Wednesday, August 26, 2009


My family-cat, Socks, died today. He was 13 years old. He pretty much always looked like this.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

No Makeup Self Portrait, 2009

Fat Bridesmaid challenged her readers to post a no makeup self portrait, in the spirit of honesty and true selves and all that.

I think that's a great idea. This blog naturally lends itself to focus what I put on my body, and less on who I am--regardless of what I wear (though I think clothing and makeup can be a great method of self-expression, and sometimes I feel more "me" dressed to the nines with a full face of glamour).

But here I am, sans makeup, in a picture I took for my fiance:

No Makeup Self Portrait 2009

Know what else? I LOVE that at 24, I already have laugh lines around my eyes.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


For anyone that's interested in fashion, especially what clothes look like on a real body, I'm blogging my daily threads over at Teacher Clothes.

It's kind of sparse right now (still getting things set up as I figure out WordPress), but more is definitely to come.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Good Times!

So no news is good news over here. I haven't been focusing too much on trying to lose weight but right now, almost everything in my kitchen is organic, locally grown, and healthy. I'm not trying to force myself into my old healthy regimen too quickly--I'm taking it slowly, making gradual changes, with the goal of adopting them into a lifetime of healthiness.

But here's what I have been doing lately:

Dancing ON A BAR with friends. Yes. On a bar. I don't even dance on the floor, usually, so on top of a bar was a big event.
Teaching my first *solo* comp class:

Hanging out with the best fiance in the universe (at the Memphis, TN zoo in this one):
Buying this red couch without using my credit card:

Getting ready for my parents' visit this weekend (mostly cleaning and pretending I do laundry on a regular basis):

I have blessed life.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Big Girls Don't Cry...Usually

Let's face it: I'm a slacker. I've lost my mojo. Sometimes, I honestly don't care anymore.

In the past three weeks, I've only cooked about 3 meals at home. I can't tell you the last time I exercised. I don't even want to look at my scale. I don't have to. I can feel my body creeping back to what it was last January. Heavy, inflexible, unhealthy.

I know that's not what I want to be, but I cant seem to buckle down and do what needs to be done. I'm not sure what it's going to take. Whenever I try to get back on track, I last for about a week, and then something will come up and I'll be right back into my old habits again. It's like I can't even convince myself anymore that I want to be healthy. It's not even a matter anymore of wanting to be fit and healthy and struggling to find energy to do that; it's a matter of me not even caring that I'm fat and out of shape. How do you get over that?

I realize that I'm fully responsible for what goes into my mouth, and what I choose to do with my body, and I recognize that I can't blame my repeated backsliding on anything but my choices, but let's face it. This is hard to do alone. I don't have the person that helped me lose so much weight last year. And I need to find a way to do this without Dustin dragging my ass to the gym every other day.

The way I see it, I've got a few options. I can force myself to do this on my own--through SparkPeople/Daily Plate/Lose It!/Wii/Park/DVDs/blogging. I can join Weight Watchers and try that again (it's been three years since I joined, and I'm willing to try again). I can join a gym and hope the cost in fees will keep me going.

I'm not trying to be whiny and annoying, but none of those options sound appealing to me. I need to care again, and I'm not sure why I don't.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Teacher Clothes

I'm so glad I don't look like any of the professors I've had. I'm probably too young to know any better, though. 

Top and Skirt: New York and Co.
Shoes, Bracelet, and Necklace: Vintage, thrifted

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

B&Lu, I love you.

Remember when I drooled over some pretty clothes? Well, I ordered some pretty clothes. And guess what? B&Lu lived up to my every expectation.

I got these things:Layla Dress, $58

Raquel Dress, $59
(I thought about returning this dress, as it's too sexy to teach in, and I don't ever go anywhere worthy of such a nice dress. But I think I'll keep it. I feel sexy in it, so someone needs to invite me to a wedding or something, pronto.)

(See? Told you I have a nice butt.)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Motivation #2: That Damn White Dress

You knew it'd come back to this, right? I'm getting married, and I want to wear a wedding dress. But finding a wedding dress isn't like finding any other dress (and even finding any other dress isn't exactly a fun process).

I tried on wedding dresses for the first time a few days ago. I can't post all the pictures, because Dustin reads this blog, and has asked not to see any dress I might wear, but here is how most of the dresses were attached to my body as I was trying them on:
Hello, back fat! I'd forgotten you were there.

That's not even a size 6 sample dress. I went to David's Bridal, where they try to carry a range of sizes for their sample gowns. That dress is a European size 14 (which really, is more like a 12 US, but still). That dress zipped up about 2 inches before it had to be held up with clothespins. Beneath the clothespins is a boned long-line bra, and beneath that was a control slip. You'd think with all that extra control, a size 14 dress wouldn't have needed all the extra clothespins.

Now listen, I recognize the pitfalls in making one of my motivations an article of clothing. Even if that article of clothing is my wedding dress. (Or perhaps *especially* if that article of clothing is my wedding gowns. I'm conflicted when it comes to the supposed importance of the dress...)

But still, I would *really* like to be able to try on wedding gowns that aren't held together in a way MacGyver would respect. And when I look at my wedding pictures, I don't want to be thinking "Man, I really should have done more dumbbell rows," or "Wow, I guess those weekly fast food runs really do show up." I want to be thinking about how beautiful I feel, and how much I love Dustin.

After this day of dress shopping, I didn't feel excited. I felt depressed and upset with myself because I'd let myself forget what's important to me: not so much a dress, as starting my marriage off as a healthy and thriving woman. When I go back for another dress search, sure, there may be clothespins holding the dress in place (I'm not expecting miracles here), but I want to feel as if I've done everything in my power to be that healthy and thriving woman I want and need to be.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Recipe--Tomato Spinach Feta Pasta

I have a friend named Suzanne. Suzanne is my friend for many reasons: she's smart as a whip, we have the same tastes in clothes and music, and she utters phrases like "I'll cut a bitch," and "Bitch, be for real" with great frequency. But most of all, she's a great cook.

When she gave me this recipe, it cemented our friendship, and I vowed to never let her go. There's no good name for this, but it takes about 15 minutes to make, refrigerates well, is super healthy as long as you don't overdo it with the pasta (use whole grain, or at least whole wheat), and cleanup's a snap (only 2 pans, nothing sticky or burned).

You'll need (for 1 lunch or 2 sides):

  • Olive Oil (enough to saute garlic)
  • 1/2-1 tsp minced garlic (if you're too cool for the stuff in the jar, 1-2 cloves, minced)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 Roma tomato, chopped OR a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ~1 cup baby spinach (more if you really, really like spinach)
  • 4 oz. whole grain pasta
  • a couple of ounces of feta cheese, crumbled (I use approx. 2 oz because I love the feta)
  • Some upbeat jazz music; flamenco will work nicely, too.
  1. Put your water on to boil. Don't wait to do this or the timing won't come out magically.
  2. In olive oil, saute your garlic.
  3. When garlic is golden brown, throw in tomatoes. Let sit just a minute or so.
  4. Add in chicken broth. Let it cook down for a few minutes. Your water should be boiling now, so go ahead and throw in your pasta.
  5. When the pasta is almost ready (your tomatoes should be soft, but not mushy); add in spinach, small handfuls at a time.
  6. Stir constantly. The aim here is to let the spinach wilt, but just a little.
  7. Drain pasta; toss with spinach/tomato mixture (you may also want to drain the broth).
  8. Sprinkle with feta; serve. This is great both hot and cold, and it's totally good the next day (but not the third...not that it will make it to the third day).
See? Delicious.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fat Fashion

This is a great article. If you're at all interested in fashion, and the problems that women face if they're not a size 6, it's an interesting piece. Shame on you, NYT, for being so patently out of it.

From, original blog found here.

New York Times' Flubs "Plus Size" Fashion Story

I knew not to be too excited about this article about plus size fashion when the accompanying picture was a young woman in a frozen food aisle. In the words of Seth Meyer and Amy Poehler, REALLY, NEW YORK TIMES?! You publish a story on "big girls" who--what a shock!--are interested in looking cute, and then promptly choose to lead the whole thing off with an image that insinuates that they're favorite hang spot is the supermarket. Really?!

The piece details all the different clothing stores that have recently started plus size fashion lines, including Top Shop, Forever 21, and H&M (subsequently dropped for reasons unknown). There's a market, it turns out, for women above a size 10 to buy clothing. Who would have thunk it?

A few really annoying things...most of these lines are still only available online, which suggests that a) the stores don't want "big girls" shopping it up in store or b) the stores assume that "big girls" don't want to have a shopping experience like everyone else, that they're oh-so-ashamed. Either way, it's insulting. (I know the stores claim they just don't have room for all their merchandise, but I call bullshit on that).

Annie Maribona, the founder and part owner of Fat Fancy, a new boutique in Portland, Oregon, told the Times: "When you're fat you stand out anyway. It's really important to go all the way and do something fun or even outrageous with your clothes."

Um, I'm all for anyone of any size doing something fun or even outrageous with their style, but this sort of makes it sound like bigger girls have to present as freak shows in order to adhere to the public's expectation. It's fine if a larger woman likes to dress in "outrageous" colors or styles--more power to her--but she shouldn't feel like she has to "go all the way" unless it's authentic to her tastes and personality.

Thank goodness Maribona redeems herself in the short snippet on fat acceptance:

More than tokenism, such fashion and media tactics seem born of a conviction that larger young women have become more self-accepting. "They are inclined to show off the parts of their bodies they love," said Ms. Sack, the Chicago retailer. Pushing the trend is a broad movement of fat acceptance among academics, anti-bias activists and some psychologists. "It's important to reclaim 'fat' as a descriptive, as even something positive," argued Ms. Maribona of Fat Fancy.

But of course they follow that right up with the requisite fat shaming expert:
But others point to serious health consequences of being overweight. Andrea Marks, a specialist in adolescent medicine in Manhattan, suspects that "the vast majority of overweight girls are not so happy."

Sigh. Why is an article about the clothing industry finally recognizing that larger women can be fashion-forward including a doctor dooming them to unhappiness? Would an article about a new kind of bar that men love to go to also include an expert reminding them that alcohol consumption leads to health consequences and increased risk of depression? No.

Why can't we live in a world where there is no need to segregate larger sizes of clothing as if they were specialized when really they are average or not far from it? Why are larger women talked about as if they are a different species of human being, as if it is surprising that they'd like to look good or find clothing that fits them in the stores near their homes?

For real information about fashion-forward styles for larger women, check out:
Young, Fat, and Fabulous
Manolo for the Big Girl
Frocks and Frou Frou
The Rotund
Joy Nash

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Weekly Meal Plan

I'm slowly getting back on top of my diet again. And by diet, I mean what I'm eating, not a "diet." I hate "diets," but love a healthy diet.

I read Jillian Michael's "Master Your Metabolism" when I was at my parent's house for summer break, and while it didn't open my eyes to a new way of living, it was a good refresher, and a great inspiration for me to stop poisoning my body with junk.

So this week, my goals are to eat whole foods, organic whenever possible, and drink lots of water. I'll also try to stick to Jillian's "schedule" as closely as possible--basically, eat breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack, and dinner spaced 4 hours apart. Jillian also recommended not eating carbs after your afternoon snack, so I'll try that, too (but i LOVE my carbs, so we'll see if I feel like I'm starving myself...).

My breakfasts will look like this:

  • 2 eggs and 1 cup oatmeal (both organic, eggs free range)
  • 6 oz Fage greek strained yogurt + 2 oz Laughing Cow cheese and 1 cup berries (berries probably not organic, but locally grown and purchased at the farmer's market)
My lunches look like this:
  • Leftovers from dinner. Hey, I'm cooking for 1 over here.
My afternoon snack will look like this:
  • 1/2 cup hummus and unlimited carrot sticks (both organic)
  • 1 oz cheese (I have Laughing Cow Swiss and LC Babybel) and unlimited blueberries or one apple (fruit purchased at the farmer's market, but probably not organic)
  • 1 cup yogurt + fruit combo above
And my dinners, oh my dinners:
  • Fat Bridesmaid's Fajitas and Salad (Organic Baby Spinach)
  • Oven BBQ'd Chicken and Stir Fried Veggies (not organic, but bought at the farmer's market)
  • Zesty Herb Chicken and Suzanne's Spinach/Tomato/Feta Pasta (yeah, I know it's carbs. I said I'd try)
  • Roasted Garlic Chicken and Green Bean Amande
  • Pasta Primavera with Shrimp (carbs here again, but 2 dinners a week with carbs is SUCH an improvement for me)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I only wish my bad things would come in threes...

Today has be an Alexandrian Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Allow me to explain:

As all bad days start, Aunt Flo came to visit today. At least she didn't ruin my entire vacation.

I woke up early to load up the rest of my bags before I got on the road for Oxford (after visiting my family and fiance in Augusta for two weeks). The 'rest of my bags' includes two 1-year old tabbies, Blondie and Brownie. Now, I've travelled with B&B several times, and have never had a problem with them. But today, they decided to be finicky. On the way to Dustin's job to say goodbye one last time, Blondie barfs. Twice. Apparently, cats have gallon sized stomachs. Dustin cleaned out their kennel for me (bless his saintly heart), and I tearfully said goodbye. 

This is bad thing #3. It might be December before I get to see Dustin again, and after some bad news from his professor (they changed the time for the last class he needs), we may have to wait until May (instead of December) for him to graduate. And even if all this hadn't been running through my mind, saying goodbye sucks on its own merit. 

Bad Thing #4: I'm crying, on the way to meet my mom at our exit (we caravanned today) when, lo and behold, Blondie exhibits another gastrointestinal display and poops in his kennel. (Seriously, how in the world could he have anything left in his system?) This damn cat interrupted my few cathartic minutes of crying with the stink of cat poo. 

Going through Alabama, Mom and I stop for lunch at a Wendy's. After our meal, I decide take care of Aunt Flo before getting on the road again. There was no toilet paper in the restroom. Normally, in a case like this, I'd be uncouth and just dash into the men's restroom (I can't tell you how many men I've surprised exiting their restrooms--can I get arrested for this?), but a Wendy's employee caught me exiting the women's room, and asked if it was out of tissue. He said he was going to go get some, and would be back soon. So I wait. And wait. I would've just grabbed a handful of napkins, but 1) that might have clogged their toilet, and 2) there's no way in hell I'm letting this Wendy's employee think I went to the restroom with no toilet paper. Ah, vanity.  10 minutes later, the Wendy's bringer of toilet paper still hasn't shown, so I decide to walk over to the Captain D's and pee there. 

I HATE Captain D's. I've never seen a particularly clean one, and they (of course) ALWAYS smell of old fish. But Captain D's is the closest thing to a toilet I see, so I go. And wouldn't you know it? Their restroom is actually pretty clean. Except. Except someone was apparently out of toilet paper, and used napkins to wipe. Which of course clogged the toilet. (Wasn't this the very situation I was trying to avoid back at Wendy's??) At this point, Aunt Flo is getting ready to bust the dams, as it were, and I'm desperate. So I do the only thing I can do. I grab the closest thing to a plunger I see (a scary looking toilet brush), and plunge away. Mission accomplished (and one of the few occasions in which I wash my hand before AND after I pee). 

The rest of the drive home went well, unless you count it being a 9 hour drive. Across Alabama and Mississippi. Yeah. Not even the cows are interested in their surroundings. I make it to Oxford, and with a huge sigh of relief, pull into my complex. The SECOND I pull in, my other cat, Brownie, starts the tell-tale heaving. Sure enough, she barfs. After being fine ALL DAY LONG. And so as not to be shown up, Blondie barfs, too, just for good measure. But of course it was just bile this time, as there's no way he could have had ANYTHING in his stomach after the morning's pyrotechnics....

I unload everything, and run to the restroom for myself, where I discover that, guess what? I'm completely out of toilet paper. My plant-sitters have been wiping their asses with Kleenex. 

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sizes Don't Matter

I'm not gonna lie, the number on the tag can get to me. Not as much as it used to, but I still cringe when I have to put on a pair of 16s when I thought I was a 14. I vowed to never by an XXL at Target ever again.

But it's when I walk out of a store with tags as varied as these that I'm reminded the number on the tag isn't nearly as important as how my body moves (or can't move).

(Hells yes, I shop at K-Mart. Suck it.)

The thing is, I don't wear ANY of those sizes. Not an 18, not a large, and CERTAINLY not a medium. I typically wear a 14 pant, and XL shirt. I mean, my top is larger than my bottom, which makes the Medium shirt and 18 skirt even more weird.

I almost got a little mad at myself when I couldn't slip the size 14 skirt above my thighs. I was so happy to have to go down two sizes to the medium top. But no matter what emotions are connected with the number on the tag, I have to realize that in reality, my body hasn't magically changed based on whatever size I'm wearing. The size 18 skirt doesn't make me any fatter than I am, and the Medium shirt really doesn't make me smaller. (How even more serendipitous that I bought the shirt and skirt to match.) I'm taking this as my reminder to listen to my body rather than my clothes. 

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pardon This Interruption for the Prettiest Clothes EVER!

Growing up, my mom complained constantly about the lack of cute clothes available for plus sized women. She'd dig through racks filled with things like this:

(Sorry if you have this top.)

Admittedly, the range of clothing for plus sized people has gotten a WHOLE lot better, but I still have a lot of complaints for stores that refuse to make clothing above a size XL (or in some cases, a large, or 12). And often, when companies design for sizes larger than XL/16s, they often don't do it very well. (Old Navy? If you're going to expand the width of the bust for sizes above a Medium, be sure to adjust the height, too.)

But complaints aside, I just found an AMAZING website. Now, I haven't actually ordered anything from this website yet, but I have such hopes. 

Meet b & lu. Their clothes remind me of the things I'd find at ModCloth or  some other super cute online boutiques, but unlike these others, they only sell sizes 14 and above. I could easily spend too much money here, but that being said, they are fairly affordable (not Old Navy prices, but a great place for 'special' clothes). 

I want these:

Can you imagine my ass in this? Okay, don't actually try to imagine my ass in this, but let me tell you, I have a GREAT butt. And it would look so good in this. Throw your hair in some victory rolls, some red, red lipstick, and some great high heels. Perfection.

Oh, and this top. I LOVE this top. How cute would this be with a pair of dark wash jeans or a pencil skirt? I'm convinced my 102 class would be so much more intelligent if I were wearing this top. (Maybe not, but I'd sure feel classy.)

And this dress! It's on sale for $24. I might have to order this dress. Bank of America, be here for me.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Motivation No. 1: My Husband (To-Be)

(Missed my first post back? It's all about finding my motivation again. Read it here.)

Because saying it a thousand times already clearly isn't enough, I'm getting married next November. To this man:
Dustin is my motivation to be a healthy person. I don't want to put him through sleep apnea, hormonal conditions, breast cancer, diabetes, strokes, heart attacks, and all the other health risks that are associated with obesity. (And Dustin? I don't want you to put me through those, either.)

Dustin and I have a vision for our life together. We're both teachers (or will be; he graduates this December!), and we want to be good teachers, passionate teachers, teachers who have energy to give their students and still have some left over for each other at the end of the day. We want to travel, travel like crazy. It's heard to walk all over London and hike Machu Pichu even if we're just overweight and out of shape, but harder still if we have heart conditions or cancer or godknowswhatelse.

We want a big kitchen and a pool and a house with lots of windows. I guess we could have those things hooked up to oxygen machines and getting around with a hover-round, but why would we want to? We'd enjoy our home together much more if we have good whole foods to cook, the bodies to enjoy a summer (skinny) dip, and the peace of mind to still see hope beyond our windows.

We don't want to have children, but we want to be great aunts and uncles, who are able to spoil our brothers' kids and return them home dirty and with new toys. We want to be fit enough to take them to amusement parks and small enough to fit in the roller coaster seats.

Dustin and I want to live long enough to be perfectly senile together. We want to live long enough to drive each other absolutely crazy, but before we're able to do that, we've got to lose our weight, improve our eating and exercise habits, and combat our combined family histories of heart disease and diabetes.

When I'm making bad choices, Dustin is the person that's in my mind, shaking his finger and reminding me to do a little bit better. He's the person that makes 50 years from now a reality (in 50 years, I'll be 74, and if I don't have purple hair and a badass tattoo I'm going to be so pissed at myself). He's the reason I want to make changes now.

Finding the Source of Motivation

Wow, I've been gone a long time. You forgive me, right?

Clearly, I've gotten off track. I've had (I'm having?) what you'd call motivational issues. It always amazes me how I can look at my body, feel my body, carry around my body and know I'm unhealthy, and yet have no desire to change anything. 

Over the past few months, I've pretty much erased any progress I'd made. It disgusts me, but at the same time, I know it will do absolutely no good telling myself I've failed. I don't need to continue this self-destructive cycle. 

I need to break it. Make improvements. Get right back on the ole' bandwagon and try again. 

Here's the thing: I'm not sure how I want to approach this. I've thought about joining Weight Watchers. I've thought about following Jillian's "plan" she puts forth in "Master Your Metabolism." I've thought about counting calories and macronutrients on I've thought about joining a gym. I've thought about doing workout DVDs and my WiiFit. 

But I've tried all these things before, and always, I stop trying after a few months. I don't want to hit rock bottom before I finally make a permanent change, but I can't seem to muster up enough motivation to stick with a program, no matter what kind of program it is. I guess it doesn't make sense to think of "motivation" as a mystical gift I'll wake up with one day. In fact, I've got a sneaking suspicion my "motivation" is something I'll have to work for, scrounge for under the couch cushions of my mind and body. 

Some people use their kids, their spouses, the threat of cancer or heart disease, or a big, amazing goal to reach as their motivation. What's yours? (Maybe it will help me find mine.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This Recipe Will Change Your Life

Because it is my birthday (told you I'm a ham) and I'm feeling generous, I am going to share the world's greatest recipe with you. I'm not kidding. This is the best meal ever. In the history of the universe. When I eat this meal, I sigh and smile and thankthelordalmighty for every bite I'm taking as I take it.

You know how on your birthday, your Mom cooks you dinner, and you get to pick the meal that your entire family will have to eat? This is the meal I always pick Well, almost always. Sometimes I'm just in the mood for my Dad's homemade hamburgers and potato salad. But aside from the occasional hamburger, I've requested this meal for as long as I can remember. This is also the meal my Mom makes for me when I come home on school vacation, when I've had a crappy day, or when we're celebrating something. If for some reason, I go crazy and kill a bunch of people, this will be the meal I request as my last. If I find out that this meal will kill me, I'll write up my will today, and kiss my loved ones goodbye.

My mom got this recipe when she was in college in the late 70s, from her Persian friends (is it not politically correct to say "Persian" anymore? They were from Iran). She's been making this meal since then, and if you look for it, you'll see a variation of it in almost every Persian cookbook you look through.

We call it Persian Chicken and Rice. And it's the most wonderful thing in the world.

You'll need (for 6-8 people):

  • 1 whole chicken, or 1 lb boned and skinned chicken pieces (this is good with a mix of light and dark meat)
  • 3 cups uncooked long grain rice
  • 1 pt. frozen butter beans (if you're not from around here, you might call them lima beans)
  • Dill Weed (fresh or dried)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbs butter
This is what you'll do:
  1. Put your butter beans on to boil. They'll take about 35-45 minutes to cook all the way through, so I usually start the beans and the chicken to boil at the same time (but in separate pots, of course).
  2. Boil the chicken in water (what else would you boil it in?). Salt to taste. Bone and skin chicken. Shred into small bites. Set aside.
  3. Cook rice in water (not broth) according to package directions. Salt to taste until done. Rinse with cool water and drain. Set aside.
  4. In a dutch oven, layer several times the rice, chicken, butter beans, and a generous sprinkling of dill weed. You almost can't have too much dill weed. Dill weed will save your life. (I made that last one up.)
  5. Dot the top of the rice with butter. Cover and steam on low heat until flavors blend, about 30 minutes. (My mom places a clean dish towel between the pot and the lid on this last step. I'm not sure how this works, but it does).
  6. OPTIONAL: For a delicious, cool treat, shred a fresh cucumber into plain yogurt, and sprinkle generously with dill. This makes a great dip or salad dressing, and it's super delicious when you dip a forkful of Persian Chicken and Rice into the Cuke+Yogurt mixture.
  7. Eat, enjoy, and be happy. The leftovers will keep for a few days, but they won't last that long.
*Substitutions: If you'd like to make this dish healthier (it's pretty healthy on its own already), you can substitute brown rice for white and string beans for the butter beans. If you're short on groceries and don't want to go to the store, you can substitute the chicken with ground beef or turkey (by the way, this is a GREAT way to use up Thanksgiving leftovers). I will warn you, though, any of these substituted versions will not be as good as the original. Just sayin'.

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today, I'm celebrating my 24th birthday. Not a particularly exciting birthday, but I'm the kind of person who will ALWAYS be excited about birthdays, no matter how old I get. I'll be in my 60s, still demanding asking politely for cake and a cute present from my immediate family.

But on this birthday, I have to ask? Who the heck am I? For me, this is a good question. Me a year ago, me two years ago--that "me" needed a change. And I'm proud to be making those changes.

When I first got an apartment 3 years ago, my fridge was often empty save condiments and takeout leftovers. Now, it's like this:Full of fresh foods, tons of veggies, and more and more organic foods. In the grocery bag? Rainbow chard and collards picked right out of a friend's garden--those veggies aren't even a week old!!!! Behind the grocery bag is even more veggies.

3 years ago, I had no beauty routine. I never took off my makeup before bed, and to be perfectly honest, I only sporadically brushed my teeth more than once a day (I KNOW! What was I THINKING???). Now? I have a corner of my counter reserved for my beauty routine:
In case you're wondering, I take off my makeup with Pond's cold cream, wash with Cetaphil at night, and Aveeno in the morning (I like the scrub factor in the morning to wake me up), Clinique eye treatment, moisturize with SPF 15, then brush, whiten, and floss, and use Burt's Bees Beeswax lip balm. Not very complicated or time intensive, but it's seriously working wonders on my face. And I'm open to admitting that I really really like feeling pampered.

And a few years ago, I wouldn't have even thought of working out. And while I still have lots of work to do, I consider myself much more of an active person than I was. I'm at the place now where I'm not afraid to try new things. The old me wouldn't have ventured more than walking around her neighboorhood. Since then I've tried yoga, weight training, C25K, ellipticals and classes at the gym, strength training, and good old DVDs. And there's so much more I want to try.

And what's more? The person I am today recognizes that I don't have to view my life in terms of failures or sucessesses. I'm allowed to let things slide. So what if I'm not at my goal weight yet? So what if I never finished C25K? Those things don't mean I failed. I recognize that my ultimate goal is health, not beauty (despite what my counter FULL of products says), and happiness, not size 6 jeans.

So yes, I'm celebrating my birthday today. For me, it marks so much more than just another reason to eat cake.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I'm Still Alive

Hey everyone,
Just letting you guys know that I am still alive. Blogging will probably be sparse over the next few weeks--it's the end of term, and you know what that means: writing papers, grading papers, grading tests, writing more papers, putting together a syllabus.

I'd much rather be here with you.

Thanks for all your helpful advice and encouragement on my last few posts--I need it more than ever when I'm stressed like this. But take heart! I am beginning to restore balance in my life--I'm not letting myself eat out, I'm making lists and taking things one step at a time, and trying to follow all of your wise words!

I'll be back soon; stick around!


Monday, April 20, 2009

One Step at a Time

Things I'm Doing Well:

  • Avoiding eating out and cooking almost all of my meals
  • Skincare. Taking off makeup and moisturizing is a good thing, yo.
  • I'm about halfway done with my syllabus for the summer. My kids are going to have a kickass time reading war literature and writing their little fannies off.
  • Keeping expectations high about my summer class.
  • Being sociable more--made a few new friends and am actually gonna be brave and go to the beach with them this summer.
  • Packing lunches for long days at school. My Bento is awesome.
  • Listening to happy music.
  • Keeping up with most of my homework.
  • Putting off those bigger projects that can really wait until I have more time.
  • Growing my own vegetables and herbs. My plants are getting huge. Post soon.
  • Looking at things that make me happy. Like these awesome pictures of Dustin and I.
Things to Do Better In:
  • Faulkner class.
  • Getting papers back to students.
  • Sleep schedule (please ignore the post time on this).
  • Playing with kittencats more. They've been bored since Dustin's visit ended.
  • Exercise. You miss it, you really do.
I like that my "I'm awesome" list is longer than my other list.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I Have a Problem.

I started this blog last January. I weighed 214 pounds.

Today, 16 months later, I weigh 202 pounds.

If you were to graph my weight (how convenient!), it would look like this:

Obviously, I have some work to do. My trend seems to be that I a) lose about 10 pounds in a month or so, b) gain about 5 back in a week, c) maintain/gain really slowly for several weeks, then d) repeat step 'a.'

I would really like to stay with step A for longer than a month. Avoiding steps B and C would be nice too. Let's just jump from A to D.

Anyone have any helpful tips to make that happen for me? (HA!)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Upon Which I Am Offered Romantic a Video Game

Dustin and I will celebrate our 2 year anniversary on Thursday, and as a present to ourselves, we bought a Wii. I know, pretty sweet present. And even better, my birthday is 2 1/2 weeks later. Dustin got me a Wii Fit. And while that game is no substitute for an intensive workout (Jillian, I'm coming back to you, I swear), it's pretty damn good at getting me off my ass when I'd otherwise sit around and blog all day. It's fun, it's interactive, and it even offers insight to our relationship:Apparently, I don't care about Dustin's fitness very much. I'm sorry, Dubby, I really do love you. I'm just spending so much time playing with our Wii.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


A few ays ago, I ordered myself a Laptop Lunchbox, or the American version of the Japanese Bento. Mine looks something like this:
I first heard about these things about a year ago, but never wanted to pony up the money to buy one (what's pictured above costs $23, but I had a 10% coupon code).

Mine came today, and I'm pretty sure I have the coolest lunchbox ever. I've been really bad about being too lazy to put together a lunch to carry to school with me, and I've gotten into the habit of skipping breakfasts again. Combine these things, and I'm starving by the time I get home, so I eat anything (and usually a lot of it).

I have to hike around campus a lot, so my big zippered lunch bag just wasn't cutting it (carrying a backpack, purse, and giant lunchbox is just so not chic). My bento can be thrown in my bag--all liquids are packed up tight in sealed containers--and not take up much space at all.

Meet my lunch for tomorrow:

Strawberries, Chocolate syrup, Quaker Oatmeal Squares Cereal, and leftover grilled chicken. I think I'm set on the delicious lunch front.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Happiness Project

I've always been a relatively happy person. And while I'm not known as the person who smiles all the time and is always in a good mood, generally, people that come in contact with me find me in good humor. In fact, there are only two times in my life that I can look back on and say that I've had significant moments on unhappiness--middle school, when I thought I was ugly, fat, and hated by everyone, and early college, when I was having similar thoughts.

This semester (and last semester, too) has been really rough. And while I wouldn't say that I've been unhappy, I've certainly had my moments. I'm homesick. I miss my fiance like crazy (I just realized today that we're now keeping up a long distance relationship--before, I just felt really lonely without him). The classes I'm taking now aren't thrilling me, and I'm wrestling with deciding if I want to jump into my PhD in the next few years, or if I want to wait, and where Dustin and I will live once I get my MA. I feel stupid in most of my classes, and I'm not exactly sure how to catch up. My cats are adorable, but they've chewed through a lot of money this semester (mostly in power adapters for my laptop). I don't know if Dustin will be able to find a job once he moves here, and I worry about our finances. And I can't seem to get below 180 lbs no matter what I do. Et cetera and so on.

I had a mild revelation a few days ago, sparked by this movie trailer. It was one of those revelations that shouldn't really be a revelation, but it was. If I dwell on these things that make me unhappy, I'm going to be an unhappy person. And I really don't want to be an unhappy person. There are far too many of them in the word already. I don't mean that I shouldn't think about my future--my education and Dustin's career and our joint bank account are all things that need to be thought about, but not with this overwhelming sense of desperation that tends to surrounds my thoughts on these subjects. I need to keep joy at my center, even when things feel unbalanced.

There are a few memorable people in my life, and I usually remember them because of how unstoppably joyful they are. I want to be one of those people, and so I'm going to try. I don't mean to be glib about life. I know there are a lot of people who struggle with being happy. It's not as easy as just deciding to be happy. I know this. But I must try. I know it won't be as simple as waking up and saying "I am going to be happy today," but can't that be a start? Otherwise, where would I even begin?

Here. Now. With The Happiness Project.

How would you start on your own Happiness Project?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Working Out Like a Girl

I've been blogging for a year now, and there have always been way more women weight loss/health bloggers than men. And dieting has been a traditionally female thing to do. Not that I think it should be. In fact, I think dieting and exercise for the purposes of losing weight has been so cast as something only women do that men are hesitant to pursue weight loss, especially publicly. I can't think of many reasons why there were so few men at Weight Watchers meetings when I was a member a few years ago (women often came to the meetings with their daughters, sisters, and female friends, but almost never their husbands or brothers or sons). I can't think of many other reasons why there are only two weight loss blogs authored by men on my Blogger, and one of them (there are more, I'm sure, but I haven't stumbled across them yet). And this has to be the only reason that I'd have a conversation like this with my fiance (I'm in the green bubbles, he's in the grey ones):

Since he thinks Jillian is girly-girl dancing around, I can. not. WAIT. for him to try her workout. Dustin is going down.

Monday, March 23, 2009

What a Bitch

I know I'm probably the last person in America to try Jillian's 30 Day Shred. It's as hard as everyone says. And it has to be, if she's going to slap a "Lose 20 pounds in 30 days!" message on the cover.

But wow, that was hard. I've always said that I wanted Jillian to come kick my ass during a workout. I lied. I don't want Jillian. She's mean, and she makes me hurt. She's kind of a bitch during this workout, shouting things like, "Don't you dare stop," "No cheating," "I've got 400 lb people that can do this; so can you," and "If you want results in a 20 minute workout, you've got to work for it." Thanks, Jillian. Of course I knew these things already, but it's not fun hearing that I have to work hard in a work out. I mean, sheesh, who is this woman?
Oh. Hi, Jillian. I don't have a picture of myself in a swimsuit, because it's scary. Um, thank you for being a bitch. I kind of need it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Little Patch of Green, Day 1

So today, I started a garden. But in planters, as I don't have a yard. Seems unfair that I have to buy my dirt, doesn't it?Growing some of my own veggies and herbs has been something I've wanted to do since I moved into my first apartment. Call it nesting. Call it healthy. Call it environmentally friendly. But unfortunately, my first apartment was on the top floor, surrounded on all sides by trees, and I had a 3x4 patio for a yard. In my new apartment, I still don't have a yard, but I have a much larger patio, that gets full sun.
So now that we're past the last frost (a phrase you hear a lot when you start thinking about gardening), I went to Home Depot and bought planters, potting soil, and 10 packets of seeds. I'm now growing zucchini, yellow summer squash, carnival bell peppers, cilantro, parsley, oregano, basil, rosemary, spearmint, and catnip on my 5x6 concrete patio. (The catnip's not for me. I hope that's obvious.)To be honest, I have no idea what I'm doing. I waver between thinking I'm planting too early and much too late. I planted things too closely, too densely, and I probably covered some of my seed with too much of the wrong soil. I will inevitably forget to water and fertilize these plants. But I don't care. It's a good start, and I'm excited to watch stuff grow (or not, as the case may be). Plus, it was super fun getting my hands dirty.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Treats for People Like Me

If you're like me, you don't last very long without a sugary, usually chocolately treat. If you're even more like me, you tend to take your treats too far, and turn them into binges. And if you're exactly like me, you allow your binges to completely throw you off your game, convince me you'll never succeed, so you gain 10 pounds (or more) until you decide to star over, this time swearing off treats all together until you (inevitably) binge again.

The solution. Treat yourself. But only make enough treats to last you a couple of servings. Yes, I said make. I find that if I buy treats (say a small bag of chocolates, or a trip through Sonic's drive through for some ice cream), I don't savor it, and it's only a few days before I feel like I need another "treat," (which of course leads me to said binge).

This is my current favorite treat:

These are double dipped strawberries. They're more expensive than a regular Reese's Sonic Blast, but they're healthier, and way tastier. Oh, and you have to make them. But they are super easy to make.

You need: strawberries, 1 1/2 squares of semi-sweet baking chocolate, and 1 1/2 white chocolate baking squares. You'll also need a cookie pan, wax paper, two bowls, and a microwave.

Obviously, you're going to melt the chocolates (~45 seconds in the microwave) and then dip the strawberries. (Though it's helpful to let the first layer harden before your dip the second). And the pretty swirls? That happens when the semi-sweet shell melts into the white chocolately goodness.

I've estimated each strawberry to have right around 37 calories (I use Baker's Brand chocolates), so 3 of these is your 100-calorie snack 0' the day (minus the excess packaging and ridiculous ingredients).

So go ahead, treat yourself.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Can I just say that yoga ALWAYS makes me feel super sexy? I have no idea why I stopped doing it, because really, right now? I could conquer the world because I'm that super hot. (And WAY more flexible than I thought I'd be!)

And I am LOVING the fact that you can watch fitness videos instantly on Netflix. Today I did this one: Crunch Super Slim Down. It was harder than I thought it would be, but it moves really quickly through a full body workout, and gives you several rest points throughout the 35 minute workout.

And seriously, you will feel like a super flexible, sexy goddess in a worn out pair of Old Navy yoga pants.

(Oh, and by the way? This is Day 3 in a row of me working out!)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Step aside, Jillian...

...because the people at Self may be just as cruel.

I just completed the Self Bikini Ready, Fast workout, and ohmygoodness. As Juno said in the delivery room, "Ow, Ow, Fuckkity OW!!!" Let the record show that it is after 1 AM, and I was am so committed to getting my workout done EACH and EVERY SINGLE DAY, that I started working out at 12:30. IN THE MORNING.

It hurt so bad. My legs, arms, and abs are shaking. The muscles in my back hurt. I wanted to quit, multiple times. But I couldn't. You see, the fitness leaders were working out in front the tide rolling in on a beach, and they were all tan and smiling, and they kept talking about looking graceful in a bikini, so it's not like I could stop. Not with that hanging over my head. I don't even look graceful fully clothed.

This workout targets your entire body, but the parts that are hurting me most are my quads (it's a good thing I've planned to wear flats tomorrow, because there's no way I could walk, much less teach in heels after this!). My arms and back muscles were already sore after Billy Blank's Tae Bo that I did yesterday, but I have a sneaking suspicion I won't be able to hoist my Early American Lit anthology tomorrow. I was doing curls and figure 8s and lifts and all kinds of crazy things with my arms and weights, and there were LOTS of squats involved. LOTS and LOTS of squats. And lunges, and plyo jumps. And balancing. But no smiles on my part, no way. That was totally the trainer's deal. (Maybe if I was working out on a completely tourist-free beach in Mexico, I could smile through a workout, too.)

The best part? It's on Netflix, available as a Watch Instantly selection. It's an exact half-hour workout, so it's perfect for us Lentils.

P.S. I just finished reading a few Amazon reviews, and people were calling this a good workout for your off days. I think that unless you identify more with the Roni's and Mizzes of the world would you call this an "off-day" workout. I can't wait until I'm there with you. But for now? I'm totally fine with a 30 minute workout that will make me unable to climb stairs or lift anthologies.

P.P.S. Lest people think I'm going nuts trying to look like a swimsuit model for some sports magazine, I am not. The swimsuit I'm actually trying to get into looks more like the one the girl second from the right is wearing. But in black. With cute little blue peek-a-boo flowers on the bust to emphasize my decolletage (like it needs emphasizing!) Only a few more inches!!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Feeling Like a Failure

Lately, I have been one grumpy lady. I haven't been sleeping, I miss Dustin and my family like crazy, and I can't seem to keep caught up with my schoolwork. So of course, my diet and exercise has suffered. It's not even on the back burner anymore; it's completely off the stove and stored in a Tupperware dish in the fridge behind the 24-can case of Diet Dr. Pepper. And my weight is back up to 198. Granted, that's still down from my original 214 start, but c'mon! I was at 185 before Thanksgiving, and I haven't been able to even get close to that since then!!! Needless to say, this is frustrating. I feel like even when I'm doing good work and tracking my food and exercise, I'm not losing any weight. So I go on a weekend binge, and any progress I was making went out the window. And I'm not motivated at all to work out--I've only done 3 days of 8 for my Laziness-for-Lent challenge!

I need to rearrange my mind, as I can't seem to get past seeing slow progress as a failure. How do you deal when your mind is the only obstacle? How do you convince yourself that slow progress is NOT failure?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Not Being Lazy Takes Effort

Somehow, when I promised to give up laziness for Lent, I thought it would happen by itself. I didn't stop to consider that when I was giving up laziness, that meant I would have to, you know, work at it.

I did my bellydance on Wednesday, but didn't work out on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. This morning, Fat Bridesmaid lamented her funkedness on Twitter, and I was right there with her. I'd slept in until noon, and was planning on spending the entire day in my pajamas, eating whatever it was I have in my cabinet (which somehow inludes chocolate chips and white chocolate baking chunks I bought for dipping strawberries in, but so far, I've only eaten them sans fruit). We said a workout was in order, and instead of just agreeing with her and continuing to sit on my ass, I actually got up.

I just finished the "Foundations" workout for Billy Blank's Tae Bo. I took a self-defense class as an undergrad, and all the "moves" (punches and kicks) have stuck with me, amazingly, but wow, I worked up a sweat and I'm probably going to be sore tomorrow.

And you know what? I feel energized now. I'm gonna get my shower, eat a good breakfast lunch, and get on with my day. I'm ready for my day!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Day 1/40: Bellydance

I promised Fat Bridesmaid (okay, and myself, too) that I'd give up laziness for Lent. I'm not really a practicing Christian (or Jew or Buddhist or Deist), but it seems as good as time as any to give up something I love: sitting on my ass.

Additional bonus? Dustin and I won some free photography from Ellie at Bird In Hand Photography, one of our favorite photographers we're considering for our wedding. (You can read our winning entry here, and for more of our wedding-y goodness, read our wedding blog!) We're shooting (ha!) to have our session while I'm home for Spring Break, so this gives me just about three weeks to really get my butt in gear and lose a few more pounds.

I dowloaded the Lose it! application for my phone, and I've started tracking my calorie intake again. I used to do this all the time on, and as much as I love their community, their mobile site just isn't as user-friendly as Lose It!

So today? 35 minutes of Bellydance for Wimps, and this is my daily summary:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Giving Up Laziness

Dear Ashley,
It's your Smarter Self again, and I'd like to show you something.
This is not a breakfast. Or a lunch. Or a dinner.These are your cookbooks and fabulous copies of "Simple and Delicious." Why aren't you using them?These are your workout clothes! They're comfy and some have a neat pocket for a key. So far, you've only slept in them. See all those t-shirts? You never wear them. Look, sports bras! Including one you got for free! These are way comfier than those underwire things, but they make you look like you have a uni-boob. Good thing you only wear them when you work out.
And these sneakers? It's time for some new ones, but these have your medical information written inside the sole. How handy! Too bad you never wear them, so no one will know that your blood type is O+ unless you wear them (and subsequently take them off).
Look at this awesome water bottle. You paid for it, so you might as well use it.
And this yoga mat! It's purple, and has a strap! Ignore the fact that your cats almost chewed through it, and use it anyway. You even went all out and got the yoga strap and block! And a jump rope! You could do this for hours as a 5th grader, and then you got all doughy in middle school when it was no longer cool to jump rope. Time to take back old school recess games. You don't like any of the cool girls from middle school, anyway.And look at all these fabulous fitness DVDs! Tae Bo with a sexy sculpted man! Yoga! Bellydance!! And look, the Carmen Electra Striptease DVDs you've completely ignored because you feel silly. Guess what, hon? You're sexy, but you don't know how to striptease, so get on it.

Oh, one more thing, Ashley. You told Fat Bridesmaid you were gonna work out with her for 40 days straight. You can't let that woman down. She's one badass babe. Get off your ass and move, woman!