Transition Stress/Long Run/Meat

Today’s Happy Note: My day involved plenty of chocolate.  Always a good thing.

Mental Health Note: Transitions, of any sort, are always stressful and tricky for me.  At this point in my life, I have come to accept that, and instead of trying to pretend that the stress isn’t there (and thereby making it much, much worse), I just acknowledge it and do my best to soothe myself.  I find moving around — which, unfortunately, happens a lot in college — not just physically exhausting, but emotionally draining as well.  I get attached to places.  I go back and forth between NYC and Michigan (and sometimes Canada) quite frequently.  I am in NYC right now, but have to move back into my dorm.  I’m also making a shift from full-time worker to full-time student and part-time worker.  My life patterns are not all that different during the school year, which helps to ease my mind.  I know that I will still eat oats with nut butter or smoothies for breakfast.  I know that I will find some time in the day to squeeze my run in and that I will make time for friends and life outside of school.

All this is to say that the stress is creeping up on me already — I can see and feel it. It sort of drapes its way around me and sits on my heart and body like a heavy scarf.  I move into my dorm room on Saturday and start classes Tuesday.  I have been mentally preparing myself.  One thing I find very helpful is finding room for extra sleep during my day/night.  Stress often leaves me sleepy-tired, and if I can either sleep 9 hours at night or 7-8 hours at night with a nap in the late afternoon, I am much happier and calmer.  Other things that help include lots of self-care (doing stuff like painting my nails, getting a massage, strolling in the park and looking at the flowers, etc.), reaching out to people I love, and eating delicious but clean foods.

How do you deal with life transitions — physically or emotionally or occupationally?  How do you relieve the stress/anxiety/tension? I love consistency, but I understand that, for the next few years, my life will not necessarily be straightforward.  I am learning how to find the excitement in this.

I got my run in this evening!  It was way too hot at the beginning, but eventually cooled down with a nice breeze. I did ten miles and actually felt really great during it.  I held about a 10 minute per mile pace, but was probably around 9:30 at some points.  I feel like I may finally be back up to pre-hospital strength!  Yay!  I also lifted weights for a quick 30 minutes.

Long run eats:

I’m not showing everything because I think it’s boring.  But I have done a good job keeping track.  And I don’t have a picture since I only just made it, but I am currently eating a delicious chocolate banana smoothie with TJ’s dark chocolate in a nut butter jar.  Nut butter jars make everything better. Seriously, I would be so thrilled if I got my Christmas and birthday presents in (clean) nut butter jars from now on.  It would be so cute!  I’m pretty sure my relatives already think I’m a weird foodie though, so I probably will go ahead and *not* make that request…

Lunch was kinda epic: steamed carrots/yellow squash, green grapes/cherry mix, and a turkey/cheddar/avocado wrap on a TJ’s multigrain tortilla.  I have a lunchtime sandwich fear, for some odd reason.  But on longer run days, I find it helpful to have a sandwich for the extra carbs/calories.  It works out perfectly fine because, when eating more earlier in the day, I eat less in the evenings.

Awesome new snack!  TJ’s (do you see a TJ’s them here?  Hmmmm….) peanut butter crunchy granola bar.  This was a tad sweet but definitely tasty.

Dinner involved more meat — apple chicken sausage, in honor of my sister (it’s one of her favorite foods, but I also really like it as well) with a GIANT salad of romaine, peppers, avocado, and TJ’s peanut vinaigrette (LOVE).  I had okra fries a la Meghann on the side.  They were actually really good.  When I cut up veggies like carrots, squash, or, in this case, okra, into fry form and bake them, I am not intending them as a fry replacement.  I just like roasted veggies.  But these were actually legitimately fry-like!  I coated them in salt, pepper, and EVOO and baked at 400 for about 30-ish (maybe 40?) minutes.  Okra=my new friend.  Oh, and if you are wondering why it’s dark in the above photo that’s because it’s purple okra!  I love veggies in fun colors.

Hello, okra.  You can come over for dinner anytime you want.  Have you had okra?  Do you like it?

Meaty talk:

I don’t eat a lot of meat.  But I think it can be a very healthy part of a diet and I will probably never go vegetarian. I do believe in ethical, moderate meat consumption.  I get as much of it as I can from the farmer’s market or other local, natural, and/or organic sources.  I just realized, while posting, that I had meat twice today! Turkey at lunch and chicken sausage at dinner.  And you know what?  I feel great. The protein and fat really work wonders for me.

I like all kinds of protein sources.  My favorites: salmon, shrimp, steak, turkey, tofu, lentils, black beans, tempeh, whole grains, greek yogurt, veggie burgers, cottage cheese, nut butters, and certain protein powders.

Your fave protein sources?

Bedtime for this stressed chica.  Goodnight friends! 🙂

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Revelation: Balance

Today’s Happy Note: Discovering wood sculptures along the river during my morning run!  There were quite a lot of them, made from tree stumps and driftwood; they were really artistic.  I wonder who did them?

I was proud of myself for getting  up to run this morning.  The humidity was practically deadly and my legs were tired from yesterday’s workout (hello squats and lunges!) but I made it through 4.5 miles.  I also walked about 4.5 miles throughout the day.  So I ended up getting in 9 miles without even trying to! Weird.

Work was productive at both jobs.  Busy busy busy day (although I did get a break from 3-5).  I’m now watching Bethenny Getting Married (aka the best reality TV show ever).

I had a revelation on the way home from work this evening.  I have been feeling a lot of anxiety about the weight loss; I have gained and lost the same 10 or 15 pounds several times in the last three or four years, each time ending up weighing a little more than when I started.    Every time I would weigh myself and see a number close to the overweight range, I would freak out and go into “extreme thinking” mode for a few days — I would not eat anything at all, then eat a big meal, then starve myself the next day.

On my walk home, there was a beautiful cool breeze blowing into my face.  I relaxed and loosened up for a moment. And I said to myself: this time it is not about starving myself or having rules.  It’s about finding the balance.  For the first time in my life, I am approaching weight loss (however minimal) in a balanced way. It’s about finding real, healthful, satisfying foods that nurture my body and my soul.   I have never thought of weight loss like this before.  Certainly I have had a good grasp of healthy eating, but I have always reverted back to restrictive habits and destructive rules.  And you know what?  It has never worked.

So here I am.  Twenty years old.  Having a little breakthrough.

Enough of that.  Onto my balanced eats from today!

Banana-berry smoothie made with vanilla hemp/whey protein, soy milk/kefir, and topped with flax AB.

Salad the size of my head with greens, sprouts, cucumbers, eggplant, and leftover meatballs.  Diet peach iced tea snapple.

Farmer’s market bounty!

Kinda random afternoon snack, but it was exactly what I wanted.  Half of a cream cheese chocolate chip bread with PB and chocolate AB.  Hey, at least there were some serious healthy fats going on.  I also had a few tiny handfuls of trail mix.

Evening snack (I don’t get home from second job until almost nine so I always pack two or three snacks):

Best.  Flavor.  Ever.  I’m not a huge Larabar lover but these new flavors are awesome.  Peanut butter+chocolate is obviously the best flavor combo ever, as we all know.

I was hangry for dinner!  Good thing I knew exactly what I wanted. 🙂

Greens, cukes, eggs, salt, iced tea.

Can’t forget dessert!

Chocolate-peanut-caramel protein powder blender with a cup of vanilla soy milk, xantham gum, and an entire tray of ice cubes.  Topped with Lindt dark chocolate.  This was really good.  I love the volume factor!

Another day of delicious, clean eating.  I know that I don’t need to deprive myself or get so anxious over the weight.  I am doing just fine.  Not to mention the fact that who I am on the inside hasn’t changed at all.  I’m still my same self: writer, believer, dreamer, dancer, runner, yogini, lover, friend, woman.  Thanks so much to all of you who have pointed this out over the last few weeks while I have struggled over my body image.  You are all such wonderful friends!

Goodnight and happy Friday to you all!

Edited to add: just had some more chocolate and a glass of soy milk.  I think it was actual hunger and my 9 miles just caught up to me.  I feel more satisfied now and I know I don’t want anything else!  Time to close the kitchen. 🙂

I Like Hitting Things.

Today’s Happy Note: Not hating my body at the gym! For some reason I felt strong and confident and I appreciated my height and my small waist.  There was no body-hating going on at all.  Score!

I took the afternoon off from the office job.  I had a boatload of important errands to do (such as going on a quest in search of the new Larabar flavors), computer work to do for the other job, a conference call, and a kick boxing class to get  to!  You can read about how the first  class basically changed my life here.  I missed last week since I had just gotten out of the hospital, but I was determined to make it today (although I was quite close to taking a nap instead).  So glad I did.

Apparently I just really love punching things?  It’s a good mix of cardio and strength and plyometrics and abs and just all kinds of different moves.  I did about a half an hour of weights beforehand.  I’m starting to feel like myself again!

Bad news though: my stupid stupid INR is still nowhere near high enough.  Sad face.  This means I have to keep doing the Lovenox injections.  Fun.  And increasing the Coumadin very very slowly (so that I don’t bleed to death).  This probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to most of you, but that’s okay.  My point here is not intellectual clarity.  It’s more that I’m rambling-venting.  To myself.  On my public blog.

I make so much sense.

Food I ate today:

Breakfast: TJ’s flax oatmeal made with half vanilla soymilk and half water, a precious farmer’s market peach, and a tablespoon of Justin’s (amazing) maple almond butter.

Birds’ eye view of lunch.

Giant salad with mixed lettuces, yellow squash with EVOO, avocado, and coconut maple tofu.  With a side of pear.

Afternoon snack involved a new protein powder find!  Designer whey chocolate carmel peanut.  I know there are artificial flavors involved, but it’s so good I don’t care.  I blended it with chocolate milk and ice and topped it with chocolate almond butter.  Mmmmmmmmm.

This kept me full for like five hours, which never happens!

Dinner was pretty swell.

A giant pile of baked plain eggplant, microwave steamed zucchini, meatballs, topped with smooth marinara, cheese, and dried basil.  All heated up so it was nice and hot and the cheese was melty, just how I like it.

Followed that up with avocado chocolate pudding!  Topped with coconut snow and two squares of Godiva raspberry dark chocolate.  This dessert was heaven.  On a baby spoon.

Perfect.

I have three doctors appointments tomorrow morning.  I have to leave at 8:30 or so and probably won’t get back until 9:00 PM.  Yikes!  Time to pack everything and prep lunch and snacks. 🙂

Goodnight my friends, sleep tight.

In A Day’s Eats

Today’s Happy Note: I was feeling a lot of anxiety last night and sent my therapist a rant email and she sent me back a very soothing message.  She really is a major comfort.  It’s pretty sweet that she is there for me even on the weekend.

Thank you everyone for your kind, insightful comments yesterday. One thing that a lot of people pointed out was that I am still me, regardless of my size.  Additionally, most people on the beach are not looking at me at all!  They have better things to do than pay attention to the minutiae of my body. And in fact I have better things to do than pay attention to the minutiae of my body!

I feel like I have been lazy today.  The weird thing is that I can’t decide if this is actually true.  I mean, I did stuff, I just feel like it wasn’t enough stuff. I feel like Sundays should be devoted to getting-things-done.  I didn’t even workout (although I did walk maybe two or so miles).  Meh.  I guess maybe some Sundays are meant for total relaxation, perhaps?  What do you prefer — crazy busy Sundays that prepare you for the week ahead or lazy Sundays?

I did manage to pick myself up off the couch for a quick Adventure to the farmer’s market and the Cathedral. Fresh local peaches from the farmer’s market in summer are truly heavenly.  They might be my favorite food, ever.  I can’t even eat store bought ones anymore.  Other finds: crunchy cucumbers, rainbow chard, pea shoots, and mixed lettuces.

Started the day with a giant, real NY bagel (seven grain) with walnut raisin cream cheese (which, by the way, is cream cheese perfection).   I feel like bagels are a traditional NY Sunday brunch, so how could I say no?  I went with the family.  I am not a big bread person, but I really like a good bagel once a week or so.  And the cream cheese is wonderful because it’s so full of fat and keeps me full for hours.  I had this around eleven and didn’t even begin to think about eating again until after four.

My late afternoon snack was a SIAB made with vanilla soy milk, a splash of kefir, vanilla hemp/whey protein powder, lots of ice, frozen blueberries and frozen cherries.  Toppings: kashi heart to  heart cereal and Justin’s maple almond butter.

I also had a tiny bowl of cereal afterwards to satisfy my  giant cereal craving.

At some point between this and dinner I had a tiny handful of nuts and a piece of chocolate.

Dinner=meat. Dear meat, I love you.  I will never, ever leave you.

This is a multigrain wrap stuffed with home made meatballs (from farmer’s market ground beef), jarlsberg cheese, and baked yellow squash.  I made my meatballs with EVOO, salt, lemon pepper, garlic, and dried basil.  I had lots of cukes and carrots on the side.

At this point in my life, I know that eating meat (of all varieties — red, poultry, seafood) is the right choice for me.  I physically feel so much better with it in my life.  I have more energy, stay fuller longer, and I feel healthier on the inside too.  I try to eat red meat once or twice a week, along with a few servings of fish/chicken/turkey/shrimp, etc.  I know that some people may have trouble digesting meat or they just don’t like it or it does not work for them in some way, and I absolutely respect that.  But I crave and need protein.  And not just any protein: meat protein. And if I have learned anything about my relationship with food in the last few years, it’s that denying what my body wants is asking for trouble.

Phew, glad I got that out.  After dinner I had two spoonfuls of Maranatha dark chocolate peanut spread before making my real dessert.

Coconut peanut butter protein ice cream!  Topped with dark chocolate.

So pillowy.  I also had a Godiva dark chocolate truffle.

I won’t continue posting all my meals for long. It’s just something that I think I need to do for myself for a few days. I am getting used to “closing the kitchen” after a small-ish dessert, and not mindlessly munching my way through the evening.  I am hoping this will become a habit!  There are so many other things I like to do in the evening instead, especially reading.  There is never enough time for all the books I want to read, sadly.

I am a little nervous about working again full time this week.  I have lots to do, but hopefully I will give myself a break if need be.  I also need to make sure I get enough sleep.  Goodnight friends!

Adventures In Carb Lovin’ And Clean Eats

Today’s Happy Note: Got my blood work back and everything is roughly normal!  My iron and blood cell levels are all a bit low but that is to be expected at this point.  Nothing that requires hospitalization=a good thing.  I kept having nightmares last night that I had to go in and get a blood transfusion.

They are still doing tests to figure out what I actually have.  Probably some sort of creepy bacteria.  Yuck yuck yuck.

But wait.  There is more good news.  I can now eat things besides bread and plain noodles!

Exhibit A:

That, my friends, is melted dark chocolate.  Which may or may not have been on the list of approved foods.  But screw it.

Exhibit B:

Scone.  It had a weird texture (a bit dry) but a great flavor.  Tomorrow, I might venture into muffin territory.

Exhibit C:

This is pasta with a little EVOO and a lotta salt.  An inappropriate amount of salt.  And basil.  I’m supposed to be consuming salt like it’s my job, don’t hate.

Other things on the safe food list: bagels, toast, gatorade, vitamin water, dry cereal, and rice.  I can’t actually remember the last time I had a vegetable, which is scary.  I have been eating little bits of frozen fruit here and there.

I want meat.  Bad.  I want some ribs and some fish and some chicken.  And eggs.  And meatballs.  And cheese.  And hummus and sandwiches and peanut butter and waffles and tofu.  And protein ice cream and smoothies.  Not all at once though.  That would be weird.

I actually have no interest in dairy right now.  To be honest, I am a little grossed out by the idea of it.  I know it is hard to digest and supposedly mucus-producing; normally I don’t have a problem with 1-2 servings a day, but I think I’m going to skip out on it for a little while.  I read that sometimes even after a bad GI issue like this clears up, people can’t eat dairy products.

I have felt simultaneously very alienated from and intimate with my body these past few days.  A strange feeling.  I trust in my body and love it’s ability to recover but it is scary to think how sensitive we are; one tiny strand of bacteria can knock us out for days, or even kill us.  I already know how “dirty” the American food system is, but this just made me even more afraid.  How do I know that my lettuce in a bag from California never encountered bacteria, or that my milk is completely clean?

I guess we don’t really know.  Part of me wants to say “that’s why we should choose local, seasonal, and organic.”  Okay, but I already do that.  Literally half of the stuff in my fridge right now is from the farmer’s market.  In fact, I have a suspicion that that might be where the contaminated food came from.  I always wash my produce, but I suppose I could be better at it.  The frustrating thing is that there aren’t many answers here.  Short of growing everything I eat, it’s impossible to ensure my diet is perfectly clean.

I am honestly a bit afraid of food right now.  I hope this doesn’t persist; I like food too much to be afraid of it!

But what can we do?  How do we keep a food supply clean when we don’t know where most of it is coming from?  How do we ensure that bacteria or diseases don’t have a chance to enter our tummies?

Today’s Happy Note: Hard to pick one thing!  I’m going to have to go with walking/running through two parks today that were stunningly, verdantly green!  There was yellow and lime and forest and bright jade and chartreuse and pear and bud green and a million other tones.  It had just rained and everything simply felt so wonderfully alive!

Oh happy Sunday!  Most wonderful day full of most wonderful things.  I want to make a list since it was all so refreshing:

1. Brunch with my contemporary civilization class (there’s only 8 of us) at my professor’s apartment!  I have never dined with a professor before and thought it might be intimidating, but it was actually really relaxing!  She had the most adorable two year old son and cats.  I played with both, of course! 🙂  Her son was obsessed with lox, it was so cute.  It was a very New York brunch with bagels, cream cheese, lox, frittata, and banana nut muffins.  I didn’t take any pictures, but I have good news: I wasn’t afriad of any of the food!  I told myself, “this is a fun event with a professor that doesn’t happen everyday, with delicious (free) food; just relax.”  And I did!  And had fun! I snagged a leftover  muffin and had half with pb as an afternoon snack:

2. Movies with friends: It’s nice to see B-grade comedy movies sometimes and just laugh and smile.  I really do feel healthier after laughing; I think there is soemthing healing about it.  That reminds me.  My steaz cap today:

I munched on my own trail mix at the movie.  I don’t believe in exhorbitant movie theater prices and the options generally aren’t the healthiest.  This baggie had cashews, dried cherries, and kashi goLean crunch honey almond flax cereal.

A good cap for the day, I think!  After brunch there was plenty of relaxing, reading (school) books in bed, and just generally having a nice indoor-afternoon on a rainy day.

4. Run!  I got my friend Jonathon to go with me again today!  I was planning on doing five miles with him and then adding another two or three on at the end.  But we saw an awesome playground in the middle and he wanted to stop.  At first I was like “No way!  I can’t interrupt my run!” but I eventually conceded and I am SO glad I did!  We played on the swings, climbed the jungle gyms, did push-ups on the benches (even though I am push-up challenged), jumped around and went on the see-saw!  It was honestly the most fun with a friend I have had in a while, and I really needed that.  I needed to restore confidence in my human relationships and my ability to just let go and have fun and this adventure did that.  It is amazing what one little afternoon of feeling free can do for your spirit.  Thanks Jonathon 🙂

5. Evening: Dinner/homework time (blech — to the homework, not the dinner).

My stomach was feeling a wee bit off before eating this, but now it’s hurting a lot!  I have two hypotheses: too much fiber (that is one giant salad with romaine, spinach, asparagus, and cucumbers) or the animal protein.  Every once in a while meat seems to make my tummy a little crampy.  It only happens once in a while though, so I’m not sure what that means.  I don’t plan on ever being a vegetarian or even vegan though.  I just need to do a better job on balancing my meat/fish/dairy consumption, I think…

I guess it was a pretty spectacular day, looking back.  Sometimes it just takes one really nice day with friends to get me out of a funk, ya know?

What made your day special?  What makes you happy?

A Place Called Smoothieland

Daily Creativity: I plan on spending some serious quality time with my journal tonight.  Just me, my pen, and my endlessly bizzare thoughts.

Yoging:

I was *this* close to coming back to my room and vegging out with a book after my last class got out at six.  It was a looooonnnggg day and I was just happy I’d survived  But deep  down I knew my body had a lot of energy to burn off, which meant workout time!  I won’t lie, I was totally inspired by Cheryl from the Biggest Loser.  On last night’s episode she said something like “it felt really good to come back from a long day of working and just move.”  So true.

I ran downtown along the river; it was so lovely and mysterious in the dark (don’t worry, there were a lot of runners and bikers out in the early evening).  I did about 6.5 miles total with the following 35 minute speed workout thrown in the middle:

5 x (4 minutes hard, 3 minutes easy)

The four minute sections were basically half-miles.  It was hard but I also felt strong.  My legs were definitely ready to be done by the last one!  I ran all the way over to Yoga Vida for another advanced vinyasa class (I went to one last Friday too).  I didn’t love the teacher, but he did do a really nice and invigorating series of poses.  It really worked my upper arms — he had us going back and forth between upward dog and downward dog, coming in and out of crow, and doing a million chaturangas up to planks.  My arms were shaking.  Crazy hot handstand boy was totally there again and even crazier.  I know yoga is about looking inward, and I wasn’t comparing my abilities to him —  I’ll never have that kind of upper body strength — but it was fun to watch.  Today he went from a crow directly into a handstand and back down into crow then directly into chaturanga.  Amazing.

I ended my yoging adventure with a trip to Jamba Juice.  Why does JJ have to be right down the street from the yoga studio.  I was planning on going home and making a nice stir fry for dinner, but I was in the mood for a smoothie.  I’m not sure what’s up with this smoothie kick lately.  I think maybe I just get jealous of other blogger’s fun smoothie creations?

I had the mango peach meal thingy (i.e, it was topped with granola and banana).  So.  Nom. Nom. Nom.

When I got home I had dinner part dos, half a steamed sweet potato topped with flax pb and cinnamon.  Perfect!

Random, but the sweet and nutty flavors worked really together.

I got a steak at the farmer’s market the other day.  It was local, organic, and grass-fed.  My favorite.  I believe I paid nine dollars for it, which at the time felt expensive, but for two servings, that’s only $4.50 each.  I could probably get some really sketchy, low-quality, highly unethical ground beef for two or three dollars from the store.  But I don’t like my meat this way, plain and simple.  And I could probably eat that same steak at a restaurant for $25.  I won’t lie: I love meat — red meat, white meat, poultry, sea food.  I like it all.  I try to eat it in as ethical a manner as possible,but when it comes down to it, I believe that humans, especially carbohydrate-sensitive ones like myself, are meant to eatmeat.  There are many people for whom this does not work and I totally respect that!  But it works for me.

Glad I got that out there.  Now I can show you pictures of my lovely little steaks (which I pan seared until the smoke alarm was about to go off so I stopped.  They’re a wee bit rare, but I like them that way).

At first I wasn’t gonna talk about this because I know many of my readers are vegan or vegetarian or even raw and I don’t want to offend anybody, but then I remembered that this is my blog and we all have to make the health and dietary choices that work for us as individuals.  Do you eat meat?  If not, do you consciously seek out other protein options?