Reflection Time

First of all, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to my mama. She’s the best.

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On Friday, I realized it had been five years since I graduated college. This made me reflective and several pages in my journal is a testament to that. The truth is, the years don’t really matter, except that we can no longer count life in “school years.” I am no longer a super-senior of real life. I just am. And yet, I still have nightmares where I’m lost in high school and can’t find my classes, so what does that signify?

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When the picture above was taken, I felt like I was on top of the world. I had just lost a ton of weight, I was graduating with honors, and even though I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life, I had a temporary summer job, and I figured I would figure it out. Five years later and I’ve held five different jobs, all for the better, lending to well-rounded life experiences and honing professional skills, and I keep telling myself that it’s important to figure out what you don’t want to do, as much as what you do want.

Life is not perfect or easy, but I have been blessed. There have been struggles and losses and hardships, but I’m choosing right now to focus on the good. Those top three, since graduating, include becoming a published writer, getting my personal training certification, and moving to LA- if only because I had been talking about it for five years, so it was move or shut up.

*My parents would probably like me to insert my Master’s degree into this list and while yes, this is an accomplishment, I have (un)gracefully retired from teaching and will never use the degree in the traditional sense. Call it an invisible fourth choice if you must.

I should also note that this blog is also five years old and I’ve been trying for five years to find a direction for it, but it’s been chaotic. Such is life.

Looking back at pictures of my friends, I found this gem.

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This was taken six years ago right before I started my weight loss journey. This girl is me, and yet, I do not recognize her. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t particularly enjoy looking in the mirror at this time. But, a few months after this was snapped, I did look at myself in the mirror, long and hard, and I discovered that I was worth more than I realized. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million times. My relationship to myself did not better after I lost weight. I chose myself and saved myself because I liked myself, and it helped me find the strength to exercise, eat right, and be kinder to my body, mind, and soul.

It’s funny that I struck this particular pose because in just a few months, I would be employing that strength, both physically and mentally, and completely uprooting my life for the better.

This blurb was longer than I expected when I first started typing, but the only other matter of the weekend I’d like to discuss is that I saw Billy Joel at Dodger Stadium and it was awesome. I love him and I’m not sorry for it.

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Also, Dodger Stadium looks strange without that large looming wall in left field. Just sayin..

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It’s Tuesday, but it feels like a Monday, but it will be Friday sooner, so…

This weekend was a relaxing one, thanks in large part to the rainy, dreary weather. No, I’m not back on the east coast. The west coast is enduring its “usual” winter according to locals. It’s not cold, but the amount of rain we’ve gotten since I arrived in September is unreal.

Speaking of my arrival, we’re officially past the five months part of being out here. Things are solid, albeit still on the lonely side, but I think being a little lonely for a bit is an important part of life. I’m developing more independence and growing ever more comfortable with being just with me. Although, it’s not like I don’t have any friends and family out here, don’t fret.

I’d like to start this post off reminding you of my humanity, as last week I was in a meal prepping frenzy and allowed my lentil soup to simmer for a few minutes too long. In theory, this lentil ball would have made an excellent meatball substitute, but I brought it to work one day and was promptly judged, so I dumped it. It don’t look right! (Yes, I’m unaware of the incorrect grammar of that sentence).

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Not everything can look as perfect as the pancakes I forgot to snap a picture of before devouring yesterday morning.

Going back to the weekend, on Friday, all I wanted to do was sit on my couch and binge watch 30 Rock (remember, for research purposes), but nature had other plans and took away my power. Since it was still raining and all sorts of cozy, I hopped into bed early (I got home late from work to have drinks with friends) and promptly fell asleep. I did hear the heat kick in and sense the outside lights flicker on in a dreamy, sleepy haze during the night, so the power wasn’t lost for long.

On Saturday, I took my time in the morning with a pancake breakfast and a kick-butt workout. After, I went out for pizza and ice cream with a friend, which is the kind of night that cannot be beat.

In the rain, you can always find the rainbow.

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I always think of my Grandma when I see a rainbow because we chased them in Ireland on our trip a few years ago. Hi, Grandma!

The forecast earlier in the week called for a bright and sunny day on Sunday, but it was overcast and windy. It made for excellent running weather and I felt stronger than I have in a lo-ong time. I love running outside. I do not love running on the treadmill. Thankfully the sun is staying out longer and longer and soon I’ll be able to run outside after work too. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be running my first 5k this weekend.

After my run, I headed downtown with my friend Brad, where we first discovered LA’s Grand Central Market. I opted for a chicken parm sandwich and saved the second half for a later meal. The journey was really so I could introduce Brad to the wonder that is the Last Bookstore. We had some fun and snapped some completely non-staged pictures…

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Okay, so maybe a little staged. But doesn’t it look magical? We enjoyed hiding in this nook full of encyclopedias and discussing the tragedy that is The Cursed Child. JK Rowling is still the queen, don’t you fret.

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We had actually planned to go to the beach, but my weather app was wrong, and this was a far more appropriate plan.

Back at home, I grocery shopped. I ask you, when is Trader Joes not crowded? It’s certainly not the case on a later Sunday evening. I also meal prepped, salads and store-bought soup (don’t judge me!) for this shortened week. The rest of the evening was relaxing and yet again rainy.

I didn’t sleep in quite as long on Monday because I was afraid it would affect my sleep cycle, but I certainly slept longer than I usually would on a weeknight. More pancakes and 30 Rock watching ensued before I headed out to a local coffee shop to write with Brad.

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Dirty = espresso in my chai latte. Quote on my journal from Meryl Streep quoting Carrie Fisher in her speech against the current president. I was actually quite productive in my writing, which followed into my workout, and again with my laundry. I might have been let a little too loose in Target as I came home with a basket full of food related items and bath related items. After preparing for the week ahead, I sat down to write this blog post and do some more writing.

I’m trying to be more consistent. Happy Tuesday vibes!

Exercise Shake-Up

Happy Monday! We’ve got a strange week ahead, but I’m going to talk about exercise instead. I’ve felt bored lately with my workouts and I’ve been trying to play around, finding a new fit. My new gym doesn’t offer a lot to be creative, so I’ve had to delve into my experiences and come up with something exciting. Motivation is hard sometimes!

My new favorite exercise has been taking my bike out on the bike path by my apartment. I am no mean’s fast. Plenty of people speed past me, but I’ve had to go around my share of people (toddlers, okay, shut up). It’s hard not to enjoy peddling by the ocean, under the sun and palm trees, and not feel invigorated by life.

Side note: life is good, but lonely. Moving is hard in a lot of ways, and even though I know I made the right choice, it’s hard to be away from family and friends. I’ve been trying to keep busy and focused on why I moved out here in the first place- write write write.

My ride yesterday took me into the fog. Once I reached water, I hopped off and parked to walk the rocks. Spooky and eerie, but calming!

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I’ve also done some running, but since I’ve been working out after work, I’ve had to take it out on the treadmill. Boo! Good music can get you through almost everything though, so I’ve been jamming to Hamilton and just getting through. Hiking on the other hand, has become one of my favorite things, and in LA, we aren’t lacking on possibilities.

Sunday’s hike took me and my friend Sara to an LA staple, Runyon Canyon.

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I mean, c’mon!

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Strength training-wise, I’m settled on two days a week of quick, hard-hitting total body movements and two days of specific muscle training.

Day One is total body, heavy lifting movements, six sets of five reps. Day Two is upper- biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest, and back. Day Three concentrates on lower body. For those two days, I’ve been doing four sets of ten reps with medium weight. Day Four is more total, this time focused on body weight plyometrics. Again, six sets of five reps. You haven’t sweated until you’ve done burpees into push-ups into jumping jacks. But I love it and I’m starting to feel excited about exercising again.

On strength training days, I always end with core and a bout of cardio.

Now onto food, which I’ve been kind of killing lately.

Homemade pancakes- I forgot the egg, which is why they turned out so flat I guess, but they were still tasty!

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Banana bread! I had a couple of bananas that I didn’t want to toss but couldn’t eat straight up, so I bought a few more ingredients and threw together this delicacy.

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It made a perfect accompaniment to this beautiful omelet I made on Sunday.

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I cannot believe I didn’t snap a picture of the chicken broccoli ziti soup-ish dish I made on Friday. I was seriously impressed with myself and it was super tasty. One pot meals for the win!

Shrimp fried rice, no big deal. Shrimp, an egg, veggies, brown rice, and soyaki. Cannot be beat!

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No Dark Chocolate peanut butter was used in this dish, but look at the empty jar photobombing the picture!

And okay, so on Sunday, I went to another LA staple, Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. Fried chicken. Waffles. Disgustingly delicious.

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One Month!

Happy one month anniversary to me and LA!

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In some ways, I can’t believe I’ve already lived here for a month, but in others I feel like I’ve been here forever. It has something to do with how things came together job-wise, but also, life flies! Take advantage and live it while we can!* Chasing dreams isn’t always glamorous and it’s certainly not easy, and no matter the long-term successes and failures, the journey is worth it. Cliches have truth, friends!

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*Even if it scares you and believe me, this still scares me.

If you’ll remember, I am a personal trainer and so I’m used to standing on my feet all day, but the change of foot wear and profession has taken a hit to my feet. They are sore! After a day at work and a run, this is my total for the day:

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I’ll never complain about getting to move around, but I think they might deserve a pedicure soon- maybe to celebrate my one month anniversary!

Breakfast:

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Lunch was quinoa, black beans, brussels sprouts, and broccoli.

Dinner:

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We’re halfway through the week!

Reflections

September has always felt like a fresh start thanks to countless years at school, but this one passed by in a blur thanks to my move. It strikes me how 2016 has been such a bizarre and impactful year in my life, both good and bad, from the very beginning. I lost my beloved cat and  aunt, both who I still can’t believe are gone. I became a personal trainer. Made new friends. Moved across the country. Started a new job. And I’m sure there are many other factors that have gone into this year. I’m not sure what’s to say about it other than a person’s ability to adapt is weird and empowering.

Tuesday’s most exciting part of the day was the fact that I mastered how to make a latte. My mom insists the foam makes a woman, but I was just focused on getting the milk to look like that. Yay me. Listen, it’s pertinent to my job.

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Breakfast was a yummy bowl of oats with almond milk, banana, raisins, walnuts, honey, and cinnamon. The picture makes me want to eat more right now.

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Lunch was another serving of quinoa and red beans with Brussels sprouts and spinach. No picture was snapped, but it looked just like it did yesterday.

Since it was National Taco Day, I decided to make more tacos for myself. This time, I grilled up some cod and served it over a medley of zucchini noodles and red pepper. Topped with soyaki and some hummus on the side.

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I’m doing pretty good for myself cooking. According to the scale at my new gym (that I don’t know if I trust or not), I’m down four pounds since I’ve moved. I’ve felt lighter and my clothes fit nicely, so I’ll roll with it.

I’ve remained solid in the exercise department even though it’s not my livelihood at the moment. Tuesday’s workout was a run/walk combination that ended with four minutes of HIIT that left me breathless. After a little yoga, I called it a night!

I already prefer working out in the evening to waking up before the sun, so long as I go to the gym before heading to my apartment. Routine, people. It’s a beautiful thing!

Happy Wednesday! We’re halfway through the week!

Humble Bragging

Yesterday reminded me that I don’t have it all figured out- as though I needed reminding right now!?

Life is messy, beautiful, but chaotic. I am a creature who thrives on habit, can do wonderful things when pushed out of my comfort zone. I can also fall flat on my ass and feel like I’m drowning. Moving and adapts bing to new place and things is a difficult concept on its own, but life also loves to pop up with random obstacles. Not to complain, so much as reflect, because these problems I’m about to share are minuscule compared to all the issues in the world.

For instance, you can go grocery shopping and even though you make a detailed list, you can still end up in the store two more times that same day because you can never anticipate all of your needs. And at that same grocery store, you might even make a baby cry for smiling at him or her when trying to find the cucumbers.

If you are new to an area and don’t know your way around at all, you will have to rely on technology and sometimes, that technology will fail for no particular reason other than to complicate life.

Milk will boil over the pot. The Internet will not always run fast. Printers will not always print. People will steal your seat. Your computer will freeze on Do and Trump’s wide-open trap. You can get mad, scream, curse, and cry. Or you can call it as it is, and go home. Home will not be the home that you’re used to. It’s okay or it’s not. And that’s life.

Thankfully, I am okay and so ends my rant!

Good things happened yesterday too! For instance, I made some killer meals that I’ll feature in a moment. I got a lot of work and writing done, progress is being made. I had some great phone conversations with family and friends. I ran five miles…on a treadmill…and my legs didn’t collapse beneath me.

The day started with oatmeal. I sweetened this bowl with honey instead of maple syrup and it did the trick. The oats really fueled that run, along with chopped walnuts, raisins, a banana, and a cup of yogurt.

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For lunch, I made a big batch of quinoa with black beans and corn. I’ll have this throughout the week, but this particular plate featured broccoli, orange pepper, feta, and a sauce I picked up at Trader Joe’s called Soyaki. I walked into the store intending to buy both sauces separately, so this made life easy and yummy.

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I also enjoyed the sauce on my dinner. After trying to get to my cousin’s place to watch the debate (thanks again GPS, not), I whipped up these fish tacos instead. Cod over spinach and carrots on two corn tortillas. Delicious!

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After a strong writhing session, I fell into bed, looking forward to the new day, but still appreciating the current one. Even if it did make me feel like a clumsy, blubbering mess.

Humility is a beautiful thing.

Things

A week and a day in and still no celebrity sightings. I’m trying not to be discouraged, but really, you move to LA and you expect to see some random celebrities acting just like you and me, walking down the street. Do I glance over at the cubicle next to me and see my future husband, Chris Evans, at the library? No, instead I get a teen napping on his backpack. At Starbucks do I spot my future BFF Sarah Michelle Gellar ordering the same beverage? No, I get two dudes joking about putting mayonnaise in their coffee. Am I heavy lifting weights next to the man himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, at the gym? Nope, just some old lady who needs help adjusting the seat but then proceeds to do freaking reverse crunches on an incline.

People keep joking that all the celebrities are in Boston, which hardy har- not funny!

For the record, only two of those celebrities are ones I’d like to meet. Spoiler: The Terminator is not one of them.

Again, this lack of celebritydom could be a symptom of my being unobservant, but I just don’t think so. Bring on the celebs!

Back to focus, I’ll tell you a little bit about my Wednesday. A day starting out with this beautiful bowl of oats is always a good one in my book!

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I mixed things up with almond milk, mashed banana, cinnamon, walnuts, raisins, and a dash of maple syrup. Muy delicioso!

At the gym, with my actual new BFF reverse crunching like a pro, I worked through triceps, shoulders, and chest, and I’m already feeling the repercussions. Again, in the best way. Core was pretty crushing with rollouts that did not want to be rolled out, especially at 3 sets of 20 reps. Worth it in the end, I hope. To top off my exercise for the day, I did things old-school and hopped on the arc trainer for a sweaty fifteen minutes- five steady-state, five intervals, five steady-state before calling it a day.

To refuel, I loaded up with strawberries and half a banana with some chocolate peanut butter. Refreshing!

I’m on The Order of the Phoenix for my Harry Potter re-read and it’s stressing me out. I’ve been avoiding it for a week and now I’ve just started and it’s stressful. You can’t imagine the pain if you haven’t read it before. There’s just so much angst. I love the book, don’t get me wrong, but boy does it bring out the emotions. I’m anticipating every scene as though I haven’t read it before. (Put in italics because such a notion is preposterous!)

For lunch, I headed back into Hollywood, The Grove area, to meet my cousin and two of her co-workers for an informational lunch. Again, it’s good to have human contact!

Look what I spotted!

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Back to the library to get some work done for this chick, as you probably predicted from my reference of the teen and his backpack. He was sleeping, in the spot that I had deemed mine over the past two days might I add, and I both support and resent him for it. Sleeping is important, but also, one, move and two, Chris Evans could have sat there, you waste of space.

For dinner, I went out with my friend Brad and his twin brother Reid, my new roommate!, at a vegan restaurant in town. Again, I ate vegan and did not have a celebrity sighting. The sacrifices I’m making. Not, I suppose, that celebrity sightings is the reason I moved out here because totally not, but still, it ups my cool factor.

I dined on sesame “chicken,” which was actually yummy cauliflower, brown rice, and broccoli. I have nothing against veganism and will eat a meal as such, but I’m still very much tied to meat and other various animal products. So sue me, but actually, please don’t.

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I’ve been writing and editing like crazy, which is important, and the actual reason for me being out here. Let’s hope that creativity keeps flowing! Secret to success: the more you do, the more that comes.