Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Diet and Excercise. No, actually mostly diet.

So, yes, as I flamboyantly announced yesterday, I got into the New York City Marathon! I am really, truly over the moon about this great news because I was feeling a little lost without a marathon on my calendar and desperate for a date to ground my [upcoming, I swear] training.

I'm super pumped because my cousin Leigh got in, too! We ran the New Jersey Marathon together as well as a couple of half marathons since then. We're pretty well matched when it comes to pace and seeing her training runs populate on Daily Mile each day was the driving motivator for my New Jersey training. In our flurry of emails and texts yesterday I reminded her that we would be breaking four hours this time around. She replied that she had 24 minutes to go. I took 18 minutes off my PR at New Jersey, so I have no doubt she can do it. That's another reason I'm absurdly excited: I'm going under four hours. 

The major shift I'm working on this go-around is to get my body is the best possible and healthiest shape, with a focus on nutrition.

My employer is pretty cool in that they have a nutritionist, Laura, to our office three days a week for free counseling. When I returned from maternity leave, I decided to give it a try, wanting to learn how to best take care of myself while nursing Henry. I'm about six weeks in.

It's been awesome. At first I wanted to know how many calories I needed each day and how to stave off the constant ravenous-ness I was feeling courtesy of breastfeeding. Now we are talking more about eating habits -- deep, deep seated habits -- balancing nutrients, and weight loss.

So, you know I'm a data-junkie, yeah? I track my workouts on Map My Run, then log them with notes on I keep an Outlook calendar, a monthly wall calendar, and a Moleskine daily planner. During an even more neurotic time, I had a folder at work with a print out of each month dating back to June 2006, when my professional career began. Goals go in another book altogether. All this to say, I like to keep track of stuff. At Laura's recommendation, I recently downloaded the My Fitness Pal app to log my daily intake. 

Let me tell you. Nothing like a little accountability to whip things into shape, huh? I knew things had kind of gone off the rails with the crazy weather making me crave doughnuts as much as a good, long run (one of which I could give in to, the other not so much), but wow. Food tracking is fantastic. Even better than a running tally of calories consumed and those remaining is the little pie chart that divvies up percentages of carbohydrates, fat, and protein. I lean heavy towards carbs when I really need protein, so it's fun to aim for the right percentages each day.

My goal is to cut down on garbage snacking, especially the impulsive ones the moment I walk in the door from work (talk about deep seated habits) and to cut out all but special occasion or generally occasional alcohol.

Breakfast is and has always been my favorite meal of the day and is almost always well balanced. After years and years of totally hating leftovers, lunch has become the time and place for those. I'm even enjoying them if for no other reason than the ease of planning and preparation that it takes to plop 'em into Tupperware and call it a day. Dinner -- with Blue Apron, meal planning, and weekend prep -- is manageable and fun, a welcome respite creating in the kitchen, as cheesy as that may sound. Now, if I could cut the post-work salty snacks and the glass or two of red that sits next to the cutting board as I chop, I'll be in business.

How are your eating habits? What's the stuff that gets you? Anyone else love green juice and whole foods, but have Achilles heels made of doughnuts and Lays potato chips?

Also, flamboyant is a pretty underused term, don't you think?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Feature

FRIDAY! We made it! Ordinarily not much of an accomplishment -- it just sort of happens, doesn't it? -- but I haven't had a full work week in at least a month and this week I was parenting solo, with Nik out of town. Henry and I rocked it if I do say so myself, but my gosh, we're glad he's back.

So, another Friday and yet another ballet feature. Coincidence, but a welcome one, anyhow.

How cool and fun and sweet is this?! It makes me want to be... in college again, 18 again, a ballerina

(My well-documented ballet daydreams, found here and here.)

Have a graceful, light-hearted, open-minded weekend.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


Chocolat. Loved the movie, love the real thing. Pretty much everyone does, and for good reason, right? Plus, you know how heavily we rely on the health benefits. I dread the day the latest health story on the Nightly News confesses, whoops! Chocolate isn't the key to happiness, health, longevity, and love, after all. I can't even. Antioxidants, people.

In a writing seminar junior year in college, the professor asked us to write a list of our guilty pleasures, then narrow down our top two. Chocolate can't be on your list, she instructed. Stop equating chocolate with guilt.

Do you have a favorite kind, a splurge, or sensory memory of the best you've ever had? Do you love the indulgent, the decadent, or Swiss Miss and Hershey bars?

Not one to forget my roots, I don't turn my nose up at Tootsie Rolls or Kisses, though in the times of Whole Foods, and organic, and local, my allegiance has shifted from Reeses Cups to the Justin's dark chocolate version. I love a "Double Stuf" Oreo (or three), but baked hundreds of sea salt dusted chocolate crisps inspired by a local chef for our wedding. Like with most things, I run the gamut.

A year or two ago, Nik and I took a chocolate-themed walking tour in Boston's South End, indulging at one itty bitty chocolate shop on chocolate-stuffed beignets: a small ball of rich dark chocolate frozen, then dropped into batter and transferred so, so quickly into a little fryer before being dusted with confectioner's sugar and popped into your mouth in just one, explosive bite.

Another. Late morning, mid-summer on vacation in Zurich, Switzerland. Perfect already, right? After strolling two floors of absolutely heavenly treats at Sprungli, Nik and I settled with his cousin Lisa at a bistro table on the cobblestone sidewalk, huddled beneath an umbrella. In front of me, a sundae glass filled with layers of coffee, chocolate, cream, and liquor, at first separate and then stirred into a cloudy mocha mix, topped with a huge puff of whipped cream already beginning to drip down the sides.

There are other, simpler occasions and memories -- snapping the corner of a dark chocolate bar and letting it melt on my tongue as a delicious, satisfying end to a most-likely-mediocre lunch at the office cafeteria, or, more recently, splurging on an absurdly priced but out-of-this-world fantastic chocolate bar speckled with bits of potato chip -- a fancy and overpriced spin on salty and sweet.

And for dessert, 5 delectable dark chocolates you need to try right now. Also, this. And there's a yummy-sounding one in the book I just reviewed.

Recommendations, please!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Book Review: It Was Me All Along

Usually I pre-order a book on Amazon and promptly forget about it until it turns up squeezed in my mail box. This time, while waiting for the publication date for It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell, I found myself counting down instead. When it arrived in mid-January, I could hardly wait to crack the binding and lapped up the entire thing, one beautifully constructed sentence after another, in only a day or two.

I came across Andie's blog, Can You Stay For Dinner, a few years ago and instantly fell head over heels. It's the perfect blend of delicious -- no, really, delicious -- recipes, beautiful photography, and a regular dollop of real life real talk. Simply put, it's my favorite.

It Was Me All Along is a memoir by a still-very-young author, chronicling her lifelong relationship with food. She is very overweight as a child, with an extremely apparent binge eating disorder. The memoir tells the story of that relationship -- sometimes literally how it feels, what she sees, and how she rationalizes each bite -- and then, later, how she tackles weight loss and life after losing 135 pounds.

Part of what I really enjoyed about the book is that it is made up of original content, but in the same thoughtful voice I so enjoy when a new post goes live online. The writing is extremely descriptive -- girl loves a good adjective -- but also really carefully considered; it's thoughtfully and purposefully constructed, if that makes sense. She describes the abuse in her family home, internal struggles, and expansive buffets at birthday parties with measured, illustrative language, making sure you really, really get it, and it's certainly not all pretty. Her honest is brave.

I was shocked by how matter-of-factly the author described her relationship with food, with her father, and between her parents, by how this was, very basically, her reality. For me, growing up in a balanced, healthy family with such a balanced, healthy relationship with food, the imbalance and loneliness that Mitchell lived with each day was really difficult. I have a friend who dealt with really, really tremendous loss throughout childhood and later battled the demons of disordered eating. I remember thinking as she struggled, well, of course! Why wouldn't she be looking for some control? This memoir struck the same chord as Mitchell ate past pleasure and later obsessed about her "success" as a young woman who had lost weight.

The book is a quick read and just might glide through some of her recent years too quickly and lightly, not to a fault, but as something that made me think there either could have been more or less, instead of just some.

Mitchell is articulate in the way she confesses to dark moments, complex in the way she copes with family dynamics, and pragmatic about her strategy to use humor to fit in. Ultimately, I think she is triumphant in her honesty, just as she ultimately is in her journey to living at a healthy weight, with a balanced relationship with food.

If you're interested in getting to know Andie, her voice and her story, check out her TEDx talk from this time last year (Friday Feature). If you want an incredible tomato sauce and meatball recipe, hop on over to Can You Stay For Dinner. If hopping takes too long, just click. Fast. And, finally, if you're interested in checking out It Was Me All Along, claim my copy or get your own!