Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Coming Together

I'm not dead, I promise (if I were dead and still writing about weight loss, well, that would say a lot about the afterlife...). Life kind of crashed in around me here recently, and I had to give up some things in order to not lose it. I decided not to complete my thesis, and I've felt nothing but relief since then. My adviser, I think, saw it coming, and was really understanding. I also put aside blogging for a while, and, regrettably, keeping track of my diet and exercise (aside: I hate using hte word "diet" because I don't look at what I'm doing as a diet. I'm really striving to eat more wholesome, fresh foods so I can have a healthier, more capable body--losing weight is just part of me wanting to feel my best). I didn't completely lose it, but the last week has included far too many restaurant meals. In my defense, I had two research papers due ("Work to Live: Wilfred Owen's Poetic Healing," and "Warrior Woman: Judith's Gender Transformations"), and it was my 23rd birthday on Monday.

I think I wrote pretty good papers, and my birthday was amazing. I've been celebrating since last Wednesday, if that says anything. My boss (I work for a church) took me to a great Cajun restaurant for lunch, and he and his wife gave me a really fun Happy Birthday! / Congrats Grad! / Thanks, Administrative Assistant Day gift. I have the best boss EVER.

On my actual birthday, my boyfriend showed up at work with a huge bouquet of flowers, a book (about vegetable gardening, because even though I'm living in an apartment soon, I seriously want to have a vegetable and herb garden), and a cat Webkinz. Yes, folks, I have a Webkinz, but I won't admit to registering or naming it. Tucked inside one of the gifts was a little card that said "Ashley's First Destination." He then handed me the hand-held GPS we go Geocaching with, and sent me on my way to a birthday scavenger hunt. He loaded me up with super cool birthday loot, including my way-awesome car navigation system now named Olivia, and took me out for a fabulous dinner and dessert. I have the best boyfriend EVER. (And yes, I now have two GPSs. Ridiculous, I know, but the Garmin Nuvi is seriously awesome. Dustin justified buying it for me by reminding me of my upcoming move to Mississippi and my all-too-frequent ability to get lost while driving to the bank... Plus, dating a Geek Squad Agent-On-Deck has made me a bit of a tech dork).

I celebrated with my parents last night-- I'm now tabbing pages in The Joy of Cooking and Vegetables Every Day. Vegetables is really fun--"Farmer" Jack Bishop runs through all the properties of tons of different veggies (organized by class for easy reference) and then lists the best ways to cook, store, and use them. Super great for a veggie newbie like myself. They also got me XM Radio (Yay!!!!!), but at my dad was put in charge of that part of my birthday gift, it won't be getting here until Monday. In the meantime, though, I'll put together earrings from the book my mom found at the Salvation Army (my mom has a vintage clothing boutique at an antique mall, so she's always combing thrift shops for neat finds). Seriously, it's a book of cardstock like earring that you fold and glue together. It was published in 1989, so you can only imagine some of the designs... being the dork I am, I can't wait to wear some out. I have the best parents EVER.

In other fantabulous news, the GPC at Ole Miss sent me an e-mail a few weeks ago--I got a teaching fellowship!! This is taking a huge financial burden off of my shoulders. I'll still have to get loans, but not at nearly the amount I was looking at before I got the fellowship. My mom and I are going to Oxford a few days after my graduation to apartment shop. There are a couple of places I've been looking at online, but nothing's really standing out, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

And to make this post at least sort of relevant to its intended purpose: I'm hovering right around 200 right now. Now that school has slowed down (only 1 final and 1 test left!) I'll have more time to go to the gym, and I've done yoga twice this week. Dustin's taking me to the beach (I know, I know, he completely spoils me) and I bought my first tankini in ten years. It fits me and flatters my curves, but I want to tone up a bit. I haven't been to the beach in about 4 years, so I am super excited--the dance around, do the pee-pee dance, have the countdown every day until kind of way.

I am a really lucky gal.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

"If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until it gets so ugly you can hardly bear to look at it. A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely."
-Roald Dahl, The Twits

Most often, the biggest obstacle we face is ourselves. You'd think that with all the other things out there that can make us fail, we'd try and make it as easy as possible for ourselves, but nasty little things like self doubt step up and we find it hard to push things away. I'm beginning to learn that this whole thing--this whole process of losing weight and eating healthy foods and exercising my body--it's not about being sexy. It's not about wearing smaller pants or running longer on the treadmill. It's an exercise of self-love. If I don't do this, every day, out of love for myself, it will be futile. If I don't love myself, at the core of everything, then all of this is for naught. If I wake up each morning, eat good meals and go to the gym and floss, but I tell myself in the very wrinkles of my brain that I'll never make it, that I'll never be strong enough or smart enough for this, for myself, that I'm not worth it, then what's the point? If I can, however, love myself as I deserve to be loved, all the things I work for have greater value, greater importance for myself. If I love myself as much as I deserve, I can begin to believe the little urging in my heart that all of this is worth it.

Friday, April 4, 2008

A Procrastinator's Breakfast: A Review

I don't do breakfast very well. For a while, I was eating a Nature Valley granola bar and either a cup of OJ or skim milk every day, but I got tired of it, so instead of doing the smart thing and finding something else quick to eat, I quit eating breakfast regularly. Which is really, really stupid in terms of trying to keep a good healthy diet in play. I am, however, a cereal fiend, but rarely have time to eat the stuff. Bachelor chow requires a bowl and milk, and that pesky spoon thing, and it's not something I can walk around and get dressed while eating. Until, that is, I met Cereal On the Go.
I can't/won't eat breakfast while trying to find my left shoe, but I will eat it at work while checking e-mails. The blue cup holds the milk, and it's a gel-filled thing you freeze, so it keeps your milk cold (I think for 4 hours, but I haven't tried it for that long yet.) The clear cup holds your cereal, and the lid contains that fold-up plastic spoon. It holds 5.7 oz of milk, and 12 oz. of cereal. Why they didn't just make it an even cup both ways is beyond me.

My user-review: I used Cereal On the Go for the first time this morning. I froze the cup over night, poured my milk around 9:40, and opened it up again at around 11:30. I swear, my milk was colder than it was in the fridge, which I loved. There wasn't any spilling or leaking in my lunch box either, except for condensation that collected around the frozen milk cup. The spoon was a little awkward to use. It didn't seem to be designed for an adult mouth or hand, but usable. The lid to the cereal cup just kind of pops on and off, so I was worried that it would come off the first time I banged my lunch box on my desk and I'd have Life cereal everywhere, but it didn't. If it does that in the future I'll let you know. The milk to cereal ratio (ha!) was not as good as I would have liked. I love a lot of milk, and there just isn't room enough in the thing for it. But overall, really handy. I had breakfast this morning while reading all of your blogs (yes, at work).

Cereal On the Go retails at on sale for $4.99, and my total cost, including shipping and tax was $7.02. You can't beat that. I saw this thing Staples once, but when I went back for it, it wasn't there, nor could I find it online. I got the green one, and it was more neon-colored than in the picture. I'm giving this product 4.5 of 5 rating-ma-jiggers.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Man-Meat: A Recipe

Usually I cook (not because my boyfriend won't, or can't, but because I like to so much), but I wasn't feeling it last night. Alas, we still needed to eat, so I asked (politely commanded) that the boyfriend take over the dinner plans. Despite my not wanting to cook, I found myself drawn to the kitchen every four seconds. You know, just to check in. What he made, Quick and Easy Chicken Spaghetti, was delicious. He and I both loved it, and that's a hard combination to come by (unless its pizza and cold beer, which we both love to an outrageous extreme). What's great about this recipe is that it's super easy to modify, and a *fabulous* way to use left-over chicken or turkey.

The Recipe:
1 12-oz package whole wheat pasta (we used the loose squiggly kind, yes, that one)
1 10-oz can diced tomatoes with green chili peppers (we didn't have the tom+chil, so he added a tablespoon or so of medium-heat salsa)
1 10-oz can reduced-fat cream of chicken soup
8 ounces cheese, cubed or grated (we used grated mozarella, only because we buy it in the biggest bag they sell and we're trying to use it before the expiration date...)
2 cups chopped/ground cooked chicken/turkey
4 oz sliced mushrooms (we didn't use these, neither of us like fungus)

The Operation:
-If your meat isn't cooked, go ahead and cook it through while the water for the pasta is boiling.
-Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; add pasta and cook till al dente. Drain and return to pot.
-Add to the pasta the diced tomatoes, cream of chicken soup, cheese, chicken, mushroom, and salt/pepper to taste. Cook and stir over low heat until cheese is melted and mixture is heated through.

The Music:
Truth be told, I was too tired to pick out a soundtrack for this recipe. Looking over it, some up-tempo Johnny Cash would work well, even the Walk the Line soundtrack would be okay. Let's go with "Walk the Line," "Jackson," "Folsom Prison Blues," "Cocaine Blues," "Orange Blossom Special," and of course, "Ring of Fire."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Huzzah for me! I'd gone back up to 201 in the past 2 weeks, and I've just really gotten back on track in any recognizable way. I know this week's loss includes water loss and period bloat, but I don't care. I'm back in the game!

Oh, I'm feeling much better from last night, by the way. Still a bit queasy, but I was able to go to yoga this morning, even if I didn't enjoy it. I still can't tell if it's a touch of food poisoning, or if my hypoglycemia is kicking in big time from me overexerting myself and then eating too quickly.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Cold Hard Bitch

So I decided to kick my own ass during my workout tonight. It worked, better than expected. I ran on the elliptical for, wait for it, wait for it... an hour. A whole hour. 60 minutes. The goal I had in my mind was 30 minutes, but I didn't set the machine to a program so I would be more likely to keep going after I hit the 30-minute mark. After I hit 30 minutes, I convinced my lungs that 5 more minutes would be good for me, my legs that the 5 after that would be even better, and so on until I was reading 60:00 on the clock. But despite how awesome my run felt, I probably worked a bit too hard--I grabbed what I thought was a light dinner, and threw it all up once I ate it. Pleasant, huh?

My mp3 player I'm borrowing from my boyfriend is turning out to be a real blessing. I never really listened to music while working out- my iPod has a disappointing battery life, at best, and I watched the personal tv attached to each elliptical at the gym at school (that's the one thing I miss from my old gym). At Health Central, the TVs must be set to either news or sports, and since I don't get into the latter, and the former is usually tuned to Fox, television just isn't my thing at the gym. Tonight, I listened to an old Jet album, and part of's Songs About Girls. Some of the Jet songs are *perfect* for a workout, all but 3, actually. I haven't listened to Jet since I bought Get Born back in 2003 or whenever it came out, but seriously, "Cold Hard Bitch" and "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" are my new workout anthems.