Thursday, January 31, 2013

Body Image

I think my least favorite part of working with high schoolers is hearing the girls make comments like "I'm so fat" or "Miss Rachel, you're so skinny," "When I get skinny, I'm going to wear cute clothes like you," "how can you be eating a snack so soon after (last meal) and still be so skinny?" The sad part is that these girls are average weight and not the least bit overweight. They were me in high school. They roll their eyes at me when I tell them I have to workout 5 days a week to keep my body looking like this. They don't acknowledge that the snack I'm reaching for is a protein bar, fruit, or some other low calorie snack while they're reaching for candy and donuts. They don't believe me when I tell them they are beautiful and that some day they will see it and that the people who truly matter will love them for everything they are. They don't believe me when I say that I used to be the girl who hated my thick thighs, but now they're one of the favorite parts of my body. They don't believe me when I say I still have "fat days." They don't believe me. 

I've never actually taken the time to actually understand the scrutiny that women are under to stay thin until I began spending time with young adults. Oddly enough, this came after the fact that I had reached the point where I was considered to be thin. I had lost 40 pounds and was feeling great. I made a decision to lose weight because I didn't love myself and I didn't love the way I looked. My confidence was (and is) through the roof and I am self-assured enough to never let anyone get me down. On days when I am feeling bloated or fat, I remind myself that I am not overweight by ANY stretch of the imagination. I also pick some feature about me (whether physical or personality-wise) that I love about myself. But this was not always the case. I used to hate my thighs and my stomach. My favorite part of my body was always my butt (it still is), but now I embrace my thick thighs. I love my collar bones. I love me. All these young girls see these models who work hard or eat too little to get their bodies and these girls don't understand that these women are not invincible. They may be genetically blessed, but if they eat 12 donuts a day, they will get squishy. Just like you and me. I hope these girls begin to understand this before they develop disordered eating habits or begin physically harming themselves. I hope they realize that they are beautiful. I'm striving to be a positive role model for them because I understand what it's like to be in their shoes.

It's also amazing to me that people will say whatever they want. There have been countless times where I mention my love of food or someone compliments my outfit and the next words out of their mouth are "you're so skinny!" I've heard it from both men and women. I'm healthy because I work at it. I eat ice cream and drink beer, but I run and workout and eat well to counteract those choices. If I want to look good, I have to take good care of my body. How many times do you hear someone say to an overweight person "you're so fat" or "you could lose a few extra pounds?" More often than not, you don't. I'm not complaining; I'm happy that my hard work is recognized, but it should be recognized as hard work, because I was not born this way. In fact, I tried on my bridesmaid dress yesterday for my best friend's wedding and when the consultant said the dress fit really well and I would probably not need alterations, the first thought that popped into my head was "oh my gosh, that means NO weight gain between now and October." How sad is that? There was also a really drunk, older woman last night who told me that I was "so beautiful and such a lovely girl, but the bangs are too long." Immediately, everyone in the surrounding area came up to me and said this woman was out of her mind and that my hair was fabulous and that I shouldn't listen to her because I am gorgeous. What amazed me was not that the woman said this to me (I was not affected by her opinion), but that people thought that I so valued this random woman and her opinion that I would be offended and they had to comfort me. I realized that if I was in a fragile emotional state, that could have been enough to break me. It's sad that I'm sure it would have affected some people close to me. It's sad that it would have probably affected the high school girls I see three times a week. What a society we live in.

I hope that you all know that you are beautiful. I hope that you are doing things that make you feel good. I hope that you live for you and celebrate your life because life is too short to waste it being unhappy. Surround yourself with positivity.

I'm leaving you with this ridiculous photo. I get this a lot when I run, and while it's sleazy and disgusting, it makes you feel good in a weird way ;) 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Balsamic Vinegar...Not Bad for a Migraine

I started getting a headache yesterday afternoon around 12:30. I thought maybe I was dehydrated, but after pounding four water bottles between 12:30 and 4:30, it still didn't get better. I ended up having to wear my sunglasses for the last half of work and all through my evening class. My professor said he would excuse me, but I just didn't want to have to make anything up. On my way home, I was starving, but I didn't want to stop for anything because nothing sounded good. I came home and made a quick meal, but it was so, so good. I roasted some vegetables with balsamic vinegar and tossed them onto pasta and it was heaven. I haven't had pasta in a really, really long time, and this just tasted great. 

I think zucchini roasted in balsamic vinegar might be my new favorite thing. That seemed to be the vegetable that best soaked up the balsamic taste and I can't wait to make some more. A friend of mine, who is also a vegetarian, says that she puts balsamic vinegar on everything. I don't quite put it on everything, but it's really tasty. I love it on salads, roasted vegetables, on veggie burgers, and it's really good with tomatoes and feta cheese. Yum!

Roasted Balsamic Vegetables and Pasta

1 portobello mushroom cap
1/2 eggplant (unpeeled)
1 zucchini
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Pasta of your choice (I used tri-color rotini)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 Laughing Cow Garlic and Herb Cheese wedge
Sun-dried tomatoes for garnish

Cook pasta according to package directions. Roughly chop vegetables, toss with olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread on a greased eggplant and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Drain pasta and return to pot. Add cooked vegetables, cheese wedge, and tomato sauce. Stir together and scoop into serving dish. Garnish with sun-dried tomatoes and enjoy! 

398 calories, 63 carbs (high, i know), 10 g fat, 13 g protein, 380 mg sodium

I felt slightly better after eating, but my head was still pounding, so the rest of my night consisted of being dead on the couch with PLL, endless water bottles, and my dark chocolate pomegranate. I had to turn the air on because I was hot and nauseous and let's face it, I live in Florida, so I can do that kinda thing in January.A 9:30 bed time must have done the trick because I felt good enough to run 4 (extremely sweaty) miles this morning :)

Do you put balsamic vinegar (or some other condiment/sauce) on a lot of your foods? What is your remedy for headaches?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

On an Avocado Kick

I. Love. Avocados. Seriously. I bought a 5-pack of avocados from Sam's Club on Saturday and they are just in the perfect stage of ripeness that I cannot stop eating them. On Sunday, I had some avocado on top of some of the leftover Black Bean and Hominy Chili I made on Friday, and then I had some on top of my Crispy Lime Tofu Taco Salad. Then yesterday, I had half of an avocado on my sandwich, along with some tomato slices, Tofurkey, spinach, and a pickle. I ate the other half on top of the delicious baked potato (photo below) that I made for dinner. Today, I put half of an avocado on top of my Black Bean and Hominy Chili (it's almost gone) for lunch. Literally, avocados everywhere. I cannot get enough. I've been using Hass Avocados, but have you ever seen a Florida avocado? One avocado lasts for days. I'll probably make some guacamole tonight or tomorrow so that I can have a snack. Avocados are a super fruit: they are full of delicious (and healthy) fats, good fiber, and they do amazing things for your skin and hair. Anyone who is not on the avocado train needs to get on this instant.

Hass Avocado in between Florida Avocados [image credit]

I've been seeing the weird man from the other day on my runs again, but this time he's been running. Still using his exaggerated arm movements, but more power to him for getting out of the house and getting some exercise! He's still using his weird lines, and each time he asks "are you running from me?" when I run past him, I'm going to get more firm in my "yes" and sprint away. Seriously, if I go missing one day, check him first. I also found out today that I am not going to Puerto Rico for class this summer because the professor is on sabbatical. Super bummer, but thanks to my philosophy of "everything happens for a reason," I'm trying not to let myself get too down about it.

This was last night's dinner. If you're looking for a meatless meal that's hearty. This is it. The baked potato was a meal in itself. I topped the potato with some sauteed spinach, 1/4 cup of black beans, tomato slices, some Monterrey jack cheese, and 1/2 an avocado. I grilled up a portobello mushroom cap to serve as the main course, but honestly, the potato stole the show. Portobello mushroom caps are a great meat substitute if you're looking for one, because they get all juicy and have great texture.

Let's be real, did I even need the mushroom?

What food(s) have you been addicted to lately?

Monday, January 28, 2013

My (Not So) Baby Sister is 21!

I was REALLY looking forward to my run this morning (even though it was my dreaded three miles) because I was such a blob this week (food wise, I did great with my exercise), but also because I wanted the few extra calories to do a FaceTime shot with Allie because SHE IS FINALLY 21! Allie and I have a great relationship and she is honestly my best friend. I am so thankful that we get along because she gets me like no one else does. Our positive qualities and negative qualities balance each other out and she is the only person in the world who I could imagine living with right now. I think it would be so fun to be roomies with my sister, as adults, and tear up the town. My parents blessed me with a lifelong best friend, a built-in maid of honor, and a reflection of myself. I'm proud of her and everything she is doing. She is an amazing photographer and I just want her to follow me around and take photographs of my life. I think one of the hardest things about living in Florida is being so far away from my sister. At least we still talk all day, every day. My dad always says that he loves that about us. He can never tell either one of us about something that the other one has done because we've already talked to each other about it like 4 hours ago. I am super happy that she is finally 21 because I want to go out to bars and things with her and just be so silly. I want our reunions to be over chips and margaritas. I am terribly bummed that I am missing such a huge milestone, but I promise to make up for it ;) I was snooping around for some photos of us last night, and for some reason, I can't find any super recent ones of the two of us. I promise though, we love each other. We always have.

Me and my new lil baby. Pretty sure I have food on my face, but what else is new?

Benefits of being a big sister: Always having a little sister to do your bidding

 I still dress like this

 Neither one of us looks like this anymore, but this is typical.

Actually, this is more typical. I don't usually use the f-word unless I'm sailor drunk, but it was appropriate for this conversation. I really do love her, I promise.

So happy birthday to my baby sister! I hope you don't cry when they sing happy birthday to you.
(I'm super bummed I couldn't find any pictures of that). This drink's for you :)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Garlic and Lime Crispy Tofu Taco Salad

Okay, so I know I already posted a blog today, but my dinner was way too delicious to not share with the world. I've been lazy all day because last night I went out and got wild. I drank way too much before I got to the bar, got whisked away by a group of European men and taken to a bar I didn't want to be at, shared a bag of Doritos (that I brought with me) with the bar, ate some McDonald's french fries, and had a lot of laughs. Today, I've just been sleeping and snacking and watching Law & Order:SVU, even though I've seen every single episode. I decided to be productive with dinner and created a delicious masterpiece. 

Garlic and Lime Crispy Tofu Taco Salad:

1 oz firm tofu (drained, patted dry, and cubed)
1/2 bell pepper (color of your choice)
1/2 avocado
3 small vine tomatoes
2 cups lettuce of your choice (I used spinach)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic and lime seasoning
Cheese for garnish

Sautee 1/2 green bell pepper in the olive oil until tender. Add tofu and garlic and lime seasoning. Sautee until tofu is crispy on both sides. Place mixture over salad bed, top with avocado, tomato, and cheese and enjoy! This took me all of fifteen minutes to make, and it's so so good.

I ate a mango on the side. I'm missing Moose, so the little veggie dog had to fill in his place and stare at my delicious meal. I mean seriously, look at that tofu. Who says vegetarians don't eat well?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Dark Chocolate Pomegranate is my Vice

Brookside's Dark Chocolate Pomegranate from Sam's Club will be the reason for me to gain back all the weight I loss two years ago. I could probably eat an entire bag in one sitting. I ALWAYS put it in the refrigerator because I LOVE my dark chocolate when it's cold. It's so so yummy :) If you have a Sam's Club membership, I HIGHLY recommend that you check it out. If you hate it, send it to me :)

That's another thing. Sam's Club is the best thing (and worst thing) for someone like me, who loves to eat all of the time. It's the best because I can buy so many snacks, but it's the worst because I get SO excited and drain my bank account. Here's my purchase yesterday, even though I just went grocery shopping on Friday:

Aside from the produce and the chocolate covered pomegranate, everything else should last me at least a month. It makes more sense for me to purchase my snacks at Sam's Club because I snack so often during the day that I go through all of my snacks well before it is time to go to the grocery store. I'm terribly excited about the giant container of animal crackers. Go ahead, judge me.

What's your food vice?

Four Weeks Until Race Day!

Edit: It was brought to my attention that there are actually FOUR weeks until the race, I'm a dork. It's hard to believe that it is such a short time until the Disney Princess Half Marathon. I am getting really excited, but also a little nervous. The training run for today was recommended to be a 10k race (short compared to the long runs I have been running lately), but since I didn't sign up for a race, I ran the 6.2 miles at the pace I'm hoping to run for the race. I got up at 7 and was out the door by 7:30; I think 7:30 am on a Saturday is my new favorite run time. There's no one out and the sun is just coming up, so it's a gorgeous time. I finished 6.2 miles in 55 minutes at an 8:58 pace. At this point, I'm guessing I'll be running the race around 2 hours (give or take for pit stops to take pictures with the characters). I'd be happy with that, especially since it's my first race and there's going to be all of these distractions because I'm in the most Magical Place on Earth :)

Post run breakfast: french vanilla granola over vanilla yogurt with a banana

Last night, I was actually a responsible adult. I did homework, cleaned, cooked, read a boatload of fitness blogs, and went to bed early. Who am I? Tonight, I plan on ditching the responsible adult in me again because Chris and Brooke are having a shin-dig and then we're going downtown :) Cannot wait to dance! 

The dinner I made last night was DELICIOUS! It was Hominy and Black Bean chili. I REALLY like hominy beans, but I don't buy them very often. I think I'm going to add them to my pantry more. They're savory and really taste like Mexican food to me (i don't know if that's weird or not). They also taste great on salads! 

I don't think I've ever mentioned this, but when I cook, I don't really follow the recipe and I kind of wing it with the measurements and things like that. The measurements I give you are appropriate amounts if you're measuring out though, so don't fret! The calorie counts are accurate too because I calculate them using the measurements I give here. My actual meal might be just a little more/less than what you make because you're actually measuring things out :) The chili recipe is as follows:

3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 can reduced sodium black beans (15 oz can)
1/2 can hominy beans (15 oz can)
1 small bell pepper (any color)
1 can diced tomatoes and green chiles 
Chili powder (to taste)
Oregano (to taste)
Salt and pepper (to taste)

I mixed everything together in a large pot (covered) and put on medium heat for about 15 minutes. I let the chili simmer for about 5 more minutes and then served! It was hearty and delicious.

Serves 4. 181 calories, 2 g fat, 36.5 g carbs, 6 g protein

Please excuse the picture in the background; we survived camp and it's one of my favorite pictures. Today, I'm spending the day with my former boss, Ann, and I'm really excited about it :) Hopefully we'll see some cool wildlife and have some fun adventures today :)

How are you spending your Saturday?

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Night I Stole Two Oranges From the Bar...

It's official: My life is a mess and I never want to stop being 22. I am in love with this age, my friends, and going out and just being young and ridiculous. I've started this new trend where I take small things when I've been drinking. It started with a hat on NYE from one of my cousin's friends, the USF glass last weekend, and two oranges last night. I'm not sure why I wanted these oranges, but I did, and I took them. I was proud that I took them. And I ate one this morning for breakfast :) Chris described me as "shambley" and I couldn't think of a better way to describe myself and my life.  The night was relatively tame and I love that I can go out on Thursday nights with $6 in cash and still be able to drink lots of beers and get a piece of pizza at the end of the night.

It turns out that this is actually more of a grocery post so that I can prove that I'm back to being healthy and moving out of carb city...

 Thanks Main Street!

I did some cross-training this morning (AKA abs and stationary bike), but I was totally ill-prepared for the gym. I forgot my water bottle and I forgot my towel... and I've decided my favorite part of working out at FIT's gym is that I get a peanut butter protein smoothie after my workout :) I took a desperate trip to the grocery store after the gym because I had ZERO food! I went to Publix and I have no idea why I don't shop at Publix more often. They have a lot of local/organic produce and it's not insanely priced. Plus they had a lot of good deals on the things I was looking to buy! I went into Publix looking a hot mess (see below)and had a major case of swass (sorry, but being fit and fabulous isn't always glamorous), but even though this wasn't Walmart, no one appeared to be judging me.

 That's paint on my t-shirt.. I'm put-together..

 Saw this sign for some poor little tomatoes... they weren't even ugly.

Grocery cart! :)

The bagger was a savior and got ALL of that into two reusable bags. Not only do I love my reusable bags for environmental purposes, but they hold so much more than plastic bags.

Cabinets and Fridge/freezer before:

Cabinets and fridge/freezer after: 

 The fridge isn't that impressive and my fruit drawer is still empty, but I'm planning on going to Sam's Club tomorrow or so to get some fruit and other produce/snacks that I eat a lot of.

Lunch consisted of Arnold's Pocket Thins, spinach, yellow mustard, monterey jack cheese, Hickory smoked Tofurkey (first time I tried this), pickles, cucumbers, and southwestern hummus: yummy!

I had all of these plans to do things around the house, but the sun is warm so I'm putting on my bikini for a little vitamin D :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Happy National Peanut Butter Day!

Happy National Peanut Butter Day! Peanut butter is absolutely yummy and I will use any excuse to eat it. It's funny that when Allie and I were little, I was NOT a huge fan of peanut butter. Ever since I became a vegetarian almost 4 years ago, I cannot get enough of it. I was a HUGE fan of Jif's Peanut Butter and Honey, but they discontinued it. Now, I love their natural creamy peanut butter. Just peanuts and salt, yum! I still haven't gone grocery shopping because I'm lazy, so I'm still living in carb city. But this morning, I made a YUMMY post-run smoothie that tasted just like a Butterfinger. I deserved it, especially because I was a dork and did my morning run with my pants on backwards. It's Thursday, so if that's any indication of the rest of my day, I'm in for a strange one. 

1 cup vanilla coconut milk
2 tbsp Peanut butter
1/4 tbsp chocolate syrup
1/2 cup ice

Blend and enjoy! I would recommend adding protein powder or something to make it more filling, but this was yummy! 

295 calories, 23 carbs, 21 g fat (peanut butter), 8 g protein, 169 mg sodium

My lunch was a grilled cheese with mustard in pita bread (Arnold's pita thins, my new favorite) and cajun baked french fries. My afternoon snack (that's packed for work/classes) will be peanut butter and Ritz crackers (gotta get as much PB in today as possible!)

I hope everyone enjoys their Thursdays! What are you going to eat to celebrate National PB Day?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Madness Continues

I'm still trying to get my life back together after this weekend. I went to bed at 9 pm last night and I got up early this morning to run and try and do some of the homework I ignored this weekend. I half-assed all of my assignments and got them done in time for class. I win. My run this morning was really bizarre. It was nice and cool out so I ran my lil heart out during those 3 miles. As much as I hate the cool/cold weather, I love it for running because I can run faster and longer without getting dehydrated or overheated. I ran past this man who I always see walking and swinging his arms in the morning. As I approached him, he looked at me and smirked, first saying "Are you running for me?" and then saying "Are you running from me?" I answered "yes" to the last question and ran faster. Then I ran past this man wearing a purple windbreaker (Hello, 90s) and watering his lawn. He was staring at me as I ran past and actually ended up watering his sidewalk because he was too busy ogling me instead of paying attention to what he was doing. I made eye contact with him, hoping he would stop looking at me, but he didn't. Then, on my way to work this morning, I walked past this  kid who looked at his friend, looked at me, pointed at me, and said "I want to bang that girl." My life.

Today, I've been living in carb city. I have ZERO groceries because I got back last night and haven't gone grocery shopping. This morning I had half of a bagel with a half cup of Greek yogurt, for a morning snack I had cheese and crackers, and for dinner I'm having a baked potato with cottage cheese. I found that I prefer cottage cheese over sour cream because it gives me a little bit of protein and keeps me fuller for longer. I had a salad for lunch today and it was huge, but mainly veggies with only a little bit of dressing. The woman who was cashing me out said "Ooh, you must be hungry!" Yes, I was very hungry, but I'm also eating a large salad full of good things for me, and not looking like that person walking out with 500 calories worth of empty carbs. Thanks, lady. I'm planning on popping some popcorn and being dead on my couch because PLL comes on tonight. I'm thinking it's going to be another early bedtime...

Tomorrow, I will probably go grocery shopping and get back to posting yummy and healthy meals!

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Sarasota Shit Show

Well.... we survived. I took a trip to visit my friend Kelly from undergrad this weekend in Sarasota and it was SO much fun. We woke up this morning with most of our dignity and an exhaustion level of 100,000. Here are some of the highlights from the weekend. I'm relying on Kelly and my fuzzy memories, my tweets from the weekend, and various notes I've found on my phone. Be prepared for a long blog.

The drive to Sarasota is a little over three hours, so I listened to a lot of One Direction and country music to keep me entertained. On the way into town, I saw a gang of old men (complete with canes), walking down the street. I also saw a lot of Amish people dodging in and out of traffic on their tricycles. I met Kel at the Mote Marine Lab so we could do a tour of the aquarium and see the sea lion show before she had to go to her other job. I had so much fun and loved it. We caught a late lunch before she went to work and this is where I was exposed to the idea that strollers are not just for babies. I saw so many dogs being pushed around in strollers. Why have strollers for dogs? Strollers are SO inconvenient in crowds, and dogs were designed for walking, so let them walk. You'll have them on a leash and you're not gonna lose them, so I don't see what the big deal is. Kel went to work after that and I went to her house, got drunk, watched a Fatal Attractions marathon, ate half a box of Cheez-its, and waited for Kaitlyn to come pick me up so we could meet up with Kelly and get drunk downtown. We saw a man recording the band, who was not actually recording anything, got charged $8 for guacamole when all we wanted was a little on top of the nachos, and just went out and got silly. I made friends with a 7'0 man and drank a lot of beer. Outside one of the bars, I got stopped by some passerbys asking if I was Justin Bieber and if they could have a picture with me. Naturally, I obliged.
Edit: Kelly reminded me that I forgot to include that I stole a glass from the bar. The glass said USF and Kelly wanted it because she is applying to grad school at USF. She didn't have a big purse, so I shoved it in my pants and walked out. Not obvious at all...

Favorite tweets of the night:

Saturday took the cake for absolute shit show of the weekend. Kel and I woke up and somehow convinced ourselves to go to the gym. It took us forever to get our lives together and just get out of the door. When we got to the parking lot and parked, it took us 4 tries to get into the gym because we kept realizing that we had forgotten to put things in the car that we didn't want to bring in with us. When we finally got in, I had to sign in because I was a guest. One of the boxes said "How did you hear about us?" And Kelly wrote "Best Friend 4 Life" in that box for me. The gym people were already hating us. We were those girls that you hate at the gym: the one's who are working out and getting sweaty but who are burning as many calories because they won't stop talking. Everyone was looking at us and hardcore judging us. The gym was playing all of this Debbie-downer music and was not pumping us up AT ALL! We spent about an hour and a half at the gym, but there was a period of time where we just stood there and laughed for 10 minutes, making everyone hate us. Don't hate us cause you ain't us! We went to GNC after and made friends with the worker there and probably brightened his day. We went home and took "fake showers" before going down to the bay where we played tourists. We stumbled upon a boat show and spent a few hours aboard multi-million dollar yachts and ogling a 24 million dollar yacht that we were allowed to touch but not board. We also touched a Bentley. We then made friends with an old lady who totally wanted to hang out with us but she was weird so we got out of there before we got another wingwoman for the night. We went on a romantic lady date, headed back to her house, got ready, started drinking and dancing around the apartment, then headed out to Siesta Key. We left our dignity at home, but kept our morals :) We met up with some of her friends from work, had a drink until they turned the lights off on us at the bar, and went to the beach club. The Beach Club is a blur to me, but I know I had a great time. We met up with friends and ended the night on the beach. I fell and scraped/bruised my leg up really badly and had a freak out in the car, but I'm fine. Just being dramatic. I also peed behind a bush; not my finest moment, but it was 4 am and we had a 20 minute drive and I had to go. At least I announced "No one touch me, I'm disgusting" when I exited. Don't judge me.
Favorite tweets of the night: 

Surprisingly we were able to get up and out of bed before noon AND we were out of the house by 1. go us! We planned on going to the beach just to sit for a little bit and then have a Sunday Funday. Well, we were ill prepared for the beach. We didn't wear swimsuits because it was chilly, but we also didn't bring anything to sit on... we met up with some friends and it was a lot of fun. We went to lunch and then Kel and I went to the Drum Circle which happens every Sunday on Siesta Key. It was AMAZING! So many people bring their drums and instruments and dance around as the sun sets. It was gorgeous and just so much fun! Kel and I went to the Daiquri Deck and caught the tail end of happy hour. We shared some yummy daiquiris and then caught up with some friends to watch the games! We went home early (A WONDERFUL DECISION) and went to sleep super early. 
Favorite tweets of the night:

Sarasota was sad I was leaving today because we woke up and it was rainy. I was bummed to be leaving and VERY exhausted, but that just means I'll have to go back sometime soon! I went to Clearwater Aquarium to see Winter from the movie Dolphin Tale, but not without hitting some snags in the way. I stopped to get gas and my door wouldn't shut. Thankfully some old man (Sarasota is full of them) saw me struggling and helped me fix my door. I made it to the aquarium, but then my door wouldn't shut again. The man in the parking lot who was parking people did not know what he was doing, so I had to drive down the street to the gas station, holding my door shut and trying to maneuver the vehicle at once. The guy at the gas station fixed it really quickly and for free, so hopefully I have no more issues with it. The aquarium was fun; it didn't really look much like anything in the movie, but I got to see a presentation with Winter and it was cool. I got home around dinner time and took a power nap. I'm supposed to be doing my homework now, but I'm really watching Switched at Birth and then I'm probably just going to go to bed. I'm EXHAUSTED!

This weekend I survived on very little sleep, very little food, good friends, and a lot of alcohol. Cannot wait to go back!

I feel like this picture is an incredibly accurate description of my weekend:

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Old Men and The Swingers

Thursday night I hit up my usual spot wearing my brand new hot pants. I went out by myself with the intention of meeting up with the coaches; I figured I could chat with the bartenders and whoever else was there until my friends met up with me and I'd be safe. I was talking to Kyle and Johnny (who are both my favorite cause they give me big glasses of beer versus the small ones everyone else gets). The man next to me was eavesdropping and started chatting me up. This wasn't all bad, but I couldn't understand a word he said and he laughed after every half-sentence. When he finished his one drink, he left, but Kyle was super embarrassed and apologized repeatedly that the guy is really nice he just laughs so weirdly and at inappropriate places. This brought my old man count to 1. Roughly 10 minutes later, two older men come up and interrupt my conversation with Kyle so they can order their drinks (Rude, right? How dare they interrupt my conversation with the bartender so they can have a drink :P )We were chatting about what I do, what they do, where they're from, etc. The men decided to walk about 15 feet away from me at one point because I was sitting by the heater and it was burning the taller man's head, so I returned to my conversation with Kyle. One of the men comes up to me and whispers in my ear "If you're here by yourself, you can come join us." I thanked him and when I turned back to the bar, Johnny had this look of disgust on his face. He asked me what the man whispered and when I told him, he strongly encouraged me to stay away from them so that I wouldn't get drugged or kidnapped. He also reminded me that my count was now up to 3, and I hadn't even been there an hour. Shortly after this conversation, the coaches showed up, so I joined them and just chit-chatted before we moved back to the heater. It seems that everyone else was picking up people they were interested in, so I sat back at the bar to talk to the bartenders because Main Street wasn't that busy. Here is where I picked up the swingers. I sat next to this newly married couple and the woman began ranting and raving about how beautiful I am and asked me about my relationship status and asked her husband to take pictures of us together. She then leaned over to her husband and mentioned something about me joining them in the bedroom. I tried to ignore that comment and she asked me 'so do you like just guys? or do you like guys and girls?" I told her I only liked guys and she said "oh, well I love guys but I also like girls" and gave me this weird "i'm-totally-hitting-on-you-look." Thankfully, her husband whisked her away after that and I got away unscathed. 

The rest of the night was relatively tame, and I left semi-early. I'm having a mini Coastal reunion this weekend, so expect a ridiculous recap of my weekend come Monday or Tuesday :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Unexpected Compliments

Yesterday, I got an invitation from two girls who I went to undergrad with to join their new fitness group on Facebook. The message that I received basically said that they were creating a support system for themselves and other young women, they loved my blog, and they wanted me in the group to serve as an inspiration and to offer advice since I've done what they're trying to do. I was floored, absolutely floored. It was amazing to me that I was seen as an inspiration and that people were actually seeking me out for help with their own weight loss. Never in my life would I have imagined that I would be in this position. It was a total boost to my confidence and reinforced all of the hard work I've put in to get to where I'm at right now. Thank you so much for your kind words, Kaila and Brittney :)

Last night for dinner, I made a spaghetti squash pesto "pasta" dish. Recently, I've fallen in love with spaghetti squash because it's similar to pasta, but you can eat so much more of it without feeling guilty. I was in a hurry because I was starving, so I microwaved the spaghetti squash.You can add any type of sauce or seasonings to it and it's delicious. Here's my recipe!

1 spaghetti squash
4 tbsp pesto
2 cups of roasted vegetables
1 Laughing Cow Sun-dried Tomato and Basil wedge
Salt and pepper, to taste

 Microwave the squash for 5 minutes to soften the skin; when skin is soft, cut the squash and scrape out the guts and seeds (just like a pumpkin). Then microwave the two halves for 6-8 more minutes. Let stand about 5-10 minutes before you try and touch them. If you want to bake the squash, there are directions on the sticker for this. Take a fork and scrape out the insides of the squash into a bowl; they should look like little noodles. Depending on the size of the squash, you should get 4-6 cups of "pasta" from this. To roast the vegetables, I heated my oven to 350 degrees. I tossed chopped broccoli, mushroom, and green pepper (you could do any vegetables, this is just what I had) in olive oil, salt, and pepper and baked for 20 minutes. After the vegetables were finished, I added them to the bowl of squash. I then added some more salt and pepper, the Laughing Cow wedge, and the pesto. Mix everything together and enjoy!

I will probably only get 3 servings out of this because I like to indulge, but depending on your view of serving size, your calorie count might be different. Mine is as follows: 229 calories, 15 g carbs, 11 g fat, 3 g protein, and 251 mg sodium.

Tonight I'm making a mushroom and broccoli stir fry with brown rice, low sodium soy sauce, and honey. YUM!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Going the (Worst) Distance

My neighbors woke me up 15 minutes before my alarm went off because it sounded like they were having some sort of party in their bedroom. Children were screaming and banging on walls, a man was talking loudly, and people were laughing; it sounded like there were 50 people in there instead of just 4. Needless to say, I was grumpy and got even grumpier when I realized that today I would only be running 3 miles. Three miles is my LEAST favorite distance. I don't know the exact reason why I dislike it, but I can tell you that I do. As I'm training for my half marathon, I do two 3-mile runs a week, a moderate run (4-6 miles), and a long run (6+ miles). I LOVE doing the moderate to long runs (9 miles on this Saturday was my favorite) because I get a really amazing runner's high and feel like I could go forever. Maybe that's why I hate three miles. I'm like an addict; I need more and more mileage to get high. I am usually just getting into the groove when it's time to stop, so that bums me out (I'd go further, but since I'm getting ready for the half marathon, I don't want to over-train). I'm also stuck running the little loop around my house when I do a 3 miler because I know the distance and that takes the fun out of finding new places. Because I'm running the loop around my neighborhood, I'm stuck on the sidewalks where I have to dodge lizards and give a few squirrels a heart attack. I prefer running in the streets because it's usually more even; I'm hyperaware of my knees and my calves since I've injured both knees and tore a calf muscle this summer. My calves were sore today (still recovering from my run on Saturday), but I've gotten good at listening to my body and realizing what is okay to work through and what is telling me that I need to stop. And even though I hate running 3 miles, I always feel better after I finish. 

This was my recovery breakfast. It was the first time I have ever used spinach in a smoothie and it was YUMMY! Spinach doesn't have much of a flavor on its own, so if you use it in a smoothie, you can add lots of other fruits to sweeten up the smoothie. It looks gross, but I promise it tastes great.

1/3 cup strawberries (more if you want more)
1 cup spinach
1/2 cup vanilla bean Greek yogurt
1/2 cup vanilla coconut milk

Blend all ingredients together until you reach desired consistency and enjoy!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Food, food, food

For those of you who don't know, food is top ranking on my list of favorite things. Last night I made Greek yogurt strawberry banana bread so that I could have it for breakfast this morning. I made some changes to it because I was lacking some ingredients, but it turned out pretty good after a little mishap I had when putting it in the oven. I accidentally dropped it and some of the batter got lost to the oven (RIP), but I was able to save most of it. I found the original recipe on Pinterest. I only had one super ripe banana, so I substituted 1/2 cup of applesauce for the remaining bananas. I also didn't have any eggs, so I got weird and used 3 tbsp of mayo for each egg (mayo is basically just eggs and oil and works really well as a substitute), because for some reason, I have mayo in my house even though I don't really eat it. I also used regular white flour in place of the pastry flour because I didn't have that either. I used vanilla bean Greek yogurt instead of the Chobani strawberry yogurt. So even though I was unprepared, the bread turned out delicious! The original recipe can be found here:

Here's how mine turned out!

Depending on the size of the slices, this loaf of bread has 5-12 servings, so calorie counts per slice will vary :)

For dinner, I made eggplant roll ups. I used the other 1/2 of the eggplant I had leftover from Thursday. I had a little trouble rolling up my eggplant and getting them to stick with the cream cheese, but they worked just fine because everything was all gooey and stuck together when I took it out of the oven :) The sauce got a little watery, but it went really well when I scooped it out over the top of my roll-ups. They were SO SO good.  Here's the recipe and picture:

1/2 eggplant peeled, sliced into thin slices
Laughing Cow Sundried Tomato and Basil cheese wedges
Mushrooms, chopped coarsely
Olive oil
Pasta Sauce of your choice (I used tomato and basil)
Salt and Pepper, to taste 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle olive oil in a pan followed by a thin layer of sauce. I didn't use an entire cheese wedge for each roll up; instead, I cut the wedges into pieces and spread them onto my slices. I then put together a thin layer of spinach and mushrooms and season with salt and pep. Roll up the slices and tuck into the pan. Repeat until all of your slices are used. Add some salt and pepper to your rolled up slices, drizzle with olive oil, and cover with pasta sauce. If you want, you can add shredded cheese over your roll ups and make them more lasagna like, but I just left it like this. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. 

For two roll ups, there are 157 calories, 11 g carbs, 12 g fat (this comes from the olive oil), 4 g protein, and 322 mg sodium. The high sodium comes from the olive oil and the pasta sauce.


Friday, January 11, 2013

"Be careful with those pants..."

I wore my hot pink jeggings last night, and they were a hit. In class, a classmate took a look at my pants and said "it must be Thursday..." Another classmate said "Do you have a bodyguard tonight?" When I said yes, he later said "Rachel, you be careful with those pants tonight." I went out with my friend PJ, who said he only came out to protect me from being accosted (which he was super smart about because it would happen, especially in these pants). After a few hours, he had to go home and be an adult because he has a real job, so he walked me upstairs to find my friends. When he left, the weirdness began. First, I was talking to some random guy on crutches who was balancing his drink and walking at the same time (I was impressed). He didn't want to take the shot, so I offered to take it for him and his friends YELLED at me, totally embarrassing the kid and forcing him to take the shot. Uh, yeah, weird, but whatever. Then, I was outside talking to this random guy and his friend came up, introduced himself, then asked how we knew each other. I said we had just met, but apparently, I WAS WRONG! The guy threw a mini fit and said I met him in line for Obama (oops). I then remembered him and his girlfriend in line and introduced him to my friend who I also met in the Obama line. For some reason, new Obama-line introduced all of his friends to me as sex offenders, and I proceeded to tell weird stories about how creepy men are attracted to me until my friends came and whisked me away.

The friends I was hanging out with asked me to go to Off the Traxx; I told them I had almost been sexually assaulted there, but since I was going with a male, I thought I would be safe. I was until the end of the night. My friends and I were sitting outside of the bar, chowing on some pizza, when this guy walks by and drops his phone. Pieces fly everywhere and I point out where they went and what not. Well, this man then told me I had amazing mind control because I exploded his phone with my brain. I kept trying to get the attention of my friend, but this guy kept saying "don't tell him, don't touch him." After ignoring him, weirdo walked away. He came back 10 minutes later and sits next to me on the bench. He gets really close and puts his nose in my hair. I ask him what he's doing and he says "shh," so I grab my friends arm. Weirdo says "don't grab him, just enjoy." I ask him again what he's doing and he starts raving about how good my hair smells and how everyone should smell it. We all ignore him. As my friends and I are walking to our cars, Weirdo/Hair Sniffer comes up behind us and starts yelling random things. He then starts SCREAMING at us and follows us for a block and a half... so weird. He stops as suddenly as he started and walks the other way, so I sprinted to my car and locked the doors before I got kidnapped.

The most WTF moment didn't happen until the end of the night, but my hot pants did not fail me :) 

Time to enjoy some Florida sunshine and a lazy day because tomorrow I'm going to make myself get up super early to get in my 9 miles because otherwise it'll be too warm ;) #Floridaproblems

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thirsty Thursday

This morning started out with me having a conversation with my mom about how to sanitize my dishwasher (since I don't have vinegar or bleach) because I found a bug in there last night and FLIPPED OUT! Since I was freaked out and wanted to sanitize everything, it took all of my resolve to get ready for class. Well, Pandora finally figured out that I love to wobble and played "Wobble" by V.I.C. for me. I wobbled my little butt around my bedroom and put on my hot pants. It's Thursday, I'm wearing hot pants, Pandora played the wobble, so I left the house expecting weirdness and an overall good day/night. As I walked to class, some boy looked dead at me and said "HIIIIIIIII" for 2 minutes and did a little wave. I looked at him and smiled this awkward smile because.... I DON'T KNOW WHO HE IS! The weirdness began early. It continued throughout the day with everyone looking at me with this look like they knew who I was; I knew none of them. I'm going to guess I was looking really good, really bad, or very Justin Bieber-esque and that's why they were all looking at me.

I really wrote this blog because I wanted to share this recipe for stuffed eggplant that I adapted from my Hungry Girl to the Max cookbook. So far it's looking like I'm just using her instructions as guidelines and really only follow the cooking times. Instead of ricotta cheese, I used 2 tbsp of whipped cream cheese, sauteed the eggplant guts with some mushrooms and spinach, mixed it all together with some balsamic vinegar, filled in my eggplant shell, drizzled some more balsamic vinegar over the stuffed eggplant, and baked that sucker :) I only used half an eggplant, so if you want to make this recipe, just double! Recipe and picture follow: 

Balsamic Stuffed Eggplant

1/2 Large eggplant, unpeeled
1 cup baby spinach
1/4 cup mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp whipped cream cheese 
1/4 cup of bread crumbs
salt and pepper, to taste
oregano, italian seasoning, to taste
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Cut the stem end of the eggplant off and cut the eggplant in half. About 1/2 an inch in from the edges of the eggplant, make long slits. Make a slit across the short end of the eggplant as well. Use a spoon to scrape the eggplant guts, chop the guts, then transfer to a skillet. Add spinach and chopped mushrooms to the skillet and cook until soft, adding salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the sauteed vegetables to a bowl and add cream cheese and 1 tbsp of the balsamic vinegar (add more salt and pepper if needed). Add about 1/2 of the bread crumbs, along with the oregano and italian seasoning. Mix all together and scoop into shell of the eggplant. Top with the remaining tbsp of balsamic vinegar and bread crumbs. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, then enjoy!

Each serving has 280 calories, 45 g carbs, 9 g fat, 10 g protein, and 554 mg sodium.

I'm hoping that tomorrow I will have some sitcom worthy material to share after my night out at Main Street tonight. But since it's Thursday, put on your hot pants and let's get weird!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Working on my Fitness

Recently, I've gotten lots of questions about my "secret" to losing about 40 pounds in 2011 and maintaining it through 2012. It seems almost everyone wants to lose weight or tone up, which is amazing! But here's the truth: there is no "secret" to weight loss. At the encouragement of my Pilates teacher in the Spring 2011 semester, I began to track my calories and exercise using (they also have a mobile app; both are free!). Let me tell you, counting calories is an eye-opener. It really introduced portion control, which I think is more important than what you actually eat. I still eat pizza, ice cream, and all those delicious sweets, I just allot calories for those treats. It's also important to understand that you don't need to be perfect in your calorie counting every day; as long as you have a deficit of 2500 calories at the end of the week, you will lose 1 lb a week (myfitnesspal calculates your deficit for you).

I initially set my goal as 15 pounds that I wanted to lose. The first 10 or so pounds come off quickly (more if you're heavier) because this is all water weight. When I got to 15 pounds lost, I loved what I was seeing so I tried for 5 more pounds. Then I tried for 10 more pounds. When I reached that, I was ECSTATIC! I went into maintenance mode and kept my activity as normal. This year, in September, I lost 10 more pounds. I was having a rough time, wasn't eating AS much (although I was still eating and running), but I'm maintaining here for now :) I would encourage everyone who is looking to lose weight to track their calories and find an exercise they love. The cliched "diet and exercise" truly is the best way to lose weight healthily (unless you're under doctor's orders to try something else). Good luck!

Things I've learned about health and fitness
1. You will still have fat days, no matter how much weight you lose. Sometimes my mind doesn't recognize that the person I see in the mirror is a healthy young woman, not even close to being overweight.
2. A strong support system can be your best asset. I was lucky enough to have a boyfriend at the time who constantly reminded me that I am beautiful and that my new body is amazing, and I credit him for helping me develop a positive body image. My family and friends were also really supportive, constantly asking about my progress and reminding me that I was doing a great job.
3. Fat does not make you fat. Dietary fats are not necessarily the cause of weight gain or obesity; healthy fats (think: avocados and nuts) are important in brain health and overall functioning of the body. Don't be afraid of fat!
4. Dehydration is your worst enemy. I have found that working out while I'm slightly dehydrated is the WORST! It can lead to blisters, chafing, headaches, and overall poor performance. If you don't bring a water bottle with you, make sure to drink lots of water before and after your workout. 
5. Exercise is fun if you find something you love. I started out with Zumba, Pilates, and Yoga, but now I usually just run. Running makes me feel amazing, it's free, and you can do it whenever you want.
6. Pick a time to workout and stick with it. I workout as soon as I wake up in the morning because otherwise I lose my resolve throughout the day and decide I can just do it tomorrow. It gets you into a bad habit. I saw a Nike quote that says "yesterday, you said tomorrow." So just go out and do it today! You'll feel so much better
7. Not every workout is going to be the same. Just because you did great yesterday in your workout doesn't mean that you'll do great today. Every day is different. Some days you're more hydrated than others, some days you may be more sore, etc. It's okay. You're moving, and that's better than nothing!
8. Rest days can be your best friend. Your body needs time to recover. Take a rest day. You don't have to necessarily eat everything in sight, but it's nice to give your body a break, especially if you want to avoid injury. It's gonna feel weird at first, but if you're working hard during the week, you'll come to appreciate that rest day. 
9. Set goals. Instead of saying "i want to lose 50 pounds," try setting a goal of losing 10 or 15 pounds first. When that goal is reached, move onto the next goal until 50 pounds lost is reached. It's less daunting. Now that I'm working on maintaining my weight, I set fitness goals. My next fitness goal is to finish the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February :P
10. Keep at it. You're not going to see results over night. Keep in mind that all of your hard work is going to pay off. Do this for yourself, not for others. I promise you will feel amazing!

Good luck to everyone who is working on their fitness!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Gettin' Started

In the first four months that I have been single, a lot has happened in my life. I started working two tutoring jobs (which I love), started training for a half marathon, fell madly in love with Florida, made some super awesome new friends, saw the good, bad, and weird in people, kicked ass in my first semester of grad school, and survived my 3 weeks of winter in Chicago. I have grown a lot since September and I am happier in my life now than I could have ever imagined. I've also come to accept the fact that I'm a little bit of an undercover diva, in that I do what I want, say what I want, and (usually) get what I want, although nothing is handed to me and I work hard for everything I have. It's an aspect of my personality that I embrace, and I like to think of it more as being "driven," rather than being a "diva," but that's open to interpretation. I've also had a lot of strange encounters with (predominantly) men, which leads me to believe that my life has become some sort of a sitcom. It also led me to starting my blog :)

For 2013, I have the hopes of trying new things, and I'm starting with this blog. I love to post about my successes on Facebook, post about my fitness, post pictures of my delicious meals, and create little status updates that give insight into the weirdness of my life. However, I get sick of sharing everything on Facebook, and I'm sure other people do as well. I'm going to start blogging most of my success, meals,  and the general sitcom-ness of my life on this little blog (let's see how long I stick with this). Now, family and friends have the option of CHOOSING to see what's going on in my life, instead of being subjected to it on Facebook :)

I PROMISE this post is almost over, but tonight for dinner I made vegetarian shepherd's pie. I adapted the recipe from my Hungry Girl to the Max cookbook (Thanks Santa!). I used red lentils(in place of ground turkey), omitted the onion (I have none), used frozen green beans only (had no mixed veggies), and added cubed, Russet potatoes. Recipe and pictures follow:

Squash Shepherd's Pie:

3 1/2 cups cubed butternut squash
1/2 cup (dry) lentils
1/2 tsp garlic
salt (to taste)
dash garlic powder
dash onion powder
dash black pepper
3/4 cup gravy (i made my own)
1 1/2 cups frozen green beans (thawed)
1 Russet potato (cubed)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a nonstick pan with cooking spray. Place squash in a microwave safe bowl along with 2 tbsp water. Cover and microwave for 6 minutes (or until soft). Boil the lentils (per directions). Drain lentils. Peel and cube the Russet potato. Mix potato cubes, lentils, pepper, garlic powder, onion power, and black pepper together and then add to the greased dish. Top evenly with gravy, then add the frozen vegetables. Mash the butternut squash with butter and salt; add this layer to the veggies. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the topping is firm!

Makes 4 (HEAPING) servings at 265 calories per serving, 21 g carbs, 7 g fat, 6 g protein,  and 172 mg sodium