Breaking Plateaus!

Today has been a day pretty full of self-love and self-improvement; I love days off like that! In honor of my finally breaking my weight loss plateau and hitting under 150 pounds, which I’ve been stuck at for about six months, I’m filling this post with inspiration of my own, that I’ve read from others, and links to help you feel good as well. sunset

When I say I’ve been stuck at 150 pounds for six months, it’s true but it’s because I slacked off continuing my lifestyle for a few months. What’s fabulous is that in two weeks, I’ve lost almost five pounds. And do you know why? Yes, because I was running and working my butt off sure, but also because I’d really started to feel good about myself again. I’m not sure if I started to feel good because I started working out or if I was just starting to appreciate myself again, but with my head in the right place, I feel more accomplished when I make a healthy eating decision, or work out extra hard (or when I reeeally don’t want to). What I lacked in the fall that kept me from continuing cross training when my shins were too messed up was a sense of self-love. I started getting into shape last summer because, as I said then, I wanted the “health gain”. It wasn’t for a guy, or a dress size, it was because I wanted to be healthy and strong and knew that being those would help me to be a happier, better adjusted person. In the fall, I started feeling pretty down on myself (previously mentioned) and basically just felt fat and useless most of the time. When I ran or worked out, it was out of self-hatred. I hated the way I looked, I didn’t want anyone to see me running, I wanted to complete my fitness journey in the dark so that I could step out the door one day and everyone would see how thin I was and, I don’t know, love me. backgroundme

Sounds pretty unhealthy, right? It was. So after a few months of irritating myself and dragging myself through the mud, I started to remember why I had began running in the first place, why I had really worked on my diet and watched what I ate. Not because I wanted everyone else to see me as a size two, but because I deserve it. I deserve to look in the mirror and like what I see. I deserve to feel energized, and be constantly amazed at what my body can do. I deserve to be strong, to participate in anything I wanted.

During a work training yesterday, I got into a pretty serious discussion with a co-worker that I’ve worked closely with since being hired (we have the same position) about my relationship beliefs, and eventually, why she and I were who we were. I had never known that she struggled with appearance issues because she is a thin, beautiful, healthy, and level-headed woman. Not that I believed I was the only woman who dissected every single angle of her body, but because I, like a lot of people, equate beauty with happiness. Thinness with health. And that’s not how it is. Thin, beautiful people can be happy! But they can also be unhealthy, or miserable. Every other body shape (I started listing them but it took forever) is beautiful too! And can be healthy!

As women, hell, as people, we get into this awful tendency to talk so negatively about ourselves. We bond with friends over things about ourselves we want to change. meangirlsIn fact, we rely on others to make us feel good about ourselves because complimenting ourselves is…what…cocky? There is no point to my eating all natural, working out intensely, or even practicing yoga regularly unless I’m doing it out of an act of love.

A fabulous blogger whose page I adore/read religiously, Piloting Paper Airplanes, recently wrote a post about self-blaming and the power our own words and beliefs hold over us. I’ve linked it above. I took a lot, I mean a lot, from it. Whenever you’re having an off day, read it. It’ll perk you right up. She brings up the point that there is no point to trying to improve our own health unless we look at all aspects of our health. In my case, why strain to get better at yoga but not strive to deepen my meditation?

Have you ever seen a before/after of people who have been airbrushed? If you haven’t, or even if you have and you want another pick me up, look at this: 17 Mesmerizing Before & After Photoshop GIFs. It’s a wonderful reminder that nobody is as pretty as they look in a magazine. Except Megan Fox. She just isn’t fair.

Finishing up my recipes and work out post – up tonight or tomorrow morning!

Because I’m feeling like it –

Namaste

-a.

 

Stay-cations and Motivations

So this may sound totally weird, but this blog entry is my “mental break” right now. I’ve been applying for jobs for a little over an hour and my brain already is kind of swilling about. A co-worker and I had a pretty honest conversation about our jobs today: we love them, but wow is it hard to be young and broke. I’m hoping to find a full-time job closer to my home and maybe continue working Per Diem at my current facility, every other weekend or so.

But on to more interesting things! So, it has been awhile I suppose. I’ll be honest, guys: I had four days off of work (built up PTO time just begging to be used) and even though I planned on spending them running and blogging, I basically spent them on a bed or couch snuggling. Bad me. I don’t really feel bad though, because what is the point of a vacation if you don’t relax? And boy did I.VdayDrink

I did manage to make it to the gym on Thursday and Saturday, so I really didn’t lose any work out days…even though my Saturday workout was basically me hurdling through a mile on the treadmill then showering and running out the door for FORMAL! 🙂 This post will be a recap, next post will be recipes of things eaten/made/devoured/worshipped and the continuance of my workout tweak.

So, brief-ish stay-cation recap:

Thursday

VdaySteveMy day of luuurv was probably the best I’ve had in years. And no, I didn’t not spend the majority of it with a man! I woke up, spent my morning relaxing and browsing blogs, then went to the gym and worked out HARD (see next post for specifics!), then made myself look fabulous and met my friend Taylor for drinks. I also may have tortured Steve with kisses for the entire morning and he may still be feeling vengeful because he bit my lip today but I don’t blame him.

Taylor and I went to T.G.I. Fridays after a whirlwind of trying to figure out where the hell to park. I haven’t been out to dinner for Valentine’s Day in years. I’m not bitter about that at all. We sat at the bar, luckily there were two seats available for us to squeeze into, and man I have to tell you: we were the most attractive women at that bar. Both of us are good looking women as it is but still, it was a really nice feeling. And it let to a man giving us his free dessert. Hello! We had a great time, I drank a pink martini, and we ended up going back to her house and hanging out. I had made plans with man-sicle (I’m sorry, I really don’t know what else to call you…also I almost wrote “man-nequin” and laughed) to basically just snuggle afterwards in a very non-holidayish manner. It was all around a great day. I wish I had taken a picture of Taylor and I because we looked super fabulous. You’ll just have to trust me. Va-Va-Voom.

Friday

You know what’s sad? I’m looking through my texts to remember the order in which I did things this weekend. When I say that there was a lot of being in the horizontal position, I mean it. We woke up, and because both of cuddle partner’s roommates work on Fridays, we had the house to ourselves. So we made breakfast. And napped. Though, I am particularly proud because I made “my eggs” (i.e. mostly egg whites) and HE LIKED THEM. HAHA. Healthy food wins again! We lazed about, and even though there were a few half-hearted attempts to actually do something productive, napping won. I actually barely made it home in time for dinner with my parents. We were supposed to go to this place in Boonsboro but thanks to the hour and a half wait and the really intense moment when a server came running through asking if anyone knew CPR, we chose not to stay. Speaking of which, I know CPR, but what the customer actually needed was the Heimlich. Luckily, this was administered by one of four (go figure) registered nurses in the restaurant at the time. So nobody’s fate was in my hands…FOR NOW.

Pizza

Fresh garlic, fresh basil, and goat cheese. Yum.

We ended up at my favorite pizza place in the world. Il Fornos Pizzeria in Frederick, MD. I don’t have words and pictures do no justice. But I was transported to cheesy, garlicky, happy heavenland for about 25 minutes while I munched. Add one Samuel Adams Spring Alpine draft beer and I am in hog heaven. Minus the tiny detail that I was not a huge fan of the beer. I’ve really turned into one of those people that REALLY has to be in the mood for beer or I just won’t drink it.

I ended up back at Taylor’s, where she and, ew I almost wrote man meat in seriousness but you can guess who I’m talking about, had made a baked fish dinner that they both apparently loved. We then all proceeded to drink maybe a little too much wine and be merry. It was a really nice Friday night.

Saturday

Oh my gosh, you guys. I love Formal. What is it, you ask? Formal is something the fraternity that I was sweetheart for in college does every year around this time where all active brothers and dates plus a lot of alumni (and dates, or in my case, harems) get together, dress up, eat, drink, and be merry. It’s one of the few chances I get to see a lot of people that graduated before or with me in college, or that I just don’t get a chance to see. Weirdly (but still awesome-ly), two of my co-workers were there as well. We all knew each other from college before we were co-workers. Small world? I say yes.

formallove

Myself, Tara, and Vicky – note that both Vicky and I took one shoe off for this. Unplanned!

So I woke up and much cuddling happened and then after tugging on my arm for about 25 minutes (he really didn’t want to stop cuddling…I don’t blame him), I raced home, raced to the gym, flailed on the treadmill, then raced to my co-worker/friend Tara’s house to get ready together.

It was held at this place called Premier Events in Shippensburg; they don’t have their liquor license so it’s BYOB. Which is awesome – I’ve never seen so many bottles of wine floating about. And, of course, pictures were taken. After formal ended – by the way, did you know that there is a new ‘dance’ called “The Wobble” and I am apparently to old and sad to know it? – we went to our favorite local bar and commenced joie de vivre.

The night ended with me driving back to Maryland, I hadn’t really been in the mood to drink or party too hearty, to deliver a mediocre burger and fries to a rather silly Man-Wich (oh, these are getting awful). Who then proceeded to eat that, an egg sandwich I made for him, and make bacon at about 5am. I was asleep for the bacon-making, but it was commendable nonetheless.

Sunday, or, The Last Day

I was supposed to run a 5k on Sunday. Not an official one, but at the gym as a workout. This is me being accountable: I did not do that. I ate one heck of a breakfast made by a friend of the Tremanson household (for future reference: that’s Taylor and gang’s house) consisting of eggs with cheddar cheese, green onions, spinach, and possibly nirvana. I laid around a bit more until mid-afternoon, when a few of the bunch wanted to do something and all I wanted was a Disney movie and a fleece blanket. So I went home and took a bath, lazily flopped around in what could possibly be considered yoga-like positions, and ate some of my mom’s asparagus salad. I don’t have the recipe for it, but I’m going to get it from her and put it on here because IT IS DELICIOUS. I know there’s asparagus, leek or green onion, quinoa, mint, and a whole big bunch of other things but it was so good.

After that, I ended up back at Tremanson for movie watching and chips and queso. We watched Django, which was probably one of the better movies I’ve seen in a while. While the blood mists became a little ridiculous at points, I loved the storyline, characters, and music. And I officially believe that Django was “The” O.G. If you know what I mean.

 

Back to the Grind

SnuggleSunday2

Obviously that is not me. I am not a dog.

So that was it, my stay-cation. I just can’t seem to bring myself to regret not being productive. Sometimes I run myself ragged driving to get everything possible done and it doesn’t make me a happy person. And even though I wasn’t feeling remotely motivated to work out Saturday, I still made myself do something, even if it was only a mile. Last night, I wasn’t in the mood again but I still powered through over 20 minutes on the bicycle and a few weight machines. Today, luckily, I felt my motivation kick back up a notch. Maybe it was getting back into the swing of things, maybe it was the pizza I ate for lunch at my work training (Basic HIV…yay). But when the gym location I usually go to was so busy I couldn’t find a parking spot and was too late for yoga, I went to the next nearest one and hopped on the treadmill for 30 minutes.

I’ve been very into this blog: Success Along the Weigh and the writer, The Mrs., wrote something fabulous that I love. This isn’t verbatim but she said that it isn’t about the days when you’re feeling motivated because those are the easy days; it’s about the days you don’t want to, you don’t care, you get a case of the “f-its” and want to eat a big piece of chocolate torte with greek frozen yogurt (not that I’ve ever done that). Those are the days that matter most. And even though this little break for me was full of laziness, I still managed to make it to the gym every other day. I still watched what I ate, and even though everything wasn’t healthy, it equaled out at the end of the day.

But that’s all for now – I should be back to regularly scheduled blog posts.

What is your ideal vacation? Have you ever just taken a few days off to be at home?

What do you do when you aren’t feeling motivated to exercise or eat right? How do you get over the hump?

-a.

Trading my soleus for a 5k

Let’s first point out how hilarious my pun title turned out. …It’s Monday, I tried. It was surprisingly nice today, even though I was only really able to enjoy it on my drive home from work (poor timing Batman). Yesterday ended on a strong positive note – I finally got off of the couch and had a productive day. Folded laundry that had been begging to be remembered, cleaned a room that looked like a storm had hit it (okay, it was my bedroom), went to the gym and kicked my butt all the way into mid-week, and spent some quality time cuddling on the couch with Sun Chips. No, I was not physically cuddling with a bag of Sun Chips. Please erase that image.

Cartoon1

Or commit it to memory, your choice. I was cuddling with a human, and it was adorable. Except when we decided to put “The Raven” on and I completely geeked out over a man being sliced in half. The lights weren’t even off! I’m more of a fan of thriller, less gore. If you want my opinion of the movie, I’d give it, but it probably wouldn’t be super positive. Dying for love has never been a romantic ideal for me, so that ruins a lot of the premise of the resolution.

But the Sun Chip laziness and glory was so worth it after the butt-kicking. I (finally) went to the gym yesterday afternoon after contemplating an outdoor run for, oh, four hours. The wind had picked up and every time I thought about my eyes and nose dripping for two miles, I found myself back under my fleece blanket on the couch. I hadn’t been to the gym in a while, honestly. I’ve been running at home outdoors and hiking as much as possible. So, it was a nice change of scenery (how weird does that sound? A gym? Scenery?). Now, I used to hate treadmills. I mean loathe, despise, cringe at, etc. They were not my cup of ANYTHING. This is, I think, because when I was younger, I tried to run on one and it felt like every time I came down it made a super loud noise and it felt like I was sort of bouncing.

Basically, I felt fat. But earlier this week when I ventured back onto one at the hotel, I had one of the best runs I’d completed in a long time. It was magical. I set my pace and was a lot better at keeping it than when I run outside, I was able to watch my little red dot go around the the 5k trail on the screen, and I knew how many calories I had burned, how long I’d been running, and how far I’d gone instantaneously. My iPhone can do the same thing in regards to the information, true, but as someone who really struggled (and still actively does) with shin, knee, and hip problems, I love the option of just stopping if things get painful. If I’m outside, I could still be a solid mile or so from home.

So instead of running the two miles I’d intended, I ended up completing a 5k! And if you look at the photo I took of my treadmill, I was super smooth taking it by the way, you can tell that I am not an extremely talented runner. Yet. My goal now is to train over the next 2-3 months to run a 10k, and run it straight through.

treadmill

I’m going to be tweaking the novice plan I found here to fit my own needs and issues, which I’ll put up on this blog. April-May is the goal for running a 10k for me; as a swimmer rather than a runner for years and years, finally setting race dates would be fantastic. But, this plan starts with the ability to run three miles without stopping and while I can finish a 5k, I can’t run it straight through. So, I’m going to give myself extra time to build up and make sure I’m increasing the mileage at a rate that won’t cause me injuries. I do like the cross training, and I’m looking forward to it. Obviously, you all will be seeing the work out updates here! Which, along with ‘recipes’, will be another tab on my menu shortly. Yay!

My workout ended with some hip work (adductions and abductions, for killer strength) and bicep work. I expected to be sore today but was pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t much more than the occasional twinge you get when you know you had a good workout, but didn’t push yourself too far. After my fabulous workout, I treated myself to what every red-blooded, high energy 23-year-old should have: a Grande Skim Cappuccino! Now, I usually try to support local businesses more than corporations, but the Starbucks was right there and I had a gift card that I’d been holding on to since Christmas.

aftergym

I’m pretty honest about myself, folks. I’m not a 115lb marathon runner (yet!). I’m most certainly a work in progress. But I think that’s what can make for interesting reading sometimes. I love reading blogs about people who have already gotten ‘there’, who already have it all. But I don’t, and I know there are a lot of others who don’t either. I’m naturally a curvy person and I ate a lot of Sheetz in college. It was delicious, but it stayed with me. And now I’m trying to become the strongest, healthiest person I can. It’s not easy, but it’s a fun adventure.

When I got home, after driving around dancing rather like a maniac to Ciara’s “Goodies” and other classics, I ate one huge bowl of my dad’s homemade bean soup. It was vegan, which made me eye my dad confusedly, but so good. To increase my protein intake even more (and because I was sick of craving ice cream), I made myself a chocolate peanut butter protein shake. And enjoyed every creamy second of it. I’ll post the recipe below but I’m going to be updating it soon – I’m trying out this PB2 stuff I’ve seen all over fitness blogs. I love peanut butter, so much, but it does have the downside of high fat content.

beanstewToday I woke up and basically threw myself into my car – having a cappuccino at 6pm pretty much threw off my sleep schedule entirely so I slept until 7am then had to dash out the door. I swung by the (local!) coffee shop and grabbed a coffee and Nova Lox bagel for breakfast. Nova Lox bagel is a black russian bagel with cream cheese, smoked salmon, red onion, tomato, and capers. I always ask for “extremely sparse” cream cheese, otherwise they dollop it on heavy. Absolutely delicious. Lunch was my work’s attempt at Shepherd’s pie, which will never be as good as an ex’s friend used to make it (go figure), and after a few more harried hours of me basically running around throwing paper, I came home and ate a big ol’ bowl of leftover chicken and asparagus risotto. I didn’t take a picture of it, because I ate it directly out of the Tupperware. I’m not sorry.

As promised – the beginning of my Novice Training Plan Tweak!

Because Sunday is the “big run” day, Hal suggests that Monday be a “Stretch and Strengthen” day to help sort of rest the muscles while still getting a work out. He didn’t specify length of time or too much into what exercises one could do, so I picked a few ones that I could do in my bedroom. For the last two exercises, I used a medicine ball. By the way, I love medicine balls. It’s a little creepy.

StretchandStrength

Good luck! I say 20 reps because I like doing two sets of 10, but however you do it is up to you. Now, I’m going to drink my Yogi tea and listen to some more Disney songs. And probably draw a cartoon of me hugging a medicine ball.

If you want my Dad’s recipe – let me know and I’ll add it next time!

How do you like to treat yourself after a good workout?

Have you ever used a training program before? How did it turn out? Did you like it?

 

-a.

 

All Neon Everything

Taken July '12 right before the start of Alcohol-Free August

Happy Sunday! When I was growing up, Sundays were always marked with classical music in the AM (my parents preferred NPR), a slow breakfast, and pjs for a few extra hours. Even now, I wake up earlier on Sundays than any other day of the week just to relish in the happy comfort.

My past few days have been a bit unpredictably busy. Friday ended up being a busy morning plus work, which was hectic. Working in addiction, you’ll notice that Friday nights have a tendency to be the most frustrating nights of the week. Everyone is just a bit more squirrelly. But, luckily, I was working with other no-nonsense co-workers and we dealt with struggles as they came. After work? Sangria with my friend Ashley! We love getting together after work and talking about our days, our men, and our futures. Call it corny, but we do it once every other week or so.

I woke up Saturday morning to a phone call at 9am from the manthing (Note: it could be man-thing, man-friend, or quite possibly man-sicle) asking if I wanted to come over for breakfast (Also note: that means cuddle mostly, then breakfast). He had gone out in typical mid-20’s fashion the night before and was begging off the hangover with snuggles and eggs. Eventually, we got around to cooking. He, a man’s man, made bacon and I made the eggs. Little did he know, I made them 3 parts white, 1 part yoke like I do at home. Added a little basil, salt ‘n pepa, and a sprinkling of sharp cheddar and tah-dah! Egg health. And guess what? He didn’t notice. Sneaky egg health! Bacon

Then, more cuddling and general laziness (and a bit of a nap, whoops!), until I met up with my mom at 3. She’d finally convinced me to go bra shopping at this place in downtown Frederick called Soma. Now, ladies, I am not what you would call an “average cup size”. It’s my cross to bear…quite literally. If you’re one of the elite who has to wear about three sports bras when running, you and I probably should chat. For years (and years and years), I’ve tried to find the proper appendages and mostly just failed. You’ve heard of side boob? Try under-boob, back-boob, muffin-boob, and every other kind of you can think of. Okay, scratch back-boob, that sounds pretty nasty.

Anyway, I had my first proper fitting at this beautiful, elegant store in the afternoon. I’m rather squeamish about being seen in any state of undress (the beach is a nightmare), but the young woman who did mine was efficient, honest, and charismatic. She took me under her wing and showed me that not only have I been wearing the wrong size, but having a larger cup size doesn’t doom one to a life of nude bras with thick straps and fifteen clasps (oh, the horror!). I tried on all different kinds and left with a very nice black lace number that I’ve lusted over for the better part of my adolescence and young adult life but never found in my size and a light pink “every day” wear one that still makes them say “hello” without saying, “It may cost money to speak with me,” if you get my meaning. soma

I forgot to take a photo of the inside of the store, which was beautiful and honestly if I had the money would have spent hundreds on fabulous underwear and loungewear, but I did snap a photo of the bag. Price-wise, it’s about the same as say, Victoria’s (not so) Secret, but a much higher quality and with a much larger range of types, colors, and sizes. Honestly, next time you need undergarments, look them up. I modeled my new bra in front of the mirror for about an hour when I was home last night.

I also had my first experience at M-O-M, My Organic Market. And oh, was it love at first sight. I’m already trying to switch over to a clean eating lifestyle, and having M-O-M and Whole Foods in Frederick is fabulous. My dad already frequents when he can and it will definitely be my one stop shop for all things kombucha. I surprised my friend Taylor with an afternoon snack (read: feast) of kombucha tea, organic ranch chips, roasted red pepper and gouda soup, and coffee from a local coffee shop. We sat in her room and totally indulged. Fabulous afternoon. Dinner with my folks (chicken and asparagus risotto…seriously good eatings) then I cuddled up and watched Sex and the City for the rest of the night. I may have also eaten a bowl or three of frozen blueberries. They’re my dessert weakness.

OatmealToday I decided I would be more personally productive – I had made overnight oats yesterday and tried them out for breakfast this morning. I followed the recipe from Julie from Peanut Butter Fingers (www.pbfingers.com) and thought they turned out pretty good. I didn’t have any fresh raspberries to add to it this morning though, and because I used raspberry Chobani, I wasn’t sure if any other fruit would work. Next time, I think I’ll stick with vanilla Chobani and add banana or strawberry. Still, a good breakfast. I’ll put the recipe I used (slightly tweaked from Julie’s) at the bottom of this post.

I’ve been struggling the past few days with running motivation. I hate admitting it because I’d like to come across as superwoman when it comes to my work out schedule but the reality is that sometimes I wake up and have so many other things I’d like to do. And then I whittle away my time and before I know it, it’s bed time/snowing/doomsday. After reading a few others’ blog posts today, I’m starting to get the bug again. It doesn’t help that it’s so cold out (hey, 20-something is cold!) and I’m along the lines of a bear when it comes to wanting to be warm. I mean, I’ve been awake since 9am today and have basically just done a lot of blog-related things. I’m hoping it warms up enough this afternoon that I can go for a long run and get some of the excess energy I’ve been carrying around out.

One of my big obsessions for the past year has been buying work out clothing. I’m finally starting to amass an amount that proper enough for an active lifestyle. And I can finally throw away a lot of my hideous T-shirts and saggy leggings that are not conducive to making me feel good about myself. Maybe you can agree, but I feel like when my work out garb is bright (and I mean neon), I’m more likely to put it on and feel active in it. My tanks are highlighter yellow and my jacket is buzzworthy pink. I just feel better about myself and, much like when I ‘dress the part’ for work and feel more accustomed to the day, when I ‘dress the part’ for working out, I feel like I am accomplishing more. Maybe that’s just me. But hey, if it gets me off the couch and pounding the pavement, who am I to question it?

Tonight I have bean soup, a long jog, and reading/snuggle time with man-sicle. A good Sunday.

– a.

What clothing do you struggle with fitting appropriately? What stores do you love to love?

How do you motivate yourself on your off days?

 

Overnight Oats Recipe

Overnightoats You just mix them all together in a bowl, cover, and let sit in your fridge overnight. Personally, I suggest that if you’re going to use a fruit-based yogurt, to use one that you would normally flavor your oatmeal. I’m trying the apple next and adding a tsp of Cinnamon. If you don’t like Greek yogurt (some don’t like the tang), regular should be okay but I’d say add a little less milk then. I use skim milk, but Almond/2%/Whole/Whatever should work.

Qi’a is a combination of chia seeds, buckwheat, and hemp seeds. I like it better than regular chia because I prefer the texture It’s organic and you could find it at your local Whole Foods (or M-O-M!). For Julie’s original recipe, look her up here: www.pbfingers.com

Or just look her up in general. Probably one of my favorite blogs to date.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

I may have borrowed the title from a WordPress daily prompt. That may be the point. This prompt was actually from a few days ago, but I read it and wanted to comment upon it. A while ago, I had said that I was going to talk about how I quit smoking back in May after almost seven years of smoking. I never got around to it, but today I am.

In an effort to be as cool as possible, I began smoking in 11th grade when I was sixteen. I could ponder on the “why” questions forever but I think it was a combination of curiosity and my ex-boyfriend smoked so I’d be around it and became used to it. Now, I grew up in a non-smoking family, for which I’m thankful. If I hadn’t, I probably would never have been able to quit. The first few times I smoked a cigarette, I did it all sorts of wrong. I didn’t get the point, just that the smell reminded me of my ex and boy did I feel cool (honestly). Then a friend showed me the proper way to smoke and off I went. In high school, it was a few a day. I remember smoking in my car after swim practice. Now, I could shake that person and hit her with a carton of cigarettes. Smoking is probably half the reason I quit the track team my senior year. Now, I had never been on it before, but I joined thinking that I could lose the few last pounds I glared at in high school, but quit after a few weeks. The other 50% of my reasoning was that I was so not a runner. Irony of ironies, that’s my favorite form of exercise now.

In college, I switched to menthol cigarettes and smoking half a pack a day. It became more difficult to only smoke once in a blue moon when I was surrounded by it on campus, at parties, even in front of my dorm. As someone with a history of seriously low self esteem and occasional bouts of overbearing social anxiety, I felt that smokers welcomed me. I had almost a ‘club’. Believe me, I know how this sounds now. But it’s the only way I can describe it.

smoking

Found this on my myspace – don’t ask me how long it took me to find my myspace. Sixteen, so cool

It’s not that I’m damning smoking, at all. Most of my friends still smoke, at least on occasion. But when I was sixteen really learning what a nicotine buzz was (so thaaaat was the point!), I told myself that I would quit by the time I graduated from college. That always stuck with me. I didn’t want to be a lifetime smoker. Deep down, the D.A.R.E. stuff stuck with me; my parents warnings about cardiovascular health when I was eighteen stuck with me. I tried to quit freshman year and didn’t smoke for two months. Actually picked up running then too (on ice, almost died, it was fabulous). But come finals week, I was super stressed and fell back into it. I played it off two different ways for years afterward: 1. I love smoking, I’m not quitting until I don’t like doing it anymore and 2. Oh, I need to quit. It’s just getting around to it that I’m fighting. I never actually admitted that it would probably be hard. I knew that quitting was going to be rough, that I wasn’t sure how to handle being around a lot of my friends. So, I used that fear and fed upon it and just kept on smoking, wasting money. There was one time, my freshman year, that I was completely broke and craving a cigarette so badly I was losing my ability to function as a human being (i.e. yelling at everybody). My boyfriend at the time drove all the way up to Shippensburg to drop off two packs of cigarettes for me. I should have known then, I should have made the change then. But I didn’t.

My last year of college, I quit again for two months in November. But, I damned myself. I liked a guy that smoked and also happened to be a bit of a prick. We had a habit of meeting up after I got out of work and sitting in his car, listening to his iPod and joking around for hours. This guy would tempt me with cigarettes, waving them in my face and trying to convince me to smoke. I remember telling my co-worker Greg about it and he, a smoker himself, screwed his face up and said, “Wow, that’s a dick move. He’s an asshole.” And I denied it! I was so motivated to quit, I’d switched to the electronic cigarette and was only smoking that when I needed it. I was so pro quitting that I practically had balloons following me around with Surgeon General’s facts. But the one thing I didn’t give up was that time with the guy. I’ve said it before, I’ve been hopeless when I have feelings for a guy. Just, don’t even try to convince me that something other than sunshine and joy comes out of his butt.

Needless to say, I ended up smoking. At first, it was only one or two with him, then eventually I just started buying my own packs. Say farewell, lifestyle change! And on it went until graduation.

By graduation last May, I had a serious, begrudging, yet honest talk with myself. I didn’t like smoking anymore. I hadn’t for a very long time. It gave me a headache, I hated the smell, I felt gross when I smoked, it was a waste of money, who knows what I was doing to my body, and who did I have to prove anything to anymore? I remembered that promise that my sixteen-year-old self had made. So, after graduation, I began the process of quitting again. This time, my motivation wasn’t the through the roof, bouncing off the walls, “YAY FOR NOT SMOKING” banners and whistles I’d had before. It was a quiet realization: I had to quit. It was time. I needed to, if not wanted to.

So this is, getting to the crux of the matter, what I did: I cut down to two a day for a week if I wanted them. I bought a “last pack” that would keep me for the end of my smoking days. I blew through most of it during an alcohol-fueled Memorial Day campout at my friend and former roommate’s house. But that was okay, it was almost a last hurrah – which is not something I suggest, it just worked for me. I went to the beach the next morning with another friend that, while she smoked, promoted my quitting. She held on to my pack the night before and the trip. I smoked one cigarette on the six-hour trip down (impressive for me, a notorious car smoker), then only once a day the entire trip. Honestly, it was probably easier because I had things like the beach to distract me (though the alcohol did not!). After coming home, it was cold turkey time. I stopped, no electronic cigarette this time. I’d used that as a crutch, like an addict could use methadone. It didn’t actually help, just perpetuated the need and the habit.

I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy. I stayed in a lot, asked friends if we could go to bars or other places that didn’t allow smoking inside – a lot of Shippensburg bars allow it – and let myself walk away when I wanted one. It stunk that I worked in a facility that I had to go out with patients for their smoke breaks, but secondhand smoke has always grossed me out so if anything, it helped me not want to smoke. So I didn’t smoke a single cigarette for over six months afterwards, beating my two month curse.

I’d like to say that I never smoked again, but I have when a few sheets past tipsy. It’s a combination of my lowered inhibitions and others offering me them. Not that I blame them, at all, but it doesn’t help my willpower. Luckily, that’s only happened a few times. I try not to beat myself up over it, remind myself that what’s most important is that next morning, I don’t do it again. And I don’t. The craving is gone. The urge is gone. Even drunk, I’m doing a lot better. It helps that the guy I ‘go out’ with, while he smokes, doesn’t like me smoking. You’d think that would be hypocritical, but I love it. I love when people promote it. My parents are happy, happier than I think they’ll tell me, my family for the most part is proud, my friends (especially the non-smokers!) are excited for me, and I’m proud. I’m proud of myself.

So what does this have to do with the writing prompt? The prompt itself asked how you deal with big changes. To be honest, I’m great at adapting. It’s how I ignore great pain, deal with break ups, and deal with life. I focus on it, look for a solution, and if I can’t find one, I let go of the worry. Don’t get me wrong, I worry a lot. But it’s about different things! Great reasoning, self. I found, that when it comes to me, a little preparation goes a very long way. And that’s how I deal with changes – I’m proactive.

 

 

Food/Exercise

I’m actually waiting for my phone to charge so that I can go running. I have to tell you though, I look fantastic – I’m all mismatched shades of neon yellow and pink. Adorable. I’m going to run at least a mile and a half. I need to start working it up to two miles again soon. I just wish it would get warm out!

Brefiss

This morning for breakfast I toasted a “Nature’s Own” sandwich round (100 calories for the whole shebang!) with a piece of provologne and topped it with scrambled eggs that were three parts egg white, 1 part yolk (seasoned with sea salt, black pepper, basil, and tobasco), arugula, and tomato. I put the other tomato slices on the side for fun. I also had a delicious orange and yogi tea. I’m not sure what I’m having for lunch, but dinner with likely be a lean cuisine. I’ve had this for breakfast a few times now, and I love it. So good, so filling.

I’m going to try my hand at overnight oats tonight. Wish me luck!

What is your favorite breakfast food?

How do you deal with big changes in your life?

 

Happy Thursday!

– a.

Queen of Prussia, Pennsylvania

Anyone who has seen my Facebook knows that I went on my first “business trip” (also known as a corporate training) this week to King of Prussia, PA. I’d actually never been to the area before, so I was pretty excited to go on my first trip all by myself. Talk about feeling like an adult!

The training itself was on Service Excellence; I am now one of about 600 Service Excellence Champions (what a name!) for my corporation. That may sound like a lot, but it’s out of 65,000 employees. It was a fantastic opportunity, I loved the training, facilitator, and all of the fabulous people that I met.

Monday

I arrived in town Monday evening, after a pretty eventful morning. I woke up and my car wouldn’t start! I wasn’t home, so I had to call and have roadside assistance come start my car for me. Luckily, it started, but after waiting ten minutes then driving to a gas station…it wouldn’t start again! Turns out, the battery had short circuited, probably from snow coming up and making a mess. My parents were super helpful and got me into our local mechanic and he had it changed really fast. I fiddled around with getting everything together, and then entirely over packed, but finally made my way up to the Hyatt Place and checked in.

HyattRoomCollage

My room was gorgeous! King bed, desk, bathroom with a HUGE shower, a sitting area with a little movable table that I was for some reason totally enthralled by, and a flat screen TV that swiveled. That about changed my life, folks. The second picture shows my shawl on the back of the couch and yoga mat on the floor. I kind of move in, even if it’s for 48 hours.

Unfortunately, I did not take any photos of my first evening. I caught up with my friend Tom (or, as we called him in college, ‘TB’…long story) at ‘The Fox and the Hound’ right outside of the mall. I still feel silly taking pictures of food in public, not to mention photos of myself (especially after a drink or two…I have my mom’s penchant for wine teeth). We had a few drinks, him drinking beer and me drinking a martini and wine, and grabbed a bite. I’m not going to lie, I ate the crap out of some fish and chips (ohh…soooo gooood) and fell asleep feeling pretty fat and sassy that night.

Tuesday

Training started at 9am on Tuesday, and even though the headquarters was only about a mile and a half from my hotel, I wanted to get an early start. So, up at 7…okay 7:15, ran for about a mile and a half on the treadmill in the fitness center, showered, breakfast, then headed out! Aaaand proceeded to get lost. In a mile. Not the headquarters fault, completely mine.

ExerciseRoomFin

Hyatt had a particularly fabulous free continental breakfast with fruit, cereal, oatmeal and toppings, bagels, all sorts of juice, and a “skillet bar” with pancakes and meat/egg/cheese type sandwiches which I am obsessed with and will learn to make at home.

Breakfast1

So good.

After the training, wherein they served a pretty darn good lunch (sandwich on crusty bread, AMAZING pasta salad, chips, cookies, and soda), I made my way back to the hotel and very quickly found myself bored again. I don’t usually need constant entertainment, but I had left books at home and the only book on my iPad (which I did remember!) is my “Journey to Joyful”, which I just wasn’t in the mood to read. So I spent most of the afternoon and evening reviewing the information I had to present today, practicing some yoga, perusing WAY too many health blogs, and watching Castle. I even meandered to the King of Prussia mall, which scared the bejesus out of me. Alone, with not very much spending money, in a mall with a THREE STORY Urban Outfitters?! Bad news Batman. I checked it out, picked up a work out shirt that could pass as a bathing suit, and headed back to the hotel. I ordered food from the hotel for dinner and was pleasantly surprised.

Dinner

I fought a lot of fried cravings Tuesday night for some reason, even coming to the point of looking for directions to Wegman’s. I knew that I wasn’t hungry and the craving was useless, so I distracted myself by working out (again?! again!) and spending some time in the pool and hot tub. I have to tell you, I missed swimming so much. I forgot to snap a photo of the pool and hot tub, plus I didn’t really want to bring my phone in there, but the pool was a great temperature and the hot tub was huge! I went an hour before it closed for the night so most of the time I was there I was completely alone. I’d love to include the strength workout I did, but I have to look up the names of some of the arm work I did (ha! I didn’t even know what I was doing!). I’m going to look it up and put it in my next blog post though, because I’m feeling pretty sore today.

After that, irritatingly enough, I was still craving something salty, crunchy, and cheesy. Begone cravings! I made a big ol’ cup of tea instead and settled down to watch The Adjustment Bureau and fall asleep.

Wednesday

Presentation day! Started my morning off slowly, checking out and eating breakfast. More fruit, more coffee, and another egg/cheese/biscuit thing. I ended up pulling the biscuit off to save calories but it was still delicious.

Breakfst2

My performance went pretty well! After years in theatre, years public speaking and presenting, and a year and a half facilitating groups to 60 people, I’m pretty comfortable in front of others. We presented ten minutes of the training we’d facilitate on our own back at our respective companies, then gave ourselves a “what I did right, one thing I would change” opinion, then everyone else did. It reminded me a lot of my Advanced Fiction Writing class and made me feel a little nostalgic. Being that I was the youngest person there, I thought I did really well. My main issue is that I speak a million miles a minute and have extremely high energy. The energy is good, but I need to work on balancing between supreme energy and calm efficiency. I never realized until recently how naturally self-deprecating humor comes to me. I’ll make little jokes about myself all the time, which kept the group laughing. I feel pretty confident in my ability, which is wonderful. I could rave about my experience for about three more pages, but I won’t. All I can suggest is that if you have an opportunity to attend trainings for your work to better yourself as a person and employee, do it.

While at the training, I had a Chobani yogurt (the only yogurt they sold, bless them!) and a chicken wrap for lunch. Yum yum!

My drive home was a very long three hours but I’m happy to be home. It’s time for dinner – my mom made frozen pizza. How cruel is she?!

Lastly, I’m also participating in the 28-Day Blog Challenge. Basically, it’s a combination of spring cleaning and general adding to my blog. I want to take this, hopefully, from a twice a month rant-fest to an actual blog, an actual hobby. I’m still going to rant, don’t you worry, but I want to work toward adding a health blog aspect. I’m obsessed with health blogs. So, you’ll be seeing some changes. Like what I write? Share it on facebook! Or Twitter! Or Google+! I’ll end with questions:

What would you like to see more of or less of on this blog?

Have you ever gone on a business trip? How was it?

How would you make this blog better?

More later! – a.

Orange you glad it’s February?

Ah yes, February. The shortest, usually coldest month of the year with a holiday dedicated solely to people in lub. My friend Taylor and I already have plans to grab Valentine’s cocktails during Happy Hour but after that…well, I guess I’m not sure what’s going on yet. That’s okay, Valentine’s Days for me have been pretty shabby over the years of my adult life. Not that I’ve been alone, but kind of screwed over. At least when February is over, Spring starts to peek her timid face out. Speaking of the weather…

Well, this corner of Maryland bid a rather bitter farewell today to the warm weather we were treated with earlier this week. Granted, most of yesterday was spent staring out at a torrent of rainfall but at least it was in the upper 50’s. I woke up this morning later than usual because I hit the snooze button a few times and then just flat out fell back asleep for 20 minutes. Blame “Shopaholic and Baby” and my inability to put a book down even though I’ve read it fifteen times. After kind of drop and rolling out of bed, I got dressed and went for a run.

I’ve actually been trying to update my work out clothing for a while now. All throughout college (I use the terms ‘all throughout’ very loosely…more like ‘once every three months’) I was pretty much an oversized T-shirt and cheerleading shorts type of girl. But then I found Target. And realized that when I ran in the leggings I usually wore as, well, pants, they didn’t stay up. One breezy afternoon the world was treated to my butt regularly peeking out because my tank top kept riding up and my leggings just wanted to chill with my knees. Compression pants entered my life about a month ago and I am so in love. They’re meant to keep your muscles warm to prevent strain, which mine do, but they also make my butt look faaabulous. And they’re pink. There’s that. So, today, because the wind was making the walls creak at 10 am, I dressed warm for the weather. Compression pants first, then yoga pants for warmth and to prevent all the pink in my outfit from super clashing because oh it really does, two bras (busty girls understand this), a long sleeve shirt weirdly enough from Rue 21, and my running jacket from Old Navy that I got for Christmas that I absolutely adore and wear all the time.

Don't me while I awkwardly show you the secret to my running warmth - and how much I love mismatched shades of pink in work out clothing!

Don’t me while I awkwardly show you the secret to my running warmth – and how much I love mismatched shades of pink in work out clothing!

The run was pretty nice, other than the fact that I started to blow across the park. My shins did twinge a little bit, so I tried to focus more on walking in good form rather than pushing too hard. I did push myself up and down a pretty steep hill in my neighborhood and felt like a super baller. Ever start doing something and go “oh I wish someone were videotaping me right now because I bet I look like a champion”? No? Just me? Swell. Afterward I came home and did 20 crunches with a medicine ball and 2 different sets of arm work with my resistance band. Not bad, I was running late or would’ve gotten some more done. My co-worker has been doing a work out that’s 15 minutes long before she showers every day. It’s a good idea, I may try it. Unfortunately, I usually already work out before I shower.

I’m going to talk about my meals at the end but I have to say, I ate meals in different quantity today than usual and really noticed a difference in my snacking and hunger patterns. It’s great, actually. I really haven’t strayed too much. I even decided against a chocolate chip cookie! That is BIG for me. You have no idea. My family loves cookies.

Next week I have my ‘Service Excellence’ corporate training and I’m a little worried about how it’s going to go. No lie, I’ve never done something like this before. It’ll be good though, and I love staying in hotels. Does that make me weird? Probably.

That’s all really, I’m really ready for the weekend and hopefully will get to plan a few fun things with friends. When it’s cold and crappy out, I have a tendency to hibernate and then grump about hibernating. My dad’s a little bit less of a pansy than me when it comes to hiking in the cold.

Well, I wrote most of this at work on my break (productivity!) and just updated it. We were a little busy at the end of the night and there was some departmental issues. Sometimes I wish everyone had to shadow every other position in the facility to better understand what their job actually consisted of, because we all (I’m definitely guilty too) sometimes assume things that aren’t true. But, tomorrow is the last day before the weekend! Upbeat!

Breakfast, y’all

Whole grain bagel with garlic hummus, scrambled eggs (1 part yolk, 3 parts white), and provologne, and an orange.

Whole grain bagel with garlic hummus, scrambled eggs (1 part yolk, 3 parts white), and provologne, and an orange.

breakfastdos131

I was so full after this that I didn’t even finish my orange! It was fantastic, filling and really helped me to eat at appropriate times the rest of the day. I didn’t find myself snacking anywhere near as much and I said “no” to a lot of things I’d normally reach for! Yay running and protein-filled breakfasts!

Lunch

Mind you, this was eaten around 7:30pm. I had a small scoop of mashed potatoes at 5 with the patients at dinner and that somehow filled me up HARD.

190 calories of sun-dried tomato bliss. Pretty darn good for being from the freezer. Like how I label my food at work?

190 calories of sun-dried tomato bliss. Pretty darn good for being from the freezer. Like how I label my food at work?

This was good, and even though I was craving something cheesy, it was satisfying. I had a low fat muffin too. Okay, I had two. I didn’t have fruit around!

Dinner/Snack

When I got home, I really only wanted a Bloody Mary light on vodka and bed. I love the salty, spiciness of a Bloody Mary, not going to lie. What lies below looks fried, but is actually only around 150 calories and is vegetarian. Mmm…cabbage.

I don't use Bloody Mary mix at home, I use V8 juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, tobasco, and Old Bay.

I don’t use Bloody Mary mix at home, I use V8 juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, tobasco, and Old Bay.

 

Those were my meals! It equaled out to be probably about 1300 calories, which is darn tootin’ for me. I have no idea why I’m adding all these weird semi-Southern phrases to everything. Good night!

-a.