Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dream Big

This economy has really put a damper on things in my household, but as usual, I’ve done my best to be as positive as possible. I mean seriously, there’s no use in being negative.
Now I’m by no means Sally Sunshine all day every day, but we’ve had a hell of a year and the way I see it, we’re alive and healthy. So what if we’re poor?

OK we’re not exactly POOR…but the word budget has much more of a meaning than ever before. I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir—bear with me. There’s a meaning behind this.

If you had to start over in a new city, where would it be? I mean, realistically. If you had no job, no mortgage, no kids to worry about (even though kids are portable too) … are you with me? Where would you go?

I have always loved the desert. When I was a senior in HS I looked at going to the University of Arizona because my aunt (and Godmother) was a professor there and could have gotten me free tuition.
Now I’m sure you’re thinking…Where did you go to school?

NOT the University of Arizona.


My family wouldn’t let me. There was no way they were letting me go to school across the country and leave my mom alone….aahhhh OK. I get it. So being the youngest, I had to stay closer to home. Plus my family didn’t believe I was mature enough to go. OK, now that might have been so…but really, who’s THAT mature at 18? I think I would have been fine, but hindsight is always 20/20.

That being said, I’ve always has this burning desire to move to the desert since that was taken away from me when I had the chance at 18. Things have kept me from being able to move there since (school, work, boyfriend, etc.) but since this economy has wreaked havoc on our future, I’ve gotten Dennis to consider the desert.

Not that he’d agree with my idea of “packing everything up that we can in my car and his jeep, giving the cats some natural ‘chill out pills’ courtesy of my good friend Elizabeth, and driving out west to stay temporarily with my aunt (who says she would gladly have us.) That’s just too risky.

But isn’t life all about risks??

OK back to reality. But the answer to my own question is that I would love to move to Phoenix. From there I’d like to try Lake Tahoe (man I hear it’s gorgeous there) and maybe Huntington Beach CA (I have a friend from there too.) I also wouldn’t mind giving SanFran a try (I left my heart in….I’ll spare it) and I’ve always wanted to check out Mountain View.

Maybe it’s because I’ve lived on the east coast my entire life and I H.A.T.E humid weather, but if I had the chance right now, I’d be heading west in a heartbeat.

To all you guys out there reading this out west (and you know who you are) don’t be surprised if I show up on your doorstep. SURPRISE!!! ;)

Oh and here was something for dinner tonight after my 30 minute elliptical/20 minute upper body workout on the balance ball. (Stupid injury)

A baked chicken breast chopped up with avocado wrapped in lettuce. Polly, have I thanked you enough for this yet?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Never underestimate the power of cleaning

I knew I had some work to do yesterday with trying to get our place organized. We’re not slobs by any means, but it doesn’t take much to get a sparkling clean house dirty with two cats and a man…hahaha
I spent yesterday late morning and early afternoon cleaning. I:

  • Cleaned the bathroom which includes sink, toilet, tub, and floor, which I scrubbed on my hands and knees. This in itself took me an hour.
  • Swept all the floors in our apt. We have very nice hardwood floors and our place is pretty big. This took me about 25 minutes.
  • Vacuumed the oriental carpet in our dining room
  • Used the hose to vacuum up cat hair clumps in hidden places
  • Cleaned up kitty vomit (gross)
  • Cleaned up the kitchen, put dishes away, started a new load, etc
  • Then I got into a fight with some pizza dough for our Sunday night pizza

Let me tell you. Between the cleaning and the fight with the pizza dough (I finally won, by the way, and boy am I glad no one was here to witness it. It was quite embarrassing) I worked up a sweat.
The foot was a little swollen today but nothing that a little ice couldn’t handle.

SIDENOTE: I’m sure I’ve already explained that I’m not a huge movie person but Dennis and I watched Juno last night and I LOVED it. She was hysterical. Loved it.

I can’t find my photos but I made another batch of my amazing vegan black bean chili in my slow cooker. I love my slow cooker. It’s so nice to have a nice meal to come home to after a long day at work. And when it’s hot and humid, it’s nice not to have the oven on.  If you don’t have one, get one. Now. Seriously.

Do you think a nutrition and overall wellness unit should be included in schools? I know there’s a health unit already but from what I remember, it was more sexual health than anything else. And honestly, no one took it seriously. It was only taught in 9th grade and it wasn’t a full credit. We need to start much younger. It’s like teaching a second language – the younger you get them to start, the easier it will be for them to learn, the more you encourage them to keep up with it, the better chance they will.

Now I know I can’t leave you without at least one picture, so here are two of the kitties.

This is what I call Taxidermy kitty. When it’s hot, Marley likes to lay on his back or side with his paws out and this freakishly almost dead look on his face. His mouth is open too. It looks like he’s a stuffed kitty. Hence, Taxidermy kitty.

Dylan likes to burrow his way under any sheet or blanket he can find. I have an egg crate and sheets on our futon for when guests stay over. He owns this futon now. He was hiding under the egg crate and peeked out to say hello.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

It’s all about trying new things

I had a very HEAB/Polly-esque dinner last night. Something that I would never have tried had I not read their blogs.

And it was damn good.
When Dennis and I decided to do our own thing for dinner (sometimes we just can’t agree) I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try Polly’s chicken wrap. I bought some Boston lettuce and put it to good use. All I have to say Polly is: What took me so long???
I took a small chicken breast and seasoned it lightly with salt, pepper, and a tiny bit of garlic. I sliced it up and placed two small pieces each into a piece of lettuce, and then topped it with chunky Teddie (PB)
I know HEAB and Polly use almond butter but I honestly prefer PB.

IMG_2394 IMG_2395
On the side I had some baked acorn squash with PB (this idea came from HEAB) and fresh asparagus (lightly cooked for extra crunch)
And I was seriously drooling while I ate it was so good. Seriously.

I would like to thank Polly and HEAB and all the other food bloggers out there who have seriously helped change my life. (Caitlin!!)All of you guys have put yourselves out there and have helped me to see different ways of eating and living healthy, and thank GOD none of these things include anything fake. You all ROCK. I seriously have never felt better.

I would never have even begun to think of putting these combinations together for a meal. PB on veggies? On chicken??? But my oh my did I really enjoy this dinner. I will admit though, as good as this was, I felt like I was missing something after I was done. I ate this entire plate and although I was full, I was still craving something else. I estimated that this dinner had around 500 calories, more or less. I waited three hours and decided I wanted ice cream. BUT we had a party going on on our street and there were cars everywhere, so after I got Dennis’ hopes up for a trip to our favorite homemade ice cream shop, we decided to save our parking spot. It’s OK, Nutella on a low-fat graham cracker with some Chobani on top did the trick :) Sorry, I ate it too fast for a picture. It actually tastes like a S’more….that’s why I like it so much. I call it my “healthy” S’more because it has much less fat and less sugar than a regular S’more. Hey, every little bit counts right? ;)

Shortly after my upstairs neighbor called and asked if I would join her for a drink on her roof deck. It was such a nice night and I haven’t hung out with her in a while so I headed up with one of my favorite beers: Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. It’s summer but I love me some dark beer. This stuff is SOOO good!!

She called just as I was finishing up my “healthy S’more” so the chocolate was still on my taste buds. This was the perfect supplement.

Also…I went to the gym yesterday.
I know, I know…bad Nicole with her bad foot. But I was good! I allowed myself to do 15 minutes on the elliptical just to get my heart rate up. My plan was 15 on the elliptical, lift for 15, and then end with another 15 on the elliptical. I thought if I broke it up it would give my foot a rest and also be a nice change of pace for my workouts. However, 15 minutes was enough. I did a nice weight routine on the balance ball so I could keep the pressure off my foot, and when I stood up to put the weights back I felt it tweak my foot a little. Sooo I decided to skip the last 15 min cardio session and call it a day. I would say that was pretty smart of me since I’ve been known to push my limits all too often.
My foot feels OK today…meaning it doesn’t hurt any more than it did before I went to the gym. So that’s a good thing!

I plan to spend my Sunday cleaning up the apt and packing. We’re moving out in a month so we have to start getting things under control around here. We’re really bummed, we don’t want to leave, but this year has been full of things that have been far beyond our control so what’s another thing to add to the list?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Accepting obesity

I read Caitlin’s post about the new reality show More To Love and laughed because I have been talking about this with Dennis and some of my co-workers since I first saw the preview for it a few weeks ago.  I think it’s total bullshit.

The preview for the show started out with something along the lines of “The average American woman is a size 14….” but the average size of a woman on reality TV shows are a size 2.
Basically saying it’s not “reality” to have women that are all skinny on reality TV shows as an accurate representation of all American women. 
OK I agree with that.
But the part where the average women in the US is a size 14…I have a problem with.

Are we accepting obesity in this country as a way of life?

About 7 years ago I gave a presentation in college about how the media effects how women perceive themselves (and men too) in a negative way thanks (or no thanks) to the media. It’s a well known fact that sex sells and tall, thin models can make anything look good. Remember Kate Moss? Gross right? Well she was the fantasy of so many men and it made people like myself feel like garbage.
That was when I was young and naive, of course.  Now I know better.
Anyway, back then, 7 years ago in 2002, the average dress size for a women was a size 12.

That’s right…one size smaller than it is today.

And we’re OK with this? Why do we keep growing and accepting it as the norm?

Now I do know that every body is different. Size doesn’t always mean squat. I weigh about 15-20 pounds more than my “suggested” weight and but I know I’m strong and healthy and in pretty damn good shape. My pants size ranges from a 28 to a 30 (6 to 10) depending on the make and the cut. Ironically enough, I even have a few 4’s in my closet that fit me very nicely. I have shirts that range from smalls to large as well. I’m mostly right in the middle of both—mostly 8’s, mostly mediums, but I won’t hesitate to buy a larger size if it fits better for fear of wearing a larger size. I don’t let a number define me because there is no set size number that does! However---when I noticed the number on my clothes started to increase, I knew I needed to do something about it.

That’s the difference here. I didn’t accept that I was getting larger. I didn’t accept that I was wearing the average size for an American women. Why? Because I didn’t FEEL well. I couldn’t run as well as I wanted, I wasn’t sleeping well, I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin…do I need to continue??

The moral of the story is, don’t settle with what is said to be average. Don’t settle what is said to be normal either. As I said before, I didn’t want to be the “average” size 12 (I was up to a 14 in some outfits, and don’t even get me STARTED about the dress I wore in my cousin’s wedding…I ordered a size 14 thinking I’d have to take it in but instead had to get it let OUT) but I know I don’t fit the mold of the “average” or “normal” weight for a person of my height. I feel good, I feel like I look good, and I don’t care what the scale says. What matters is how I feel, and honestly, I feel great.
Would I mind losing a few more pounds? Of course not. Am I feeling badly that I haven’t? No.

All in all we need to take care of ourselves. And allowing the average size of a women in the country to continue to climb is unacceptable. Not because we can’t be happy at a size 14, but because we don’t HAVE to be happy with ANYTHING average. Period.

Here are some before and after photos for you to justify my rant.

These are from 2002 at 170 pounds: (5 foot 3)

scan0010  scan0011

In 2006 at around 155:


I have more but I can’t find them all….you get the picture.

Me now:





Just so you know where I came from….

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Just my luck

Well Hello there!

So I found out that my foot injury is quite possibly a stress fracture and I’m very upset about it. The pain has gotten pretty bad but again, it’s not really PAIN so much as it is ACHE. I ache from the top of my foot all the way up my shin, knee, and hip. My ankle aches too. When I walk it hurts but not enough to keep me from being able to walk completely. I went for a walk last night and realized I did myself much more damage, but I really was feeling better and felt OK enough to go for it.

My problem is that I don’t know how to stay still. I feel miserable when I can’t be active, and this kind of injury means staying put. I need to find a way to be able to get my heart rate up and burn calories with this injury. Not so much for fear of gaining weight as much as just feeling good. I figure I can do some yoga (and I’m sure I’ll get some great yoga advice from Polly) but I also like to get my heart rate up as much as I can. Any suggestions out there? Or am I just being silly?

I’m looking into an orthopedic so I can get an MRI and, if necessary, a cast or walking boot.

On my way home from work today a guy ran by me and I got really pissed...if I can't run neither can you!!!! (kidding of course...kind of...) So I know I have to take immediate action so I can heal from this as quickly as possible. AND to make matters worse I got two things in the mail today about upcoming races and one pamphlet about the Team Challenge Chrons and Colitis 1/2 marathon in December. Granted I have plenty of time for that, but I still need to get healed before I can even think of starting this training program!!

Stupid foot.

Oh and this is pretty cool….I got a copy of the Utica Observer-Dispatch sent to me with highlights of the Utica Boilermaker. It has a few stories about the race and all of the race results.

IMG_2381 IMG_2382

IMG_2389 There’s my name!!

I’m so happy I was finally able to finish this race and I can’t wait until next year!!!

Moving along….
I decided to try another veggie crockpot recipe. This one was a vegan mac and cheese and I was really excited to give it a shot.

Mac and Cheese Florentine (by Robin Robinson’s Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker)




OK so this recipe is fairly long so I won’t type it all out but I will say that my “cheese” mixture consisted of white beans and raw cashews with some salt, cayenne pepper, dry mustard, lemon juice, nutmeg, and a medium sized onion, cooked and chopped (and spinach of course.) I will have to say that it lacked …umm flavor…but that’s because it called for a lot of water and no garlic.
I should have known better.
Next time I try this recipe I will use garlic and soy milk instead of water (or just say screw the vegan part and use real milk) but I really liked how healthy it was (mix of cashews and beans gives it a ton of protein and the spinach adds green power) and honestly with a few tweaks I think this will turn out fab. Dennis was not happy that there was no cheese in it so he shredded up some cheddah and added it himself. He said it made a huge difference. (reallllyyy???)

I’m all about trying new things and being healthy, but it’s true: some things just can’t be replaced. I will definitely try this recipe again but I will make sure to put some kind of milk in it at least!

I’m off to bum more about my foot. (have I already told you that I’m really upset about this??)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

No pics, just words

I’ve been so tired today. I haven’t wanted to do anything but lay around and take naps, even though it was gorgeous outside today. I did, however,  manage to force myself out of the house to FINALLY get my swim on.

I only swam 12 laps (one lap being over and back) and it took me about 20 minutes. It felt nice being in the water but my swollen foot problem bothered me and I seemed to have aggravated an old shoulder injury as well. I pulled my shoulder out of socket lifting about 8 years ago and every so often my entire arm will get tingly for a day or two. If I sleep on it wrong it will hurt me for the next day as well.
I felt good while I was swimming otherwise, but since my foot and shoulder hurt I thought it would be best for me to stop while I was ahead.

I’m not sure how far I actually swam, how many calories I burned or anything like that but man I was starving after I swam, and I’ve been exhausted all day. It’s funny because I ran a 15K last Sunday and was up and going all day afterwards and never felt drained or tired, but today I swim for 20 minutes and I feel like I ran a marathon. Weird. But now I’ve challenged myself with something new so I’m going to keep at it.

And now I’m going to hit the sack. Short and sweet but only because I can’t keep my eyes open!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Crazy Fridays

Aren’t Fridays supposed to be fun? You know, the day that everyone wants to take it easy since they’re already preparing for the weekend? HA! I ran my ass off yesterday at work. Literally.
I was not happy that I ended up walking about 4 miles since my foot (Thanks Caitlin, by the way, for your comment about my foot. I will not run until it goes away!) has been bothering me. I wanted to stay off it and give it a rest but when work calls, you have to do it. I walked all over campus from appointment to appointment and by the time I got home I knew I worsened the damage. So today I’ll be taking it as easy as possible.

I’m getting a hair cut today…and a much needed one at that. I’ve been trying to grow it long for years and it gets to just about the point that it’s at now ( just past my shoulders) when i start feeling like I need to chop it off. However, my hairdresser Andrea knows I want to let it grow so she keeps me in check. I go to Raina’s Hair Design in Revere, MA. It’s an Aveda salon but much cheaper than the ones in downtown Boston because, well, it’s not downtown. And my girl Andrea rocks. No one has cut my hair as well as she has. And since the salon is only one mile from my apartment it’s super convenient. Too bad I can’t walk there today….stupid foot.

After my crazy day at work I came home to wonderful smells flowing outside our windows. Dennis was making arroz con pollo for dinner. I LOVE that he loves to cook, and I especially love that he loves to cook Puerto Rican dishes that my mom makes. He does an awesome job and I don’t have to do it! Nice!


I was starving when I got home at 6 and when I smelled what was cooking I was so excited to eat! However, I had to wait until after 8 because he had just started the process when I got home. Bummer. So I was even MORE hungry when it was time to pile the food on my plate…hence this monster pile of rice and chicken (and avocado…can’t have Arroz con Pollo without avocado!!)
Needless to say I was full halfway through. But it was so worth waiting for!!

After dinner he wanted ice cream but I was just waaayy too full for it. Instead, I went with him and got a bite sized tiramisu.

IMG_2360   IMG_2361

Times two. They were really good but literally one bite each. They were just what I needed and so good! Perfect way to end an awesome dinnah.

After my haircut I’m going to hang out with a friend who just had her wisdom teeth pulled. She was so good to me when Dennis had his surgery last November that I knew I had to make sure to spend some time with her in her time of need. It’s kind of cloudy and overcast today so I’m assuming a movie will be in order.

Oh and if I decide to chop my hair, I’ll let you know. HA!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Silly injury…

Although I felt awesome after my race, I did happen to notice that my right foot was swelling to the point where I had to take my sneakers off and walk around in flip flops. I didn’t think much of it and continued to wear flip flops around for the next few days. But yesterday, I realized something was wrong.
I went for a run after work and was so excited to have nice sunny, dry weather to run in. I laced up my sneaks and took off. My goal was to run 6 miles (I was really feeling good and just wanted to GO!) but I only ran about 3.5 because A. it was way too hot and B. my foot was bothering me.
After I got done running I realized I had been running through this weird pain on the top of my foot…almost like a bruise on the area where your laces hit. Now it hurts to walk even barefoot. What did I DOOOOOO??

I guess this means I will really have to follow through on my desire to swim and actually do it. I have a short day tomorrow so I plan on getting to the gym in the morning to swim, hopefully keeping the foot safe and finally getting over the initial “fear” of swimming.

OK well it’s not exactly fear. I’m actually a pretty good swimmer and I know how good it is for my body. When I was in Jr and High school, we had swimming as a unit in gym class. It was 6 weeks long and my GOD it just never seemed to end. It was such a pain in the ass…you have to change, take a shower, get in the pool, get out, take another shower, stink like chlorine all day, deal with dry (and stinky) skin and hair, and I was always late to my next class…and itchy for the rest of the day. I have this anxiety of the before and afters of the pool….but once I’m in there it’s fine.

You know when you know you have something to do that will take a lot of your time, so you keep procrastinating and stressing about it until you know you have no other choice but to just do it? That’s how I’ve been with swimming. It’s really lame, I know. I just hope  no one has peed in the water…. :)

I was feeling some salad for lunch today. Since I brought a baked sweet potato, I figured it would be OK if I saved that for tomorrow and got a salad from b. good in Harvard Square instead. This place takes fast food and makes it healthy by using fresh ingredients and baking them. They have some awesome baked sweet potato fries. So good.
I got the Southwestern Chicken Salad with mesclun, avocado, corn, tomatoes, black beans, toasted corn, chipotle balsamic dressing. It was pretty yummy.


My co-worker got a West-Side burger (I almost got the west-side turkey burger when I saw the description but I really wanted some greens) The burger is cooked to perfection and topped with avocado, cilantro, tomato, chipotle salsa and a side of the sweet potato fries. She moaned and groaned about how awesome her food was. I know next time to try the burger…and I will definitely be topping my next turkey burger with these same ingredients since I usually have them on hand (well, minus the chipotle salsa…)

Tomorrow is Friday is the weather-peeps are saying it’s going to be a hot one.  (finally?) I really don’t like humid weather so I was OK with the cooler 70s we’ve been having. It was the rain I was pissed about.  Boy what I would give to go back to the beach…one good thing about living in Boston is that the beach is never really too far away…maybe an after work stroll will be in order (if the foot is better….stupid injury)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Boilermaker 15K

I couldn’t get to sleep last night….it was almost midnight when I looked at the clock last. Boy did that 4 a.m. wake up call come quick! But it was so worth it.

Before I left..not feeling bad for 4:30 in the morning!

The race was AWESOME. We had such a great time. This is definitely a race I want to run every year.
OK let me start from the beginning…

At 5 a.m. I met up with the crew. There were 7 of us who ran, 6 women, 1 man. I prepared my lovely breakfast in the car on the way over (well, I toasted my waffles before I left and wrapped them in foil to keep them warm and crisp.)
Let me tell you: I SWEAR by this breakfast. We all have different things that work for them but I will take my Go Lean waffles, PB, Greek yogurt and banana ANY day.

How awesome does this look spread out on my aluminum?
This breakfast rocks. It’s so filling and has the right combo of proteins/carbs/calories for me. It doesn’t make me feel too full but it holds me over for hours. I’m so glad I made the trip all over town yesterday to find my Chobani!

Unfortunately I didn’t run with my camera because there were some interesting looking people dressed up in costumes and funky outfits. One man was wearing just a Speedo, and let’s say we heard he had no shame about any of his body parts.

Yes I was the only one that didn’t have a matching shirt…but it was still blue.
This is the group of girls that ran with us….before the race…

Ok. So this race was hilly..which I knew…but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. I really made sure to practice running hills so I think that was a major reason I didn’t feel too damaged by the hills (well, until the last one…we’ll get to that later.)

I ran with my friend Ann and we decided we were going to pace ourselves at around a 10 minute mile and feel how we feel. We started out slow and steady to get ourselves warmed up. There were over 13,000 people running this race so it was never not crowded, so passing people was a bit of a challenge, but it got to a point where we were able to instinctively know when we wanted to pass someone so we made it work. It took us 11 minutes to cross the starting line, and there were at least another 1,000 people behind us.

I would say about half – if not more – of this race was uphill. But honestly it wasn’t bad! They were mostly long, gradual inclines which lasted for a mile stretch here, a mile and a half stretch there..we kept our pace up the hills and whatever time we might have lost we made up on the downhill stretches.
We hit our 5K and 10K spits and were feeling awesome. We walked through about three (maybe four) water stations just to ensure we actually DRANK our water and didn’t end up just throwing it on ourselves, and I honestly think that was key. Ann would pick a spot that we should walk to, just to give ourselves enough time to drink the water and quickly rejuvenate, and I honestly don’t think it effected our time much.
There was music, people cheering the whole way, and one AMAZING woman carrying an eNORmous American flag. She rocked, and I told her so as I ran by her! I was feeling awesome until that point. At around mile 5 I had a natural vanilla GU packet. It was 100 calories and I actually thought it tasted pretty good. But I think it made me sick because by the middle of mile 6 my stomach was starting to feel funky, so when mile 7 came along, I was so ready to slow down our pace and honestly just wanted to get it done and over with. This was the start of another mile + long hill and I was just struggling. This hill just wouldn’t end, and Ann just kept pushing me to keep the pace up. “Remember Nicole, pain is temporary!” she said to me. “We’re almost there girl, 2 more miles.” I would not have finished in the time I did without her. I pushed her earlier in the race and she definitely pushed me through the last 2 miles. I actually started asking “Is that the finish line?” because I swore we should have been there…and she said, “1/2 mile left, that’s 5 minutes. You can do anything for 5 minutes right??”

That was all I needed to hear. I pushed myself through it and by the 9 mile mark, something came over me and I just bolted. I saw a group of Canadians running in front of me and I said, “I’m passing the Canadians…I’m passing the Canadians..” and I did. My time? 1:33:16. We kept a 10:01 mile pace the whole way and it was awesome. We talked, laughed, poked fun at all the silly (and very uncomfortably dressed) people around us. This was, by far, the best race I’ve ever run and I will not hesitate to run it again.


When the race ended, we were able to meet up and go to the expo, which was sponsored by Saranac Brewery. We each had a beer (on my mom’s camera, pic coming soon) and then we got out of the madness (13,000 people plus their fans and volunteers = insane) so we drove out of town and had a nice after run lunch. With beer, of course (that I came nowhere near finishing)

This was a big ass beer! I drank maybe 1/4 of it. It was good—I was just so full!!
And a chicken Caesar salad.


The Utica Boilermaker is a nationally recognized race so if anyone out there decides they want to give it a try next year, I say go for it! And let me know too! It was such an amazing time and I can’t wait until next year!! GO US!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My race is tomorrow!!!

OK so I should be sleeping but I’m way too excited to sleep. I’m trying to get everything prepared for the race, including my breakfast, my running outfit, and directions for my mom and Dennis’ parents (I’ll finally have fans!)
The girls I’m running with decided to be so kind and throw a pasta party, so my niece Bianca and I went over there for a nice whole wheat pasta with salad and pie dinner. It was very yummy!! Stacey was awesome for having us all over. 
I’ll be honest, I wanted pizza…but how can you turn down a nice dinner with friends preparing for such a fun event!? I’m really glad I went. Sometimes I forget how good a simple dinner of pasta and salad can be.

IMG_2227  IMG_2228

And the pie got eaten sans picture. We were all gabbing (girls? really?) and I ate it without even thinking.

After dinner I wanted to make sure I had everything I needed for my breakfast. Since the race starts at 8 and it’s an hour away, we are meeting at 5 am to get there with plenty of time to get where we need to be.
I have decided that the best breakfast for me (after all my Sunday morning long runs) will be 2 Kashi Go Lean waffles with plain Chobani, PB, and banana. I will have to eat this on the way to the race since we’ll be leaving at 5, so this will be tricky. So here’s my spread:

IMG_2229  IMG_2231

My breakfast and my running outfit. How ‘bout that pink carpet huh? When we moved into this house I LOVED pink. This is the carpet in my old bedroom. I’ve told my mom millions of times she needs to get rid of it! So 90s!!

Tomorrow I will be sure to come back and fill you all in on how I did. I’m sure you can’t wait!! I will also be posting some pictures of my hometown and the beautiful countryside of upstate NY.

Wow I’m really excited!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

New treats!

Rain again. This seems to be a trend.

Aside from spending half of my day being completely soaked (umbrellas don’t seem to work anymore) I had the idea to try some amazing yoga from Polly, some butternut squash and almond butter from HEAB, and some homemade pizza with asparagus to get my greens in. And did I mention an awesome burrito from Boloco?

Well, there aren’t any pictures of the burrito but it was a small, whole wheat Summer Burrito with brown rice, mango salsa, black beans, and fresh guac. Hells yeah this was amazing. And then my co-worker Amanda and I took a 2 mile walk around the River Charles. We somehow managed to beat the rain and it was definitely well worth the chance.

I realized I didn’t have any greens with my oats for breakfast and burrito for lunch, but I had to eat my homemade pizza (I hate to waste food) leftovers from last night. So I just cooked up some asparagus. Yum.


I know, not nearly enough greens…but I don’t have any more arugula and since I’m going home for my RACE (!!!) this weekend I don’t want to buy anything more. After this I had some fruit and yogurt.

Then Dennis and I took a trip over to Market Basket, a local grocery store that just re-opened in Chelsea with a fantabulous super store…and let me tell you, this place is awesome! It has a cafe and sushi bar and places to sit and eat with flat screen TVs….we were so excited about their produce selection and just how big it was. I bought a box of Weetabix since I’ve heard so much about it. I also was excited to discover that my favorite local peanut butter has gone organic!!

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Didn’t I just say I was going home for the weekend so I didn’t want to buy any more food? Well good thing this stuff travels well because I’m packing it with me.

When we came back from Market Basket I turned on Polly’s yoga session. Since I don’t want to do too much before my race, I decided to do two of her ab sessions. She rocks!
Then for a snack I had some butternut squash with AB.


I can’t believe how good this was! I was very pleasantly surprised.

About 2 years ago I met with the owner of the Green Street Natural Foods store in Melrose MA. She told me that eating protein with carbs is bad for the body’s digestive system. She said it’s OK to eat rice and beans but not rice and chicken. Now, despite the fact that Puerto Ricans LOVE some arroz con pollo, the first question I asked was, “Well what am I going to eat my peanut butter on?” (she said I could eat rice and beans, that’s enough for me) and she smiled and said, “Celery for starters!”
Of course I thought that was preposterous! PB on bread is bad?? No way!! But after seeing how Heather puts almond butter on virtually everything (including squash) that I’d give it a try. It’s really yum. I already cooked up a sweet potato with plans on slathering that with AB for lunch tomorrow. AND I’m making some Green egg salad for tomorrow’s breakfast! You ladies rock.

Tomorrow’s already Thursday!! Wow my 15K is coming up really sooooon…..

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Get ‘em while they’re young

Negative by nature? I think we all are in a sense. No matter how positive we all can be, there is always a side of us that has a desire to be mean. It doesn’t have to be hurtful mean, or a mean that comes out in public; but everyone has thoughts of negativity. And it starts when we’re young.

My worst years were my middle school years. Hormones flying everywhere, girls being backstabbing, evil little witches, and boys picking on you because they don’t know how else to get your attention. Sound familiar?
Well I had déjà vu last night talking with my soon to be 8th grader, 13 year old niece.

Me and my niece Bianca

Now, I know we all remember being 12-13. It sucked for me. I just wanted to find my way, figure out who I was, and what the hell was going on with my body. Things were changing around me and I didn’t know how to keep up. And I just wanted so badly to feel “normal.” This is how my niece feels.

She told me she gets picked on in school by girls who say she has a big forehead (please) and a boy who constantly tells her she looks like a camel. Not for nothing (and not just because she’s my blood) but she is beautiful. But these stupid little kids feel the need to bring her down because they are jealous of her. Plain and simple. This is the type of action that carries on with us throughout our entire lives: Trying to bring down others to make yourself feel better.

As I was reading Caitlin’s blog today about her amazing journey with Operation Beautiful, she discussed how so many people were making negative comments to her efforts. I actually read some of the comments people were making and all I could think of was my niece and our conversation from the night before. It all boils down to the same thing: Jealousy and self worth.

From the time we are young we are forced to deal with personal attacks and criticisms from our family, friends, and peers. Whether they’re making fun of your body, facial features, or even the way you walk and talk, these are things that stay with you forever. Some people never get over them, some do. I think you can tell who’s who when you read some of the negative comments left on any newspaper article, blog, etc. The ones that have to make fun of anything positive.

Lately these issues are becoming more and more defined. Young kids with complexes; adults with eating disorders; adult women feeling the need for facelifts, boob jobs, botox….all from our love of bringing each other down. And it all starts when we’re young.

We need to start encouraging our kids NOW to be positive. We need to instill courage, stamina, strength and confidence in our children because if we don’t, they will be carrying around the negative effects for life. I know it’s taken me YEARS to get over some of the things that were said to me as a child about my body (hence my legs post yesterday) but I was fortunate enough to find people that have helped me to see past those things.

If you have kids in your life, please please PLEASE encourage them NOW. Remind them of their strengths, and let them know how beautiful they really are. Don’t coddle them---Lord no—we don’t want that! Inspire them.

We have to start somewhere, and it’s better to get them while they’re young.  (I wonder if this will help keep them from being little smart asses in the future….)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Defeating the undefeated

I spent a lot of  this past weekend reading and enjoying the sun.
And also, doing a lot of thinking.
I can’t help but notice a change in my personality since I’ve started reading the blogs I follow and writing my own. I feel like I’ve learned to finally love who I am physically, and that was something that I’ve always battled with.

The one part of my body that I have always hated were my legs. I have monster legs. Strong. Muscular. Thick. You name it. I have bad ass, tree trunk, solid legs. And I always have gotten picked on for them.
Not only have I been made fun of, but I’ve always had a hard time covering them up:
Shorts don’t fit me right. They ride. So when it’s grossly hot out, I have to run in pants or capris. I’ve spent more than half of my life playing soccer and having to deal with the uncomfortableness of constantly tugging at my shorts while I’m running/playing/practicing. It was embarrassing and annoying. I just LOOKED uncomfortable…like you just wanted to run over to me and give me some pants.

My mom made comments about them. My sister. My brother in law. And even recently a co-worker saw me in a skirt for the first time and said, “Wow, I can TELL you’re a soccer player….”

These legs that I have dammed, cursed, and hated for most of my teenage and adult life are finally getting the love they deserve.

I sat in our backyard yesterday with a book and the radio. I decided to take advantage of (gasp!) two FULL days of sunshine in Boston. I threw on a pair of slightly shorter, cotton shorts that any other normal sized legged person would wear without a second thought and a tube top and headed out when Dennis made a comment about how short my shorts were.
“What? Do I look bad or is it that they’re just short?”
“They’re….just short.”
Well, too damn bad, I thought. I never wear shorts and my legs want to see some sun.

I wasn’t mad at him because I knew what he was trying to say. He finds my legs to be attractive, so I know he wasn’t saying I’m fat. But his words made me think about all of this baggage that I’ve been carrying around for so many years. So much hatred toward these very body parts that have gotten me to so many places in my life. These same two stubs that are getting me across the finish line of my 15K next week.

These legs have been both a burden and a godsend.

They’re strong, they’re defined, and dammit, they WORK.

So this was a huge (sadly) revelation for me this weekend. I finally came to be at peace with the one part of my body that I’ve despised so much. Why? Because I have two legs that work. They work, they let me run, they let me walk, and….they WORK. Plain and simple.

I’ve wasted so much of my time preoccupied with the way they look and how I hate buying pants because I can never get a pair to fit me right (my legs are bigger than my waist and ass and it’s REALLY annoying) Skirts because they have to be cut just at the perfect spot. Bathing suits because, well, they show everything. And obviously shorts.

But it’s OK. I’m OK with the fact that I know they are a part of what makes me ME.

What makes me a soccer player.

What makes me a RUNNER.

So to celebrate, I went for a quick 3.5 mile run. I didn’t time it; I just ran. And why not? I run because I love it and it doesn’t always have to be a strain.

Now if I could just work on not talking so much….

And and I can’t forget that I had some amazing eats this weekend. Although I’m not taking pictures or discussing everything I eat anymore (for sanity’s sake) I will still post the things that I liked most. Or the “Yummy” things, as Polly would say.

Thanks Pol.

I never eat eggs for breakfast. I enjoy eggs, don’t get me wrong, but they just never seem to fill me up. Every time I eat eggs, I’m hungry an hour or 2 later. Hell, sometimes I’m just still hungry and looking for more while I’m eating my last bite. So it’s this reason that I rarely eat them.

But Sunday morning I was in the mood. So I present you with: Sunday Morning Blues Omelet. (I listen to the Sunday Morning Blues show on the classic rock station)

  • Three egg whites (yes I know – if I eat the whole egg I’ll probably stay fuller longer. No, doesn’t work for me)
  • Spinach, onion, red pepper and fresh garlic cooked up with olive oil
  • 1 oz (or so) of goat cheese
  • pearl tomatoes
  • 2 slices of Ezekiel toast with butter
  • Cafe con Soy

Don’t get me wrong…this baby was good! But I was seriously not completely satisfied until I ate lunch four hours later.

Also, I wanted to share the second attempt at my John Harvard’s lentil salad.


  • Baby spinach and arugula
  • Tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup lentils marinated in white balsamic and garlic
  • hummus
  • cottage cheese

So good. I couldn’t eat the whole plate but it was excellent. We’ll see how I feel in an hour or two.


Also I have to share Caitlin’s video with you all. Caitlin’s blog is what started it all for me. I needed inspiration and I found it with her blog. I love her personality and I love how she keeps it real. She responds to every email I send and offers up only the best advice she can give upon request. Her site has grown into 2 sites, and she was fortunate enough to get media attention on her second site She’s very beautiful and amazing and I’m so happy that she’s doing so well with her goal to help others feel good about themselves and end Fat Talk. She rocks and she’s definitely helped me with my insecurities. Thanks Caitlin!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th!

Today is a wonderful day for the US of A and I am very grateful to be here, in this country, to celebrate how it all began. (well, you know, minus all the attacking of the Native Americans and those damn English trying to take over everything)

So yesterday Dennis and I decided to go see Public Enemies with Johnny Depp (love him!) I will admit it wasn’t my idea…I’m not one to choose going to see a movie in the middle of the day. But it worked out perfect since we had thunderstorms the entire time. And the movie was great! Johnny Depp rocks.

Before the movie I made a kick ass salad, as I mentioned yesterday, that was inspired by my lunch on Thursday at John Harvard’s in Harvard Square. I made it my own but most of it was the same. I present you with this:


This was a salad that rocked my socks off.

  • I started out with a clean plate and slathered on about 1/4 cup of hummus on the bottom
  • Then I washed (!) some baby spinach and arugula and topped it on top of the hummus
  • I marinated 1/2 cup of lentils with some balsamic vinaigrette and microwaved it for 1 minute, then added them to the greens along with the rest of my asparagus
  • Then I chopped up a half of a haas avocado and sprinkled it on with some goat cheese

Holy hell was this salad tasty! Doesn’t it look pretty??

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However….my stomach was screwed up for the rest of the day. Even this morning I’m still not feeling 100%. I am still trying to figure out if it’s spinach that makes me sick or what. The salad was awesome and I will eat it again, but I might have to try not to use the spinach next time to see if that’s what the problem is. I hate not being able to eat greens! I love broccoli but I get sick from that too.

I didn’t eat again until after 10:00 (9 1/2 hours later) because I felt so crappy. But on the bright side I finally got myself a bathing suit! I went to Sports Authority after the movie and picked one out. Finally. And I got the funny looking goggles and cap to go along with it. Yay! I’m not sure if my gym is open today though.

This morning I made an oatmeal pancake. I don’t usually take pictures of my breakfasts anymore because they’re always the same: either regular oats, overnight oats, oatmeal pancake, or Kashi waffles. But this time my pancake was extra kick ass.


I used an entire small banana and 3 strawberries to top off this bad boy, along with some PB and 2% Greek Yogurt.

what a beautiful sight (and that straggler of a banana)

I could barely finish it but it was really good. Now I’m going to either go for a nice walk. Hopefully the gym is open and I can swim! YAY!

Happy 4th everyone. Enjoy your day and your lovely BBQs.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Foam rollin’ away

Hello All! Happy 4th of July holiday weekend! WooHOO! Even though this was a short week for me (I had Monday off as well) I still could not wait for today to sleep in and get caught up on reading, blogging, and just being lazy. I was even able to brew myself a cup of coffee which lately has seemed much too time consuming. It’s become “Hmmmm make a cup of coffee or make my train?” You see where I’m going with this…

So I finally got my foam roller and I am so excited to use it twice a day like I’m supposed to now. I picked it up yesterday and as soon as I got it home, I put it right to work. Then I went to the gym (twas raining yesterday…shocker) and I ran 5 miles on an incline between a 1% to 8%. It was hard, but again, those hills will not be friendly to me at the race, so I have to kick my ass to prepare for them.
Now I know I said I only wanted to run 12 miles this week….but since I didn’t run Wednesday and I only walked on Tuesday, I was needing a good burn. Today I am determined to get a bathing suit so I can swim tomorrow and run Breakheart on Sunday. That will actually put me a mile less at 11 miles. But that’ OK. I’m just trying to keep myself as healthy as possible right now.

After my workout and foam rolling, I came home to a pretty darned good home made Indian dish made by Dennis (I wolfed this down before realizing I didn’t take a picture….) But I actually thought this was much better than the take-out Indian we’ve been getting delivered here lately.

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Dennis picked these out on his own and I got so excited when I saw Organic, vegan, gluten free on the Butter Chicken sauce (even though he used chicken, but you can still use it for veggies and tofu only) He said he figured the “organic part” would make me happy. He tries…he says he’ll never give up meat but he’ll do organic. He made these two recipes with Basmati rice. Yum.

Then I made a kick ass dessert that was also vegan, egg, and nut free (well, until I added butter to it…) I didn’t tell Dennis that I bought an all natural, dairy free, egg free cake mix so I didn’t want to skip the butter part and take away ALL of the taste…Holy crap this cake was really good.

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It was also really super low in fat too. I added 1/3 cup melted butter (instead of margarine) 3/4 cup water and added the cake mix. That’s it. Blend on medium speed for 2 minutes and bake. The couple who created Cherrybrook Kitchen (Patsy and Chip Rosenberg) made these products since the wife (Patsy) has multiple food allergies. The ingredients to this cake include:

  • Unbleached flour
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Granulated brown sugar
  • All natural vanilla flour
  • Non-alluminated baking powder
  • Sea salt

That’s it! No junk.
I also bought some all natural whipped topping since I looked at the ingredients of my Cool Whip container and almost had a heart attack.


This stuff is definitely different than Cool Whip, but used as a topping for my cake with strawberries---it tasted great. Dennis, of course, wasn’t having it. He had his normal Betty Crocker Vanilla Whipped frosting. And that’s OK with me, since he really liked the cake.

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Looks like heaven! And my God was it good. The cake kind of reminds me of more of a biscuit…kind of like the old country Strawberry Shortcake recipes called for…but slightly sweeter. It was really good.

Sometimes I can’t but help to share the recipes I make when they’re this good!

I have some lentils in my fridge that I want to eat up today. I’m thinking of making a salad inspired by the lunch I had yesterday at John Harvard's (obviously in Harvard Square)with my co-worker Adam. It was yummy. More details later.

Until then I’m going to enjoy our three day Holiday weekend!! Next week at this time I will be driving home for my race! It’s so close I can taste it!!

OH! And if anyone can help me with this…since I ran my last long run last Sunday, my calves have been getting super tight after any activity. I’ve been stretching them out like crazy but they’re really tight. And one of my toes keeps cramping too. I know it’s not from a lack of potassium because I eat bananas like it’s the last food on earth. I’m wondering if it’s a lack of sodium? Or if I’m not drinking enough water? Please let me know if you’ve experienced this!