hello. it’s me. (have i used that title already?)

As many of you who know me IRL have likely surmised, and to confirm those of you who know me virtually, things have not been great on this side of the screen.  It’s nothing to worry about, just stress levels in the consistently-higher-than-usual category.  Being a person is really HARD sometimes.  Plus, it doesn’t help that I’ve been binging some pretty depressing stuff lately – looking at you ’13 Reasons Why’ and ‘Big Little Lies’ – and have been reading a lot of non-fiction (mostly about this).  I’ve also been trying to practice some self-care and have been learning a lot of *new* things about myself.  We already know when I have nothing good to say and don’t want to talk about myself, I say nothing.  I’ve been lost in my own thoughts and as I have mentioned many times, these feelings lead me to shut down from pretty much everything.  I get “over myself” really quickly because I feel like I have all the tools to “fix” whatever might be broken inside of me.  Exhibit A: I spend so much time in my own mind – analyzing all the things.  Exhibit B: I don’t like drawing any attention to myself.  I become a less-effervescent person which then makes me feel bad so I hide out even more.  Talking about silly things when my life is basically consumed with serious always feels disingenuous to both you and me.  So if you’re still out there: I’m sorry.   Someday, maybe when I’m out of the woods I’m in, we can talk about it.

Until then, let me talk about some of the more non-serious happenings in a little internets roundup of things I’m really feeling right now.

  • I am currently feeling the Bulletproof way of life.  I’m curious about bio-hacking myself mostly because I do feel like good health starts at the cellular level.  There is a prevalence of stimuli in our world today and I like to buck the trend of our just-take-a-pill society.  Pretty soon I’m going to take the plunge and rock my own Bulletproof coffee.  First, I need to get through the book.
  • In a similar vein as the above, I got both myself and my gorgeous sister some of these Mala prayer beads.  It’s something physical to channel my intention to.  The Malas represent certain qualities based on the stone they are made with.  My sister’s is made of Volcanic Stone meant to channel strength and clarity; and mine is made of Labradorite and Malaysian jade meant to channel our spiritual counterparts.
  • Trying to be an adult and get on a budget.  Ugh.
  • Oh!  I became a Rodan + Fields consultant because I believe in the power of good skincare.  And I’m obsessed with skincare so that says a lot.  If you’re equally obsessed, we should chat.
  • You guys.  The Marco Polo app is amaze.  It helps me stay connected to my family without the hassle of having to hang on the phone with FaceTime.  It’s like if FT and texting (my favorite) had a baby, it would be Marco Polo.  The videos stay in a thread like texting so I can go back and watch videos of Avery on replay.
  • Lastly, podcasts.  Almost as much variety as television right now.  I devoured S-Town and man was it DARK but it made me feel things.  Also, I’m going through withdrawal from Accused, Undisclosed S1 & S2, Up & Vanished (now that it’s mostly “solved”)… but true crime is really something that keeps me engaged and able to listen and still get my work done.

Thanks for reading and be well, friends.

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it’s complicated

In all the relationships I’ve had in my life, there have been a few I’d classify as “complicated” at some point or another.  The one relationship in my life that stands out as being the.most.complicated is my relationship with running.  You guys remember this post.  It’s always been a give and take, a start and a stop, a renewed dedication.  It’s always been the one thing I could go back to and even though I always had to start over (ugh), it was the one thing I always knew I could do.

So this spring I started training to run the DSM Half with my sister.  I was a little behind the training schedule and hadn’t been running as consistently as I should have… till about three weeks ago.  But even when I started getting serious about training, things weren’t gel-ing for me.  My shoes weren’t great, I had no energy, running 1 mile was hard (let alone 4).  I did some tweaking last week just in time to run 6 miles on Sunday.  Which I did – kicking and screaming and in the time that it takes most people to complete a half marathon.  But I did it, and it was over, and I felt awesome after.

Till yesterday.  I had pain in my right foot that wasn’t there previously.  Of all the ailments that have ever plagued me in my running life, foot pain was never one of them so this was different.  I went out this morning (after FINALLY finding an awesome trail around the corner from home) even though my foot hurt.  I walked to warm up and started out with an easy pace.  I even have a mantra from my sister that I remind myself of when I’m just getting warmed up: “it’s my pace” in my head over and over.  Pain interrupted my mantra.  I didn’t even make it a full mile before I turned around and headed back to the car.

Flash forward four hours.  After meeting with the sports medicine doctor at the walk-in clinic… I have a stress fracture.  Which means my half-marathon dreams are over since I have to wear this stupid boot for four weeks.

Here’s the real rub for me: I want to be in control over when I do and don’t run.  I went on a serious hiatus after I moved to Iowa – we’re talking two years – but that was my choice.  I don’t like to NOT have the option to run for any other reason than I choose not to.  I drove home trying to get used to the idea that I wouldn’t be running a half, I wouldn’t even be allowed to run; I’d have to start all over again in four weeks with one dumpy mile.  In short, running never looked so good till she’s gone.

This boot is already annoying and I have to take it on and off every time I drive.  This is going to be a long and disappointing four weeks.  It kind of doesn’t feel like I really have to do this.  I’m reminded the moment I take my boot off and walk around and it starts to hurt again.  I guess this is for real.  Maybe next time I won’t take it for granted that I’m healthy enough to run.  I think that has to be the silver lining here… right?

a modern question

Guys.  I’m going to ask you a question that isn’t original at all.

“Why is it so expensive to eat healthy?”

Let me start backward and work forward.  When I was thinking about what to write this week, I actually considered writing about my struggle to determine if I should become a vegetarian again.  But then I thought more big picture.  You see, I was driving down the highway this week, like I do, and (I promise I’m not going to get all soap-boxy on you and I’m most certainly not going to get graphic) I passed a pickup truck pulling a trailer of pigs.  These pigs looked pretty jammed in there and normally I like to play ignorant and look away from livestock trailers but I saw their little pig noses poking out, so I looked.  This is something that I’m entirely too soft to handle—this “seeing” where my food comes from.  In my own personal protest about the pigs (who I liked to imagine were going to a farm…) I pulled the sausage off my breakfast sandwich and threw it away.  But that doesn’t mean there’s one less pig to sacrifice for my sausage.  For this reason, I was a vegetarian for five years; I believe in animal rights.  Not crazy PETA style but I don’t believe the way we get our meat isn’t the way we’re meant to get our meat.  I bought from Whole Foods, my friends and family bought only farm-raised holiday meats and I bought local where I could when I was transitioning out of my vegetarianism.  That became costly for everyone and eventually I just turned a blind eye and began consuming restaurant burgers and steaks.  Flash forward to present day—I live in the midwest; the breadbasket of America; the Pork capital of the world; Omaha Steaks are my neighbor.  If there’s anywhere I could be a locavore, it’s here.

That brings me to my bigger picture.  While there’s an outstanding farmer’s market on Saturday, I can only buy so much produce to avoid it rotting on my counters.  As much as I try to shame it, the convenience factor still gets me from time to time.  I just don’t have the energy to make food for the week or even every night.  And, as it turns out, eating pre-made stuff or take-out… not all that healthy.  Unfortunately, the reality of this amazing world we live in is that it’s more cost effective to get a Quarter Pounder w/Cheese, french fries and a large Coke than it is to go out, buy fresh ingredients, and make a meal at home.  I think Mark Bittman (disclosure: love him) said it best: just eat real food.  I guess that means, for the everyman, more trips to the grocery, more planning ahead of time, more skipping of the convenience factor.

That’s probably the *only* thing keeping me off the vegetarian bandwagon.  While I’m passionate about what happens to those sweet pigs, it’s crazy expensive right now to buy the meat I want to buy to ease my conscience.  Simply removing it from my plate means more pasta and that’s no good for my waistline.  Should I resign myself to the fact that even a simple diet of fruits and veggies are going to cost me?

I’m still working out this vegetarian thing and I’m still trying to do the best I can to eat healthy on a budget.  That’ll probably be the case until I can afford to grow my own food or buy half a humanely-raised cow or pig.  It’s all a work in progress, as am I, but it’s hard when society as a whole makes it easier to eat food with poor nutrition quality (I’m looking at you Hostess Fruit Pies for breakfast) vs. the healthy stuff (oatmeal, eggs) that keeps me going throughout the day.  Finally, as Mark Bittman implores, I’ll do my best to “eat real food”.

stuff i love: food i make edition

Hey guys!  We’re in a deep freeze that just won’t quit here in DSM.  That means when the sun goes down I’m at home, in my pajamas, looking for something to eat for dinner.  I recently realized that I’ve been eating out a lot.  When I’m not eating out, I’m eating something “made” for me by the frozen food gods.  The result is lethargy, weight gain and poor sleep that lead to me doing silly things like cleanses in an attempt to feel more balanced.

I come from a long line of cooks.  I used to cook all.the.time (I think I may have mentioned that before).  My mom cooks dinner every night, my sister cooks dinner most nights, my dad is always cooking… I know it’s in me to do it, I just can’t muster up the energy after a long day.  On days like today, after I’ve overdone it on the weekend and I want to feel better, I take to my tiny kitchen (and my even tinier stove) to make my favorite go-to meal.  I’m not sure what else to call it but the meat bowl.  I could fancy it up and call it a taco-less salad but let’s just call it what it is—we’re all grown ups here: it’s a meat bowl.

The easiest part of this meal for me is that I get veggies and protein and I get to exercise a bit of my creativity.  I’ve done this before with ground bison and ground pork and you just change the seasoning and the vegetables.

Step 1: Brown minced garlic and onion, add mushrooms and sauté till soft.

Step 1: Sauté minced garlic and onion, add mushrooms and sauté till soft.

Step 2: Move mushroom mixture to a bowl (unless you have a large skillet—I do not). Brown ground meat of choice. Prep lettuce base and fresh herb seasoning.

Step 2: Move mushroom mixture to a bowl (unless you have a large skillet—I do not). Brown ground meat of choice. Prep lettuce base and fresh herb seasoning.

Step 3: Everything back in the skillet to mix with the fresh herb (basil, in this case).

Step 3: Everything back in the skillet to mix with the fresh herb (basil, in this case).

Step 4: I like to top it with fresh tomatoes and half an avocado. There's also this delicious artichoke pesto from Trader Joe's which tastes good on pretty much everything.

Step 4: I like to top it with fresh tomatoes and half an avocado. There’s also this delicious artichoke pesto from Trader Joe’s which tastes good on pretty much everything.

Voila. Lettuce base, meat mix on top, veggies = dinner.

Voila. Lettuce base, meat mix on top, veggies = dinner.

I’m hoping this year I can cook a little more and continue my effort in being a healthier me.  I recently heard an interview with Michael Pollan where he advocates not-so-much a particular diet (I realize he’s not encouraging the Paleo lifestyle here) but that we cook for ourselves.  He says: “the food industry has done a great job of convincing eaters that corporations can cook better than we can. The problem is, it’s not true. And the food that others cook is nearly always less healthful than that which we cook ourselves.”  Be a healthier me by cooking?  Now that is an idea I can get behind.

 

 

 

i work out.

Hey, guys!  Remember that time I did a Whole30?  Yeah, me too.  It was so great, I’m doing another one for the month of October.  This time I have some company, though.

You guys know I’ve boo-hooed about my lack of motivation with exercise.  For so long I thought, ‘if I’m not a runner then I don’t know what I could do’.  I finally found what I can do if I’m not a runner.  I’ve been going to MaxLife for about three months (has it been that long?) and it’s perfect for me!  I’m learning how to be strong from the inside out.  If I had to describe it, I’d say it’s P90X meets Cross-Fit with less TRX and more kettle bells.  They’re short, effective, muscle confusion workouts and I feel a strong sense of community and accountability with the men and women I go to class with.  This Whole30 is a gym-wide thing so I have support with my friends, gym-mates and co-workers.

a goal

I’m sitting in my running clothes as I write this post about running.  I’m waiting for the blistering Iowa sun to go down a touch in hopes the humidity will too and I can hit the streets with a bit of cool.  Even though it was 108 degrees in Vegas, it’s got nothing on this midwestern humidity.

In my last blog post I mentioned that my dear friend wants to run a half marathon, which I agreed to do.  Let me walk you through my love/hate relationship with running in order to arrive at how I agreed to get to this stage—that of training for my first half-marathon.

When I was in high school I hated running.  I joined the soccer team for the sole reason that my sister asked me to.  She was already an established soccer superstar and she wanted to have the opportunity of playing the same sport while we were in school together.  Making memories—you get it.  No illusions here, people, I was not a good soccer player.  Nevermind that I’d played indoor on and off.  Everything in outdoor soccer was different: the field size, no walls, my really good opponents and practice.  Early on, I loathed soccer practice.  I wasn’t really used to running all that much (or burpees or working out).  We ran a.lot and even though I spent most of my time not scoring goals and sitting on the bench, I did learn to appreciate the exercise aspect associated with practice and consequently with running.  After my brief stint with soccer, I continued running occasionally.  After a break for a few years I started back up by running with the same dear friend who wants to run the half.  We’d run the steps at Nippert Stadium or run after hours on the track field at UC.

After a time we both ended up back at home in Northeast Ohio.  We’d run the streets or at the dam (where all the local runners go).  I completed my first 5k which was a pretty big deal at the time.  Then my relationship with running changed completely.  I met someone who propelled my occasional running to something much more serious; it became a passion.  I ran because that’s what you do when you’re together with a runner.  I started reading magazines about it and articles on the internet.  I bought some official looking gear and got my first iPod Shuffle.  I started spending more time and money on running shoes.  I got a Camelback as a gift.  I’d run on my own, I’d run at the gym, we’d run together in the blazing summer heat.  I began wearing headbands to mop up the sweat from my brow on longer running days.  I loved running.  Then the best thing happened—my sister joined in.  Then her husband.  Running became more than just running for me.  It became something I did with the people I loved and it became quality time that I really treasured.  Running with my sister was a way for us to reconnect.  She’d talk and talk and talk while I ran beside her, forgetting my discomfort by listening to her words.  Running has been a part of my life, sometimes large and sometimes small, for the last decade.

I look at where I am now and I’ve never been less involved in my passion.  I’ve never run alone, it’s always been as part of a team.  I’ve never had to ignite this fire on my own.  I recognize that and I want to change it.  What better way to change it than to sign up for a half-marathon (okay, there are probably better ways but I say ‘go big’).  This is definitely a mountain sized goal for me and not one I take lightly.  There’s beauty to me in the notion of doing what our bodies are designed to do.  We’re designed to move, so move I shall.  I know what I want and tonight starts the training to get there.

my very own chopped

photo 1

You know that cooking show on the Food Network, Chopped?

For those of you who aren’t familiar, let me introduce you.  There are four chefs to start and they have to cook through appetizer, entree and dessert in a timed cooking challenge.  After each round, one of the chefs is ‘chopped’ (perfect, right?!).  The curve ball to this cooking show is that the chefs all get a basket with a few ingredients (example: a whole fish, daikon radish, matcha powder and gummi bears) and all the ingredients must be present on the plate for the judging (and it has to taste good, obvi).

The connection between my life and the hit television show is that lately, it’s been like the basket on Chopped when it comes to cooking anything for myself.  Except it’s a race against time which isn’t a clock but rotting produce.  I haven’t quite learned to control myself in the produce section at the grocery.  I get really excited when I see rows and rows of fresh produce in every color of the rainbow.  Eggplant, zucchini, squash, kale, cauliflower, tomatoes—I can’t help myself.  As a consequence, I come home with much more than I need for myself and end up wasting and I can’t stand wasting produce.

Last week, as produce was rotting away in my fridge and I contemplated Orange Leaf for dinner—again—I decided to get up off the couch and cook something.  So with the aid of some classic Jeff Buckley (and some red wine) I got busy.  I cut up and boiled a head of cauliflower, I broke out my cast iron ovenware, I set to work chopping some sweet potatoes and apples and lovingly placed them in the dutch oven with some pork chops that I’d seasoned.  I drown it all in some vegetable stock and threw it in the oven.  It was, effectively, my own version of Chopped without the gummi bears.

photo 2

changes

Breakfast2 FrenchPress

RedPepper

Charcuterie

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did it!  I made it 30 days on the Whole30.  I remember right after I started I marked 30 days out on my calendar at work and I thought to myself ‘there’s no way I can make it to the end of March – that’s so far away.’  Now here I am, done with 30 days, feeling good and ready to continue some of the better life choices I’ve been making.

A lot of things have been going on in my life and when I think about that, I consider that I started the Whole30 at just the right time.  While most everything in my personal life has been choppy waters lately, I managed to maintain total control over what I ate and how what I put in my body made me feel.  I planned, I prepared, I chopped, washed and cooked; I ate leftovers and veggies and meat in new ways; I ate less out of convenience and was happily inconvenienced to make everything homemade.

All in all, I’d recommend this to anyone.  I’ll definitely plan on doing it again and continuing to implement the Paleo way of eating (allowing room for occasional indulgences).  I’ve felt centered and energized.  It’s kind of been my anchor of sorts.  Moving to DSM, while exciting, has also been a bit different than I’d anticipated.  I’m writing this post from my brand new couch in my very first apartment.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had apartments before but I’ve always had roommates.  I’d scamper about those former living spaces, trying to stay out of the way and go unnoticed so I didn’t cause annoyance; essentially for the last 10 years or so I’ve been living in a space the size of a bedroom.  That would explain my lack of adult furniture and kitchen essentials.  I’ve carefully picked out each piece I’ve acquired thus far (with some helpful consulting here and there); each piece has purpose in this new space I’m building.  It’s helping me carve out who I am.  I’m discovering what makes me happy and (yes, family) I’m learning some responsibility for myself too.

I’m sure we’ll chat more about my new space.  Let me end on some super exciting news: MY SISTER IS COMING!  Next Tuesday she’ll arrive here in Des Moines!  She’ll spend the week with me shopping and being a tourist.  I’m so excited to show her around the city.  There will absolutely be some pics to come!  The photos above (not in an organized fashion in ANY way despite my trying) are of a few of the Whole30 meals lovingly prepared in the last 30 days.

whole30 surprises

The following is a list of things I didn’t expect to feel/see/happen while on the Whole30 (or as I like to call it, Paleo on steroids).

1. My skin actually is clear and glowing – and it’s obvious to other people.

2. I have a new appreciation for leftovers.  In a prior life, leftovers were my arch-nemesis.  Not so much anymore.

3. I totally CRASH at 9:30pm and sleep like a baby till about 5 a.m.

4. They weren’t kidding when they said it cuts down on the bloat.  I am not wearing NEAR as many layers as I usually do to hide in my clothes.

5. I miss beer more than I thought I would… and I’m not even a super drinker.  I just realized that some circumstances call for a nice, cool, refreshing beer and I have to go the sparkling water route.

6. I’ve grown rather fond of red and yellow peppers (not raw though – gross).

7. A lot of people are doing it.  Mostly a niche of adorable bloggers that enjoy running; I aspire to be like them.

8. I realized that a lot of things I ate were merely out of convenience.  I haven’t cooked like this for myself in about four years.  Bread was a filler and I didn’t eat nearly enough veggies.

9. I have actually completely changed how I eat and how I look at food.  Testament to that statement was the food day we had here at work recently.  My sense of smell was in overdrive, and I was whiffing all the chocolate, mint, cookies and other delicious sugary goodies.  While I wanted them so bad, I really didn’t.  My memory told me I did but my body was plenty happy from the fruit and protein I’d already had.  I have eaten these past 19 days for fuel and it’s felt great!

10. I feel amazing.  Truly.  The scale hasn’t reflected that so much but I have felt more energized, more focused, less moody – I’ve even felt stronger physically.  I didn’t believe the testimonials (cause at the time it seemed kind of fad-ish) but after battling headaches for the first few days, it’s been energy central since.  My clothes, you guys – my clothes, fit so much better.

11. I love meat.

12. I am starting to like plain tea (“plain” as in no milk and no sugar).

13. This is looking like a real-life lifestyle change, guys.