Month: January 2013

On Trying to Be Responsible: Seeing The Dermatologist

In late December (this had nothing to do with trying to use up my flexible spending money, I swear) I decided to be responsible and go to the dermatologist for a mole check. When I mentioned this to a few friends, I was surprised to hear that several didn’t even know this is something you are supposed to do, so I figured I should share this story.

I am relatively fair skinned and have a lot of freckles (and a few moles) and though I have no history of skin cancer in my family, I’m told that I should be going for a full body scan every year, though I’d only been a time or two before this last appointment. The doctor basically looks closely at your entire body and sees if there are any questionable moles. Depending on what they see/find, they will act accordingly.

When I was there, I noticed the doctor stopping at one particular spot on my leg. I realize that this is really weird to say, but it was actually a freckle I really liked. It was cute, small, and on the top of my quad and I don’t know, I just liked it. To me, it didn’t look like anything was wrong with it at all, which is probably why I’m not a doctor.

  • “This one looks suspicious,” she said. “Do you mind if I remove it and send it in for testing?”
  • “Umm.. right now!? What? How does that work?”
  • “Basically, I’ll just inject a little Lidocaine under the skin, shave it off, cover it with a bandage, and you won’t feel a thing. It’ll take less than a minute.”
  • “Uhhhhhhmmmm ok I guess. Are you SURE it’s not going to hurt??”

Now, you should know I am a total freak about these things. I tend to get worked up over the littlest things and automatically assume worst case scenario on all things health related (some might call this a hypochondriac?), but honestly, the procedure was no big deal. I left there with a Band-Aid over the spot where my beloved freckle used to be with no harm done.

Fast forward a week later, and I got a call back from the doctor saying that the mole came back atypical and she wanted to go in to remove more.

Frantically, I asked her a ton of questions and she explained that basically, there is a spectrum between benign (nothing wrong) and melanoma (cancer), and it had come back as “moderate” on the atypical scale, so not mild, nor severe. To be safe, the doctor wanted to go back in to remove more of the mole to make sure the margins were clear (aka no atypical cells were left) and stitch it back up. It’s a fairly common procedure and though I didn’t have skin cancer, this would make sure that I didn’t develop it there.

Now, I also had this weird thing on my arm. It’s something I have had for years and have always been super self-conscious of, and oddly enough got asked about A LOT. I think it is from a scar, but I honestly can’t remember when it showed up, how long I’ve had it for, and if it has changed over time. I have had it looked at before, but I brought it to the dermatologist’s attention when I was there this time, too.

Weird Thing

The doc said that she didn’t think it was anything serious, but that she wanted to remove it and  and send it in to be tested, too.

So last Friday, January 18th, I had an appointment to get the mole on my leg and the spot on my arm removed. I told them I was freaking out, so they told me to come in 30 minutes before my appointment so they could give me a Valium to calm me down before the procedure, and I was SO glad I did that.

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I definitely wouldn’t have been feeling that good without it, especially when I saw all the equipment laid out for the procedure.

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After a few minutes, the doctor came in and marked up my arm and leg for how she was going to cut in. Both places were going to be cut in a football type shape around the spots, given a lot of Lidocaine via injection, have the questionable things cut out, then stitched back up with both internal and external stitches.

The procedures themselves were not THAT bad, really. I couldn’t feel anything even though I was totally awake and made the doctors talk to me the whole time about anything other than the surgery. That is, until they put in the external stitches. It didn’t hurt at all, but I could feel the doctor pulling back and forth pretty hard when she was putting those stitches in and it was a really, really weird feeling. I was relieved when it was over, and also that they did my arm first because that was the worse of the two. They put some tape-like strips over the stitches in both spots, then loads of gauze to absorb any post-op bleeding, and then taped them up.

Both places looked like this:

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I was in and out in about an hour, and my aftercare instructions were this:

    • Ice both places 30 minutes on, 30 minutes off for the rest of the day.
    • Take Tylenol every 4 hours for pain, as needed (which did not help, at all).
    • Elevate both places as much as possible for the rest of the day.
    • Remove the bandages in the morning, and change them morning and night for the next 10 days until going back to have the stitches removed. I have to load them up with a ton of vaseline, then put gauze and tape over the sutures. The goal for these 10 days is not to let a scab form, because it’s better for healing.
    • No exercise for at least 2 weeks, possibly 3, to reduce the risk of clotting and reopening the wounds. Oy.

The hardest part of these instructions was the elevation part. It’s my left leg, and my right arm – so that proved to be a logistical challenge. I ended up sleeping that night with my legs swung over the arm of my couch, and my arm propped up against the couch on a pillow. Super comfortable.

When I woke up the next day, my leg was no big deal. I’ll show you this picture because I don’t think it’s too graphic, but this was the spot on my leg:

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Those are the stitches underneath, and then I was supposed to leave that tape over it until it fell off on it’s own. The tape on my leg stayed on for almost 48 hours post surgery, but the tape on my arm ended up coming off that first morning when I removed the original bandages.

My arm was a different story, but I’ll spare you the photos because they are NASTY. The cut is about twice as long as the one on my leg (about 2 inches probably) and bled through the bandages that first night. I almost gagged when I had to look at it in the morning because it was a lot bigger (and bloodier) that I was expecting, but luckily I was instructed to cover it right back up so I didn’t have to look at for long.

In terms of pain, my leg was barely noticeable. If it had just been that mole removal, I don’t think it would have been a big deal at all. My arm, on the other hand, hurt like a b. It stung really bad and felt like someone had stabbed me with a knife (oh wait…) and the Tylenol didn’t really help. I ended up icing it a lot that next day even though I wasn’t instructed to, and that took the edge off. By day three, it was still sore, but hurt significantly less, and now, just under a week afterward the procedure, the pain is minimal. My arm is definitely a little sore and it’s hard to forget I have stitches there, but I barely even notice my leg.

I go back this coming Monday for a follow up and to get the sutures removed, and at that point they will give me further care instructions to promote healing and minimize scarring. The thing I’m currently having the hardest time with is not being able to do any exercise at all. I’m such an active person, and I really like to eat, so I am struggling with not being able to do anything (and still wanting to eat like I am working out 6x a week). I know that my healing is way more important than my running, but I also have a half marathon coming up in March that I’m in the middle of training for, so it’s hard mentally to steer clear of running as well.

Anyway, I will keep you guys posted with how things progress with the healing (and if you aren’t offended by gross things and are curious to see a picture of my arm post-surgery, you can email me at bethsjourneyblog at gmail dot com and I’ll send it to you), but that’s what’s going on with me.

Are you good about preventative medicine and going to the doctor? Do you get yearly mole checks?

A Look at Weight Watchers 360

Weight Watchers launched an innovation to the program in early December, and as I was leading my meeting yesterday morning, it occurred to me that I haven’t yet shared anything about it! So here we go with a look into Weight Watchers 360.


To start off, the PointsPlus 2012 part of the program hasn’t changed at all. You still are given a certain number of PointsPlus per day, extras to use as you wish each week, even more for activity (and through the ActiveLink) and each food has a PointsPlus value. To add to the tried and true method of tracking, Weight Watchers has introduced two new pillars to the program.

The main reason behind this innovation (in my completely unendorsed words), is that science shows that willpower is basically crap. Sure, willpower will carry you through a certain number of tough food decisions each day, but the fact is that we are forced to make so many choices about food all day, every day, that no one will be able to make the right ones all the time.

So here comes the two new additions to Weight Watchers 360 – Routines and Spaces.


Did you brush your teeth this morning? Get into the shower before work? Put on clothes before leaving the house?

I am guessing (hoping) that the answer to all these things is yes, and that you probably didn’t have to put too much thought into it because it’s become a habit over time. Weight Watchers decided to study the habits and routines of the most successful members who have lost weight and kept it off, and came up with a list of 16 routines that we should all be doing every day.

Some of the routines are basics – like eat breakfast everyday – but some of them are things that have been great for me to work on, like making sure to have a snack with me before I leave the house and making sure to include fruits or veggies with every meal and snack. The idea behind it is that we know that people are more successful when they work on changes in groups and have that built in support, so each month, we introduce and work on a new routine and reflect each week on what worked and what didn’t.

The first thing we worked on was making sure to have a snack every single time you leave the house. This was something I was not at all in the habit of, and something that I truly changed during that month by putting some thought into it. I’m not going to lie – I definitely still have to remember and make an effort to bring a snack with me – it’s not a routine yet, but I have made a lot of progress on it. Over time, I am guessing that this will become second nature to me and won’t be something I have to even think about, at least I’m hoping. Having something healthy at arms reach that I enjoy but isn’t tempting enough to consume my thoughts has been a game changer a few times over the past two months.


The last piece of the puzzle with Weight Watchers 360 is taking control of your spaces – or of all the places that you eat and/or are around food. One meeting a month will be dedicated to taking control of a particular space, as it applies to the routine of the month, so it all feeds into itself.

For example, the routine of the month for January is Produce Power: Make sure to include a fruit or veggie with every meal and snack. Last week’s meeting was about reorganizing your fridge and making changes that can set you up to be more successful when you open that door to your fridge after a long day.

Some of the ideas we discussed in the meeting were:

    • Prep and wash all fruits and veggies when you get them home from the store, and place them front and center in your fridge in clear glass or plastic containers.
    • Put more tempting foods out of sight, in the freezer, and/or in opaque containers so they are harder to see.
    • Put leftovers in single serving containers so you can grab and go.
    • Get single serving treats to keep in the fridge rather than large multi-serving containers.

A lot of those are pretty self explanatory, but I honestly never thought to put treats/higher calorie things in containers that you can’t see through – I LOVE that idea because I really am so affected by what I see and it influences the decisions I make quite a bit.

Overall, I am really impressed with the Weight Watchers 360 program. I love that each month is guided by a routine, and it’s really been helping me to refocus and recommit to being healthy. Even for some of the routines that I have down pretty well – like eating fruits and veggies all the time – it’s forced me to look at it in a different way and realize I actually need to incorporate more veggies into my diet, and maybe a little less fruit. It’s so refreshing to look at a routine at face value, and then reflect how I apply (or don’t apply) it to my own life. I also love the emphasis on spaces, because I feel like making little changes – like sitting myself AWAY from the food at a party – make such a difference in how much I eat and how good I feel after the party is over.

Any questions about WW360? For those of you who are members of WW – what do you think of the program? Like it, love it, indifferent?

Wednesday Weekly Check In

I didn’t weigh in at my meeting yesterday but decided to do a video update anyways and give a little more insight into my tough week last week that I talked about a bit in yesterday’s post.

Really hot still shot, I know.

A little ramble-y up in there, so maybe it’s better to just read the summary here.. haha.

Some of the comments and emails I got when I did my 2013 Intentions post were that you want me to be more… me. That often times I come on here and talk about how good I’m doing and how many times I’ve worked out, and not what went wrong. I didn’t even really realize that until someone else said it, but I do think for me, blogging and healthy living go hand in hand. When I am slipping and not doing well with weight loss/healthy living, I tend to steer very clear of the blog and have a really hard time coming up with topics to write about.

When I’m doing well, on the other hand, I normally have no trouble coming up with things to write about, but I am starting to realize that might give you all the wrong impression about me and my life. I am not perfect. I still struggle. Last weekend was really bad in terms of eating and drinking, and it was SO HARD to snap myself out of it on Monday.

It honestly surprises me that I’m four years into my journey, since 2009 was the year I decided to “get healthy”, and it is still so easy for one bad decision to lead to another in my life. I think it just goes to show that the journey really never is over, and for the rest of my life, I have to take it one day at a time, just like I did at the beginning.

Anyways, when I share random thoughts like this they come out so easy, and I realize maybe I’ve been putting a bit of a façade up on the blog by not coming here when I’m doing poorly or can’t think of something to say. I’m going to try to write more frequently about random things going on in my life and show you the real me, even if it isn’t all ponies and rainbows.

Turns out down here is a little ramble-y too, so I’ll stop now. Smile

Do you struggle with one bad choice spiraling into a day or a weekend or a full week? How do you snap out of it?

A Great Run

I hope I don’t give off the impression that I in any way live my life as the perfect healthy living candidate. I still struggle. A lot. And have bad days, and bad weeks, or in this case, bad weekends. This past weekend was SO MUCH FUN, but I didn’t do even one thing that was remotely good for my health.

In case you didn’t read between the lines there, let me translate for you. I overdid it with booze and food this weekend, big time. Late nights out led to eating pizza (twice), popcorn, and chinese food, and it also translated into lazy mornings that didn’t involve any sort of physical activity besides laying on the couch.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I had a BLAST hanging out with my girlfriends.


And I also found the PERFECT recipe for homemade Bloody Mary mix. (It’s this one, plus 2 teaspoons of fresh horseradish per recipe).

Blood Mary

Fancy garnishes encouraged.

BUT, when I woke up yesterday morning, I felt like crap. Bloated, exhausted, headache-y, and just not the way you hope to feel on a Monday morning to start off the week. I had to go to a conference for the first part of day for work, and woke up too late to get a workout in beforehand, and then came home after the conference and plugged away at work for several hours.

I was almost ready to melt into the couch for the evening when I realized I had no excuse to not go for a run before giving in. After overdoing it for so many days in a row, I had a feeling my body might not respond the best, but I knew I had to at least give it a try if I had any hopes of snapping out of it.

It was one of those runs where I set out not sure of how far I’d go, or even where I’d go, I just went. I ended up running from my place in Dupont Circle into Georgetown, and at the point where I would normally turn around to do a 3 mile run, I decided to just keep going and added another mile in for a total of 4 miles.

My runs for the last several weeks have been “fine” at best, and that’s honestly a stretch. I’ve felt out of breath before I started, had to fight for every step of them, and just had to play mind games with myself the entire time. I am SURE that has everything to do with being inconsistent with working out for the last couple weeks, which is why last night was so surprising.

I felt energized, powerful, and confident with every step of the run. I had a pep in my step and felt like a million bucks the whole time as I passed people left and right on the sidewalk (granted, they were WALKING home from work, but still). I probably could have kept going, but I didn’t want to push it. It was one of those runs where I needed it to be good, even if I didn’t expect it to be. Does that make sense?

Anyway, I got home, stretched, and basically bounced up the stairs to my apartment because I was feeling so great.

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Not even faking that smile!

And only then did I let myself melt into the couch for the night. And don’t worry, I even showered first.

4 Ingredient Tempeh Taco Filling

Since moving to DC almost 11 (!!) years ago, I have become a TOTAL weakling when it comes to cold weather. When it’s below 40 degrees outside, all I want to do is put on my flannel PJs, curl up under the covers, and have someone bring me something warm and delicious to eat. Let’s pretend that has more to do with being in DC and less to do with the fact that no matter what I do, I keep getting further and further from 22…

Anyway, since I don’t have someone to actually bring me food in bed, the next best thing is throwing together a super simple and delicious meal that requires minimal effort and is ready in 20 minutes (or less). And last night’s dinner did just that. Though I can’t promise I didn’t write this from under the covers in my PJs…

Tempeh Taco Filling

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Entire recipe yields 3 servings.
  • Each serving is a generous cup



    • 1 onion
    • 1 package Organic 3 Grain Tempeh (8 oz.)
    • 1 package frozen mixed pepper strips
    • 1 packet reduced sodium fajita seasoning mix


First, chop up the onion and crumble up the tempeh.

Chop Onion and Crumble Tempeh

I crumbled the tempeh by chopping it into small cubes and then crumbling it with my hands.

Next up, heat a pan over medium heat and cook the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Cook Onion

Once the onion is starting to look clear, add in the crumbled tempeh and mix it together with a spoon.

Add Tempeh

Cook for another 5 minutes until tempeh is starting to brown.

Last, add in your frozen bell peppers and fajita seasoning, and stir it until combined.

Add Peppers and Seasoning

Because I used frozen peppers, I didn’t need to add any water to the dish since they give off enough on their own.  If you use fresh peppers you’ll want to add a little water so it doesn’t get too dry. Cook for a total of 10 more minutes until the peppers are heated through.


Do ANYTHING you can think of with this filling. My dinner of choice last night was to have it stuffed in a pita with light shredded mozzarella, and it was deliiiiiicious.


It seriously felt so indulgent to be eating that, almost like a cheesesteak! As pictured, that was 9 PointsPlus (6 for the filling, 2 for the pita, 1 for the cheese) and it was sooo satisfying.

For lunch today, I’m eating it as a taco salad over spinach with cheese and salsa. Can’t wait!

What’s your favorite meal to make in 20 minutes or less?

Wednesday Weight Update

At long last!

So clearly I am very out of practice with the whole making a video blog thing. It took me more than 7 tries of stumbling over my words and saying extremely weird and random things in order to get it as right as it’s going to be. Here we go.

So in case you can’t watch the video because you’re at work – in it I do make a pretty big announcement about my weight. In the end of 2012, I had a full physical exam with my doctor and was talking with her about my weight and the history there. She asked me lots of questions, took a lot of measurements, and recommended that I set a higher goal weight than what Weight Watchers told me was the highest healthy weight for my height of 5’8.

The doc wrote me a note that I passed along to my Weight Watchers boss recommending that I maintain 175-180 as my goal weight. Weight Watchers says you can’t have a BMI higher than 27 as your goal weight, so we reset my weight goal to 177 pounds. I weighed in yesterday at 178.4, which was .4 down from not quite a week before. That means, I am within 2 pounds of my goal weight for the first time in… I can’t even remember how long! Granted, it is a completely different (and much higher) goal, but still.

I am feeling really great about the fact that I no longer have pressure from anyone except me to lose the weight. As I mentioned in my 2013 Intentions post, I really want to use this year to focus on getting to, and staying at, my happy weight. I think 164, my original goal weight, is just too low for me to reasonably maintain. That said, I would definitely like to lose a few more pounds and get to a place where my body, mind, and life just feel… good.

The big difference is that now I am going to keep doing this for ME. I am the reason I started this in the first place, and doing it for me is the only way I can truly stay committed to the long term habits I need to stay healthy. I plan to continue to weigh in weekly as I go through this new phase of my journey with weight, and want to keep doing video weigh ins as I plug along and find my happy place.

Thanks for all your support and for bearing with me through the ups and downs – I really value each and every one of you! Yes, YOU!

2013 Intentions

New Years Resolutions are such a touchy topic. A lot of people hate them because there’s always so much hype surrounding January 1st, and most resolutions do die down after the first few weeks of the year. That said, I think that setting goals can definitely be a good thing, especially when you really put some thought into them and pick achievable goals based on where you are right now.  Time goes so fast as an adult, and I think it’s fun to look back over your year when a new one comes and set some intentions for what you hope to accomplish in the new year.

This year, I put a lot of thought into my goals and decided to divide them up into different areas. I have a lot I want to accomplish this year, and I know if I stay focused throughout the year, I can achieve them all.

First, health related goals.

1.) Keep an exercise log for the whole year.

Sometimes when I skip a run or go a couple days without exercising, I really beat myself up about it. When I keep a log of my workouts, it helps me keep the big picture in mind, and I LOVE being able to look back and see what I’ve accomplished. I just created this document yesterday, and plan to keep it up to date throughout the year.

2.) Cross train at least once a week.

I know I will keep up with running because I’m scheduled to run another half marathon as well as the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler (for the fourth year in a row!), but I need to be more consistent with things other than running. I want to take classes, do yoga, strength train, ride my bike, or just do anything other than running at least once a week, and hopefully more.

3.) Find my happy weight.

I plan to do a thorough weight update later this week, but I really want to find my happy weight in 2013. I feel like I’ve been bouncing back and forth between 15 and 20 pounds since zoning in on my goal weight for the first time, and I want to use this year to really find a weight that is maintainable for me for the long term. I want to be able to have fun and not deprive myself, but also stay focused on my health and get to a place where my weight is not shifting from week to week or month to month.

Second, blog related goals.

1.) I want to be more consistent with posting.

My goal for the year is to post a minimum of once a week, every week. Ideally I’d like to post more than that, but I don’t want to commit to doing too much because I really only like to blog when I actually have something to say, rather than just blog to say I did. If you have any topics you’d like me to touch on, please send me an email (bethsjourneyblog at gmail dot com) or leave a note in the comments section with ideas/questions.

2.) Post one new recipe a month.

My recipes are still one of my most popular parts of this site, and I want to bring them back. Again, I’d ideally like to post more than one a month but we’ll start with 1 because I know that much I can do.

3.) Get back to setting monthly goals, starting in February.

This goes hand in hand with achieving my goals for this year, and I really love being able to see what I’ve accomplished for the last month and decide what to focus in on for the next month. I’ll start this one in February since it’s already the second week of January, and I’d love it if you guys wanted to go along with this and share your own goals with me, and then we can check in with each other at the start of the next month. I love the community that I get from this blog and feeling like I’m not alone in my goals, my struggles, and my accomplishments!

Third, personal and professional goals.

1.) Be more careful about spending.

2012 was a big year for me because I got out of debt and made a lot of progress on my emergency fund, but I continued to spend a little more frivolously than I would have liked. I’m still trying to figure out the best system for this, but I might go back to a cash only spending policy until I get this back in check. I know I should be saving more than I am, and I really want the freedom that comes with savings!

2.) Read at least 1 book per month.

One of my goals last year – to watch less TV and read more – was too vague. One book a month seems very doable, especially since I’m almost finished with Room, which will be my first for 2013. I have Gretchen’s book Terra in the queue next (which will be the first book I read on my new iPad)… any other suggestions?

3.) Have a plan in place to take some health/wellness training.

Health and wellness and weight loss are my true passions in life. I feel like I have the power to really help people in this area, and I want to take steps this year to make it more a part of my profession. I’m considering getting one step closer to this by becoming a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and/or taking classes to become a health coach. This, coupled with writing my blog consistently and continuing as a leader for weight watchers, will really make me feel like I’m on the right path.

Looking over this list makes me realize what big goals I have set for myself this year! I truly am confident I can achieve them all though, because I think they are doable based on where I am at the moment. I know I will be in a great place in my life if I make progress on all of these things this year, and that is what I plan to do.

Do you set New Years Resolutions/goals for the year? Why or why not? If so, what would you say your biggest one or two goals for the year are? If not, what do you do to hold yourself accountable for sticking with making sure you’re heading where you want to go?

2012 in Review

Can you believe 2012 is over!? I feel like I say this every time a new year comes, but man is it insane how fast time flies. I feel like once you’re an adult and you work full time and don’t have summer break anymore, every week is so similar that one just fades into the next and before you know it, more time has flown by than you know.

I saw this funny image on Facebook today, which I loved:


Anyway, I wanted to take a look back at the goals I set for myself in 2012 and see how I did with them. Here goes:

1.) PR in my third half marathon March 17th.

2012 was a big year for racing for me. I ended up running 11 races in total, including 3 half marathons, and PRing in not one but two of them! My fastest time was the Philadelphia Half Marathon on November 18, 2012, with a time of 2:05:08. That’s over 5 minutes faster than my 2011 PR!


2.) Get back to my goal weight and maintain it throughout the year.

This one, as you may have guessed, did not happen. I struggled a lot with my weight throughout the year and really had a hard time getting back towards my goal weight. I recently met with my doctor to discuss my weight and will be doing a thorough update on this soon, but I think my body might be at my happy weight where it is now.

3.) Keep strength training a part of my exercise routine.

I was pretty good about strength training a lot during the year. Things kind of went downhill with it when I got injured while training for my last half marathon, and it has kind of taken a back burner since then. This will definitely be something I want to focus on for 2013.

4.) Get completely out of debt.

I am SO excited to report that this goal was completely accomplished! You can read the post here – and just rereading it now makes me feel so liberated. It was a lot of hard work and discipline, but man does it feel good to not have it hanging over my head anymore!

5.) Save Money.

I didn’t quite get to 6 months of living expenses saved, but I have over 4 months saved and made a lot of great progress in this area. I am really proud of myself for sticking with this one.

6.) Plan a vacation abroad.

I am in the stages of planning a trip for May with a good friend to travel to Turkey and Greece for a few weeks. I will keep you posted as the planning progresses and am REALLY hoping I can make this happen!

7.) Read more and watch less TV.

I think I did a pretty good job with this one. I lived without cable for over a year (and actually just got it again a few weeks ago) and have been consistently reading books all year. I’m currently working on Room and want to keep this trend going.

8.) Go to bed earlier.

This one is hit or miss and not something I’ve been consistent enough about. This goal is definitely one I’ll keep going with for 2013.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how the year went. I made a huge career move, became more independent, learned to live on my own, and have worked hard to balance social life with being healthy. I was originally planning on doing a post for my 2013 goals coupled with this one, but I still need to think it through a little bit and will be back with those goals soon.

Happy New Year! Here’s to an incredible 2013!