Monday, July 30, 2012

Ragin' and Lazin'

Lots of exciting things have been happening around here! Well, I guess "exciting" is in the eye of the beholder... But that's why the blog has been slackin' for news.

I'll start with Night No. 4 of the Lew Crew's clean eats. Everyone finally consented to quinoa bowls. I promised them, if you really don't like it, I'll never pester you about quinoa again, but at least you'll have given it a fair shot.
Turns out, everyone liked them, and they're a keeper! The only meal on my agenda that we never got to was vegetable kabobs. I'm sure we'll get to them at some point. We are all about veggies in this household.
This meal was the simplest we made. I topped beds of lettuce with helpings of quinoa and dollops of fat-free sour cream and fresh pico de gallo. Some people added black beans to their bowls. I'm not a huge bean fanatic, so I stuck with the basics.

Next was Ian's going-away party this past weekend. I visited from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon for a perfectly perfect time. As soon as I arrived, Ian and I hit up Olive Garden for a calorie-fest, endless salad, and a much-needed glass of sparkling moscato. We lounged around Friday evening and hit the sack early.
Saturday, we ran errands for Bonnie, helped set up accommodations in the back yard, and essentially completed everything on Island Time (i.e. as slowly as possible).
Ian's "going away" to medical school in Richmond, but hey, who doesn't want an excuse to eat and drink too much with good friends?
I know it looks as if this is the only shirt I own... I promise I (sometimes) wear other clothes.
I discovered a new favorite beer (or three):
Michelob Ultra Dragon Fruit Peach
I also enjoyed the Woodchuck Raspberry one of Ian's friends provided, as well as the Wild Blue blueberry lager Ian convinced me to try. Yum!
Aaaand what kind of party would it be without an alumipint? The hair goes up, the inhibitions come down...
Sunday morning held sleeping in, a delicious breakfast courtesy of Bonnie,
far too many episodes of season 8 of The Office, a ridiculously delicious Subway sandwich, a new mix CD -- yeah, people evidently still make those -- and a temporary good-bye.
Why temporary?
More to come on that subject! ;)

I absolutely love visiting Ian's family. Even after more than two-and-a-half years, they make me feel so at home while simultaneously spoiling me rotten, as if every visit is my first. I couldn't ask for better peoples.

Lastly, I have an awesome ear infection. Rad. My doctor wasn't sure whether it came from the hundreds of laps I swam last week, which is pretty uncharacteristic of my fitness routine, or from working with children for a living. Either way, I've got a quarter-sized swollen lymph node behind my right ear, pressure in my ears fit to implode an airplane cabin, and antibiotics equally as large. Looks like it's out of the pool and back to the dreadmill for a few days until this pain clears up. Boo!

P.S. How was your weekend? What were you up to? Can you believe it's almost August already?!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Veggie-Licious Stir Fry: Night No. 3

Tonight's clean eats meal was absolutely fantastic. I had less of a hand in this one, because Mom was modifying Dad's stir fry sauce recipe. Somehow, she managed to perfectly eyeball brown sugar, dry white wine, and soy sauce to form a light, thin broth in which to cook the veggies.
From start to finish:
We sliced and diced fresh red and yellow pepper, asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, squash, onion, baby carrots and water chestnuts, and we added a few pre-cooked shrimp.
We served the stir fry over white rice. I'm a huge proponent of brown rice, but not for stir fry. I love the way the white rice really soaks up the stir fry sauce.
The egg rolls (a Ukrop's, a.k.a. Martin's, find) were phenomenal -- chock-full of Chinese veggies, lightly breaded, reasonably spicy, and perfectly crispy. We served them with an "authentic" spicy duck sauce Mom found at Kroger.
My absolute favorite part(s) of this meal were how many different veggies were involved, how many servings of veggies fed each person, and how satisfied [read: not miserably stuffed] I felt after the meal.
Again, everybody voted that this meal -- one we've been eating for years -- was a keeper!
I wish I had more of a recipe to provide you, but this meal is simple to serve for one or for ten. The stir fry sauce can be "eyeballed," and ingredients can be added to taste. Other ingredients we considered adding were bok choy and baby corn.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Night No. 2: Clean Eats

Tonight's clean eats meal was perfect -- satisfying yet not overly filling, as well as packing a range of tastes and textures. Mom sauteed chunks of chicken and steamed the broccoli florets for me. I concentrated on measuring the pesto and cooking the perfect al dente whole wheat rotini.
From start to finish:
Clean Plate Rangers all around!
With this dish, I really love the variety of nutrition elements. I also love how the pesto creeps into every little nook and cranny of the rotini, and how the broccoli soaks up the flavor so well. I most love how simple and quick this meal is. I first prepared this concoction for one using a cup of rotini, one box of Green Giant frozen broccoli florets, 2 teaspoons of pesto, and one frozen vegetarian "chik'n" breast. This was my first time making it for a group, but it turned out splendidly.

In order to serve four heartily, I cooked one whole box of rotini, one large stalk of broccoli, 8 chicken tenders, and 3 tablespoons of basil pesto with pine nuts. We had sides of sliced Hanover tomatoes and Jell-O with sliced peaches. Everybody voted that this meal was definitely a keeper!

Still on the Clean Eats Roster:
- Veggie stir fry
- Grilled vegetable kabobs
- Quinoa bowls

I'll keep ya posted! :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ms. Bad-Ass (MBA)

This past weekend was busy and relaxed and lazy and pumped up all at once. Friday after work, I took a sinfully delicious nap and watched at least five episodes of Pretty Little Liars. It's my current guilty pleasure show. Then there were crab cakes for dinner -- enough said. 
Saturday, I was up and at 'em early for Lauren's MBA graduation party in Virginia Beach! Caroline and I road-tripped it down to celebrate for the evening.
The lady of the hour and the birthday boy!
 Frosting much, Perry?
 The epitome of lazy: couch cushion chillin'
Mac and Caroline (Reed)
The weather was crappy, but the taco and nacho bar was sensational, the beer was cold, the cake was chocolate, and a great time was had by all. I love catching up with college buddies, reconnecting with people I haven't seen in months, and meeting new people.
Sunday, we enjoyed reminiscing as we road-tripped home, and I didn't feel an ounce of guilt about my heavy breakfast. My McGriddles, hashbrowns, and iced coffee were sheer perfection, by the way.
My only regrets were that the weekend wasn't longer and that Ian wasn't able to join us and celebrate Lauren's success. Congratulations again, beautiful -- enjoy a bit of time off and the new and exciting changes you're making!!

Tonight was Night No. 1 of clean eating for the Lew Crew. On tonight's menu were turkey burgers loaded with fresh veggies (we couldn't grill due to a surprise storm),
fresh sweet potato "chips,"
and "fried" green tomatoes.
I modified the week's menu a bit; I forgot that no one will really be around for a fifth dinner on Friday. Caroline and I are both going out of town this weekend -- I'll be in Roanoke visiting Ian! Also, my quinoa bowl idea has gotten the stink eye several times [from people who shall remain nameless].

P.S. My apologies that the blog updates have been ultra pathetic and few-and-far-between this month. I've been busy beyond belief, and to be one hundred percent with you, blogging just isn't what I want to do when I finally walk through the door after work or after a hectic weekend. Next month, I have exciting new things to share -- stayed tuned! :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Total-Body R&R

Without going into too much detail, let's just say that my job is stressful. Those in my future profession of counseling are constantly emphasizing relaxation techniques and strategies to reduce burnout and compassion fatigue -- two of the risks that accompany working where I do. One of the best techniques I have in my arsenal is swimming. After I swim 40-50 laps, I cannot possibly still be stressed or agitated. Other forms of exercise give me the same effect, but they do not come as naturally easily to me. 

Well, as I mentioned, I contracted some sort of summer cold, either from my sister or from my job. It knocked me on my ass all weekend, but by Monday, I thought I had kicked it. Tuesday, it returned almost full-force, and I chose to forego the gym. Honestly, I didn't have the energy to do much except watch TV and sigh longingly. Dad gives me friendly reminders to "do something every day," but some days, that is just not going to happen for me. Tuesday, I knew I needed some R&R, so I purposely laid low after work. I ate well, took a short nap, drank plenty of fluids, consumed enough cough drops to choke Hulk Hogan, and went to bed early.

Yesterday, I was feeling completely back to normal, so I decided to attempt a long run. I ended up completing a 5k in 39 minutes, and to be honest, I'm still patting myself on the back. Today, I wasn't feeling a run, but I hopped on a machine I've never used (but always admired from afar): the crossramp. It was elliptical-esque, but instead of the footholds moving in a circular motion, they slide back and forth at an angle along a track.
I wish I could describe it better... but this should do it justice. It gave me a run for my money (pun intended). Between 45 minutes today and 42 minutes yesterday, I know that I did the right thing by listening to the messages my body was sending me. I desperately needed the rest, energy, and liquids. I also needed to allow myself to slow down, cool off, and feel okay about purposefully taking time off from working out. Now, I'm ready to hit the ground running this weekend!

P.S. What are your grand plans for the weekend?
P.P.S. Awhile back, I mentioned running in the Color Me Rad 5k in Richmond. Unfortunately, the event has been filled to capacity for months, but the race coordinators generously offered Dad, Caroline and me 25% off our next race fee since they were unable to include us in this one. How cool is that?! I'll keep you posted on the next race we choose :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Walk in The Parke with Mom

Several times this summer, Ruth and I -- yes, I call my mother by her first name, and no, it does not offend her -- agreed that while we wanted a bit of exercise, we weren't inclined to go to the gym. Several times this summer, we strapped on our tennies, hiked up our fitness shorts, took a shot or two of H2O, and hit the streets. Our neighborhood isn't very big, so hitting every cul-de-sac totals about 2.25 miles. Admittedly, we're not all-out sprinters, but we keep up a respectable clip.

Tonight, we set out at precisely 8:21 with the goal of completing every cul-de-sac by 9:00. We had 39 minutes to walk more than 2 miles, which seemed ample to me. We returned to the driveway 40 minutes later, having completed 2.12 miles. We didn't walk our own cul-de-sac, and we didn't stick as tightly to the perimeter as we normally do. The bugs were annoyingly constant, and the humidity made my mane look like first-year Hermione Grainger. None of that mattered, though.

I don't go on these walks with Mom to burn 500 calories or to "glisten" or to maintain my buns of steel (yeah, right). I go because of the camaraderie. My mom is an excellent conversationalist, and she's an even better listening ear. Sometimes I just need to vent, or I need an unbiased third party's sage wisdom. Sometimes we fill our walks with a steady stream of comments about the new gazebo in so-and-so's backyard or the azaleas in the what's-their-names' flower beds. Sometimes we talk about whatever comes to mind, which inevitably segues into random topics and things we've already discussed ten times. That doesn't matter, either. For forty minutes, it's just Mom and me, and we're unstoppable. I relish these walks, and it ain't for the exercise. Though that is a bonus.

Well, I'm off to shower, log my mileage in my Excel spreadsheet, and catch up on season two of Pretty Little Liars that just came available on Netflix! Ta ta! :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Week of Clean Eats for the Fam

Yesterday, as my mouth was watering thinking about the Chik-Fil-A salad I was about to devour, I thought aloud how nice it would be to eat clean dinners for a week as a family. My parents were immediately on board, though getting my sister to join in might be a little more challenging. She's very much into nutritious eats, but she's not always willing to be experimental with new or exotic foods. For example, no one really cared for quinoa when we tried it as a family (except me). Dad still isn't especially interested in it, and I swear I can hear noses turning up when my back is turned during one of my healthy food spiels. Nevertheless, we're all interested in fueling our bodies well and in finding new, tasty recipes for our respective repertoires.
I thought we might try some of these meals and simultaneously feel out healthier alternatives:

- Quinoa bowls (shredded lettuce, quinoa, fresh salsa, fat-free sour cream, fresh cilantro)

- Whole wheat rotini with pesto and steamed broccoli

- Grilled vegetable kabobs (squash, zucchini, onion, pepper, tomato)

- Stir fry (broccoli, onion, carrots, water chestnuts, baby corn, bok choy, and chicken in a little bit of brown sugar and soy sauce) over brown rice

- Portobello burgers or turkey burgers (with provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle chips and hummus on a whole wheat bun) with sweet potato fries

Dessert ideas:
- Fresh seasonal or local fruit
- Sugar-free Jell-O
- Homemade scones

I'll keep you posted on whether these meals actually come to fruition. And, I vow to somehow get better about posting photos.

If you have suggestions or recommendations, bring 'em on! I absolutely L-O-V-E getting ideas from fellow healthy living bloggers, and I promise to give credit where credit is due :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Back in the Running Game + Spoiled-Rotten Saturday

I really don't want to talk about the last time I ran.
Actually... according to my fitness log, it was Tuesday, June 19.
That was during my last week of summer classes. Then I began work. Last week, I got plenty of exercise swimming, tubing, and paddling around at SML, but none of the running or cardio variety. This past week was chock-full of my first real week of work and VBS, so free time was nonexistent. I know I'm making excuses, but time for exercise is much slimmer when I'm at home. 

Today, I decided to make a change. I feel like crap -- apparently, even despite my best efforts with hand sanitizer and hand-washing, I contracted some sort of flesh-eating, brain-warping, highly contagious, deadly virus. Or a cold. In the middle of July. I should have known. Yesterday was Friday the 13th. Well, I've got the whole coughing, head-full-of-cotton, drainage, stuffy nose, sore/itchy throat thing going on. I'm rocking my Couch Chic look today, which closely resembles looks from my Traveller Faire and my Fitnessista collections. Basically it's just a comfy pair of Reebok running shorts, a tee, a sports bra, and a lackluster ponytail.

What really boosted my spirits was a text from Dear Old Dad: "Coffee and a cupcake on Grove around noon or so?" He was referring to Pearl's Cupcake Shoppe, which we visited a few months ago. I was lying around, probably on my fourth episode of Parks and Recreation, when I received his message. Don't get me wrong, it's wonderful to have a Saturday to myself to relax and fill with whatever I like, but I'm not accustomed to having so much unstructured time. That was all the incentive I needed to pop up, make myself presentable, and shut down the pity party in exchange for an outing with Mike and Ruth.
Skinny Grande iced Vanilla Latte
Chocolate Mocha -- to die for!
I decided I needed a salad from Chik-Fil-A, so we located one near Pearl's and set sail in search of salads for a late lunch.
I could probably call this ruffage "clean" before the bleu cheese dressing, salted sunflower seeds, and butter croutons. Oh, and the not-so-diet-friendly chicken strips. It is what it is.

Around 4:00, we decided to hit up the Y for a little QT with the treadmill. I love that there is virtually no one working out at this time on Saturdays, so we practically had the place to ourselves. I had in mind to run for 30 minutes to get myself back in the mindset and the long-distance game. I ran about 1.8 miles before I got really light-headed. Tunnel vision is not the best vision for the treadmill, so I thought I'd better dial it back a few notches. I completed 2.52 miles in 33 minutes, so I wasn't too disappointed, even though I elected to walk the last 8 minutes. I don't know whether it was the salad I ate 2 hours before I ran that didn't stick with me long enough, or whether I haven't been drinking enough water recently, or whether my crappy headphones make my ears too hot, or even whether my running hiatus hit me harder than I anticipated, but I was not about to faint on the treadmill.

The fun doesn't end there! Tonight, my sister and one of her best friends, Sarah, are joining us for dinner at Joe's Inn in Bon Air, likely to be followed by a Netflix movie at home. Or, if I'm feeling up to it, a late showing of Ted, which we've been dying to see. I feel spoiled rotten today, but I couldn't have asked for a more perfect Saturday :) Ta ta!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

One Week Makes All the Difference

Four of the pillars I hear preached on Sundays in the United Methodist Church are the need for members' prayers, presence, gifts, and service. I have abundance in the first department, a definite lack of the next two, and a one-week-a-year service calling.

One small way that I have always felt I could serve my church is by working Vacation Bible School. For as long as I can remember, my mom and my sister and I have worked in the nursery, caring for little ones under age three. Most of them are the children of others helping with VBS. Our church always puts on a phenomenal production for our members and families in the community, and this year, I'm sure, is no exception. We always miss the arts and crafts, singing and choreography, devotionals, and recreational activities because we're busy with butter cookies, obnoxiously musical toys, and sippy cups. It doesn't matter, though. For one week out of the year, I feel like I make a difference at my church.

I always felt that way in middle school and high school when I traveled with the youth group on various mission projects; I never would have experienced the awe of New York City nine months after September 11th or, well, the mess of The Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls if it weren't for those mission trips. I never would have coordinated arts and crafts for VBS on a military base at Camp Lejeune, or performed in one of my favorite musicals in the literal ghetto of New Jersey. During that one week out of every year, I feel like I make a difference. My sister read something the other day that said something along the lines of, if you've ever felt that one individual by himself doesn't make a difference, try spending a night in an enclosed room with a mosquito! Hey, if I'm not going to do anything else, at least I can intercept a poopy diaper or two for hard-working moms ;)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Cold Turkey (or is it Wild Turkey?)

I like to be legit in my posts. I want to be real with you guys.
So, here goes.
I enjoy the feeling of a "detox" after a week of eating less healthily than I like. I love feeling like my body is ridding itself of toxins and replenishing itself with nutrients and wholesome foods. As much as I'd legitimately like to avoid the downhill slope that is my eating habits during vacations, sometimes it's inevitable. At SML, one of our guests is admittedly a fairly picky eater. Several members of my family as well as one of our guests try to abide by Weight Watchers-approved meals. It's not always possible for quinoa bowls at linner and granola-and-chia-seed breakfasts to be the norm. Sure, I can bring along my own preferred foods, but who would rather substitute gravel for pancakes and scrambled eggs?

I ate relatively healthy, balanced meals at the lake. I strived for vegetables at two meals, fruit at at least one, low-carb options, lean meats, "skinny" sauces and salad dressings, whole wheat pastas and breads, and low-fat dairy and protein sources. It wasn't mealtime that threw things off last week, nor was it a lack of exercise. Keeping myself afloat for hours on noodles, trekking off to the Wild Blue Yonder in the paddle boat, tubing, and running up and down the hill between the house and the lake sufficed nicely.

It was snacking and drinking that did me in.
I consumed enough beer and Bacardi-spiked lemonade last week to drown a small horse. Anne's mother sent her with pretzel chips and crab dip, thumbprint cookies with patriotic cream cheese frosting, BBQ chips, and more temptations. My family bought fudge-sicles (a rarity in the Lew home), popsicles (the kind that come with about fifty in a net), soda (mostly the diet variety), mini Oreos, pecan Sandies, French fries, chicken nuggets, Velveeta Shells 'n Cheese, and other off-limits-to-A.K. foods so that our guests would feel welcome and comfortable (i.e. not as if they had just stepped into GNC combined with Trader Joe's).

Believe me, it has definitely occurred to me that if I just laid off the booze for a bit, it would be that much easier to (try to) kick this beer belly I'm sporting. As my sister always says, and as the devil on my shoulder reminds me, the years of fratting with pals and spending weekends with less-than-sober memories are drawing to a close. In less than two years, I'll officially be in Big Girl World with a Big Girl Job and a Master's degree. I want to take advantage of those rapidly slimming years and enjoy myself as much as I possibly can. That doesn't mean that I intend to let my weight go to hell or allow my body to fall into disrepair. It just means that laying off the hard stuff probably isn't going to happen anytime soon... at least, not on a permanent basis.

All in all, this week is going to feel good, as I beef up my veggie intake, score some healthy snacks, pack well-balanced lunches, and inhale water like it's my (second) job. It won't be as easy as I had hoped with Vacation Bible School beginning tonight, but I'll make it work. I'm off to eat my first of five dinners at the church, followed by keeping an eye on the church's youngest -- and cutest -- members! Ta ta :)

P.S. How do you detox from a period of unhealthy or less-than-spot-on food and/or adult beverage consumption?

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Hello, blends!
Thanks for sticking around during my absence from Girl Emerging!

As I mentioned last week, the house my family rented at Smith Mountain Lake had dialup Internet, which made cell service crappy and Net-surfing damn near impossible. Honestly, it was kind of nice to have a brief respite from obsessive email-checking and frantic texting. I admit, it was even relaxing to take a (forced) week off of blogging, if only to gather my thoughts and center myself. I had a magnificent, perfect, stress-free, booze-fueled, laugh-filled, friend-inspired week with my family and our guests. This week was exactly what I needed -- except that it wasn't long enough!

A few things I learned at SML:
(1) People will actually sit and watch others prepare dinner unless they are extended a formal invitation from Queen Elizabeth to make themselves busy. I mean, really, are you perfectly comfortable camped out on the couch while others prepare the food you shove whole down your gullet? America, you're slackin' on teaching your young people the mannerisms of the past. Sorry I had to get bitchy just then.

(2) One whole wheat Sandwich Thin, one slice of deli-style turkey, one slice of Swiss, a layer of pesto, sliced tomato, sliced onion, a smattering of leaf lettuce, and a hot stove top make for a very delicious and wholesome lunch. One of our guests dubbed this delicacy "The Kendall."

(3) So many young women are more concerned about the number the scale reads than the way their bodies feel. Yes, diets work, but if you don't make lifestyle alterations, the effects will be fleeting and disappointing. If, admittedly, you feel "thinner" than what the scale tells you, why are you a slave to a number instead of being diligent with exercise and moderation? Okay, I'll back away from my soapbox now, before things get ugly...

(4) Tubing for three hours in one day behind a rockin' pontoon boat is a hell of a workout. I wish my neck didn't look as though someone had choked me half to death (the result of a suffocating PFD), but I now know where each and every muscle in my arms and abdomen is. It hurts so good.

(5) I'm really disappointed about this one, but... it is possible to grow weary of BL-squared and Bud Light Platinum, particularly when your nightly routine consists of laughing until you cry, drinking because you're thirsty, and skinny-dipping. Wait... what?

(6) Keeping up with those I don't see every day is vitally important to me. I can't stop smiling when I think about the relationships I've rekindled and the friendships I've maintained over time. Without my support system, I'd be a different woman. Many thanks, y'all.

(7) "Sleeping in" does not necessarily mean snoozing until noon. It might mean going to bed a little earlier and waking up a little earlier. It might mean setting an alarm so the whole day doesn't go unused. It might mean pillow talk with the girls or lying in bed for a few, adjusting to the day.

(8) I devoured tried a steak for the first time in more than ten years! I also played around with sweet potatoes, goat cheese quesadillas, chicken tenders, and the cutest plate I've ever seen:
Thanks for sticking around! I've got new stuff, as well as a request or two, coming soon to a blog near you! :)