Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Destressor

Working out more consistently the last week+ has really created benefits in other areas of my life. I know this so I'm happy that I picked it up again. I willed myself to get my butt moving because I knew it would pay off.

I'm sleeping better.
I have more energy in the morning.
My skin looks better.
I feel more productive.
Body feels more like mine.
Feel less stressed.

I managed a 4.8 mile run yesterday morning. Last week I managed a little under 18 miles ran in total along with other workouts. I want to run every day this week until I head off to PA with the boys.

Last weekend was Easter! Saturday, we spent it with friends for a day of adult Easter games. I didn't drink (as usual) but that's never stopped me from having fun. They had a "beer hunt" where cans of beers were painted different colors for different points hidden in the garden. Teams of two had to run around collecting the beers and drinking it before moving on to the next can. Jason and I were a team and we placed last! I had fun because we had to hold hands through it all.

The second game was a relay race around the house in teams of 4. We had to wear an over-sized Easter dress, carry a basket and run around the house. Afterwards, pass the dress to your teammate to repeat until everyone has done it. I think we placed second? I swear we would have won if the person infront of me didn't hand me the dress in a balled mess.

There's an art to taking off dresses. I think I've had plenty of practice over the years of avoiding make-up stains on clothing and minimizing wrinkles. 

It's probably my OCD mother's training. She HATES it when she's doing laundry and our clothes are balled up. 

On Sunday, we went to Church in the morning with Jason's relatives. Afterwards, we had lunch at their house.

I baked miniature cinnamon rolls before Church to bring to their house. I made the dough the night before so it was ready for me in the morning. I chose not to ice the buns since they were sweet enough for me.

This is the recipe I followed.



My sister sent me the sweetest compliment yesterday about my skin. Now that I'm nearing 30, I'm even more vigilant but I'm glad I started in middle school. 

My brother is a tad lazy but I put the products on his bathroom counter. At his age, it's all about cleansing, moisturizing and sunscreen. I figure it's never too early to adopt good habits. He'll thank me later.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! I can't believe April is almost over.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Vanity sizing...it's not going to go away

I'm happy to report that my silence in blogiverse doesn't mean I fell off the healthy bandwagon.

I have to be honest that every time I go on my runs, the first thing I think about is I should write about x, y and z, then I get home and other things take over. By the time I get around to blogging, it seems that the window of opportunity has passed.

I have a few mini trips coming up this: one trip to my old college stomping grounds and another trip to Philadelphia to attend a wedding. My sorority is having its 20 year anniversary (since it was founded on campus) so it's a huge reunion of sorts. Jason and brother are going with me but they won't be attending any of the events. I known and dated Jason throughout most of college. He is Greek also and was dragged to enough sisterhood events, fundraisers, community service events. After graduation, I've given him a pass to most of these events since it's mostly just girls catching up and gossiping. Jason is excited to go back too since both of us haven't been back since 2010.

My brother hasn't been back since he was 6-7 years old so he doesn't really remember the school. It'll be fun to show him around since sisterhood events won't take over the entire weekend. He remembers odd things like there was construction outside my apartment and the gates across the street from Allen Street Grill.

I also have a wedding-related mission that weekend. I want to take casual engagement photos throughout canvas with the fiance. I have a list of spots that I need to get through. We'll see how it goes and if I love the way they turn out.

Planning outfits for next weekend for central PA has been on my mind. It snowed yesterday in NYC and PA. What? The weather report says it's going to be perfect when we are there but then again, I'm always skeptical.

We all headed to the Orlando outlets last weekend to give our closets a spring update. Jason ended up getting more things than I did. I was actually disappointed in the lack of things I was interested in buying. I did love all the pieces that I bought.

Things have really changed in the last 3-4 years. Before, I loved shopping but I never tried things on because I was embarrassed to go into the fitting rooms. I would end up buying a lot of clothes that didn't fit me or didn't fit me right. I couldn't wear 70% of my closet. I ended up giving a lot of clothes away as well as seeing if my sister wanted them.

I used to buy clothes for my sister a lot because it was so easy to buy clothes for her size. It made me feel good seeing my sister wear the clothes that I only dreamed of fitting into.

Now, it's nice that I don't need to live vicariously through other people. I can try on those trends on myself.

What have I found out?

Sizes are not universal throughout store so don't be so hung up on the number. What's important is how the clothing fits on your body. A size 4 dress was loose on me yet I'm a standard 6 in most stores. I normally
grab the 6 and go from there: up or down depending on how I want it to fit. My shirt size is S but sometimes, I like it in M.

I was in one particular store looking at one rack when I overheard the worker ask loudly the woman next to me "What size are you?"

I might be a little sensitive, but I think a lot of women hate being asked that.

The woman gave a wordy response that was something like, "It depends on the store. Sometimes I'm an S."

I can tell you that she wasn't an S.

Vanity sizing is a real thing. I thought I was a size 10 for years until I realized at this store, a size 10 was closer to a 12-14. When I tried on a REAL standard 10, I was shocked to find out it didn't fit.

This is a chart from 2011 from the New York Times but I think it's relevant to bring up.
The article was Am I a Size 4? 8? 10?

Click on image for larger image

In this chart, it shows the measurements of what different brands equate to a size 8.

I remember going to one store where they said I could fit into a size 2 jean there. I looked at them skeptically because I know my hips are not size 2. I like that I have some curves.

I do have to admit that I loved it when I saw myself shrinking and my dress size go down.

What are your experiences with shopping and vanity sizing? 

I promise to be better at blogging. Consistency is key in all things!

So excited for my upcoming trips!

Hope you are all doing well.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Adjusting, tweaking and musing about the photoshop diet

I'm finally back to pre-Thanksgiving weight after weighing in this week. Last week's loss was around 3 lbs which is fantastic. This was due mainly to portion control and not due to exercise.

I did exercise a bit last week and stayed active but nowhere where I am usually.

I went for a nice run yesterday and managed 4.8 miles followed with 100 squats. It was a fantastic run...once I managed to will myself to get out the door. Seriously, the hard part is getting started. Once I'm there, I commit.

One of the ways I've been controlling my portion sizes is eating out of smaller plates and bowls. I choose to eat out of a bowl or a salad plate therefore I eat less.

Another thing I've been good about the last few weeks is not eating after dinner. Our dinner is fairly early between 5:30 and 6:30 so I cut myself off afterwards. One way to do that has been to brush my teeth and floss immediately after. The mint in my mouth is a great deterrent from eating anything else (ever eat an orange after brushing your teeth?....blech)

What are some ways you have successfully controlled your portions?

This whole year so far I feel like I've been playing catch-up and trying to stay afloat. Then again with wedding planning, I think it's normal to always feel behind on something.

I know many brides-to-be put themselves on an extreme diet before the wedding. I'm being vigilant on my plan but not going to do anything drastic like starve myself. I do plan on going balls-to-the-walls (excuse my expression) the two months leading to the wedding but it'll probably be something like increased strength training, consistent running, controlled carbs, limited sweets and more beauty sleep.

I had the funniest conversation with my sister the other day post-Oscar viewing.

Me: "Why does X-celebrity always look so pissed in photos?"
My sister: "She's hungry."

The plan is to go easy in the holiday season by not making a huge Thanksgiving spread (I know....what?!) and not allowing Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas to snowball into a giant food-fest where I pay for it in January playing catch-up the months prior to the wedding.

I haven't gained a massive amount of holiday weight in the last few years (within 5-8 lbs) but it takes a long time to shed those pounds too if I'm not careful.

Did you put yourself on a wedding diet? What was it?

On that note, remember that post a few weeks ago where I posted one of our formal shots taken 3 winters ago?

 I posted the un-photoshopped version and many of you commented that you don't see where they needed to photoshop (which was super sweet) but I'll show you what I meant by them over-photoshopping something.

I assure you, I made sure the final edit was NOT like that at all.

I saw the photos and said immediately, "This is abnormal. I don't like this at all."

Left (unedited at all, all lighting, make-up, poses)
Right (photoshopped)


Left (unedited at all, all lighting, make-up, poses)
Right (photoshopped)

Notice how they seem to try to edit my arms? As if I didn't already feel self-conscious about them!

I'm at a lower weight than I was when I took these photos and I think I've toned up in other areas but one of my problem areas has always been my arms. Throughout my life, I've had a hard time wearing clothes that revealed my arms. I had a huge collection of cardigans, light jackets, wraps, shawls...anything to cover up the arms that I hated.

Nowadays while it's still a work in progress, I am more confident about them. I'm grateful that for the most part, my body has bounced back from the damage I did to it in the past.

Here's a Youtube video where someone created a tutorial how-to use photoshop to "lose-weight fast"!


It has 8.85 million views so far since it was posted in 2008.

My sister also has told me about someone in the field who would photoshop every single photo she's in before posting it on social media. I'll leave it at that. 

The need for "perfection" is going to drive us crazy all if we let it! 

I think there needs to be a serious reality check that everyone has to go through on this journey. I've had to differentiate between attainable goals and crazy expectations. 

There is no one size fits all; even the clothes that say they are, fit people in different ways!

Thoughts?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

MIA but resurfacing!

Last week was a blur where I struggled through the week with a cold. I caught it from Jason and apparently, I passed the sickness onto my brother who is coughing up a storm today.

Productivity was at an all-time low last week which meant I was playing catch up all week.

I'm happy to report that my weight remained the same this week when I weighed-in. Let's hope for better results next week.

Wedding planning has definitely been a top priority in the last few weeks and hopefully, we'll be finalizing the contract within the next few weeks. Yes people, we picked a venue!

Before I get onto that, here's some much belated posting about Valentine's Dinner.


The Menu
Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Salad
Cream of Bacon and Corn Soup
Seared NY Strip Steak
Roasted Garlic Butter Broiled Lobster
Sides: Steamed Broccoli and Mashed Potatoes

Dessert: Homemade Profiteroles with Custard Cream and Fresh Strawberries
New York Style Chocolate Swirled Cheesecake




Exercise for the most part has been nonexistent the last week but energy and appetite has been at an all time low also. I've managed to cook this entire time so there's that.

I was reminded last week that so far, my brother hasn't needed to buy lunch at school. I've managed to pack something every single day this year! I think that's pretty cool considering some of the days were literally post-travel. 

Being sick sucks but I'm glad I bounced back pretty fast. Now to make sure the whole house gets back to 100%!

I hope you have all been doing well!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

#tbt Throwback Thursday

In the very beginning of my journey, I would motivate myself by looking at photos at my highest weight. I would picture myself at that point and how I felt about myself. It would always give me the jolt I needed to go the extra mile, be extra good about portions and celebrate my current progress.

I can't tell you the last time I looked at some of those photos which shows you how much my source of motivation has changed. It does help from time to time reminisce like I'm doing today.

Even though I've only been around this weight for less than two years, I can honestly say that it's hard to imagine going back to being that person.

Throwback photo....

So much bubbling under the surface ...(Spring 2008)

Here's another throwback photo.


This journey hasn't been immediate but I'd like to say some habits I've adopted have stuck throughout the last few years. Even when I regain pounds it's always manageable and I've been able to stop the gain in its track. I did stop for a year only to find myself about 12 lbs higher than my lowest weight but I quickly reversed it within three months.

When I started on this journey, my ultimate goal was to find a sustainable way to live. I wanted healthy life - physically and emotionally.

I was asked yesterday night by a friend, "Are you still on your health kick?"

I replied honestly, "I've never been off of it." Sure, I indulge but that's how I stay healthy - by living in moderation.

Most days I'm stricter than others but a few days I allow myself to indulge where I'm willing to deal with the consequences.

I posted a new photo from our engagement shoot a few years ago online today. I chose the red dress because it's Valentine's Day tomorrow! Here's the photo without being retouched or photoshopped. I have a retouched version but I chose to show the undoctored version. 


I have to admit I was quick to look at this photo and critique my "problem areas" only to stop myself. We're so used to seeing perfect (unrealistic and doctored) photos of celebrities that sometimes it's hard not to have a skewed vision of what beauty is.

Ultimately, I know that the smiles in those photos are genuine and heart-felt. 

Tomorrow's Valentine's day and I have an idea of what I'm making but I need to make a quick grocery trip to pick up a few key ingredients.

I'm trying not to go overboard this year because Jason is trying to be mindful of his weight so I'm being supportive by not tempting him. I do want to make at least one dessert though with a side of chocolate covered strawberries. (Last year's V-Day post)



Last year's Valentine's Day Menu
Candied Walnut, Cranberry, Spinach and Romaine Lettuce Salad
Grilled Sirloin Steak with Steamed Green Beans
Seared Salmon over Creamed Spinach
Roasted Potatoes with Parmesan and Parsley

Dessert Menu
Tiramisu Parfait Cups
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Cheesecake Bars

What are your Valentine's Day Plans?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Recipe: Spiced Stewed Chickpeas

When I was in NYC a few weeks ago for my birthday weekend, my friends and I had brunch at a Prune. This restaurant has been on my to-eat list for a long time.

Our check came with a few pieces of licorice. Super cute but sadly, I'm not a fan of the flavor.

Prune is known for their brunch so when my friends arrived, we were told it would be a 45 minute wait. It was chilly but ultimately the food was delicious and worth it.

One of my friends ordered their spicy stewed chickpea dish served with warm flatbread, eggs and preserved lemons. The eggs were lightly breaded which was super unique.

Forgive this super blurry shot!

This dish inspired me to make something similar this week because I wanted to make a vegetarian entree that was befitting the chilly weather we've been having around here.

 My pantry is always fully stocked with dried beans that may take longer to prepare but if you soak them overnight, it doesn't take too long to serve in a completely cooked dish. Sometimes when I forget to soak overnight or spontaneously want to use them, I speed up the process by bringing the dried beans to a boil in a pot covered with at least 2" of water, then I turn the heat off, cover the pot and allow the beans to soak. 

Every week I make a batch of different flavored hummus so currently, I have a large bag of dried chickpeas in my pantry.

It seems a "cold front" is heading our way so with the weather changing, the boys seemed to both be feeling slightly under the weather. Neither has a full-blown cold yet but there's symptoms that are showing up and I'll do everything in my power to stop the symptoms from worsening. 

(Side note: I'm feeling fit as a fiddle! - when's the last time you heard someone use that phrase?)

I made a spiced chickpea dish this week with some of my pantry staples and a few fresh ingredients that I had on hand. It was super easy and was great to go along with crusty bread or warm flatbread.

Spiced Stewed Chickpeas


Ingredients
2-3 cups cooked, drained Chickpeas
5 cloves Garlic (minced)
2 Tbsp Fresh Ginger (grated)
1 whole Sweet Onion (chopped)
1 Large Tomato (chopped)
1 cup Tomato Puree
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
1 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Tumeric
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes *optional and adjustable
zest and juice of 1 Lemon
1/2 cup Fresh Cilantro (chopped)
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. In a deep skillet with a lid, add olive oil and heat on medium-high heat
2. Add cumin seeds and fry until fragrant (about 30 seconds)
3. Add onions, garlic and ginger to the pan and saute for 1 minute
4. Sprinkle spices (ground cumin, ground coriander, paprika, tumeric, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper) onto the mixture and saute until vegetables have softened.
5. Add chickpeas to the mixture and saute for a few minutes
6. Add chopped tomatoes and tomato puree to the mixture. 
7. Add juice and zest of one lemon into mixture. Stir the pot for a few minutes.
7. Cover the skillet with the lid and turn the heat to low.
8. Allow everything to simmer at least for an hour to allow the flavors to develop.
9. Top with fresh cilantro and serve with desired sides

The chickpeas would be delicious served with warm flatbread and goat cheese. I know this might sound odd to some people but I love goat cheese with everything!

What are some of your favorite vegetarian entrees?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Just do it.

First things first, who else is like this in the morning?


I may be a morning person but nothing revs me up more than a good cup of coffee. I don't need my coffee to be black since I like my lattes with 1% but I skip on the sugar and cream. My cup of coffee is normally 65% coffee and 45% frothy milk. 

I finally went out for a run this morning. After a week off of running, it felt good to get back on the road. Honestly, I was reluctant to get on the road but after I was a few blocks away from my house, I had my headphones on and I got a good 4 mile run in.


I don't want to waste the great weather we've been having lately.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Tuesday. Thanks for the lovely comments last post :)
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