OIAJ, SIAB, Protein, Mindfulness

Today’s Mini Goal: Find more coupons.  Then use them.  I’m a poor college student with an inclination towards specialty products and an expensive produce habit.  Anybody have any suggestions for where to acquire coupons/food discounts?

I have a confession:

Hello, my name is Caronae and I stayed in my pajamas until 5 pm today.

This was hands down one of the least productive days of my life.  I woke up at noon, made some OIAJ, read, munched on snacks, went back to sleep, flopped around on my bed having some thinking time.  Finally around five I dragged myself from the bed, called my dad for some motivation (he had already been to some sort of oncology conference all day, so that made me feel like it might be a good time for me to get moving), and threw on some hodge podge running clothes (sidenote: I don’t have a huge winter running gear stash and I don’t have the time/money to be doing laundry every few days, so I often end up running in some really funky outfits).  I didn’t set out with any particular route or mileage number in mind, which was quite a nice little change from my usually highly  regimented runs.  I love this kind of run.  It felt freeing to be able to turn left if I wanted to, or right.  To pick up my pace here or slow it down there.  To stop for water or notice the way the surface of the river moved.  It was nice.

Way back in September, when I first started seeing my current therapist, I realized how much I value productivity at the expense of me time.  Today, all I wanted was to snuggle up under my covers with a magazine and some chocolate.  And sometimes, that’s okay.  My therapist used the word “aimlessness” to describe this.  I have to give myself permission to just let go and do something that isn’t going to take me to any specific place.  When I do do this, I almost always feel calmer afterwards.  What’s your favorite “aimless” activity?

Run:

And what was even nicer than my run was the fact that MY GARMIN IS ONCE AGAIN FUNCTIONAL.  The company sent me instructions to reset it and recharge it which ended up working out after a few false starts.  So glad to have you back in my life Apricot (what I named my baby).  There were a few minor kinks:

1. Pace: sometimes it was just blatantly wrong: I’d be charging along at what was probably about a nine minute pace and it would tell me I was running at thirteen.  Not cool Garmin, not cool.

2. GPS Signal: okay, so this isn’t actually the Garmin’s fault, but rather NYC’s.  Seriously, there are two many tall buildings and not enough open spaces here.

3. Total Distance: the mileage thingy was going totally fine until the last quarter mile.  I was at about 7.9 and suddenly it started going backwards (it went all the way down to 7.2 before coming back up).  It never even reached the point at which it had started going backwards.  At first I thought I had been misreading the screen since it was dark, but I’m fairly positive I had about 0.05 miles left one second and then 0.70 miles left the next…

Anyone have any ideas/solutions?

I ended up doing eight miles in just over eighty minutes.  Tomorrow will be a long run and (hopefully) yoga.  I’m aiming for 16 miles, since I’m three weeks out from the race and I want this to be my peak.

Eats:

Really random today because of my bizarre I’m-not-doing-anything schedule.

Apple cinnamon chia OIAJ.  This did NOT fill me up, oddly enough, and I was feeling snackish two hours later.

TJ’s 0% pomegranate Greek yogurt topped with shredded coconut, pb pretzels, and TJ’s chocolate raspberry sticks (of which I had 3 or 4 more).  This was the perfect snack, and also the perfect segue into something I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while…

Protein Talk:

Many bloggers, and even some health professionals, have acknowledged that Americans have this inflated view of the importance of protein and that we are far too focused on it.  In some ways, I don’t disagree: we don’t need to be cramming our faces with steak, chicken, and protein powders all day long, especially if doing so means sacrificing other important micro- and macro-nutrients that our active bodies need to function.  But with that said, I like me some protein, and I also physically need it. I talked about my PCOS here so I won’t tell the whole story again, but suffice it to say, my body does not function well on a diet that is too high in carbs.  I think I’m somewhat insulin resistant, and I have always noticed that I look and feel better when I am more focused on fats and proteins than carbs (and by the way, when I say carbs I mean bread, pasta, rice, not fruits and veggies).   I do eat plenty of whole grains, but never in place of protein.

My dairy-free experiment (which has of late turned into a minimal-dairy experiment) has been making me think about protein.  I have noticed that without milk, yogurt, and cheese in my diet I have been eating way more in the evenings and feeling like I “can’t get full.”  I think I probably ate three servings of PB pretzels the other night.  I still want to continue my minimal-dairy experiment, but I think that if I am going to do that while continuing to take care of my body, I am going to need to educate myself about and focus on some alternative proteins and fats.

I often incorporate dairy into my afternoon snack.  I have a few other items in my rotation, but I’m starting to get tired of them.  Here are the most frequent contenders:

1. Fruits or veggies with nut butter (e.g., carrots with ab, apple with pb)

2. Bars (Luna, Lara, Clif Mojo, Kashi, etc.)

3. Trail mix with dried fruit, nuts, and whole grain cereals

I’m starting to get bored of these options and don’t want to revert to yogurt or cheese or milk.  Does anybody have any suggestions for me? I’m not big on protein powders, and while I love meat, tofu/soy, beans, lentils, eggs and the like, I don’t really envision carrying those around for an afternoon snack.  I need some protein advice, help! “Fat” based snack ideas are also welcome.  Thanks in advance!

Okay, back to today’s eats.

I was starving after my run since it had been so long since I’d eaten.  I think my blood sugar was low and I was a bit dehydrated, so I knew exactly what I wanted: a smoothie.  I so wish I had the equipment to create my own right now, but I don’t (hint hint, mom).  I got a mango smoothie from the student center and topped it with one of homemade granola bars (recipe from Averie) all crumbled up and a few spoonfuls of trail mix.  I ate it SIAB style.  Heaven.  On a spoon.

Three-ish hours later I was hungry for another dinner, so I went with it.  I wanted a giant pile of protein with a side of veggies, so that’s what I had.

I ate the chicken from last night’s sandwich with the sweet potato fries and yellow pepper slices.  This hit the spot.

I’m currently sipping on my favorite tea (jasmine tulsi) with a bit of stevia and some plain soy milk.

I did get a few things done this evening — ran, blogged, read some Adam Smith (pin factories, anyone?), and started a collage!

These are picture cutouts I’m going to use.  And yes, that’s a slice of pie and a baby elephant in the foreground on the right.  I adore hands on creative stuff like collage-making.  The pictures are going to get glued on to a large piece of paper that will say “mindfulness.”  I want to put it up above my door.  That word has really been resonating with me lately.  What word would you choose to describe your thoughts of late?

PS — please excuse the misaligned pictures.  I could not get them quite right!

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Caronae-ified Snow Day

Today’s Mini Goal: Write cover letters.  This. Needs. To. Be. Done. ASAP.

Timing for a run didn’t really work out today, but I did get in some walking, the 20 minute Yoga Core class from Yoga Download and bowled in the evening!  The Yoga Core class is a serious core workout — between tons of boat poses and knee-to-nose raises, your abs feel wrecked by the end (in a good way).  This is one of those yoga videos that proves that with the right combination of poses yoga can be a great workout.  A lot of vinyasa classes I’ve done have been quite hard.  It’s not really something that I could do as my workout everyday, because I like running so much and I also need to have a variety of exercise options, but I try to do a yoga class once or twice a week, and I always leave feeling physically and emotionally strong.  Yoga is actually definitely one of the things that has helped me battle my depression and anxiety; there is just a certain calming aspect to it that makes me really believe “I’m okay; this too shall pass; I will indeed survive; there are so many beautiful things in the world around me.”

Has yoga helped you physically?  Emotionally?  Made you realize something big?

I told myself that since today was a snow day I would get so much work done.  Yeah.  Didn’t happen.  Does that make me a bad person?  Anyhow, the day ended up being nearly perfect; I had brunch with friends, napped and read, then went bowling and to an amazing BBQ restaurant for a friend’s birthday.

We had a lot of fun, as you can see.  Bowling is one of those activities that’s so fun because you totally don’t realize you’re “exercising”, but you are!  I did some arm moves with my ball too; I don’t get a chance to make it to the gym for strength that often.  I gotta take what I can get.  And if I have an 8 and a 12 pound bowling ball and a few minutes till me next turn, I’ll take it.  My scores were humiliatingly low.  Bowling is just one of those things that I’ll probably always suck it.  I have terrible aim, plus I always make the ball roll diagonally down the lane.

Randomly, my pelvis/ilio sacrum is hurting a lot right now.  I think bowling is just a weird motion and it triggered an ongoing problem I have in the area — ever since I was about 12 or 13 (the last few of my gymnastics years), I remember having an ongoing pain in my sacrum (basically, the bone at the very bottom of your spine/the back of your pelvic bone).  It tends to happen mostly when lying down/sitting up, but frequently shows up after other exercises.  I can even crack my pelvis; I’ve never met anyone else who can do that!  Massaging the bone makes it feel better, which is weird and makes me think it’s just a nerve/tendon/muscle issue.  I love having my hips and sacrum massaged — probably more than my neck, shoulders, or back even.  I once saw a therapist who did some crazy thing with his hands and forearms along the sides of my hips that felt so indescribably good.  I have some sciatica and piri formis issues too, so the whole region is generally just sore.  Okay, sorry to complain.

Do you tend to accumulate pain in one part of your body?

I loooovvvveee BBQ/soul food.  It’s one of my favorite varieties of food, after Middle Eastern.

The menu had all the most wonderful things on it: corn bread, pulled chicken, ribs, fried shrimp, BBQ chicken, collard greens, sweet potato fries,macaroni and cheese, oxtail, jerk chicken, black eyed peas.  I Caronified my dish, pulled chicken sandwich, by getting it with sweet potato fried and steamed veggies.  I ate half the sandwich and fries and all the veggies.  The waiter seemed really confused that I wanted vegetables with my meal.  I actually don’t think anyone else’s meals came with veggies, besides collards (I don’t mind the greens but I hate the ham).  The dishes were all roughly $8-12 and were seriously massive: I took half of mine home, and everyone who ordered meat combo platters probably has another two meals waiting for them.  Seriously, the plates served to us probably contained 3-4 servings of meat.  No joke.

One thing I loved about this meal was that we lingered over it.  We took our time just talking after dinner, sharing stories, watching our friend open cards, then slowly munching through our cake.  I think more meals should be eaten like this; it provides valuable social interaction and also reminds us that a meal is a time to celebrate good food, friends, family, and memories.  Sounds a bit tacky, but I think it’s important, especially for someone like me who eats a vast majority of meals by herself.

Cake:

Sometimes you just need some good old-fashioned birthday cake, with pink frosting roses.  Happy 21st Birthday A!  I love you!

I was going to be going on an xc skiing day trip tomorrow, but apparently the park we were going to upstate got 26 inches of snow and hasn’t been able to groom the trails and clear out the park properly yet.  I’m hoping for next weekend.  Skiing is just one of those activities that never fails to be fun.

I’ll probably just do a long run, study, and eat tomorrow.  Boring, but that’s reality.

Anyone have any more glamorous plans?

PS — Averie is giving away three jars of naturally nutty nut butters here.  So so so so unbelievably tasty.

Mindfulness And Staple Food Fun

Today’s Mini Goal: Pick one small part of my day and do it mindfully.  I read an interview with Thich Nhat Hanh in this month’s Oprah Magazine and found myself totally in awe of his thoughts about our simple, daily actions.  We can infuse whatever we do — walking (or perhaps running), drinking tea, listening to someone — with an awareness and a caring.  Beautiful.

I really admire bloggers who seem to have a set pattern of meal-planning and eating, like Meghann or Caitlin, for example.  I tend to try very hard to emulate this and have realized that the organization actually just ends up giving me a sense of anxiety — I do typically eat three meals a day, but my snacks and desserts will vary a lot.  I really like Janetha‘s five meal a day thing.  But again, sometimes I want to have three evening snacks and no dinner, or an extra dessert.  Or a brunch.  Or two big mid-day snacks instead of lunch.  I have tried really hard to orient myself around the meal-snack-meal-snack-meal-dessert pattern, but I just end up frustrating myself.  I think I’ve learned it’s best to listen to my body at this point.

So tonight I had no dinner!  I was in the mood for a giant snack around four and I went with it (huge juicy grapefruit, frozen yogurt, an hour or so later pb pretzels, trail mix, coconut).  Super random, but no harm done.  If it works, I’ll take it, I guess.  Do you tend to have a set pattern for your eats, just eat when you’re hungry, or graze throughout the day?

Part of me feels like there’s hardly a point in wasting thought space over this; people all over the world have learned to give their bodies what the need when they need it.  I think the simple fact that we have so many foods in America — the healthy, the unhealthy, the processed, the natural, the outright bizarre — has created a mindset of overabundance.  I just want to eat whole, healthy foods without thinking about it, but because of our cultural relationship with food, I find this hard.  Not only is there food available everywhere (although, sadly, not everyone has access to it when they need it — this is another paradox of the system that I don’t understand), but we have an odd attitude toward food: I think food should definitely be an artful, social thing, but it is not a love object.  There is a fine line here.  Gena wrote a really wonderful post about this a while back.  In fact, you should most definitely go read her post from today. It’s one of the most eloquent, unique, and empowering bits of food-writing I’ve ever read.  Thoughts?

I’m thinking just working on my mindfulness overall will help me understand (and have compassion, not anger towards) my relationship with food, meals, and cooking.

***

I was not in the mood to run today.  The weather was ragingly nasty (think slush, snow, rain, puddles, and cold all at the same time), so I knew it wasn’t going to happen outside.  I fell asleep after work, and by the time I awoke it was evening, and I hate going to the gym in the evening.  But just as I was trying to talk myself out of it, a friend texted me asking if we could make cookies!  Perfect — I could ask if she wanted to go to the gym first.  Thankfully, she did, and my workout was saved.  I mean come on, once a friend shows up at your door, you’re not going to say, “oh, I changed my mind.”

I meant to do some strength training before my run, I really did, but I hardly had any time before my treadmill time-slot (grrrr — for a rant about this, see this post).  I did a few pull-ups and ab leg-raise thingies.  I’m so technical, I know.

Run (inspired by Janetha’s workout from this post):

Warm up:

10 minutes @ 6.0 mph

Speedwork:

2x (1 minute @ 5.5, 1 minute @6.0, 1 minute @6.5, 1 minute @ 7.0, 1 minute @ 7.5, 1 minute @ 8.0, 1 minute @ 8.5, 3 minutes @ 6.0)

The first two minutes of the set (@ 5.5 and 6) were done at a five percent incline.  I was going to do the set three times through, but I was drained.  This was absolutely killer!  My face was plum red afterwards, which never happens.

Cool down:

20 minutes @ 6.0

Total: 5.0 miles, 47-ish minutes.

Sweet.

My camera battery died during the day so I didn’t end up taking any pictures until this evening.  I thought I would do a fun little round up of my dietary staples, why I eat them, and what they do for my body!

The cast of characters:

We have: trail mix, spinach, yogurt, oats, dark chocolate, apple, and peanut butter.  These are the staples I have on hand tonight; there are several more things that I’d include, ideally: carrots, sweet potato, dried mango, salmon, milk, black beans, and tofu, for example.  But let’s focus on the yumminess pictured above now.

1. Trail Mix:

I usually keep a few mixes on hand because they are easy to grab for an afternoon snack, add to meals to increase their bulk, or take on the go.  I look for pre-made mixes that consist of simple ingredients (nuts, fruit, spices), or I make my own with a bit of dry cereal, nuts, animal crackers, chocolate, and dried fruit.  Trail mixes usually provide a nice dose of fat, protein, and fiber.  They never fail to keep me full, and they can instantly boost any meal’s flavor factor.  Try adding to oatmeal, salads, or yogurt!

2. Peanut butter:

I definitely consider good old PB to be a power food.  I love the fat, carbs, and protein combination that it offers, and the taste is inexplicably delightful.  With everything.  I like mine with oatmeal or cereal, toast, frozen yogurt, or chocolate.  Oddly enough, I don’t really find peanuts (a legume, by the way) all that appealing. But give me a jar of peanut butter and a spoon and, well, we might be soul mates.  PB is full of vitamins, like B and E, and the monounsaturated fat in it is good for your heart.

3. Apples:

I usually get a giant bag of apple’s from the farmer’s market every week (sometimes twice a week, if need be).  Apples obviously provide fiber, but they also have antioxidants and may help prevent some cancers.  I love their textures — sometimes crunchy, sometimes melty, sometimes peely.  Always perfect.  I eat them plain as snacks, with oatmeal, or pb and cinnamon.  They are excellent in baked goods.  I encourage you to branch out in your apple repertoire — there are so many delicious varieties!  My favorites, at the moment, include gala, fuji, cameo, mutsu, and suncrisp.

4. Spinach:

Dark leafy greens are excellent for you.  Spinach has iron, calcium, magnesium, and loads of other good-for-you-nutrients, without packing a calorie punch.  I find spinach to be the tastiest green, although I also love rainbow chard and baby bok choy.  Spinach is also an easily disguisable veggie — you can add it to smoothies, soups, sandwiches,and many other things and hardly know it’s there.  I love the bulk it can give a meal, and I use it as a salad base quite frequently.  Make sure you wash it carefully.

5. Oats:

Oats are easily my favorite whole grain.  Fiber, protein, carbs?  Check.  Oatmeal is my go-to breakfast and never fulls to keep my full and energetic.  I like mixing it with cinnamon, apples or banana, and peanut butter.  It’s also wonderful in cookies, crisps, and, I have heard, savory dishes.  It works well in raw desserts and there are limitless breakfast possibilities with this powerful little grain.

6. Yogurt:

I’ve been doing a little dairy free experiment lately (minus the fro yo I had this afternoon :)), but normally I love yogurt.  I usually go for Greek varieties or Stonyfield, which doesn’t have the fake ingredients that many yogurts do.  It has a lot of protein, which makes it a great breakfast component or afternoon snack.  It’s also got calcium and, if you go for 1 or 2%, the perfect little bit of fat.  I eat it plain, with nuts, fruit, cereal, or granola, and even use it in cooked recipes.  My favorite flavor is either pomegranate or raspberry!

7. Dark chocolate:

One of my favorite simple desserts.  Dark chocolate has antioxidants, and I’ve heard it’s also good for your heart.  I find that a few squares of the good stuff will satisfy my perfectly.  Pictured above is Green and Black’s, a smooth, reliable brand.  I like their Maya Gold and 70% varieties.  Dark chocolate mixes well into hot cocoa, hot grains, yogurt, or pairs well with citrus fruits.  It is also powerfully associated with ideas of love, the heart, and companionship; I think it’s good for the soul.

What are your staple foods and why do you enjoy them?

Okay, happy Friday everyone!  I hope it is a most excellent beginning-of-the-weekend for you!

I’m A Dairy-Free Pumpkin Seed

Today’s Mini Goal: Conquer this week’s speed workout.  I can tackle this baby!  I was supposed to do it today but my legs were still tired from my killer weekend (40 miles in 4 days).  Speed work totally overwhelms me, but I have a plan and I will stick to it tomorrow morning!  It’s gonna be Janetha-inspired. 🙂

I have been up since one AM paper-writing, so I apologize if this is a bit incoherent.  I had a really interesting, but challenging, assignment to examine some of the possible negative outcomes of human rationality.  Oh, homework-land.  Such a happy place .

I wrote the paper from one till almost six, so I figured there was simply no point going to sleep (I had slept for about five hours in the evening already).  I made good use of the wee hours by blog-reading and eventually heading out for a rainy 9-miler.  The Reservoir Loop in CP was covered in puddles, mud, sticks, ice, holes: basically, just how I like it!  I adore running on tricky trails, and it was like I had my own personal trail in the center of the city today!  Only three other people were braving the Loop.  Are you a standard streets-and-sidewalks only runner or do you like to get wild with your terrain choices?

In the latter half of the run I had an icky stomach cramp that never really went away.  I had had a giant bowl of yogurt while I was writing the paper, and a lot of dairy the day before too.  I am not positive, but I think this might be the tummy/digestion culprit.  So I am having a dairy-free week!  I am not doing it to restrict or deprive; this is merely an experiment to see if my tummy is happier and less bloated.  Many, many people have dairy issues, and while I have never had a problem, I think my consumption of the stuff has increased a lot lately.

Exhibit A (and B and C…):


The top two photos are from lunch yesterday, which was a throw-everything-into-a-bowl-and-call-it-cereal mess.  I believe that warm cinnamon h2h, skim milk, pb, peanut butter pretzels, trail mix, and coconut are all hanging out in there.  The photo on the bottom left is banana cream pudding (with a sweet potato pie smudgin).  It was the Black History Month dinner at my school, which is one of my most favorite events of the entire year.  I had two bowls of the pudding.  On the right is a bowl containing macaroni and cheese, shrimp and grits, and cornbread.  I also had such delights as yams, green beans, catfish, black eyed peas, pulled chicken, and more cornbread.  Mmmmm.  Needless to say, my evening involved quite a lot of dairy!   Actually, it just involved quite a lot of (tasty) food in general.  I left feeling a bit too stuffed.

BUT today’s clean, lighter eats probably balanced it all out.  Despite the nine miles in the morning, I wasn’t super hungry all day.  I guess my body does really know what it’s doing after all.  I think I actually recorded all my eats today.  I know you are so totally thrilled by this fact and that you can’t wait to see them…

Breakfast: banana chia cinnamon oats with a tall Awake Tea Misto made with soy milk.  Served with a side of philosophy textbooks.

Lunch: giant salad bowl with mixed greens, chicken, cucumbers, peppers, corn, and an oregano EVOO dressing.  Lunchtime perfection.

The apple was consumed with lunch and the randomly thrown together trail mix was my afternoon snack.  It did a great job of keeping me full, actually!  It included chocolate animal crackers, walnuts, macadamia-cashew trail mix, dried fruit, and a little h2h.

I got out of class at six and was feeling snackish, but knew I wasn’t really hungry for my dinner.  Solution?

A few sips of coconut water!  I figured the electrolytes couldn’t hurt.  It did the trick and cured my snackiness.  I don’t actually really like coconut water all that much, but whatever.  Do any of you guys love the stuff?

Dinner consisted of piles of yumminess.  What’s that?  You want to know what said piles of yumminess contained?  Oh alright.  Fine.  The bowl was a spinach salad topped with leftover crumbled lamb burgers, onions, and hummus.  These flavors worked really well together!  On the side we have roasted/steamed squash slices and steamed broccoli.  I like veggies, don’t hate.

And the most important meal of the day?

Dessert of course!  This was a chocolate mint Luna cookie with DCD frosting.  I know I’ve tried one of the Luna cookies before and I didn’t love it, but this was pure deliciousness.  It tasted wonderfully decadent.  Noms all around.

I’m one tired little pumpkin seed right about now (my dad used to call my pumpkin seed!), so it’s off to bed for me.  What did your parents call you as a kid? I was (and, I will admit, still am) variously called pumpkin seed, cupcake, and bunny rabbit.

A Writing Kind of Day

I guess that, seeing as my blog is called, Run Write Therapy Life, I am probably allowed to have days where I just write.  Nighttime always brings out my deepest thoughts, and I had to stay up all night to finish a paper, so I ended up with a billion bursting thoughts in my head.  And I think I have earned a pictureless post where I don’t talk about my body or running or food.  Well, there’s a littlerunning hidden in here somewhere.  But just a little.  So, without further ado, here are my thoughts. Important ones.

I think that deep down, I do like people.  Monday I was showing my therapist my favorite “happy pictures”, and she pointed out that I’m with someone else in every single one of them — never a group of people or a crowd, but always one person.  And in every single picture, that person is someone who has been deeply important and influential for me.  Interesting revelation.  This confirms what I already know: I enjoy very powerful, strong relationships, and I enjoy having a handful of these.  I do not enjoy having too many people who are too close to me.  That scares me.  Not because I am afraid to open up or because I’m being anti-social — those are things that, thankfully, I think I have already overcome — but because that is simply not how I work.  How I work.   And guess what?  We can all work in different ways!  How beautiful is that?  For a long time, I told myself that I didn’t like people,and this so was not the case!  I just have had to find the balance that works for me.  I think that’s pretty much what all things in life are about.  No two people work exactly the same way, which is a little bit scary, but also perfectly lovely.

If I want, I can walk in circles around the city wearing my favorite leafy green sweatshirt from 1999 and my geeky running shoes.  I can carry my owl-print lunchbox to class and I can eat plain peanut butter if that’s what I want.  I can read books all day or I can go laugh-cry (ladies, you know exactly what I’m talking about) at a chick-flick with my three best friends.  I can buy myself paisley rainboots.  I can snuggle up with my duck.  I can write long fancy letters and draw trees on the envelopes and mail them the old fashioned way, if I want.  I can reconnect with important people from my life whom I’ve neglected.  I can make messy yogurt bowls and salad bowls and even make my own bowls at the pottery place.  I can call my mom and cry to her if need be.  Call my sister and tell her I’m sorry, if need be.  I can draw irises with my pastels and put glitter on everything I encounter.  I can go in quest of the best baking book and make my own souffles.  And make my own chocolate.  I can drink out of a straw or drink my favorite coconut bubble tea.  I can go on dates with men if I want, when I want, because that is up to me.  I can write a thousand poems about the same thing, I can tell my poetry teacher exactly what my name means.  I can deal with things that come my way.  I can remember how scary someone else’s addictions can be and make sure I never feel that terror again.  I can learn more about horticulture and hastas and orchids and the way bodies move when they’re about to die.  I can call my girl A and tell her exactly what’s wrong.  Or what’s right.  Or, simply, what my back feels like today.  I can pick the raisins out of my cookies if I do not want them there.  I can say hello to my favorite farmer at the market.  I can have an adventure to Brooklyn or to Macchu Picchu, pending the requisite funds, of course.  I can only buy pillows with elephants on them, if that is what I so choose to do.  I can trust people.  Even males.  I can hold a friend’s hand when they are sad.  I can pick out a new Japanese woodblock calendar every single year because my father likes Japanese woodblocks and I like my father.  I can fold down the corner of every single page in my collected Neruda book.  I can listen to birds and learn to differentiate between their songs, like my mother.  I can take a pick ax to the things that don’t belong in my life.  I can stand up straight and take a breather in tree pose, if that’s what my body asks for.  I can secretly enjoy using my hands to stir things instead of a spoon.  I can cook salmon in a million different ways.  I can color coordinate my closet, or not.  I can have a favorite color and then change my mind the next day.  I can find the Little Dipper in the deep purple sky and know that it’s the same Little Dipper that has carried me through so many nights before this one.  I can name a star after you.  I can recognize my body as the strong instrument that it is.  I can take her for long, long runs.  Or short, short runs.  I can sniff at tulip trees.  I can find new streets.  I can think of what I will name my future daughter — Sahar because it means the dawn which is a special time in which new things begin.  I can use my peppermint foot lotion every night if I please.  I can know what my body feels like and what it doesn’t feel like.  What it may or may not enjoy.  I can collect pretty water bottles.  I can lounge over soul food in the dining hall.  I can learn French words and mispronounce them.  I can buy a fun new sheet set.  Or a sweater set.  Or a dish set.  I can try to figure out how the sun never tires of having so many colors in her at the same time.  I can lie in the grass or take the bus or place a bowl of peony blossoms on my desk.  I can touch the spines on a cactus.  I can call my therapist and tell her I’m having a bad day and need to talk.  I can wash my coat.  I can call my grandparents and just enjoy listening to their sweet, ancient voices.  I can color on a shirt, I can go to yoga with my cousin.  I can wake up early or sleep in, depending on how I feel. I can happily sit and read blogs in the late, late hours.  I can make shapes with my hands.  I can listen to me.

Therapy Monday!

Today’s Mini Goal: Wake up early enough for my run tomorrow so that I am not rushed to get out the door for class.  I hate when I’m eating breakfast, checking my email, and brushing my hair at the same time, but this always seems to happen.  I guess I need to wake up a few minutes earlier.

Today was a rest day, thank goodness.  My body was totally craving a day off.  I did a good amount of walking (2 miles?) and might do a bit of yoga before bed if I find the time.  Gah, I hate being so busy!

Lots of fun eats today:

Breakfast: strawberry-banana chobani with strawberries, bananas, warm cinnamon h2h cereal, and almond butter blob.  Taste was wonderful; the fact that it was eaten the library was not so wonderful.

Lunch.  Also had a bit more cereal.  FYI, the frozen yogurt mountain was originally way taller, I just couldn’t wait to dig into it until I got home!  And that sammie is pb and spinach.  Both pb and ab go really well with spinach in sandwiches.

Can you see the pb peeking out?  Afternoon snacks included a few nuts, an apple, and half of one of my homemade bars.

Dinner: Squash bowl!  I steamed the squash in the microwave then filled it with spinach and leftover veggies from last night (onion, mushroom, broccoli, rainbow chard).  All topped with leftover salmon, ground lamb crumbles, and hummus blob.  I was really craving protein and was cooking up the lamb tonight anyway, so I threw a bit on top.  This was perfect.  It was also nice to get in so many veggies at once!

Dessert: no picture because I didn’t consume it until after I started this post, but it was one of the best dessert combos ever!  Chocolate oikos, spoonful of DCD, and sweetened shredded coconut.  Nom nom nom nom .

Woe, I think I just covered a whole day of eats.  Interesting.

As I was eating my healthy, but admittedly meat-filled dinner, I felt a twinge of blogger guilt. So many bloggers seem like they have perfect vegetarian or vegan or raw diets, and I just felt a little…bad?  This is the first time I’ve ever felt that way.  But I also know that eating meat is something that really works for my body, sort of like Heather, and that I try to do so as ethically as possible (organic/local/wild/free-range/whatever).  I don’t actually think I’m feeling guilt so much as…different, maybe. I don’t know.  Thoughts?

Therapy Monday!

No matter how distraught/tearful/full of confusing emotions I am when I leave therapy, I always feel a deeply embedded sense of comfort afterwards.  If all other aspects of me fail, I know that at the very least, my therapist believes in me (sad, but remember where I’m coming from).  I relish that feeling of comfort; I’ve realized that although I have definitely come to a point where I have days or even weeks of happiness, I haven’t quite reached a place of comfort.  I love my friends to death, but I don’t always find comfort in them, and I am not the best at comforting myself.  Basically, happiness isn’t the same as comfort; they’re two different (but not incompatible) ways of being, and I want to experience both of them.  I’m actually really happy that I am able to identify that.  So much of therapy, for me, has been learning to identify things that I want.  It sounds so simple, but that’s deceptive: our emotional wants are extraordinarily easy to neglect, which is precisely what I did for the first nineteen or so years of my life.

I have begun to adopt a new habit whereby I allow myself to recognize moments when I am proud of me.  I think I mentioned yesterday that I talked with a nice guy on my floor for a while, and I told my therapist that I am proud of this fact, but also a bit ashamed of such pride.  I’m an extremely capable and competent young woman, shouldn’t meeting men, flirting with men, being around men be easy for me?   No.  I do not come from a place where men have been consistent and safe and happy and, until I was about 16 or 17, I didn’t understand that men could be these things.  So I talked to a boy.  For a while.  And I didn’t panic.  And I am proud of this.  And that’s okay.  I hope to be able to transfer this new ability to say “I’m proud of me” to other areas of my life.

I am about to say something that is intentionally vague.  I hope that it isn’t vague to the point of being unintelligible, but it’s something that I need to say without hurting anybody:

There have been people in my life who have struggled with addiction — drugs and alcohol, primarily.  These people suffer from diseases (alcoholism is a disease) which they have not always been able to manage.  This inability to manage said disease leads to an inability to manage large components of one’s life.  This inability of important people in my life to manage their lives has affected me in a million ways.  More than a million, probably.  Basically, I have issues with trusting men and putting myself out there.  I do not blame the (recovering) addicts in my life for my issues at all, but that is the place where I come from.  And at times that is a very very painful place.  I have been trying to think of a way to say this for weeks now, and I feel much freer now.  So much freer.  This comes up in therapy basically every week.  At times I felt unloved.  At times I have felt desperately alone and abandoned.  My relationship cues have been totally off; while my parents are deeply loving, they have been divorced since I was young, and I haven’t seen a lot of other beautifully happy relationships since. I was 17 the first time I felt like I really saw and understood a successful romantic relationship (that of my mentor/teacher/friend who basically saved my life in high school). He and his wife seemed to love each other so perfectly, so roundly.  I was totally in awe of it.  In a lot of ways he was an alternative father figure to me, and I needed him so very much at the time.  I’m not sure how to quantify just how much he helped me, but he had this incredible ability to understand my “issues” without me ever saying anything.  I hadn’t thought about this man in a while until I started telling my therapist about him today, and then I realized that I have seen a relationship that works.  Even if it’s only this one, I have seen it, and I remember it very clearly.  I always will.

Okay, moving on to happier things!  I spent a lot of today’s session telling my therapist how happy I was yesterday, and for the first time, I really began to understand how much I have the power to make myself happy.  I have to take care of myself.  This is something that I know I can do.  This afternoon, I made a list of things that make me happy, so that when I am depressed, I can take a look at my list and pick something out and, hopefully, feel a little bit of joy.

1. A mug of cocoa or jasmine tulsi tea in the evening.

2. Snuggling up in the corner of my bed with a bunch of pillows, my stuffed duck Herbert, and a good book or movie.

3. Frozen yogurt with chocolate chips.

4. Oprah magazine.

5. The process of creating new recipes and cooking ingredients in fun new ways.

6. Talking to my friends in low-key settings.

7. Doing the crossword and the Sudoku from the newspaper before bed.

8. Yoga classes, especially finding my balance in half-moon pose.

9. Running in the spring when the buds on the trees are about to open up.

10. Neck and head massages.

11. Drawing with pastels and smudging the colors together.

12. Aimlessly exploring fun new neighborhoods in the city.

13. Smiling at people who look like they’re having a bad day.

14. Pretty jewelry and hair accessories.

15. Leaves, rocks, seashells, loose flower petals: finding things from nature and taking them home with me.

16. Learning new things about myself.

17. Learning what my body is like.

18. Playing; acting like a kid and not caring what people think.

19. Water: rivers, oceans, puddles, bathtubs, etc.

20. Lattes, because you can’t actually taste the coffee.

21. Talking to family members on the phone, especially my youngest cousin.

22. Watching the students I teach college prep to suddenly grasp a new concept.

23. Listening to classical music or good hip-hop.

24. Being Iranian because it’s unique and comes with lots of interesting traditions.

25. Shopping for new kitchen appliances.

Making my happy-list was wonderfully refreshing.  I totally encourage you guys to make one, even if you don’t struggle with depression or emotional health.  It’s just a nice thing to have around.  I’m going to pin it to my wall by my door.

I have no idea where all these post-therapy thoughts come from, but sometimes it feels like they’re flying around in my head like rabid bats until I write them down.  I actually really enjoy blogging about them because it helps me keep things straight.  I hope it isn’t too painful/sad for you guys to read them.  If so, let me know.

That’s all for this busy girl on a school night! I hope you are happy, healthy, and well!

Perfect Sunday

Today’s Mini Goal: Do some “just for me” writing.  This means that it’s going to be in my journal, it’s not for class or for the blog, and it doesn’t have to be “pretty.” Sometimes it’s very therapeutic to just ramble-write.

I just realized how downright cranky I was this past week.  Sorry guys!  I blame evil hormones.  But any-hoo, I’m feeling happy, healthy, and refreshed today, and it’s the start of a new week.  What made my day so healthy and happy?

Well I shall tell you of course!

1. Leisurely morning! Woke up naturally around nine, read in bed for a while, then met a friend for a delicious brunch, including (but definitely not limited to) sunny-side up eggs and a super sweet latte!

I love nice mugs.

2. Study time!  Not necessarily fun, but it wasn’t too bad and it was nice to spend a few quality hours with the library and just get things done.

3. Baking!  Well, mixing things together at least.  As a busy college-student, I love energy bars.  But I don’t always love their long, sleazy ingredient lists.  Enter Averie’s No-bake pb/coconut/chocolate chip energy bars (I used ab though)!

So fun to mix up with your hands!  By the way, the reason you see Averie’s stuff so frequently on my blog is because:

1. Her stuff is tasty — lots of yummy ingredients all combined together will never fail me!

2. Her stuff is easy — I have no kitchen appliances and and a kitchen the size of my thumb, but I can still make or adapt many of her recipes.  As an added bonus, they’re vegan, if that’s what you’re looking for!

This is how they looked when finished:

With a DCD blob.  So nummy (by the way, that’s a word I made up recently — it’s a combination of “noms” and “yummy”, and I like it.  A lot.)

4. Fantabulous run!  While my homemade bars chilled in the fridge I set out for a perfect run.  The weather was very spring-like today with temps in the 40s, a nice breeze, and mostly melted snow.  It felt like April.  I love love love running in the spring.  It always lifts my spirits, and today’s fake-spring run just made me happy all around.  Despite my legs being a bit sore/tight/heavy from yesterday’s 15 miler, I still felt fast and free.  So splendid.

With the completion of ten miles today I officially hit 40 for the week.  And it wasn’t actually a week, since all those miles were run in the last four days (due to my crankiness/laziness at the beginning of the week).  Here’s the breakdown:

Thursday — 10 miles

Friday — 5 miles

Saturday — 15 miles

Sunday — 10 miles

This is the highest I’ve been since my December injury.  I’ll probably peak around 50-ish. I’m feeling good at this point in my training cycle!

5.  Getting Things Done:  It’s such a stress-reliever to get things done on Sundays.  Here’s what I’ve gotten through so far:

~picked up teaching materials for a program I volunteer with Monday nights.

~prescription pick-up

~checked bank balances

~bought chocolate chips (hey, this is an important weekly task)

~did laundry (in the dryer now!)

~chatted with my best friend J

~called my grandparents and talked with them and two of my aunts

~weekly veggie prep.  I love washing and chopping tons of veggies in Sundays.  That way I can throw them into salads, sandwiches, or stir-fries or eat them with hummus or pb throughout the week.

Leaning tower of veggies = yum.

6. Made an easy, nutritious dinner of half a leftover tuna sammie with a giant pile of stir-fried veggies topped with hummus and white cheddar:

In the stir fry: olive oil, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, rainbow chard, salt, lemon pepper, red pepper.  I love how artsy rainbow chard makes a meal.  So fun!  Oh, and I conversed with a cute boy on my floor while making said dinner 🙂

Next on the agenda: acquire some hot chocolate, fold laundry, and another hour or two of reading (hello Burke!).

I’m really glad I have been able to move on from the downs of the last week or two.  This makes me feel mentally strong and accomplished.  I am capable, beautiful and powerful and I have the ability to move forward no matter what.  Take that, depression!

I hope you had a wonderful, refreshing weekend.  What were you up to?  What grand adventures will you be embarking on this week?

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