Quality Over Quantity

We are consumers. Whatever it is that is being consumed, be it food, culture, ideas, or anything else, we prefer it to come fast. Quantity and speed over quality. (You’d think the Oscars would have anticipated this and not run for about 84 years, but I guess this joke is a few days old).

I find that I always need to be moving. If I’m out on a walk on a beautiful, sunny, and fairly warm day in the middle of winter, I feel like I should be running. If I have a scrumptious meal in front of me, I pick up that fork and in I dig. Social media has upturned the way we learn news, but we’ve seen countless times that it can be as misleading as it is effective. If something takes awhile to load, if I have to suffer through a few days of anticipation, or get from start to finish on a project, I can feel anxiety roll through me, my feet and fingers tap, mind jitter.

But I want to be better than mindless, fast, and impatient.

Through my weight loss journey, graduating from school, editing my stories from rough draft to actual publication, to studying for my personal training certificate, and any other accomplishment I consider in my life, I know it didn’t come from fast or easy. But even in the things that we suffer, from grief and hardship, pain and annoyance, we have to live through it, not bear down and go through the motions. Life is what we put into it, much more so than what happens to us.

I think we are often so unhappy because nothing truly satisfies anymore. There is a difference between something happening and actually experiencing it. We can be happy with a lot less if we take the time and effort to appreciate what we have. Sometimes (a lot of times), I need to be reminded of this.

I’ve found two pictures that incapsulate this idea perfectly. One of my own taking:

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It didn’t matter that I had to get him inside because I was heading to work, Mac was not ready to come inside. He was lying on that grass and soaking up the sun!

This second photo has been making the rounds on the internet and it’s just so funny to me and it fits my point, so I’m sharing. Thanks to whoever shared it in the first place!

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Eat up life the way Leo looks at his Girl Scouts’ cookies (and how he must look at his Oscar now).

So for as much as we consume, let’s try to savor too.

Julie Andrews Is A Goddess Angel Baby

Last night, I drifted off to sleep listening to the Oscars. At some point, I woke up and it was still playing. When they announced Lady Gaga was performing next, I declared it time for bed. Little did I know that JULIE FREAKING ANDREWS would be making an appearance at the end of her performance. Julie Andrews is a goddess angel baby and I would have liked to see the beautiful moment when the entire audience gave her the standing ovation she deserves. I mean, I got to see it on Youtube, and for the record, Gaga rocked it, but it would have been a real life moment. This is why the Oscars don’t need to be 5.78 hours long. And on a Sunday night!

When I was younger, I used to watch The Sound of Music over and over again- bless my Nana who watched it with me- but I was an active participant, pretending to be Liesel or Maria, putting on a pretty dress and leaping across my living room while singing as loud as I could. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I feel it is a pertinent moment in my life. Julie Andrews is the essence of talent and class.

My love of celebrities battled my love of sleep and sleep won out. Granted, not until after I saw Chris Evans present. It doesn’t help that many of my favorites didn’t even attend. In that case, my curiosity would have gotten the best of sleep.

Despite keeping me up later than usual, waking up this morning for my workout didn’t prove too difficult. It was more of the prospect of stepping outside into the freezing cold world that made things difficult. After a large glass of water, I brewed myself a small cup of coffee and ate a tortilla stuffed with almond butter, banana, and strawberries. I made a few of these, along with a couple of eggs, to be prepared for the week ahead. I did try to mix things up a bit, so you’ll see more throughout the week.

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My workout today included a kettlebell circuit that got the blood flowing. I ran through 4 sets of 10 reps of swings, deadlifts, high lifts, arrow lunges, and kickback rows. After, I did a few planks- 1.5 minutes for a front plank, 1 minute on each side for side planks. More strength training was on the menu and I did 4 sets of 10 reps of dumbbells- alternating shoulder to knee presses, hammer curls, then shoulder raises, overhead tricep extensions, and bench presses on the stability ball. Nouha joined me, which helped me forget how early it was!

I wanted to take a break from running due to my left foot falling asleep the day before, so I rode the elliptical for a mediocre cardio workout for 20 minutes, followed by 4 minutes on the bike doing a Tabata Interval workout. It was a great workout and an amazing way to start the day!

After coming home and getting ready for the rest of my day, I made an egg and cheese sandwich. One egg, a few pieces of pepper jack cheese, on top of an English muffin, and a side of blueberries and sweet pineapple, made an excellent morning pick-me-up.

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It’s hard to believe that four of these meatballs are one serving because they are so filling and tasty! On Sunday, I stir fried a bunch of vegetables and brown rice, enough to make two lunches, and took half of it for yesterday’s lunch. To go along with these ginger teriyaki chicken meatballs, I sautéed everything in a teriyaki marinade, which was an excellent combination. To complete my meal, I polished off a pear- a recent obsession- and two hershey nuggets. Perfecto!

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Dinner provided a medley of flavors and colors. Steak fajitas are one of our favorite meals, which we complemented with peppers, mushrooms, and a salad made of lettuce, carrots, and tomato. For mine, I folded my tortilla in half like a quesadilla and filled it with cheese. I had a couple of spoonfuls of rice to go along with it.

The Oscars!

I’m embarrassed. My parents have seen more than twice as many Oscar nominated films than I have this year. I guess they are just film conrnessouirs now. I was sadly lacking in that department due to a lack of effort, but there’s always time to catch up.

Maybe I’m getting older with more responsibilities, or maybe no one is nominated who I really care about, but while I enjoyed watching the part of the Oscars that I bothered to stay up for, I couldn’t make it the whole thing. I didn’t even try. Neil Patrick Harris was of course, fabulous, and I loved his opening number. I prefer a longer monologue, but there’s only so much time. Why did they start at 8:30?

On Sundays, I like to be productive, getting as many lunches and breakfasts prepared for the week, getting in my workout, doing laundry, and painting my nails. The snow and the work we have to do to clean up after it, delays this. We must be as flexible as possible. I’m learning not to let these small things stress me out as much as they normally do. What a process.

Speaking of meals, for breakfast, we wanted to mix things up a little with our poached eggs. We sautéed some spinach and boiled some hollandaise sauce. You can’t see the spinach in the picture, but I assure you, it was there. Poached eggs are so tasty on their own, but sometimes a little change up can be just as good, if not better. A large bowl of fruit topped off the meal.

photo 1Anticipating a bigger dinner, after my workout, I came home to enjoy a quick snack. I went for a cheesestick, a couple of crackers, carrots, and an apple. It hit the spot and helped me refuel until dinner.

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Dinner was a bit of a family affair with my sister, Lauren, and her fiancée Nick over. We had roasted chicken, brussels sprouts, squash, peppers, stuffing, and potatoes. The meal itself was divine, but for dessert, we had apple crumble and a generous scoop of ice cream.

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For my workout, I kicked things off with a body strength workout that left me more than warmed up. Starting with step ups, I ran through a circuit of dips, squats, lunges, kickbacks, calf raises, push ups, spiderman climbers, mermaid raises, hip lifts, bicycle crunches, ankle grabs, crunches, hundreds, and Russian twists. After, I hit the treadmill for a long run. I got through 3.1 and would have liked to go on longer, except my foot was falling asleep. I tried to trek through it for as long as possible, but after that initial run, I gave it a breather and walked for five minutes. I was able to run for another seven minutes after, then finished up with another five minutes walk. It was a great workout that left me sweaty in the grossest, best way possible.

Birdman: It’s Weird, Man.

Considering the Oscars are airing and I’ve barely seen any of the movies, I figured it was time to at least catch one of them. I did see The Theory of Everything around Thanksgiving and I thought that was a good movie with great acting. It will most likely win Eddie Redmayne a Best Acting Oscar, but it won’t win for best film.

The two biggest contenders are Boyhood and Birdman. Eventually, I will see Boyhood, if only for the fact that it was filmed over twelve years, though that may be the only interesting part about it. I watched Birdman last night thinking I was really going to like it. I wanted to like it. The cast is excellent with Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, and Edward Norton among them and I think everyone did a fabulous job of portraying their characters.

The premise of the film also intrigues me. It analyzes how people deal with fame within that culture, both from a perspective of a blockbuster icon who is beloved and a theatre extraordinaire who is esteemed. The film also toys with the role the audience plays in creating film. We rely on big gestures, those moments that we can put all over Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the ones that make us feel connected to that world in a range of emotions. Such a fascinating concept!

I like how it took such a romanticized world and made it imperfect. I’m not sure I’ve seen a more realistic perspective of what it is like to work in that industry-granted, I myself have seen it in person on a limited basis-even though there were implausible facets included as well. In popular culture, especially with the rise of reality television, the line between what is real and what is imaginary has been completely shattered beyond recognition. It’s why we obsess over celebrity lives, or at the very least, why we are invested in them to some extent. Part of it too is admiring their talent and what they are able to do, but since many of us do not have the money, fame, or appearances to do what they do, we like to watch. We like what we like to watch to be very big. They make this point in the film. It’s subtle, but it’s there, and it’s true.

If I’m confusing you, watch the film, think it over, then we can chat.

For my tastes, the film took a weirder turn than I would have enjoyed. I can’t exactly dig into it without spoiling it completely, but I will say that as a film that gets you thinking, it works. I wanted it to run out a certain way because it would have made more sense to me, but it’s not my film. Now that I’m thinking more about it and have reviewed the film, I don’t hate the ending as much as I first did. Sure, it was a little bizarre, but now that I’ve connected it in my mind to the points I’ve made above, it at least makes more sense to me.

See Birdman. Not just because it will win the Oscar, but because the film is bitter, edgy, and rough.

Moving onto meal recapping, I started my Saturday morning with my favorite peanut butter pancakes. I wonder if this is actually a surprise to anyone? I don’t know how this happens, but I always seem to have a difference in the amount of batter my recipe makes week-to-week. Last week, I had four huge pancakes and one little dollop. Sometimes, I barely make three. This week, I had four medium-sized cakes. I don’t change up my ingredients or how much I put in there, so it’s just strange to see such a disparity. Maybe I’m just bad at judging how heavy handed I am at spooning them onto the griddle. Regardless, with more peanut butter on top, some jelly, toasted coconut, a side of berries, and an episode of Parks and Rec, life was good.

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My mom and I did our grocery shopping run on Saturday afternoon because Sunday is Oscar day messy from rain and, yup, snow. By the time we got home, I was hungry from lunch and needed to refuel before my workout. I heated up this bowl of wonton soup from Trader Joes and toasted a piece of whole wheat sour dough with cheese and pepperoni. Veggie sticks and a handful of popcorn were on the side. I’m excited because I got the ingredients to make my own wonton soup- though I am lazy and bought Trader Joes frozen mini wontons to put into it. Basically, I just want to be able to add more veggies to my soup.

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After a brief digestion period, I took myself to the gym just as the snow was beginning to fall. Before my sister Lauren joined me, I started with a few stretches and a couple of planks. I held a forearm plank for 1.5 minutes, then did 1 minute for each side of side planks. For our strength routine, I led us through a dumbbell circuit. My sister stuck with me through two sets of ten reps and two sets of eight reps. As she headed for a cardio workout, I continued on to do two sets of six reps and two sets of four reps, raising the weight as I went along. On my last set of bench presses, I was actually able to lift 110 pounds, which is my all time high. My muscles are definitely in recovery mode, but they aren’t feeling too sore!

I started on the treadmill with a couple of sprints to get my heart pumping for my cardio workout. After ten minutes worth, I did a Plyometrics circuit of box jumps, side step ups, jumping jacks, skater jumps (side to side), and high knees, before finishing with five minutes of jump roping. Side step ups are something I discovered in one of those fitness magazines that I hadn’t thought of before. Just changing up that range of motion has made a difference in my muscles.

For dinner, I started off with a plate of homemade nachos. I just took tostito chips and crumbled cheese all over them and heated them up in the microwave. After, I made a massive salad stocked with veggies and these chicken strips that were leftover from I’m not sure where. It was a filling meal and still left room for ice cream during the movie. Can’t go wrong!

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One of my finer looking pictures! Enjoy Oscar night! I’m really just watching to catch a glimpse of Chris Evans and/or Harrison Ford. Well, also because I want to act like I’m “in the know.” Oh, and the opening number! At least I’ve seen two of the films…