Saturday, June 30, 2012


Smith Mountain Lake is sort of an institution for the Lew Crew. We've been going since my sister and I were in elementary school. We used to vacation annually at the same spot in the same house, but we also used to switch SML up with the Rappahannock River for vacation spots. We haven't been to the lake in a few years.

I clearly remember the last time we visited; I was the Scholarship Chair for my sorority, I had just received the previous semester's grades, and I was trying my damndest on my prehistoric SmartPhone to read and interpret an Excel document. While on a houseboat. Nerding hard. But, I digress.

Starting tomorrow, the Lew Crew, my sister's and my "shared" best friend Anne, and Ian (for a few days) will be on Lake Time. This year, we're staying on the Bedford County side, which will be interesting for several reasons, not the least of which is the half-million people currently without power due to last night's storm... It'll also be interesting using -- wait for it -- dialup Internet! Some people who rent out vacation homes like to keep the atmosphere more "rustic" for those who truly want to feel like they're leaving the Real World and entering Vacation. Some who rent homes don't want to pay for the expense of wireless Internet when no one is there to use it year-round. I'm guessing some just haven't gotten around to modernizing everything in their rental properties. 

I may or may not be blogging much next week. Sometimes when I sorrowfully tell people I miss blogging when I'm on vacation, they're like, you're on vacation! You don't have to worry about blogging! But isn't the whole premise of vacation doing whatever it is you want to do? For me, that includes blogging regularly :)

P.S. Sorry the posts have been a little light on pictures recently. With all of the craziness accompanying my first week of work, I was simply too lazy. Good stuff coming soon!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Home-Packed Health

I have people ask me frequently how I pack healthy, tasty lunches from home. It's quite simple, really. (Say that in Hermione Granger's voice.) My mom's morning lunch-packing memory schema used to go like this: sandwich, chips, fruit, yogurt, dessert. In that order. Simple, inexpensive, easy to remember, healthy.

I've adapted her schema a bit to fit my current lifestyle. I'm no longer a self-elected spokeswoman for Yoplait, nor am I interested in room-temp PB&J. It's no longer the epitome of uncool to carry a lunchbox with freezer packs. Phew! Also, actually eating at lunchtime is back in, as is eating well.

My new schema looks more like this: sandwich or carbs, fruit, yogurt, Cheez-Its or pretzels, granola bar, vegetable, water bottle. For example, this morning I packed a small container of homemade tuna salad (light chunk tuna, a tiny dollop of mayo, pickle relish) with a whole wheat Sandwich Thin, a banana, one serving size of Reduced Fat Cheez-Its, a Kashi granola bar, a container of raw baby carrots and cucumber slices, and a Taste of Inspirations Greek yogurt. I wish I had a picture for you, but that requires getting up. Clearly, my industriousness in packing lunches does not carry over to photography.

I find that it's easy to be creative with packing lunches because I'm not a picky eater. My absolute favorite thing to pack is leftovers -- they're already in Tupperware, they're easy to reheat, and they're generally the thinkless "sandwich" component of my schema. I've been packing extra food this week. Many of the staff elect to eat a snack mid-morning, which suits me perfectly, and I've been swimming in the afternoon. This schema works wonders for me because I'm getting a variety of textures and flavors, as well as lots of options. I'm also getting calcium, protein, Omega-3s, vitamins C and D, fiber, and potassium.

On a mildly unrelated note...
Today I accomplished that long-awaited goal of swimming one mile! I probably swam a mile or more in twice-a-day practices when I was on the Walton Park Waves swim team, but I usually didn't tabulate the laps. It isn't that swimming 65 laps is particularly difficult; it's always been a matter of having a lane to myself for an uninterrupted extended period of time. I even swam all 4 strokes(!) though I mostly alternated between freestyle and breaststroke. I'm tellin' ya, I couldn't do it in the afternoons without a granola bar or a few peanut butter crackers. In my book, eating and exercise are best mates ;)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On Eats Before Exercise

All my life, I've heard that you shouldn't swim for at least 30 minutes after eating. Recently, I've heard that you shouldn't exercise within two hours of a meal (and vice versa) due to the risks of vomiting and severe cramping. I've also heard recently that you shouldn't eat within an hour or two of exercise because if your body is trying to decide between digestion and working out, exercise will win out and food will be stored in your body longer (thus, weight retention). I've also heard that if you skip a meal before working out, your body will elect to preserve calories instead of burning them because it doesn't know when it'll receive sustenance again. I consider my case to be special. Special meaning unique to these "rules," not special meaning noteworthy. Due to my self-diagnosed hypoglycemia, if I go too long without eating (even something small), my blood sugar drops rapidly and I turn into the Raging Food Bitch. I have a point, I swear... 

I haven't been able to swim in three days due to busyness on Sunday, the tornado-slash-severe-storm on Monday, and a tight schedule yesterday (Ian, my sister Caroline, Danielle, and her boyfriend Brandon and I saw Brave). Today I was hellbent on swimming at the Y. I mean, c'mon, my gym bag has been packed and ready in my car for three days. I was desperately craving exercise, and swimming is what appeals right now in these beastly Virginia temperatures. I had saved a Kashi granola bar to eat as I was leaving work because I knew I'd be ravenous between lunch at noon and a swim sesh at 4:00. I chowed down at 3:50, and then hopped in the pool at 4:15. I blazed through 50 laps in 36 minutes -- sans cramping, vomiting, noticeable weight sustainment, or digestion woes. I'm sure there's some truth to all of that information, especially seeing as I have no citation info other than "they say..." but it's not usually my custom to eat Thanksgiving dinner and then swim a mile or run the Boston Marathon anyway.
Ta ta until next time!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

More Zs

I felt like a zombie during much of my first day of work. This was due in equal part to two factors: first of all, I closed my eyes around 11:45 Sunday night with a 6:30 alarm set for yesterday morning. I knew I should have gone to bed much earlier, but I just couldn't make myself fall asleep. (Having War of the Worlds playing simultaneously didn't do me any favors.) Fewer than 7 hours of shut-eye was not enough for someone who's been accustomed to going to sleep between midnight and 1:00 a.m. and snoozing until 8:45, before getting in a great workout and a hearty breakfast to jump-start the day.

Also, I wouldn't say that I have a caffeine addiction, but it certainly kick-starts things nicely for me in the morning. Normally, I enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee around 10:00 before I buckle down on schoolwork. I've mentioned before that I can't bring coffee with me to work or morning activities because it makes me, er, go. Something I refuse to do in restrooms that dozens of staff share. Now that I've begun work for the summer, my leisure time is significantly reduced, I'm not necessarily able to fit workouts in before work, and my sleep schedule is all out of whack. I know I need to rely less on caffeine to get me through the day, but Coke Zero and DP10 are such convenient and inviting sources of awakeness. Yup. Made that up.

My new routine needs to look more like this: arise at 6:30, leave the house at 7:25, work 8:00-3:00, (insert gym routine here), dinner, family and/or leisure activities, next-day and lunch prep, bed at 10:00, repeat. With more exercise and less caffeine as part of my summer routine, maybe I won't look like part of the Zombie Apocalypse walking around work... Change is in order!

Edited to add: I've been refraining from taking even powernaps in the afternoon. Naps stave off the immediate drowsiness, but they prevent me from being tired later when I really need to be.

Monday, June 25, 2012

My Whirlwind First Day of Work

Today I began work at the job I have held for three consecutive summers. It is a difficult, sometimes stressful job that I absolutely love. It's rewarding in ways I can't express in words. If only working there and doing one thing I really, really love could make me a millionaire...
But today was significant for numerous reasons.
First, I attempted an 8-hour workday without caffeine. That's noteworthy. I won't try to be so chivalrous tomorrow. Remember me, Coke Zero?
Second, one of my best friends in the entire world, Danielle, has been working there for several months. It's wonderful seeing a friend around my job! 
circa 2010
Third, Betsy Q played all day long; thus, I'm a Whale and I Love It When It Snows are ingrained in my brain. Don't forget There's an Elephant in My Soup.
Fourth, a tornado-like storm whipped through the area (and later the state) around 3 p.m., which sent everyone into a frenzy. We lost power at work before the storm really picked up, and all employees were released as soon as the tornado warning was lifted. The head staff weren't even sure whether we'd have work tomorrow. Guess we'll see!
Being the gym rat that I am, I was bound and determined to swim after work. I saw approximately 4 cars as I pulled into the parking lot of the Y. I even got ballsy enough to think I'd be the girl who asks, "Is the pool open?" after a major storm, but I saw doors propped open and all the lifeguards standing around outside before I even had the chance. Thankfully. That would have been embarrassing...
Trees and powerlines were down, blocking sections of the 4-lane road I needed to take home. More than half of the stoplights I encountered didn't have power, so I had to make my way through the sea of panicked travelers. I was a little nervous about what I'd find when I arrived home, since our house backs up directly to the woods. We suffered no damage, thank goodness.
There is a bit of a rivalry at our house right now between Weight Watchers folks and folks who eat natural, healthy food but elect not to count points. We're two-vee-two. I do not have a single bad thing to say about the wonder of WW, and I have absolutely loved many of the recipes our family has tried, but I'll go stark-raving mad in the next few days if I have to hear about the point value of every single thing I pick up. Please, just let my Sandwich Thin and me be! Let's just say that I had no shame in cracking open a Woodchuck at 4:53...

Sunday, June 24, 2012


There's just something about swimming that makes me feel as though I can accomplish anything. When I'm gliding through the water, pulling it back in the breaststroke, streaming along, no one can touch me. When my view is the ceiling and I can feel water churning behind me as I backstroke toward the red flags, I'm unstoppable. I've always felt this way, even when swimming -- or another swimmer -- has kicked my ass.

Yesterday Ian and I went to the Y to do some laps. He said, "How many do you think you're going to do?" and I even surprised myself when I replied, "I'm doing fifty." Fifty laps? Our Y has a 25-meter pool, so that's 1250 meters. A mile is about 65 laps in a 25-meter pool, to put things in perspective.

I felt great as I started with a 50-meter freestyle and a 100-meter individual medley to warm up. And then I realized that I still had 44 laps to go. As I swam, it wasn't that I was getting tired. It wasn't that the task was especially difficult. It was that the number 50 seemed so daunting. I broke my swim up into chunks to make it more realistic. A 50-meter all-out freestyle here, followed by a lax 100-meter breaststroke, and then a 150-meter alternating freestyle and breaststroke. I took breaks between chunks.

I swam competitively for 11 years, but I haven't competed in 5 years. My strokes felt ragged, my kicks were uneven, and my times were unmentionable. I was breathing hard after some chunks, and I drank a full bottle of water. I remember thinking while I was kicking through my 22nd lap, only 28 more to go. Wait... that's more than I've already accomplished.

The more I swam, the less the number seemed intimidating. Slowly the number of laps diminished, from 28... to 20... to 16... to 4... and then suddenly, after my final 100-meter IM... I was done. I had swum the 50 laps in just over an hour, and I felt fantastic. I can't always achieve that feeling on the treadmill. Sometimes, as much as I want to run 3 miles at a 5.5 pace, it isn't going to happen. But with swimming, I feel like the number is within my grasp, like with enough determination and a realistic mindset, I can accomplish any number of laps I decide.

I carried that feeling of pride and self-determination with me throughout the night, as I reconnected with some of my closest Longwood friends, whom I haven't been able to see for a year!
One of my friends asked Ian what we had done earlier in the day. He asked me for a refresher, and as I recounted our day, I felt that swell of pride all over again. I set out to swim 50 laps, and I swam them. I did it. Truly, self-determination is a powerful motivating force in my fitness life. And that, my blends, is what it's all about for me.

P.S. What motivates you to work out? What are you determined to accomplish? How do you reach a difficult goal?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Girl Who Felt Good About Skipping

Today was just one of those days. When my alarm went off at 8:15, I knew I had zero desire to go to the gym. My to-do list was a mile long, and I just couldn't muster the enthusiasm to run on the treadmill or lift weights. I decided, with pep in my step, I might add, to buckle down on that supremely long list:

- Swiffer floors
- scrub tub
- vacuum entire apartment
- pack up cabinet food items
- wash linens
- remake bed, replace towels and washcloths
- wash laundry
- pack everything (I own)
- clean toilet
- scrub countertops

Whew! It's before noon and my to-do list is 99% complete, but I am pooped!
See, my second summer class ends tonight, so I'm heading back to Richmond tomorrow for two months. I still consider Richmond home, even though I'm living in my apartment 9 months out of the year. I'm not married, I don't have a roommate, I don't have any real attachment to this city that would give me reason to stay for the summer, and I have a job waiting for me in RIC. Ergo, I'm taking advantage of "free room and board" with my incredible family for as long as I can. Plus, Ian's still in Richmond finishing up his prematriculation program. Please believe, I'm not a closet bachelorette for life, nor am I an extreme homebody. Anyway...

I obviously had a shit-ton to do before I could consider my apartment "summer-ized." And honestly, I know myself well enough to know that if I'm truly not feeling the gym, the gym won't be feelin' me. Sometimes it's really nice to say to myself, I'm not going to the gym this morning, and needing to do X, Y, and Z has nothing to do with it! My to-do list still would have gotten accomplished before class tonight. If you saw my circa 1862 vacuum cleaner, or if you watched me grimace as I contorted my body in order to scrub the far side of the garden tub, you'd applaud me for getting a workout in unintentionally. Either that or you'd laugh until you cried.

So, the bottom line today is that everything got done, and I didn't feel one bit guilty for saying "no" to the gym. Hooray for guilt-free Thursday!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Looking Forward with Ian

I've had a lot (a lot) of people ask me recently whether Ian and I are engaged or planning anything special soon. Because I love blogging, today I'm combining two of my favorite things (and people?) in order to set the record straight. Please know in advance that this isn't meant to look like a Jon & Kate Plus 8 interview, fielding thousands of questions and displaying the answers in a showy way; it's just my way of organizing the few questions I repeatedly receive. Feel free to tune me out as I more or less think out loud :)
Are you and Ian engaged yet?!
Nope! In three days, I'll have just over one-third of my M.Ed. program complete. Because I am in a CACREP-accredited program, it's not especially flexible. I still need 36 more classroom credit hours, 100 hours of practicum experience, and 600 hours of internship experience before I will be a "Master." The plan is to accomplish all of this by May of 2014, if all goes swimmingly. Ian begins medical school at VCU in August, and he'll be in school for the next four years. Then he'll have 2-3 years of residency, depending upon where he completes it. He's always been very interested in pediatrics, though things could change as he delves deeper into the program and he discovers new interests. As you can see, we have a great deal of school in our future(s). We also agree wholeheartedly that planning a wedding from two different cities isn't ideal for us.
Do you have any immediate plans for taking the "next step?"
Guess you'll have to keep reading Girl Emerging to find out! ;)
Are you living together this summer?
Nope! We'll be spending as much time together as possible this summer, but we're not shackin' up. I have my own apartment, which I plan to live in during the next two academic years. Ian has his own apartment in Richmond, and he will have a roommate. I have pretty strong beliefs about not living with Ian before we are married, or at least not before we are engaged. Besides, since we're both taking classes this summer with brief respites in July, neither of us currently has much of an income. I begin work June 25th for 7 short weeks -- huzzah for money!
Have you thought about kids?
Have I thought about them? Of course. Kids. That's a thought, right? But in all seriousness, children aren't even on the radar yet. I still have to figure out what I'm having for dinner tonight...

Thanks for stickin' around and reading what goes on in the World of A.K. and this crazy brain of mine! :) As is my style, I'll keep you posted (mostly) on the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I Have a Secret

I've been keeping a secret from you all, and it's time that I reveal it publicly. Generally, it's not healthy to keep addictions hidden, as that's how people get hurt, but in this case I've been lucky thus far. I decided last night to just come out with it already. I'm completed hooked...
on Pretty Little Liars.
How the hell am I supposed to stop following the eerily secretive lives of Aria, Hanna, Spencer, and Emily until I know who "A" is?!
The thing about my addiction -- which will undoubtedly make my sister laugh -- is that I got hooked on PLL, oh, you know, only two years or so after it premiered? She always asks me, "Have you heard this?" about songs that were released six months prior after one incident in which I asked her if she had ever heard a song that she swiftly informed me had debuted the year before. But, I digress.

I know you were desperately hoping I would share with you a little something about each character, and you're in luck! Fair warning: this may be a bit of a spoiler alert if you haven't seen the show (I've only just finished season one, episode 15 myself).
My favorite character is a toss-up between Hanna and Aria.
I love that Hanna tries to be family-oriented, even though she only has her devious mother. She easily wins Most Likely to Marry (fill in the blank). She reminds me a little of myself, though I haven't quite figured out why. Maybe it's that she ate 6 cupcakes in one sitting without shedding a tear...

Aria is the obvious choice for Chic Badass because she succeeded in making the sexiest English teacher alive fall in love with her and stay in a relationship with her during the school year. She's so mature and so right. It's refreshing. She reminds me of Selena Gomez a great deal.

If I'm being 100 percent honest, I don't much care for Alison. Her ridiculous euphemisms and her perpetual condescension annoy me. Also, sorry 'bout it, so does her middle part. Have they never heard of the side part in Rosewood...?

Spencer's wardrobe earns her the jealousy ticket from me, as well as Best Dressed and Best Athlete. In case you haven't deduced, I fancy myself a member of the yearbook committee at Rosewood High. Maybe I'm just playing out my unfulfilled dream of gracing the Superlatives page. Childhood can sure wreak havoc on a person, can't it, Sigmund?

Emily is cute and all, but that incessantly scared face of hers has got to gooo. I wish I could step in sometimes, take her by the shoulders, get in her face, and yell, "Stand up for yourself!" Props to you, Emily, for coming out so (unrealistically) simply and so cleanly.

Alright, that's all, folks. My long-windedness and my obsession(s) got the best of me, yet again.
So now I need to know -- any other Pretty Little Liars freakazoids out there?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I Can't Believe She's Twenty

In 48 hours, my "baby" sister will be twenty years old.
It seems ridiculously hard to believe, but in reality, we're ready for how old she is.
This is the girl who was accepted to 10 out of the 10 colleges to which she applied.
This is the girl who was a multi-sport athlete in high school (lacrosse, tennis, softball, girls' basketball manager...).
This is the girl who won't settle for less than what she knows she deserves.
This is the girl who carves her own path and refuses to live in the shadows of others.
This is the girl who speaks up with her own voice and doesn't compromise her morals.
This is the girl who's defying the "dumb sorority girl" stereotype, one A at a time.
This is the girl I couldn't be more proud to call my sister or my best friend.

She's beautiful, she's smart, and she's sassy!
I wish I wasn't going to be in class on my sister's actual birthday, but hey, that's why we've been celebrating for three days ;)
Today, I wish you, Caroline, the happiest of birthdays! You deserve all the best and more.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Inclined to Disagree (Disinclined to Agree?)

I'll be straight with you -- using the incline on the treadmill does not appeal to me. I feel like I'm going to slide right off the back! Also, the treadmills at my apartment complex gym have a tendency to get stuck on an incline if the exerciser doesn't relax the incline prior to stopping the treadmill. I've actually seen repairmen in the gym, disassembling more than one treadmill because some lazy-ass couldn't be bothered to return the incline to "0.0" before hopping off. Tsk, tsk.

This morning, I was just so not feelin' the gym. Actually, this entire week has been that way, but I know I need to keep my hiney in gear. The past two weeks have been extremely sedentary; I have class 4:30-7:45 Monday through Thursday, and I'm completing assignments when I'm not in class or commuting. I'll be surprised if, at the end of next week, my butt hasn't grafted itself to my beautiful red couch, where I've set up shop. It's not that I've been lazy, per se. It's that I've allowed myself to move a lot less than I normally do. For example, on Tuesday, class was cancelled. I left my apartment in the afternoon to put gas in my car just so I could tell myself I left the apartment that day (other than working out in the a.m.) -- is that sad, or what?!

This week I tried to shake my workouts up a bit so I could disguise my disinterest in the gym. One morning, I had an incredible impromptu strength training session. One morning, I selected the Hills Plus option on the elliptical and high-tailed it up and over Mount Kilimanjaro. One morning, I pulled off some sort of weird mash-up of planks, weight machines, free weights, and medicine ball sit-ups. I think I threw a pyramid run in there somewhere. Today, however, I decided to tackle that &%$#@!) incline. Let me tell you something -- I kicked my own ass, but it hurts so good.

I adapted this workout from Julie's 40-minute Lazy Girl Workout over at PB Fingers:
Minute     Incline     Pace
0-4          7.5          4.0
4-9          1.0          6.0
9-13         7.5         3.5
13-18       1.0         6.0
18-22       7.5         3.5
22-25       2.0         6.0
25-26       1.0         5.0
26-30       1.0         3.0
30-33       7.5         3.5
33-35       2.0         5.0
35-36       2.0         6.0
36-40       0.0         3.0

Let me just say... that incline does make a difference, and it certainly keeps things interesting. I covered 2.91 miles and burned 467 calories! It hurts so good...

P.S. Are you a fan of the incline? If so, do you have a favorite workout you're willing to share with me? I'd love to kick my own ass again soon!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Waging War on Soda

Who here likes soda? I'm definitely guilty.
I mostly drink Vitamin Water, fruit juice, milk, etc. But soda creeps into my diet sometimes. I cut it out about a year ago in the first place because the acid in soda is terrible for tooth enamel. And because I have a serious weakness for Coke... not the Diet variety. I definitely didn't need an extra 140 calories per diem, consumed by drinking, no less. (If I'm going to drink my calories, I'd prefer them to come from a gin and tonic or a Woodchuck on tap, thank you very much.)

So why am I even writing this post if I rarely drink soda anymore?
Well, during my Play Therapy class the third week in May, I was up and at 'em at 6:45, an hour I don't even want to think about. I was in class from 8:00 until 5:00 for a full week. I definitely needed a little caffeine boost to kick-start my day, but I couldn't do as so many of my classmates did and bring coffee. Coffee makes me, ahem, go. You know what I mean. I have a staunch rule against going in public restrooms, particularly those which are within earshot of an entire class, and which 20 women need to share for five days. Other people, I learned, have no such rule. You're welcome.
Anyway, I wouldn't have stayed awake through the history of play therapy or hour-long videos of Terry Kottman without DP10. Yeah, yeah, "it's not for women," but it sure as hell did the trick for this woman.
Please note the koozie, compliments of Miss Liz Ries of Epsilon Chi chapter.

I drank one soda every day for a week, which segued into buying a six-pack of real Coke in glass bottles in OBX. That led to fairly heavy consumption of soda because I was without my beloved Vitamin Water and skim milk. Last week was essentially my "detox" week, during which I think I drank two Dr. Pepper 10s. Monday, during my weekly Kroger visit, I bought a case of DP10. I keep telling myself (and others), "Oh, I don't drink soda anymore, I do V8," or "I'll have tea instead." The fact is, whether I'm willing to admit it at Secret Cokes Anonymous, I've become a soda-drinker again.

Granted, I'm drinking diet soda, which has zero to 10 calories per can. I'm drinking one a day, and certainly sweating out more than that each morning at the gym. The carbonation, however, is wreaking havoc on my body... I'll spare you the deets. My teeth sure as heck aren't getting any whiter, despite my best brushing and flossing efforts. And that tooth enamel? Let's just say it's weeping at my blatant disregard for its well-being. Obviously, soda has NO health benefits, and it affects the body, whether I have one a day or one a year. It also makes me feel falsely full, replacing nutrients and more healthful beverages I could be putting into my body instead. Don't worry, I already know I'm preaching to the choir.

Sigh. It looks like I've fallen back into the trap of relying on soda for flavor and open eyelids. The good news is that such a condition is not permanent, nor was it forced upon me by Coca-Cola, Inc. All I need to do to remedy this is pour myself a glass full of cold, delicious milk/water/juice! All this writing has made me thirsty...

P.S. Are you a soda-drinker? If so, what's your pleasure? If not, why? How long ago did you give up the good stuff?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Few Things I'm Loving Right Now

These are in no particular order:

(1) Workaholics. Never gets old. Literally. Never. These guys and Jillian have me rolling. Their antics remind me of the things Ian and his guy friends get themselves into, like telling one of their friends freshman year that if you go deep enough underwater, you can breathe. What a hoot!
(2) Shredded lettuce. I can't seem to get enough of it. Previously, I was on a spinach kick, but I'm also loving the versatility of shredded Iceberg. For the past few weeks, I've been making what I call a "quinoa bowl" once or twice a week. It consists of a nice bed of shredded lettuce, a half-cup or so of hot quinoa, a dollop of fat-free sour cream, and a heaping spoonful or two of natural mild restaurant-style salsa. Mmm, mmm!
(3) Chia seeds, chia seeds, chia seeds! I've put these babies in Chobani, I've put them on my cereal, and I'm looking into baking uses for them. I love that they provide texture where it's needed most. And that they're little nutritional and dietary powerhouses! I'm not ashamed to say that I was even more excited than usual to visit the Chobani section in search of flavors I don't normally buy for adding chia seeds and my ahh-may-zing Whole Foods granola.
(4) Quaker Oatmeal Squares. I'm not the biggest fan of (what I would consider to be) their high calorie content, probably because I'm used to eating practically fat-free Kashi at 110 calories per cup. I adore cereals that are measured by the cup (QOS is one such cereal). Who eats less than that, anyway? I am loving the hint of brown sugar in every square, and I really love the texture! I brought a small baggie of cereal to class last night, intending to spread my Squares over the 3-hour class, but I couldn't stop munching! Tasty, wholesome, and filling is a winning combo in my book.
(5) Old, old, old friends. I caught up with a long-time friend, Dustin, last night via texting, whom I've known and been close to for a decade. And yet, I use the term "close" loosely, because the two of us have never met! He's in North Carolina, and I'm in Virginia. We became Internet pals -- in the most benign sense -- when I was in 8th grade, and we've kept in contact ever since. I was in need of a smile last night, and Dustin always has a warm word and a kind heart :)

Have a magnificent, fantastic, wonderful Tuesday, my blends! Thanks for stopping by :)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday, All Over Again

Hi, blends!
Just popping in to say a quick hello.
I returned yesterday evening from a wonderful time-out from the real world: home. Home will always be where my heart is. And where the best food is ;)
Now it's back to article searches, literature reviews, APA style, textbooks, and carpal tunnel. Today marks day one of the second week of my Research class. In all honesty, even though I was home for 2.5 weeks in May and I've been to OBX, I still don't feel like my summer has begun between all these classes and so much shuffling back and forth. I guess it's a good thing that I don't much mind having a constant agenda, because my class ends June 21st, and I begin work June 25th.

The bright spot at the end of this week is that my sister (and best friend in the entire world) is celebrating her 20th birthday on Friday! Boy, will I be ready for an adult beverage or three... Her actual birthday is June 19th, but I will unfortunately be here, two hours away, during my third (and final!) week of class. We're celebrating early -- we'll use any excuse to have a party!

I hope your Monday is going splendidly! I'll be back soon with legit posts and some hopeful renovations to my site, so stick around :)

P.S. What did you do this weekend? Did you watch game seven of the Heat vs. the Celtics? I didn't have much of a choice between Ian and my dad...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ode to Whole Foods

Whether you've been reading for awhile or you're new to Girl Emerging, I'll shout it from the mountaintops (again):
 I love Whole Foods!
Thankfully, Ian has finally taken an interest in scoping out my natural-food haven for interesting goodies. (Well, if I'm being 100 percent honest, he's always offered to go with me, but we've never actually gone.)

Today, we had two important errands we needed to run: cleaning out the ABC store's miniatures collection, and spending the day grinning like mindless idiots through the aisles of Whole Foods. I'm telling you, I could easily spend an entire day in that magical place. Unfortunately, it's cost-prohibitive, but that doesn't cause me to love it any less!

I was on a mission to find chia seeds; I've been on the hunt for months, and I haven't had any luck (without ordering them online at the cost of an arm and a leg). I found a wide variety, including chia seeds that can be drunk!
Like quinoa, Synergy was a first-time food for me. One of Ian's prematriculation classmates recommended these to me via him, but I can't say I give it a rave review. As my sister put it, "It's like drinking a jellyfish after it's been put through a blender." The texture doesn't bother me, but the flavor isn't as sharp as I expected it to be. However, I like the low-cal, low-sugar, low-fat, and low-sodium factors. Overall, I give it a 4 for flavor and an 8 for health benefits. I will say that it's growing on me the more I drink it.
Of course, I was more interested in chia seeds that are consumed in a traditional manner, and I finally, at long last, found them. I cannot wait to dig into these superfood babies:
Speaking of quinoa...
It's not easy to find where I live. Here in Richmond, there is an abundance of health food stores, farmers markets, local produce stands, and oft unheard of -- outside of the blog world -- luxurious grocery items. I decided to pick up a new-to-me quinoa while I had the opportunity. I'll admit, I'm intimidated by the idea of working with raw, unprepared quinoa that I need to rinse and parcel out "1 part quinoa to 2 parts water" or however. Someday.
I was also on a mission at Whole Foods to get some yummy granola, whether from the bulk bins or Bear Naked. I selected the Rain Forest variety, so I'm definitely excited to try it in my Chobani.
Now, as you may remember, kale chips and I did not agree with one another. I half-heartedly browsed for kale chips, but I was perfectly happy with my selection of Dude Ranch chips.
KIND bars have become a staple in my diet. I take them to 3-hour classes with me, I sometimes grab one before an a.m. run, and I carry them with me whenever I think my blood sugar might get low. Whole Foods had flavors that my local Kroger doesn't offer, and they were on sale -- double win!
I didn't really have a rationale for these fruit strips, but they were on sale for 59 cents apiece. I thought maybe they'd be tasty blood sugar boosters or treats for in-class breaks.
I'm Kashi cereal's number one fan, so I figured, why not give Kashi granola bars a go? I've tried a few varieties, but they didn't do for me what KIND bars do in terms of flavor or crunch satisfaction. Maybe this GoLean roll! will change my mind :)
After our visit to Whole Foods, as if our day hadn't been exciting enough, Ian treated me to lunch at Moe's! Unanimous Decision, we meet again ;)
What a day!

P.S. What have you been up to on this beautiful Saturday? Are you a Whole Foods worshipper like me? I feel like I'm starstruck when I'm in there. It's rather embarrassing... for other people.

Friday, June 8, 2012

When You Ask Someone to be Your Bridesmaid...

...and you aren't even engaged, you may be a flaming idiot a little overzealous.

Just for fun, every once in awhile, Ian and I draw out how our wedding party will ideally look. This usually occurs while we're waiting for our food to arrive at a restaurant, usually on a paper napkin, and usually in the privacy of a booth at which none of his friends, acquaintances, or even mere passers-by can take a peek and mock him. Sometimes, we draw our wedding party with more regard to how we're feeling at the moment and with less sincerity than is required to make such an important decision. Sometimes, we legitimately draw our wedding party the way we'd want it to look if we were getting married that very day. Remarkably, the way we've drawn it --when we've done it with genuineness -- has only changed once (with the exception of matching bridesmaids and groomsmen based on height).

Since Ian and I have no immediate plans for engagement or marriage, I won't embarrass either of us by posting a picture of one such napkin. However, I will disclose that this beautiful lady has graced the napkin since the beginning of wedding party design napkin couture.
During the spring of our freshman year at Longwood, I joined the Greek system and proudly became a sister in Alpha Delta Pi. Lauren, who (barely) knew me vicariously through close friends, handmade me a bracelet in the colors my Big Diamond Sister had used for all of my sorority accoutrements. It's still attached to my key ring, where I placed it four years ago.
She also crafted one of the most beautiful pearl necklaces I've ever seen, complete with multiple strands and interchangeable ribbons, for my 23rd birthday. (I know, right?!)

She's earning an MBA, I'm earning an M.Ed. (She loves numbers, I despise numbers.) She has fantastic fashion sense, and I... well, don't. She's in the 757 and I'm in the 804. Honestly, we couldn't be more opposite. We both, however, ended up dating Hampden-Sydney gentlemen who are friends and members of the same fraternity. Briefly, we were the worst long-distance accountability buddies ever. But that's enough anecdotal evidence for now.

We don't always agree on everything, we don't see each other nearly enough, and after an adult beverage or two we could both argue with a brick wall, but this girl is around for the long haul! I mean, if she's listed as a bridesmaid on a Macado's napkin, it's official, right? ;)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I Sure Hope Hell Has Entertainment...

...because that's where I'll be.

Yesterday evening, I was driving home from class around 7:00, kind of zoned-out, minding my own, when I thought I caught a glimpse of something or someone a few hundred feet away in the turn lane I was approaching. Sure enough, as I got closer, I realized that it was the homeless woman I have seen around this area a few times. She was standing in the middle of the two right-turn lanes.

As I got closer to her, I actually said out loud to myself, Man, this is gonna be really awkward... How can I not look at her, even though we're facing each other? Within seconds, she was feet away from my window, looking directly at me to see whether I'd offer her money. She had on a dirty tank top, jeans with more holes than Swiss cheese, a military-style backpack, and her hair was in braided pigtails. She looked exhausted and very, very thin.

As I glanced in my rearview mirror to buy myself some time, I lamented the red light that was creating this uncomfortable tension between us. Certainly, I was under no obligation to offer her money. She wasn't approaching my car to knock on the glass. Obviously, she had stationed herself at a busy intersection, hoping for good results. She was merely looking at me, and I was doing my best not to look her in the eye.

I peered around her to check the status of traffic. As soon as I thought I was
all clear to turn, two guys in a P.O.S. swerved out of nowhere into my lane, cutting me off. As I mentally gave them the finger and a few choice words, I saw the homeless woman run over to their car. They held out a bill and shook her hand. And then, just as I felt my jaw hit the floor, the man in the passenger seat stuck his head and one arm out of his window and mouthed, Go ahead! They blocked traffic for a few seconds, allowing me to safely turn right.

As I drove the half-mile to my apartment complex, I literally prayed for having been so selfish. I realized then that I didn't have any cash to offer the woman, but at the very least, I could have offered her a smile or a wave. I could have even dug a few sticky coins out of the center console of my air-conditioned car.

I turned into my neighborhood, noticing just in time that someone had placed a beautiful wooden cross draped with a blue cloth and fresh flowers by the signpost. On it was the name of the young man who was killed there just a few months ago. All of what transpired in those few minutes really caused me to stop and think...

God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Color Me Rad

As you are probably already aware, I've been itching for another race since the Susan G. Komen 5k in Richmond last month.
So, I checked my trusty source for upcoming Virginia races.
Well, folks, I've found one that definitely interests me -- the Color Me Rad 5k in Richmond on July 21st! Seriously, how cool is this video?!
I know what you're thinking, because I'm thinking it too: running outside in July in Virginia...? I may have abandoned my mental faculties, but I am excited for this race! I didn't even have to rally the troops -- Dad was immediately on board, and Caroline had already discussed it with a group of her Alpha Sigma Alpha sisters because it benefits the Special Olympics, which is one of their chapter's philanthropies.
Win, win, win!

Now, all I have to do is find some sneakers I don't mind getting colored... Because it ain't gonna be these precious babies!
Disclaimer: I like to publicize things on my blog because written and made-known to-do lists are more likely to be completed or accomplished. That being said, there is no guarantee that this race will happen for me, but there's no harm in being excited or in creating a race calendar for the future! Plus, as Dad and I agreed, it's rewarding and encouraging to be able to work toward a concrete goal, especially if you have a training buddy. I have two! ;) I'm still working on Ian...

P.S. Have you ever participated in a Color Me Rad event or assisted with the Special Olympics? If so, tell me about it! As an undergrad Alpha Delta Pi, I became very familiar with philanthropy -- fancy the Ronald McDonald House, anyone?

P.P.S. Wink!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

It's (Blog) Official: We're Over!

Dear Cable and Internet Company,

I would begin this break-up note with "no offense, but..." except that I have no qualms about offending you. Ever since the day Shentel left me and you took her place, I've been miserable. I used to complain about Shentel, but she was reliable. Shentel, if you're out there, I'm so sorry I used to refer to you as "Shit-tel." You were loyal and dependable. I still don't know why you left, but it saddens me every day.

Current cable... oh, boy... you cost me a fortune with your high-maintenance ways. You're never home at the same time I am, you have all these secrets and hidden fees that make me think you're cheating on me, and you've even stopped going to the gym with me. Maybe I'm adding insult to injury here, but honestly, you're just not that interesting. You don't offer me much, so that's probably why we barely spend any time together (when you even decide to make yourself available).

It's not a secret that we've had our problems since we first met. I know there's a better cable company out there for me, and I'm going to find it. As soon as I do, you're so out of here. I wish you all the best and I'm pretty sure my entire apartment complex community is on the verge of breaking up with you, too. Tough luck, bro.
Take your stinkin' cords and get the hell out!

With deepest regret that I ever came to know you,

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Pyramid

photo credit
I've noted that many of my fellow blends do what I have heard referred to as the "pyramid" run. I'm sure it has all kinds of schmaltzy names in the fitness world, but this is the one I see most commonly. Yesterday afternoon, I decided to give it a try. I'm not sure if I completed a true pyramid workout, but here's how I kicked my butt into gear after almost a week out of the gym:

2 minutes on level 2.0
3 minutes on level 3.0
4 minutes on level 4.0
5 minutes on level 5.0
6 minutes on level 6.0
(This was where I really started to feel the burn!)
5 minutes on level 5.0
4 minutes on level 4.0
3 minutes on level 3.0
2 minutes on level 2.0
1 minute on level 1.0
*Level = pace

I tacked on that last minute to round out my run at exactly 35 minutes. At this pace, I ran 2.41 miles, which felt pretty darn gentle to me. I've become accustomed to running about 3.2 miles in 37-39 minutes. I did like, however, that this workout incorporated fairly gradual progression, a warm-up, and a cool-down. I did not use any incline, so when I try the pyramid run again, I will probably choose to use an incline. I based my pyramid workout very loosely on a workout I borrowed from Julie. Man, did it feel good to get my bod sweatin' and my heart pumpin' again!

Seasoned runners:
Tips for a better-slash-more-accurate pyramid workout?
Tips for a more difficult pyramid workout?

P.S. When you're away from the gym (or your normal exercise routine) for more than a few days, do you miss it? Is it hard to get back into the swing of things, or can you fall back into it easily?

[Edit to add: This morning I completed the same workout on a 1.0 incline. I skipped the 1 minute on a 1.0 pace at the end, for a 34-minute workout. This changed my workout in that I burned about 20 more calories, though I ran 0.02 miles less than yesterday. The incline makes a difference, my friends. I felt it!]

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ian's Next Chapter

A New Chapter
It's pretty safe to say that I'm absolutely thrilled about today! Ian leaves home this afternoon to begin a month-long prematriculation program at VCU as a prep measure slash foot-in-the-door before medical school begins in August. While he'll be living the dorm life again (last time ever!), he'll have access to a full kitchen, which means he'll be stocking up on groceries to cook his own meals. I mentioned before that Ian's kitchen experience ranks in the "very little or none" range, so we're both very excited and anxious to see how this independent experience goes. Please note: just because Ian hasn't spent his life in the kitchen memorizing cookbooks or scrutinizing labels doesn't mean I am implying that he's helpless or idiotic. He's just new to it, that's all. My only real concern thus far has been a conversation that occurred last week:

A.K.: "So what kinds of meals are you thinking about making?"
Ian: "You know, spaghetti, pasta, salad, that kind of stuff."
A.K.: "Will you be able to cook spaghetti in a dorm?"
Ian: "Well, I'm bringing a skillet..."
I think my heart stopped for a few seconds. Scout's Honor, I tried my best not to laugh.

Help from On High
One of Ian's uncles bought him a great getting-started book for kitchen newbies as a graduation gift. The cookbook estimates that the chef will spend five dollars per meal (assuming the chef already has basic herbs, spices, oils, etc.) and it includes nutritional info, which I can attest is perfect for someone who has floundered in the kitchen. The book even includes a section on quick, simple meals to prepare on Date Night ;) Hey, I wouldn't scoff at homemade chocolate-covered strawberries!

My mom has been quite excited about Ian's transition from undergraduate to prematriculation student to med school student this summer, so she has been pulling together (read: hoarding) an impressive array of kitchenware for him to use in his dorm and in his new apartment. She even gifted him with the coveted banana hook he'd been eyeing and a matching paper towel holder for graduation. Even I didn't anticipate that he would feel compelled to run out and buy bananas specifically to put the banana hook to use immediately...

Ian's mom is a wonderfully caring woman who bends over backward for her two boys. Last night, after unloading a full trailer of beach supplies and doing myriad loads of laundry, she and Ian hauled themselves to the store to pick up non-perishable necessities. She even helped him look for low-sodium, low-sugar, low-fat alternatives he and I have been discussing.

Ready... Set... Go!
Ian is such a smarty-pants, I have no doubt that he'll be successful both as a prematriculation student and as a new cook. After all, between his family and mine, he's got everything he needs, plus healthy "suggestions" from me ;)

P.S. Thanks for keeping Ian in your thoughts and prayers as he makes this scary and exhilarating change in his life :)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

It Happened Again

Damn. Does this have to happen every vacation?
I smiled too often.
I laughed too, too much.
I drank way too many calorie-infused beverages.
I ate far too much indulgent fresh seafood.
I played a perfect par-three mini-golf game.
I began reading an intriguing book that wasn't required for school.
I stayed up well past my bedtime and slept until whenever I wanted.
I built a sand castle, sitting in the sand and the waves.
I played in the hot tub and dozed by the pool any time I pleased.
I saw the sun rise and the sun set more than once.
I did exactly what I wanted to do every minute of every day for a week, and I loved it.

I had such an incredible vacation. I know, I've bragged enough for a lifetime and posted enough corny pictures for three or four (and yet somehow, not a single one includes both Ian and me). Don't worry -- I don't have any more pictures for you.
I just can't help but celebrate how blessed I am to have such a wonderful boyfriend, and by extension, second family. They take such good care of me, and they spoil me shamelessly ;)
Truly, my one and only regret about this vacation is that instead of being at home with my family, telling them all about Rodanthe and hearing about my sister's ten-day visit to Rome, I'm back at my apartment for a three-week summer class for my M.Ed. program. Looks like I'll be RIC-bound next weekend to play catch-up!

Luckily, this summer will be chock-full of all kinds of fun and adventure! Stick around for updates coming soon to Girl Emerging! :)

P.S. How has your weekend been thus far? What did you do? Did you spend it with loved ones?

Friday, June 1, 2012


One of the things I always find most fascinating about vacations is that almost instantly, I don't need technology. I go from my phone practically having grafted itself to my hand and my computer being a permanent appendage to not needing any of it in about two-point-five seconds.
My dad always used to say, "We're leaving the real world," as we crested a huge hill on the way to a Rappahannock River cottage we frequented. Ian's dad, Jimmy, said something similar as we caravanned on the way to Rodanthe on Saturday. I wish it wasn't "back to the real world" in 24 hours, but I suppose a perfect vacation has to come to an end sometime...
"Wait... we're not staying here forever?"
Sure, I might tote my iPod down to the beach and doze to some tunes, or we might play a few games of Mario Party. And of course, there's the trusty Dell, without which I could not have gotten back into my blogging groove this week. But I don't feel as though I need these items like I do during the academic year or planning ahead over the summer. 

I think I've checked my cell a total of five times over the past six days, and only then because my sister was in Italy and then traveling back to Virginia. For one thing, the person I text and call most often is sitting right beside me. But I love knowing that essentially, if I'm out of touch technologically, I'm out of touch with the world. There's something alluring about knowing that lying on the warm sand somewhere, very few people know where I am. I don't need to be checking my email, I don't need to be looking ahead on my syllabi, I don't have textbook pages to read or classmates' demanding emails requiring an immediate response. If anyone truly needs to get in touch with me, I'm sure he or she will find a way, despite my best attempts at obscurity and anonymity.

Along with the end of this vacation comes the end of homemade meals like this one (my compliments to Chef Tyler and Chefette Liz), which put Ian's and my fiesta night to shame:
Also, the puzzle was completed yesterday afternoon while I was in a sun-induced coma. I can only lay claim to two pieces I found and placed:
Time to soak up the last few hours of sunshine and relaxation! Ta ta! :)