Shake It Off

After a few weeks’ hiatus, I’m back! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Mine was busy as I hopped on a plane Tuesday night 9pm LA time, flew into New York City for a two hour delay, then made the final leg of my trip to Boston, arriving around 9am Boston time. I flew back to LA on Friday morning, so it was a whirlwind, but wonderful trip home. Though it was more of a teaser for Christmas break, I’m so happy to have been able to spend time with my family, eat delicious food, and relax.

I believe this picture was taken as my mom told me my head was too big.

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I have enjoyed my time in LA thus far, but I’ve felt out of sorts and overwhelmed these past few weeks, as I believe I’ve mentioned, but I decided I’m shaking myself out of it. Part of that is getting back into my writing routine. Life is busy and it’s hard to get into a routine after a long day of work, but writing is important to me and it’s why I moved out here, so I have to do it! Doing it!

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Upon my arrival back to LA, my Lyft driver gave me a gallon of some strange water she was promoting. Apparently, I am supposed to drink it within three days or the live cultures will die. I’m not drinking water that has living beings in it thank you very much. What a welcome back though!

Friday found me in a vegetative state. Had I known it would be the only warm, sunny day of the weekend, I may have felt more motivated to get up, but it started on a long plane journey and I was tired. Plus, my new bike- because yes, one of the blah things that have happened to me in the past few weeks is that my bike was stolen…out of my gated apartment building…where it was locked up- had loose handlebars and I didn’t have the tool to fix it yet, so really, I didn’t want to fall over them.

Regardless of any activity I should have done, Gilmore Girls dropped on Netflix and nothing else mattered. I watched two of the four-part series, napped, cooked dinner, then watched the other two. I loved it, smiled the entire time, and teared up a few times. As the creator/writer said that she ended it the way she always wanted to end it, I fear those last four words, however cryptic and cliff hanger-y, are it for the show, for real this time. I wouldn’t be opposed to more though, please and thank you!

On Saturday, I was on the metro to meet my friend for a hike in Malibu when the skies opened. Apparently, the only things to do in Malibu are go to the beach and hike, so we drove around for a bit before heading over to Santa Monica.

PSA: Don’t all-you-can-eat sushi. Sushi is not something you should ever overeat. Our reasoning for going to this restaurant was to try different types of sushi, but you had to eat all of what you ordered and would have to pay full price for any leftovers. We ordered two rolls too many and I had a piece in my mouth when my body decided it was too much and I had to spit it out. I was full, but it wasn’t that overly stuffed feeling so much as this is not something you should ever have too much of. The mayo-laden sushi glistened at me menacingly and thankfully the waitress took pity on us and took it away as our little secret and we didn’t have to pay. I am now on a six month hiatus from sushi, if not more.

After we ate ourselves silly, it was time to move around. We ended up doing some window shopping in Santa Monica and took in the sights.

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I should have snapped a picture of the pier all lit up at night, but shoulda coulda woulda and I did-ah not. Ha.

On Sunday, I woke up to more rain, so I cooked an omelet with an english muffin and fruit before heading over to the gym for my first workout in a week. It felt good! Nothing inspires motivation better than a kick ass workout.

In the afternoon, I went back to Santa Monica with my friend Brad where we got some writing done before heading back, making tacos for dinner, and readying for the work week ahead.

I’m in a better place and thinking positive thoughts. Sometimes, it’s good to struggle because it gives you some perspective and forces you to work that much harder. A hug from mom will heal anything. Plus, it doesn’t suck that it’s Christmas spirit time! No better excuse to fit in some shopping.

Happy Monday!

A New Year of Eating

Another holiday week past and January is intent on letting us know what we are left with: snow. The heavy kind, as evidenced by the shoveling I did at 11 on a Saturday night.

It’s in these months that we are left to entertain ourselves and find the little things in which to look forward. We also have to be careful about what and how we meet, especially when weather keeps us inside.

Monday started with this bowl of oats. Chocolate, peanut butter goodness in a bowl mixed with fruit and healthy carbs, you can’t ask for much better.

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To fuel my workout, I started my day with a hard-boiled egg and a cheesestick. It was just enough to make me feel energized, not stuffed. I ended with peanut butter on toast with a variety of berries.

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It seems I forgot to take a picture of my next breakfast and I can’t even remember what it was. If I had to guess, eggs of some sort.

The first meal of 2015 was concocted by my sister and her fiancée as we had spent New Years Eve with them. Eggs, toast, and fruit. Simple and savory.

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Back to the grind on Friday morning, I woke up to another egg and cheesestick before my workout. After, I opted for this bowl of overnight oats I had made the night before. Chopped dates and mashed banana are the secret ingredients to make oatmeal sweet without sugar.

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I’m not certain I could ever have too many poached eggs. The buttery combination of egg yolk on toast is perfection. It’s one of those doesn’t taste as healthy as it is indulgences.

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I scrambled up some eggs with cottage cheese and a dash of salt and pepper with a side of toast and an apple on Sunday morning. The cottage cheese is really a superstar when it comes to making the eggs creamy and delicious.

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For lunch on Monday, I enjoyed a bowl of the chili my sister had made for Christmas. I poured it on top of some brown rice and served it with shredded cheese and some chopped veggies on the side.

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Chicken, macaroni and cheese, and a dash of mashed potatoes was on the menu the next day. Good, but definitely heavy.

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Instead of lunch on Wednesday, my sister and I settled on a large dinner, which we will get to a little later. The same goes for Thursday after a late breakfast kept me full for the majority of the day.

On Friday, I chopped up this beautiful salad with some chickened had a piece of banana bread on the side. It was so nice to enjoy so many veggies.

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My friend Stephanie from college visited this weekend and we spent Saturday walking around the city. Our favorite burger place was closed for renovation, we meandered down the street to another place and had burgers that were also delicious.

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It was a family celebration on Sunday when we celebrated my mom’s birthday. We had chicken parm, pasta, and salad. After, we celebrated with two cakes, one of which was ice cream that I made myself.

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Our first two dinners of the week were two of the ones we love the most, first came steak fajitas with grilled peppers, mushrooms, and zucchini and a side of chips. Instead of taco style, I prefer mine grilled with cheese ala quesadilla.

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The second is this chicken and spinach salad we make with poppyseed dressing. It’s quick, easy, healthy, and delicious. I always add an extra punch of veggies to go along with some walnuts and craisins.

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The last meal of the year was Indian takeout I split with my sister. We chose samosas to start with a side of naan and split two entrees, chicken tikka masala and vegetarian saag. We were so hungry when we finally dug in, but didn’t stuff ourselves to the brim since we knew we had a long night ahead of us.

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I chopped up a ton of veggies to make this tasty salad with a few slices of pizza. I think pizza is of a food group all on its own.

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I am quite proud of myself for this meal because I found it following a Pinterest recipe and it was a bit complicated. I’m a big fan of sesame chicken, but not the fried and oily variety at Chinese restaurants. I enjoyed my chicken with veggies and brown rice.

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After our big lunch, we weren’t hungry until a lot later on in the night, so we went with peanut buttered toast. Same goes for Sunday as we ate a little later on in the afternoon, meaning I was still stuffed.

Now that the holiday season has come to an end, it’s time to focus on returning to a regular routine.

Christmas Week, Calories Shouldn’t Count

The days leading up to Christmas seem a lifetime ago, but Christmas, and the restful days after, passed by in a blur. As you can probably tell, I love everything that has to do with Christmas and I’m sad to see it is over. There is just something wonderful about the entire holiday season and now we all have a long, cold winter ahead of us. I can’t complain though because I have many exciting things ahead this year.

As much as I’m sad to see it go, and at least there’s New Years to ease back into a regular routine, I’m also ready to kick my healthy eating plan into gear. Here’s a look back at what I ate- meals wise at least- this week.

Pre- and post- workout meals were very similar on Monday. While it kept me energized beforehand, it wasn’t quite enough to fill me up after, so I was looking forward to an early lunch.

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First thing Tuesday morning, I had an egg and a cheesestick. In my rush, I didn’t get a picture since I was meeting my friend at the gym a bit earlier than usual. After getting ready for the day, I sat down with a bowl of overnight oats stuffed with raisins, dates, banana, and walnuts and a combination of sweet strawberries and blueberries.

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Christmas Eve morning, I got up to get to the gym, anticipating quite a bit of eating later on in the day. Both my brother and sister came with me, my brother did his own thing, while I led my sister through a strength workout- more on workouts later this week as usual. In order to fuel our workouts, my mom made us some poached eggs over toast. Always so tasty!

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Christmas morning, after opening presents, my family sat down for a breakfast full of eggs, toast, bacon, sausage, coffee, and mimosas. I was certain I had gotten a picture, but in my enthusiasm, I forgot. It was delicious and quite lovely.

Having consumed a large number of eggs in the past few days, I was up for my peanut butter pancakes on Friday. I hadn’t had them in awhile, so I was very excited to labor over them, taking my time, and enjoying every bite.

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I took full advantage of not having to be anywhere in the mornings these past few days and grilled up some French toast. Adding pumpkin into the batter sweetens things up without sugar and lends a nice thickness to the finished product. Of course, the peanut butter, jelly, and toasted coconut also livened up the flavor.

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I finished off my week of breakfasts with more poached eggs over toast. One of the yolks fell out into the pan, but it still tasted delicious. And that fruit was so juicy.

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For my first lunch, I made a big salad with tons of veggies, feta, and grilled chicken. Full of vibrant flavor.

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I had a salad packed for Tuesday, which I ate to fit in my veggies, but at work, we had a little buffet of sorts with some soup, Mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and chicken. I ate my share and was quite stuffed!

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For Christmas Eve lunch, we start our celebrations with a meal out at a local restaurant. It’s so nice to sit together and reminisce in some peaceful moments before the rush at Christmas Eve night- which is also magical. I chose the surf and turf with a salad to start. My steak was not entirely cooked, but I ate half and really enjoyed the stuffed shrimp and baked potato!

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After a breakfast feast, and anticipating another at dinner, I settled for a piece of toast with peanut butter and a bowl of cereal at lunch to tide me over. Sorry no pictures!

Before meeting my sister to see a movie on Friday, I chopped up a big salad with veggies and chicken. I had a piece of buttered toast and a small cup of cheesy potatoes on the side.

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After a run in the beautiful, odd December weather, I fixed myself an odd assortment of foods for lunch. Pictured is another serving of cheesy potatoes, celery with a tablespoon of almond butter and raisins, and after I remembered it was in there, a spoonful of the buffalo chicken dip I concocted for Christmas Eve on a piece of toast. Hit the spot!

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That steak that wasn’t fully cooked faired much better in my lunch stir fry on Sunday. I threw that into a pan with some zucchini, peppers, and mushrooms, tossed it all in a Thai peanut sauce, and served with rice. So good and filling for my afternoon workout!

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For the first dinner of the week, we had grilled tilapia with broccoli and pasta. I sprinkled hot sauce on the veggies and fish and kept my pasta simple with butter and Parmesan.

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One of my family’s favorite meals is this spinach salad. We marinate chicken breast in Italian dressing, grill it, then toss it in with spinach, walnuts, dried craisins, and poppyseed dressing. I try to add a few more veggies like peppers and cucumbers to make it even fuller.

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Christmas Eve, there was an assortment of food, including a buffalo chicken dip I made, that was basically different kinds of cheese with a side of chicken. For my meal, I went with my mom’s homemade stuffed shells, a meatball, a big serving of salad, a slurp of my sister’s chili, and a small piece of chicken.

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Christmas dinner is really all about the cheesy potatoes. We start with appetizers my mom makes, including spinach and artichoke dip, stuffed mushrooms, and crabbies. For dinner, I went with a small piece of roast beef, Brussels sprouts and squash, some green bean casserole, a roll, and two heaping servings of cheesy potatoes. Listen, I get them once a year, so of course I’m going to stuff my face. Thanks Auntie Bea!

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After a workout the next night, I was looking for something warm for dinner. I went with a grilled cheese with a slice of ham and some veggie sticks on the side.

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After some shopping on Saturday night- I got a fitbit!- I got dinner with my parents. We went to our favorite Mexican restaurant because they have the best chips and salsa. For my entree, I got the blackened salmon salad with a black bean, pepper, and corn salsa and lime vinegarette. So good! It’s my absolute favorite salmon dish.

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To end the week, we had roasted chicken stuffed with stuffing and a cranberry glaze, with a side of roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and squash.

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I know my meals look fairly healthy, which is key to maintaining healthy habits during the holiday season, but I didn’t document the my mount of cookies I have consumed the past week. When there’s sweets in my house, they somehow find their way to my mouth!

Gobble, Gobble, Gulp: Guide to Holiday Eating

The season for eating has begun. Not only does the colder weather bring a hankering for heavy, comforting dishes stuffed with yummy goodness (like the vat of homemade Mac and cheese I consumed last night), but food is the centerpiece at the holidays we celebrate this time of year.

Gulp. Take a deep breath. This does not have to be stress-inducing.

Food, and eating and enjoying it, not a bad thing, nor should it be seen as a villain. It is simply knowing your limits, listening to your body’s signals, choosing healthy and manageable portions, and maintaining healthy habits during the other days.

Halloween kicked things off with the delectable options of chocolate dangling over my head, but when I reached into the bowl, I chose a few of my favorites, portioned them out over a course of days, and savored what I enjoyed.

Isn’t that the kicker? When we eat eat eat and haven’t even processed what it was we consumed? Holidays are all about celebrating with loved ones and taking the time to appreciate what you have and who you have it with. Food is part of this, but make sure you pay attention to what you’re eating, both from an approach of keeping track and to enjoy. Often, when we really take the time to savor things, we find that a little less hits the spot in a big way.

On Thanksgiving, I try not to pay too much attention to all the calories I’m consuming because I know it’s one day. My go to approach over the past few years has been to start the day with a refreshing, energizing, and filling breakfast before fitting in a strong sweat session. I get myself to the gym to squeeze in some strength conditioning because it burns calories all day long along with short bursts of cardio for the full effect. This could simply be banging out a few sets of body strength moves like lunges, squats, push ups, etc and a few sprints.

After dinner, before I settle myself down onto the couch with a cup of Baileys and coffee, I go out for a long walk with my mom and whoever else wants to join. This eases the digestion process, keeps your juices flowing, and makes that dessert go down easier a little later.

Good

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Foodwise, I enjoy a bite of the delicious appetizers my mom cooks up like the culinary genius she is, but save my heartier appetite for the main course. I am lucky because I happen to like vegetables, but even if you have to smother them in gravy, cranberry sauce, or melted marshmallow, eat em all up! Nothing helps your body process a day of stuffing your face quite like throwing a handful of veggies along with it- and that earlier workout or walk!

Good

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It might help to remember that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not about dieting. Dieting gives off the thinking that something is temporary. Most people can’t cut carbs, sugar, or meat forever, but see it as a temporary fix to help them lose weight. This reminds me a lot of the thinking behind some of those weight loss programs that provide premade food. It may help you to lose weight initially, but it does nothing to help you learn good habits and how to eat real food. If you cut something that’s your own choice, but please don’t think you have to do it to be healthy.

Diets can end, but dedicating your life to being healthy more often than not is a lifetime commitment that gets easier the longer you do it. Losing weight is hard, maintaining is harder, depending on your initial approach to weight loss. Take it from someone whose worked through that with blood, sweat, and tears. If you see it as a lifestyle, those habits become ingrained and not quite as fear-inducing. Plus, you don’t have to cut out all the goodness!

You also won’t feel as bad if you have a grand day of feasting because you trust your instincts and you choose the things that you really want, rather than waste time, energy, and calories on things you don’t really care about.

NO

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Also very important, which is always important: drink, no chug, WATER. Drink more water friends! Always and every day.

Thanksgiving is often so busy and enjoyable that you don’t even find time to feel guilty. Well, guess what? There’s no need to feel guilty at all! The next day, if those dredges of doubt and self-sabotage course through you, remember it was one day. Sticking to your usual healthy eating and work out plan during the days leading up to and after the holidays will almost make this huge splurge day nonexistent in the scheme of your life.

There’s a reason why we stuff ourselves into oversized Christmas sweaters after Thanksgiving hits, but don’t allow any splurging to derail your confidence or healthy habits. I always remind myself that moderation is key and any day is a new day to start on over, even if it’s at 11:55 at night and you’ve talked yourself out of eating that sleeve of Oreos. That’s progress! Side note, why are Oreos so good? Asking for a friend. For the record, if I reach in for the Oreos, I stick with one and maybe two, not the sleeve.

Christmas necessitates much of the same game plan for Halloween and Thanksgiving. In general, I would just say to enjoy yourselves, appreciate and be thankful for what you have- every day- but take this day to really feel that love from family, friends, and food!

Gobble, gobble my friends. Happy Thanksgiving!

*Note: pictures were found on Google. Thanks for letting me use them if they are yours. Credit where credit is due 🙂