Medical Stuff, Part I

Today’s Happy Note: My run started out terribly and then miraculously turned wonderful!  Love when that happens.

I had 11 miles of speedwork on the schedule, which I was not looking forward to.  It consisted of:

2 miles warmup @ GP (goal pace=10:00/mile)

3×2 miles @ tempo pace (9:00 miles) with four minute easy jog between each

3 miles cooldown @ GP

My body felt so swollen (more about that later in the post) during the first two miles that I thought I was going to have to call it quits.  I was tight everywhere and could literally feel water weight all over my body.  It’s a strange feeling.  I am not sure if it has to do with my period/hormones, but I think it does.  I haven’t had a period in almost two months and I can tell that my body feels weird not having cleansed itself — something is up.

But the tempo repeats ended up feeling great.  I sometimes wish I had a garmin, only for speed workouts really, though.  I am guessing they were between 8:30-9:00 per mile pace.

Yesterday we just had an orientation for the yoga class, so I did not get to do any yoga, sadly.  I did lift weights for 40 minutes though, and my arms felt dead afterwards (in a good way!)

Medical Talk

A bit of background: I was diagnosed with PCOS 3.5 years ago.  Most women with PCOS are overweight and do not have periods.  This was not the case for me, so for a long time, no one could figure out what was wrong.  When I was diagnosed, by a very clever gynecologist who works with my mother, I was put on birth control.  Over the years I have been on yaz, yasmin, and, most recently, ocella.  My PCOS seemed to be under control with the BC.  I reached a roughly stable weight and maintained within a five pound range up until this summer.

In July, I was hospitalized with multiple massive pulmonary emboli in the main arteries of each of my lungs.  I was hospitalized for three days.  Here I am in my hospital room:

Part I of the hospital stay can be found here.

Part II here.

Hormonal birth control (or any other hormonal treatment) can serve as a risk factor for clotting (pulmonary embolism means clotting that occurs in the lungs, which is very dangerous because it can cause you to stop breathing).  Once you have a blood clot of any sort, you can never take birth control or other hormones again, unless you’re on some sort of suicidal mission.  This has obvious implications for sex, but that’s not what I want to talk about.  The problem for me is that the birth control was controlling my PCOS.  Now that I have been off of it for two months, my body’s hormonal and endocrine systems (which are related) are going haywire.  Literally haywire.

I had a really long appointment with the women’s doctor yesterday.  She was extremely nice and helpful and seems like the first doctor who has ever really taken the time to figure out what might be at the root of my hormonal/endocrine problems.

For one thing, I am gaining weight uncontrollably.  I am eating only a little bit more than I was pre-hospitalization, only now I am training for a marathon.  I am running 40-50 miles a week, in addition to strength training twice a week and yoga twice a week.  I am an active, healthy young woman.  There is no logical reason for me to be gaining weight and not having a period, among other things.

Our bodies have many, many hormones, not just estrogen and progesterone and testosterone.  Two of these other hormones are known as LSH and FH.  I don’t know precisely what my levels of these homrones are (or even should be), but I do know that their ratio is 1:1.  This is very bad.  A normal woman has a 1:3 ratio and someone with PCOS has an even higher ratio (e.g, 1:5 or 1:6).  A ratio of 1:1 is typically only seen in anorexic women or over-exercisers.  I suppose marathon training could count as overexercising, but I think she was referring to thin over-exercisers who have lost so much body fat that it screws up their hormones.

Sigh.

The only conclusion at this point is that I might not have PCOS, but may have an adrenal or endocrine disorder. I will have to see a specialist in hopes of figuring out what exactly might be going on.  I know my body quite well, and it has never been more clear to me that something is awry.  It was subtle at first, but has gotten worse over the last few weeks.  I am worried, but I feel comforted by this latest doctor, who was extraordinarily thorough and compassionate.  She saw me for over an hour.

I may need to try a medication called Metformin, which would help my insulin resistance.  As far as I can tell, the only other non-hormonal treatment for PCOS is a low-carb diet.  Have you ever tried eating low-carb while running 40 plus miles per week?  Not fun.

I am scared and confused.  I want this to be over with.  I have a million other things to deal with right now.  I wish my body just worked the way it was supposed to.

In addition to all of that, I just found out that my INR (measure of the effectiveness of the anti-clotting medication) is only 1.5.  This is bad.  Very bad.  This means that I will have to gt my blood drawn every three days until we figure out what the correct dosage of the Coumadin should be.

So basically my life is really fun right now!  Okay, so that was a little bit sarcastic.  I do have many things that bring me joy though, and I am going to list them for two reasons.  First, because this post has been a total downer and second, because I need to cheer myself up a little bit.  Happy Caronae=Healthy Caronae!

Things that bring me joy right now:

Fresh fall apples

Baking on the weekends

Studying (aka not studying) with friends on weeknights, chatting, playing

USB (he is amazingly soothing and gentle)

My crazy professor (today I spent 75 minutes learning about how minute differences in wheat/barley vs. millett/sorghum/rice/teff cultivation changed the course of history — it literally is both fascinating and hilarious)

Blended grain “soups” (just had some for dessert with nut butter and dark chocolate, of course)

Crossword puzzles in the newspaper

Yoga

Fall breezes/temperature drops (it’s my favorite season!)

Cuddling with USB

Bubble Tea

Massages

Books of all sorts

See, I’m not all negativity right now.  Just mostly. 🙂  This post was actually originally intended to go in a completely different direction.  Therefore, I am deeming it Part I of a two part series.  The other part will happen tomorrow, and hopefully it will make a bit more sense where I’m coming from at that point.

Goodnight friends!

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Letting Love In

Today’s Happy Note: There are so many happy things in my life right now, it’s hard to choose!  I’m going to go with the fact that I feel very, very connected to many people in my life at this moment.  Strong human connections=pure happiness.

Marathon Training: Speed Work Tuesday yesterday!  I won’t lie, a good speed work session makes me feel amazing, but sometimes it is really hard to get out the door for one.  I finally figured out why there are so many “Goal Pace” miles in my training plan: my marathon goal pace is approximately ten minutes per mile, which is basically what my general pace is.  Duh.  Silly Caronae.  A marathon — at least for me — is not a fast race.  If I were training for a 10k, so many “goal pace” miles would be impossible.  But for a marathon, it’s just fine.  All this is to say that my speed workout yesterday involved:

2 miles GP (goal pace) miles warm-up

2 x 2 miles tempo pace (approximately 9 minute miles) — I worked HARD here and it felt great; did an easy half-mile between the two sets.

2.5 miles GP

Total: 9 miles

Today I did a total of 4 miles with 6×100 meter strides sprinkled in through the last mile.  I also did a 45 minute strength class at the gym.  I have been getting a little bit bored with my regular weight-lifting routine lately and this was fun.  It was nice to switch things up.  I loved the tricep exercises we did.

Therapy Thoughts

Sorry for flaking out again yesterday.  I was out all too late for a weeknight.  This whole having fun thing is nerve-wracking and thrilling at the same time.  I kind of like it.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about people and the way we interact and relate and love one another.  I think that opening up to other people — learning and listening and loving and losing — has become the most important thing in my life right now.  Friends, family, loves. Ultimately, running will not save me.  Having a perfect body or a perfect relationship with food or an ideal body weight won’t save me.  People save me — I save me, other people save me.  Not that I even need saving, really. When I say ‘saving’, I mean becoming a better me.  Learning how I work.  Learning how I love.  I have so many special people in my life.  Two caring, wonderful parents.  A beautiful sister.  A handful of close, fun friends.  A very special therapist.  Lovely, insightful coworkers. Cousins, acquaintances, smart classmates.

It scares me a little bit that I retreat inward when things become difficult for me.  I want to reach out with my arms and my heart to those who care about me — I want to reach out with all the edges of my face and say “I love you” to everyone important to me.  I may not quite be there yet, but I am figuring out how I work with others.  The most important thing has been to figure out me.  It’s something that I have known all along — something that has always been inside me.  I know that when I am anxious I bite my nails; that February is the hardest month of the year for me; that I have really flexible knees and hips; that when I love someone I will love them with every angle of my body.  I will let them into spaces that I didn’t know existed —  I will feel them inching along my crooked chest and I’ll smile a little.  I’m coming to accept the way my mouth doesn’t like to sit quite parallel with my chin.  And even more, I am coming to accept the fact that others accept this fact.  Indeed, maybe this makes my face a little more unique.  Maybe it makes me mysterious and readable all at the same time.

It’s been a year that I have seen L, almost. I am trying very hard not to exalt her, but she has pretty much been nothing short of heroic: she has taught me that not only can I save myself, but that I can let other humans slide into my life and curl up there.  I can let others settle into my life and stay a while.  Or maybe even forever.  I have a gratitude for L that I have had for few others in my twenty years.  I don’t know how she does it, to be honest. But the last 12 months have shown me how beautifully capable I am of connecting with another person.  It’s such a simple act, really, but also difficult, at times.  Coming to love myself has helped the most.  As I am about to start my senior year of college, I’m looking back at where I was one year ago, two years; three years.  I have been lost, wild, isolated, crazy, sad, confused.  But most of all, I have been growing. I have begun to let people burrow deeper into my life.

Yesterday I asked L why I deserve to be loved and cared for and thought of.  She responded by saying that, by virtue of being human, I deserve love. We all do.  Every single being on this earth is equally deserving of love, affection, warmth, and connection.  It is a simple but powerful answer.  Sometimes I catch myself out of the corner of my eye — I see my cheek in a furniture store window; I feel suddenly exposed and unmasked.  Usually, I am not sure what to think.  Most often I say something about how hideous that cheek is, how un-centered and pockmarked and off-color it is.  I am not sure that I will ever entirely leave this way of seeing myself behind.  But I am clear about one thing: I want to be loved more than anything else in the world, and, hideous cheek or not, other people want to love me.  Not in a greedy, silly, childish way.  But deeply and clearly and smoothly.  This kind of love can come from all sorts of places.  I can name maybe 8 or 10 people right now for whom I feel this.

But there is also another kind of love as well.  It’s all this but also more intimate.  When I started seeing L, about this time last year (beginning of September), I felt very alone.  Alone is not a happy place to be.  I believe that much of my unhappiness has come from this loneliness.  I can’t even describe how thrilling it is to hear a friend’s voice on the phone or to hug someone after not seeing him or her for three months.   That’s happiness.  A year ago I did not believe it was possible to carve a small crack in my being and let another person in.  I could not fathom the crack, even from a distance.

Well, there’s a crack now.  A small one.  But it’s there.  It may not get any bigger with this particular connection, this person.  But I have reached a turning-point because I now understand the possibility of the crack.

I met a beautiful, sweet man two weeks ago in the park.  He sort of fell into my lap.  I feel vulnerable and nervous. Alternately pretty/unique and bizarre/disproportionate.  I have been doing a lot of rethinking of my body.

I like him a lot. I feel like I don’t deserve this.  Then I feel mad at myself for feeling like I don’t deserve it.  Silly, really.  The thing is, so far, he is making me very, very happy.  When he touches my arm or my shoulder or my chin, I am so very proud of myself for letting this happen.  I am being brave and open and exposed in new ways.

What do people mean?  What is it to let someone into your life?  How do you know who to let in?  How do you know they won’t break your heart?

The answer is that you don’t know precisely who to let in and how and whether or not they will hurt you.  But it will be right and beautiful and soft.

I want to go back to my 17 year old self and hold her and rock her in my arms and let her know that she will love and be loved.  It will not be easy but it will be happy.

I don’t know how long this particular connection will last; dating and relationships are scary things.  I think I have gone on dates with two other boys this year; both fizzled out.  I hardly consider making out in a club romantic.  So I am not writing this to say that I have met a man and my life is different and perfect and everything has been fixed.  Not at all.  What I’m saying is that I understand the crevice — the opening in me where others might step in and offer me their love.

Okay.  That was a little bit intense.  But my feelings are intense right now.  I’m processing and sorting and figuring it all out.  I’m pretty sure I’ll always be figuring it all out, even when I’m 101.  The point here is that this last year has been monumental for me.  I understand myself better.  I understand how important my friends and family are.  And I can see the possibility of romantic love.

Thoughts?  How have you let love into your life lately?  What does it feel like, for you?

I promise I will be less intense and serious tomorrow.  🙂  Love and people and connections=happy Caronae.  Happy mental self, happy physical self, happy Caronae.

Dear Men At The Gym

Today’s Happy Note: Saw a beautiful pink and blue sunset during my evening run.

Workout: Three easy miles with 4×100 strides and about 40 minutes of full-body strength training.

So.

This is an open letter.  To certain members of my lovely NYSC gym.  Members of the XY chromosome variety. Members who are more likely to have a rather higher concentration of testosterone.

Dear Fellow Gymgoers (of the mostly male type):

Hi there!  My name is Caronae.  I am a twenty year old woman living in the wonderful city of NY.  I am about to start my senior year of college.  I also work in an archive and for a non-profit.

I am kinda geeky.  I love books, poems, writing essays, and history.  I like learning new things about the world and the ways people relate to one another.  I like going to class, most of the time.  I am a pretty good thinker.

Other likes: running, yoga, peanut butter, movies, laughing with friends, massages, smoothies, blogging, swimming, cooking, baking, muffins, human rights, and social justice.  My favorite TV shows all involve hot doctors.  I like flowers and trees and am generally pretty girly.

Of course, you do not know any of these things about me, which is fine.  Most of the people I encounter in a typical day don’t know these things.  But, because you have presumed a certain level of intimacy with my body,  I thought maybe you might want to learn a little bit about the rest of me.  Let me explain.

Boys: I am not a piece of meat.  I am a woman who has a body. I have thoughts and feelings and dreams.  I have virtues and flaws.  I may have a somewhat ample chest and slightly curvy hips.  I may have long, feminine hair. And maybe you find all of these things attractive, when scoping out a potential mate.  Maybe.

But.  I am not at the gym for your viewing pleasure.  I know that the cardio area tends to be mostly female and the weights area, well, mostly male.   I know that when a woman crosses this line it might be a little scary for you.  I have entered your domain.  I have entered the land of grunting, lifting, and sweaty barbells.  But I have some important news for you: I have as much of a right to be there as you do. And I also have a right to get my lift on free of your wandering eyes, I’m pretty sure.

I have never quite understood why men stare hungrily at my body.  I am young, I suppose.  I have a certain type of figure.  I think that it is socially acceptable for men to be with — to date, to love, to marry — thin women.  I am not saying this is the only acceptable sort of union.  But the idea of the thin, beautiful woman as the ideal partner has certainly pervaded our system of social conditioning.  And I am not that woman.  I am kind of the opposite.

I am not disparaging my body or my looks at all.  What I am saying, rather, is that my body has a very distinct appeal to men — one that is only free to surface in the completely public, mostly male sphere: places like the weight room at the gym. Men are socially confined and encouraged to be with women who have a certain look.  But biologically, let’s face it: curves mean something.  I think males are hardwired to see something, hungrily, in females who look like me.  But that doesn’t give them free license to constantly visually exploit me.

It’s so simple.  Just.  Stop.  Staring.  If you want to say “hey, great job!” or “you’re looking really strong today” or “how about we get coffee sometime” that would be lovely.  I would love to engage with you on an intellectual (or at least verbal) level. I would love to hear about your hobbies and your work and your feelings.  But until you stop staring and we start having meaningful interactions that don’t leave me feeling ashamed and exploited, none of this can happen.

So this is a plea of sorts.  I know that I am not the only woman who feels this way.  And perhaps there are some men who feel exploited as well.  I don’t know what the answer is, really.  All I can say is this: when you stare long and hard directly at my chest (and yes, I know you are not looking deeply into my eyes — I know perfectly well where my head is and it is not that far down), it isn’t good for either of us.  You perpetuate the stereotype of the crude, promiscuous male.  And you make me feel like crap.  So please: stop.

Sincerely,

Caronae

I hope that didn’t come across as all feminist-ranty.  I just feel like it is my basic right to have a calm workout at the gym in which I don’t have to be on the lookout for wandering eyes every five and a half seconds.  If you have thoughts on this issue, I would love to hear them!  I know I cannot possibly be the only woman who experiences this unfortunate phenomenon.

Tomorrow is going to be a crazy day.  I might now be in.  But I shall be back in blogland in full force next week!  Promise. 🙂

NYC Marathon Announcement

Today’s Happy Note: Lots of fun social time this weekend with two of my best friends.  Long meals, walks and talks, hugs. Friends never fail to improve my mood and happiness.

So.  Beautiful friends.  I have some very big (and exciting) news.  If you follow me on twitter or we’re facebook friends you probably already know.  But I’m so excited about it that I’m going to go ahead and make a big, dramatic announcement all over again.

I got into the 2010 ING NYC Marathon!

This is the marathon of marathons — the marathon that all marathoners dream of running.  Everyone dreams of running New York.  I’ve wanted to run it since fall of 2007, when I was a college freshman and got to see it in person. The fall weather, the juxtaposition of the boroughs, the bridges, the camarederie.  I said to myself, that very day, that I would run New York some day.  And now I am.

Let me explain: I did not get  in through the traditional lottery (which is pretty hard to get in through) nor did I do the NYRR 9+1 program.  My school’s running club gets a certain number of guaranteed entries; I originally thought I would get one, because I have done two ultras and will be a senior, so it’s my last opportunity, but by the time June rolled around and I hadn’t heard back from the club, I assumed all hope was lost.  I was pretty devastated, but thought I might try the 9+1 program next year.  But, the other day, lo and behold, I got an email from the club president saying I had a spot!

I have exactly fourteen weeks to train.  Many marathon plans are longer than this, so I will have to use my time very wisely.  I plan on putting special focus on speed work (mile repeats, tempo runs, hills) and long runs.  I have been working on creating my training plan this weekend.  I did yoga Friday night, 6 miles on Saturday (this is a “long” run for me — I am still building back up my running speed and endurance), and weights + a 6 mile walk today.

I am sure you’re going to be hearing about my training (the highs, the lows, the meltdowns, the eating, etc.) a LOT until November 7th.  You have been warned. Fun fact: the marathon is actually the day after I turn 21!

I know I need to build up my mileage slowly but I also need to get up there; July has been pretty quiet in terms of running.  I know I’ll be okay starting between 20-25 miles per week because I have been higher than this level consistently for a few years.  I would like to peak between 50-55 miles.

Many people who are relatively healthy gain weight while marathon training.  I am going to have to be extremely careful.  I need to remember that “I ran 8 miles today!  And I ran 8 miles yesterday too!” doesn’t mean I can mindlessly, endlessly snack.  I think I’ll be okay as long as I genuinely listen to my body.

Training for a marathon is probably not something that people on blood thinners (and with a history of PEs) do very often, but it is okay. The only danger would be if I fell really hard and/or hit my head — I will bleed internally or externally very quickly.  I am clumsy and trip all the time while running, but have never had a serious fall; I don’t see one happening now.

Time for me to go chop veggies for the week and fold clothes!

I promise there will be pretty pictures and stories tomorrow.  For now, I’m tired just thinking about training!

1. Have you ever run a marathon?  What was it like?

2. Have you ever run the NYC marathon?

3. Anyone running NYC this year?

4. Don’t worry non-runners, I have a question for you too!  What activity makes you feel the most free and happy and clear-headed?

Hot Running, Frozen Treats

Today’s Happy Note: Top Chef!  Anyone else watching this season?  I have never watched it before this summer, but it’s a lot of fun (except Padma’s voice is really annoying)!

I raaaaaaaan today!  Happy face.  I set out for 3-5 miles and ended up doing 4.  At first, I let the angry/bad thoughts come up (“you suck, you’re only doing four miles”, “you’ll never be thin and beautiful when you’re this lazy!”), but then I said, you know what “shut up self” and realized that for me, right now, 4 miles is an acocmplishment.  And I am proud of it.  It may have taken me 50 minutes, but it was also 90 degrees at seven AM and I was pretty tired.  I would love to run again tomorrow; we shall see.

I also did some strength training tonight since I have no idea when else I would be able to do it this week.  I lifted for about 40 minutes, doing leg, arm, and ab exercises.

The heat. Oh the heat.  If you live in the NYC area, you know what I am talking about: the dripping bodies, the sweltering, deathly subway stations, the cracked hydrants.  For everyone else: it’s been 100+ degrees the past few days.  I have had to do work stuff in the afternoon, which has meant being outdoors in the middle of the day.  Even if only for very brief periods of time, being out has been unbearable.  And I sweat.  And sweat.  And sweat.

There is no point to this anecdote.  Other than reminding you all to be careful when walking around or working out in the heat!  Which you all know anyways so I’m being silly.

Thanks for your comments yesterday.  Blog friends never fail to make me feel better. 🙂  I love blogland because it’s like a whole new social network of friends and comrades and supporters!

I have had no less than three delicious frozen treats today.  Two smoothies and one “frozen dessert” from The Lite Choice. Speaking of TLC…





TLC people are so nice!  They’re doing a promotion with Scoop Street, who features local businesses.  They have a special flavor throughout July called Scoopstachio, made from pistachio flavor and ground peanuts.  I think that it sounds tasty!  Anyways, if you go to a TLC you can sign up for more info, win prizes, try the new flavor, etc.

My other frozen treats:

Breakfast (and dessert tonight!): Peanut butter peach protein smoothie!  Frozen peaches, ice, vanilla almond milk, vanilla protein powder, and a giant scoop of PB.  This was perfect.  It filled up that giant 32 ounce water bottle almost all the way!  Had to eat it with a spoon on my walk to work. 🙂

I had an afternoon meeting for my other job.  I brought a hummus/cheese/spinach wrap with greenbeans and blueberries.  But when I got to the meeting it turned out they had provided lunch: pizza.  I tend to be afraid of pizza, but it actually is something that I really enjoy, every once in a while. At first I was going to eat my wrap in the corner while everyone else ate their pizza.  But then I decided that if I really wanted it, I should just enjoy it and save the wrap for dinner!  And that’s exactly what I did.  I had one slice of mushroom and one of pepperoni, with my green beans on the side and blueberries for an afternoon snack.  Alongside this, of course:

Half mint and half chocolate with oreos!

Just ate an unnecessary bowl of cereal.  Meh.  Need to practice some of my self-soothing techniques I learned form this book.

Alright friends, I’m off to start compiling my therapy posts into one monster booklet for L!  Happy Thursday!  Almost the weekend!

Sad Bad Mood

Today’s Happy Note: Feeling better about therapy.  My therapist sent me a very comforting and calming response to my somewhat frantic letter to her yesterday.  That’s one thing, at the very least, that I don’t have to have in my mind right now.

Thanks everyone for your sweet comments yesterday.  Whenever I’m in a bad mood or sad or had a bad therapy day you never fail to make me feel better!  I am a lucky blogger indeed!

Unfortunately, while I am feeling a bit better about therapy, I’m still in a terrible mood.  Damn hormones.  I don’t really think there’s anything else to blame it on at this point.  I did have a good, lonely cry this evening which made me feel a bit better.  Although now I have a headache and about ten pimples.

I have felt terribly lonely over the last few days.  I sort of had an epiphany last night that friends make our lives worth living.  Even if I am only spending a few moments with someone, if that person is meaningful to me, they can make me feel so happy inside.  Friends make me feel radiant in a way that no amount of food or exercise or even positive self-talk can.  It’s another dimension of the health equation that I feel like I am just discovering — I have always had friends and have friends now, but hadn’t considered their importance to my own well-being before.  Sometimes the only thing in the world that can make me feel better is to have someone to snuggle with or someone to braid my hair or someone to just sit with.

Does this make sense? I often think of myself as a loner, but really, I’m not.  I am most definitely not a social butterfly with twenty best friends (and I never will be), but the relationships I do have with people mean everything to me.

Exercise: I came home from work tired and cranky (again!) and took a little nap.  I wanted to watch the Biggest Loser because (a) I like the show and (b) I knew I would feel motivated to do some moves while watching.  Success!  I spent the first hour of the show doing a circuit where I did 3-4 minutes cardio (mostly jumping moves a la Janetha) followed by 25 reps of a leg move, 25 reps of an ab move, and 25 reps of an arm move, then I did 3-4 minutes of yoga.  I probably went through the whole circuit 6 or 7 times.  It was a nice way to switch things up a bit.  Now that I’m not training for a half-marathon — or any running event for that matter — it’s nice to do some fun, non-running exercise.  In the next few weeks I’d like to do some swimming, bike riding, and maybe exercise classes!

Do you ever make up your own workout circuits?  What moves do you include?

Eats: Somewhat fun today!  I’m having to get creative, especially with protein and dessert options, but I’m managing.  I might have to buy some cottage cheese or black beans or sliced turkey to get me through the end of the week, but I’m really trying to hold out — I’m going home Saturday morning.  I hate wasting food.

Melty almond butter and blackberry oats=perfect way to start the morning!

Packed lunch for work!  Trader Joe’s chicken sausage ravioli with BBQ tempeh, green grapes, and carrots.

I have trouble packing lunches that will keep me satisfied all afternoon (through three or four hours), but this did the trick!  I am often afraid to include carbs in my lunch (silly, I know), but the pasta with the tempeh was a great choice for a main course, I think.

What are your go to lunches to bring when you’ll be at work all day?

Afternoon snack: clif mojo peanut butter and jelly flavor.  This tastes like real pb and j, actually.  It’s amazing!  I like all the clif mojo bars.

Dinner Part I: looks like weird pink soup.  It’s actually just watery kashi oatmeal (I love watery oats — they last longer!) mixed with cranberry-pommegranate tera’s whey protein powder.  I have to say, this was the most disgusting protein powder I have ever had in my entire life.  It tasted very fake and was way too sweet and cloying.  I should have just stuck with my regular WF vanilla whey!  Yuck.

Dinner part II: A semi-random but highly delicious combination!  I topped a base of plain spinach with a two egg puff, refried pinto beans, and a sliced pear.  The flavors worked really well together; smooth, creamy, sweet, savory.  I want to have the exact same thing for dinner tomorrow!  I think having two dinners wokred really well for me.  I am always afraid to do this because I fear that I’ll end up eating more calories, but instead of feeling ravenous after work and then ravenous again around ten or eleven, I spread everything out and felt satiated all evening long.  I might do this more often!

I just munched on a chocolate coconut chew lara bar for dessert.  It’s one of the best flavors in my opinion.  If you like laras, do you have a favorite flavor?

Definitely time for me to crawl into my bed now.  I’m hoping to squeeze in a run before work tomorrow morning so that I can relax in the evening.

Happy Wednesday friends!

A Day To Myself, Delicious Desserts, Cultural Foods

Today’s Happy Note: Fun evening with a friend who I haven’t spent enough time with lately!

I woke up this morning and laid in bed for a moment thinking.  I planned on a long run but was hungry for a big breakfast right away.  Then I realized that I wanted to take this one day and make it mine; I was going to relax and do precisely what I wanted when I wanted. I thought about a long run.  I thought about a trip to a museum.  I thought about a picnic in the park.  But after a few moments I smiled and realized I wanted to stay in, read my Oprah magazine, catch up on blogs, nap, and just think/clear my head!  And so I did.  It was really hard to let myself do nothing and I’m proud that I did.

I finally left my room at 6:00 for a workout that I did purely because I wanted to. I did a nice 6 mile run along the river followed by 40 intense minutes of full-body strength training.  I did some new moves today I’ve seen other people doing before; it’s nice to switch things up once in a while, it makes strength training even more fun!

Most of my eats today were boring but I dug into some fresh pineapple and it was pretty much the most amazing thing I’ve had in a long while so I have to share:

Sometimes I don’t like the acidic-tangy taste of pineapple but when a pineapple is perfect, it is so perfect.  Pineapple, mango, berries, and melon are my favorite summer fruits.  What are yours?

I need some new adjectives to describe delicious things.  Any suggestions? And if you’re wondering why the pineapple is a bit pink, it’s because there were also strawberries in the container!

I had the most amazing dessert outing tonight.  Sometimes it’s nice to have just a fancy dessert out; it feels classy but doesn’t rack up a terrible expense.

Pretty teapot.

I gave myself full permission to have whatever I wanted.  I ordered a coconut cream pie with a varlhona chocolate crust and berries.  Normally I am a 100% chocolate person but I was in a coconut mood tonight.  Do you gravitate towards one type of dessert most of the time? I usually avoid fruity desserts because they don’t especially satisfy me.

Look!  It is oozing creamy coconutty deliciousness!

My friend Joy got a delicious chocolate cake (I had a forkful) with a melty center and pistachio ice cream.

It’s funny that I don’t really like pistachios that much.  They’re probably my least favorite nut.  They’re a traditional Persian (Iranian) nut used in a lot of dishes and desserts.  So, being part Persian, I feel as though I should like them.  But I don’t.  I do, however, like this Persian candy made from pistachios called gaz. It also involves rose water and egg whites and general tastiness.  Here’s a picture:

Nom nom nom!  In addition to being Iranian, I’m also part Czech and part Irish.  It’s an interesting hybrid, I guess!  Sometimes I think of myself as a really weird but also interesting fruit hybrid.  Like a pummelo or something.  I don’t know that much about Czech foods or Irish foods, but I am decently familiar with Persian food.  Lots of tasty stews (khoresh), marinated meats, rice dishes (pollo), yogurt, and interesting vegetables and spices.  Growing up, my mom made mast-e-khiar a lot.  It involves plain yogurt, cucumber, mint, dill, raisins, walnuts, onions and other spices, if desired.  Looks like this:

Mast-o-Khiar (Iranian cucumber and mint yougurt)

I would like to learn more about Irish and Czech cooking.  American food, I think, tends towards the boring and bland.  As a kid I was actually obsessed with Indian food.  My other favorite types of food are Thai and real Mexican/Latin American.

Do you identify with a culture or ethnicity?  If so, do you ever cook from that culture?  If not, what are your favorite types of food?  Do you like exploring foods of other cultures or do you stick to a more continental approach?

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