Tuesday, November 30, 2010

like a babushka

I'm not Polish, nor Russian, but my best guy friend growing up is. He has a babushka. I just like the word :). I do, however, have a grandma and an abuela, and for a period of time, as close to a nonna as possible. My ex-boyfriend from high school (yes, this one) is Italian-American like many of my neighbors and friends from home are. While we were dating, he, his brother, and his dad would visit his grandmother once a week for dinner, and every now and then I would join. She would cook a feast! Seriously, one week there was shrimp cocktail, a loaf of Italian bread, homemade gnocchi, chicken marsala, and fresh farfalle. And I do believe she offered cannolis for dessert. My big appetite didn't stand a chance.
[Appetizer: Walnut Pesto Crostini at Pour]

That's the thing about grandmothers of any kind, they feed you, feed you, and then feed you some more. At least the ones that I've met do :). As soon as I visit my grandma in Mt. Kisco she asks if I'd like to go to the health food store or out to eat at one of our favorite locally-sourced restaurants in the area. The few times a year that I see my abuela, she makes sure that I'm not hungry by preparing the plate upon plate of the best Mexican food in the United States. The real kind, that is. But I eat when I'm home with my parents and siblings too, and although I'm not Italian, most of the food prepared in this household, and around it, is.
[Dinner: Fresh linguine with a vegetable marinara sauce and house salad]

In an attempt to get myself into the holiday spirit this year, I wanted to dedicate this post to feeding others too. It'll be quite some time before I get anywhere near being a grandmother (scary thought, no offense) but that doesn't mean my ability to give shouldn't be exercised this season. May I suggest trying on your g-ma hat and eliminating hunger across the world too? Because you can, even if you're poor like me. Just sign the World Food Programme's "1 billion people live in chronic hunger and I'm mad as hell!" petition. I'd be very grateful.
[Dessert: Italian bread with goat cheese and a light Pinot at Maslow 6]

But of course that's not your only option, there's many more organizations working to spread good throughout the world: Holly recently blogged about an orphanage in Honduras for homeless, abused, and abandoned children (read about how to help here) and Matt posted about Passport with Purpose's project with Lafti to build a city in India and provide homes for the Dalit population (find out how you can help here). Or by the chance that you're still hung up on the fact that there people continue to go hungry in our world of excess, you can also sign this pledge that donates $1 to the fight against it.
Not everyone is so lucky to have a grandmother that can stuff them silly--in addition to being generous in love and gifts beyond belief--so I hope that you'll give in any way you can to one or more of the organizations above, or of your choice. Nothing feels better! And if you happen to follow it with left-over, Greek-influenced, Spinach & Feta Lasagna by a darling ya-ya, the entire experience is bound to taste incredible. Hope your days continue to be full, and if I can ask one more thing of you, please submit a question for yours truly.

Monday, November 29, 2010

a.m. originalities

Before you go any further: Ask me a question, won't you please?
I love breakfast. I know this isn't news to you as I'm always praising the deliciousness of my morning meals, but I just can't help but gush once more. You see, up until I was 18 years old, I ate a bowl of cereal before school. Every Sunday my dad would make scrambled eggs, on special occasions I'd have cinnamon-sugar toast or a bagel with cream cheese, and once a year I'd feast on a cinnamon roll (talk about a Merry Christmas!), but usually I started my day with a non-sugary, fiber-rich "bland" cereal. My favorite was Crispix, that's just the way my momma raised me.  Then I went away to college and discovered oatmeal.
For whatever reason, oatmeal had always grossed me out until blogs convinced me otherwise. And since I started oatmealing it, about four years ago to date, I haven't stopped. I haven't found a breakfast more satisfying nor sustaining. Here's my recipe if you're interested. These days I'm on a rolled oats kick with unseasonal toppings (my mom splurged on raspberries this week, she must love me). Otherwise, I'm not a trendy person in the sense that I make a sincere effort not to go along with what everyone else is doing. Another example? It took me two winters in Syracuse before I broke down and accepted practical Uggs as a gift. Anyway, before I go off on a stylish (or lack there of) tangent,  I just mean to say that this oatmeal love affair of mine is truly authentic. Today I'm proud to welcome my darling friend Julia to the mix. It was only a matter of time!
My most recent roommate, Meg, on the other hand, never did seem to catch on. It's fine, we're on good terms ;). The weekend before last, she was in town visiting another friend and joined me for a Sunday brunch on her drive home. It was one of those rare mornings when the perfect bowl of oats did not appeal to me. It was also one of those not-so-rare mornings when the aftermath of nocturnal festivities (read: hangover) decided to join us as we began our day. All I wanted was french toast. And so we went to City Limits Diner, and I devoured their Raisin Currant Challah French Toast with house-made vanilla apple sauce and real maple syrup alongside the necessary coffee. It wasn't anything like the heavenly plate I shared with SnackFace those many suns ago, but it was pretty damn good, and definitely hit the spot. Late morning yoga took care of the rest.
This evening, I am thankful that I live in a place that is so accessible for my friends to visit. The hardest thing about not being at 'Cuse anymore is that the majority of them are scattered across the United States rather than one concentrated Central New York location like they had been in the past. Living so close to NYC allows me to see those now living in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn, while also being in a prime (and spacious) location for the non-New Yorkers to crash, and, of course, right next door to my original high school favorites. Case in point: December...
  • 2nd, 9th, & 16th: Weekly sleepover at Steph and Catherine's.
  • 4th: My cousin( and friend)'s apartment-warming party.
  • 10th: Healthy dinner with old co-worker, friend, and current Fitness employee, Karla Walsh.
  • 11th: Afternoon with Meghan (same one as above) and her boyfriend.
  • 17th: A special AXO reunion.
  • 27th - January 1st: K and I's week of of non-stop, new year celebrating!
  • TBD dates with C, Laura, Debra, Nicole, Shannon, Muffin, Leslie,  Sofia, Greg, Kate, Claire, Gloria, Ryan, Chrissie and more.
There is just so much fun to be had, morning and night, as we wrap of 2011! I wouldn't want to be anywhere else right now. Note that I said "right now." That would be a hint, my friends :) stay tuned for a December announcement.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


'ello friends! Following a night of babysitting my cousins and friends, and a day of doing absolutely nothing, I have minimal blog material aside from this video I recorded a couple of days ago. Please watch and respond. It's actually short and sweet this time! Oh and on a side note: please also don't mind my quiet and slow speech... it's the pre-video-recording wine's fault. Even as I progress, some things never change ;). Thank you and have a great Saturday night!

P.S. Today I am thankful for cute, little, farmers market pears. They're fantastic!

Friday, November 26, 2010

wabi sabi of today

My breathing slowed, my body fell still, the world paused, and all of the negativity seeped into the ground beneath me.
This morning in relaxation pose, I couldn't help but feel so grateful for the peace I've found through my yoga practice. It's not the first time either. I discovered yoga at 13. I was wandering through the Discovery Store on one of my girlfriend and I's many weekend trips to the mall and I stumbled upon A.M. and P.M. Yoga. My friend and I each bought a set with our allowance money. We both started to practice before school and before bed. I've been in love with the centering postures, breathing exercises, and Hindu philosophies ever since.
In a very appropriate Women's Health article I was reading recently, Los Angeles yoga instructor, Rainbeau Mars says, 
"Breakups often stir up emotions that can throw us off-center, leaving us vulnerable, insecure, doubting, scared, and even angry. There is nothing more important than staying grounded, and finding a sense of safety and security despite the emotional rollercoaster."
For me, the source of that perspective has, and will probably always be, in yoga. (The article, by the way, has some amazing routines no matter what your relationship status.) Every now and then I fall into running, and I always seem to be proud when I do. I appreciate challenging myself, building my endurance, and finding that familiar mental quietness in each stride. But my stints with running are just that, little flings that come and go, and so yoga is my constant. 
Since I had today off of work, I was able to attend a Power Yoga class with one of my favorite instructors at NYSC. Although I oftentimes hang on every word she says, today she said something especially meaningful: "Let go, be present, you are exactly where you are meant to be, right now."
Through the past decade of my yoga practice (oh gosh, saying that makes me feel old, haha) I have lived a life that is either nostalgic for the past or expectant for the future. Overall it's been a pretty good one. But I do believe that there's value in just being, in just enjoying the greatness that is today, in allowing yourself to fall into that place where you are supposed to be. I am making the conscious choice to adjust my thoughts accordingly.
Nevertheless, it's much easier to be present when you're pleasantly situated on cloud 9. And so I re-read another self-relevant article in Whole Living, Wabi Sabi Your Life: 6 Strategies for Embracing Imperfection. The first is Humble Virtues. "To illustrate: Wabi sabi is asymmetrical heirloom vegetables and handmade pottery, crow's feet and the frayed sleeves of a favorite wool sweater, exposed brick and the first draft of a difficult letter." The second is Abandoning Perfect. Richard Powell told the author, "Accepting the world as imperfect, unfinished, and transient, and then going deeper and celebrating that reality, is something not unlike freedom."
The trick is to apply the two to the way we live in relationships, food, home, beauty, closets, and work. A favorite blog of mine, Design*Sponge, recently spoke of Wabi Sabi (albeit with more of a focus on decor, of course). "An offshoot of Zen Buddhism, wabi-sabi essentially refers to a profound and abiding appreciation for the transient, fleeting beauty that pervade the natural world..."
Yesterday, I woke up on my favorite holiday of the year feeling grateful for every part of my life. As I tweeted, "I'm thankful for the good, the bad, and the ugly. Without it, I wouldn't be here right now: so happy on Thanksgiving." I sent holiday wishes to the incredible friends that have kept me afloat throughout my life, and was astounded to find that the number exceeded two dozen. I spent my day surrounded by wonderful family, knowing that each one of them loves me unconditionally, and always would. I ate delectable food, drank fabulous wine, and I was grateful for being so blessed. Mmm, apple crisp...
Then I came back to this blog. I read through my therapeutic saga and the phenomenal response that continues to make opening up, sharing my life, and revealing it in it's supreme imperfectness, an absolute pleasure for which I am eternally thankful. I cannot even express  how overwhelmed with comforting bliss I was. And yet, I know that I won't that happy every day. That's okay and probably a good thing, because gosh, that'd be annoying. Wouldn't it? ;)
For the next month, and perhaps longer than that, I am going to end each post like a photographic gratitude journal. It'll be the first of it's kind (although I've certainly read more than enough material about it's de-stressing powers) and I don't doubt that it'll be a positive addition for the both of us. A transcript from Oprah radio reads, "As more of your thoughts and words become positive, you'll start attracting more positive people and circumstances." The best is yet to come, my friends, and even though I may have not eaten any turkey yesterday, I wouldn't have wanted to be resting in a traditional food coma with anyone but mi familia. My little brother may have been missing, (and missed), but we will all be reunited soon. And today, with the calm of yoga freshly running through my veins and thoughts, I am feeling more than content to run errands, clean my room, and help my parents decorate the house for Christmas. Take care!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

writing as therapy, conclusion

Wondering about how I got here? Reading the IntroductionPart 1Part 2Part 3, and Part 4 will help you figure it out :). Thanks!

And there you have it. This is where I'm at. It's almost disappointing how this road of mine has been so altered by significant others. I prefer to think of myself as strong, independent, and self-sufficient. I don't need a guy to be happy or healthy. Still, I'm tired with pretending to be sure of myself and of my situation. I hadn't believed it before but it does feel better to put it all out there: I've loved, I've lost, my life isn't perfect. If nothing else, others can surely relate... right?

Honesty is always a positive thing. Life goes on. What a relief.

Anyway, now that it is over and done with, I've decided to just let it be. I've said more than enough now and there really isn't anything left to talk about. So, I wont. That's not to say that I won't continue to reflect from time to time, just that I will set the negativity free, that I will no longer dwell, nor blame myself, (or at least try my best not to). Instead, I am going to take each day at a time. I'm going to focus on, as I said last week, myself and what brings me joy. I'm going to continue blogging about health and travel and the delectable parts of life that make them both so enjoyable (after this therapeutic saga, I'm sure it'll be a welcome return for us both). I'm going to appreciate little things, be impressed by small accomplishments, and be grateful for those I've had in my life all along. And one day, hopefully sooner rather than later, I will be my complete self again. Such things are inevitable when living the life you deserve. I can hardly wait.

Thank you for your time, comments, tweets, e-mails, and unwavering support. Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

writing as therapy, part 4

Nope this isn't a different blog you've found! Please read the Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 before you continue. 

It took me all of 48 hours before I was willing to see what happened. I didn't promise to try again, per say, but I did have faith in us. Just as I'd always had. Trouble is, I hadn't forgiven him. And no matter how much I wanted to, over the next two months, I began to realize that I was in no place to do so.

Having to admit that I couldn't is more difficult than it sounds. For as much as I wasn't ready to be with him then, I really wasn't ready to let go. I'm still not. 

It's been six months since last May when I told him that it wasn't going to work out. I said I'd gotten too comfortable with the luxury of selfishness and I wasn't willing to give it up again. He was understanding, for the most part, at least, but beneath our separate summers we both still hoped it wouldn't be it. Every few weeks we got into contact with each other again, sometimes we hung out, and both of us still felt that overwhelming connection. There's a reason for that, I thought. We weren't supposed to be over quite yet. As masochistic as these thoughts were, I couldn't ignore them, and I also couldn't admit them on the blog. I wanted to be a strong role model for the recently single. I didn't want to admit that I was making the same "mistake" that I had seen so many other girls make. I was afraid to say that I had honest-to-God hope when I probably should've been focusing on moving on. 

Trouble is, it was it. I very recently officially confirmed that in attempt at preserving my pride somehow. Not once were we simultaneously ready to give "us" another chance, and now there aren't any chances left.

I wish I could hate him. I really wish I could. All the time.

I didn't go on a road trip because of or in spite of him. I just went. I did it for me. I wanted to go. But now that it's over and done with, it's hard to have a positive outlook on the unexpected to come. Sure, I've been this process before; sure, I know that I will be in a better place by the time this detour is over... but that doesn't make it hurt any less. Even though he may have given up first, it was I who couldn't give us another chance. I feel like I missed out on my Prince Charming. And the fact that I have no idea where I should turn to professionally doesn't make it any easier.

I'm an unfairly critical person. Most of all towards myself. I can't help but think that I should have something figured out, some sort of plan, and without much of anything, dare I say I feel like I failed. It's as if I let myself down.

At this point, I inherently eat healthfully. In the past few weeks, I really have been working out consistently (it could very well be because I need the endorphins for the mood boost as well, but I don't care). However, being optimistic doesn't come as easy as it has in the past. I don't care if I sound like the tagline of a bad movie with this self-prescribed prescription of mine,  I just... I need to let go. I need to find my balanced, healthfully happy self again. 

Yes, to be continued, but only once more.

Monday, November 22, 2010

writing as therapy, part 3

Missed the Introduction, Part 1, and/or Part 2? Yes, no, maybe so? Read on...

It came unexpected (/out of nowhere, literally) and it hit hard. It felt as though this entire beautiful world that I had been living in was falling apart all around me and there was nothing I could do to save it. 

Him and I went on a break for a few weeks to ensure that he was making the right decision by being alone. I tried my best to be somewhat okay during this time. After the first week, (which at this point is still very much a blur of tears and pain), I knew that I needed to be somewhat okay. It was the second semester of my senior year, I had two months of college left, and I wasn't going to let some guy (no matter how much he meant to me) take the pleasure of enjoying every last bit of it away from me. So I surrounded myself with my best friends. I made more plans than I had time for. I kept myself as busy as I possibly could. I didn't really talk about my innermost feelings on this blog because I knew he could read it (and I was secretly hoping that he was). I didn't want him to know that I cried myself to sleep more often than I'd even like to admit now. I wanted him to think I was fine without him because I was angry at him for ruining my consistently so-much-better-than-fine state of being with him.

I was blown away by the response of all of my friends. They were/are incredible. This was one of the first time in my life when I selfishly and completely needed them and their support, and they were there. They listened to me, encouraged me, and did everything in their power to make me feel better again. I even became closer with a handful of them which I appreciate more than they'll ever possibly know. They set my head straight when I started to question what I had done wrong, what I should have done differently, and why he didn't want me anymore. They didn't let me succumb to the all too familiar feelings of failure. They reminded me that it was he who had ended us. And how dare he.

By the time we saw each other face to face, after not hearing from him for nearly 20 days, I knew that it was actually over. No matter how much the words stung I took them in stride. As sad as it was, I was expecting them. Plus, I wouldn't let them ruin the fabulous spring break I had planned ahead. I wandered around the city with some of my favorite people, I spent quality time with my family, and I got to go to Baltimore and reunite with Liz while also attending my first blogging conference, FitBloggin'. It was going to be amazing in every which way. But I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I struggled to smile through all of it. Truth is, breaking up with that boy did ruin my spring break. 

It also made me not hungry. I continued to lose a few pounds here and there by not eating enough. It wasn't on purpose, but it happened.

When I got back to school again, I was more than ready to triumph over the loss. I continued to have the time of my life, and I spent more and more of my day not thinking about him. When I went home for Easter, nearly a month later, I was in so much of a better place. And then he called.

He called! In the most wrong of ways, it felt good to hear his voice on the other end of the phone. He asked if we could meet up before I went back. I said yes, although deep inside I believed I should've said no. What would my incredibly supportive friends say? Nervously, I called one of them for permission. I should add that this friend, Liz, is probably one of the most understanding people on the face of the earth. She, as expected, said that if she were to advise me without any concern for my feelings, she would say I shouldn't hang out with him. But. Because she knew me, and because she knew that my first instinct was to say yes, she said I should see him. Maybe it wasn't a great idea but bad ideas are acceptable in this situation and I had nothing to feel guilty about.

We did hang out. He apologized. He had made a mistake. He loved me. He wanted me back. I was overwhelmed. I had gotten used to accepting the insane belief that we shouldn't be together. A million thoughts were running through my head. I desperately needed a drink. What now?! To be continued.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

writing as therapy, part 2

Confused about this series of posts? Please read the Introduction and Part 1 before you jump on in.

I felt like I had done it. I had gotten to a point of a healing where I was ready to meet other guys and allow myself to enjoy it. Spring semester of sophomore year began wonderfully. I loved my classes (nutrition especially) and found that I enjoyed devoting myself to studying just as much as I did meeting friends for coffee or getting ready before going to an off-campus party. I had finally figured out a balance and I was happy. Happy. It had been a while since I'd been able to be confident that I felt that way, and boy was I glad.

I'd also like to add that I signed up for a twice a month CSA delivery, got more adventurous in the kitchen, and got myself in the blissful routine of walking the 2 miles home every day after class. I felt lighter, both physically and emotionally, and I felt great about myself.

My year abroad was completely set. I had most things planned out and I was excited while also feeling the twinges of nostalgia as each week passed. Yet by the time that sophomore year was ending, I began to dread leaving. I was so afraid of being forgotten about, so scared that my fun life was going to end. (You know, because I'm ridiculously dramatic). In one of my last weekends I had big social plans for my Saturday night. It was an anything-but-clothes party, I was going to wrap myself in tin foil, and I was going to have the time of my life with my best friends. Little by little, however, I began to get more disappointed in the night. First, most of my friends bailed on the party last minute. Second, I got caught at the bus stop while nearly every car in the area drove by, was blinded by my shiny silver costume, and stared at me like I was the weirdest thing on the face of the planet. (To say I felt foolish would be a massive understatement). Third, the boys that were throwing the party didn't deliver in any way possible: they didn't pick us up, most of them weren't there when we arrived, and by the time they were, they weren't in costume. The night, in my mind, was a bust.

Until I saw him.

He walked down the stairs and I noticed him immediately. I even said something to my friend next to me, prompting her to encourage me to talk to him, leading me to... do anything but. Sure, I was more than fine at this point, but that didn't mean I was any less awkward! I wouldn't have known the first thing to say. Yet within 45 minutes somewhere the stars aligned; He came up to me instead. We talked for a while, we even kissed briefly, and right before leaving, we exchanged numbers.

The next morning I woke up late with a slight headache. I was glad that the party had gotten fun because of a flirty thrill, and was more than ready to go on with my life. Then, three days later, I saw him again at a mid-week, day-long celebration called MayFest. We practically spent the entire day hanging out and I was blown away by how decent of a guy he was. And so attractive! We saw each other almost every day from that day on. It was fun, it was amazing, but I didn't think it would actually amount to anything. I mean, I was going to be studying abroad for 10 months; in a month and a half I would be in Ecuador. What serious relationship could actually take place?

The most real and close of them all apparently. But, for the sake of our privacy (and the fact that a lot of the content is already threaded throughout the older posts of this blog), I'm not going to go into the details. 

I was so in love. So stupidly happy and in the healthiest of relationships. I could all but pinch myself! We lasted through my entire South American and European experiences, through his first semester of medical school, and with flying colors, I might add. How is that even possible? And so I started to worry. A girl my age shouldn't be this lucky, I thought. I was waiting for the a bomb to go off, for something to go wrong, for my fairytale to break. Deep down though, I'll admit I didn't take these fears too seriously. Maybe I should have... to be continued.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

writing as therapy, part 1

Not sure what's going on here? No worries. Catch up on the series introduction.

I started dating the guy in the midst of my sophomore to junior year summer. We had been somewhat of friends before he started to "like like" me. I'd been single and loving it for the first 15 years of my life, (as if you long for your other half at 5-years-old,) so I was hesitant. Or, actually, that's not quite true. I did date a boy for a year in 6th grade but we probably kissed about a dozen times a.k.a it was not that serious ;). Without counting that little girl relationship, I had turned down one date in elementary school, three potential boyfriends at the 6th grade dance (don't even ask me how that happened all at one time. I sometimes wish I still had that power, or maybe just that outfit...), and two Mr. Wrongs in my first two years of high school. In other words, I'd mastered being the rejector until one of the best guys at my high school admitted he had a crush on me. Oh well :). The relationship lasted four years--excluding the short 6 months when we first went away to college and tried to be logical and mature about our long distance reality--and for the most part it was wonderful. It probably should've ended a few months before it did (for personal reasons) but it lasted through thick and thin... until he found out.

You see, somewhere in between our four years of bliss, I met another guy. He was sweet and smart with the cutest Mississippi accent. We were friends. Honestly, we were just friends. We'd met at a summer program in Massachusetts, a college prep kind of program. Him and the other eight students from all over the United States had gone in conjunction with their parents requests. I had researched it myself and applied for financial aid so that it'd be possible. (I was always a nerd like that, but that's neither here nor there.) We'd immediately clicked in a "how were we not best friends before?" kind of way; And after our week of hard-core bonding, we kept in very close touch.  The guy I was dating got jealous a handful of times. His jealousy made me angry. Since when was it not okay for me to have male friends?! I denied that our friendship was anything but platonic and at that time it was true. Then, it wasn't. I'm not sure exactly what happened. I mean, I thought he was attractive, and there was some tension, but nothing ever, ever happened. Even after he admitted his feelings. I went to prom with him (in Mississippi I might add, my mom and I flew in for the weekend) and we didn't even kiss. Some of our correspondence about wanting to, however, was recorded. And almost two years later my high school sweetheart found out. No matter how irrelevant it may seem (and trust me, I tried that argument,) he couldn't forgive me, and our relationship ended.

Like I said, it probably should've ended before that. But, because our devastating breakup was a result of something I'd done felt, it wasn't just hard to get over, it was extra hard. After four years, my first real boyfriend had obviously become my very best friend.  And now I'd lost both. I should also mention that my Mississippi friend and I had amicably lost touch by this time. Not completely. But mostly.

I didn't tell anyone for 3 weeks. Literally no one. Although that may seem absurd, it's because I was embarrassed about how our relationship had ended, and I didn't want to admit that it was because of me. As an alternative, I became a complete witch (and/or b+itch) to live with. All of a sudden, I was more OCD and neurotic than usual and poured all my pain into keeping my apartment clean and neat. My roommates got passive-agressive post-it notes reminding them to put away their dishes, fold the couch blankets, and other various household chores. Can you say obnoxious? They nearly lasted a month before an intervention and that's when I finally broke down in tears and admitted my relationship failure.

I spent the next two months avoiding any kind of fun possible. I transformed into a straight-A student, in an unhealthy way. I'd become, in a word or two, completely anti-social. I also talked to him every few days or so which I do not recommend when it comes to healing a broken heart and getting over a broken relationship. Not ever. 

Then I got sick. Like, really, really sick. I had what the geniuses at our campus health center defined as "a mono-like virus." It hit me out of nowhere and made my entire body hurt. Three great things came out of it though. One: I wasn't sad. How could I have worried about being sad when I was sleeping 18 hours a day and lying in my bed like a zombie for the rest of it? Exactly. Two: my mom came to visit. I hadn't seen her since I'd left for my sophomore year at school nor since I told her that R and I had broken up. I should mention that she basically thought he was the best person in the world which made the latter a nearly impossible feat. She brought me soup, did my laundry, and took me out to dinner as I started to get some of my strength back. I talked to her about him briefly. She didn't hate me. Three: I started reading Eat Like Me on Self.com. It was a perfect blog for being sick because it updated three times a day. Plus, since I couldn't handle eating, I appreciated being able to look at it without any side effects.

In the following month, once I was finally better, I became addicted. I found Jenna at Eat, Live, Run and other healthy living bloggers. I bought nutrition and health books at Barnes & Noble. I turned into a regular at Karma Fitness. I registered for a Nutrition course in the spring semester. And all the while I broke through the walls I'd built between my friends and I, roommates included. 

I actively learned about what it took to live a healthy lifestyle in the physical sense, and I subconsciously honored my mental- and emotional-well being. 

By the end of the year I was in tip-top shape across the board. I even kissed a random boy at my friend's New Years Eve party, which was a pretty big exciting deal at the time. I'll have you know that I'm laughing as I recall how proud of myself I was for being so single. Ha...to be continued.

Friday, November 19, 2010

writing as therapy, introduction

This is my five-hundred-and-ninety-first post since I began this blog. It's an odd number, and a somewhat insignificant one, but I felt like sharing. Why? Because a lot has changed since the big, bad, (and rather boring) post #1. 

I've been blessed in that I've never had an extreme physical, mental, or emotional illness. At times, however, life has certainly take it's toll. It really didn't matter where in the world I was, just that I felt as though I was in a personally negative place and was all too desperate to escape it . That makes sense doesn't it? I'm thinking yes, in a "oh gosh, that sucks" kind of way :).

Recently, I've been struggling with quite a few of those demons. It's unpleasant, to say the least, and although I am not sure that this is entirely a good idea, I think I want to reveal these unhealthy inner-workings. It might be nice for me to do so, and hopefully help others along the way, too. 

I have many amazing friends, yes, but no therapist, so, here goes nothing. Or, in a sense, pretty much everything:   

I've probably never mentioned this before but it was the breakup before last that led me to blogs, and thus blogging, in the first place. To be continued.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

affirming the happy

In real life there is no "The End," just new beginning, after new beginning... after new beginning.
That is my mantra of the day/week/month/as long as it'll take me to get some sort of stability in my life. Thoughts? And then, if those 17 big little words don't work, I do happy things to comfort myself. Like, looking through old photographs. I could do that for hours even though I try to limit myself to 30 minutes. On a really dreary outlook day, I might even change my Facebook picture to one of them. Cute little me sure does make lost & lonely grown-up me feel a whole lot better.
But what happens when even that isn't enough? Well, in those rare occasions, I just go. I might go to my new favorite coffee shop in Tarrytown, or on a walk with my dogs through the woods, or better yet, a garden (I swear I'm an old soul sometimes), or, I might seek refuge in Pleasantville.
The new heaven on earth just (as in, January of 2010) opened there, Navaeh Cuisine. The café presents itself as "the soul of nutrition" serving "healthy global foods" and boasts the tagline "eat happy!" Yes, please. With a cherry on top. Oh and P.S. Naveah is actually heaven spelled backwards.
I went for the first time with my mom  last weekend . We were on our way for a mother-daughter mani-pedi, her treat (a.k.a. the best kind), when we realized that neither of us had eaten lunch yet. Note: I was very aware, I'm not one of those "crazy" people that forgets to eat :). Overwhelmed by their 100% peanut-free, organically-sourced, trans fat/hormones/artificial flavors-free menu of wraps, paninis, omelets, and soups, in addition to various muffins, cookies, and pastries, I opted for their a blend of three of their salads-of-the-day.
That you see right there is Neveah Cuisine's quinoa salad, lentil salad, and roasted vegetable salad. Mmm, mmm, good. And it tastes even better when you're eating it as another kind soul simultaneously massages your legs and feet. There is a reason that spas have their place in the healthy living sphere. I'm just saying.
I don't doubt that I'll go there again, bad mood or not, but in the mean time how about we clear up this eat happy concept? Last week, the LA Times did an article on The Food-Mood Connection. Here's a few highlights:
  • Coffee improves energy and mental performance -- True
  • Carbohydrate snacks make you feel calmer and happier -- False
  • Sugar takes the edge of pain -- True (maybe)
  • Chocolate brings good feelings -- False (almost)
  • Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish help depression -- True
A few surprises, I'm sure. I could've sworn that chocolate brought about great feelings! Anyway, since apparently some of my nutrition beliefs have turned out to be myths, I think I'm going to depend on my happy things instead. I'll be sharing more as time goes on. Hope all is well, m'dears!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

the dark side

There was a little girl
    Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
    When she was good,
    She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.
I love that poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It's how I feel most of the time, in the sense of good and bad days I mean. One minute I'm completely secure in my decision to head in that uniquely undefined direction of my dream career destiny. And the next, I'm doubting my apprehension with taking the ever-popular "college to full-time office job" highway. To add to that, my varying workload and income doesn't exactly relieve the uncertainty. Nor does the current gray sky and fog. Still, as much as I'd love to dwell on the gloominess that is today ;) I have far too many things to get done before my just-for-fun dinner plans tonight.
So, I've decided to share a guest article with you by Sasha Britton for Gym Source (treadmills, ellipticals and other fitness equipment for over 75 years), followed by another from this month's Natural Health magazine. And all the while thread my pictures of a typical plant-based day of eats; it's going pretty well, by the way. Please feel free to share your thoughts on the material:
Important Nutrients for Active Vegans
Vegan athletes have to pay more attention to dietary choices and food combinations in order ensure the absorption of enough high-quality protein (necessary for the recovery and rebuilding process after exercise.)
What May Be Missing
In addition to protein, vegans may be missing the following nutrients in their diet: iron, calcium, vitamins B-12 and D, and zinc.
Iron is quite important for building muscle and endurance. If you aren't going to get this from beef, you're going to have to make sure you're eating the following on a regular basis:
-      whole grain cereals fortified with iron
-      legumes (beans, peas and peanuts)
-      dried fruit (especially raisins)
-      cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage)
In addition, you will want to combine these with foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and berries; this will aid your body in absorbing and utilizing iron.
Calcium & D
In lieu of dairy products, instead load up on fortified dairy-replacement products as well as leafy greens to keep bones strong with sufficient calcium: mustard, kale and chard are powerhouse foods in this regard, as well as dried figs. Sesame seeds are also a decent source of calcium; a unique form of nut butter made from sesame, called tahini, is a main ingredient in hummus and also available in many international foods aisles on its own. The easily absorbed calcium and vitamin D pairing is almost always present in Calcium supplements- a great addition to a mindful diet, especially if you’re a woman and over 40 or if you don’t get outside for a walk in the sun to absorb some D.
Protein & Zinc
Rice and beans together make a complete protein – or almost any combination of grain and legumes. However, peanuts (which are actually legumes, not nuts) and soybeans provide complete proteins that are of the same quality as that derived from fish, poultry, dairy or eggs. Most tree nuts are also good sources of protein, and provide the additional benefit of healthy oils, such as omega-3 (also found in olive oil). Zinc is mostly present in protein sources, and is vital for healthy respiratory and digestive function. Although a main source is animal products, almost any vegan protein- and especially pumpkin seeds- will provide good amounts of zinc.
Vitamin B-12 is essential for metabolism and making use of the energy stored in food. Unfortunately, the only reliable source of this nutrient is in animal-based foods. Whole grains cereals and soy milk are often vitamin B-12 fortified, but one would have to consume a great deal in order to get this nutrient in sufficient amounts from these vegetable-based sources alone. Therefore, vegan athletes may need to take B-12 supplements.
There goes wonderful guidelines on nutritional necessities, but how about culinary pleasures? "When it comes to wine pairing, you know that red goes with meat and white goes with fish. But how to choose when your diet doesn't include either?" Dun, dun, dun. Enter: Vino for Vegetable Lovers. The editors at Natural Health magazine write, "Think flavor, not color, says Francesco MacAaron, general manager of haute organic vegan restaurant Candle 79 in New York City." After a bit more information, they inclide four of MacAaron's top four vegan vino picks to pair with vegetable dish favorites. Pairings such as:
  • Shiitake or portobello mushrooms with an earthy red wine.
  • Asparagus or artichokes with a white wine that has herbal flavors.
  • High-acid foods, such as tomatoes, with a spicy red.
  • Buttery-flavored chanterelle mushrooms with a fruit chardonnay.
Mmm. No matter how impossible the situation may be, apparently there is a solution to every problem. Maybe one day I'll figure some of 'em out myself :).