Making Exercise A Habit

I decided that this edition of Workout Wednesday should have more of a purpose than just what I did this week. To be honest, it’s not much different than I’ve done the past couple of weeks.

It’s now been about three years since I started my weight loss journey. I will be honest with you when I say that if you want to see a huge difference in your health and how you feel, it starts with how you fuel your body. That being said, exercise is such a huge important part of life that is often neglected because there is really not enough time in the day.

I get it. I really do. I didn’t get it when I was in college and only had to focus on classes and my job at the library and had two hours a day to dedicate to kicking off my new lifestyle. That was a blessing for me because it gave me the time and the motivation to truly work my body to a new level. I fell in love with exercise, not just the way it made me feel- brave, powerful, and beautiful- down to the last drop of sweat clinging to my toes, but also in the way I learned that my body is not just a shell protecting my soul. The body is a workforce that can make or break you.

Through exercise, I have connected with myself and learned more about who I am and what I can do. It’s made me independent and confident in ways I never could rely on before. I am a better improved, less shy, less closed-off and shut-down version of myself because I learned to trust myself. The biggest part of that didn’t come from the weight loss or what I looked like, it came, and still comes, from how I fostered new eating habits, the journey my body and I took to become stronger, physically and mentally.

It started in the summer, shortly after my junior year of college. It took a lifetime to get to that place where I not only knew I needed to lose weight, but I was ready to lose weight. The momentum grew in slow spurts, but it was that year that I suffered, for the better, a few chief events that thrust me into this new regime.

The three that stand out huge for me happened when I was outside of my comfort zone, but in places that should have offered fantastic experiences. The first was when I was in New York City, the place of my dreams, and I had a huge ice cream sundae at a famous restaurant, hating myself with every spoonful, unable to enjoy any of it, and then staying up half the night crying and hating myself. The second was when I visited my college roommate in Ireland and felt so self-conscious the entire time that I wasn’t able to enjoy being in EUROPE. The third was when my family and I went to Montreal for a weekend, stopped at an amusement park, and I decided to skip a few rides because I was too afraid I wasn’t going to fit on the rides.

That was it.

Those moments were painful, but they opened my eyes. I started better listening to what my body needed and wanted for sustenance and took enjoyment in what I was eating. Even though I was heavier, I never appreciated or savored my food. It was a damaged relationship that I am lucky to have repaired. Beyond that, I sought out ways to move more in my life.

We had an elliptical in my basement that I started to use for twenty minutes a day before swimming in the pool. I went on walks with my mom and my dog Mac and didn’t complain with every step. When I had mastered the Elliptical and then broke it (from overuse, not overweight FYI), I mustered up the courage and got myself to the gym. After doing a little research, I started lifting weights, the big influence of my body’s strength. After awhile, and to my absolute disbelief, I started the slow process of becoming a runner. I mean, if I can run, ANYONE can run.

Not only can I do it, I like to do it.

Okay, not every day, not all the time. We’ve discussed before that sometimes it’s hard to motivate yourself off the couch and to the gym or to wherever you go to exercise however you like, especially when you’ve had a long day of work and family and expectations. I didn’t get that in college, but I got it in grad school while working a full-time job.

But I still fit in exercise almost every single day. In random spurts, and definitely not always for two hours, but I did it and it helped me through my Fellowship.

Listen, I would not have finished that Fellowship without exercise. I promise.

I’m proud and happy to know that when looking back in the past year, even the past three years, I have exercised more days than I haven’t. That started as a habit, taking the initial terrifying step and increasing it every single day, with a pinch of positivity and a dash of force.

Three years ago, I could not imagine working out one day a week, let alone six. Today, I cannot imagine where I would be without it. Exercise keeps my body healthy and happy. It keeps my mind sane and less stressed. It is my greatest therapy and my private time. Working out helps me to sleep soundly at night and ready to wake up in the morning.

On those days that I find it hardest to get myself to workout, I do it anyways, out of habit, and more often than not, I end up having a fantastic workout. Sometimes, your body is ready, even when your mind tries to deceive you. Again, remember, it is always important to have that rest day when you need it and to listen to your body. But more often than not, despite what your brain is saying, your body wants to get out there and move.

Take the first step, take another, and then another, and when you do look back, do so with purpose and with pride. You’ll be surprised where you end up.

Three years ago with my friend in London (on the left).

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Now.
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Some Food for Thought

As promised, I was much better at snapping pictures of my meals before devouring them. When without much of a kitchen, you have to tap into your creative resources, as well as rely on the help of others in borrowing their kitchens.

Breakfasts:

I told you I like peanut butter. I started off my week with some chocolate peanut butter, of the white and dark variety, smeared on some whole wheat sour dough toast with jelly and berries on the side.

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More toast followed the next day…

Eggs over easy with whole wheat toast and some bacon and potatoes. I could not finish the bacon or potatoes, but you bet I devoured those eggs and toast! Enjoyed at a local diner with family.

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More peanut butter toast, this time with Teddie crunchy peanut butter and berry preserves with a banana on the side.

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Oatmeal made with peanut butter, mashed banana, almond milk, and berries produced in the microwave. NOT as fresh tasting as made on the stove, but it sufficed. Some shredded coconut topped it off, unfortunately not toasted.

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Over the weekend, I went to the beach with my family and ate breakfast out. I enjoyed more over easy eggs and bacon, this time served with three delicious sand dollar pancakes (not as good as my own and without peanut butter!)

Finally, I ended my week with more peanut butter toast and fruit because when in doubt, stick with what you love!

Lunch:

Lunch recently has either been leftovers or salad (sometimes both), which actually is not much different than other times.

Here I enjoyed a lovely salad compiled with arugula, chopped peppers and carrots, and leftover roasted zucchini and summer squash with feta and drizzled with balsamic. I also had leftover pizza!

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More leftovers, this time a steak quesadilla with roasted peppers and cheese, enjoyed with a side of broccoli (not pictured) and some tortilla chips and dollop of sour cream.

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After a large breakfast out, my cousins and I swam the day away and kind of forgot about lunch. I had a hot dog on a whole wheat bun, which was festive because I guess it was National Hot Dog Day, and a lot of handfuls of Skinny Pop Popcorn.

A salad composed of baby spinach and arugula, red pepper, edamame, corn, chickpeas, and feta with a side of tortillas sprinkled with cheese.

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Pasta! Boy, have I been missing pasta since this kitchen repair. I finally was able to make some whole wheat penne with red pepper, spinach, chickpeas, and cheese, and it was heavenly!

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Saturday was a quick piece of pizza on the beach.

On Sunday, we had a big family lunch/dinner thing, which included chicken parmesan, whole wheat shells, a huge salad, and this amazing bruschetta I created.

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Dinner:

We kicked off the week with steak fajitas with roasted red pepper and cheese, a side of spanish rice, and some roasted broccoli. SO good and possibly my favorite meal of the summer.

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A greek salad made of romaine lettuce, peppers, cucumber (from my garden!), tomato, marinated peppers, feta, grilled chicken, and a side of asparagus. For my starch, I had a baked potato with some cheese. As you can tell from this week, I love cheese.

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Wednesday night I met up with some friends and feasted on some sour dough bread, fried buffalo brussel sprouts which are so good, and a greek salad with grilled shrimp. The night finished off with my favorite peanut butter oreo ice cream.

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On Thursday, we tried to have leftover salmon from a restaurant that had been frozen, which didn’t turn out so well. Instead, we turned to hot dogs, which I enjoyed on a whole wheat bun, with a salad and a scoop of pasta salad. I was in a rush to go running and forgot to snap a picture.

With a hankering for Indian food, on Friday, I had a Trader Joes tray of Paneer Masala with spinach rice, which was good, but didn’t quite satisfy my craving for true Indian fare.

After a day at the beach, I enjoyed a cheeseburger and a cup of clam chowder for dinner on Saturday.

Finally, after a large lunch, I enjoyed a cup of coconut blended chobani for dinner with some Skinny Pop popcorn after my run.

I wouldn’t consider this my healthiest week of eating, but I still enjoyed it!

I’m Running Out of Clever Titles for Workout Wednesdays

(And yet, I’m still able to fit a pun in there!)

Lately, I’ve been doing my regular workouts too late in the day and I feel as though I’ve fallen off schedule. This keeps me up later at night because I have so much energy, but at least it’s getting done. In the summer it can be hard because it’s so hot outside, but also so nice so it’s hard to get the motivation to go to a gym.

Last Tuesday’s workout was a nice run, but incredibly sweaty run around my neighborhood. Even though it was a bit more humid than I prefer, I found the perfect time to go when the sun is still shining, but not as bright.

Wednesday I had a strength workout with the barbells, performing each exercise three times with sets of ten. Lately, I’ve been doing Tabata intervals on the bike, which means cycling 20 seconds as fast as you can and resting for 10. This high intensity cardio only lasted about five minutes as it is more tiring than it seems. I coupled it with a couple minutes of jump rope.

On Thursday, I did a very brief body strength workout consisting of deep squats, lunges, push ups, and . After, I went to Zumba with my friend Nouha, which was a good workout and something fun to add in with my other workouts.

The weekend did not include a lot of regular exercise sessions. I only got a barbell strength workout in as well as another cycling Tabata session before starting my weekend. I was far too busy on Saturday having brunch with my sister, sweating my way through Harry Potter trivia, and spending time with my family. I should have been more proactive on Sunday, but it was technically a day I was going to run and by the time I could have gone without it being so humid, I was off to spend another evening with my family. Instead, I played a brief game of kickball with my cousins, which is far more important than a run anyways.

Feeling a little guilty, but more itching to get back to it, I did a barbell strength workout on Monday, again with three sets of ten before going to the track to run. My legs were so sore from my strength workout (I don’t usually run on the same day as I use weights) that I was only able to run a little over two miles and walk another two. It felt good to get moving again though.

Last night I forced myself to leave the comforts of my own pool and head back to the gym so I could swim longer laps. I could definitely tell the difference, so it’s something I need to remember when I’m trying to motivate myself in the future. I also took my dog on a long walk that he wasn’t very happy about, but in fairness, the heat affects him more than me, so he took awhile to recover. I also had the pool to help refresh me.

Finally, tonight, I was afraid I wasn’t going to make it because I spent this very hot day swimming in my own pool with my cousins Erin and Mikey, then had dinner with my friends Lauren and Andrea. It was difficult dragging myself to the gym so late, after delicious ice cream, but I made it and did a kettle bell strength workout. This time, I performed three different circuits, choosing four exercises and doing three sets of twelve before moving on to the next circuit. After, I did a quick abs workout before another Tabata cycling session.

I may have gone reluctantly, but my body will be happy tomorrow when I run and don’t have to worry about getting a strength workout in with weights! No matter how I feel beforehand, I always become invigorated, energized, and focused after a quality workout.

The key is taking that first step!
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A Little Bit Of Mushiness Never Hurt Anyone

On this would be Rave Review Tuesday, I have little to offer in that department since I am finishing my re-read of Harry Potter and my assumption is you will soon be tired of me talking about it. Perhaps next week, when I am officially done (for now), I will offer my perspective on the series. For now however, I haven’t seen or read anything new in awhile.

I will say that I must be getting older because I had no idea what “bae” meant until less than an hour ago. The bad part about this is that I thought I knew and I was wrong, which is just embarrassing. I thought it was another term for “beau” or lover, but in fact it means, “before anything else.” I mean, who even comes up with that? My cousin Michael had to tell me.

On a more serious note, to something that connects but does not necessarily seem to, I am realizing that it has now been 13 years since my grandfather has passed. Since graduating high school, I would say that time has appeared to be moving at a much faster clip than I realized before, but perhaps I’ve just done more in my life in these past years. Maybe I have a better understanding of how precious time is. However, it seems odd that the summer of 2001 could have been that long ago. It strikes me that I have lived a longer life without him than I did with him.

I’ve always believed that it borders on unfair that, if we are among the lucky ones to even get them at this point, we have our grandparents with us in our younger years. It is a blessing and a curse because we need them in our formative years, to love and influence us. But we also need them as we get older, to guide us and support us in a way that no other person can. I lost my grandfather when I was 11 years old, but I wish more than anything I had him now, because I was far too young to appreciate him.

Grandparents should be cherished, and this is something I wish to impress upon my own children one day. I love hearing stories that my father, uncles, or grandma tell me more about the person my grandpa was. I know that he loved Pepsi, and even though I don’t drink soda, whenever I see a blue can, I smile and think of him. I know that he worked hard for his large family every day of his life, despite the struggles and hardships bestowed upon him. I know that he loved my grandma and his family very much and I was among them.

Not a day passes that I don’t wonder what he might think of me now. I mourn for him and for the memories that, however revered, are no longer as strong after so long. I mourn also for the questions I never asked, for the hugs I didn’t get to give, and for the wisdom I could have learned from him had I had the capacity and understanding to sit down and really listen.

I would never go as far as to say these moments and those memories are wasted on the youth, because that wouldn’t be fair. But I do try to live my life with a little more purpose, an open mind, and a curiosity that stretches towards the ones I love and what makes them, them.

We all have our life stories. These stories are all fraught with obstacles and pain, but love and imagination so brilliant that even if not able to be shared with the world, are shared with the people closest to us. That is far more important than how many reads I get on this blog that aren’t my family members and friends who I’ve pressured into reading, or how many Twitter followers I try to accumulate with my witticisms.

Over the past year especially, I feel as though I have reconnected, or maybe strengthened is the better term, my relationships with aunts, uncles, and cousins. Family is important, essential to the building block who a person is, and I am incredibly lucky to say that I have a wonderful family. Every single one of them, immediate or extended, are remarkable people.

At the risk of sounding mushy, I will say that the anniversary of my grandpa’s death has brought much perspective and reflection upon this past year, as well as the last 13 we’ve lived without him.

I just want to say that I miss him and for me, my best way of coping is to express myself through writing. If you can do one thing today, tomorrow, or for the rest of your life, hug someone, anyone, and everyone who you love and sit with them, listen, and learn who they are, what they have to say, and in turn, share yourself.

Okay, so that’s two things.

I no longer want to be missing the moments I didn’t have because I will be sure now to make them happen.

RIP Grandpa. You are very much missed.

It’s Hard to Cook Without a Fully Functioning Kitchen

One of the perks I thought I was sure to enjoy after finishing my Master’s, was the ability and creative liberty to try out new recipes. This was prevented once the kitchen went under construction. No complaints here as I will be able to enjoy the benefits of a new kitchen shortly, though I probably won’t have as much free time then.

Anyways, for this Meals on Monday edition, I thought I did a lot better taking pictures of what I was eating, but I think I really just snapped my lunches and forgot about the rest of the meals. As you will see, my memory only alerted me to my mistakes halfway through eating the meals, so don’t think that I have been eating such small portions. Trust, I have a hearty appetite.

Breakfasts:

I have eaten quite a lot of peanut butter toast this week as I have limited use of technology in which to cook. This is hurtful because breakfast is my favorite meal and I like to concoct all sorts of different recipes throughout the week.

I had this at least four times this week, but with a little variety. Here we see my use of Peanut Butter and Co’s chocolate flavored products, Dark Chocolate and White Chocolate Wonderful with a smear of jelly on whole wheat sour dough and a side of fresh fruit.

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Other times you might see my toast topped with the same chocolate peanut butter but with coconut sprinkled on top and a banana on the side. I also enjoy using regular Teddie peanut butter, which I had yesterday morning for a more savory twist. Peanut butter is one of my favorite foods and as I write Meals on Monday more, you will see it included in almost all of my breakfasts and sometimes lunches.

For breakfasts this week, I also had a delicious “Italian Delight” egg breakfast with two poached eggs over mozzarella, tomato, and toast with a side of potatoes at a diner I went to with my sister Lauren. Forgot to take a picture, but it is something I will be making at home once that kitchen is running again.

A wonderful waffle I made in my waffle maker, duh, but the clean up was messy. Obviously, it was still worth it. The batter is the same as my peanut butter pancake recipe, topped with more peanut butter, jelly, and shredded coconut.

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One day, I also had a bowl of raisin bran with chopped banana and a coconut-blended Chobani, which is the best flavor of greek yogurt there is, mixed with blueberries.

Lunch:

A salad with arugula as the base, mixed with cucumbers, peppers, asiago cheese croutons, feta, and red beans with greek dressing. Nice and simple on a hot day!

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Another salad of arugula and baby spinach, cucumber, pepper, and feta cheese with italian dressing. I also had a chicken burger topped with a piece of pepper jack cheese on a whole wheat english muffin and a fruit bowl consisting of pineapple (my ALL-TIME favorite) and a few cherries (another favorite, but must be eaten carefully as I am semi-allergic, it’s a cruel world).

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Leftover salmon over a salad of spinach, peppers, tomato, and mozzarella with a side of buttered toast (not pictured).

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I did not snap a picture of my rice and chicken bowl filled with fresh veggies including zucchini (the first produce from my garden!!), summer squash, and red pepper because I was in the pool.

Saturday, I went to Harry Potter trivia with my friends Erin and Katie and though we didn’t place as we should have, it was still so much fun! I had my share of chips and salsa, margherita pizza, and Leininkugel Summer Shandy that I was pretending was butter beer.

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Yesterday, my sister came over for lunch and my mom grilled some turkey tips with a drizzle of honey BBQ sauce with more of my zucchini, summer squash, and peppers, corn on the cob, a side salad, and a piece of toast.

Dinner:

Salmon with summer squash, pepper, baby spinach, feta over brown and wild rice.

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We also had chicken kebobs one night skewered with zucchini, summer squash, and peppers (I guess you can tell what veggies we like best).

Another night was pasta with chicken sausage and spinach.

Thursday night, I had dinner with my friends Nouha and Sarah, which consisted of a Lebanese meat dish over rice and potatoes, made by her mother and it was fabulous. We also had a side of hummus with whole wheat pita and a sliver of Whole Foods cake.

On Friday, we had a girls night out, as my mom, sister, and I stopped for cheeseburgers and beer before the Red Sox game. Because I opted for a side salad instead of french fries at dinner, I enjoyed a twist cone during the game. I’d take ice cream over anything, any day, any time.

After trivia, I came home Saturday to find my aunts, uncles, and cousins over. Family time is the best time, whether we are sitting around the porch table laughing at ourselves and one another, roasting marshmallows, or hiding in the dark trying to freak each other out. We also ordered pizza because it seems to be a trend of every “party” (for lack of better term).

Finally, in honor of my Uncle Mike, who I appreciate for many reasons but mostly for his consistent reading of this blog, Gollum is still looking for his precious “ring.”

Sometimes It’s Easy, Sometimes It’s Not

Sometimes I wake up pumped to work out, get it in right away, and feel energized, refreshed, and carefree as I joyfully breeze through my day without having to exercise lingering in my mind. Other times I lounge away all day, reading, working, and the likes and feel that ebb poking me at the back of my essence.

That happened to me yesterday. I spent the day making excuses, which to be fair were actually viable, and despite my body and mind together warring against my decision to go, I went and I conquered. This won’t always be the case. Sometimes you’ll drag yourself there and hate every second of it. I’ve been fortunate enough, I find, that even if I go kicking and screaming, when I get into my zone, I can’t be stopped. I just feel better, mind, body, and soul.

Although, it’s always important to listen to your body because sometimes a rest day is much needed!

This past week for workouts, I did much of the same as I mentioned last week. Mixing up my strength routine workouts, trying different cardio, and generally trying to move more.

Last Thursday, I went on a very good run, doing some Yoga moves to get me energized. The key to running in the summer is going at a time when it’s still light enough for a clumsy person like me not to get demolished, but dark enough so that the sun isn’t burning you up. After my run, I went on a long walk with my friend Molly. I was able to complete ten miles total in combination. I felt good, but my feet did not agree. Apparently, they’re very tender.

On Friday I did a barbell strength workout I had all fleshed out and left at home, so I had to improvise. It ended up being a combination of moves I know very well, but still felt effective. When in doubt, turn to the core moves, such as a shoulder press, bicep curl, bench press, tricep extension, deadlift, etc. I tried to use heavier weights so I kept my reps short at 8 and went through my circuit 4 times.

Speaking of circuits, can we please discuss how teenage boys will sit around at the gym, taking up all the valuable space, talking about how they want to play division one sports, but not actually doing much of anything? I went through all 3 cycles of my circuit last night with these kids in the background lounging around. All I will say is, I am a lot closer to playing hockey for BC then they are.

I only say this because it happens all the time. Maybe it’s just my gym…

Anyways, then I swam laps. Saturday was another run, but this time I extended my time and did some walking as well. It was very humid, so of course I had to treat myself to some ice cream after.

I kept meaning to workout on Sunday, but I wasn’t feeling it and then the gym closed, so I only did a short body strength workout of lunges, squats, and push ups, and accepted leisurely walking and swimming as my main source of exercise. It happens. I’m learning not to feel guilty.

Monday was the day I spent thinking about working out until I finally did and I’m glad for it! I did a kettlebell circuit, plyometrics workout with jumping jacks, box jumps, rope (I don’t know what it’s called), and jump rope before taking it to the treadmill to run sprints. I focused on length rather then speed, so I ran at a medium-fast clip for 25 seconds at a time. After, I found I still had some energy to burn so I tried my hand at speed walking, which is hard because all your body wants to do is give in and run.

For my Tuesday workout, I swam laps at my pool at home in the rain, but no thunder. The water was still warm and I was already, well wet, so I went for it. The rain keeps popping up just as I’m hopping into the pool, but I’ve found that it’s quite cathartic. And this way I don’t have to share a lane with anyone! My sister texted me later on to join her at Yoga, so I got in a quick medicine ball strength workout before meeting her.

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When exercising, I try to be consistent in my practice, but add a lot of variations so I don’t get bored, I keep my body guessing, and I learn how to best beat stress.

Find what makes you happy (other then binge-watching shows like Orange is the New Black or marathoning through Harry Potter). And get moving! See, I told you I like variety.

I Don’t Normally Do Orange, But….

I realize that it’s Rave Review Tuesday, but I find myself in quite a predicament because I haven’t exactly read anything new this week. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been reading quite a bit, but as I am in the thick of my annual re-read of Harry Potter, I don’t have any new information in which to report.

And I know you will all groan and roll your eyes if I repeatedly talk about my love for Harry Potter. In fact, I am going to an all Potterverse trivia game on Saturday and I plan to dominate. I almost feel bad for the competition…

Knowing this, I tried to think back on any films I have seen recently, but the truth is I haven’t seen a movie in awhile. The horror! I know, but since it’s summer, I try to spend as much time possible outside. I’ve also been traveling a bit and haven’t had time.

As I’m writing this, I’m reminded of the one thing I was obsessively watching for two weeks and can’t believe I forgot! Orange is the New Black. Which by the way deserves all of the Emmy nominations they received.

To be honest, I sometimes prefer television over film because it gives off a more relaxing vibe when watching. There isn’t as much time you have to dedicate to viewing it, even though somehow, miraculously, you end up watching an entire season in two days and didn’t even realize. Happens way too often. I still love movies, especially going to the theater, but there’s something that has always driven me to TV.

It’s strange because over the past year, I haven’t had as much time to watch TV, and therefore haven’t gotten into Breaking Bad or House of Cards even though everyone keeps telling me I have to. Eventually, I think I will watch those shows, but Orange is the New Black was most recommended, so I chose wisely.

The biggest observation about OITNB for me was that the writing on the show is phenomenal. I’m always intrigued by dialogue because it really is the largest factor that drives the show. Obviously the acting is phenomenal and will make or break a show, but as a writer, I am more apt to analyze how the show is written.

I can tell you one thing about that show, I would never survive in prison.

Not knowing much about actual prison, I couldn’t tell you how much of it is accurate, but it certainly is like its own little world and I have enjoyed getting to know the characters. In any media forum, I always love how writers and actors can transform the characters, all of the good and bad about them, and make you care. This show is a prime example of that because from a general standpoint, all of these women are criminals, having done something to some degree that was corrupt, and yet, they are human, sometimes frustrating, sometimes loveable. Just like all of us.

Without giving too much, okay anything, away I will say I enjoy the setup of having recurring characters pop up throughout the hour, while focusing on a new individual each episode, learning their background. You start to realize the factors that led to them ending up where they are and there is something so fascinating about it. You think you have a general idea of how they function, but then the backstory throws you a curveball and you end up screaming at the screen. Especially- okay I won’t say it- but OH MY GOD.

Ack. I have to control myself as I do not have a reputation for remaining inconspicuous when it comes to spoilers.

I know that the person the show is based on wrote a book and eventually I do want to read it because it would be interesting to know how much of this is real.

Being on Netflix, I think it allows a lot more freedom to depict the messiness of life, including cursing and sex. There have been a few instances where my brother is watching a show on network TV and the characters are enraged and all they can yell is “What the hell!?” I’m sorry, but that is not the grittiest statement you can scream when you are so frustrated. It’s not realistic.

Regardless of the realism of the scenarios, I think what gets me most about OITNB and the characters are that they just seem real. I’ve mentioned before how I gravitate to more character-driven media. Maybe it’s because I feel as though I can relate to them. Maybe it’s the writer in me wondering how to create those people while relying mainly on dialogue. Or maybe I should have been a psychologist.

No matter what circumstances you throw them in, no matter what ridiculous, otherworldly, mystical things that surround them, if you have a strong core of characters who live, breathe, and bleed as quintessential humans, I will follow along with the story with bated breath.

Orange is the New Black is an absolute must-see. It’s sometimes silly and sometimes anxiety-ridden. I’ve laughed, cried, and wanted to throw the screen across the room while screaming and covering my eyes. That is the mark of quality television.

And it has a killer theme song that, albeit, runs a little too long.

When is season 3?!