Friday, December 16, 2011

In which I go on a small self indulgent rant

This is not on the topic of fitness or food and thus does not belong here, but I have nowhere else to put it, so here goes.

I got an e-mail from a friend this morning lamenting the fact that I was not on Gchat so she could regale me with tales of the poor life choices of this girl she knows.  She knew it had been my work Christmas party yesterday, and said something about 'I hope you're still sleeping off epic work party shenanigans.'  I had been still sleeping off something, but that something was deciding a wise dinner was a peppermint mocha-tini and an entire sleeve of Oreos.  Go ahead, judge me, it's cool.

Anyway, the e-mail kind of bothered me on multiple levels.  One, I'm kind of over knowing people just so I can judge them.  Like, if you find this person so vile, stop being friends with them.  If you need to watch someone else's failure so you can feel like a success, maybe that's something you need to work on.  Goodness knows I have suffered from this in the past, but I know it and am working on it.

Also (and this is going to contradict exactly what I just wrote), she was talking about how excited she was for her fiance's work Christmas party, and I realized that in my head, the idea of an 'epic work party' is kind of an oxymoron.  The word epic is getting wildly overused.  There is nothing epic about drinking too much in front of your coworkers and dancing inappropriately or making out with someone or whatever.  But for some people, this is their idea of amazing.  I've recently realized, it isn't mine.

I want an epic life.  For the past way too many years, I've been trying to build the kind of life that a lot of people have, and that I guess a lot of people want - a comfortable life, with nice food and good wine and decent friends and a man who isn't bad to me.  But I want more than that.  I want adventure, I want excitement, I want a life I love, not a life that's good enough.  I want to make a difference in the world, not just in my life.

I also want everyone at work to stop stealing the cookies I've been trying to sell to raise money for Team in Training.  Sigh.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I've got an obsession

One of the best pieces of advice I've ever given was to a friend who was trying to get over a boy.  "Just find an all consuming thing until you find an appropriate all consuming person," I told her.  She recently gave that same advice to me as I've been trying to get over a boy.

It's finally starting to kick in, the running as my thing.  All I care about is running and getting faster and going farther.  I'm considering staying on for the rest of the TnT season and doing a full marathon.  Physically I don't think it'll be a problem, but I am kind of worried about having to raise another two grand.  I've finally been making progress on my fundraising, which is awesome and has restored my faith in humanity, but I feel like I've kind of tapped everyone out so I'm not sure I could ask again so soon.  We'll see.

Anyway, yesterday's 5K was kind of a disaster and I did not run nearly as well as I hoped given that I've been training and eating right and sleeping.  I don't know if that means my 5k pace assessment was a fluke, or if I really just run better on no sleep and a lot of wine.  Sigh.

Rant (again)

Last week it was Lululemon.  This week, Hungry Girl.  I hate her.  I mean, I guess I have nothing against her in general, but I hate the concept and the fact that it's being validated by multiple books and a show on Food Network.

I subscribe to the e-mails.  I read them, because I'll read anything to avoid work.  I rarely find anything of use in them because I've gotten off the processed food bandwagon, and it's what she seems to entirely subsist on.

I have one of the books.  I have made stuff from it.  It is rarely good.  I will give her credit for introducing me to the whole pumpkin+brownie mix = delicious concept, but that is it.  Mostly she has all these two or three ingredient things, and I look at the recipes, and I'm like, none of these things are delicious individually, I do not see how combining them is going to help me.

And seriously about the processed foods.  She loves fat free sugar free anything, which basically means you're eating chemicals.  I have stopped buying fat free cream cheese because everything in it sounds TERRIFYING.  I'd like my cream cheese to just have cream cheese in it, thanks.  If I'm eating cheesecake, I really don't care about saving 100 calories out of the 1000 I've probably already committed to.

Rant over now.

Friday, December 2, 2011

I'm boycotting Lululemon

So I'm in desperate need of new running clothes, because apparently all cotton does not cut it.  I don't want to spend an arm and a leg, so lululemon is probably out anyway, but I thought I'd check their sale site, just in case. 

And then I remembered.  I'm boycotting lululemon.  And not because they're overpricing what should be really accessible sports.  It's their new bags that offend me.  "Who is John Galt?"  That's your slogan?  Really?

I hate Atlas Shrugged.  I really, really hated it.  And not just because I hate the philosophy (which I do).  No, I hate the fact that I read like 9000 stupid pages of that book waiting for stupid Dagny Taggart to have sex with stupid John Galt and when they did, it was the most disappointing thing ever.  It's exactly how I felt about the sex in Twilight.  And if I'm comparing a book to Twilight, it's not a book that has quotes that should be gracing the bags of your store.  That is all.

Slippery slopes

Charity is a slippery slope.  As a result of my inability to get people to donate to my cause, I had a newfound respect for other people who try to raise money for good causes, which is why I donated a dollar to the Salvation Army guy instead of ignoring him and actually talked to one of those volunteer guys with clipboards.  He wanted me to sponsor a child and I said no, but at least I talked to him instead of just ducking my head and making a run for it.  And that's just two causes from two shopping trips.  The amount of problems out there in the world is large.  And it gets really overwhelming if you think about it at all.  I was having a conversation with someone the other day about choosing to be happy, which I'm trying to do more, but there's also a lot of badness out there in the world and if we all choose to ignore it because it's ugly, then nothing's ever going to change.  So I'm trying to figure out the line between ignoring things and wallowing in them, and trying to make a difference where I can.

Also a slippery slope is eating.  My frustration also sent me running for any food in my kitchen, and then any food at the grocery store.  Things I don't even usually enjoy, like potato chips and bad candy.  And I'm in that mode where I don't get full and can just keep shoving things in my face for forever.  I don't want to be there, but I'm not entirely sure how to get out. 


So, the running aspect of Team in Training has been going well.

The fundraising aspect...has not.  I am still over $2000 away from what I'm supposed to raise before January 10.

It's really frustrating.  I came away from my first TNT even filled with faith in humanity, excited that in a world of selfish and self-centered people, there was this group of people who were out there to do something to fight cancer and also do something for themselves in the process.

And now I'm losing that faith.  Asking people to donate, inviting them to events, and having people be like 'meh.'  Like, really, you can't spare the $5 you'd spend on a coffee or the $10 you'd spend on one drink?  Nothing?  It's not like this is for me, it's to fight cancer, for crying out loud.  It's annoying, it's disappointing, it's so, so frustrating.  And I have no idea what to do about it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Breaking routine

Trying something new this morning - getting up, making a smoothie, reading fitness blogs, going for my run, then going to work where I will be super productive as soon as I get in (ha!). 

Highlights from the rest of my weekend:

  • What to do when your Saturday night date cancels on you?  Stay home and watch Gossip Girl with your cat whilst cleaning your apartment.  No, seriously, this might have been one of my best Saturday nights in awhile.  Hm.
  • Sleep > spinning and yoga.  Oops.
  • I am terrible at dating.  How long am I supposed to keep seeing a guy I am merely 'meh' about?
Okay, off to the gym so I can get to work at a mildly reasonable hour.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Trust the training?

We had our second official Team In Training practice this morning and it was not entirely what I expected.  Today's special topic was walking technique, which I assumed would be irrelevant to me since I am (trying to become) a runner.  However, as I learned this morning, apparently we're training with the run/walk technique, which they explained at length results in less injuries and faster race times, but somehow still feels like a cop out to me.  But, I signed up to a program with coaches for a reason, so I'm going to trust them.

After kicking the pace assessment's ass (5k in 29:14) last weekend, I was surprised to see that my pace group was going to be training at 13 minute miles, in a 3:1 run:walk ratio.  I guess we're just starting out and this is going to increase, but this seems way slow and way low compared to what I can do.  Again, I know it's my first race and my goal should be to not be injured and to finish, but I guess I was hoping for a little more of a challenge?  I was scared when I saw we had 45 minutes on the schedule today, but it flew by and felt pretty easy.  I am doing my best to resist the rookie mistakes of starting out training too hard and then hurting myself as a result.  I'll be out of town for next week's practice, which means a 60 minute run on my own, so I'll try and pace myself appropriately.

I also wanted today's practice to feel a little bit harder because I've been feeling like Chubby McChubster lately (translation:  my scale reads 6lbs higher than usual and 13lbs higher than I'd like it to) due to spending the past two weeks subsisting largely on wine and cheese (which, incidentally, is why I think my 29:14 last week would have been way better had I actually been, you know, eating real food and hydrating ever).  Someone at practice called me 'naturally slender' and I forced myself to just take the compliment rather than be like a) "Seriously? I feel like a fatass right now." or b) "Natural? Do you know how many bacon cheeseburgers I've had to turn down in my life to continue looking like this?"  But for now, my serious White Girl Problem of not being skinny enough in my own head will be an issue for another time.

However, because of my flabby feelings and because my hips were uber-cranky, I also went to pilates for the first time in what feels like months.  I won't lie, I did pretty much go through an entire abs class just for the hamstring stretching series, but whatever, my abs do need the work as well.  Oh boy do they need the work, as the class was way harder than it has been in the past.  It's weird, since my abs actually look some of the best they ever have (thank you, three months of Bar Method), but I guess they've only gotten good at those specific exercises.  So, things to work on: core strength.

And now, to shower for the date I may or may not have this afternoon (he got called in for a work emergency, and I would secretly rather stay home and clean my apartment and watch Gossip Girl with my cat.  I am wildly cool.).

Any advice/opinions on run/walk vs. just running training would be welcome and appreciated.  Also advice on dating and apartment cleaning, as I am terrible at both.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Just do it

I went to yoga today for the first time in what is apparently almost a month.  It's weird how something can be a total part of your routine, and then a few little changes happen (a trip out of town, work gets busy, someone reappears in your life for a limited amount of time) and then suddenly it's not routine anymore.  Suddenly, the idea of going back to something you used to do all the time seems intimidating. 

I had a good half a dozen excuses for why I didn't have to go to yoga this afternoon (rest day on the schedule, needed to work, needed to clean, etc.) but I sucked it up and went.  It was not as bad as I feared it might be, and I certainly feel better for having gone. 

It's moments like these I'm tempted to re-overcommit and say I'm going to try and go every day, but I know that won't happen.  I'm going to try at least every other day, until Thanksgiving. 

And now, back to cleaning my apartment, which I desperately need to do.

What about you?  Do you ever fall out of a workout (or any!) routine and find it difficult to start again?

On the run

Training has been going okay.  We had an 'easy 30' on the schedule yesterday, and I failed miserably (again) at getting up before work, so I figured I'd pack my gym bag, go for a quick run after work, and then head to to evening's bingo fundraiser.  Easy.

...until I had a meeting that lasted three hours instead of one, and was suddenly wildly behind schedule.  I was tempted to skip the run in order to meet friends for dinner on time, but I realized that if I'm serious about running 13.1 miles in less than three months, I need to stick to the training.  So stick to it I did.

It was way darker than I'm used to because of this whole 'Daylight Savings' thing, so I was a little freaked out, but there were tons of other walkers/runners/bikers so I swallowed my fear and got going.  The run actually went super well, I did the loop in about 30 minutes, and that included a minute of walking/futzing with Pandora on my Blackberry.  Midway through the run I got a "Hi, Andrea!" from a runner headed the other way, and couldn't place who it was and was too thrown off to say hi back, but it's a loop and we were going opposite directions, and crossed paths again, turned out to be my archnemeis from work.  Oops? 

Anyway, the run was good, I am loving my new shoes, and now I should really get dressed for yoga.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New kicks!

It's been a busy day.  My plan was to get up early and run this morning, but apparently my body decided it was a better idea to sleep through my alarm for an extra two hours.  I headed into work where I'd intended to donate blood, but apparently two weeks of bad eating and drinking more wine than water means my veins are smaller than usual and they couldn't actually take my blood, which was disappointing, but at least I knew that I'd be able to do my run in the evening instead of having to take it easy.

Before my run, I headed to a Team in Training shoe event.  The lovely people at Run With Us gave a 20% discount on shoes, so I took the opportunity to replace my worn out Sauconys...with a new pair of Sauconys.  My old pair was the Triumph 6, and I'd been eyeing the Triumph 8 for awhile, but apparently there is a Triumph 9 out now, so I have those!

(And sadly, I have now learned they come in pink and am slightly disappointed.  I wonder if it is excessive to buy a second pair.  I do really like the teal, too.)

After that, I headed to the gym to test these out on the treadmill.  They are super light and nice, though my run was neither of those things.  I think it's mostly two weeks of bad sleep and a month of terrible eating finally catching up with me.  My body has been all kinds of 'um, I can haz nutrients plz?'

And so, I came home and made a salad because I've sort of forgotten what vegetables look like.

And instead of cashing in the Coldstone coupon I got for attempting to donate blood, I made a quasi-raw brownie for dessert.  Go me.
Also this is super easy.  For the base, you throw some dates, some nuts, and some cocoa in the food processor.  Dump that in an appropriately sized tupperware.  The 'icing' is one part coconut oil to two parts cocoa powder to how ever much agave you need to make it sweet enough.  Pour that over the top, refrigerate the whole thing, and ta da!  Delicious chocolate, no baking required.  It is not low calorie, but it has fiber and antioxidants and other things that are important.

And now, to bed so that I can maybe actually wake up at 5 for a run and yoga tomorrow morning.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Back at it

I should write more but I'd rather sleep. The bullet points:

Am going to start eating normal maybe tomorrow, I swear.  Maybe.  Ever since I finished BPC I have been an eating monster.

Ran a 5k in 29:14 on Saturday, which is huge for me.

Team in Training stuff is going super well so far.  More later.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Um...healthy living?

I totally had things this post was going to be about.  Probably about the emotional eating brought on by seeing my ex at work when he totally wasn't supposed to be there.  Or the emotional exercising that followed the emotional eating.  Or something else totally exercise and or food related.  But, I'm slightly tipsy off of two glasses of red wine and the first first date in awhile that's lasted two rounds of drinks, so let's suffice it to say I feel healthy-ish and had some serious breakthroughs in therapy today.  And now, to bed so I can get up and run before work.  Whee!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

On the eating of feelings

So, day one back on food.  The plan was to stay raw.  It failed.  Miserably.

The day started off well enough with some watermelon, and then an apple and raw cashews as a pre-gym snack.  Then I got back, had to get ready to go a friend's party, and got in a serious funk and could not remove myself.  And thus, I had two peanut butter cups. 

Went to the party, was sufficiently de-funked, and ended up having potato chips, gummi bears, and two beers, in addition to veggies from the veggie tray I brought with the intention of keeping myself from eating crap.  Oops.  On the way home, my friend that I carpooled with stopped for dinner at a vegan place.  It was not raw, but it was delicious.

And then.  On the way home, we got rear-ended by an idiot.  It's my second car accident in two months and I'm just so stressed and annoyed and freaked out by driving, so I responded by coming home and eating a lot of pretzels that were a component of the seven layer bars I'm now making.  And then another peanut butter cup. 

The good news:  my stomach has felt fine through all of this.

The bad news:  I have not always been hungry while eating this stuff.  I have been actively conscious of my nonhunger, and I have eaten anyway.

One of the things I wanted out of this cleanse was to become more conscious of my emotional eating.  And I definitely am; the next step is putting a stop to it.  I somehow feel very fortunate that I'm not a lot heavier with the amount of eating I do based on my emotions.  I remember laughing during Mean Girls the first time I heard the phrase "girls who eat their feelings", and I've used it a lot without shame in the past.  And I still don't think there should be shame associated with it, but I know that of late my feelings have not been awesome.  So why would I want to eat them?  I remember at one point talking about how I don't mind emotional eating, because it's at least a coping mechanism, and why should I try and get rid of that?  But I've realized now that while it may be a way of coping, it's not a way of getting to the root of my feelings and dealing with them.  So I'm going to be working more on that.  Right after I finish a piece of freshly baked seven layer bar.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

And done

I'm finishing my last cashew milk.  The cleanse will be over as soon as I wake up tomorrow morning.  I'm definitely ready for it to be done; it's not the not chewing, it's the 'drinking identical beverages for five day straight' thing.  Though weirdly, the beet juice finally started tasting good today.
I also cheated.  Multiple times.  After the cashews came a few slices of cucumber (mostly acceptable) and 1/3 of a raw chocolate bar (what can I say, I have my period).

And now, we shall summarize.

Things I liked
  • I wasn't really that hungry
  • My stomach felt great the whole time (though this isn't usually a problem for me)
  • The juices (except for beet) were delicious
  • I was still able to exercise
  • I didn't feel any need for caffeine
  • I didn't really have any cravings
Things I disliked
  • The price.  For $65 a day, I could have bought myself a lot of juice on my own.
  • The repetitiveness of the juice flavors
  • The strict delivery window (having to be home to get the juice did put a cramp in my schedule) 
  • I never really got those feelings of clarity and whatnot that people rave about
Things I learned
  • I probably don't need nearly as much food as I think I do.  It's all in my head.
  • I will not actually suffer any dire consequences if I don't give into a craving
  • Green juice is actually delicious 
Things this has inspired me to do
  • Include more raw food in my life.  I've been really over salad for awhile, and I think it's finally going to make a comeback.
  • Be more mindful of my eating.
  • Watching portions better on non-nutritious things
Overall, I'm glad I did this.  For the price, I probably wouldn't do it again.  I'm also down about 5lbs, not sure if that would be more if I weren't doing the PMS bloaty thing, and it'll be interesting to see how much/if any of that stays off.  Also interested to see how the re-integration of real food goes.  

In which I cave

So, I cheated.  I just ate three raw cashews.  Oops?  Had I checked my e-mail and read the encouraging "It's your last day" e-mail from BPC before breaking into my stash, I might not have. 

I just went to Bar Method on one green juice, which was not my smartest ever idea, but I actually made it through.  Afterward, though, food just seemed wise.  I actually had six cashews in my hand and only ate three.  Go me?

Anyway, I guess I'm worried about the transition back to real food as I do kind of have a life I'd like to get back to normally living, sooner rather than later.  There are probably beers on Monday night.  I would like to be able to drink just one of them without throwing up.

I'm hungry for the first time, and this juice is...kind of not helping.  I also managed to totally give myself a panic attack last night about 'omg you've been practically malnourished for four days, what are you doing, blah blah blah' that made it difficult to sleep.

That is the one thing I will say about this cleanse.  Everyone raved about amazing nights' sleeps.  So far I have not really been feeling that.

And, now I'm done, because I'm going back for three more cashews.

Friday, October 14, 2011

BPC, Day 4

Still going mostly strong.  Have cheated slightly as I made myself an extra spicy lemonade because I have had a long ass day and my blood sugar felt like it could use a spike.  Mine is not as good as theirs, but I'll work on it.

But seriously.  I have been up since 5:30 and have subsisted only on juice.  Go me.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tidings of comfort and joy

So I've been thinking a lot lately about the difference between comfort and joy.  This has come up because I've been stressed a lot recently, and my usual coping things (food, 30 Rock, Mean Girls, retail therapy) have either been unavailable or not working as well as they used to.  And I realized it's because I've been seeking a lot of comfort lately, and it's become less effective.  I haven't really been trying to be happy, I've just looked for something to make me feel less sad.

I mention this because I talked to my therapist about how I've been doing yoga and I don't feel like it's helped enough, and he told me that yoga was a great way to reduce symptoms, but it wasn't really the place to work on my issues.  I think he's right.

I've created a comfortable life for myself and gotten comfortable in it.  I've realized the reason I've been missing my ex so much is that he, too, was a comfort when things got tough.  And comfort is wonderful.  But I want more than that.  I want joy.

It's not a completely foreign feeling, but it's something I know I need to work at finding more of in my life.   Yoga brings me comfort.  Running, I have realized, brings me joy.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to go in a week due to being scared to run while on the cleanse, and my lower back deciding to go crazy yesterday.

Other things I will be trying in my pursuit of joyousness:
  • volunteering
  • Team in Training
  • doing more new things (they don't call it a comfort zone for nothing)

BPC, days 2 and 3

So I was going to write this before rereading my Day 1 post, and I'm glad I didn't.  Apparently at the end of Day 1 I really wanted food.  I do not remember this.  Because during days 2 and 3, I have not wanted food at all.  Not in a bad way; just in a "well, I don't really need that" kind of way.  Okay, it's not entirely true, work got pretty stressful this afternoon and I had to sit through a meeting and watch everyone else eat their lunch, and I had a great desire to break into my secret stash of raw cashews.  But I did not.  I'm kind of glad this ended up being during a really hectic time at work, it's more of a willpower test.  I have done well; I watched friends consume Mexican and margaritas last night and felt weirdly not jealous.

I actually can't believe it's been three days already; they've flown by.  I actually got worried that I'd have to stay late at work, miss my juice delivery, and not be able to finish my last two days.  I'm strangely glad I got the five day cleanse, I don't really feel ready to return to solid foods yet. 

That said, I am kind of psyched about my post cleanse meal plan. 

Sunday:  Fruit and salad, as suggested.
Monday:  More of the same
Tuesday:  Fruit and salad for breakfast/lunch respectively, and then I think I'm going for it with sushi for dinner
Wednesday:  Oatmeal again, finally?  Avocado toast for dinner.
Thursday:  Am going all out and hopefully organizing a lunch to my favorite pastrami place

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day one of BPC, and then shit gets real

So, cleanse, day 1, almost done!  Still going to Bar Method in an hour, we'll see how that goes.

As most reviews promised, I was never super hungry.  Nor was I ever super full.  The morning was probably the most difficult, this afternoon has been decent.

Also, the beet juice, is GROSS.  I can't believe I have to drink four more of those and find myself regretting not getting the next level of cleanse where the terrible beet juice is replaced by delicious green juice.  The color looked so pretty and promising.

In the spirit of cleansing, I decided to be more open in therapy and shit got real.  There is kind of nothing worse than being told by your therapist "You have depression" when you were finally for the first time in months starting to think you weren't depressed.  So there's that.  I guess I really did think therapy would be some super helpful magic bullet and if I went, magically everything would be fixed.  Obviously this is not the case.  Obviously I have work to do and need to start figuring out what that is, and then doing it.  I was initially scared of going to therapy because I did not want someone to just shove me on some pills that were going to numb everything.  I am now having those moments of wishing I'd gone to whatever kind of doctor it is that just gives you pills, because to be honest, numbness sounds a lot more appealing than what I'm going through right now.

But.  I am soldiering on.  It will be fine. 

Cannot believe I signed up for this cleanse.  And yet, so glad I did.  To make my point:  I want food, actual food, so badly right now.  But I can tell you that my stomach is completely fine.  Not hungry.  This is all in my head.  I think that sums up pretty much everything.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Biting the bullet

Still waiting for my juice.  Maybe not going to the gym tonight?  Sigh.

Thrilled that drinking nothing but juice for a week means that I have my kitchen clean now and it will stay that way all week.

So, since I don't need to clean or cook, I'm spending my time surfing the internet.  Have researched a bunch of other juice cleanses and have decided that BPC is actually quite reasonably priced.

Finally also signed up for a Team in Training info sessions.  I keep hearing the ads and getting the mailings, and I need something to convince me to actually take running seriously, so hopefully this is it.  I need more running and more good-doing in my life.

Waiting for my cleanse to begin

Currently at home, waiting for my Blueprint Cleanse juices to arrive.  I am excited, and also scared.  I've already set up an emergency stash of raw cashews in case I get super hungry at work.  I inconveniently scheduled this for a kind of busy work week, so we'll see how that goes.

Excited about:
  • Resetting my food expectations/taste buds/whatever
  • Eating really well for five days straight
Nervous for
  • Will I be hungry?
  • Am I going to lose muscle mass? I still want to work out during this, and I'm concerned there isn't enough protein
Overall, excited.  Realizing now that this is maybe overpriced, but at the same time, I think paying so much for this will ensure that I try to stick to it.  Just like my ridiculous Equinox membership means that I hope this juice shows up sooner rather than later so I can get to the gym!  I am a big proponent in paying for quality.  However, I did make one wise choice and made my own raw brownie for my final chocolate thing, rather than going for the $13 brownie sundae at KindKreme.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


So I'm doing a juice cleanse next week.  I know I've judged them in the past, but s time has gone on, I've gotten curious, and now I'm just going to try one. 

I am a bit scared.  It seems like a lot.  Also they advised you go vegan starting three days beforehand, and I did.  Mostly.  Until one of my friends texted to come over and drink and I brought Brie and then we decided that wasn't enough and ordered Chinese.  Oops. 

Shall see how it goes.

Friday, October 7, 2011

What a day

Trail mix

Workout:  Bar Method

Raw brownie

Workout:  Yoga

Vegan thai noodles
Spring rolls

Run:  6 miles

Trader Joe's Sea Salt Turbinado Sugar chocolate covered almonds
Half a green smoothie
Glass of wine

Now:  Going out

Should I be refueling better?  Probably.  Ah well.

Juice cleanse starting Monday/Tuesday depending on when they arrive.  We shall see.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


I was going to start my cleanse today, and then I got a dinner invitation from a friend to a restaurant I've been dying to try, so I decided that tomorrow would work, too.
This week:  going vegan, and giving up coffee/alcohol/processed foods.  The toughest one is going to be alcohol, as it's awkward to go to social stuff and not be drinking.  We'll see.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

week in review

The vegan transition did not go as amazingly as hoped.  Mostly because a dinner with friends on Tuesday resulted in mac and cheese, a burger, and wings, but they were all totally worth it. 

Injuries seem to have abated, perhaps because work craziness has forced me to take some unintended rest days.  I have a workout heavy weekend (Bar Method, yoga, hiking, all on Saturday) planned, so we'll see how that turns out.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I know I've said I don't believe in cleanses.  But for some mostly emotional reasons, I'm going to try one.
Week 1:  Ease into veganism.  I am making real cheesecake tonight and I will eat it.
Week 2:  Actual veganism.  Also cutting out alcohol, coffee, diet coke, etc.
Week 3:  Raw vegan.
Week 4:  All liquids.  If I successfully make it through the preceding three weeks and break a bad habit or two along the way, I'm treating myself to one of those juice cleanses where they deliver to your door.

If I make it through all four weeks, I am finally redecorating my bedroom.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Outdoor yoga


I get all jealous of these New Yorkers and their Central Park things, so when there was a Salutation Nation event in my (smaller and inferior and usually full of homeless drug addicts) central park, I went. 

The weather was perfect - cool and a little overcast.  The class started out with a longer than usual (the instructor actually teaches at my gym so I'm familiar with his usual class style) meditation, which was really nice.  We then went through four different Sun Salutation sequences, and then threw in a few trees, eagles, backbends, and twists for good measure.  The pace was somehow both stimulating and relaxing and was exactly what I needed on a Saturday morning.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Injuries seem to have abated, for now.  Trying to get back in the swing of things despite hellish work hours.

Tomorrow I'm trying a running group.  We'll see how it goes.  Afterward if I'm not too exhausted, there's a free outdoor yoga class in the park that's two blocks from me, so I'm going to give that a try.

...and then I'm driving to the desert for an Oktoberfest, so I am making no exercise commitments for the rest of the weekend.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


It is probably for the best that I am the only one that ever reads this blog.  If you're somehow not me, I know this is supposed to be all health/fitness/food related, but please excuse me for a self-indulgent rant about my life.

That whole thing about magic internet fairies making things happen for me?  Well, it worked.  Kind of.  I guess I need to be more specific.
I am only interested in getting my ex back if he's willing to realize that I am a human being with thoughts and feelings who wants to be someone's partner, not someone who can be fit into one's life only when it's convenient. 
I want work I'm actually excited about with people I'm excited to work with.  Preferably in New York.  In fact, definitely in New York (there is probably a reason I almost exclusively read fitness blogs based in NYC).

Internet fairy rant complete.  On the health side, things have been going okay, physically.  I'm mostly over last week's back weirdness, and despite not really monitoring what I've been eating, my weight has stayed reasonable.

And then there's mental health, which I think a lot of people forget is something we need to take care of along with the physical.  I have not been doing great with that.  I cancelled my appointment with my therapist this week, and that could not have come at a worse time.  I'm...actually looking forward to going next Tuesday. 
Fortunately, this morning I realized that a lot of my grumpiness and body issues can be attributed to the fact that it's been way too long since I've been to yoga.  Went this morning and felt way better.

I've been in a not great place mentally for a few months now, and it's never fun, and it's even less fun because it's easy to forget that I've been in places like this before, because as soon as things get good again, you just forget all the bad stuff ever happened.  I feel like I'm beating myself up over perceived mental weakness now, but I forget that a year and a half ago I was having mild panic attacks all the time.  And I got through it, sans medication or professional help, though looking back on it, the latter might have helped. 
So all of this seems bad.  But I will make it through.  I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


It has not been the best 24 hours. 
It all started last night prior to yoga.  My lower back had been bugging me a little all day, so I was trying to stretch before yoga...and ended up overstretching something in my back, right above my left hip.  Yoga did not help.  I hoped it would go away overnight; it did not; I went to Bar Method this morning anyway and some of it was fine, some of it was not.  I am currently icing, going to invest in some heating pads this afternoon, and have accepted that I may have to actually take a rest day at some point this weekend.  It is really frustrating.  I don't want to do it.  I'm going to try yoga tomorrow morning and hope that maybe it helps.
It also did not help that right after Bar Method, as I was pulling out of my parking space, a crazy lady decided to plow into me and then be a complete jerk about it.  It has not helped my stress level or my back pain.
As a result, I have been stress eating like crazy.  I am...weirdly okay with this as it is something I now do rarely, instead of on a daily basis.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


I just had what has to be the most definitively satisfying breakfast I've had in awhile.  Okay, except for the chorizo benedict (yes, be jealous, it was incredible) that I had in Reno last weekend.  Worth the 8 hour drive just for the food.  So I had the most satisfying breakfast I've made for myself in awhile.
If you can get past my terrible photography skills, you might be like, um, that looks like an omelet and I thought you were all about veganism.  You would be correct.  I was
And then on a whim I got Real Food out of the library.  I am only like two chapters in so I should probably finish it before coming to definitive conclusions, but even in the first few chapters, the author makes a pretty good argument that meat and dairy are not the enemy, processed food is.  And I will be the first to admit that while vegan, I'm thrilled when there's something gross and processed (hello, Oreos!) that I can eat, and I will.  I started reading the ingredient list on my almond milk this morning and I was like, hm, that's all a bit scary.  I put it in my smoothie anyway because I'm a big believer in not wasting food, but it's doubtful I'll be buying more.
Ultimately, I'm a believer in the fact that no book can tell you want to do and that you should figure out what works for you and your body.  I know I've generally felt better while vegan, but that may have a lot to do with the fact that I'm eating more fruits and vegetables, not necessarily that I'm not eating meat.  Veganism also works for me because dairy tends to be one of those foods I wildly overindulge in (hello, my friend cheese), and there are certain things, like coconut milk ice cream, that I prefer to the dairy version as they seem to have some redeeming nutritional qualities.  Also, I am terrible at cooking most meat, and I really don't much care for chicken in any recipe where it's not slathered with cheese and/or cream sauce.  Also, I have not looked recently, but I'm pretty sure all this organic grass fed business is going to be expensive.  So where does that leave me?  I think I'm going to stick to cooking mostly vegan protein for myself, but when I really want it, I'll be adding back in organic/free range/hand massaged/whatever meats, and eggs and butter (organic, I suppose) are going to start finding themselves being regulars in my fridge again.  I'm also going to try and cut out pretty much anything that comes in a box; if the ingredient list has more than five things on it or I can't pronounce any of them, it's not going in my shopping cart.
So, back to breakfast.  Inspired by the book and the fact that I actually have eggs and cheese in my fridge, I decided to make eggs.  They were originally going to be scrambled, but they poured so nicely into the pan that I thought I'd try for omelet territory.  It went...better than usual for me.  I also made my usual raspberry mocha smoothie because I had coffee in the fridge that I didn't drink yesterday, and because there wasn't actually as many scary ingredients in my protein powder as I thought there might be. 
And then I did something really weird.  I usually hate eating alone, probably because we are from childhood eating most of our meals either with family or in a group at school (at least I was; we were a sit at the table family; food was never eaten in front of the tv).  As I live alone (and even when I had a roommate, we never at the same thing or at the same time), I usually compensate for my alone-ness by doing something on the computer or watching TV while eating.  At the library, I also got out Naturally Thin (had some useful insights so it's vaguely worth reading but definitely don't spend money on it), and there's a lot in there about mindful eating and really enjoying your food.  So today, I sat down at my recently decluttered kitchen table, and for ten minutes, I just sat and ate and focused on my food.  And it was delicious.  In general, I'm not much of a cook, so this was surprising.  Maybe it's just that I haven't had one in awhile, but the omelet was perfect and light and fluffy and the combination of the eggs with herbs and the melted cheese was just, wow, for something that took me all of five minutes to make.  And thus, I realized that there really is no excuse for Lean Cuisine to be a part of my life anymore. 
Totally perfect breakfast.  450 calories (550 if you count the banana I had before spin).  I realize the one part of my whole food thing I need to get over next is the calorie counting compulsion, but as a former Weight Watcher, I feel like I need to have numbers somewhere in my life to keep things under control.  But it's something I think I'm going to try and work on.
Wow this was long.  Moral of the story:  Eggs good, convenience food bad!  And now, to Bar Method.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Long run fail

So I slept terribly last night.  Maybe it was the wine.  Maybe it was the cat meowing and coughing up hairballs all night.  Maybe it was nerves for the run.
I managed to get up on time and made it to meet J...and we only ended up running about two miles.  We did the whole 3.1 mile loop twice; we just walked the vast majority of it.  This (I am telling myself) was as a concession to J, who isn't in as good of shape as I am, and who doesn't mind walking part of the half marathon.  My goal is to run it all, which means I need to run with her for fewer of my runs, or add an extra run to my schedule.  Obviously I'm going to have to start doing my long run on my own if I ever want to build up any endurance, and I'm playing with the idea of adding something short but fast one day a week on my own.  Le sigh.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Things are looking up for ol' Liz Lemon

Today was I think what they call a game changer.  Two days ago, I was complaining of epic boredom in my life.  So of course, yesterday, as I was bailing on work in favor of Bar Method after a terrible afternoon, I ran into a coworker who pulled me into his office to tell me he'd found me a new work assignment.  I thought it wasn't a big deal.
Turns out, it is, I'm switching projects and bosses and buildings and it's all happening really fast and I'm incredibly excited but really nervous about having actual responsibility at work for the first time in awhile.  I'm also going on my first "long" (five miles, whatever, I'm a beginner) tomorrow morning, so I guess suddenly "it's all happening!"  (Goal: Work as many 30 Rock quotes into this post as possible.) 
So in celebration of work and to carb load for my long run (yes, I know you don't have to carb load for five miles, but it's the first time I've done it and I felt it warranted something), I made pasta carbonara (yes, I know this isn't vegan) and I may have had a smidge more red wine than is strictly necessary.  We shall reassess how this feels in the morning. 
So, things are going well.  And, based on the fact that in my experience, realizing your problems on the Internet helps them resolve themselves, I will point out to the magic Internet Fairies that work and workout life are on the up and up for me, so if they could maybe just also make my ex realize that I am fantastic, or send a better new boy my way ( please not the one that hit on me at work today, please, please no), that would be much appreciated.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

In a rut

So before this evening's yoga class, my friend C and I were trying to figure out why this month has been so miserable at work, and we realized it's because we're wildly bored.  Nothing new or exciting is happening, so everything feels like a slog.  And I realized that's true of my life, as well.  There's no drama with any of my friends, my love life is a dud, and even my workout routine is getting repetitive.  I realized that this is why I'm so excited about running.  Finally, something new and exciting that I've never really done before. 

So for now, running's my thing for attempting to create at least some drama in my life.  It's either that or make out with somebody's boyfriend, which historically, has never worked out well for me.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Schedule for the week

(mostly for my own benefit)
Monday:  Run with J, yoga
Tuesday:  Bar Method, low key cardio, yoga
Wednesday:  Bar Method, yoga
Thursday:  Treadmill run, yoga
Friday:  Bar method, yoga
Saturday:  Yoga in the park?  Bar method?  Run?
Sunday:  Run (if not on Saturday), pilates? Yoga? Spinning if not running?


Running, day 3

Went on my third official run of half marathon preparation today.  It was more of a walk/jog as I went with my training buddy J, and she's still working on getting into shape.  Also, I insisted on going at 5 so as to make it to yoga at 6:30, so it was still stupidly hot out.  While today wasn't super helpful for endurance, it did feel good to get out and the three miles went by really quickly.  Going to try Thursday's run on a treadmill so I can set a faster pace. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Just did a loop of the Rose Bowl (3.1 miles) in 32 minutes.  This is 10:20, which is faster than the 11:30 I've been running on the treadmill.  Yay!  It is also my first outdoor run in about six months, so double yay. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Training buddy: Acquired

So I guess I'm going to have to get serious about this running thing.  I think I've picked and event that's 12 weeks away, so I'm going to have to sort of commit to some sort of training plan (she said in the most noncommittally phrased sentence ever). 
But this will be easier as I have found a running buddy!  My friend who talked me into running in the first place is fabulous, but he ran the LA marathon this year with the intent of qualifying for Boston, and he probably would have, had he not gotten injured during the last few miles of the race.  Seeing as my current idea of 'fast' is a ten minute mile, he and I are not going to be in the same league, running-wise.  Fortunately, I remembered that another friend had mentioned she was maybe going to train for a half in the fall, so we're going to try and start running together twice a week.  I'm excited to have a buddy and because I've never actually run by myself outside, so this feels both more companionable and safer? 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


So I was going to write this wildly self congratulatory post this morning about how instead of dealing with my angst yesterday in my usual fashion (diving headfirst into a brownie sundae and a bottle of wine), I just worked out and ate vegan things and was very reasonable.  This was all well and good until work got stressful this morning, which meant me and two coworkers spent lunch diving headfirst into piles of pastrami and a pitcher of beer.  I am doing well so far at not chastising myself for this.  The good thing about voluntary veganism is that it isn't actually the end of the world when it becomes very important to consume the garlic mayonnaise that comes with the french fries, because it is delicious.  I am also not beating myself up over spending a leisurely hour on the elliptical instead of going to yoga, because I just wasn't feeling it tonight.  This whole 'listening to my body' thing.  I think I'm getting better at it.

More on boys (or lackthereof) and running

I'll be honest, I've never been a runner.  In elementary school, I dreaded the Presidential Fitness Test because it meant I'd be stuck, yet again, running a mile and finishing dead last.  I ran track for a year in middle school because all my friends were doing it, but the team was something of a joke, and I finished last in pretty much ever race I ran.  I played field hockey goalie for two seasons in high school despite constant threats to my life (a bunch of preppy girls running around in skirts doesn't sound scary, but talk to me after you've had a few balls hit you in the head) because it involved not having to run up and down the field all the time. 
The only time running has ever seemed like a good idea to me was when I've been going through boy issues. Right after high school ended, I remember doing a few solid days of running to try and clear my head about one particular guy, but the midwest summer humidity kicked in pretty shortly thereafter, and that was the end of that.
The summer after sophomore of college, I went on a general fitness kick trying to forget a particularly painful breakup.  This involved three days of running that felt amazing, and then funny things started happening to my knee, and that was the end of that.  Fast forward about six months to me being in England, studying abroad, and still not being over that boy, and getting really into running for the first time ever.  As in, I ran consistently for probably about a month, loved it, and then exams happened and that was the end of that.
Fast forward to now.  I have some weird feelings about this particular breakup as it relates to running, but I'm trying not to let those get in my way.  I've needed something new and different, something I can set a goal with, and running feels like that.  I know it's wildly premature, but I feel like this could be the breakup that really turns me into a runner.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A new beginning

I'll be honest, today did not start out looking like a promising day.  It's a Monday, I got slammed with a lot of tedious stuff at work, and it happens to be what would be our two year anniversary had I not broken up with my ex four months ago, which I thought would make me happier, but so far has not.  So, in general, I was not enthused about life.
My one beacon of excitement was this whole idea of training for a half marathon.  I procrastinated at work by looking at training plans and found a few that seem doable (okay, I found two at work, but can only find one of them again now. Sigh).  My original goal for this evening was to do two miles, as I have not run really in a long time, but as the day wore on and got worse, I thought maybe I could do four miles with some sort of walk break in between.
Of course, I got home from work and the couch and the cat called to me and suggested that maybe I didn't have to go for a run.  That maybe I should sit at home and wallow instead.  It was tempting, but I managed to get going an hour later than my original planned workout time.  I was still not excited.  And then I started running.
It. Was.  Magical.  Like I said, I haven't been running a lot, so I expected it to feel terrible.  It did not.  It felt great.  There were a few minor aches and twinges that subsided as I kept going.  I made it through both two mile segments pretty easily, and did five miles in the 60 minutes I was on the treadmill, which I know is not amazing, but when you haven't actually run four miles at one time ever, it felt huge.
So, at the moment, I am wildly excited about running and completely infatuated with this half marathon concept.  Maybe like all new crushes it will fade and disappoint me, but for now, I'm going to bask in the glow of this newfound love interest :)

New workout plan?

So for the past few weeks, I've been trying to consistently do Bar Method in the morning, and yoga at night, with maybe some cardio beforehand to warm up.  The cardio rarely happens.  I'm starting to realize that maybe this is not getting me the results I want - I definitely feel like I'm toning up, but based on my near death experience in spin class and some wise advice from one of the yoga teachers about how she used to just do yoga and felt great but "would get winded running to the bus" I think it's time to step up my cardio routine.  My new (insane) plan is to do five sessions per week of Bar Method, yoga, and cardio.  Given I work out in the morning and evening anyway, this is 15 workouts to fit into 14 time slots, which just means I need to triple up on one weekend day.  It seems doable, but am I nuts? 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Current obsessions

Things I'm obsessed with right now (besides recurring players Bar Method, veganism, and dessert):
Morning protein smoothie

I will give you, it is not much to look at in this picture.  But it is delicious.
10 oz coffee (cold, I brew it the night before and stick it in the fridge)
4 oz almond milk
1/2 c frozen raspberries
1/4 c Trader Joe's Chocolate Hemp Protein Powder

Throw in blender, blend, consume.  It tastes much like my formerly beloved Raspberry Mocha Frappucino, except that this is way better for me, lower in calories, and also tastes better.  Magic!

Avocado Toast

I love this.  Some people think it is gross.  Whatever to those people.

Garlic salt

Toast bread.  Smear with avocado.  Sprinkle with garlic salt.  Consume. 

The concept of running

Aside from a jog before yoga last week, I have not seriously run in awhile.  But I am liking the idea of it.  Had brunch with a friend this morning who ran the LA marathon this year and he's going to make me a training schedule for doing some sort of half marathon in the fall.  I am excited.  We'll see how far I get before I get lazy and/or my knees give out.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

On nonbelievers in veganism

I have in the past expressed my skepticism about veganism.  It's still not something I would want to do all the time permanently forever, because, fact, I love me a bacon cheeseburger sometimes.  BUT.  In my day to day life, I really, really am loving veganism, and this is very much because of how much better I feel, not any ethical whateverness.  It is also because my scale at one point this week read 135, which is the lowest it has been in awhile, and was confirmed by the scale at my gym.  Woo!

Anyway, (and I'm sure and sorry that I've been one of these people in the past), there's a lot of people that get really personally offended when I mention I'm doing veganism.  It happened when I did it for Lent, and it's happening again now, and honestly, it's really irksome.  Like, why is it your problem that I'm not eating cheese?  I'm not asking you to not eat cheese, and I'm not doing it forever.  I generally try not to be too annoying when people are picking restaurants and whatnot.  When I was dating someone and vegan, I made a point of making my own food so I wasn't an inconvenience to him, and yet it still seemed to bother him.  Bleh.
I think the worst was when I told a good friend that I highly recommended it and she told me that I was crazy and that really, if I was going to say stuff like that, she should stop being my friend.  This girl has been having stomach issues and is trying to lose weight, and I was merely trying to suggest something that, in my experience, can work wonders and miracles for both of those things.  Fine.  Suit yourself.  Be bloated and fat, it's not really my problem.

First Spin class

Spinning has always looked so scary to me.  That, and it seems like one of those fitnessy buzzwords that makes you sound really sporty regardless of whether you are or not "Oh, I have to get up early for spin."  Bleh.  The people, in their bike shorts and their clacky shoes, drenched in sweat while instructors shout at them.  No thank you.  But my cardio routine has been lacking of late, and one of my friends wanted to try it, so I bit the bullet and went.

On the plus side, the instructor was super helpful with setting up bikes, and wasn't too crazy with the yelling during class.  On the minus side, I was concerned I might die.  On the also minus side, spin bikes are not really built for people who are 5'11".  I'm still worried I freaked out my back from leaning over so far to get to the handlebars.  The other thing is that I've heard spin is this calorie torching wonder, but my console said I only burned 140 calories for the class.  I will give you that I was not pushing it crazy hard, but for the amount I was sweating/breathing heavily/etc, I was burning way more than that. 
Overall, meh.  But as I have learned, one should try everything twice, so I'll probably be going back.  Just not this week.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Veganism FTW!

After a long, tiring, junk food and drink filled but totally fun birthday weekend in Vegas, it's time for a change.  I'm a quarter century old now, so it's time to start acting like it, or something.
Anyway, the day we drove back, I had a Jack in the Box breakfast burrito (gross), ice cream, and popcorn as the foods I ate all day.  Needless to say, I felt terrible afterwards.  And thus, I decided I'm doing at least a week of strict veganism to get myself back on track.  So far, it is feeling great.  Workouts are going well, I feel better physically, and I don't feel guilty if I eat a lot since I know that everything I'm putting in my body is substantial and nourishing.

Recap for the day:
~40 min on the treadmill
~75 minutes of yoga, tough class but felt soooooo good!

Oatmeal with almond milk (never again) and blueberries (300)
Banana (100)

Salad with spinach, arugula, chickpeas, grape tomatoes, balsamic vinegar (200?)
Red pepper strips (50?)

Otter pops! (160)
Fiber One bar (140)
Trail mix (170)

Two black bean fajitas with avocado (600)

Monday, July 25, 2011


In other news, I've invested in some exciting new workout gear.  These pants (black) and this top (pink) with a gift card I got for referring a friend to Equinox, and these shorts (pink, I've been eying them forever) and these capris (mostly to get the free shipping) from the Athleta sale.  Yay!

Am I supposed to be training for something?

So I've gotten down to a workout schedule I like, nay, love.  I'm doing Bar Method in the mornings and yoga in the evenings.  This week is kind of weird as it's my birthday so I'm in Vegas for the weekend, and thus OD-ing on Bar Method while I can, but in general, it's 5x Bar Method and 5x yoga per week, the off days of each on different days, and some cardio on the days I don't do Bar.  It's glorious.
But, during yoga today, the instructor was talking about how she used to just do yoga but would get out of breath running to the bus.  At Bar, they've been emphasizing anaerobic stuff.  I sense I should be getting some real cardio in here somewhere.
My problem is that I currently don't have a fitness goal aside from "look hot."  And I know that that's like, the number one bad reason for being really into fitness. 
Aside from now, the most athletic period of my life was when I was rowing in England, because I was actively training for something.  Currently, my location is too far from actual water to permit rowing being anything I can do on a regular basis.
This leaves swimming (hate it), biking (too afraid of getting run over), and running.
Running and I have a complicated relationship.  I usually hate it.  Ever so often, I'll get super into it for a month or so, get better, and then abandon it for one reason or another.  I've watched several friends run marathons, and it seems like every fitness blog I read has people training for marathons. 
So why not me?  I know I could.  If I really committed to a training program, I think it would be extremely doable.  My concern is largely the effect on my body.  I've heard way too many knee/hip horror stories.  I have in the past been prone to knee issues while running.  And yet somehow, this feels like something I should be doing.  Who knows.  It's luring me in.  Slowly.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Food and other things

Yesterday ended in disaster, as the news of a friend's engagement led me and another friend to indulge in fast food and red wine.  Today:
Oatmeal with blueberries and fiber one (300 cal)
Margarita cupcakes a coworker brought in (disaster)
Veggies and black beans (200 cal)
Almonds (100 cal)
Pasta with pesto, spinach, and zucchini

Bar method felt great today.  Yoga was frustrating as I had not expected the room to be 10000 degrees.  Overall, decent day, health wise, minus the cupcake disaster.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Can't deal...

With two friends getting married the same weekend so it's time to throw myself even further into the working out.

Bar method (300 calories?)
Elliptical (500 calories)
Yoga (200 calories?)

Caramel corn (350 calories, don't judge, I'm stressed)
Oatmeal with blueberries, almond butter, fiber one (300 calories)

Smoothie (orange juice, banana, strawberry) (130 calories)
Leftover pizza (500 calories)
Cherries (100 calories)

Coconut water (100 calories)

Weight this am:  138.5

Friday, July 15, 2011

Severe addiction

I've worked out every day this week since Sunday.  Three of those days I've managed to work out twice a day (usually morning Bar Method and evening yoga). I'm loving it (and have been super cranky the few days I didn't work out first thing in the morning), but is it too much?
Amount of time I've spent exercising:
Sunday:  40 min
Monday:  180 min
Tuesday:  135 min
Wednesday:  135 min
Thursday:  60 min
Friday:  150 min

This is way over whatever new exercise guidelines they issued this week.  Then again, I had an absurd number of corn fritters while on vacation in Florida last week.

Monday, July 11, 2011

In short

Working out twice a day.  Loving yoga.  Getting better at Bar Method.  Feeling great.

Monday, June 27, 2011


So, I just signed up for the 30 day package at Bar Method.  I'm super excited, and a little scared.  Basically, I have a month to be bikini ready for a trip to Vegas, so I'd love to be in my best shape ever.  Coming next post:  my measurements now.  Hopefully, dramatic change over the next month!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Deadline determined

I've been having trouble figuring out how to motivate myself as I thought I didn't have any big events coming up.  And then it was pointed out to me that my birthday/a Vegas trip/college reunion are all coming up at the end of July, so there we go.  Am going to be in the best shape of my life for this.  How?

  • Getting sleep
  • Going vegan starting Monday
  • Doing an unlimited month of classes at bar method
  • More yoga
  • Drinking way, way less

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I'm not a cook.  I'm a baker.  This doesn't mean I can't cook, it's just not something that I consider myself particularly good at or that I actively seek to do.  As far as dinners go, I'm often happy to just throw something together from whatever's premade in the freezer.  Tonight was one of those rare nights on which I cooked.
Even though it's an eating week for me, apparently there's only so much junk food I can consume.  My body's started to crave health food.  I had a flash of inspiration during yoga - in the middle of some pose, I remembered that I had both spinach and polenta at home.  A few months ago, I had a fantastic polenta/mushroom dish at a restaurant that was supposed to be served with goat cheese, but it was during my vegan phase.  I thought it wouldn't be too difficult to recreate at home, so I stopped by the grocery store on my way home to pick up mushrooms, a can of tomatoes, and organic goat cheese (it was on sale).

So easy.  And so good!  All I did was cook the polenta according to the package, sauteed some spinach, and then separately sauteed some mushrooms and threw in the tomatoes.  Layer it all in a bowl with goat cheese and bam - delicious and healthy dinner in not too much time at all.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dual addictions

So I mentioned yesterday that I'm back to working out twice a day because I'm in dire need of the endorphin rush.  But I've realized it's not just the good feelings I'm addicted to.  I'm enjoy the pain.  At Bar Method, I'm able to embrace the shaking and power through.  The pain means I'm getting somewhere.  And tonight, in a really intense yoga class, instead of getting angry, I just breathed more and went deeper into the pose.  I'm not sure whether it's using physical pain to escape emotional issues or that I'm embracing new challenges, but whatever it is, I'm going with it.

Back to two a day

Sometimes, endorphins trump everything.  Right now is one of those times in my life.  I'm also in a class for work all this week, which means I'm only working 8 hours a day, and I actually have time to do things.  Like workout in the morning and in the evening so as to stay sane in the midst of everything else happening in my life. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Taking a break

So this blog was supposed to be about food and exercise. So for once, I'll make it that way.
Went to pilates and yoga at the gym tonight.  Having Cheez-its, a beer, and a brownie sundae for dinner.  Because I can.  And because I don't always have to be perfect.  I've been pretty hedonistic in a lot of aspects of my life lately, and I'm working on being okay with that.  I'm usually a planner, to the detriment of me enjoying the moment.  So I'm trying to work on that.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Eating weekend

Some (most) weekends I try to be healthy (ish) with the general exception of dinners.  This weekend, I'm throwing in the towel.  My sister's visiting and I have a lot of social stuff to go to, and I know I'll enjoy all of it more if I don't stress myself about food.
I started off pretty promisingly on Friday with shrimp tempura as part of my combo plate at the Japanese place I went to for lunch, and then stole someone else's cheese fries at the going away party I went to that evening.  After retrieving my sister from the airport, we went out for Mexican, and I had two bazillion calorie fruit margaritas, some of my sister's chimichangas, and my own plate of tamales, rice, and beans.  Yum.
The downside of this is that waking up this morning, I am not hungry at all and feeling super bloated from all the salt.  And I have a pool party to go to on Sunday, but at least the plan prior to that is to go to vegan brunch, so hopefully that will help a little.  That, and a weather forecast which calls for a lot of covering up and not so much swimming.

Pushing through

I experienced a weird phenomenon on Wednesday.  I really, really did not want to work out.  Wednesday evenings are usually one of my favorite workouts; it's an hour of pilates and an hour of yoga taught by my two favorite instructors at the gym.  I'd gotten into work early enough that I was able to leave early enough for class without feeling guilty.  I had my awesome new leggings to wear. 
And yet.  I guess I was just tired from work, or stressed out by some weird life stuff, or something, because I found myself checking the clock every five minutes in pilates, and wondering if I could even make myself stick around for yoga afterward.  I did, because I really do like the instructor and she's rarely there, but even in that class I found myself literally counting the seconds in my head when I couldn't see the clock. I thought about walking out.  I'm glad I didn't, but even that didn't really give me the sense of accomplishment I thought I'd have after class.  I'm glad I pushed through, but I'm more interested in discovering the source of my lack of motivation and getting myself back into a mental place where I'm excited about the gym.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Why am I doing this?

So, the past few weeks I've been on a mildly successful regimen to eat less, and a moderately successful regimen to work out twice a day.  This has been largely based on my constant need for endorphins, but also my desire to achieve a better body.  I've definitely had my moments of "why am I doing this?  I look pretty good as is.  Is it really worth spending hours and hours of my time when I could be doing other things so that I can fit into one size smaller in pants, or be slightly more toned?"  I don't need to lose weight.  And yet I feel compelled to.  And then I read this article over on The Gloss, and realized how totally annoying it must be when my favorite topics of conversation are how much salad I've eaten, or how I've lost half a pound.  So I'm going to consider scaling back.  No more 90 minute mediocre sessions on the elliptical for no reason.  No more losing sleep just to get a second workout in.  Just making an honest effort to be happy and healthy.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Second chances

Having correct first impressions of things is not something I'm great at, in life or in workouts.  We won't get into the life aspect right now, but let's talk about the workouts.
I went to the Tuesday night yoga class at my gym this week, which I'd written off after going once, months ago, and hating it.  And, of course, this week I loved it.  I need to remind myself that one slightly painful class does not mean I should write something off entirely.
I also went to Bar Method twice this week, and I'm now officially in love with it, despite hating it my very first class.
And, this morning, I went to a Bikini Body class at my gym that left me unable to walk for two days after the first time I went, and was subsequently scared off for months, but now it's one of my favorite classes at the gym.
Moral of the story: the classes that scare you the most are probably the ones you should go back to.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Plan for the week

I have a lot I need to recap, but first plans for next week.

Sunday:  Bikini Body; evening yoga
Monday:  morning cardio, evening yoga
Tuesday:  morning cardio, evening Bar Method or Cardio Barre
Wednesday:  morning cardio, evening pilates/yoga
Thursday:  morning yoga, evening something
Friday:  afternoon yoga, probably something else
Saturday:  pilates, aerial ballet?

Also I finally bought myself these: .  So. Excited!

Monday, May 9, 2011


Finally have internet again.  Woo!
60 min Pilates
75 min Vinyasa Yoga

Breakfast - 3 slices of toast with Earth Balance, two clementines
Snack - 4 of the random cookies someone brought in (bad)
Late lunch - hot dog, and a serving of baked beans
Snack - banana
Dinner - spinach salad with tomatoes and chickpeas

Overall, okay.  I think.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good and bad

So obviously I have not kept up with posting, due to a horrifying lack of internet in my new apartment.

The good news is I have been working out a lot. Maybe too much.  I have lost 3ish pounds.

The bad news is I have been eating really weirdly, due to lack of time/desire to cook.  Also have been drinking way too much.  This week I have had exactly one beer since Sunday, so this is progress.

Did a bar method class this morning (just purchased a 5 pack from yelp), and I'm planning on getting a membership for at least a month once those five classes are used.

Other than that, my life is sort of a disaster right now so it's nice that I have exercise to throw a little sanity into the mix.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sometimes it just feels better to give in

So I drank probably more than I should have last night.  Which led to me having a sausage, egg, and cheese McGriddle this morning.  And, like missing workouts, I'm not going to beat myself up over it.  It was delicious and totally worth it.  I'm going to rise like a phoenix from the ashes/gross wrappers that have calorie counts written on them.

This week, I'm going to try logging all my meals/workouts here.  We'll see how it goes.

Hash Brown
Orange juice

Friday, April 8, 2011

Oops again

So I cheated on veganism big time - I moved apartments today and needed to order pizza for my hungry helpers, and I wasn't going to sit there and make a salad while they chowed sue me. 
I did make it to yoga for the first time all week and it felt amazing.
And now to finish off (some of) the last of the moving.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


So remember back when I thought I was totally done with emotional eating?  Turns out my emotions just weren't emo-y enough.
I am super stressed right now.  Work is going through layoffs, I'm moving, going through a breakup, and my good friend/office mate is trying to start an affair with a married guy.  So, the past two nights my feelings have tasted like a large bag of pretzel M&Ms.  Tonight they were supposed to taste like other things, but the only things I could find at the grocery store that seemed remotely appealing were some mustard and onion pretzels and dark chocolate Raisinettes.  Needless to say I feel a little ill right now.  Going to finish the day with a salad and start tomorrow morning with yoga and hope that helps.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Everything in moderation

I'm doing better today, I think.  In most aspects of life.  No diet coke, just green tea, so there's a chance I might sleep before midnight tonight.  Went to pilates; skipped yoga because the usual instructor is on vacation.  It's my third day in a row of no yoga, but I'm finally having a  yogic philosophy about not going - it's okay that I didn't stay, I have a lot of other things to do, and it'll make it easier to go tomorrow morning.
I know being able to relax and forgive myself is key to any diet/fitness routine, but it's one of the aspects I'm worst at.  I'm very all or nothing, and very unforgiving.  Those things apply not just to workouts, but to life, and I think I need to work on that in both areas.

Shockingly profound for a night I didn't meditate.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

In transition

It has been a rough month for me.  I've been going through breakups with both a roommate and a boyfriend.  The general situation at work is a mess; they're going through massive layoffs.
I thought all this would make me more motivated in my health/fitness life.  This has not happened.  There's been too much drinking, not enough sleeping, not enough working out.  Some of this is the fact that I'm moving and there's just not time.  And some of this is...that maybe I'm just not a motivated person?  I thought being single I'd have more time to do all these workout things I wanted to do, but this has not happened.  I cheated big time on veganism with a chorizo burrito after a terrible night out on Saturday.  I. Am. A. Mess.
Goals for the week:
More than 6 hours of sleep/night (this is as much as seems realistic, honestly)
At least one workout per day (did not happen today; slept through yoga)
Actually track WW points (which includes all the pretzel M&Ms I just ate.  Good grief.)

Gym classes I should go to:
Wed -  PM Pilates, Yoga
Thur - AM Yoga
Fri - early AM yoga before official furniture moving?
Sat - early AM yoga
Sun - Bikini body?  Yoga

So, so disappointed in myself right now.  On so many levels.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Yoga is magic

I've been leery of exercise recently.  I think I slept on my neck funny last week, which is still causing residual back/shoulder problems, and the bottom of my right foot sort of hurts whenever I walk on it for too long.  I'm definitely giving up high impact anything for awhile.  I haven't been working out nearly as much as I've wanted to, which is a disappointment.
Not disappointing, on the other hand, is yoga.  It. Has. Been. AMAZING.  I don't know what's different about this week from last, but the two classes I've gone to (one vinyasa bordering on Bikram, and one Ashtanga) were both pretty challenging, but also just felt completely enlightening and empowering on both a mental and physical level.  Maybe it's the vegan + yoga combo, maybe it's just where I am in life right now, but whatever it is, it's working.

Breaking up vegan

No, I'm not giving up on my veganism experiment already.  I'm talking about going through a breakup while vegan, which is not something I expected to have to do, but it's happening.
And maybe those of you who have never emotionally eaten are wondering what the big deal is, but I'm not going to lie - I've actually fantasized about all the foods I'd allow myself to eat in a fit of breakup induced self indulgence.  High on the list were brie, and anything from the Cheesecake Factory.  Things that are obviously now strictly off limits.
I thought about giving myself a pass and doing those things anyway, but then I thought about the message that would be sending myself.  That just because I was going through a tough time emotionally, it was okay to neglect myself physically?  That didn't seem right.  Nor did it seem right to renege on a goal due to some minor (or major? I think I'm still in denial) emotional distress.
So far, I've held out.  My biggest indulgences have been these amazing dark chocolate and salt covered almonds from Trader Joe's, and some avocado chocolate mousse.  Neither of which are great in the quantities in which I've been consuming them, but nor are they a 2000 calorie slice of cheesecake.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Where I'm coming from, part 2: Exercise

It's still weird that I'm (trying to) write a fitness blog.  Because 10 years ago, I was the skinniest couch potato you'd ever met.
As a kid, I was never into exercising.  I hated gym class.  During the summers, my mom would beg me to go outside and play, but I much preferred to stay in my room and read a book.  I had dreams of physical grandeur - every time I watched the olympics, I'd really want to be a gymnast or an ice skater; I briefly took classes in both to pretty much zero success.
In high school, we were required to play two seasons of sports.  I took up field hockey and lacrosse because I figured sports where you wore a skirt couldn't be that intense.  I spent four long years huffing and puffing and riding the JV bench.  It was moderately humiliating.
In college, I for some reason chose to play lacrosse (mostly the thrill of saying I was playing college lacrosse).  I went to a D3 school which was not known for its athleticism, so the fact that I'd held a lacrosse stick before was enough to get me on the team.  It was two more years of humiliating bench sitting for me.
Then, junior year of college, everything changed.  I was studying abroad in England, and decided to give rowing a try.  For some inexplicable reason, I was good at it, and I loved it.  I rowed for the first boat for my college (this is too confusing to really explain, so it basically means I rowed at a level between intramural and intercollegiate).  I wasn't the best on the team, but for the first time in my life, I wasn't the worst.
This changed when I tried to row back in the states; I sucked.  A lot, but I was up against girls who were 6' and weight 200lbs.  And as it was my senior year, I preferred staying out drinking to getting up at 4am for practice, so I ended up quitting the team after 2 months.  I dabbled in working out, but never seriously.
This trend continued after graduation; there was a gym in my apartment and  yoga and pilates classes at work, so I exercised, but never very seriously.  A year after graduation I got sent on an extended business trip for work, which wouldn't have stopped anything as there was a gym in the hotel, but I also started a new relationship, which meant the gym fell completely off my priority list.
Then, a year ago, I started having anxiety attacks, except I didn't know it at the time.  For me, this meant getting panicky and having chest pains and being terrified that I was going to have a heart attack, even though this was extremely unlikely, as I was 23 with no history of health problems.  I went to the doctor twice about the chest pains, had two EKGs come back fine, and after the second visit, the doctor looked at me and said "Exercise."  "But I don't have time."  "Make time."
So I  started making time.  It was almost magical how much exercise helped.  I was happier, more relaxed, my chest pains stopped.  But when I say 'more relaxed', this pretty much means I spent 70% of my day worrying about stuff instead of 90%.  I wanted more. 
Last September, I finally bit the bullet and joined a gym, and I don't think it's exaggerating too much to say it changed my life.  I started doing yoga and pilates on a regular basis in addition to cardio, and just those things have made a noticeable difference in my body, and have changed my attitude as well.  I've gotten up the nerve to try more challenging exercise classes, and even feel like one of these days I could really get into running.  Exercise no longer feels like punishment or a chore; it's something I actively seek to make a part of my every day life, which some days feels nothing short of miraculous.

Recap of the week

I've finally sort of survived a whole week of veganism.

The good:
made amazing vegan chickpea spinach curry thing
worked out every day
got 7+ hours of sleep a night
lifted weights twice
have gone to yoga 3 times, going again tonight

The bad:
nuts have a lot of calories
so does avocado

The ugly:
I did something hideous to my neck/shoulders.  I'm not sure if I slept on them funny Wednesday night or if it's delayed onset soreness from weights (I've been doing chest/arms/back), but I woke up Thursday morning and could barely move my head.  This almost scared me off going to morning yoga, but I went as I didn't think I could get back to sleep.  The yoga helped a lot, eleven hours at work did not.  I was hoping to wake up this morning and magically be better, but this has not happened.  More yoga this afternoon and tomorrow morning; I think I'm scheduling a massage for Sunday evening.  This could also just be karma for spending a lot of time making fun of my friend who just ran a marathon for the way she's hobbling around the office.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Veganism, day 4ish

So far the only of my goals I have stuck to is the sleep thing.  It has been good.
Veganism has sucked.  There's an article in Glamour this month about veganism being this new Hollywood super diet thing, Ellen lost 20 pounds, blah blah blah.  Veganism is not a diet for me.  Veganism is going to lead to me getting fat on shit I would never otherwise eat.  Juice? Check.  Nuts? Check.  Dried fruit?  Check.
My struggles with veganism are several.  I will list them for you.

  1. Salads take for-fucking-ever to eat.  Sometimes I just want to eat a grilled cheese sandwich in like, three bites and then have my hunger be satisfied.  But with salad as an entree, it's like 20 minutes later, you still have a giant pile of food in front of you that still contains like 10 calories and you're like, holy crap, how am I still eating? Isn't this over yet?
  2. Speaking of satisfaction, I do not get full eating vegan.  I just get different degrees of 'less hungry.'
  3. Thus far, vegan baking blows.
So why am I continuing?  Mostly because of that thing they said in Michael Cera vs some hotter Pilgrim vs. the World about the point of veganism being making you feel morally superior to other people.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Back at it, kind of

So today marks day two of normalish food/exercise routine.  Did my usual Saturday pilates, then went on a three hour hike.  Followed this up with a regrettable trip to a terrible vegan fast food restaurant.  I keep trying these places that do "normal" food that is vegan, but I find vegetables much better when they're trying to be vegetables, not a cheeseburger.

Starting over, yet again

So I've been negligent, both of this blog and my fitness/nutrition routine.  Work happened.  A visit from my parents.  A living situation meltdown.  A vacation to get away from it all that included poutine.  But now I'm back.  And ready to focus again.

I'm going vegan for Lent, but in addition to that, here's what I'm going to try and do:
  • seven hours of sleep a night.  No exceptions.  This trumps any sort of workout plans.
  • yoga once a day on the days I like the classes (which is everyday but Saturday)
  • 30 minutes of cardio per day
  • strength training at least one day per week
  • doing raw vegan on Fridays
  • minimal refined sugar and artificial sweeteners (sayonara, soda)
  • less than seven drinks per week (one/day average)
Does this sound like the complete opposite of everything I'm supposed to stand for?  Yes, but the food part is only til Easter, and I think it will be a healthy challenge for me to learn how to cook delicious things that don't involve butter or chz.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

No bake cookies!

I've had a little bit of skim milk leftover in my fridge from a cake I made last week, and have been trying to figure out how to use it up.  I've considered hot chocolate or a chocolate martini, but I've never quite had a hankering for either.  So, in the midst of a PMS-induced chocolate craving today, I had the strong need to make something, and realized that for once I had all the ingredients for no bake cookies in my kitchen (I rarely have milk).

We used to make these all the time in middle school when we were too lazy to actually bake.  I like this basic recipe, but I've jazzed mine up a little bit.

Almond Joy No Bake Cookies
1/2 cup skim milk
1 cup sugar
1/2ish cup butter (I had the better part of a stick in my fridge and threw it in without really measuring)
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp amaretto (optional)
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup Nutella (also in my pantry and needed to be used up)
3 cups of oats
1/2 cup ish of flaked coconut (I didn't measure, just sort of threw it in as I was mixing the rest)

Mix the milk, sugar, butter, and cocoa in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Stir until mixture starts to boil, then boil for 1 1/2 minutes.
Take the pot off the heat.  Add the extracts, amaretto if you're using it, the almond butter, and the Nutella.  Stir until everything is combined and the almond butter and Nutella have melted.  Then stir in the oats and coconut.
Scoop out whatever size cookies you want on to waxed paper (I kept mine smallish and got 44 out of the recipe).  Let cool.  When they're solidified, store in an airtight container.  Enjoy!

These could be healthier, but they're not terrible.  2 points plus per cookie if you make them as small as I did.
Chocolate craving: vanquished.  And now I have something to take to work tomorrow and eat instead of the Girl Scout cookies slowly invading the office.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Eating without judgment

So as the delayed onset headache from my weekend of drinking kicks in, I'm reflecting a bit on decisions made this weekend and how I could have improved.  I meant to go to yoga this morning, but felt like I would have thrown up had I gone, and I meant to go to a step class this evening, but the couch just seemed a nicer place.  On one hand this is good, as I feel I need to work on this concept of "rest days" I keep hearing about, and sometimes it's nice to be able to kick back and enjoy life.  On the other hand, if I were really forced to say whether I felt like the bad health decisions I made this weekend were worth it, the answer would be no.  I definitely could have eaten things I enjoyed more, drank a lot less beer, and spent more time at the gym and been much happier, but my boyfriend's best friend and his girlfriend were visiting from out of town, so there was a certain amount of obligation and being a good hostess and not going "Good grief, how are you still drinking?  Why aren't you passed out yet?"
And this brings me to the eating without judgment.  Of other people.  The friend that was in town is pretty much one of the most serious drinkers I've ever met.  I'm under the impression that a 6 pack a day is pretty standard for him (and we're talking serious IPAs, not Bud Light).  He plays a lot of soccer and so isn't suffering from serious beer gut syndrome or anything, but based on this weekend I would have to guess that 80% of the guy's caloric intake is from beer.  And that makes the virtuous annoying part of me want to be like "blerg, what's wrong with you?"  Ditto for anyone else I routinely see make bad food/drink/health choices.  It seems to be my instinct when I'm trying to be healthy to judge other people for not being healthy, and it's definitely not a good way to go about things.  And I'm definitely not the type to be like "Hey, let's all take a yoga class instead of drinking tonight!"  Also I wouldn't want to see a lot of the people I hang out with in yoga clothes anyway.  Maybe if I could make those gym friends that seem to elude me I'd have more people to hang out with in a health conscious way.

Holy fitness blogs, Batman!

So I tried a weight loss kick about two years ago, and did a random google search for "weight loss blogs."  At that point, I found nothing that was particularly inspiring.  Wow, has that changed.  Maybe I should have just searched "fitness blogs" two years ago and that would have led me to what I was looking for, but now I am completely and utterly overwhelmed by the number of really awesome, interesting, inspiring stories out there.  I definitely need to update my blog roll.
And I definitely need to focus more on fitness because this weekend was a beer fest.  I was going to say food fest, but the amount of food actually consumed feels pretty small, but the number of calories in IPA is pretty large.  And there was that bread pudding that I consumed basically by myself yesterday.  So yeah.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Gym friends?

It is a simple fact about me that I am not outgoing.  I am incredibly shy.  Once you get to know me and I like you, I will not shut up, but until then, I do not have a lot to say.  Consequently, it has always been a challenge for me to make friends in situations where it is not absolutely necessary to my survival (ie, school).  So, the gym is troubling to me.  In the locker room, I hear other women chatting away about their families and their hair stylists and their spin class, while I duck in and out of my locker and about my business.
Obviously these people met each other somehow, I just have no idea how to do it.  I go to classes, but talking before yoga never feels quite appropriate, and in most other classes, I'm too out of breath to even think about trying to make friends, let alone actually speak to anyone.  And now I've been going to my gym for almost six months and so I feel like I've passed the threshold for "hi, I'm new, tell me about [insert conversation topic here]" intros.  Suggestions?