Thursday, March 29, 2012

Self-Talk or Talking to Myself?

You know, I really used to think all that positive self-talk hype was just a load of bull. Maybe it's the counselor education student in me, or maybe it's the emerging runner in me, but positive self-talk really works. This is a realization I had this morning as I was leaving the gym.

Some afternoons, when I just feel like curling up on the couch and dozing in front of the boob tube instead of researching for a lit review or reading 35 pages of technical jargon, positive self-talk allows me to coax myself back into productivity. I can say to myself, If I just spend one more hour on that paper, then I can watch an episode of 90210 guilt-free while I eat a snack, and I'll be almost done with the paper. I'm totally not speaking from yesterday's experience...
When I'm on a long run and I start to feel the jelly legs creeping in after only 20 minutes, getting into my own head and saying, Alright, A.K., you can finish this run strong, I know you can, you only have 15 minutes left and then you can record this amazing feat, helps me accomplish my goal.
If I'm feeling a little bit lonely, I can usually get the (non-psychotic) voices in my head to agree with one another that I should head over to the grocery store for a bit of human interaction, or call up Mom for one of our 90-minute conversations about everything under the sun. I can remind myself, This small bout of loneliness will pass, and then I'll be excited to head to class to see my friends. I'll also have finished this project and I can be really proud of it, plus I'll have forgotten all about my loneliness.

I'm not saying positive self-talk is an end-all, be-all cure for the common cold. I'm just saying that being the ringleader of my own thoughts and not allowing myself to quit when the going gets tough or when I'd much rather be doing something else is very reassuring for me. Some of my proudest moments in life have surfaced after a great deal of positive self-talk, like running for 45 minutes straight (which is something I literally never envisioned myself being able to do), or designing an entire 6-session group therapy proposal for self-injuring adolescent females, complete with activities and resources (something I never envisioned being required to do), or even swallowing my fear, smiling like I'm on laughing gas, and giving a 30-minute presentation in front of scrutinizing classmates.

I may be talking to myself, and I may have mentioned the "voices in my head" a few too many times, but I'm telling you -- this stuff really works! Now, if only I could muster the self-talk to vacuum my apartment this afternoon...

P.S. Do you find that positive self-talk helps you get through the tough stuff? I find that it's much easier to allow negative thoughts to invade my head rather than positive thoughts, so sometimes positive self-talk can be a pleasant surprise.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Revolutionary Revelation

This morning I was totally not stoked about pretty much dreading the gym. It was a weight training day, it was a Wednesday, it was below 60 degrees, I knew I was pushed for time, I hadn't slept well, I needed to wash all the linens before I went grocery shopping... I had a host of other excuses. It still makes me chuckle a bit when I think about how I used to live for weight training days so I wouldn't have to go near that goshdarn dreadmill. These days, a great run is exactly what I crave.
Monday and Tuesday had been great runs, and I had runs planned for Thursday and Friday, with Friday being another 45-minute run (my longest yet). I don't usually cram so many running days together, but traveling on the weekends means condensing my training schedule quite a bit.

So I tried something revolutionary -- I didn't go.

I must say, it was relieving. I didn't feel guilty. I didn't feel as though I were wasting time. I didn't have to bargain with the devil or resign myself to eating only crackers and water today. I just didn't go. I got my morning started, I got the laundry started, and I even found a few minutes to remind myself that my body needs rest just as much as it thrives on physical activity.

I read many blog posts a week which are divided between the hardcores who never miss a day in the gym or an opportunity for exercise, and those who prioritize fitness but don't get their panties in a wad if they choose to miss a day here or there. I used to be the former, but I'd like to consider myself part of the latter group. Fitness and physical activity are important to me, especially on my journey to lose weight, but fitness is multidimensional and it's personal. I value well-rounded fitness more so than a bragging point of 365 days in the gym.
And so, with that, I'm off to put to good use the free hour I've just given myself. Have a wonderful Wednesday, and don't be too hard on yourself today!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

It's High Time

...that I shook things up around here meal-wise.
Each week tends to look generally the same:

Monday: leftover day or vegetarian burger + veggies,
Tuesday: brown rice + French onion soup + salad,
Wednesday: vegetarian chicken + pasta + salad,
Thursday: vegetarian chili + salad + Jell-O
Weekends nearly always consist of cringe-worthy restaurant foods, though I am gradually making better choices without sacrificing fun or flavor. For instance, I've found that I don't need to eat so much cheese if I choose chicken entrees instead of vegetarian ones. It seems that most restaurants equate vegetarianism with cheese-lovers... which is great, if you never want to poop again!

Sometimes that "+ salad" looks more like "+ frozen veggies" or "+ canned seasoned turnip greens," but it's usually salad or sliced tomatoes and cukes with a splash of vinegar.
Breakfasts vary little between Kashi topped with berries and/or bananas and oatmeal topped with a smorgasbord of goodies. There is the occasional omelette...
Dessert will undoubtedly consist of a Chobani, Jell-O, or a cup of decaf hazelnut Folger's. Without fail, Thursday is always a Jell-O day, as if I'm saying to myself, Congratulations on making it to the weekend!
It's not that I aim to make all of my meals boring or overly predictable. You know you eat predictably when you can draw (multiple) examples from previously taken photos. The problem lies in ease; all of these meals are so simple to prepare before I leave for class or immediately after I return.
Last night, in about 30 minutes I whipped up rice pilaf topped with a baked sliced chik'n breast brushed with olive oil, and a spinach salad topped with feta, tomato, cuke, cilantro, pickles, and light Zesty Italian. It was simple, delicious, and filling. I'm all about simple.
So, I'll shout it from the mountaintops: I want to get out of my meal repetition rut without making things difficult for myself.

Tonight, I'm going to shake things up and have Jell-O! Look out, world -- I'm gettin' crazy! ;)

If you have suggestions for how to shake things up or for quick and easy recipes, I would greatly appreciate anything you can provide me! They don't even have to be vegetarian -- I can sub ingredients to make almost any meal veggie-friendly. I've been eating meat when I go out, but I'm still preparing solely "lacto-ovo-pescetarian" foods at home.
Ta ta, and happy Tuesday!

Monday, March 26, 2012


It's official, ladies and gents -- Make It or Break It is back again!
Tonight's episode was every bit as thrilling and dramatic as I've been hoping it would be.
Payson, Lauren, and Kaylie are up to their usual teenage antics, gymnastics woes, and girly soblems (sobs + problems). There's no denying that I love this show. I'm obviously no athlete phenom myself, but hey, can't I be passionate about someone else's talent? Bad acting and ridiculous dialogue aside, it's an inspiring show.
Even though I'm not a gymnast, sometimes I feel as though my journey and theirs aren't so different. These girls have been in training since they were toddlers; I've been laboring through school since the same age, and I still have at least two years ahead of me. Focus is paramount in gymnastics; studying hard and smart is paramount in counselor education. These girls are keeping that age-old dream alive: if you work hard enough and believe in yourself, anything is possible. My stress about this semester's classes and workload can't rival competing for a spot on the Olympic team, but this isn't a competition. I'm simply inspired by seeing others pursue their dreams so wholeheartedly and with such vigor... even if it is a TV show!

My analogies may be ludicrous and corny, but sometimes watching a show like Make It or Break It is perfect for getting me out of my own head for a little while.
P.S. Do you have a favorite show? Does it relate to your life (or do you draw laughable connections between fictional characters and yourself like I do)?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Just What I Needed

This weekend was exactly what the doctor ordered. Not literally.
Prepare for a full synopsis!
Friday, Ian and I dined at Buffalo Wild Wings. I tried the Buffalo Ranch Chicken Sandwich, and I subbed a side salad for fries (pats self on back). I was still craving a little something sweet afterward, so I ordered a scoop of vanilla ice cream from the kids menu. Mmm, mmm, mmm! Later on, we ventured down to one of Ian's best friend's dorm complex for some adult beverages, card games, and camaraderie. We even indulged in 2:00 a.m. Sheetz sandwiches. Oops!

Saturday, I relished the luxury of sleeping in, though Ian had to be up and at 'em before the sun awoke for an open house event for prospective students and their families. He rejoined me around 12:30, and we hit the gym. Hampden-Sydney has one of the most beautiful college gyms I've ever seen, though all I needed was a treadmill. Thankfully, there was hardly anyone else working out to see me huffing and puffing my way through my longest run yet -- 45 minutes! That ended up being almost 3.5 miles, which felt like a heart attack and light-headedness afterward, but which felt like pride and accomplishment later :) We grabbed lunch at T-Bell, and I tried the Soft Taco Supreme, which I haven't eaten since I was in middle school. Beef still isn't my thing in this whole meat experimentation process, but those tacos sure were tasty after such a difficult workout.

After a short nap, some March Madness, and a bit of Bo Burnham's stand-up routine, we showered and dressed for the evening. I tried the Tiger Inn's (HSC's student center and cafe) finest -- the tuna melt sandwich, onion petals, a Vitamin Water, and a Kit Kat bar. We spent Saturday night with our Friday night crowd. I may be 23, but Kings and $%#@ the Dealer have yet to get old, especially when paired with hilarious people. What a weekend!

This afternoon, we enjoyed the dining hall's brunch spread, which I always enjoy. I'm very much a creature of habit, so I always snag fresh-squeezed OJ, French roast coffee, low-fat granola with skim, an egg white omelette with veggies and cheese, fruit cocktail and cottage cheese, and a donut hole or three. Ian had a busy afternoon ahead, and I needed to get back to work on a project, so unfortunately we parted company around 3:00.

This weekend was just what I needed to clear my head, relax, spend time with close friends, try a new workout in a new place, and laugh until I couldn't breathe. I hope your weekend was equally as excellent :)

P.S. Tomorrow night, Make It or Break It returns full-force, and I could not be more excited! I've never been busier or more stressed with all that's due in the next few weeks, but I absolutely love this show!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Lip Syncing My Way Through College

Sorry I've been MIA from the blog scene this week! Things have been more than hectic between grad school, weekend scheduling with Ian, schoolwork obligations and scheduling conflicts, and stress, stress, stress!! I've also been suffering from a bit of writer's block -- the kind where I write half of a post, suddenly lose all interest in my topic, and end up with a list of drafts.

Wednesday night, I was able to blow off a lot of steam by visiting my ADPi sisters at Longwood for Greek Lip Sync Spring 2012. It's always a very adrenaline-fueled affair, and I couldn't have been more thrilled to surprise my sisters and watch them win Best Appearance! Congratulations again, ladies! :)
Who do I think I am, a turtle? Who sticks her neck out that far?
Our beautiful and strong Epsilon Chi chapter <>
Of course, all of the pictures I took brought back (laughable) memories of my own Lip Sync, so very many years ago, in the spring of 2008, while I was yet a freshman...
And also of one of my favorite Lip Syncs of all time, spring 2009 featuring the Alpha class Meant to Be 14:
As I was listening to a few seniors tell me how excited they are to graduate and be done with activities like workshops they've been through a million times, or long chapter meetings when they'd rather be doing something else, my heart and soul longed to be back at Longwood, participating in those same activities. As I listened to my close friends talk about the newest initiated class of sisters, I realized that there were about 15 unfamiliar faces in the sea of ADPis, whose names I didn't know.
I even texted Ian, "Why didn't I do that Victory Lap?"

All those times I thought to myself, I wish we didn't have a recruitment workshop, or Please let this ceremony be over soon, I would take back in a heartbeat. I realized during the last semester of my senior year at Longwood that I had lip synced my way through so much of college. I was going through the motions, but I wasn't always participating wholeheartedly. There was still so much time left for all of that! ...right?
As a lowly freshman, I only wanted to be a sophomore. As a sophomore, I knew junior year had to be greater. But as a junior, I began to dread becoming a senior. Being a senior meant preparing for graduation, and grad school, and Big Girl World. I took for granted so many nights with my incredible sisters. I skipped parties in favor of watching movies, I slept in instead of seizing the day, I ate Taco Bell in place of enjoying the dining hall atmosphere, I complained instead of relishing the rituals and ceremonies, and I missed opportunities I'll never be able to relive.
If you're still an undergrad, I implore you not to take a single moment for granted. There aren't as many as you think there are, and they'll all be used up before you even realize what's happened. Graduation day, when you're sitting on the lawn in your itchy cap and gown, I pray that your thoughts are of excitement and promise. When you've moved on with your life and accepted a job in some city, I pray that you think of your fellow Greek brothers and sisters and wonder what they're up to. When you revisit your old college campus and bring your children to run around (as my parents did with Caroline and me), I pray that your memories are of laughing until you cried, hilariously drunken nights, intensely deep late-night conversations with your roommate, stolen property from some forbidden frat house, and walking the halls of education that molded you into who you are. Yeah, I'm a pretty corny girl, but these are my memories, and I wouldn't trade a single one.
First. Finest. Forever.
<> Alpha Delta Pi <>

Monday, March 19, 2012

Scaling Things Down

I know I wrote awhile back that the entire purpose of my healthy living attitude and my fitness goals was not weight loss. But certainly, a part of my goals is losing weight. Several months ago, the gym at my apartment complex removed the scale. I don't know why, and I don't know what they did with it. I do know that every time I stepped on it, the maintenance men timed their arrival to coincide with those little red numbers blinking my weight. Geez, get your own damn number!
I've been thinking about getting a scale of my own for my bathroom so I can weigh myself in the buff (to get a true reading). Isn't that expression the greatest? ;)
But, like I wrote before, I don't want to be a slave to the scale. I don't want to feel obligated by daily weigh-ins or pressure to lower the number I see. I've been enjoying the health benefits of eating well by choice, making healthy decisions when I'm away from my meticulous kitchen, and challenging myself to do better on the weekends. For the most part, all of this goes well, but I'd still like to monitor my weight.
Caroline jokes that I'm the only person she knows who can step on a scale "wrong," step off, step on again, and have gained weight. No lie -- one time I stepped on the scale in her bathroom at home, peed, and somehow weighed 17 pounds more than I had the first time. How the hell is that possible?!

All joking and indecision aside, I know I've lost at least 15 pounds since I began this endeavor. I probably could have lost more by now with a program like Weight Watchers, but I feel trapped just by the idea of counting points and having weekly weigh-ins. I don't want my health to be a guessing game, but perhaps in my optimistic naivete, I feel as though I've gained superior health benefit from making personal choices rather than feeling as though Big Brother is monitoring every calorie. Plus, my blog serves as an accountability booster. Nope, I certainly don't have to post pictures of indulgent desserts or grease-coated pizza, but being honest with myself feels far more genuine than being honest with a points program or eating prepackaged frozen meals.

Disclaimer: I'm not dumping on your diet! I'm just not a "diet" kind of chick. If you're doing WW "because it works," rock on. If you lap up Atkins meals or Nutrisystem protein shakes, keep on keepin' on. I'm doing what works for me, just as you're doing what works for you. Cheers to the both of us with a Vitamin Water!

P.S. If you have a scale in your home, how often do you weigh yourself? If you do not weigh yourself at home, how often do you weigh yourself? If you don't care what the scale says, how did you become comfortable with the decision not to weigh yourself regularly?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fiesta Weekend

What a wonderful relaxing, productive, exciting, smile-filled weekend it was :) I was so blessed to be able to spend it in the company of family and good friends.

Friday held so many new things (i.e. my accidental 5K), I couldn't help but celebrate!
I demolished this little gem at TGI Friday's before Kristin and I made our way to AA. This go-round, I selected more wisely: the Classic Wedge Salad, the Chicken Piccata Pasta, and this, Oreo Madness. Again, I didn't finish the pasta, and the delicious left-overs are still waiting for me.
Saturday, after my new favorite healthy Subway find (a 6" Veggie on wheat bread = provolone, lettuce, tomato, pickles, banana peppers, cucumber, Chipotle Southwest sauce, and oil and vinegar), I treated myself to a phenomenal Starbuck's cake pop.
Saturday evening, Caroline, Ian and I rang in St. Patrick's Day with two friends, Phil and Bekah, and a lot of some very green beer at Macado's!

After so much indulgence, I declared today that I'm in official Detox Mode. Lauren asked me about my "plan of attack," but the truth is, I don't have one. I just have a crying need to OD on fruits and veggies. Somewhere between the pasta salad and St. Patty's Day coconut cake I swallowed whole last night and the 2 cinnamon rolls I wolfed down this morning, I lost sight of my body's needs.
Ergo... I've been excited to make and to blog about vegetarian Burrito Bowls for literally days!
I got the idea from one of my favorite blogs, A Healthy Slice of Life.

What I Used:
- Refried pinto beans
- Hard taco shell bowls (a.k.a. Tostada Bowls)
- Baby spinach leaves
- Tomato
- Avocado
- Sprinkly nacho/taco cheese
- Light sour cream
- Wholly Salsa
(I wasn't able to find fresh cilantro at my local Kroger last week)
(I ended up skipping the brown rice; I'm thinking I'll use it for a meal later this week)
(I didn't add sauteed onion as I had planned because I was super hungry... and eager!)
What I Did:
- Coated the inside of the bowl with hot refried beans
- Diced a handful (each) of tomato, avocado, and spinach
- Layered all veggie ingredients
- Added sour cream, salsa, and cheese
- Added dollops of beans
And there it is -- my very first homemade burrito bowl!
I munched on a handful of almonds and a Chobani instead of giving in to the idea of fixing another Burrito Bowl. I'll be enjoying one again soon; one of the great things about this meal idea is that the ingredients suffice for several meals.

Well, my blends, it's time for me to get back into my school routine. T-minus 44 days until the semester is over, but it sure doesn't feel like it! I've got a lot of work--hence, a lot of stress--ahead of me, so a detox goal of ODing on fruits and veggies ought to help me cope. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Hi, My Name Is A.K., And...

...I'm just here for observation purposes. I'm a graduate student. I don't have a drinking problem.

You can't say that at an AA meeting, you know? Who am I to trivialize someone's struggle just because I've chosen to join this group for one night as an assignment?
Well, that's exactly what my friend Kristin and I did. As one of our assignments in our Group Therapy class, we are required to attend one session of an open group (Weight Watchers, AA, NA, Al-Anon, etc.) and write about our experience. I've been anxious about this assignment since the first night of class in January. Our professor asked only that we be honest but respectful. To me, that meant choosing a meeting closeby, stating perhaps only my name and that I'm a visitor (after all, I'm not going to lie and say that I'm an alcoholic, which would be antithetical to the whole purpose of the support group), and then listening politely for the rest of the meeting.
I obviously didn't want to announce that I'm a student and that I'm not like the rest of those people; for an open discussion group, I can't imagine anything more hurtful than feeling like I was sharing my pain with a group of relative strangers, only to be leveled by two 20-somethings breezing through for one night, for a "project," probably on their way to a bar afterward.

It was uncomfortable as hell, I'll tell you that much. The meeting took place at a church close to Kristin's townhouse and my apartment. We carpooled because we were nervous enough without having to arrive sans escort. Another classmate joined us, and she was just as nervous, even though she'd attended a meeting before for another class. I must admit, all of my preconceived notions about AA meetings when right out the window as the members shared their experiences with faith, coming to know God, connecting with one another through likenesses, triggers to engage in harmful behaviors, and participating in a process that isn't always comfortable or "warm and fuzzy." I loathe that expression, but it gets my point across. I always derive a lot of benefit from interacting with people who aren't part of my homogenous daily routine. As oxymoronic as it may sound, I enjoy stepping outside of my comfort zone and testing the waters within myself.

The only time I felt a bit out of place--well, other than the fact that I was at an AA meeting--was when the gentleman passing out sobriety chips specifically addressed the three of us: "You know, I like to tell nursing students that we're not contagious!" Was it that obvious that we were students? Apparently, it was, but that didn't make the members any less welcoming toward us or open in sharing their stories. Overall, I really enjoyed my experience at AA, though I literally pray that there is never a need for me to return!

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Friday, March 16, 2012

Quit Playing Games With My Stomach

I have BIG news this morning -- I RAN A 5K!!! Without walk breaks, without pausing, without crying, without passing out, I ran a 5K on the treadmill in 40 minutes :) This is one of those accomplishments that will keep me smiling all day long!
I'm particularly excited because I'll know when my 5K rolls around May 12, that I can do it because I've already done it ;)

Speaking of the gym...
I often play a game with myself called Should I Eat Before the Gym or Can I Make It 45 Minutes Without Fainting? Please believe -- I'm no ano. I just feel lighter and more even-keeled when I skip eating before I work out. Some days, though, my hypoglycemia kicks in and I really struggle through the last 5 or 10 minutes of a run. It's not a great feeling: light-headedness, tunnel vision, shaky arms and legs, and a rumbling tummy. Most days, I feel great if I pop a few Tic Tacs and a sip or two of Vitamin H2O before I treadmill it up, just for a mini sugar boost and a little something in my stomach. On days when I'm lifting weights, it doesn't matter much whether I eat beforehand. I'm not doing much exercise that requires stamina. On days when I know I'll be doing what I refer to as my "long runs," it's a gamble. I just try to take it day by day.

On a comedic note...
How I feel when I run:
What I actually look like when I run:
This morning I ate a Blueberry Muffin Larabar before hitting the treadmill, because my training schedule called for a 40-minute run--the longest run I've yet completed. What a feeling! I wasn't even attempting to run a 5K. I mean, I'm only at the end of week 6 out of a 12-week program. I just realized that at the pace I was running and with my planned duration, I would reach 3.1 miles with no problem. I actually ran 3.13 miles in 40 minutes, with a 2-minute warmup and a 3-minute cool-down, for a total of 3.37 miles in 45 minutes.
I'm patting myself on the back for completing this longest run yet, and for (trying my best to) making wise choices when it comes to exercising on an empty stomach.

I stocked up on Larabars last night at Kroger; I've decided that their protein content and their fabulous variety in nutrition outweigh their caloric content.
And what scrumptious flavors they offer, too!
I also fixed myself a protein-laden breakfast after my run, not only because my eggs will expire soon, but because I haven't had a breakfast like this in quite some time:
P.S. What are your thoughts on eating before you exercise? When I swam twice a day on a competition team, I had no choice but to eat before workouts. Swimming several miles on an empty stomach isn't the wisest of ideas.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tricky Lady

Karma is a bitch. And she will eff with you. Make no mistake.
I had a slight run-in with karma twice yesterday.
Along with that cliche phrase, I'd also like to say, too much of a good thing isn't necessarily a great thing, or however it goes.

Story #1:
Yesterday, my training plan called for a 30-minute run. I thought, easy peezy, and I was excited to run out my soreness from Tuesday's weights session. When I walked into the gym, there was an older gentleman beginning to walk on the middle treadmill. There was a girl climbing onto the first elliptical. I started to move toward the far treadmill, but the man told me it wasn't plugged in and didn't seem to be working. I thanked him and moved around him to the first treadmill, but Elliptical Girl informed me it was stuck at its steep incline. I tried to fiddle with it, but sure enough, it was. Thinking I could at least get in some form of cardio, I walked back over to the far elliptical, only to notice that the stuff on it and beside it belonged to my personal elliptical-frequenting, chain-smoking, sickly-coughing, phlegm-hacking annoyance of a gym buddy (obviously, we're tight). I was starting to get aggravated when I decided to plug in the closest treadmill to see if it was at least operational. Miracle of all miracles, it lit right up! It began its lowly crawl when I pressed Quick Start, so I was in business. It was flashing a message I've sometimes seen on the treadmills, "Waxer Needs Refill -- Notify Maintenance." Hey, the thing was working, so I blew it off, found CSI: Miami on the tube, and started my workout.
Twenty-five minutes into my run, with five measly minutes to go, the treadmill suddenly stopped, jerked, and threw me forward. I banged into the display screen, and then I almost fell backward. Luckily, nothing happened to me, but I wasn't able to finish my run, tabulate my data, or cool down as I normally like to do. To top that off, I noticed that the maintenance man had begun to work on the other two treadmills, and he probably had mine in mind next.
Karma, karma. You tricky lady.

Story #2:
Ian and I dined at TGI Friday's yesterday for lunch. There was a promotion going on, three courses (from a limited selection) for $16.99. Ian wisely selected a two-course option: a house salad accompanied by shrimp and fries. I was hungry after my run, and this was serving as breakfast and lunch. I chose crispy green beans with wasabi Ranch as my appetizer, creamy Cajun chicken and shrimp pasta as my entree, and vanilla bean cheesecake as my dessert. I thought, so here I have a green vegetable, carbs, seafood, and dairy. Not too shabby. Ha! The joke was on me, folks. I haven't eaten that quantity of food in quite some time. In fact, I only ate three-quarters of the appetizer, half of the entree, and half of the dessert. Three hours after lunch, I was still miserably full, even after a Tums binge and a bottle of water. I wasn't ready for dinner until 7:30... Nearly seven hours after we finished lunch. I should have heeded my body when it told me it was craving fresh veggies and fruit, that it didn't want fried food or heavy pasta or a rich dessert, and that a creamy Cajun sauce would inevitably be too spicy for me. I had planned to eat rice and soup for dinner, but instead my two meals consisted of Friday's and a wisely chosen spinach salad with fresh veggies and seeds. I decided to leave the leftovers for another day.
I won't be doing that again.
Karma, karma. You tricky lady.

P.S. Do you ever have run-ins with karma? She and I frequently run into one another.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Date is a Date is a Date

Y'all... It doesn't matter how long you've been together -- a day, a month, a year, a decade. It's still entirely lovely when your man asks you out on a date. Ian and I have been together for precisely 2 years, 3 months, and 2 days. Barfy sappy much? Yesterday, he asked me out on an impromptu date as he was passin' through my neck of the woods on his way home today. He's had a craving for Chinese food, which isn't my cup of tea today (pun intended), but I definitely owe him a restaurant choice or five. He always lets me choose where we eat, and it usually ends up being Olive Garden, Red Lobster, or P.F. Chang's (surprise, surprise). If I had it my way, I'd have all my meals catered by these restaurants, and I'd eat out at The Melting Pot at least once a week... Oops, I'm drooling again, and my cholesterol is skyrocketing just by writing about it...

My point is, if your man asks you out on a date, it's a date. I don't know about you, but I love to get all snazzy for a date. Sure, we've seen each other a million times, and no one else will notice my slightly chipped toenail polish or that I have another new black dress. But he will.
Please pardon what appear to be, but I can attest are not, cankles.

We have a couple of date guidelines we implemented a long time ago. They're not rules; they're flexible, and we created them to benefit our relationship as a whole:

(1) I don't expect him to pay for everything just because he's the guy. Going halfsies or dutch has become our style, and we like it. We both like to treat the other every once in awhile, but we're perfectly okay with costs being equal or separate.

(2) The use of coupons and gift certificates on dates is more than acceptable. Ian's parents graciously send him gift cards to restaurants at least once a month, and he almost always saves them for our dates. Once, between a gift certificate, a promotion, and a coupon, we each ate a three-course dinner at Olive Garden for $2.39 total! What's the cents in paying full price? ;)

(3) Because we have a somewhat long-distance relationship, we try to make costs balance out. For instance, whomever drives to visit the other one does not need to use his own car during the stay. That part balances itself anyway -- Ian's Explorer is a gas demon but it's spacious, while he can barely fold his football player frame into my little sporty baby, which gets excellent gas mileage.

(4) We try to consider the other when it comes to making restaurant choices. When I visit him in Farmville, our choices are pretty much limited to B-Dubs, Applebee's, Ruby Tuesday, and for special pay-out-the-ass occasions, Charley's Waterfront Cafe. When he visits me here, the sky is the limit... except for my previous vegetarianism. Guilty as charged when it comes down to actually being the chooser of the location, though.

(5) We determine before we go out whether we'll be drinking so the same person doesn't always end up chauffeuring or paying a high liquor tab. Those babies can really add up!

Today, because neither of us could make a decision, we ended up choosing something middle-of-the-road (literally) and dining at a really nice Friday's. I accidentally gorged myself on crispy green beans, Cajun chicken and shrimp pasta, and vanilla bean cheesecake. You can't beat three delicious courses for $16.99, though my body is vehemently protesting fried food, spicy creamy sauce, and so much richness. It's been 3 hours since lunch, and I'm still bursting. I even have a ready-made dinner! But what a wonderful date it was :) And to top it off, Ian brought me this nerdy gift from the chemistry conference he just returned from attending in Orlando:
Simultaneously the coolest and dorkiest coffee mug I've ever seen!

P.S. Do you have any dating guidelines you and yours use? Do you have any date traditions unique to the two of you?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Having a serious case of the Monday Munchies really made me realize that I need to up my veggie intake! It also inspired me to analyze everything I eat and compare it to the food pyramid (at least, one of the varying food pyramids the FDA keeps claiming is best right now).

Breakfast: Kashi Honey Puffs topped with fresh blueberries and strawberries; coffee; mango Chobani

Mid-afternoon snack: fresh strawberries topped with a dollop of Nutella

Pre-class snack: Citrus-C Odwalla smoothie

Mid-class snack: apricot KIND bar

Dinner: Southwest gardenburger topped with fresh baby spinach, tomato, feta crumbles, cucumber slices, and garlic and chive hummus on a wheat pita pocket; garlic pita chips and fat-free cream cheese plus Wholly Salsa; passionfruit Chobani; baby spinach salad topped with cucumber slices, tomato slices, sunflower seeds, and Italian dressing
Starting at the top, I think I do well using fats, oils, and sweets sparingly. Yes, there is probably partially hydrogenated oil in my indulgent fat-free coffee creamer, and yes, I do have a weakness for less-than-holy salad dressings. But I think I manage pretty well.

I consume skim milk and low-fat yogurt on a daily basis as sources of protein and calcium. I absolutely love cheeses of all shapes, sizes, and flavors, but I try not to consume much of it. As yummy as it is, most of it is very fatty, and it doesn't contain enough calcium to justify gorging on it. I do eat eggs, but not nearly as often as I used to; I'm down to making omelettes once a week.
As far as legumes go, I've always been a slacker. Mom told me 9 years ago when I declared my vegetarianism that I'd have to develop an affinity for beans. I like green beans, and I can stomach refried beans every now and then, but that's about it. However, I do love nuts and seeds, which I make frequent salad additions. I also enjoy meat alternatives, such as Quorn naked "chicken" cutlets, Boca veggie burgers, and Morningstar Farms "bacon" and maple "sausage."
As evidenced by yesterday's meals, which were pretty indicative of daily life, I'm definitely missing the green I need to round out the color wheel. Sometimes I steam frozen veggies, such as Green Giant's Antioxidant Blend. On even simpler nights, I'll slice cucumber and sprinkle it with black pepper and vinegar, or I'll eat a small can of Sensibly Seasoned turnip greens. I need to work on more fresh veggies.
Looks like I'm doing okay on fruit, but I could definitely up my consumption. I bought some Buddy Fruits on Sunday, which are 100% fruit pouches great for in-class snacks. I almost always add fresh fruit to my cereal after my workouts, and I eat a banana several days a week in the afternoon for a little pick-me-up.
I don't eat too much pasta anymore, because I found that I was gaining weight like crazy when I relied heavily on it to feel full. I eat white or brown rice about twice a week, and I eat whole grain cereal about 5 days a week. I also eat whole grain or whole wheat bread once or twice a week. Sometimes, when I'm in the mood for a hot breakfast, I'll whip up some Quaker Oats--which are always especially delicious when topped with brown sugar, almond slices, flax seeds, and granola!
I'm definitely getting plenty of carbs, calcium, vitamins C and D, and iron. It also looks like I'm doing a better job than I thought of eating 4-5 small meals throughout the day rather than 3 huge ones. I'm also consuming a decent amount of protein through a low-key combo of whole grains, nuts, Greek yogurt, eggs, and nut butters.
Overall, I'm pretty impressed with my Vegetarian Food Pyramid self-review. If someone else reviewed my daily diet (i.e. a nutritionist), I probably wouldn't get such a glowing review. I've found that the key to eating well is truly being honest with yourself. You know if you've eaten 14 Samoas instead of the 2 you said you were going to have before putting them away. If you can't remember the last time anything green entered your mouth, you may need to reevaluate your personal pyramid. Just sayin' ;)

Foods on my Must Try Soon list:
Chia seeds
Almond butter
Almond milk
Protein powder (to be mixed in yogurt, smoothies, etc.)
Larabars (I've only tried 2 flavors; I'm wary of the high calorie content)

Based on my "three sheets to the wind" meat-eating in Mexico, I'm not sure I can still consider myself a pescetarian. I prefer the term "experimenting" for right now, until I decide on a firmer diet. Of course, there's no obligation to label myself whatsoever, but I feel more comfortable grocery shopping and finding satisfying choices on restaurant menus if I know specifically what I need. However, I'm still only interested in meat when it comes to widening my options on menus. I have no interest in buying or cooking meat at home. Dirty little secret Fun fact: I have no clue how to prepare meat dishes because I've never needed to know!

Well, that's my exhaustive diet review. Happy Tuesday, blends!

P.S. What new foods are you hoping to try soon? I experimented with and loved the meats and exotic fruit available in Mexico!