Ticks.

Warning:  This isn’t relating to weight loss or fitness but it has a lot to do with health awareness.

Continuing on…

Ticks.   I hate ticks.  The very thought of them as I write this makes me feel like I have at least four on me right now.   Ideally, it would be great if you are reading this and you have no idea what this nasty little bugger I’m talking about is.  However chances are, since there are roughly 900 different species of ticks in the WORLD, you probably have at least heard of ticks.

Ticks have been a part of my life ever since I first discovered how magnificent nature is.  My family and I would do “tick checks” after our adventures outside and if one was found, my Dad would carefully pry it out of our bodies as we screamed in horror as if he was removing a toe.  What was just as bad though was when we failed to find the ticks on the dogs and they would go around for days before we discovered the sweltering beast on their bodies.

My motivation for this post came for two reasons: One is that I went for a hike on Sunday with Maggie, our golden retriever, and twice I found two different types of ticks on her.  I was so worried about finding another tick on her that I constantly was rubbing down her majestically fuzzy fur, picking out every tiny thing that wasn’t part of her coat.  I did the same to myself, scratching at my head on the drive home, thinking of the many times I had pulled ticks off me doing the very same thing before.

The other reason I wanted to talk about ticks is because there is so much more to them than just finding them and picking them off.  The scariest thing about ticks isn’t that they fall down from the trees above you as they detect your body heat moving below and then latching on and burrowing into your body, filling itself with your delicious blood.   No no, as scary as that is, the most horrifying thing about ticks is that they CARRY DISEASE.

I know two women who have contracted diseases from a tick.  One case, not as serious, was my own mother.  While I can’t recall the name of what she got, I remember how she came down with it.  She found a tick in her arm and within a few days of removing it, she noticed the spot start to get really irritated.  After it got worse and worse, she finally went to the doctor and was put on medication to “cure” her.  She’s fine now, but it was a wake up call that no matter how careful you think you can be, there is still always a chance that ticks are out to bite you.

 

Stacy and her friend who organized the fundraiser, Sasha

Stacy and her friend who organized the fundraiser, Sasha
Click here to view Stacy’s Gofundme Page!

The next case, much more serious, is that of my high school friend Stacy.  Stacy got diagnosed with lyme disease a few years ago after being bit by a tick in the very county I live in today (Sonoma County).  Stacy started losing her hair and was constantly incredibly tired.  She would get migraines, blurred vision, heart palpitations, insomnia, sensitivity to light and sound, issues with speaking, memory loss… SO many symptoms that continue on.  Now that she is in the last and final stage of the disease, she described it was living with the flu, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Of course our American healthcare system doesn’t do much to help her situation unfortunately, people with lyme disease were often denied coverage. (I hope Obamacare will truly change that!)  Stacy has had the best luck using homeopathic remedies to relieve her awful symptoms.  There are some organizations out there that help people like Stacy, but people with serious diseases like Stacy could always use all the help they could get.

I was aware of Stacy having lyme disease for a while now but I didn’t know how severe it had gotten until her friend Sasha made Stacy a fundraising page and tagged her on it.  If you are able to help Sasha make Stacy’s life a little easier, please check out her Gofundme.com page!What steps do you take to avoid ticks?  Are they on your mind when you go out in nature?

Thanks for your attention, blogging world!

Love,

AprilSignatur

 

 

A wonderful weekend

Hi everybody! *waves hello*

I hope you had a lovely weekend. I know I sure did! I’ve been catching up with the hustle bustle from the holidays, and have also started a new full-time social media job (working from home! score!). It’s been a very exciting past few weeks in my household. This weekend was a 3 day weekend for me, and I had a jam-packed few days full of fun. To start, me and my gym buddies all got pedicures. I spoil myself about once a month for a pedicure, and the expense is well worth the hour of relaxation. Don’t our toes look adorable?

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Then, on Saturday, Matt and I enjoyed being spoiled Southern Californians by heading to Malibu, where we frolicked in the surf and sunbathed. 80 degrees on January 18. Yep, that’s pretty spoiled. It was funny because about five feet from our beach sheet, there was a Land’s End catalog shoot going on. The models were wearing big, chunky sweaters over bikini bottoms, and you could tell they were going for the Cape Cod / Nantucket type feel. Not in LA, baby… our beach days here are nice and warm.

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We hiked up to a lookout point above the beach, where the clear sky was a breathtaking backdrop to the blue ocean. Isn’t the view amazing?

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I scuttled around this canyon type thing, and had fun doing some tricep dips as I crawled through. I’m trying to squeeze in exercise wherever I can!

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After the beach, we saw Her. I’m still wrapping my head around that movie; I liked it, sure, but what an odd concept. Sadly it’s a concept that I can see becoming true in the very near future. We already have Siri, how long until our operating systems become our best friends and confidantes and therapists and doctors? Crazy, right?! You should go see it and tell me what you think.

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Today, we woke up early and headed to the Hollywood Farmer’s Market, one of my favorite places in Los Angeles. Right now, avocados, oranges, kale, cabbage, onions, potatos, bok choy and different lettuces are the stars of the season. I bought some organic carrots, celery, heirloom tomatoes, and bacon avocados for meals this week. I also picked up a half gallon of raw milk, because I made my own cheese! My dad got me this Mozzarella and Ricotta Cheese Making Kit for Christmas, and I’d been impatiently waiting for a weekend day to make my own mozzerella. More about that in a minute, but first I have to show you the delicious brunch I had today with my friend Timmy, new friends Chris and Travis, and Matt. Our friend Tim’s roommate’s boyfriend (got that?) lives in a beautiful midcentury modern house in the LA hills, and we were invited over today for a super yummy brunch of mimosas, cornflake crusted french toast, hash browns, and red pepper eggs. It was deeeeelicious and was the perfect “cheat meal” to close out my weekend. After we ate, we played Cards Against Humanity (which I am so buying, like now. Damn! I can’t, it’s sold out) and had a grand time guffawing at the incredibly offensive word combinations we came up with. It was an awesome, low key Sunday with delicious food, belly laughs, and great company.

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Now, back to the cheese! A few people have asked me if I’m going to blog the “how to”, but to be honest, I don’t really know how other than to follow the instructions in the booklet that came with the kit. I was nervous about making it, but truthfully, it’s a pretty easy process as long as you measure the temperature of the whey and stick to the general time guidelines. We used raw milk, which is unpasteurized and made me feel all hippie-anarchist. I even drank a little bit…. tastes exactly like “normal” milk. Some people speculate that raw milk can help ease allergies — curious! I’m not a huge milk drinker in general, otherwise I might give that a try. So basically making mozzarella was pretty simple. Here’s a nifty little instagram video I did of it.

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The end result? YUM! It’s not as salty or as squeaky as store-bought cheese, but it has a very light, milky taste. I found it the perfect backdrop for our dinner of caprese salad — sliced heirloom tomatoes with cheese, basil olive oil, salt and pepper. Amazing. AND, one last wonderful thing about this weekend? I put on my previously too tight to button jeans, and while they’re still snug, they button. They’re wearable :) YAY!

So there’s my weekend in a nutshell. I feel so lucky to get the things I get to do — spend time with awesome people, play in sunny So Cal’s awesome beaches, make and enjoy delicious food. I hope you had an equally excellent weekend. So tell me, what did you do this weekend? What was the highlight?

Weekend Recap – Enchiladas, Hiking and SNAKES!

Hello everybody! I hope you had a lovely weekend. I know I did! On Friday, Matt had the day off and so did I, so we were lucky enough to spend a day together with our dear friends Jason and Juan. We headed to their ‘hood, in west Los Angeles, where we ate a picnic lunch on the beach and then wandered into a restaurant store where I picked up a couple things that I’ll show off on the blog soon. The real treat of the day was when Juan made us homemade enchiladas for dinner. Now, according to Juan, enchiladas are only “Authentic” when the sauce is made from scratch, by boiling dried chilies and then pureeing them. Here we are tag teaming in the kitchen – me frying the tortillas, and Juan rolling them up.

Me and Juan rockin' enchiladas

Me and Juan rockin’ enchiladas

Here’s the end result – and HOLY GUACAMOLE, these enchiladas were amazing – I’d venture to say the best I’ve ever had in my life. The cheese oozed out of the middle and the bottoms of the tortillas were crunchy and salty against the perfect, slightly spicy red sauce. I wish smell-o-vision was real so I could have you scratch and sniff your screen to get a whiff of these babies. I love spending time with friends, and spending time with friends and delicious food is like heaven!

Amazing homemade cheese enchiladas

Amazing homemade cheese enchiladas

The next morning, I felt the need to burn off some of that amazing cheesey goodness, so Matt and I headed to a local hiking spot about 15 minutes from our house called the Victory Trailhead. It was a beautiful clear day, and despite the pollen polluting the air, you could see the blue sky for miles and miles against the rolling green hills.

Victory Trailhead

Victory Trailhead

The great part about this place is you can choose if you want a difficult hike, a moderate hike, or an easy hike. We went with moderate, opting for some steep hills to get the views, but took the nice flat path on the way back. We ended up hiking for about two hours total, and according to my Polar, I burned 700 calories!

Feelin' Fit

Feelin’ Fit

This hike felt good because while I was out of breath going up the hills, I felt pretty “in shape” compared to the last hike I did. I definitely started pooping out near the end, when my pace slowed down and I was draggin’. Good thing my head was down as I climbed the trail, because it helped me avoid stepping on this little guy!

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ssssssnake

While I’m always leery of snakes on grass trails, especially in rattler country, I didn’t expect to see one smack dab in the middle of the beaten path. He was a laidback little snake and posed for pictures before calmly winding his way back into the grass. According to Google, he’s a harmless grass snake and exclusively eats lizards and frogs. I was a lot less scared of him than the giant grasshopper that decided to jump on my thigh mid-hike. Matt had to flick him off me as I screamed “Get it off! Get it off!” in a shrill voice. I don’t do well with grasshoppers… some day I’ll blog about that, but I think that would only tempt the universe to make them flock to me even more. *shudder*

Anyways, it was a lovely long weekend – a great productive one to make up for next weekend, when I won’t be able to do much since I’ll be recovering from my first lipo surgery! I got a groupon for some targeted bicep and tricep liposuction, and I can’t wait to suck the fat right out of my guns.  …

APRIL FOOL’s, of course. As tempting as it sounds to just suck the fat from my body, I don’t have the funds or the guts to go under the knife. Anyways! Lipo, snakes and enchiladas aside, how was your weekend? Did you have a long one? Are you off today?

 

 

 

 

 

Golden Goals

The past week has been quite wonderful for progress in my life!   Motivated by the success I have had with my weight loss so far this year, I took advantage of the beautiful weather California was having and spent nearly every day outside either walking, hiking, or jogging around.

Aya, myself, and Kristin on our first hike ever!

I spent my Saturday with my two best friends, Aya and Kristin down in San Jose.  Even though we’ve been friends for thirteen years now, this was the FIRST time we have ever gone hiking together!  Typically we would spend our time together getting Snow Bubbles (bubble tea) or wandering through Target talking about the guys in our lives.  This time we decided to hit the dirt path instead, prepared with water and trail mix and ready for a hike that would get our hearts moving as fast as our mouths do when together.  I convinced Aya that we would be able to take it easy as she’s fresh to beginning to exercise again after brain surgery from a disease called Moya Moya last year.  Aya toughed out the hills as her and I followed Kristin, steadily keeping a fast pace up in front of us.  We all had a lot of fun over the hour and hopefully it won’t take another thirteen years for us to hike together again!

Sunday I accomplished a goal that I had on my “Things to do by 30″ list.  I made this list a few years ago and originally started out with thirty things to do by age 30.  Some of those goals proved to no longer be priorities as my goals in spending months abroad became evident as more important… such as owning my own dog or living on a farm.  One of the goals I knew I could accomplish though was to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.  I’ve lived in California for about eighteen years now and never once have made it anymore than halfway across the magnificent piece of architecture that my city is so famous for.  The weather was gorgeous yet windy (as to be expected) as I proudly made myself across the 1.7 miles of the length of the Golden Gate, dodging tourists of all sorts in eager hopes of reaching the other side.  I passed a woman wearing a shirt that said “This is was gangster looks like” with her short hair slicked back yet riding on a rented tourist bike.  I chuckled to myself as I noticed another woman, dressed in incredibly high heels and a short dress with a thin jacket as she tried to walk comfortably with her husband towards the first tower.  Another woman, probably in her eighties, jogged past me with skin only a few shades lighter red than the bridge itself dressed in a neon wind breaker and Ipod headphones.  There was such an abundance of different types of people on the bridge that day and it made me feel so happy that they were all probably feeling the same excitement as I was as we looked out upon the ocean and the city of San Francisco.

Golden Gate Bridge Adventures
Golden Gate Bridge Adventures

 

All this exercise surely will help me with my weigh-in on Thursday.   I have decided since I typically do “Weigh-in Wednesdays” to change my day to Thursdays so I would be able to have something to write about on Fridays in terms of my progress!   Last week I was down another 1.6 pounds I believe, bringing my total weight lost for this year to 14 pounds.  Woohoo!

I also managed to find some tennis appropriate shoes for only $5 on clearance at Sports Authority.   I WAS SO HAPPY!  They’re not super cute, just plain white, but for $5 I would wear any type of tennis shoe.  Now I just need the weather to get warmer so I can start rocking those cute little tennis skirts I bought!

I have 2 1/2 more weeks until I turn 30 and quite a few things on my list to accomplish.  Some of things I’m hoping I can get done involved taking a swing dance lesson, running a mile without stopping, and to start rollerblading again.  I think going to the skating rink twice will qualify for “starting” again so I’ll try to accomplish that this weekend without running over any teenagers in puppy love.

Do you have any sort of list of goals you would like to accomplish by a certain age?  I remember my goals I had for when I was a teenager to accomplish by age 30 are things like getting married, having babies, and owning a house.   HAH!  I’m so far from  those goals but it’s quite alright.  I’m loving the way I chose to spend my 20′s and I’ll address those as my birthday gets closer.  ;)

Lots of love,

AprilSignatur

Turning fluff into firm

I have always been a fan of touching soft things.  Whether it’s my golden retriever’s fluffy fur behind her ears or plush and luxurious throw blankets in the aisle at my local shopping store, I am just simply addicted to the feeling of softness upon my fingertips.

I’ve always been that way too.  As a child, my sister Alyssa and I would constantly be “gully gullying” (our family word for cuddling) on our blankets and huddled up against each other, appreciating our soft blonde hair and soft skin.  Occasionally though we would appreciate soft skin that we probably shouldn’t have.

My sister and I were notorious for feeling up our grandmother’s soft arms.  To us, we loved the way her skin would move so easily with our little hands and how it felt as we squished it between our fingers.  Little did we know that what we were doing was actually setting us up for a future of the same kind of arms.  Now I have the children I babysit for feel up my arms and squeeze the flesh between their little fingers and now that I’m an adult, I know why my arms are so soft to them.  THEY’RE SOFT BECAUSE THEY’RE FAT.

UGH.  I know both of us would like to apologize to our poor Grandmother for always playing with her wonderful arms, to us we never thought of them as fat, we just thought them as the arms of one our most beloved women in our life.  I hope she felt that way too though but if she felt the way that I feel when kids squeeze my arms, I know it hurts way more on the heart than it does on the arm.

Even when I lost the fifty pounds years ago, one part of my body that had no significant change was my arms.  My bingo wings.  The arms that made me “Princess Fat Arms”.  (yes, those are all words that have been used by others to describe my arms, thanks guys)

This time around though on my weight loss conquest I refuse to let my heavy arms keep me from flying any longer!  I’m registered to start tennis in a month for four hours a week for 8 whole weeks so I look forward to the work out my arms will get then.  Until then, my homegirl Melody and I are crafting together a weight-training plan.  Tonight while I was at the gym, I made a make-shift map of all the weight-training machines our gym has and coded them by letter and wrote down which major muscle groups they worked.  This way, it’ll be easy for Melody and myself to make a plan of which machines we want to work on for the day.

Tonight I worked on my legs and chest and was impressed that I could do thirty reps of 170 lbs on the “seated leg press” rather easily.  When it came time to do the “Rotary Incline Chest” machine”, I could barely pull out fifteen reps at 15 lbs.   It’s obvious where my strength lies.  I’m excited to do a fitness test with Melody to see where our bodies are at currently and it’ll be fantastic to see the progress we can make.  Basically what I would like to do is test out the maximum weight of each machine and see which weight level I can do without being too strenuous that it would cause extreme pain.  Once we know what we can handle, we’ll start a routine that targets specific parts of our bodies a few times a week and set goals to achieve.

I’ll let you guys know the results of that test soon!

After I busted out my thirty minutes of cardio and seven machines, I made my way home to enjoy a delicious frothy chocolate hemp protein shake from Trader Joe’s.  I bought this the other week and just tried it with milk and didn’t like how flaky it seemed.  Tonight I mixed it with a banana, some ice, and a little cinnamon and it was AMAZING.  It was JUST like a chocolate milk shake… except it lacked ice cream.  Boo.

About to enjoy my delicious protein shake after my muscle building work out!

About to enjoy my delicious protein shake after my muscle building work out!

But still, I was definitely enjoying it for a solid two minutes before I knocked it over on my desk, spilling all over my exercise planner.  Good thing I planned on redrawing my weight-training map anyway because now it looks like the paper that would line the bottom of a guinea pigs cage.  Oops.

How many of you incorporate weight training in your work-outs?  What are your favorite machines to do?  Which ones do you have trouble with?

I put a big star next to the “Rotary Incline Chest” machine because I felt pretty shameful that I could only do 15 pounds.  That’s going to be one of my big goal machines, for sure!

I hope everyone has a great weekend full of fun ways to burn calories!

I’m going to burn some calories by going on a BEER HIKE thanks to San Francisco Beer Week teaming with the Alaska Brewing Company and Sutro Stewards.  It’s a four mile hike through the city and then after, we drink beer.  I’ll probably only have one (there).  I’ll be good.  Haha!

Click here in case any of you Bay Area folks want to check it out!

PS: We’re hosting a DietBet! We’ll have more information for you next week – but it starts on Friday, February 15 and  it’s $15 to buy in to the pot. If you win 4% of your weight loss, you’ll get your $15 AND split the pot of winnings! We’re also donating 10% of the pot to No Kid Hungry. Join us now!

Lots of love,

AprilSignatur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2012 Turkey Trot – My First 10k

April and I about a mile in.

Hello! Yes, blog friends, I have FINALLY received the card reader I complained about not having several times this week. Which means… PICTURES! VOILA! (Did you know that word is “Wah-lah!” For the longest time I just wrote wahlah. Had no idea it was Voila. Anyways, random is me.) So! All week I had been pumping myself up to do the third annual Petaluma Turkey Trot. Sure, I’d need to wake up earlier than I do for work, and sure, it’d be 44 degrees when we started, and sure, a large portion of the trail was up a steep, rocky hill. But, SURE, I could do it!

I arrived in Petaluma the night before and my sister and I spent the night awake and giggling like we have too many times. Finally, we knocked out around 1:45 AM, and I awoke the next morning to the blaring alarm clock set 14 minutes too fast (I guess delinquency runs in the family). My sister had an ailment that could have prevented her from going, but I’ll let her tell you all about that tomorrow. (She’s a trooper! Go April!) We got dressed, got in the car, and were on our way!

We showed up at the park at 8:38, where everyone was supposed to be meeting at 8:30. There were no turkey trotters in sight. Plenty of cars, but no people. Had we missed the turkey trot? Indeed we had! But, since we are super hardcore and were determined to come home with the glow of pre-feast fitness victory, we relied on our pal Melody’s trusty sense of navigation (and her phone) and created our own route. We were initially going to do the 5k track, but as we got going, catching up and BSing about life, the Sonoma Aroma filled our lungs and we were filled with motivation and inspiration, fueled by perspiration. We trudged forward, stopping to check out cows and compare manicures.

Reached the top of Helen Putnam Park without going into cardiac arrest. YAY!

Right before this picture was taken, I was sitting on a bench, breathing heavily, half wondering if I had overdone it on the huge, steep hill leading up to the nature trail called Helen Putnam Park. I had pushed myself forward, but it was a long, steep climb and all of a sudden I felt really out of breath and could tell I was having a pollen reaction, combined with hauling 50 extra pounds up a huge hill. (Long story short – when you have crazy allergies like I do, if you suddenly take in a lot of pollen or an inhalant, your body gets a little… fuzzy feeling. This can happen even with allergy meds ,and it sucks – it’s kind of like feeling super super tired all of a sudden yet panicky at the same time. It’s a big fat fail.) I sat on the bench, feeling frustrated and wondering why this all had to be so damn hard. Hadn’t I just said I was feeling more in shape? I said this aloud to my friend Melody (who has lost 70 pounds – SUPER STAR! She’s amazing!) – and she provided even more weight loss wisdom. “It’s hard, but you have to push through it. Just keep going. Just. keep. going.” She enunciated the last three words, and I realized, she’s right. Everything I’ve ever done that’s been worth doing has been HARD. Victory and success doesn’t come without major perseverance. I got off the bench… and I kept going.

The beautiful Petaluma, California

The rest of the trail was awesome, as we got on top of these hills which then took us through a beautiful wooded area, dappled with morning light and gently rolling fog. Once I made it past that hill, the rest of the hike was gravy. We were jolly and laughing the whole way down, proud that we had done something so good for ourselves on a day that’s usually good for the soul but bad for the arteries. By the time we got back to where we started, we had clocked 6.9 miles – just over a 10k, and according to MyFitnessPal, a 910 calorie burn. I think I need to make this a new Thanksgiving day tradition, because it made the rest of the day feel so rewarding. I felt great after my workout and I’m proud to say now that I can walk a 10k.

April, Melody and I after our Turkey Trot.

Have you or would you ever participate in a “turkey trot”?