Harry Potter and the Strength Inside

Such a wonderful weekend! After work on Friday, I got moving in the kitchen to chop up some salads for dinner for me and my sister. Once we were done eating and chilling for awhile, the family (minus my brother-in-law who was on a hiking trip) went out for some ice cream on a perfect summer evening. I’m loving the purple cow frozen yogurt, which is black raspberry base with dark and white chocolate chips.

The next morning, I was back at it for work, and when I got home, it was nice to relax by the pool. Later that afternoon, my sister and I headed into town to get our tattoos. I’ve been wanting to commemorate my weight loss journey for awhile, and I finally found the perfect encapsulation!

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Strength is a reminder of what I’ve done, yet it is does not describe the end result so much as the path I had to take, the choices I had to make, and the ideology I possessed in order to keep going. The supremely cool part about it is that it’s written in my own cursive! Now whenever I’m running or lifting weights, or need strength in any other little or big task, I can just sneak a glimpse and move forward!

Up next, Lauren and I had a celebration to attend. Not only is July 31st the birthday of the greatest writer who ever lived, JK Rowling, and her creation, Harry Potter, but there was a midnight release of the next chapter of the Harry Potter legacy. The Cursed Child is in play form, which I wish desperately I could see in London, and it was fantastic. JK Rowling asked fans who saw the show not to spoil it and fans who were waiting eagerly to see or read not to seek spoilers, and I listened. Don’t mess with the queen! I read it in under three hours, crying, laughing, and reminiscing. A real blessing.

Here are some highlights of the midnight release at Barnes and Noble:

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Such a treat to wake up on Sunday morning, make an amazing breakfast, and read this spectacular play!

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After reading, I got down to Sunday chore business. First, a four mile run and a one mile walk that I crushed- thank Dumbledore for no humidity! Next, a little vacuuming action, some meal prep for the busy work days ahead, laundry washed and folded, and blog posts to write!

An awesome Sunday!

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Sometimes, You Just Need Whipped Cream

I shared this note last night on Facebook, but I wanted to extend the sentiment on my blog:

The beautiful thing about people like David Bowie and Alan Rickman is that they lived as their authentic selves. Creativity sparks ideas, inspiration, and movement. Such endeavors appeal to our humanity. It’s why we love them. It’s why we mourn. At the end of the day, we are all human. We all suffer, struggle, and fail, but these passionate types, these people, they, we, we all triumph, shine, and overcome. In death, we love and we grieve, but we also remember that they have lived, with us and for us, and that is a remarkable thing.

So when they say, “Let’s Dance,” we respond, “Always.”

A bit on the less serious side: Exciting news! According to Facebook, I joined the social media world 10 years ago from this very day. I don’t know how to feel about this. Old, for one. I was in high school 10 years ago. From my calculations, I would have been 16, so a sophomore? Yikes. A lot has changed in the past 10 years and I’m not ashamed to say, the majority of that has been for the good. If we’re being real though, that’s not so much a milestone for me as it is for Facebook. Good for you, book of faces.

On a list of other random happenings in my life, I’m beginning to suspect that I’m just into hot chocolate for the whipped cream on top. I’m not even sorry. Yes, the chocolatey, warm goodness makes the melty whipped cream taste that much better, but when I’ve had my share of the cream and it’s just the hot chocolate left, I’m all, eh.

My morning started with a quick, repeating meal before my Spin class. Peanut butter and jelly on an English Muffin. Wrong cannot be done with this combination. Warm, toasty, peanutty, and sweet.

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For my workout, it included the aforementioned Spin class, which was killer thanks to a ton of sprints and hill climbing. It’s butt-kicking, but works up a great sweat! I finished with a brief core workout before heading home to get my inner- Yogi on.

I’ll also take you back to last night’s dinner of chicken drumsticks, brown spinach rice, roasted Brussels sprouts, and a big salad.

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Now onto the work, work, work that needs to be done. It’s Friday though, so Happy Weekend-having to you all!

What Exactly Is The Color of Chicken?

I’m a bad little food blogger. I’ve been terrible at snapping pictures lately and so sorry, you’ll just have to use vivid imagination. Really, I’m just trying to help you strengthen your mental capacity.

Let’s see…yesterday, I worked my biceps, shoulders, chest, back, and core- it seems like a lot, but the sequences were fast- and did some cardio on the stair master, which is pretty much hell on earth. No one likes to climb stairs, but damn, it’s effective.

For lunch, I threw together a stir fry using a combination of ingredients. I had leftover grilled chicken and ground turkey, which together equaled my protein. For veggies, I had baby spinach, zucchini, and red peppers. All were simmered and stirred together using a sauce I made of garlic, mustard, and soy sauce and poured over brown rice. Pret-ty delicious and colorful, think greens! Reds! Chicken-colored! Would that be yellow? Charred? Peach? Flesh-colored? (I just threw up a little). You know, for your imaginative purposes, I’m just trying to be helpful.

I am one month away now from my Personal Training certificate test, so I’m at the point where I’m reviewing lots and lots. I feel good about it because I’m not just memorizing, I’m absorbing. Any free time has been engaged by studying and some writing. Unfortunately, the writing gene kicks in just around 11:00 PM when I should be sleeping. Can’t stop the flow!

Oh, and dinner was a takeout salad with honey-barbecue steak tips. The steak tips and dressing were fabulous. The salad, I could have made better and fresher myself, but such is life when you order out.

This morning, I was up and at ’em for a spin class. For breakfast, I fueled up on an egg and 2 egg white scramble with cheese and one slice of whole wheat sour dough toast. Feeling strong during class, I don’t think I’ve sweat so much in a long time. After, I did three circuits that focused on my triceps, legs, and core.

My post-workout meal was another piece of toast, this time topped with peanut butter, a banana, and a halo. That brings us to this very moment as I finish sipping on my cup of coffee.

I hope everyone enjoys the day and the weekend! Make it a full one with lots of time with the people you love, being happy and kind and good.

 

My Textbook Thinks We’re Fat

Sometimes the titles of my blog posts write themselves. I’ve been reading the chapter on bioenergetics, which is how the body metabolizes energy and it keeps harping on the fact that the human body has endless supplies of fat to burn. We get it, textbook, thanks a lot.

Last night, I had a dream that left me feeling quite clever. I’m actually impressed with my dream state-of-mind. JK Rowling and I were BFFs. Well, okay, she was more of a mentor figure and there was no level of intellectual equality whatsoever, but I was still in her presence and learning from her. It’s a pity I don’t recall all of the wisdom I must have learned- I suspect that she too probably had this dream and it was real (DON’T TELL ME OTHERWISE). JK Rowling gave me, and some random people I care not to identify, not because I’m a jerk or secretive, but because I don’t remember) a quest to find some sort of item. I know, just like in Harry Potter! The item was something you could only discover through tears, which I discovered in my dream. This just goes to show how strong my imagination is even in this dream-filled state.

Writing down this dream does not seem to justify my point, but I still think it was silly, odd, and a little cool. Dreams are weird and I rarely understand them, but sometimes they sit with you and make you think you are going crazy. 

I finished my productive Sunday with a five mile run and a one mile walk in the rain that made me feel strong and happy. I also folded and put away my laundry and fit in some studying.

Dinner was roast chicken with stuffing, roasted potatoes and squash, spinach, and corn. You have to go all out when it’s finally cool enough to put on the oven!

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My morning started off on a delicious note. An egg and veggie scramble with spinach, tomato, and jalapeños, topped with cheese, was accompanied by whole grain waffles (I know I have a problem) and a banana.

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Breakfast fueled me through the dumbbell strength and core workout I did with my sister Lauren, as well as through my mile lap swim. It was quite the workout and by the time I got home and showered, I was ready for lunch!

I’ve been complimented on my sandwich making abilities before and I can’t say that I disagree. This particular sandwich included chicken, provolone, bacon, and spicy mustard. On the side, I enjoyed carrots, celery, and red peppers with hummus as well as some tostitos. I have NO idea why autocorrect just changes tostitos to tomtits, but it made me incredibly happy and I just had to share. Thank you, autocorrect.

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The afternoon was spent sitting outside, enjoying the cool breeze and the warm sun, sipping on pumpkin spice coffee, wearing a sweatshirt, and studying my hardest. These concepts are not the easiest I’ve ever had to comprehend, but I’m learning how much hard work and dedication pay off.

To end this post, I dare to share a selfie of my new hair…without make-up! I know, I’m a total badass. But at least I’m a blonder badass.

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Improvisational Cooking: Creative in the Kitchen

As a writer and daydreamer, I like to think that I am observational. I do have supreme organizational skills and can focus on smaller details, but last night, from the lack of sleep the night before, I was kind of a mess. I couldn’t stop yawning and was tucked into my bed by 9:00 PM on the dot. And I don’t remember much after that. After dinner, I enjoy a cup of peppermint tea to ease digestion and settle my stomach for rest, but I made it halfway through my cup last night before I realized it tasted funny. I never put the tea bag into the cup, so I was just drinking hot water and didn’t even notice. I think this says more about me and how tired I was yesterday than the tea, which is just awkward.

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Notice the tea bag in this photo! Evidence that I haven’t completely gone bonkers- yet.

Looking at this picture, I can see that it is not one of my “dark” days for my eyebrows. Yes, I have eyebrows. When I was teaching, I had a student ask me why I didn’t have any, which was discouraging. I happen to have alarmingly light eyebrows, lasting remnants of what was once shockingly white blonde hair from the ages of 3-5. I had no hair before that, prompting my mother to pierce my ears from the moment I left the womb and forcing her to tape little pink bows on top of my head. My hypothesis is that my light eyebrows and thin hair are the product of the same thing, but what that thing is, I don’t know. All I know is that very light, almost non-existent, eyebrows cause my already large head to appear larger. Some might even say that I have a five-head. It’s good that I can talk about it now.

The cold does not make waking up early and trekking it to the gym any easier. Since I’ve survived so far, my hope is that once it’s warmer-if it ever is- and the day’s longer, it will be even easier to wake up in the morning. My one complaint, other than the usual dreadfulness of hearing the alarm clock blast, is stepping outside into the frigid air and waiting eons for the car to warm up. I don’t even wait, I just drive, and by the time I’m comfortable, I’m pulling into the gym. Wah. It’s been good so far though and there’s no denying how much better I feel throughout my day once I’ve gotten that workout in!

My day started with a scoop of peanut butter, chopped banana and strawberries, rolled into a whole wheat tortilla. I would have snapped a picture, but the banana wasn’t looking too fresh- even though it tasted great- and I didn’t think it needed to be documented forever.

At the gym, it fueled me through a kettlebell and a dumbbell circuit. For each, I did 4 sets of 12 reps. Kettlebells included swings, deadlifts, shoulder raises, high lifts, and mermaid raises. For dumbbells, I made it through kickback rows, alternating shoulder presses, alternating bicep curls, alternating front lifts, and used the stability ball for overhead extensions and bench presses. Alternating weight, grips, and equipment- even for the same moves- help to keep your body guessing and makes a workout more effective. I haven’t done box jumps in a few days, so I went through 4 sets of 12 reps of those and did a short plank sequence before jumping on the treadmill for a two-miler.

I was feeling nice and energized after a shower and sat down to enjoy this bowl of oats. The night before, I mixed oats, cinnamon, raisins, dates, mashed banana, walnuts, and milk to make overnight oatmeal. I threw some blueberries in there for an extra health kick. The cold oats with my hot coffee made a nice dynamic duo and I was satiated until lunchtime.

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I was such a big fan of my lunch! I had more of these chicken meatballs- four is one serving and they are so SO good! I threw them into stir-fried veggies of peppers, carrots, baby spinach, mushrooms, and snap peas on top of some rice and mixed it all with a thai peanut sauce. It made my stomach happy because it was yummy and healthy! I rounded out my meal with a juicy orange. This time of year, it’s better to have an excess of vitamin C than not enough to stave off colds!

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Look at these bad boys. Aren’t they beautiful? I had high hopes for these fish tacos. I seasoned tilapia with a little Cajun seasoning, chopped it up and tossed them onto two corn tortillas with a medley of fresh veggies- baby kale, butternut squash, zucchini, peppers, and mushrooms. I also drizzled some cheese and more of that Thai peanut sauce on top. Once I bit into it, it became apparent that the shells were not sturdy. Improvising, I decided the tortillas didn’t taste well enough to waste on my calories, so instead I took out the filling and ate it like a stir fry. For my grains, I had two pieces of whole wheat sour dough toast. The end result was a divine meal, even if it didn’t look as pretty as what you see now.

photo 3Reminder that food can still be fun and tasty when it’s healthy. It just means you- or the person who cooks for you- has to tap into their more creative side. I forget this sometimes, especially when it comes to the weekend, but I’m making more of an effort to try new recipes and home cooking rather than spending money on food out at restaurants. Half the time now, I find myself disappointed or thinking I could have made a dish fresher, healthier, and tastier, not to mention cheaper, if I made it myself at home. Maybe this means I need to have a dinner party!

Hello, Have You Seen My Pool?

The snow banks are officially taller than I am. This is startling in how fast and furious it came. People were actually complaining about the lack of snow mid-January and then BOOM a snow cloud exploded. I’m just about 5’3 and though that isn’t a lot of a person, it’s a lot of snow. This particular bank is way over my head, like three of me, but look at that gorgeous sunset! photoMac was intimidated by the huge snow banks and stayed out of the picture.

As I glance outside sipping on my cup of tea and enjoying a homemade chocolate chip cookie, I’m reminded of the days of summer where the sun was shining, the ground was clear, and I had a pool. It’s still there, kind of, but it’s been eaten by snow. If cold, slushy water is your thing, then good for you, but personally, I find it difficult to jump in when the temperature is 80 degrees. Don’t judge me! I’m sensitive.photo

In other news, I’m not too thrilled with my new WordPress app. It’s not posting when I schedule it and all of the text is showing segmented together instead of the paragraphs I write them in! I guess I’ll just have to play around with it a bit more. Is it too much to ask for things to be intuitive?!

Some of you may be wondering where yesterday’s Rave Review Tuesday was and for that, I apologize, because you didn’t miss it. I just didn’t write one. In my”free” time, I’ve been devoting my energies to writing. It’s a positive thing that I’ve been so consistent with my writing, but I need to learn how to balance. I’m in the middle of two different books right now, so hopefully I can finish those up soon. I also haven’t seen a movie in a long time. For me, watching a new television show is a commitment, especially on Netflix, so I’m staying away from the for awhile. I already miss Veep and can’t wait until April! Long story short, I’ll resume Rave Reviews once I consume something to write about!

Though I’m trying to complain less about the snow, it can’t be ignored because it affects so much of daily life. This morning, thanks to my neighbor, I was able to fit in a quality at-home workout. After a body strength routine with the usual squats/lunges/push ups/etc, I jumped on the treadmill and got through a 45-minute run/walk type thing. My legs are sore, even after the rest day yesterday, due to the increase in running. It felt good to work up a sweat and to start my day with a workout!

Breakfast today was pumpkin French toast, topped of course with peanut butter, jelly, and shredded coconut. The pumpkin, vanilla, and cinnamon work together to make this breakfast delectable, but it still borders on healthy with whole wheat bread, eggy batter, and peanut butter for protein! Such a combination keeps me full throughout the morning.

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Lunch came together quickly thanks to an assortment of leftovers. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to find any Brussels sprouts in the fridge, but the roasted cauliflower and butternut squash combination sufficed. Along with my veggie fix, I ate a piece of blackened salmon and dove into the rest of the macaroni and cheese. Seriously, it’s so good.

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With the roads finally clearing, my sister Lauren and her fiancee Nick came over for a Chinese food dinner. To go along with this indulgent dinner, I chopped and steamed a variety of vegetables- spinach, peppers, zucchini, and carrots- and enjoyed some brown rice. The good thing about me and Chinese food is that when I overeat it, I feel shaky, so I am apt to pay more attention to my body’s signals.

If you would allow me one last note on the snow, I must say, it’s amazing that I haven’t fallen yet. That being said, I totally just jinxed myself. The walking is terrible out! I went from my house to my neighbor’s house and I was walking so slow. Not just because it’s slippery but because it’s hard to walk in snow and slop. I’ve seen a few brave runners trekking it in the snow, but I do not have the coordination for that. I would definitely slip, fall, and get run over by a car.

To end on a positive note, we are already a good chunk into February, which means once we are halfway into March, the weather should improve, BASEBALL will be on its way back- I know for a fact that the Red Sox are looking to make up for last year’s dismal season to me personally in the form of the handsome new pitcher Rick Porcello–Lester who?- and I have a couple of exciting things coming that we’ll have to talk about when they happen.

Keep the good mood grooving!

Just Call Me Kitten

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Growing up, my mother claimed I had selective hearing. I heard what I wanted and had the convenient skill to miss what I didn’t want to hear. It’s a talent. Though true, even today, the unfortunate circumstance of my youth was that I suffered from hearing issues from birth. My nurse mother explains that I struggled learning how to speak because I was hearing as though under water. My occasional mumbling might stem from that or that I have a lot to say and fear I might die before I get it all out. You never know.

There was a continuous string of “tube” surgeries that I underwent as a child and the only reason I allowed this was because one, my mother made me and two, my surgeon promised me a hallucination-like story of my favorite princess tale. I was always devastated when I could not remember this fantastical version of The Little Mermaid post-surgery- maybe the reason I kept going back. Or because Q-tips are evil, but feel so good. Is that wrong? I found out a few years ago that these so-called stories were lies from my mother, the nurse, who laughed at my ignorance.

Assisting my hearing struggles is my overactive imagination. I often talk to myself, whether living in the glamorous world my brain has concocted where I’m rich, famous, married to Chris Evans (The Winter Soldier was fabulous OMG), but humble. (We’ve discussed this before). Or else, I’m developing stories, dialogue that plays out behind my eyes in perfect sequence, but somehow struggles to come to light when I’m attempting to put it down onto paper the digital sphere. My mind moves far too fast for actual pen to paper, but I often journal in cursive because it’s my favorite art form.

Some of my best stories come to life while I’m showering, running, or my favorite exercise in the world- swimming. When my body is floating and gliding- hopefully without any obstacles in the form of lane mates- and I can’t be tied down by a phone in my hand or even music that sometimes stumps my creative flow. I’ve found time and time again during my constant quest to meditate that I am not one who benefits from sitting still. My relaxation comes best in the form of exercise, when the blood pumps high to the brain and boosts my spirit, and when my body isn’t itching to move. 

Don’t get me wrong, I can veg on the couch like the best of them, but this includes watching TV, browsing online, or reading a book. Maybe it’s a problem that I can’t just sit still for the hell of it, but I’ve made it work for me. My incessant overzealous dialogue with myself, detailed new world with a host of characters, or motivation to keep on going going going has kept me on my toes.

Despite understanding this, I still surprised myself today. Due to a busted hip, I was struggling to run through a bit of pain and limping up a hilly part of my route, thinking I needed to give up. I thought, “Nothing good in life is easy, kitten, keep on going.” I don’t know where or why the “kitten” thing came to light, but I laughed so hard I didn’t realize I made it up the hill without another negative thought.

When life throws one at you, don’t question it. Just appreciate that there can still be some silliness in a world that often seems out to get everyone.