Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Take Two of These, and Call Me in the Morning!

Yesterday, I experienced my first Odwalla!
I picked it up because it was chock-full of vitamin C and citrus-y ingredients to promote wellness. I've been wanting to try Odwalla and Naked smoothies and beverages for awhile now, but I've always shied away because of the calorie content and the price -- $2.65 and 230 cals for this little baby. I must say, it was well worth both costs. It kept me full during an intense 2.5-hour class, and it tasted marvelous. It contained juices from apples, guavas, oranges, peaches, and more, which is very enticing for me.
I know I shouldn't be focused on calorie content so much anymore, but old habits die hard, and I'm still practicing.

I picked up my Odwalla on my way out of Kroger after purchasing some more meds to kick this cold. As I was sipping my smoothie before class started, and explaining to a classmate why I take pictures of my food (which I always get a kick out of doing), I wondered why I wasn't using more natural remedies to help me feel better. This is incredibly a little excessive...
Yesterday afternoon called for 2 Sudafed and 2 Ibuprofen.
Last night before bed, I popped a Previfem (birth control), 2 Ibuprofen, a vitamin D supplement, and a melatonin, washed down with a few squirts of Chloraseptic. I've consumed more honey lemon cough drops in the past week than I care to disclose.

As I was standing at the Kroger pharmacy yesterday waiting for the kind assistant to replace the card on the shelf where the Sudafed should have been with some actual meds, I pondered how absurd it is that Americans can join the military when they're 18, smoke when they're 18, drink when they're 21... but not buy non-drowsy nasal decongestant without a check of their driver's license because of the risk of consumers making and distributing meth. Really, America?
I thought, even though the combination of these medicines makes me feel worlds better, there's no way to calculate the damage they're doing to my body simultaneously. Each day, it seems like there's a new study or a hot-off-the-press news bulletin about which mundane thing causes cancer, or which drugs are sure to kill us quickest.
Even though popping some pills and going on about my business is fast and convenient, I know I should be filling my body with natural supplements, like the iron, calcium, protein, vitamin C and vitamin D found in last night's dinner:
Combined with a bowl of sliced cucumber, a bit of apple cider vinegar, and a dash of cracked black pepper, I found my appetite in a tasty and healthy meal.
This morning, I wasn't resolved enough not to down my cocktail of Sudafed and Vitamin Water, but I'm seriously considering healthier alternatives to the combo of drugs I'm using.

P.S. Do you have any natural or herbal remedies to suggest as alternatives to Sudafed or Ibuprofen? What meds do you use when you're under the weather and you need a quick feel-better fix?
P.P.S. I reluctantly decided not to see Doc about this cold, even before my revelation yesterday, because I know he'll want to start me on a course of antibiotics. The sinus pressure is almost gone, and I can hear out of both ears and breathe again! Hip, hip, hooray for a (fingers crossed) relaxing and pain-free flight on Sunday!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

To Hear or Not to Hear: That is the Dilemma

See, I'm not that big a fan of going to the doctor. I don't mean just any doctor -- I mean my primary care physician. I don't mind the dentist, or the optometrist, or hell, even the Lady Doctor (for the most part). Maybe the reason I'm not a big fan is because until now, I've continued to see the pediatrician whose tie I once peed down as an infant. Yup, I'm 23, and I saw a pediatrician until now. After I was there over the summer for a quick TB test for my teaching job, they were like, Maybe it's time you start seeing a doctor for adults... Geez, cut me a break, okay? I only go when I have to, anyway!
I remember when I was much younger and I'd need to go for strep tests or bronchitis, or even one time for a jammed finger, they'd make me wait in what was labeled the Sick Waiting Area. Uhhh... Gross. Capital G. All those germs floating around, and even the more sickly looking turtles in the Sick Waiting Area tank, stigmatized the PCP's office forever for me as a place to either get worse, or to get sick if you weren't in the first place.

My parents are strongly encouraging me to see a doctor at my campus's health center, or locate a Patient First. I hate the idea of both. I don't have a fear of seeing the doctor; I just have a preference not to. Just to clarify, I also don't need someone to tell me to go to the doctor when I'm unwell; I'm just stubborn.
As someone who has flown many times, I know that Sunday's multiple flights to Mexico will not be pleasant with clogged nasal passages and stopped up ears. Several Spring Breaks ago, the Lew Crew flew to St. Petersburg, FL, for some fun in the sun. I hadn't been sick before the trip, but I unexpectedly burst an eardrum on the flight there. The air pressure made things miserable, and I couldn't hear much out of my left ear for about a week. Before that trip, I had always thought that if you burst your eardrum, you'd be deaf. I learned that you will not, in fact, go deaf, but you will be temporarily hard of hearing and in a fair amount of pain as your eardrum regenerates itself.

You'd think that my mind would be made up -- off to the doctor I should go! I'm actually still debating about this situation. Today is worlds different than yesterday. I have an appetite, I slept 10 uninterrupted hours, I could breathe all night long and this morning, my throat isn't sore, and my stuffy head is greatly reduced. I'd like to think that this improvement is due to my strategic combo of soup for dinner, an abundance of cough drops, Chloraseptic, Ibuprofen, Kleenex, rest, Dayquil, and a melatonin tablet. I'd also like to think, in my naively hopeful way, that things will have made another 90-degree turn to One Hundred Percent Better Town by Sunday. Call me what you will, but I'm reluctant to start a course of antibiotics that may alter my sleeping patterns or my alcohol consumption. As my mom would say, "the other side of the coin is," I'll be in a foreign country with a weakened immune system. I've gotten myself into quite the pickle here.
French Onion, brown rice, and Black Cherry Jell-O made for the perfect dinner last night.

Today, I'm on the hunt to stock up on Sudafed, cough drops, and melatonin. The pharmacy with which Mom supplies me every year has run a little dry, and some of the meds have even expired because I haven't been sick in so long. I'm also on the hunt for the right decision... But I don't think I'll be able to find that at Kroger...

If you have any suggestions or remedies for something like a bad cold right before leaving the country, please send them my way!

Monday, February 27, 2012


I was feeling pretty bummed this morning, because the thought of hauling myself to the gym for a run, or even a jaunt on the elliptical, or even weight training, made me want to cough/sneeze/laugh. It wasn't happening. I got virtually no sleep because I couldn't breathe, I woke up with a toothache that couldn't be relieved by flossing and kept me awake for over an hour, and I feel sure that someone coated the inside of my throat with sandpaper when I wasn't looking. I know I'm being a huge baby about whatever this is, but it has flat-out knocked me for a loop.
I was reading one of my favorite blogs this morning, Healthy Tipping Point, well past the time I've usually left for the gym, and today's post from Caitlin was all about making walking a habit. I remembered that I had just downloaded the MapMyFitness+ app on my phone, so I thought I'd slide on my sneakers, throw on my North Face, and go for a little stroll to try it out. I also donned this little cutie, to add that "I have a hat on, so you can assume I'm exercising outdoors" cool-factor (ha!):
Ian got this for me for Christmas, at my insistence that I needed it...
At the very least, I knew I'd be outside in the cold air (which always helps clear my head), I could sneeze and cough as need be without having gym-goers staring daggers at me, and I could always turn around if I just wasn't feeling it.

Basically... The app is the coolest thing ever!!
I ended up walking about 1.1 miles in 21 minutes around almost the enirety of my apartment complex, once I figured out how to get the app working properly -- I'm not a tech-savvy chick. It logged my exact route, down to obscure street names and complex building numbers using my phone's GPS, as well as the elevation of my route; my average pace; my average speed; the calories I burned; and the number of laps I completed on the route I devised. It also allows me to store all of this data, or share it to "challenge" others via Facebook and Twitter. How cool is all of that?!
The cold outside helped clear my head for a bit, though it also made my nose run like a faucet. I also got some strange looks from passersby. If I had to guess, they were wondering if I had a weapon or a small child stashed in my pockets, between my iPod, my cell phone, my bulky keys, and sometimes my hands stuffed in there. Hey, I got out there, and I did the darn thing. Now, I don't feel as if I wasted an opportunity for exercise, nor do I feel like I overexerted myself. I can allow my body to heal, while also giving it a little push to keep moving.

I hope you enjoy your Monday, blends!

P.S. The under-a-week Mexico countdown has officially begun! T-minus 6!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lesson Learned

Here's the thing about immune systems: You can guzzle vitamin C, but your body will only store what it can use before excreting the rest. You can wash your hands incessantly, but germs stick around. You can eat well decently and exercise regularly and still fall victim to feeling crappy. You can do everything right and still get sick.
It's like I've had a sign on my back for the past week -- GERMS WELCOME HERE! 
I'm not totally convinced that it's not just my body rebelling against snow one day and sundresses the next.

Nevermind that. My Chloraseptic, my Hall's, my Kleenex box, and my bed will get me through this none the worse for wear. Today, I learned my lesson about pushing myself when I wasn't feeling up to a challenge. I slept pretty restlessly for almost 11 hours before Ian declared the morning begun. We lounged around for a couple of hours; I don't have much of an appetite today, but he was stoked to heat up his Red Lobster leftovers. Mine will serve well for dinner tonight:
I made what I thought would be a delicious, protein-packed, vitamin-laden brunch -- a toasted whole wheat bagel topped with an egg sunny-side up, garlic and chive hummus, baby spinach leaves, a slice of tomato, a slice of Swiss, some chunks of creamy avocado, and a sprinkle of black pepper, accompanied, of course, by a Greek yogurt:
About an hour later, Ian suggested we head to the gym "to get the blood flowing." I thought, Yeah! I'll probably feel great after I run!
Not so much. Why did I think I could run if I can't breathe?
My 5K training plan called for a 30-minute run yesterday, which I didn't complete due to the VACES conference. Today was considered an "off" day, which I used to make up that run.
Nevermind common sense! I ran a PDR of 2.4 miles in 30 minutes, for a total of 2.63 miles in 35 minutes including warm-up and cool-down. I wasn't expecting my blood sugar to drop with 10 minutes left in my run, nor was I expecting to get light-headed as soon as I began my cool-down. Lesson learned. Note to self: Don't push it. Allow your body time time to recover from illness. No need for PDRs or heroes.
On the upside, Jaws was on TV, so I enjoyed some of Dad's and my favorite quotes while I ran:
"I think you're gonna need a bigger boat..."
"It's a tiger shark." "A whaaat?"
"Are you going to close the beaches?"
"That's some bad hat, Harry."
"I'll drink to your leg." "Okay, so we drink to our legs!"
"I'll find him for three, but I'll catch him, and kill him, for ten."
"Smile, you sonofabitch!"  ;)

Well, it's about that time for an afternoon nap. Enjoy your Sunday, blends!

P.S. Do you work out when you're feeling under the weather? What foods do you recommend for a stuffy nose, a sore throat, and a wicked cough?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rain on my Parade

This pretty well captures how I'm feeling this morning about attending an all-day graduate student conference, and missing a party I was really excited about attending last night with Caroline and Ian and Lauren, and forfeiting an entire Saturday:
These were taken around 1:45 yesterday right before a massive t-storm hit; there was a tornado warning in effect until 4 p.m. EST, which brought back memories of the tornadoes that swept across VA last spring.
On that note, this video was taken by several of my sorority sisters just a few apartments down from mine, during said tornado:
I love storms, but this was a little close for comfort...

Back to reality. I can't complain too much -- I'm earning extra credit in all 3 of my classes for attending, I'm only giving up 7 hours of my day, Ian is traveling here to spend tonight and tomorrow with me (and to celebrate his Phi Beta Kappa induction, at Red Lobster!), and I'm learning a lot about various aspects of counseling, as well as gaining plenty of exposure. Plus, this conference is one during which participants have the luxury of choosing which seminars and poster sessions they wish to attend. And, a delicious lunch (including vegetarian options) is included in the registration cost. Lastly, Jennifer and Kristin are going, and those two never fail to keep me interested and entertained.

Speaking of these two mugs, we enjoyed dinner last night with Kristin's man Travis and his friend at a new (read: new to us) local restaurant, Big Lick's. I tried the Blackened Chicken and Mango Quesadillas (which had my mouth on fire, but definitely cleared my sinuses--I'm a baby when it comes to spiciness),
the Ocean Breeze and the Key West Lemonade (pictured),
and the Strawberry Shortcake:
Jennifer and I shared an order of fried pickles, and I sampled a few cheese fries as appetizers. A calorie-fest, indeed, but I had no complaints.

All in all, I should really suck it up, shouldn't I? A little rain on my parade doesn't hurt ;)

P.S. What's on your agenda today? Are you a busy bee or slowing things down? I'm counting down the days (T-minus 6) until Spring Break! I'm also going to stuff several servings of veggies into the rest of my weekend to make up for last night!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Groceries, Recipes, Remedies, Oh My!

Basically, I had the yummiest lunch ever yesterday.
This baby consisted of a Black Bean Chipotle Gardenburger, baby spinach leaves, a juicy slice of tomato, a few slices of avocado, the creamiest garlic and chive hummus I've ever experienced, and feta crumbles atop a toasted whole wheat bagel. I adorned this beauty with blue corn tortilla chips and the new salsa I picked up (I'd rate it about a C+). I got the idea from one of my favorite healthy living bloggers, Brittany Dixon.

I was wayyy too excited about my Kroger grocery list, especially considering that I felt like someone ran over my throat with a lawn aerator, and then left a few of the spikes right above my eyebrows. Luckily, I'm not afraid to spend the big bucks on Hall's.
Hall-elujah! Get it? ;)
Let's start with a trip through ChobaniLand. I can't live without my Greek yogurt. Passion fruit and pomegranate have stolen my heart.
Quick stop in Fresh Veggieville -- I was ravenous by the time I got home, so I didn't bother to unwrap this tomato, avocado, or cuke. Plus my adorable Tomato Keeper was in the dishwasher:
Next stop, New Food Nook! I needed baby spinach leaves for yesterday's lunch, but I also knew I could make salads or wilt the leaves and add them to pasta dishes. I grabbed a Pom for shits and gigs. Delicious, but too expensive to buy regularly. I tried out the no-sugar blackberry flavor. It was a little bitter, but then again, my senses of smell and taste are out of whack.
On to Frozen Foods! Veggie bacon and burger crumbles are almost staples in my diet. I haven't typically been a fan of Gardenburgers, mostly because I'm perfectly fine with Boca soy protein patties that have a meatier flavor and texture, but I must say -- these are out of this world.
Up next, Granola Way. I was in desperate need of Clif and KIND bars. Fortunately, both were on sale!
Who could forget the ever-vital Accessory Avenue? I almost always add banana slices or some type of berry to my Kashi for some pizzazz. Feta is great for adding to omelettes or sandwiches. Pine nuts are one of my favorite salad additions; I discovered this love at Jason's deli.
A successful trip, if I do say so myself. And, almost everything was on sale :)

Moving on to dinner... I'm always hungry after exerting so much brain power in my Group Therapy class (Nerd Alert!), so I love to have something stewing in the Crock Pot. Homemade chili and a big salad never disappoint:
I polished these off with a mango Chobani for a sweet treat. Seriously... I can't get enough. The chili helped open my sinuses, but the dairy cravings aren't doing me any favors.

Last on my list of things to shout from the mountaintop is my newfound love for Workaholics. I'm always late on loving new shows, mostly because I don't have set times each week that I can dedicate to watching particular shows, except for trash like Jersey Shore that comes on at 10 p.m. Anyway, this show makes me LOL like no other show I know right now. If you get a laugh out of bad puns, underachievers, and ridiculousness, take a peek at episodes 1 and 2 and tell me what you think. Happy Friday!

P.S. What are your weekend plans? Do you have a show that you can't get enough of?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Giving Up

Today is about Lent... kind of.
Lent begins Ash Wednesday (yesterday) and ends Easter Sunday.
Normally, I know exactly what I want to give up for weeks in advance. I plan to give up browsing Twitter, or swearing (not an easy feat for me), or watching TV after midnight, or something of that nature. It took me quite some time to realize that from a Christian perspective, giving up something for Lent is not about punishing yourself or sacrificing something for that purpose alone, but about giving up unnecessary personal luxuries. Some very traditional believers fast during portions of Lent, or choose to offer sacrifices. Admittedly, I can't be that devoted due to the lifestyle I lead, but that's no reason I can't sacrifice something personal for 40 days.

I have previously given up that phenomenon known as social smoking. You know, having a couple cigs while drinking to heighten the sensation. Many of my friends and acquaintances at Longwood smoked socially, particularly when they were imbibing with the gentlemen of the fraternity organizations. Some of my friends smoked Black & Milds at parties because "they're not as bad for you" and because "you don't inhale them" (FALSE on both accounts). Something about smoking while you're drunk makes it feel less carcinogenic, less dirty, less smelly, less costly, and less bad. What it doesn't do is cure your hangover, heal your raw throat the next morning, refill your wallet with $4 extra, remove the ashtray essence from your clothing, cease your horrid cough, or prevent people from seeing you (especially females) sucking poison into your lungs. I can't deny that I absolutely enjoyed parties more when I smoked socially. Worth it?

When my best friend freshman year was diagnosed with a life-threatening blood clot, smoking became less of a thrill and more of a threat. She was in a wheelchair for several weeks, she had to take blood thinners daily which restricted her diet (and her alcohol consumption), she had several scary ER visits, and she was in almost constant pain. The ultra-scary part for me? The doctors attributed her blood clot to a combination of birth control and smoking.
We were on different birth controls, but both on contraceptives nonetheless. Before that time, commercials for various forms of BC hadn't included warnings about heart attacks, strokes, DVT, blood clots, or even death. They also didn't include the risks of smoking while on BC, especially for women over 35. Now those commercials and warnings are everywhere you look, and her family is four years deep in a complicated lawsuit. Worth it?

When I met Ian in 2009, he implored me to stop social smoking. I thought it just bothered him to date a girl who smoked sometimes with the guys at parties, but I would later find out that his grandmother had passed away on his birthday when he was young due to many, many cigarettes. He told me within two weeks of meeting me that he will not marry a smoker. As of this date, it's been 2 years, 3 months, and 11 days of ups and downs and ups, but he will not be marrying a smoker. Worth it?

Both of my grandfathers smoked heavily for many years, and they both suffered the ill effects of heavy nicotine use. My paternal grandfather, Granddad, quit smoking and recovered well, learning to lead a fruitful and healthy life smoke-free. My maternal grandfather passed away before I was born, so I never had the pleasure of meeting him. Neither of my parents experimented with tobacco, but the addiction to nicotine is generational, and affects Caroline and me regardless. Several of my extended family members are currently suffering terribly from years upon years of smoking, and their long-term prognoses are less than optimistic. Worth it?

With all of this evidence stacked against me, and with my whole life ahead of me, I am so proud that I am officially--and have been for some time--officially no longer a smoker, social or otherwise. I thought long and hard about blogging about this subject; it's taboo (especially in the healthy living blogger community), it's embarrassing, and it's a part of my past of which I'm not proud. I've known since the day I began blogging that I wanted to be "out" about it, I just had to bide my time for an appropriate, passion-fueled time to write about it. What better time than Lent? After all, I owe so much of my strength and pride in quitting to God.

Worth it to give up the social cigs? You bet.
Trust me -- I haven't been and couldn't have been accomplishing all of my fitness goals or giving my lifestyle a 180-degree turn OR blogging about my journey if I were also smoking.
No deceit here!
So what did I give up for Lent this year? This information. It's out, and I feel good about it.
"You gotta put your past, behind you." -- The Lion King

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Planaholics Not-So-Anonymous

Yesterday, due to the stress of class "pre-registration" (whatever that means), I skipped the gym. I awoke at my usual hour, dressed for the gym, prepped my iPod and my water bottle... and spent the entire morning, as well as a good portion of the afternoon, slaving away on figuring out my academic schedule from now until spring 2014. And you know what? I was perfectly okay with it. I had other priorities, like registering for summer classes so I can work out logistics for two families' vacations and a J-O-B. The first time I skipped a workout out of necessity as opposed to laziness, I thought I'd feel guilty and out of sorts. Quite the opposite, my blends. I felt that I made the right choice in staying home to work out something much more important.
This morning, however, I had a little trouble putting pep in my step, but I pushed through a run anyway. Just as a side note, yesterday was considered an "off" day on my training schedule, but I've pretty much disregarded those. In my mind, they're useful for strength training days or for rearranging my runs around my weekend travels.
Look at me, experimenting with the tools in Paint! Yes, I'm 10.
See, I'm a planner. I'm a list-maker. I'm a color-coordinator. I'm a pros-cons maker. In other words... I'm a freak of nature. We've already been through this on the blog, but some things never change. I should start a support group. They probably already exist for people like me.

In other news...
I can't seem to shake this scratchy throat I've had for a couple days. My Chloraseptic, which normally works wonders, is pretty much rendered useless. Yesterday I tried to ignore it, and I bummed a lollipop and a mint from my classmates so I wouldn't be clearing my throat or coughing every few minutes. I discovered some sugar-free hard candies in my pantry that I'll definitely be employing. I made soup for dinner last night and finished the leftovers today. I should have avoided dairy, which can thicken mucus and make it more difficult to get rid of something like this, but I was in such a cereal mood this morning. Guilty! I also can't start my day without my Chobani. Guess I didn't do myself any favors. I did take a Claritin around 12:30, because the med-free route didn't help yesterday. My only other symptom has been a mild headache, and I haven't even needed Ibuprofen.
Kind and helpful people keep offering suggestions: "Maybe it's the weather!" "Maybe it was the snow! Did you go out with wet hair?" "Maybe it's allergies!" "Did you get a flu shot?" "Do you have pets?"
Sorry, everybody... None of the above. Yes, the weather has been fluctuating rapidly. No, I do not have seasonal allergies or pet dander floating around. I got a flu shot this winter, and I do not run around with wet hair during snowstorms, hoping to feel wretched. Not feeling 100% frustrates me; it's the control freak in me. I obviously didn't plan for this to happen. Fortunately, my schedule affords me plenty of rest, as well as plenty of time to get everything done.

If you know of any remedies for an itchy throat, please send 'em my way! It's not painful as much as it is annoying. It wakes me up in the middle of the night occasionally, and I know it's not for lack of hydration. I've been guzzling water like it's the apocalypse. Better now than next week, right before Spring Break!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tip-Top Tuesday

I'm really going out on a limb with this post. It wasn't easy to write, nor was it comfortable to make public. I debated about this post for many weeks before today.

It's no secret that college kids typically gain weight. Four years of late-night Papa John's, Keystone and jungle juice (full of who knows what), dining hall "food," fast food splurges, and local restaurant binges... combined with all-nighters, unspeakable weekend hours, and "priorities" above hitting the gym religiously will do that to ya. It's easy to gain weight if you passively allow it to happen. I certainly was guilty. Living proof:
Freshman year, December (that's my long-time friend, Will)
Sophomore year, March
Junior year, June
Senior year, September (with my sorority sisters)
Aaaaand thennnn....
First-year grad student, February!

Whether or not you can tell from the pictures, the difference is pronounced. I'm not quite back to the size I was when I entered UG school at Longwood, but the whole point is not to focus on my weight or my size. The point is that I'm eating, exercising, and feeling better than ever! I'm also proud of my body -- I know that I don't need to be a 00 to feel good about myself or to feel comfortable in my own skin. I don't feel it necessary to be tan year-round, and I'm perfectly fine combing the beach in a one-piece. Please don't misunderstand me -- more power to you if you're naturally quite thin or if your thing is fake-baking, it's just not mine.

When I moved into my own apartment in August of 2011, I decided that things would be different. No more microwaveable Lean Cuisines -- it would take two for me to feel full, and I was convincing myself that they contained all the nutrition I needed. Done with the Toaster Strudels and eggs sunny-side up four times a week. Ban the empty calories I was consuming regularly (Doritos and queso blanco, Pop-Tarts, Smarties, frosted animal crackers, Reese's Puffs, five-cheese or sun-dried tomato alfredo sauce, premade Starbuck's frappuccinos, real Coke, weekly thin crust pizzas, weekly Ben & Jerry's Mission to Marzipan... need I go on?)... Forget the constant "BTN" workouts and the occasional fresh fruits and veggies. As a lacto-ovo pescetarian, I knew I wasn't getting everything I needed to stay healthy; I just didn't want to admit it to myself because I didn't want to give anything up.

My fridge and pantry are now stocked with fat-free Chobani Greek yogurt; fresh tomato, blueberries, bananas, cucumber, onion, and mushrooms; brown rice; Kashi cereals; Vitamin Water; Smart Balance light margarine; fat-free dairy creamer; skim milk; light salad dressings; sodium-free canned and frozen veggies; meatless chicken and burger options; wholesome, natural granola bars; and sugar-free dessert items. I don't have to swear off of dessert, or cheese, or even pizza. I just balance what I choose to put in my body, and I consume "junk" in moderation.
There will always be room for improvement, and that's what excites me most.
I promise I'm not trying to be a martyr; I'm merely speaking out about how easily I gained weight and simultaneously lost a great deal of self-esteem. I'd be lying to you if I didn't tell you that I engage myself daily in a struggle to lose weight healthily and keep it off. I waver between wanting to choose a doughnut in Ian's dining hall versus granola and skim milk. I definitely crave soda sometimes, especially when I'm looking for a little caffeine boost and that 10 a.m. cup of Joe isn't cutting it anymore. But my real, true point is that I have made these choices in my life. No one pressured me, coerced me, coaxed me, pushed me, or pulled me. I decided I wanted to look and feel different, so I did something healthy about it. I'm happy, and I'm proud.
And that's really all there is to say :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

It's a Snow-Go

I can't deny that I'm still in awe of the snow. I truly didn't expect to see any white this winter. And I was finally beginning to be okay with it. Until...
 The first picture was taken shortly before 5:00 p.m., after I returned from the gym...
...and the second, not 20 minutes later. The difference is huge!
Good thing I had warm gloves for my jaunt to the gym:
Ian's mom bought these for me for Christmas so I could enjoy listening to my iPod while exercising in cold weather. They'll be perfect for snowboarding, if I ever get a chance to hit the slopes.
I was pretty damn proud of myself yesterday afternoon for (1) resisting the urge to drive to the gym -- and risk losing the front-row spot I had backed into with the wiper blades propped up, (2) enjoying a beautiful walk in the wintry weather, and (3) completing a PDR (personal distance record) of 2.35 miles in 30 minutes! That added up to 2.6 miles total, with a 2-minute warmup and a 3-minute cool-down. After getting a great workout in, I was able to enjoy my sushi and the steadily falling snow.
These were taken around 8:00 p.m. with about 5". It always amazes me how bright the sky is during a snowstorm because of the low clouds and the light reflection. Majestic.
The 11:00 p.m. ones didn't turn out so well, but you can see the accumulation and how even people's footprints were filled in! About 7" at that point, with 4 more hours of snow predicted.
These are of 9:00 this morning. I must have slept like a rock, because the plows came through and made my day! When did I become such an adult and not care whether classes were cancelled (for safety reasons)?!
The school opened at 10:00 this morning. Being that I don't have class until 4:30, my schedule wasn't affected. Though it does mean that even if I'm able to dig my car out and make it to campus, things will be frozen back over by the time I return at 7:15. I'm not much of a Nervous Nelly -- unless I'm by myself, my car isn't cooperating, and I have zero control over the situation. Those 3 ingredients are a recipe for an anxiety disaster in my book.
Well, no sense in sitting inside worrying today. Off to the gym! Time to don my warmest gear and go dig out the snow heap that is my little car. Enjoy your snow day or your delayed schedule, whichever the case may be :)
P.S. What's your favorite snow day activity? Mine is taking a walk as the snow is falling, and then making snow cream -- Dad's special recipe! And of course, there's the requisite snowman...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wonderful Winter Wonderland Weekend

I literally cannot believe what's happening right now.
SNOW?! During WINTER? In February??
These photos were taken at 2:30, but even they don't do this storm justice. It is dumping snow here, and has been for some time.
Mother Nature, this is by far one of your best jokes.
You gave us Virginians 60-degree weather, mixed with more rain than the Amazon sees annually, for 3 months, and now you've decided we need a blizzard?
As a winter baby, I love snow. Everything about it. The way it tastes, the way it smells, the way it sounds coming down, the way it feels... Okay, yeah, I like to experience snow with all my senses. Good thing, because it looks like we're in for a long night of it.

Allow me to back up a bit. Friday, as you may remember, was Ian's and my second Valentine's Day celebration, as we traveled to Richmond to see The Lion King on Broadway.
We enjoyed a cheap dinner at my favorite sub joint, Jersey Mike's. I always love The Veggie on whole wheat bread with lots of delicious veggie frills. We even indulged in some SF, which happened to be right next door.
I'm such a sucker for the fat-free Cake Batter froyo + fresh fruit + the marshmallow creme topping. Talk about a heart attack!
Then we headed downtown to be sure we could get a space in the parking deck across from the Landmark Theatre. It's always a zoo (pun intended). What a fantastic production. Everything was flawless, there was so much to take in, and I was grinning from ear to ear for hours. The giraffes are my absolute favorite thing:
During the summer of 2002, my church youth group traveled to NYC and NJ for a mission trip. As this was planned before 9/11 happened 10 months before the trip, we were limited in the activities we had scheduled. The Statue of Liberty was inaccessible, all but the lobby of the Empire State Building was inaccessible, security was extremely heightened... But Broadway did not cease to amaze. I am so blessed that I was able to experience my first Broadway production, The Lion King, at 13. Since that time, I have also seen Hairspray and Wicked, and I have really come to develop a love for the theater. This was Ian's first Broadway experience, and I was so glad I was able to share it with him!

Saturday morning, after having been up until 2:00 a.m. laughing and reminiscing with my family, we arose bright and early to head to H-SC for the basketball game versus Randolph-Macon -- a bitter rivalry, to say the least. The Tigers didn't disappoint!
Caroline and I didn't storm the court with the rest of the student body, but we sure were fired up!
We celebrated the Tigers' win by dining at a Farmville favorite, Macado's. I ordered a new selection instead of my usual Build-Your-Own-Sandwich, the Southwestern Fiesta Salad -- complete with real grilled chicken:
I had absolutely no complaints, and I topped this baby off with a schooner of Miller Lite...
...minus the official Macado's schooner glass due to dishwashing difficulties. It still tasted the same, because our ever-so-kind waiter provided me with a schooner straw.

We headed back to campus for a lot of relaxing, a bit of adult beverage consumption, and, as expected, a great deal of debauchery. When Ian, Caroline and I get together, it's only to be expected.
Caroline "acquired" the Cowgirl Chic look, as she was fashionably ill-equipped for the weather.
A great time was had by all, and little sleep was had by all. We woke up at 8:15 to not even a hint of snow, and dozed until 11:00, when we discovered that the snow was coming down heavily where both Caroline and I go to school. I hate when our trio's weekends have to come to a hasty end, but we didn't want to be traveling in unsafe weather. I even threw in a frenzied trip to Kroger for some essentials before parking it for the night! I mean, who can weather a snowstorm without sushi? ;)

Now, the great debate is whether or not to walk a half-mile and back to the gym for a 30-minute run... I had to forego my long run yesterday, and I'm afraid that if I blow off today, too, that I'll be snowed in tomorrow, workout-less and feeling guilty. Looks like it's time to break out some boots!
Be safe in this crazy snow, if you're in good ole VA! Ta ta!

P.S. How did you spend your weekend? This snowstorm -- are you excited, or not so much? How many workouts in a row are you willing to skip?