Skinny girls look good in clothes...

...but fit girls look good naked.  

I read that quote somewhere on the internet this week and it totally hit me.  I'm talking like bag-full-of-bricks-to-my-brain hit me.  I realized that this phrase perfectly encapsulates my currently-forgotten fitness goals...I had just never put it together that way.  I really don't care how I look in clothes.  I like having nice clothes and know how to dress myself well, so wanting to be smaller to fit into smaller sizes really hasn't mattered to me.  I'm happy with the way I look...when I'm dressed.  And that's part of the reason I never stuck to my fitness goals before - wearing smaller clothes has never been what I wanted, but what I always thought I wanted.  It's usually what all overweight women want.  But to look good naked...that's equivalent to the holy grail, the four-leaf clover, the star on my Tootsie pop wrapper, the twenty dollars I had forgotten was in my winter coat pocket.  That's the thing I dream about at night because during the day I've been convinced it would never happen.  I felt it was never possible for me.  I honestly don't ever remember looking in the mirror with no clothes on and loving what I saw.  Being in a happy, supportive relationship for 5 years has erased the shame I used to feel about my body, but I've never liked it.  I felt that was never possible for me - I was a tubby toddler, a chunky child, and so on and so forth up to this day where I sit here at 213 pounds with a bag of pretzels open in front of me (it's like amateur hour over here...I know better!).  But I know, logically, in all parts of my mind, that it is possible for me to be happy with my body when it's naked.  It's possible for me to be happy, period, with no clothes on.  I mean, how much would this improve my life, if I were glad to take my clothes off?  How much better would I eat so I could maintain that happiness, how many more hours would I exercise so I could flaunt my birthday suit...how much more awesome would sexytime be if I weren't preoccupied with trying to keep my jiggly bits from flopping away in defiance?  This is something that definitely has to happen, and with a little effort and planning I can make it happen.  I've already got the gym membership, the rest is just work.  I know what to do.  And after all, you may not get what you wish for, but you will get what you work for.

So those are my thoughts for the day.  Hopefully next time I post I'll be a little smaller, a little lighter, and little more willing to wear a little less clothing.  On to what I've been up to this week!

Last weekend, my younger siblings came to visit me for four days.  Their visit was amazing, fun, and refreshing.  I have missed them so much.  I was sad to see them leave...but very happy to have my apartment back.

Ahmagawd they're so cute!

I love this little dude so much.

We even got to spend a day with my grandparents, who drove up from Kentucky!

I've also made some pretty delicious things this week.  For dinner a couple nights ago I made spiced yumminess:  veggies stir fried with (mostly) Indian spices, salmon simmered in curry sauce, and brown rice.

Green pepper, red pepper, and a jalapeno.  This is only about half of what I ended up cooking.

Carrots and a small red onion.

The spices I used: turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, ground coriander, 
cayenne pepper, black pepper, garam masala powder.  I just kind of threw a little bit of everything into the pan, and tasted and adjusted as I was cooking to get a flavor I liked.

Salmon filet.  I usually buy frozen salmon filets from the store because they're relatively cheap and easy to store until I'm ready to use them.

I am totally in love with the Seeds of Change line of products.  They're all amazing, and I loved this Madras sauce especially.  It wasn't blisteringly spicy, but had just enough kick to jazz up my dinner.

My spiced veggies in the pan.

I sauteed my salmon in some olive oil with black pepper and a little salt before simmering in the Madras sauce until the veggies were done cooking.

My plate.  I also made two servings of brown rice, and ended up taking half of the salmon off this plate to save with the other leftovers for lunch at work the next day.  This was AMAZING.  Didn't take that long, but I did manage to make almost every pan in my kitchen dirty.  Go me.

This morning I wanted some greek yogurt, but I don't like eating it straight without honey and I'm out, so I decided to make pancakes!  I used this Greek Yogurt Pancake recipe from Everyday Belle blog.  It came out great, and I added a few things to make it what I wanted.

1/2 C of flour.  When using all-purpose, I prefer unbleached.

1 tsp of baking soda.  I also use baking soda and apple cider vinegar to 
wash my hair these days...but that's another post.

6 oz. greek yogurt.  I used plain, 0% because that's what I had but you can use whatever you've got.  Also, this Omicca kitchen scale is the best thing that ever happened to me.  15 bucks on Amazon, it's easy to store because it's small but it can weigh out a lot.  It does g, kg, oz, and lb, plus it has a tare function.  I got it for Christmas a couple years ago.  Awesome.

1 egg white!

I mixed the flour and baking soda in my orange bowl, and mixed the egg white with the 
yogurt in my glass bowl, and then mixed the two together.

The batter is very thick!  

I added some vanilla and cinnamon.

I like making silver dollar pancakes, because then I get to eat more of them, and more is always better...right?  I found I had to spread these around to flatten them out so the middles would cook without the outsides burning.  I ended up adding blueberries to the batter after this. My heat was halfway between medium and medium-high...so medium-medium-high?  I used cooking spray.

Finished product!  I ended up with six little pancakes.  There are only four in this picture because I was still cooking one when I took this...and I ate one.  Couldn't resist!

I had two more during breakfast with a bit of butter and a splash of syrup.  I usually eat my pancakes with honey, but I was out.  I'm sure the rest of these tasties will be gone by the end of the day...or more likely the end of the hour.

Pancake pro tips:  Don't overmix the batter.  Little lumps are fine.  Turn them as soon as the edges begin to firm up and you see a few bubbles appear.  When you flip them, think of turning the bottom of the spatula away as opposed to turning the top over - this way you use less force and don't end up splattering the uncooked batter all over the pan and ruining your pancake!  The second side needs about half the time of the first side to cook all the way.  I like my pancakes a little underdone in the middle...leave it on longer if you like them toastier!  

Pancakes are one of my most favorite things in the world.  I have fond memories of making pancakes with my dad when I was a little girl after my parents were divorced.  I used to hover over the griddle, spatula at the ready to attack as soon as the bubbles popped up.  I ruined many a pancake for him...but he always ate them anyway.  I think about him every time I mix up some pancake batter.

Well, that's all I've got for now.  I'll be back soon...until then, go make some tasties!


Recent Tasties

Hallo!  I've been making some pretty tasty food lately, and I thought I would share a couple of healthy things I've made this week.

As you all know, I absolutely LOVE going to the grocery store.  I love seeing all this food ready to be taken home and eaten, and I love even more when I have a good amount of money and can get whatever I want.  This usually results in me going home with lots of junk - sugary cereals, cookies, huge blocks of cheese that I eat straight out of the package, etc.  I'm well aware of that habit, and so the last time I went grocery shopping I went with a list (recipes on one side of the page, ingredients on the other) and told myself I was only buying healthy food.  I came home with eggs, greek yogurt, kale, organic romaine lettuce, gold potatoes, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, mango, avocado, lemons, limes, bell peppers (green, red, and yellow), jalapenos, two huge jars of salsa, black beans...the list goes on.  I did get cheese, but only Mexican crumbling cheese that I'm not inclined to eat on its own, and sliced sandwich cheddar from the deli that I had sliced ultra thin so even if I eat two or three slices of it I'm not actually eating too much.  I've been doing my best to only eat at home (although I do admit to eating a lot of Taco Bell...it's cheap!) and as a result of this healthy eating I've definitely noticed a downward trend in my weight the last two weeks.  I've been putting on freshly-laundered jeans to find they fit the same way they used to after I had worn them for a week and stretched them out.  I haven't been getting any exercise...that I do need to work on.  But I guess my point here is that eating right is really the key thing for me.  I have felt so great these past couple of weeks - I have more energy, it's easy to get out of bed in the morning, my sugar cravings have been pretty much nonexistent even as TOM comes for me, and I haven't had much depression at all.  That's a pretty big deal for me, and at least a little proof that you can change your life by changing what you eat.

So, on to my two tasties!

I've realized that having leftovers in the fridge that I can easily turn into other things helps me a lot when I'm staring at the fridge with no idea what to make, ready to bolt to Taco Bell.  I love Mexican food and would happily eat it for every meal (and pretty much have been).  Last week I whipped up a solid ton of sofrito chicken to use in various Mexican-style meals.  Sofrito is a cooking base used often in Latin food, made of tomatoes, garlic, peppers, oil, scallions, and sazon (pronounced sah-ZONE, a Mexican spice mix found in the Latin aisle of your grocery store).  I absolutely adore Skinny Taste, a WW-friendly website with a solid ton of healthy recipes, many of them Latin-inspired.  I go to this site whenever I need something new or want a healthier version of an old favorite.  Gina, the lady who runs it, has a seriously amazing sofrito recipe that can be found here.  Note - I did not follow the Sofrito Chicken Stew recipe, just the directions for the sofrito that she lists first.  I put my sofrito in the blender and pureed it so I could simmer my chicken in it (I'm kind of an anti-chunk gal).  I made the amount of sofrito she makes in that stew recipe, and cooked just shy of two pounds of cubed chicken in a skillet and then simmered it in the sofrito, adding fresh cilantro from my cilantro plant at the end.  I shredded it up and used it in burrito bowls, quesadillas, and taquitos.  It was SO good, and so easy.  By the way, you can make a huge amount of sofrito and then freeze it to use later - a great way to use up leftover cilantro before it goes bad!

Here are some pictures of taquitos that I baked in the oven with my sofrito chicken:

In the taquitos I put my chicken, some sliced peppers and onions (I probably should have sauteed them first, I bet my taquitos wouldn't have exploded), black beans, and mexican crumbling cheese.  I sprayed the tops with cooking spray and baked at 400 degrees until the tops were crispy.  The bottoms were still a little soft, but they were still so good (perhaps the only downside of corn tortillas, they don't get crispy like flour ones do, but I prefer them anyway).  I ate them with some spicy habanero salsa I got from the store.  Divine.

My second tasty for this post is spinach smoothies!  I've been making these for breakfast.  I usually make enough to fill one old spaghetti sauce jar that I've repurposed into a water bottle (I knitted a cozy for it and keep it in my purse - awesome, and super cheap.  I'm not gonna spend 20 bucks on a plastic bottle if I can help it).  Three or four times a week I'll make a smoothie and hard boil two eggs and that's my breakfast.  It's quick, tasty, keeps me full for hours, and I get a couple servings of spinach that I wouldn't eat otherwise.  I can't think of a better breakfast.  My smoothie bases are always two huge handfuls of spinach, about half a cup of fat-free greek yogurt (mmm, probiotics), five or six ice cubes plus a splash of water if I need it, and then whatever fruit I have on hand.  If the spinach taste comes through too much I add a little honey.  Today, I made my smoothie with the above ingredients, plus about a cup of pineapple and a mango (mango not pictured).

That's my smoothie in the jar.  It was green today because the yellow pineapple and orange mango get overpowered by the green spinach, but I kind of love the color.  It's fun.  If you use berries (either fresh or frozen) the smoothie comes out purple - a great way to trick picky kids or hesitant boyfriends ;).  I don't really measure these ingredients out - I just kind of throw it in my blender and go, adding more of this or that if I feel like it.  I love using greek yogurt in these smoothies.  Sometimes the taste of the yogurt is too much for me to eat it straight, but it gives a nice tang to the smoothies that reminds of me of the smoothies I used to make at the ice cream parlor I worked at in high school.   Back then we made our smoothies with frozen yogurt and they were always tart, sweet, and delicious.  Honey helps mask the taste of the yogurt too.  I personally wouldn't use regular yogurt because it lacks the protein the greek yogurt has, but to each their own!  I love how you can change these up, using whatever fruit you have in the fridge.  They're a great way to use fruit that's starting to get too soft or spinach that's on its last leg of life.  I know if you use frozen bananas the smoothie gets a more milkshake-like consistency.  Just experiment and see what you like best - have fun with it!

I love my smoothies!

Om nom nom.

Got spinach?

Also, crappy webcam pictures for the win. I hope you guys try out these tasties!  Have a wonderful day!


Embracing the Process

Almost five months have passed since I last visited my blog, although I still check all of your guys's blogs every day.  I can't say that I've been up to much or that I've made big changes in the way I eat or anything else.  I still have two jobs (feeding fruit flies, working front desk at a hotel), I still struggle with finances, I still struggle with controlling my eating habits and food cravings, I still agonize over my future custody of my brother, I still forget to remind myself that I am worthy, and valued, and loved.  I still don't know what I want to do with myself (law school's out, master's in sustainable agriculture might be in), and I'm still frustrated that I don't have it all planned out.  I did join a gym at the budget-busting price of $40/month, and I still complain about it even though I know it's worth it.  And even though I have the membership, I still fail to make time for exercise in my sometimes chaotic, always exhausting 45-50 hour work week.  I still don't get enough sleep, still don't spend enough time with my boyfriend, and still wrestle with my impatient and impulsive nature.

But somehow, I find myself far happier with my life than I was last year or even at the time of my last post.  I've recently spent a lot of time reflecting on my emotional growth.  I told my boyfriend the other day that it's only in the past couple of years that my life has actually become about me and what I want instead of being about my family and what they need, want, and demand from me.  I have grown from a girl who was depressed, angry, emotionally abused, and who used to beg God to kill her in her sleep so she wouldn't have to deal with any of it again into a woman who is happy, confident, enthusiastic about her future and knows her worth.  That growth has taken me almost a decade, but I made it and I'm still growing.  Some days are much, much harder to get through than others but I can look back to where I've come from and console myself with the knowledge that it can only get better because I finally love myself - impulsiveness, insecurities, belly rolls and all.

To be honest, losing weight hardly ever occupies my thoughts anymore because I know it will eventually happen as a result of the process of emotional healing I've been going through over the past few years.  I know it will take time - every kind of change takes time.  During the process, I have to work on being kind to myself.  I may be tired and stressed, but I no longer call myself fat, lazy, or stupid.  I may be hungry and rushed, but I know a Taco Bell quesadilla will make me feel sluggish and bloated whereas a salad from that restaurant that uses local food will make me feel energized and proud of myself.  And even if there is a day where I choose Taco Bell over a salad, that doesn't make me a failure or a bad person.  At most, it makes me human.

For me, happiness is going to stem from finding joy in growth, from embracing the process of change.  And since it's always fun to end a blog post with a worn out cliche, I think we all need to remind ourselves from time to time that what's important isn't the destination - it's the journey.

With love, until we meet again,


Unlimited Groceries

Hi friends!  I've found myself falling way off track with my goals this past week, and just last night I figured out why.  Last week I was approved for food stamps.  Not only does this free up a whole chunk of income that I can put toward other things, but it means I can go to the grocery store and buy literally whatever I want.  If you've been following my blog for some time, you probably know that my absolute most favorite thing when it comes to food is being able to go to the store and buy whatever my hungry little heart desires.  I think it comes from never having any good food in the house as a kid and always living paycheck to paycheck (or food stamps to food stamps, as it were).  So, of course, I've been going to the store every other day and picking up whatever looks good.  And while this makes me insanely happy, it's been ruining my diet.  I no longer have to decide whether I should spend money on carrots or ice cream because I don't have to make that choice anymore.  I can get both.  And so, that's what I've been doing.

In the last week I've bought maybe two bags of vegetables.  Instead of healthy food, I bought coffee cake, salted caramel truffle ice cream, a frozen hawaiian pizza, FIVE kinds of cheese (no joke - shredded cheddar, a block of organic sharp cheddar, crumbled gorgonzola, Mexican queso fresco, and sliced horseradish cheddar for sandwiches), bagels and cream cheese, falafel mix, oh my god the list goes on.  Accordingly, since I have no extra real money, I've been eating all this terrible food for the past week.  And we all know, when you eat like crap, you feel like crap, which means I haven't been doing any kind of exercise at all.

As the new week starts up, I'm trying to focus on getting back to the healthy food I know and love and not going crazy at the store.  Just because I can buy it doesn't mean I should buy it, and I need to remember that. Whatever's in the house is what I have to eat, so I need to make sure I don't keep a lot of cheese and sweets and fats around.  Also, I need to get moving again.  It's hard when it's cold out and I just want to snuggle in my bed, but I have a whole exercise room at my disposal.  I need to stop using it as a clothes hamper and use it for what I set it aside for: getting healthy.

I'll check in with you kids next week - have a good one!


*tap tap* Is this thing on?

According to Blogger, there are still 13 people following this blog.  I don't think I ever had more than 15 followers, but if you guys are still out there, I want to say hi!  What's up?  How's your new year starting?

It's been almost four months since my last post.  What have I been doing in that time?  A lot, actually.  I changed jobs twice and have settled nicely into a part-time gig breeding and feeding fruit flies for my university's biology department.  I'm starting a second part-time job this week as a receptionist at the salon where I get my hair done (and I cut all my hair off a couple months ago - see pic below!).  I moved into my own apartment in November and have been riding a seriously wacky financial roller coaster.  I've been trying to handle my family's problems from afar, as always, and have recently decided that I want to go to law school!

All in all, I've spent the last four months getting my life in order.  I'll spare you the details I usually go into, but I'm in a good place now.  I've realized what isn't important (new clothes, eating out, controlling the lives of everyone I love) and what is important (my relationship with myself, supporting the people I love, being employed, having goals).  And now that I've got all my big and pressing ducks in a row (more or less), it's time for me to get back to loving myself and taking care of my body.

I've spent a lot of time in the last four months thinking about what I want the rest of my life to be like, and I've decided two things:  I want it to be long, and I want it to be good.  Both of those things are entirely under my control and depend only upon the choices that I make.  I've known that, in theory, for a long time.  But now that I have a direction for my life (practicing human rights law) and no longer feel like I'm swinging aimlessly from whim to whim, I'm ready to turn my knowledge into action.  I'm ready to make myself the woman I've always wanted to be.

I have a simple plan:  treat myself right, every day.  Do the things that my body needs and that I deserve: eat healthy foods, keep the fat and sugar to a minimum, get some kind of exercise every day, work through my emotional and psychological problems without relying on food to cope, never neglect myself to take care of someone else.

I'm honestly tearing up a little writing this post because it feels so good to know that it's okay and even necessary to put myself first, and it feels so good to know that I can achieve whatever I want for my life and health with just a little effort and planning.  I can do anything I put my mind to.  People have been telling me that my entire life, but it wasn't until the past couple of months that I deeply understood the power and freedom that gives me.  I am capable.  I can do anything I put my mind to.

So in order to keep myself reminded of my goals, I've been recording everything I eat.  Not counting calories, just making sure I eat proper portion sizes and write everything down, even if I overeat (especially if I overeat).  I've been keeping a separate Word document for each day and writing down not only what I ate, but how I felt and what kind of exercise I did.  Separating one day from another in that manner really helps me focus on one day at a time, instead of feeling defeated by thinking about how one bad choice will derail me for the entire week or month.  I do my best to record stuff as soon as I eat it so I don't forget, and I usually try and plan the next day's exercise ahead of time.  When I moved into my apartment, I put my bed in the living room because it wouldn't fit in the bedroom, and I'm using the bedroom as an exercise room.  I leave my yoga mat laid out all the time, decorated it with all my bellydance scarves on the walls as a reminder to use them, and leave my dumbbells stacked in plain sight so I remember I have them.  One of my new goals is to keep that room clean at all times so I never have an excuse to not exercise.  Oh, and when I moved back to Indiana, I left my scale in Kentucky.  No more nerve-rattling weigh-ins for this girl.  The number isn't important, my health is.

And even though I wasn't planning this to be a New Year's post, it almost feels like a sign from the universe that I feel this way on this day.  This is going to be a great year for me, but only because I am choosing to make it so each and every day.

I don't know if I'll be blogging on a regular basis or what I'll post here.  But this has been a great way for me to work through things in the past, and I see myself needing it this year.  So if you guys are still out there, thank you for not unfollowing me, and I hope you get something out of my posts.

Happy New Year, everyone.  : )


It Just Took a Choice

Over the past few days, I've been fighting some serious depression.  I've been extremely overwhelmed by being in Kentucky with little income, no friends, and no way to accomplish what I want.  If I didn't have my boyfriend to talk to, I would honestly be a lump in my bed made soggy by all the tears I've cried recently.  I know that sounds a little dramatic, but it's true.  Even at a distance, I'm lucky to have him.  I need to stop making assumptions about him.  My general life experiences have led me to expect the worst from people, and I seem to forget that he's not just any person in my life - he's my boyfriend, he loves me, and he wants to help me.  I nervously and anxiously asked him if I could stay with him in Bloomington, but made sure he knew I wouldn't be able to contribute toward rent, utilities...anything, really.  My income is that low right now.  But he still said yes, when I expected him to say no.  Because he loves me and wants to help me.  So now that I have a place to stay in the town where I want to live, I've asked for a transfer at work from my store to the Bloomington store.  It'll take a few weeks, but I'm confident it'll happen because I'm a good server and I'm sure much of the Btown staff has limited hours because of school being on again. 

SO.  I'm happier today.  I woke up depressed, but I made a choice to leave my depression in bed and continue my day without it.  I made myself a (relatively) healthy breakfast, and now I'm going to get some exercise.  I'm thinking yoga and maybe some weights exercises to rebuild strength in my legs and therefore help my knee.  The healthier my knee is, the more bellydancing I can do, and there is no activity on earth that makes me happier or keeps up my optimism and self-worth more than dancing.

I have to admit, making that choice was hard.  I know the last post I made was about not eating crap and getting exercise, but I haven't done it yet.  I've sort of been mentally working up to it, I think, working on accepting the idea of change (even if it is a small change).  But today I'm ready to go.  There's no point in lamenting over my eating this past week or worrying about whether I'll be able to keep exercising and eating right in the days to come.  My choices on this day matter, in the time between waking and sleeping.  Nothing else. 

Simple and easy, just the way I like it. 


Weight Loss Smweight Loss

Lately, I've been very much anti-effort when it comes to my eating.  I've read a couple of studies in respected health journals about how the types of foods eaten when trying to lose weight really don't matter - it's the amount of food that is most important.  So, I've been slacking off on making sure I get my veggies and fruits and whole grains in.  My weight is going slowly down because I'm still eating less, and I'm comfortable with the pace. 

Actually, I have to say that losing weight has really not been a priority for me in the past month.  I just don't seem to care as much as I once did about the size of my body.  More and more, I'm finding myself very comfortable with the way I look and the idea of fitting into smaller clothes or wearing a bikini has almost entirely lost its appeal.  I just don't care about it anymore.  I haven't stepped on the scale, even out of curiosity, in weeks.

Instead, I'm starting to truly focus in on my health.  I can't exactly pinpoint why, but I think it started with my visit to the doctor about my knee a few weeks ago. Now that I have a serious health issue to care about, my health is starting to matter more than anything else.  If I do lose more weight, it'll be for the sake of my joints and not my self-esteem.  I'm going to start eating better and getting more consistent exercise, but for the sake of my heart and not any grand weight loss goals.  At least five people in my family have died from massive heart attacks at a relatively young age.  I really don't want to be the sixth.  And apparently my family also has a history of breast cancer.  So now I know where my priorities lie. 

In terms of eating, I'm going to try and get my grandma to let me do more of the cooking and shopping while I'm still living here.  If it's not a whole fruit, vegetable, grain, healthy fat or lean meat I'm not eating it.  And because life just seems to be so much easier when I'm consistent in my yoga practice, I'm committing to twenty minutes every day after I wake up.  I haven't been bellydancing lately in the interest of protecting my knee, but I'm going to talk to my former instructor and see what advice she can give me about making my practice safer for my joints.  I don't want to give up something that makes me as happy as bellydance if I can help it. 

So, to make sure I actually follow through with all these aspirations, I'll be posting more often here with what I've been eating and what yoga routines I've been doing.  I would looooove it if some of you jumped on the yoga bandwagon with me.  It does so much good for my body and mind, I wish I could force everyone in the world to try it.  Ooh, perhaps I'll become a yoga instructor and make money that way.  Interesting...