What’s Going On Around Here

We’re up to our earlobes in packing boxes for our July 1  move to Vermont. Our bookshelves are half empty. Dust bunnies drift in the air current created by the A/C (which is running like a champ because it’s 91F outside already). Dave and I lost ourselves for hours yesterday, flipping through a huge box of old photos, ultimately deciding to keep all of them because who can THROW AWAY MEMORIES?! Today, while sorting through old games, I dropped a backgammon set on my flip-flop clad foot, and my big toe bled all over the place. (This is why I say that flip-flops are not real shoes and why I usually wear my stompy boots.)

Anyway, that’s all meant to explain why this post is merely a bunch of “what’s happening” nuggets, because if I waited until I could settle my thoughts enough to write a real post, it would be August.

BioForce HRV

Based on the advice of a bunch of people I respect and admire — including Eva T and the Paleo Drummer — I’ve started tracking my Heart Rate Variability (HRV). I did a bunch of research and liked the comprehensive, scientific approach of BioForce (plus it’s endorsed by Eva T, Molly Galbraith, Jim Laird, and more badasses).

I’m not going to get into all of the science here, but in a super-simplified nutshell: By monitoring HRV every morning, you can establish a baseline HRV — then, based on the amount of stress the body is currently under, you can determine if it’s a good day to train hard, go moderate, or just take a walk. For more detail, check out this article of the BioForce web site.

The BioForce app makes it ridiculously easy to know what kind of training is appropriate on any given day: green means “go for it”… amber means “don’t grind yourself into the ground”… and red means “maybe a walk or yoga for you today.” The book that comes with the app also explains in detail how to use the data over the course of the week and months to tailor a training program that avoids plateaus, fatigue, and injuries. I’ve only just started using it, but I can see already that it’s helpful in keeping me from overdoing it. I’m excited to see how I progress, now that I have this additional info to help guide my training. (This, coupled with the biofeedback of Movement Minneapolis, is like a bam-pow of self-knowledge.)

NOTE: I know this sounds like an ad for BioForce, but I’m not affiliated with them or anything; I just think they’re awesome.

We’re running!
Now that I can start working out with a little more intensity (YAY!), Dave and I have started a 5K training program. We’re both using the Couch to 5K app because I like that the workouts mix walking and running — plus you can choose the coach that signals the intervals. I’m currently using Sergeant Block, but also seriously considered Johnny Dead, the zombie. You know how much I love running with Zombs. (Speaking of, I still love both Zombies, Run! and Runkeeper — just mixing things up a bit. But if you want to start running, both of those apps are awesome, too!)

Anyway, Couch to 5k… we did our first run on Saturday, and it felt great. I’m super-duper looking forward to my run tomorrow — and I’m hoping I get the green light from my HRV so I can kill it! To celebrate our renewed commitment to running, we signed up for a 5k at the Jay Peak Trail Running Festival. We’re gonna run on a ski slope!


Heavy things
I’m wrapping up a training cycle with my coach Mark, so this week’s workouts include test of my 1 rep max on deadlift and squat. Last year, at this time, I got a 200# deadlift for the first time ever — then we went to Europe for 6 weeks, and when I came home, I fell into a black hole of allergies, leaky gut, candida overgrowth, etc., etc. It wasn’t pretty.

Fast forward (not so fast, because this last year was a lot of work on getting healthy) to yesterday: I pulled a solid 200# deadlift and a shaky, really not pretty, glad it wasn’t videotaped but I did pick it up 205# deadlift. Between Mark’s workouts and Eva T’s helpful tips, my deadlift is feeling amazing. Later this week: squat test!

Like some new romantic looking for the TV sound…
I recently read The Goldfinch, and I know a lot of people love it and I know it won the Pulitzer Prize, but man! I had to force myself to keep reading it. I was really disappointed that I didn’t lose myself in it. After the first half, I just couldn’t bring myself to care about the characters anymore. If that makes me a lunkhead, so be it. To cleanse my palate, I went completely the other way with my reading…

Mad World
was so much fun, I read it almost in one sitting, then spent a few hours obsessively making a massive new wave playlist that has been entertaining me while I cook. Artists like Duran Duran, Howard Jones, Tears for Fears, and Depeche Mode were definitely the soundtrack of my teenage years. Reading the book and indulging in being a silly, music-downloading teenager for a while was a great lead-up to my birthday. (Fun go-alongs for the book at the Mad World web site.)

Now that Dave’s officially going to comics school, I’ve been reading (and re-reading) a lot of graphic novels. Gloomcookie is one of my favorites, and although I have the complete set of 5 volumes, I’ve only ever read the first one. I love it! So now I’m working my way through the rest of them. The art is lovely, the goth details are endearing and hilarious, and the stories are like dark fairy tales. Definitely inspires me to listen to moody music and get dramatic with my eyeliner.

hr_brown1Two Face
I like to take a self-portrait on my birthday every year, and this year, I got a lot of compliments on my new headshot. I felt it was only fair to share that I took two self-portraits this year, and I thought you might enjoy them side by side. I think it’s important to remember — in this online world of selfies (keep taking your picture ’til you get one you like!) and only sharing our personal “highlight reel” on social media — that a lot of credit for how I look has to be given to eyeliner, mascara, luminous face powder, a good flat iron, and shiny hair stuff… and not every day is a birthday party in “Russia.” Most days are a decidedly unglamorous slog through packing boxes with a make-up-less face, bedhead, and a bleeding big toe.

On the left, the natural me… the one that walks around my house and gym most days of the week. On the right, the fancy me that exists on special occasions.

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  • Pirate Jeni says:

    I respect your bedhead cred, but I got you beat.


    **fist bumps for truthiness in selfies**

  • Lydia says:

    “based on the amount of stress the body is currently under, you can determine if it’s a good day to train hard, go moderate, or just take a walk”

    WHAAAAAAAAT. I’m off to order one of these things RIGHT NOW. Holy Schamoley!

    Congratulations on your deadlift! I’m so happy for you!

  • aubrey says:

    First, I love BOTH of your headshots. You are gorgeous!
    Second, I had the SAME issue with the Goldfinch. I was totally expecting to be whisked away and was definitely not. Glad to know it wasn’t just me. 🙂

    • Mel says:

      You are so nice. Thanks for the compliment!

      And whew! Glad it’s not just me with Goldfinch. I LOVED the beginning — all that tragic stuff was SO good… and the mysterious old man (Welty) and Pippa and Hobie?! So good. Then in Vegas, it kinda slowed down for me, and after that… BLECH. Just super blech.

  • Sherri says:

    I really do enjoy your blog and LOVE your recipes! Thanks for all the deliciousness
    you’ve added to my life!
    I’ll be in Austin this weekend for my graddaughter’s first birthday. Any chance you’d be willing to autograph my cookbooks?

  • Stephanie Y. says:

    Before you leave Austin, you should check out my friend’s paleo tortilla business. They’re delicious! Pinkie’s Paleotillas!!! http://www.facebook.com/paleotillas‎

  • I love the bed head, and a big ‘internet high five’ for having the courage to post the before/everyday picture of yourself. I don’t think I want people to see the real me, I think I scare the real me LOL.

    You look Beautiful!

  • Jennifer says:

    Talking about the eighties…(so happy I was a teenager then..BEST. MUSIC.EVER.)..I’ve always thought you looked like that eighties supermodel Linda Evangelista.

    Just sayin 🙂

  • The Couch to 5K is the way to go. I am a runner and after my fot surgery last fall, this is the program I used to get back into running. Love it! And love your hair. Why is it that people with short hair have the awesomest beadheads! lol I do too!

    • I’m really enjoying Couch to 5K. I finished up through week 3, was feeling like I wanted it to be less taxing, so I started over at weeek 1 again. Giving myself more time to adapt to running while we’re under the stress of packing and moving. And yeah: short hair makes THE BEST bedhead.