed?

On a whim I decided to enter a Facebook contest to win an entry into Mama Laughlin's DietBet. 


I knew that the new year was looming and I knew that there were things I needed to address. Every year I make a long list of resolutions/goals. 2015 was no different but I decided to not be as ceremonious about it. With all of the New Year's resolution hoopla making it's way around, I wanted to take a more subtle approach. This first of the year, I was planning on keeping my cards a little closer to my chest.

Anyone that has known me for a handful of years, or longer, knows that weight loss has always been a goal of mine. I've tried a lot of things and they didn't work. This year when I was thinking about resolutions, my first instinct was to omit the token weight loss goal. I was tired of setting myself up for failure. Failure because I never gave it a real shot. Never kept working, even when it got hard. One hiccup would come my way and I'd quit.

As I was scrolling through Facebook one evening, I found a post from Mama Laughlin (Awesome lady and blogger, check her out) that she was hosting a DietBet. She was giving away three free entries. To enter you had to leave a comment on the post stating what your goal was for 2015 and how you were going to achieve it. I sat there staring at the screen for awhile. Should I? If I entered, I knew I would win. Sounds cocky, but I just felt like it was going to happen. If I won, I'd have to make weight loss a goal for 2015. Just then my phone went dark and I could see my reflection. I looked old, blotchy, and swollen. Everything I had been wanting to hide on the inside was obviously showing on the outside. Hiding wasn't an option anymore. So I did it. I entered her giveaway. I laid myself out there to be vulnerable. Luckily, my instinct was right and I won a free entry to her DietBet.

When January 1st hit, I expected to wake up different. I didn't. Truth is, the moment I decided to enter the giveaway, I was different. It was a clear decision. A decision for a #BodyTakeover and #MindMakeover. It's been a month, 31 days exactly, and the biggest struggle I have is with the voice in my head.

DietBet Results

In case you are wondering if I won the DietBet, let me just put this right here:


I'll see your eight pounds and raise you three! That's right, I crushed it with a 11.6 pound weight loss. I feel tighter and walk a little taller. This is just month one. Let's see what February has in store. February better watch out! 

Follow my journey on Instagram, @bodytakeover. Chronicle your achievements with #BodyTakeover.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Rediscover the Lost Art of Human Interaction


Being Kind Counts

Recently I signed up for a blogging challenge in which I took a pledge to be a Kindness Captain. Sounds like a fancy title, right? Well, we all have the ability to be Kindness Captains. What does it entail? It's easy. Be kind. Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to animals. Just be kind. During this challenge, several bloggers were tasked to come up with a kind (do good) deed. There are endless ways we can all be kinder, even if it means that you start with yourself. 

Human Interaction

My first step as Kindness Captain is simple - have more human interaction. Let me ask you some questions. When was the last time you struck up a conversation with the stranger in line behind you? When was the last time you smiled or said "hi" to a stranger? Or when was the last time you actually looked someone in the eye?

These days it's easy to be removed from any real human contact. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blogs. They are all ways we fool ourselves into thinking that we are actually connecting with people. Sure, it's very helpful to stay in contact with friends and family that live far away, but how has the easy act of grabbing your phone to text someone affected how you operate from day to day?

Speaking for myself, I started to notice that I was constantly looking at my phone. Checking facebook or instagram. Texting friends. I was missing out on the people that were right next to me, even if they were strangers. I was missing my opportunity to have a human interaction.

What happens when you make eye contact?

After I put the phone away, I began to make a point of making eye contact with strangers. Specifically, I started making eye contact and smiling at individuals I'd passed by every day, without the slightest of thought. Who are these individuals? They are standing on the corner asking for your help. They are walking the streets looking for their next place to sleep. They are in parks. They are on sidewalks. They are people just like us. People on a journey.

Over the years, I became jaded. When I was in high school, I remember giving someone that was asking for money, some food and they rejected it. A few years later, I gave someone change for gas and I saw them go buy cigarettes. This isn't the norm but it was what I started to think. So I eventually stopped looking at anyone asking for change or help, to avoid the awkward turn down. 

Now that I work in social service, I've started to see things differently. Yes, some individuals will not use the help you offer. Some will not use the money for what they say. But all of them could use a little kindness, even if it's just a smile and eye contact. We all want to be seen. Why not look at them? Why not smile at them? And if possible, say "hi". 

You never know where one small step will take you

A step forward is a step in the right direction. What if your smile changed someones mood? What if your "hi" made someone feel seen and worthy? What would be the harm? We have unlimited smiles available to us. They are free and guess what?! A smile at a stranger may even change your mood.

I challenge you!

Make an effort to have more human interaction. If it's too hard at first, just start with one day a week. Let's bring back the lost art of human interaction. To think, it only starts with a little eye contact and a smile. Why not start today?

Share your story of how you reconnected with the lost art of human interaction. Leave a comment below, or share on twitter (yes, I see the irony) with hashtags #BeingKindCounts and #TeamHumankind. 


Friday, September 12, 2014

Sprouting Up Brown: Camil Bok Gamma Gamma

You know that saying, "You can pick your friends. You can pick your spouse. But you can't pick your family"? True, right? But in this age when the divorce rate is 50%, sometimes your family is chosen for you. This is true for me and aren't I a lucky girl. See at the age of seven, I met someone that was going to be my companion for years to come - my stepsister, Marlene. Naturally, when two families blend, it can be an adjustment. So needless to say, we didn't start off as two peas in a pod. Yet over the years, we bonded and our sisterhood took form.

Many people, especially family, know us as The Camillas. It's quite a story of how that name came about so I'll just save that for another time. We were inseparable. When I was scared after watching a scary movie, she would sleep in my room to comfort me. When someone would say something about me behind my back, she would stand up for me. When an opportunity arose to get into trouble, we would somehow find it together. There is a long list of things we've done that has been locked away in the Camilla vault. But isn't that what sisters do? We share secrets. We are the ones that know each other best.

Back when we were teens, we started a little exclusive club, Camil Bok Gamma Gamma. In fact, it's so exclusive, we are the only two members. I imagine that's how it will always be. We shared our aspirations and mostly dreamed about the day we wouldn't be living under our parents' roof. Sorry Mom and Manny. Really, it was our time. It was a way to say this is just for you and me.

Now that we are older, living separately, our lives are pretty busy. Now matter how long it's been since I've seen her, we always pick up with fun and laughter.

At my 30th birthday party. Always laughing.
Who is your Camilla? That no matter how long you've been apart, you always find something to laugh about.