“Double down and focus”

As many friends know, I have been actively working on getting back into shape since early July. It’s been a painful but rewarding process so far, and I’m down about eight pounds. My goal is to be 120-ish by late January. And I have hit a plateau.

For anyone who has worried about their weight or appearance at some point in their lives (aka everyone), usually by around my age you realize that if you want weight loss, if you want to look good, you have to work for it. My biggest problem over the years has been accepting that it won’t happen overnight and, since college, that I’m not as in shape as I was in high school and won’t be able to just go out and run five miles.

I’ve also come to the realization (and maybe I’m five years behind everyone else but bear with me) that I would have to change my eating habits as well. Since I began this blog, what two weeks ago, I’ve touted all of these healthy recipes and “yay exercise!” but this is me being honest: it’s been exhausting. And difficult. I don’t like eating healthy every day, I really don’t feel like exercising every day, but I’m trying to change my lifestyle.

The first time I remember being called fat was when I was a pre-teen, maybe ten or eleven, and my older brother told me that I looked fat in shorts I was wearing when we were headed into Branhaven, a pool club we were members of in Ohio. I’ve always been a pretty thin-skinned person, ask anyone from Journalism, so that stuck with me. I’ve never found myself to be an attractive person all around. Ever. Now, I don’t at all blame that on my older brother, he was probably twelve and didn’t mean a word of it (or didn’t realize what a statement like that could mean), but it did stick with me. Naturally, I’m a curvy person and as much as I would love to be a B-cup, that will never happen without anesthesia and a scalpel. In a very cliche way, I’ve always admired a body type that I could never attain: that 90lb. waif ballerina look. Maybe it was years of ballet telling me that curves were bad for business but I’ve always wanted to look like that. And obviously, I never will. It hasn’t been until recently that I finally accepted that. How silly is that? Perhaps not too crazy, because there are a lot of other women that feel similarly.

For ages, I believed that somehow I would magically lose the weight that I wanted to without really committing to any changes. I actually hoped with such vindication that it would happen. Some nights I would motivate myself enough to haphazardly run a few laps (well, mostly walk) or go to the gym and make myself sick. I’ve told myself that I would get back into shape every time and make so-and-so jealous, or look good and have what’s-his-face hitting me up, or…

See what I did there? I wanted to look good for other people. I didn’t want to be healthy or look good for myself or be strong. Somewhere along the lines (See ‘Coping with Adult-ism’ for more freaking out about my age), that changed and I really wanted to do it for me. Don’t get me wrong, some of the motivation I feel is certainly a visual of walking into a bar or somewhere and my ex or old hook up being there and his jaw dropping. Who doesn’t love a little of that? But for the most part, I started changing my eating and fitness habits because I wanted to. Because for the first time since I was fourteen I was completely single and had nobody to impress but myself. Sad as that is, it’s what got me started. But it’s not what keeps me going.

At work, we talk about internal and external motivators for keeping people clean and sober. This is kind of like that but for keeping me on track with a healthy lifestyle. Of course, that lifestyle doesn’t include drugs for me anymore but specifically deals with exercise and diet. Sometimes my motivators are external: things outside of me that keep me going. My parents’ approval, compliments from friends, attention from men, etc. But most of the time, they’re internal: motivation from and to myself. I want to be healthy, I want to feel good when I wake up and go to sleep, I want to be strong, etc. A combination of the two are what keep me going.

That’s where the title of this post comes in: I’ve hit a plateau. For the past week or so, I haven’t been recording my calories or exercise, I’ve been snacking like crazy, I had drinks last night with friends when I told myself I was saving alcohol calories for the weekend (it feels more like a treat that way – delayed gratification or whatnot). This morning, after weighing myself and seeing that it hadn’t changed in almost two weeks, I slapped myself and said aloud, “No. You’re done now. Get your shit straight.”

Smitty probably thinks he lives with a crazy person.

But today I did jerk back onto track. I recorded all of my calories to a T, went for a 2.5 mile hike, ate healthy meals and only ate when I was hungry, did cardio, drank a lot of water, etc. And at the end of the day, I’m really satisfied again. Under 1000 calories (which, for me, is a very normal caloric number), exercise that I enjoyed that didn’t hurt my poor shins, and I feel good. That’s the kicker. I do this because at the end of the day I actually feel good. I’m tired, don’t get me wrong, but I feel good. Healthy, accomplished.

And that’s why I started all of this in the first place.

But other than that, I’ve been dealing with shin splint pain since I started. I realized I had to slow down, take my running to every other day, stop when it hurt, ice my shins, stretch, etc., but even so I’m still dealing with pain. So, I have to cut running out for a while and cross-train. And if there is anyone reading this who really enjoys running like I do (no really, I do), that sucks. So tonight, itching for a workout to complete my day, stumbled upon a forum at SparkPeople.com, which is the website I use/love/covet for all my healthy lifestyle wants and needs.

“What do you do to blast through a plateau?”

Apparently a lot of people find themselves slipping, struggling with such a life change. I used to help my man eat a 20 piece chicken nugget box from McDonalds and my size 6’s were starting to feel tight before I started focusing on my shit. Even last semester, post-chicken nugget man and heavy drinking, my weight was the same. The best piece of advice I read, and it was posted multiple times, was just this: “Double down and focus.”

That goes for so much more than just weight loss! That goes for everything: my student loans, my career search, my personal life, everything! I need to stop beating around the bush and focus. Because when I do, when I actually get all of the gigantic piles of crap done, I feel a sense of harmony that even yogis would be a bit jealous of. As a perpetual procrastinator, fighting that nature and focusing on finishing what I need to finish feels better than a cold beer on a hot summer’s day or heavy blankets on a cold night.

And I realize, so what if the scale hasn’t changed in a week or two? I’ve lost eight pounds, most of it in about a month. That’s more than I’ve lost in I don’t even know how long. And even if I don’t end up at my goal weight exactly in January, as long as I’m still following a lifestyle change that makes me happy, healthy, and strong, who cares? Who am I trying to impress? I already have family and friends that love me, I’m finally loving myself, and if god forbid I find myself a guy to hold on to, he better never mention the word ‘weight’ unless “have you lost” precedes it.

I’m 150 pounds (WOMP THERE’S MY WEIGHT). I have thirty pounds that I would like to lose. I want to be able to bench press…anything really. But more than that, I want biceps like my friend Liane sports, I want the leg strength my co-worker Kandy had in our restraint training course. I want abs, man. I want to stand in front of a mirror and think, “Oh…hell yes.” Even if I don’t feel that every day, I want to feel it regularly. That’s my goal. Not the actual weight loss, the health gain.

I’d also like to shoot out a huge kudos to my many friends who have gotten in shape before me, always been in shape, or are working on their health too. You are certainly a part of my daily motivation. You deserve this, I deserve this. Let’s all get sexy.

– a.

here’s a list of websites/apps I use and love because I’m a poor college graduate that can’t afford the gym/weight watchers:

SparkPeople

This website is a healthy living online UNIVERSE. For free! They have countless articles, recipes, workouts, forums, etc. I track my food, exercise, weight, water intake, everything. You’ll find so much motivation and information – I suggest it to everyone. As someone for whom tracking calories/meals is the best way for me to keep track of my weight, I love it.

Dashing Dish

This girl is awesome! Queen of protein shake recipes, she also has countless other healthy recipes, meal plans, work outs, and more. She does have a membership fee for those who want full access to the website, but you choose how much you pay. I pay $1.00 a month. Clearly, it pays for itself.

LiveStrong

You know when you google random work out/health stuff this website is usually one of the first to pop up? Well, if you didn’t know that, it is. Great information, really helpful articles.

Pink Pistachio

Missy is an a-dor-able woman and this is her blog. She’s extremely upbeat and fun to read, plus, her recipes are absolutely fantastic. She’s a huge health fan too – and usually chooses organic! She has great links for beauty and health as well.

NikeRunning – an App that I use every time I run. It’s free and you don’t need the chip in your shoe for it because it GPS tracks your phone. I have an iPhone 4S, so I’m not sure how it works on other iPhone models but it’s fabulous on mine. It tracks speed, average speed, calories burned, mileage, routes, changes between runs, and more. It even shows you where you sped up and slowed down. You can connect it to your facebook for cheers from friends. It tells you when you beat your own records and has different options for pushing yourself further. Plus, famous people talk to you and tell you how awesome you are.

NikeTrainingClub – an App suggested by my very fit friend Liane that I’m falling in love with as well. Also free, this app has similar tracking qualities like NikeRunning, but offers strength and cardio workouts. It also has rewards and bonuses that you can attain by working different workouts or achieving more minutes. You choose a goal (get lean, toned, strong, or focused) and then choose a workout from that category. Some require equipment, like a medicine ball or an 8lb. dumbbell, but not all.

Coping with Adult-ism

Did you see what I did there? Anyway, first I really wanted to thank everyone that’s been leaving me fabulous, extremely kind comments all up and down my facebook. I know commenting on here can be tricky for non-WP users, so the outpouring of comments, messages, and likes has been hands down humbling. I have great friends. Keep the feedback coming! I love knowing that I’m not writing to an empty room.

Ba-Dum-Cha.

Also, really quickly, after this post I have a few recipes I thumbs up and may still be drooling over for you to try, if you ever are up to it.

So, it’s Saturday and for a lot of people that means the weekend. Saturday and Sunday are “expected” days off in many post-college “big kid” jobs. However for me, having today off of work is a pretty big deal. As previously mentioned, I work in a patient care facility that never closes. That means evenings, overnights, weekends, holidays, the whole she-bang. I’m lucky in that over the year and almost a half I’ve worked there, my schedule’s evened out pretty nicely. Normally, I’ll have two days off during the week and work evenings (3-11 or 2nd shift to you 9-5ers) and weekend mornings (7am-3pm). And yes, it’s not fun. But I’ve gotten used to it so I’m comfortable with it. But this week, my forty hours were scheduled during the week and I miraculously have the weekend off. I quite literally did a full out, no holds barred happy dance last night at work because it was the weekend and that actually meant that I had two days off. I’m very lucky to have a boss that has done my job and is understanding and tries to work everyone into having weekends off occasionally. Which, Boss-Man, if you’re reading this, pushing for a raise wouldn’t be too much, would it?

But the basis for this entry comes from a group I facilitated the other day at work. The group was “Finding Balance”, something I felt completely arrogant talking about because, well, who the hell am I to talk about having a balanced life when mine is…so…wait a minute. My life is pretty balanced. When on earth did that happen?

 

Yesterday morning, I woke up, showered, ate a healthy breakfast, tried not to kill myself during yoga, when grocery shopping, and went to work. After work I had a beer with friends (okay, fine, two Yuenglings. Sue me.) then went home and went to sleep. This morning I woke up and cleaned my house without thinking about it. Somewhere between laying in bed until 4pm having anxiety attacks and planning every second of every day, I found my balance. And I have no idea when that happened. Or how. Just that, when I make decisions and commitments now, I usually keep them. Except getting sushi with McElwain, sorry, I owe you a spicy tuna roll. I make healthy decisions more often than unhealthy ones and I accept the unhealthy ones as fleeting lapses in judgement and try to learn from them. I don’t spend my days laying on the couch when I’m not at work, eating salt and vinegar chips and wondering why the floor looks so dirty. I give myself time to relax but not time to actually veg out.

What is happening to me?!

Is this what being an adult is all about? Isn’t there some rite of passage into adulthood? When did choosing organic greek yogurt over yocrunch become a possibility, let alone an unconscious thought process? Which, by the way, I am still trying to love greek yogurt. It’s a never-ending process. Except when it’s frozen, that shit’s the bomb-diggity.

Circa 2009. We both would have picked YoCrunch, no questions asked.

I make grilled chicken pitas for dinner without questioning time constraints because I know how long it takes to cook a chicken and won’t be late for work. I leave for meetings and I’m on time. Maybe a lot of you folks just accepted this as being normal and never reflected back on when it happened, or maybe for some frozen pizza for dinner is a solid idea six nights a week (not that I condemn that, I just seethe in jealousy). I pay bills, for godssakes. When does this happen? Is there a Bermuda Triangle that people go through passing from young adult into adult that causes these decisions to be made? I really want to order pizza for dinner now!

The realization that I have fallen into responsibility when I least expected it truly sends me reeling. Suddenly I’m not sixteen, or eighteen, or twenty one anymore. Suddenly, I’m just me and me gets the job done. Me gets the job done right, most of the time.

That’s all I really wanted to touch on today: my early-20’s crisis. Now I’m going to vacuum the living room and work out for an hour. Oh my god, where did day drinking go?!

– a.

Recipes for you to be super excited about:

The BEST Protein Shake Ever.

(yes the one I keep posting all over Facebook and Twitter)

hello, eat me.

You will need:

– One scoop of “Pure Protein: Frosty Chocolate”

– One tablespoon of Hershey’s Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

– Genesis Today Açaí Berry Juice (4-6oz)

– Ice (about 6 big cubes)

– Strawberry, for garnish

To make:

Put it all in the blender and blend like crazy. For the juice, I usually eyeball it but it’s probably roughly between 4-6 oz. It tastes like chocolate-covered raspberries. It’s like a treat for exercising.

 

Chicken and Goat Cheese Pita

(Picture to come!)

What you’ll need:

– 2.5-3oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast

– Arnold 100-calorie Pocket Thins Flatbread (1)

– Lettuce of your choosing, I chose three leaves from a Romaine heart

– Goat cheese

– Low-fat Sour Cream (2 tablespoons)

– Garlic powder (To taste)

– Dill (To taste)

To make:

Grill the chicken evenly on both sides, then slice thinly. Slide half into each half of the flat bread, along with the lettuce, and about a teaspoon of crumbled goat cheese in each side. If you want more goat cheese, go crazy. Goat cheese is like heaven from a goat. Mix sour cream, garlic, and dill together until smooth. I say to taste because I love garlic and dill and other people probably not as much. Drizzle that lightly into each pocket. If you’re not a fan of sour cream, Italian dressing could be a nice back up option.

I had this for dinner last night and was dying of joy at the table at work. It only took me maybe 15 minutes from start to finish too because the chicken was so thin.

Note: Everything I make is usually single serving, unless it’s my eggplant and zucchini parmigiana or something, so that’s why the amounts are so small. It could be scaled up pretty easily though to accommodate bigger groups.

“Is he gay?”

After living with women for years, I tried a new living situation. The women that I was lucky enough to live with throughout college were warm, wonderful women who I did not appreciate or spend as much time with as I should have, but with whom I still enjoyed spending my time. When I graduated college, a lot of living options weren’t feasible and I didn’t want to move home because my job was in PA and I’d been living on my own for a few years at that point, so I moved in with a good friend that I’d known for years that also needed a roommate. It just so happened that he’s a guy. Now, this was something that I did not think about twice as being out of the ordinary, but thanks to all of the double takes that I get from everyone outside of our core friends’ group, apparently it is.

This is a really attractive picture taken a couple years ago at his fraternity’s homecoming. We’ve both matured greatly since then. Well…sort of.

I couldn’t begin to count the amount of times someone has asked me one of the following:

“Wait, are you married?”

No, this is a turquoise ring on my finger. And ahahahaha me, married? Is that a joke? I hope it is. Please tell me it is.

“Is he your boyfriend?”

No. Just…no. We’ve been told we bicker like he could be, and we totally do sometimes, but he and I have only ever been friends and that’s just how it works, folks.

“Is he gay?”

Wait, what? How did we jump to that conclusion? Okay, well, no. Unless you count the night that he and a mutual male friend of ours laid in his bed whining about how they wished the other was a woman. There’s also the obligatory “are you a lesbian” question I get asked and the answer is also “Wait, what? How did we jump to that conclusion? Okay, well, no.” Unless you count that one night where I was basically humping all over the living room moaning about how lonely I was and he just kind of ignored me and ate venison.

“How does he bring women home?”

Uh, by a car, usually. I don’t really need to know how else. Basically, we have a pact that if one person wakes the other up for a reason like the aforementioned, the disgruntled person is allowed to run screaming into the other’s room, jump on top of them, and spank them whilst yodeling. That terrifying visual has kept us both in check. That, and to be honest, he and I are both pretty good about being respectful vis a vis our romantic/sexual lives. Except when I run around in a sports bra singing, “Someone’s getting laaaaaiiid,” but, he doesn’t change the toilet paper roll so I call it even.

“Do you get along?”

No, we’re miserable. Can’t stand each other, argue all day. Actually, we get along really well (at least from my perspective – maybe he calls me ‘squash twat’ behind my back…yes I just made that up). I think we’ve only ever fought once and that was because I was being emotional and refusing to communicate like an adult. Granted, he works third shift now Monday – Friday night and I work a constantly changing schedule, but usually 2nd shift and weekends. So we don’t see each other much. It’s a lot like living alone, but with a little help. He’s reliable too, not that all of my other roommates haven’t been, because they have, but it can be hard to find reliable people to live with after college and I’ve been lucky. Basically, I can sum up our friendship using Tangled pictures:

I’m not sure which one of us would be the princess…

We’ve both been the mime, depending on the time of day.

The best part about this? Pretty sure we’ve had this same conversation. Like exact same.

I may or may not have been dying of laughter every time I posted another photo but anyway, I guess I just never thought it was weird to live with someone of the opposite gender. Even my very understanding parents have asked me multiple times if something was going on between he and I, thought not recently. They saw the burnt kitchen dish towels floating around our kitchen (his doing, not mine) and knew that he and I would never get along romantically. Some of our friends have even had an ongoing bet that we would hook up. Like with money. Which, if any of you are reading this, give up. There may have been a night wherein he laid in bed yelling, “I’m drunk! Have sex with me! We won’t tell anyone!” And I responded, “Shut up! Buy a fleshlight!” And proceeded to tell everyone about it and now write about it in a blog post. I win.

This is also how I get myself into trouble. I am, thanks to years of hanging out mostly with fraternity gentlemen and sexually and otherwise liberated women, a very open person. The word “clitoris” doesn’t make my soul cry, or whatever saying that does more sheltered people. Not that one’s better than the other, and not that I run around screaming, “CLITORIS” near public parks, but it’s how I’ve always been and how I have a tendency to act: silly, vaguely inappropriate, and very very blunt. I feel bad, because recently it led to a friend thinking I was being inappropriate with her (as I call it) “man thing”. While I clarified and explained and it’s all worked out, I still feel guilty because I unintentionally caused someone else to distrust me. And that’s an area of my life I have tried to outgrow, and still work on today. But I think that personality trait is what makes my roommate and I get along so well. I don’t freak out when he walks out of the bathroom naked right when I’m standing at the base of the stairs (not that that’s happened more than…twice). Usually, I just dissolve into freakish laughter and perhaps cat call a little bit.

While my longterm living situation is definitely hazy due to he and I both being young, ambitious, and single college graduates, as of now it’s going pretty well. And anytime he tries to eat my food without asking, I just threaten to put a mouse in his room while he’s sleeping and block the door.

He’s terrified of mice.

That’s all for now. Life’s good.

– a.

Commit-a-phobe, commit-a-holic.

As a forewarning to this post, I just wanted to let you know that this may get a bit deep. I’m like Shrek, I have layers. These should be slowly getting more lighthearted but I guess I just need to get a lot of stuff off of my chest that I’ve only really talked about either a.) half-drunk to someone who murmurs sympathetic noises (because I have truly good friends that are willing to do things like listening to me grumble half-drunk or half-asleep) or b.) alone aloud in my car. Yes, I talk in my car aloud. Why process silently when you don’t have to? Anyway, thanks to those who are still reading. The humor and more fun things like grilled peach salads will be coming shortly. Anywho:

I believe that humans love unconditionally constantly throughout their lives and only look back and say, “I never loved him/her,” because they don’t love him/her now, and it’s hard for us to not live in the now. So, at this point in time in my life at the tender, ripe, near child-like age of 23, I could say that I’ve loved more than a handful of men. As a kid, we called them “crushes” and giggled and maybe wrote stupid notes to them pretending to be someone else named Justine because we were too scared to talk to them ourselves (not that I have ever done that…outside of 7th grade). Once we hit that age wherein the girls have actual underwire bra straps to snap and the boys can’t wear gym shorts unless they have something to cover stray boners, things get slightly more complicated. Feelings get more complicated.

When I was in elementary and middle school, I liked so many random boys. Colin Mauro, Zachary Fedorkas, Jared Rebescher…the list goes on. But I had no idea why I liked them. I wanted them to like me but I didn’t know why. Since then, I’ve fallen for countless other guys. What was the difference between then and now? I mean, the feelings are more complicated and I understand them more and what causes them. I understand what happens when it’s no longer there. But the actual ‘feelings’ of infatuation, has that changed since I was 9? Even when I was in 8th grade and liked Bart from St. Johns (oh, let’s not get me too started on the topic of Catholic school and military guys), I knew I liked him and was attracted to him physically, but what other than that?

I say all of this because I realized the other day that the “I just like him and that’s that,” mindset is still so prevalent in today’s society. In me, especially. While I have countless friends in serious, committed relationships, I have not found myself in one since my long-term boyfriend and I broke up almost two years ago. I wish I could say I didn’t know why, but I do. Ever since, I’ve sought out relations with men that are, well, not bad, but bad for me. I’m infatuated with people I know will make me miserable. If I’m really honest with myself, I always have been. Have you ever had that person that you, at least at some point in time, would’ve dropped everything for and done anything you could for them? Maybe you were lucky and that ended after, say, high school but for me, it’s lasted since I was sixteen.

Where the title of this post comes from is my sad reality: I would drop anything for a man that I care about and that terrifies me so I refuse to commit to anyone. I seek out bad, toxic, volatile situations so that I don’t have to. I’m embarrassed by this, but it’s important for me to admit it anyway, but back in January I pledged everything to a man who was probably the most manipulative person I’ve ever met, and I meant it. He told me he couldn’t be with me because of reasons that were, at the time logical, and I told him that I would follow him. I would follow him across the country, I would drop everything and go. And I meant it. And I have never, in my life, felt submissive enough to give up my own dreams for someone. Especially someone that refused to commit to me, for reasons that I know now involve other women and general inability to tell the whole truth about anything. That alone terrifies me now, so much, that I will run as fast as I can away from any plausible romantic potential. I was willing, and for a while did, lose myself entirely in someone who I meant nothing to. The fact that I could be so blind, so accepting, absolutely makes me want to bang my head off of a wall. And while this was the first time I’d ever committed so fully, I have aimlessly let myself be led along by other men before. So how can an independent woman like myself be so…pathetically co-dependent?

The answer is that I don’t have one. After the situation in January, I’ve really spent a lot of time getting to know myself more. And not in the cliche “oh I’m such a well-rounded person go me,” way but, as my friend Tara put it, “finding my passions again”. I sink easily into the people I’m with, it’s why I’m good at flowing from one group into then next, but while it makes for an easy social life, it makes for a really shallow personal life. In the past months, I’ve learned that I love routines. I love numbers and order and organization. And these are things that, if my parents read this are probably thinking, “AHAHAHA OKAY ALYSSA,” so that should show you how weird that is for me. I have the same sense of humor as my dad, something I never knew. I hate most of the teen books I grew up reading because the woman gives in and changes for the man. I actually agree with Ms. Achey and her dislike of Grease. WHAT. Yes, anyone here who went to high school with me knows who that is, and feel free to laugh as hard or be as disgusted as you like. These things are little but I’m feeling a lot more independent than I was. Oh, I also constantly end sentences with prepositions and hate it.

So how did I end up this way? How did I turn into someone who is so terrified of finding someone because I would be too committed to them? Too infatuated? And what if that goes away, like it has in the past with my relationships? How did I become so freaking neurotic?

I’ve tried casual sex, I’ve tried celibacy, I’ve tried waiting for someone to be ready, I’ve tried breaking up relationships (and regretted that, a lot), and I’ve tried hoping. I think I’ve finally reached a point in time in my life where I’m going to try not trying. When I say I want a committed relationship, I’m lonely. When I say I don’t want to be in a relationship for a while, I’m feeling like crap. The reality is, I don’t care about my relationship status right now. I was in relationships consistently from 14 through 21 and then in and out of volatile shit-storms until semi-recently. I need to be alone. I want to be alone. I finally feel comfortable being alone. And happy. Because I hate sharing the bed.

If you’re still here, thanks for reading. So much. This has been something eating at me that I refused to really put out into the open. For those who have known me for years, you’ve seen me struggle with trying to grow up and fight through immature relationships. For those who just met me or don’t know me at all, my love life has (obviously) been a complete mess. I’m aware of it, most of the free world is probably aware of it thanks to a lot of screaming battles, and I’m sick of it.

Wishing to have someone there is not a reason to look for someone, wanting someone to text when you’re bored is not a reason to commit, wanting to plan your perfect Pinterest wedding is not a reason to sign up for online dating. We as humans seek out companionship. Monogamy wasn’t always popular. Pheromones were not designed to make you fall in love, but make you seek out a sexual mate. He will never show up at my front door (or your front door), with smoldering eyes and a heartfelt confession of love.

And if any of you gentlemen are reading thinking, “What in the hell…?” You do not understand women. At all.

Well, I could rant longer about how I’m doomed to a life of training for marathons and wishing I finished the stories I began but I need sleep and you’re probably wanting a cigarette/donut/beer/good long cry/imgur.

And I’ll end with a photo that I laughed at for about five minutes.

Goodnight all.

– a.

How “tomorrow” becomes roughly four days later

Well don’t I feel like an aimless loser, I promised a post on my birthday and didn’t provide one! I wish I had a good excuse, but in reality, it was mostly because of alcohol consumption. My birthday was pretty awesome though, this is the first time in a long time I have felt the age I’m turning. Granted, I don’t know how exactly one can “feel” 23, but, I do. Thursday was a truly fantastic day too because I requested off of work and was able to spend it in Middletown with my parents and friends. For those of you who don’t know, I was mostly raised in Maryland but live in Pennsylvania now right outside of the town in which I went to school. I have friends in Pennsylvania, of course, but I’m one of those people who still gets really homesick and finds myself visiting my parents more than most 20-somethings usually do. A lot of my friends from home who have moved back in with parents (or never left) say how much they don’t like living with their parents but I’m lucky in that my relationship with my folks is actually very solid. A lot of it is probably because I don’t live at home, but you can’t have everything.

The picture my dad took of me and our birthday sparkling wine (a dry blush)

I have actually been in Maryland for most of this past week thanks to my ridiculous homesickness. I’m not sure how thrilled my parents are to have a child visiting right after their last two finally flew the coop, but it’s been a very enjoyable week. It feels like a vacation really, being away from the stresses of my job and home, having TiVO, only having to mind one suitcase of crap rather than my entire room back in PA, etc. I’ve gotten a chance to see a lot of friends, spend time with my parents and dog, and back about 500 bad decisions. Those, also, are mostly related to alcohol consumption.

People close to me, or anyone who saw my eight frillion status updates about it, know that I took a month off of drinking. Not because I thought I had a problem, got into trouble, or thought I was pregnant, but because I honestly don’t think I had gone a month without drinking since graduating high school. I’m not talking binge drinking, I’m talking like having a glass of wine after a meal drinking. The month came and went (Alcohol-Free August) scarily smoothly. I work at a drug and alcohol rehab full-time so sometimes hearing statistics and stories over and over can ingrain this sense of negativity toward alcohol for me. I think of it as being bad for those who are addicted and I guess some of it rubs off on my personal beliefs. And anyone who has known me for any extended period of time knows that I used to be a pretty heavy drinker and party-goer. I know exactly why I was, and I’m happy to say that with age and maturity I realized that partying all of the time is really stupid. And I will never lose weight if I’m drinking 3-4 (or 5-6 depending) times a week. I’ve had a pretty healthy relationship with it since but I do question myself just because I spend my days having to think about it. How much is too much, when does it become a problem, etc. I hate it, because I know I’m fine, but it did niggle at me. I took a month off because I thought it would clarify a few things. And this year has been a year so far of goal-setting and accomplishing for me. I quit smoking, graduated from college, began an exercise regimen (and have lost seven pounds so far), and started eating healthy and watching my caloric intake. When I say I’m going to do something, I’ve actually been doing it. And that is actually a big step for me. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been really damn good at starting things but teeter and waver and give up right before they’re finished. I accepted it as a part of my personality. “I can’t finish things.” I used it as my excuse for not graduating college in four years. I crapped out hard my last semester and I tried to blame it on my inability to finish things. The reality was that I was just really unhappy with the way my life was going, I was smoking too much pot and not doing any schoolwork, I was accepting the wrong things and fighting the right things. It took a very serious reality check of me failing an entire semester for me to get my head on right. I went home that summer with my tail between my legs, but with a determination to change shit now. I pulled my head out of my nether regions and focused. I’ve been a work in progress for over a year and I’ve off-kiltered a few times but for the most part, I’m living a life now that makes me proud of myself.

So I had the month completely sober in August and I was right, it did clarify a few things for me. Not only that it was way the hell easier than I ever expected, but that I really prefer being sober in general. I’m not getting all preachy, and don’t get me wrong I still drink, but I realized that my entire life I didn’t actually like the feeling of being drunk or high, I just liked the social aspect of it. Sorry D.A.R.E., I still thought that it made me cool. And not in a conscious way, I wasn’t holding my beer thinking, “I am so g-damn cool right now, errybody,” I just sought out situations and groups of people that were into it because I was an uncomfortable and socially awkward preteen and saw their weird sort of clubhouse mentality and disconnect that made them different and wanted to be a part of it. Like I said, I have with age learned that being part of the group leaving the bigger party to go smoke a bowl or do shots of Goldschläger doesn’t mean anything. That even though I like being one of the kids holding a cigarette, or going out for one, I don’t actually like smoking. And when that reality and understanding sunk in is when I was able to quit smoking cigarettes. I leave space in my life for recreation, I still love having a few drinks and being a little (okay, a lot) silly, but I limit myself. I’m accountable for my actions for the most part. I thought, briefly, about quitting drinking entirely. I had gone to the bar a few times during that month and just had diet coke and it hadn’t even phased me. It wasn’t the alcohol aspect of the bar I liked, it was the social situation. That goes back to what I said before; it wasn’t the alcohol/drugs/cigarettes that I wanted or liked really, it was the social situation that they created. And I can still have those situations in some respect now, but with less law-breaking and an overall better physical condition.

On my birthday, I went out for a martini after my birthday dinner with a few friends and did end up a little worse for wear. I hadn’t drank heavily since July and I’m still having to remind myself of my seriously crappy tolerance. I ended up making a decision that night that I’m trying not to be embarrassed by for the sole reason that I am a flaming feminist. I belief it is completely healthy for single women to have active sex lives and I think the stigma behind a woman who “hooks up” with guys being a slut is chauvinistic and extremely outdated. Women think about sex just as much as men and want to have it just as much as men and when we start believing statistics that try to tell otherwise (such as, men are just hard-wired for constantly wanting sex and women aren’t – that statement is violently untrue in every possible way), we’re dooming ourselves. Well, now you know what I did. And I will probably write an entire post about casual sex culture in today’s generation.

To end this post that went in a totally different way than I meant it to, I just want to throw out a thumbs ups:

The Wine Kitchen (Frederick, MD)

They specialize in flights of wine and have a fantastic selection. We ate dinner there for my birthday and it was absolutely fantastic. Their portions and pricing are both very decent and the steak I ordered was not only local, it was absolute perfection.

I’ll try to write again tomorrow, with a little more of a structure hopefully.
– a.

I Dream in Chocolate

Hello all, I have another well thought out piece in the making, but as a celebration of it being my 23rd birthday as of midnight, I’ve decided to do another one of my aforementioned intentions: post pictures of food. Lucky for you, I have a weird tidbit to add along with the food. Just to warn you, I’m extremely slap happy and tired, so please forgive my incredible lack of maturity.

As of late, I’ve found myself craving chocolate. A LOT. Now, I’m not a gigantic chocolate eater most of the time. For most of my life, I’ve been a Hot Tamales kind of girl. Cinnamon and I, we go way back. But within the last few weeks, it’s been my go-to craving. I have already heard the obligatory “PREGNANCY” outcries from friends, so, to clarify: I am not pregnant. But my do I ache after dark chocolate.

Yes, that’s right, Hershey’s kisses still make me gag. It’s the dark chocolate I’ve been coveting. What seems to work is a nice cup of frozen berries (I’m partial to strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries) with one serving of Giradelli 60% cacao dark chocolate baking chips. It’s low calorie, high in antioxidants, and delicious after a nice jog.

But I’ve gotten creative. Cue horror music, I know.

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This is my stack of whole wheat dark chocolate buttermilk pancakes.

How to make me:

    1. Add three tablespoons of the cocoa powder of your choice to pancake mix. I used Hodgson Mill’s whole wheat pancake mix, substituted skim milk, and added Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder.
    2. Cook in Belgian Waffle iron, break into four squares, wrap individually, and freeze.

This is so easy and they’re so good. I add a pat of light butter and a small drizzle of raw honey. And no, I did not eat this huge stack of waffles. I froze them all. And they’re just as good microwaved. Move over, Eggo. It’s true though, I’m trying to eat less processed food and freezing meals has been helping. And it has chocolate. They’re great for a “shit I woke up late” breakfast or a “the last thing I want is more fiber twigs” breakfast.
…by the way, I eat fiber twigs for breakfast.

Anyway, my big exciting creation tonight was born after I realized that I had no chocolate chips and I’d only eaten about 800 calories. So, as a birthday treat, I made this:

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I made the world’s easiest fake-it-till-you-make-it ganache. Shut up, you say? It looks a little like the end result of walking your dog? This is true. Basically, I mixed three tablespoons of the same cocoa powder with three tablespoons of low fat half n half and one packet of Splenda. I mixed until it was the proper consistency and drizzled it over frozen fruit. I legitimately licked the bowl clean. It was a little inappropriate. Dark, delicious, and not too sweet. I feel like I just described a male prostitute, a little bit.

Anyway, a proper post should be revealed tomorrow. Until then,
-a.

“Revealing Myself” – A Daunting First Post

In high school, I was actively involved in the journalism program as a writer and, later, an editor. My favorite part was a combination of the camaraderie borne of long afternoons spent pouring over picas, seeing my byline printed out on actual newspaper, and the yearly county-wide awards where we usually swept the competition. My least favorite part was a toss up between calling businesses begging for money and writing the first paragraph of an article. Fullllll stop – yes, I just switched from fluid concepts and full events to something very specific. I’m already doing a fantastic job, aren’t I?

It’s the same now as it was in high school; I’m god awful at starting things. My journalism teacher used to tell me to start in the middle then, and work my way back afterward. He said that the beginning would just “reveal itself” naturally, like a burlesque dancer on stage. I did that throughout high school, starting on the second paragraph, and it served me relatively well. I won an award for straight news journalism, passed AP Language and Competition, and treaded through a creative writing course. In college, I used it as a fallback for countless Psychology and English papers, fiction writing assignments, and often times relationships as well. For me, it was easier to start after the questions, past the fluff and catching headlines. I went from introductions to deep secrets, straight into my thesis, right to the hard liquor. I could never start walking, I had to run. And I had to run five miles.

Eventually, it stopped working for me. My first paragraph didn’t flow well enough into the second, or I just left it out altogether. My relationships usually ended up toxic, by no fault of theirs or mine entirely. You just can’t start halfway through something and try to use a reflection as a beginning. So, after a couple months of shameless ignorance and delusion wherein I singlehandedly flung poop at every aspect of my life, I had a rather serious sit down talk with myself…and maybe knocked myself down a few pegs. I reflect now on it as an ending that I wasn’t prepared for, but, barreled through to a conclusion nonetheless. One day, and i don’t remember the specific day or anything else fun or anecdotal like that, I realized that for the first time since high school, I would have to start from just that, the start. I couldn’t pick up where I left off last, or just join a new group and act like I’d been there all along. I had to do something I, at that point, had lost touch with completely: starting something from nothing.

I try to tiptoe lightly past corny metaphors for the sheer cringe factor but it’s staring at me yelling, “USE ME ALYSSA USE ME” so, well, I rose from my own ashes like a pheonix. I started. And from there, so many other parts began falling into place. I have a college degree now, healthy (mostly) hobbies and passions, structure, laughter, and recipes for quinoa. I rewrote a story for my Advanced Fiction class (look, passions!) and I started from the first sentence and just…kept going. My professor told me that it was the best piece of mine he’d read.

Don’t get me wrong, my life is a serious work in progress. But instead of laying in bed, unshowered, and having an anxiety attack over the 50 things I could be doing, I’m doing them…and usually on time. WordPress suggests that in my first post, I should share what I want to do with my little slice of internets, so here’s my convoluted concept: I want to overshare with you. I’m going to talk about my own ongoings as a twenty something post-grad single woman in the United States during a recession. I’m going to share my insecurities and hopefully find some humor in them, I’m going to post pictures of food and the recipes I attempted during their creation, I’m going to give advice on what to pack for hiking day trips, and tell funny (i hope) stories about my daily life. I’m warning you now: I’m not married or in a relationship, so I’m going to be light on the love logging, and I’m not pregnant, so no cute pictures of my offspring. I will certainly talk about love and relationships, like how my parents are actively trying to hook me up with their friends’ sons (not that I don’t appreciate the gesture, guys). And I have friends with kids so I can talk about that and my struggles with the creation of a diaper cake.

Basically, the nub and gist is that I really want an excuse to flex my writing tentacles and I’m sure everyone is sick of me using my Facebook statuses (stati? I feel like it should be stati, that would sound more Latin-y) as a battleground of wit and food pictures. I like the idea of being able to share a bit (or a lot) of myself and maybe you will get a little back out of it. Or be able to relate to some parts and share yourself. Oh, and expect impropriety…everyone loves a shameful giggle.

Anyway, that’s all for now…and now you can see my new issue – ending things.

-a.