It is 8:15 in the morning and I am already a sweaty mess. My heart rate is lingering in the 150’s, but I know in just a few minutes it will hit 160. Yahoo weather claims the humidity is only 36% but this can’t be possible. I feel like I am breathing into a thick wet blanket.
I am at Mile One, at the corner of S. 4th and Kent Street and it’s just beginning. The sweet voice of Lou Rhodes streaming into my ear buds gives me little comfort as I round the corner. I was smarter today in leaving the house early. The sun mercifully hides behind buildings at this hour and I move forward in their shadows.
Looking down at my feet, I wonder, “Why is it that I am doing this again?”
This is a question I ask myself every time I go running.
So I can eat bad things like pizza and cheeseburgers. So I can look good in a bathing suit. So I don’t get a muffin top. I might even say to be healthy and keep my heart from shriveling up and stopping.
This time around, it’s training for our 2nd annual Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon. We went last year and it was amazing. Let me start off with this tidbit: they give you shots of wine at mile nine. Because, you know of course, wine acts as an analgesic to help numb the pain you are feeling at mile nine. It has antioxidants; it’s heart healthy! And, well, it’s just AWESOME that they do this.
It doesn’t stop there. Once you cross that grueling 13.1 mile finish line, you are given a wine glass (it’s real, not plastic!) with the Napa to Sonoma race insignia on it and then…wait for it…free wine for two hours! Hundreds (not sure if it’s hundreds, but it seems like it) of winery’s have booths set up for you to get in line for tastings. FREE tastings. Who needs a banana and a bagel when there’s wine? Not to mention the nice heavy finisher medal they sling over your neck (I may have mentioned this before, but I only do races that give you medals) once you fall over the finish line.
So, there it is. I just admitted it. I am busting my ass (literally, my glutes are killing me) so I can run 13.1 miles to get some free wine. Some may say, hey, you can actually just go buy a bottle and sit on your couch and save yourself a lot of pain and agony.
There is that. But, oh, the run from Napa to Sonoma. It’s hard to describe, but let me try. The weather is perfect. All the disgusting humid, hot running I do here pays off, because it is amazing there. It’s in the 70’s, never hot and you can even catch a slight cool breeze to make your undercarriage happy.
You are surrounded by miles and miles of vineyards. Cabernets, Chardonnays, Zinfandels, Pinot Noirs all sit quietly beside you, growing into plump little beauties. The sun never gets hot. Foothills line the horizon. Beautiful barns and houses are scattered about in the middle of this grape heaven. You are running through the fields of wine makers dreams.
Until you get to Mile Nine. That’s where the brick wall hits you and the pain smacks you in the knees. But you take your shots of wine, salt tabs, Gu energy gels and carry on. The crowds of people cheering you on and the minuscule buzz you just got pushes you to the end to wine country victory.
But, for now, I am suffering. The race is next weekend and I am probably not totally prepared, seeing how I just started training a couple weeks ago. But, whatever. Worst case scenario? I will walk amongst the twisty vines under a clear blue sky and make my way to sharing wine and memories with people I adore.
One mile at a time.
Photo by: millerpartyof5
Outside my window stands a four-story brick building. Its presence is unforgiving; tagged with graffiti, the indistinguishable scribbles of black spray paint spread across the framework.
Large glass panes outline the loft spaces inside and smokers can be seen standing at them, conversing and flicking ashes that float down to the street. The billboard to the right of me stands high above the freeway and big block letters colored red spell out, “Me Love Rambo.”
Bags of garbage line the curb and litter is scattered throughout the neighborhood. Two cats live in the parking lot and sun themselves and roll around in the dirt. Patches and Midnight is what we have named them. They like to sleep under our car.
We have moved to Brooklyn. And this is our view.
It is much different from our life in Queens, with rubbish-free streets and the cacophony of chatter from moms in yoga pants drinking soy lattes while pushing strollers occupied with their fertility-forced twins.
In the entire year we lived there, there was not ONE single homeless person in the neighborhood. Not one. That is weird. It’s not that I am dying to be pestered by a dirty old man shaking an empty cup at me (or anything else for that matter) but this just doesn’t seem very New York to me. Even my neighborhood in Chicago had the bearded homeless lady who threw tampons at people.
I’ve been in need of some grit. I need the grit to spark some creativity back into me. And grit we will have here in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Besides the overall dirtiness of the streets, there are the entitled un-showered trust-fund kids in hoodies and flannels with those flesh-plug hole things in their ears. These are the Williamsburg baristas that will be serving me my coffee. There are the uber-skinny boys wearing uber-skinny jeans with mismatched dye jobs and vintage Oleg Cassini jackets . They will be bringing me my breakfast bowl of quinoa, kale, almonds and halloumi cheese.
All with an attitude and all with tattoos. I have never seen so many people dipped in ink. Entire bodies covered up, leaving no traces of a previous life of plainness. We saw a guy on the subway yesterday that had just his entire left side tattooed. The Burrito said it reminded him of the Bon Jovi song “Livin’ on a Prayer,” because he was “halway there.” My bare arms and legs must look like a blank canvas that they would love to get their hands and crayons on.
The attitudes of the hipster waitstaff around here remind me of going on vacation and experiencing “Jamaican time.” They are never in a hurry to greet you or get you a drink or tell you about the specials with a smile on their face. It’s all about being cool and making sure you know that you are indeed, not cool. I might have a better chance of getting ice in my drink if I had a face filled with piercings. And poor Burrito. He actually had a guy take one look at him with his shirt and tie on and said, “There goes the neighborhood.”
Damn hipsters. It’s like we’ve gone back to High School again and instead of the jocks being miserable little pricks, it’s knit-hat-wearing, bone-marrow eating, inked up spoiled “starving” artists at the ready to bully anyone who’s not cool enough to ride a Fixie to the record store.
But, no worries. I am excited to be here. I have not been surrounded by this much creativity before. Yesterday on my run, I passed a girl who was working on a huge painting she had propped up against a building. She had cans of paint by her feet and she just worked on her piece alone in the blazing sun. It was pretty awesome. I am taking in all the graffiti (and learning the different types) and the awful 80’s style that is forever prevalent and the garbage blowing down the streets and I am learning to embrace it.
This is the New York City experience I’ve been waiting for. It’s Brooklyn, yo.
Photo by Carla Echevarria, All rights reserved
Did you know there are pages and pages on the Internet explaining how to boil an egg?
The Burrito & I are still maintaining our healthy lifestyle (see, Absence makes the liver…happier? ) and I wanted to make some hard-boiled eggs for snacking on and to make Avocado Toast, a recipe from Bob Harper’s new book, Skinny Meals, Everything you need to Lose Weight-Fast!
We cook together almost every night, so I am no stranger in the kitchen. But, it’s been a while since I’ve made hard-boiled eggs and I just couldn’t remember how long they were supposed to boil.
So, of course, I Googled it.
And I was kinda shocked at the result. Pages upon pages about how to cook hard-boiled eggs, how to cook them in the oven, how to peel them, how to cook them at a high altitude, how to make them in the microwave, and the overall top results: How To Make Perfect Hard Boiled eggs.
I mean, I had no idea that there was such a demand for perfect hard-boiled eggs. Unless you are Martha Stewart or Oprah’s chef, I didn’t know making flawless eggs was such a sizeable concern.
Needless to say, I guess a lot of people do care about this, so I figured, what the hell? Let’s make some perfect hard-boiled eggs.
What I remembered about making hard-boiled eggs was to boil them for about ten minutes, submerge them in cold water and let them sit for a bit.
Apparently, things got fancy and I had no idea:
A lot, right? I mean, cooking eggs in water should be about as easy as just boiling water in my mind. But, again, I figured I must be missing something here, so I clicked on this link by Simply Recipes:
Now, no offense to this site, but holy crap. A little too wordy for me. I felt like I was looking at a recipe for a fancy pants soufflé.
Not to mention, I just didn’t believe the recipe.
It says to put the eggs in the boiling water for one minute and then let them cool for 12 minutes. Going by what I knew of boiling eggs, I could not wrap my head around reversing the system of boiling longer and cooling less.
So, I didn’t.
I am learning new cooking methods and recipes by cooking with The Burrito all the time, so I am open to learning new techniques.
But, I went with my gut this time.
I decided to just go with tradition and boil for eight minutes, dunk them in cold water for two minutes and then let them cool for ten minutes.
They were perfect. Without any website telling me how to make them differently that I had before.
Fancy recipes and innovations aside, the moral of the story is it’s okay in life to go with your gut, stick with what you know, and strive only for your own model of perfection.
Photo by: The Craftsy Blog,© Arights reserved.
The rain is making a soft pitter-patter against the window. Each drop clears a trail through the dusty pane and then falls to the ground. Birds are happily chirping as they dip their wings into puddles of water and let it roll off their backs.
Damp, cool air blows through the window and dances across the back of my neck bringing tiny goose bumps to the surface of my skin.
A lawn mower hums in the distance and children are laughing loudly in the park nearby.
But I don’t hear or feel any of this.
I am in dreamland. Tucked in between the sheets, my hibernating brain sees visions of the past and present intertwined in colors and shapes.
I breathe deeply as the breeze continues to float around me. I am lost in time and space and the lovely distractions outside do not stir me.
It’s raining. I’m sleeping. It’s dreamy.
Photo by: https://www.flickr.com/photos/caitdphoto/3117111108/
I started blogging to put my writing out there and see what kind of feedback I got. I posted excerpts from my book and the response was great. Of course, most of the readers were friends of mine from Facebook and my stats started out low, but it didn’t matter. I felt validated and my confidence in my writing ability soared.
I worked on my book for about two years and intermittently would post personal essays on the blog as well.
I removed my book from the blog about 6 months ago since I would like to try to publish it offline in the future. I have posted on the blog, but not as much as I would like.
Like all writers, I would love to spend all my time cranking out witty, smart pieces that pay the bills.
This is a stretch goal, but it’s not impossible.
As part of a writing challenge, Blogging 201: Branding and Growth, my assignment is to set three goals for my blog to help define its content and drive traffic.
I hope you will cheer me on as I take on this task.
- Post more often. Specifically, more than zero. Ideally, one to two times a week.
Writing is important to me and it’s what makes me happiest. It’s not easy though, coming up with ideas to write about and making it all work on paper. That, along with life getting in the way, can make sitting down to write daunting and the procrastination sets in. I want to be able to make writing a priority in my life and make time to do it.
- Gain followers, increase traffic and participate in the writing community.
Having a blog is not only a place to express your creativity, it’s a forum to see other writer’s work and bounce ideas off each other. It’s an unassuming community and the support system is fantastic.
Gaining followers and increasing traffic is what all writers want on their blog. We want to be seen and be heard.
- Define and expand my writing skills.
I’m still trying to figure out exactly what my blog is and what my style is. I want to take on writing challenges and continue to grow into what hopefully can become a profession for me. I would like to do copywriting work and finish my book.
Now, I could use your help as well.
- Please, give me topic suggestions. As I stated, I am looking for new challenges and could use fresh ideas from you.
- I would love to start a conversation with you about whatever topic I post about, so feel free to tell me what you think in the Comments section of each post.
- Make me accountable. Gentle nudging when I haven’t posted anything in a week or so is welcomed.
As always, thanks for reading!
Removing. Restricting. Eliminating. Withdrawing. These are not kind verbs in their own right and adding them to my nutritional vocabulary has been stinging.
You may have read my article, Absence makes the liver…sadder? that chronicled the start of the process of me and the Burrito (aka, the fiance) eliminating alcohol, sugar and carbs for 30 days. It’s been over a month now and since we are still waist-deep in vegetables, coconut milk and pea protein, I thought I would provide an update.
As a reminder, Here were the major issues I needed to combat:
- I kinda love my processed foods. Chips, cookies, aspartame, cheese in a jar (love you queso!) and any other bad idea in a box that crossed my path.
- I love sugar. Chocolate, Skittles, Starburst, Hazelnut creamer, donuts. Sugar is my crack.
- My love of wine and Gin. Too many empty calories and my wallet weeps for the money washed down each bottle.
Now, let me just say, I have never really had to work hard to lose weight before. I have been thin most of my life, have eaten fairly healthy and have been working out since I was sixteen years old. But, along with all the other joyful presents that age 41 brings, losing weight is now harder. It doesn’t help that I have snarfed my way through engagement bliss eating pizza, cheeseburgers, chips and pounds of chocolate. Living in NYC provides options beyond one’s imagination and I have taken well advantage of that.
The Burrito has stuck with me through this, being part sweet supporter, part ridiculous drill sargeant. Working together with someone is so much easier than doing it alone.
I have lost a solid 6 pounds. The Burrito has lost 14. Of course he has, because he is a man and they are annoying when it comes to their easy weight loss. Do I sound bitter?
Anyway, down to the nitty gritty. Here is what we did to eliminate these vices and how we got through it.
First off, let me show you what one week of groceries looks like for us now, every week. (This does not include the dairy or nuts or seaweed snacks that we eat as well.) As you can see, my cat thinks he wants vegetables, but he doesn’t (he confuses oregano for catnip.)
We eat all of it, too. We juice using beets, kale, cucumbers, apples, fresh ginger and carrots. Every night for dinner, we prepare 2 to 3 sides of veggies. Produce does not go bad in this house.
This is how we start off every morning. Protein shakes consisting of Pea protein, vegetable protein, coconut milk, kale, honey, frozen dark cherries and a shot of espresso. And a zillion supplements that the Burrito got from a nutritionist at a Medical Spa- everything from probiotics to neutralize the bacteria in our guts to Choline to repair our drunken livers.
Lunches and snacks consist mostly of salads, 2-3 ounces of turkey or chicken lunchmeat with string cheese and fruit, plain Greek yogurt with honey and cinnamon and 28 g of walnuts. Yes, we weigh everything as well. Calories are hidden in everything, and when you think you can just round something up or down, that’s where you get into trouble. In lieu of bread, we use Boston Bibb lettuce as wraps and some lower carb tortillas.
We experimented with cauliflower. Now, I am not a fan of this bland vegetable that reminds me of dirty gym socks (so does Saganaki cheese, so I have this thing about gym socks. Not sure why) but it was our only alternative to flour.
We made a cauliflower “crust” pizza. Yeah. I know what you’re thinking, and you would be correct. It wasn’t great. Pizza is one of my favorite foods, so it wasn’t the slice of pie I was looking for.
Now, we did make “fried” chicken with cauliflower as the base, and that was actually pretty good. I would welcome any suggestions for future recipes using cauliflower as a replacement for flour.
Roasted artichokes are a staple now. In case you didn’t know, it’s so easy to do, a monkey could make them. Therefore, so can I.
Simple directions: Cut the base off, open the leaves, drizzle olive oil and fresh lemon juice inside and out. Put either a clove of garlic in the middle or crushed garlic all around inside the leaves. Sprinkle with sea salt and double wrap in aluminum foil. Bake at 425° for 1 hour. Amazing.
Who knew I could be this domestic?
We didn’t have any alcohol for 25 days. This was pretty tough. We truly believed that we would lose all our friends and never go out again. We were pleasantly surprised when, wait for it…we actually had fun while sober! I know, crazy, right? We went out with friends one night and they all just happened to not be drinking much either, so we spent an evening playing “Catch Phrase” and drinking hot tea. This may sound like old people kind of fun, but we laughed so hard and had a fantastic time. It’s shocking for all of us.
We went to a couple music shows and didn’t drink. That was a bit harder only because the crowds were kind of annoying and some gin may have made that more palatable.
There were definitely nights that I craved wine. I kind of believe now that it has to do with the sugar. Eliminating sugar has been the hardest for me, and that includes delicious glasses of Sauvignon Blanc.
These days we are only drinking one day during the week and two days on the weekend. And due to our lower tolerance now, we get tipsy off the first glass and have become cheap dates. See how I reunite with wine in my article: Fifty Shades of Red.
I really blew it with the sugar crack addiction on Day 26. We were in D.C. visiting friends and semi-officially off the diet for that weekend. We had drinks and then after dinner, dessert was brought out.
Très Leche cake. We are having this for our wedding cake and it is to die for. This is where it gets really ugly. After consuming far too much champagne and wine that night, my defenses were down and I wolfed down 3 PIECES of cake. THREE.
It gets better. The next morning, we were all hungover and brought out the remaining cake after breakfast and I proceeded to eat another piece and a half. SHAMEFUL.
I gained a pound just from that weekend.
Let this be a lesson. Sugar crack is wack.
A few words on how I feel about this whole experience. Despite having my favorite delights taken from me, it has been worth it. We sleep so much better. I have more energy. I used to get so tired by 9 pm and want to go to bed. The processed crap I was eating was making me crash and burn. Now I am staying up until almost midnight every night. I get a lot more done and I feel pretty good. I actually crave vegetables and fruit, which is amazing in itself.
We did not cheat for 25 days, but going on maintenance now and treating ourselves to what we “missed out on” during that time is a slippery slope. We both have some more to lose, but it’s more of a lifestyle choice now. I’m hoping we don’t turn into that annoying couple that talks about healthy living all the time, but if someone wants to hear about it, good news-we both love to talk.
I am going to allow myself to have a slice of pizza (maybe two) in a couple weeks once I am down a couple more pounds. And I can assure you- it’s not going to be made of cauliflower.
Barbie Donut photo by: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lauralewis23/
You are so beautiful. As I run my hand down the sides of your body, electricity runs through me. My fingers circle around lightly, tracing every inch of your smooth skin. I notice you are slightly chilled, which is exactly how I like you.
Don’t be alarmed. The knife I am using to cut you open is sharp, no jagged edges to mar your sparkling foilage. As I grab you and twist you around and around with the knife to your throat, I get excited. My eyes widen as I slowly peel your top away, exposing the door to your entry.
I’m sorry that I have to force myself on you. It will be fast and relatively painless as I stab and twist deeper over and over again until you pop ever so gracefully beneath my palm.
I bend over and breathe deeply. It’s over, you can relax. Your aroma is intoxicating as it penetrates through my every pore. The scent of tobacco and leather blend magically with your peppered, dark cherry skin. Closing my eyes, I inhale you again.
Velvety, creamy red is your color. As I bend you over, you cascade and flow across the glass. The sound you make as you try to escape makes me smile. It’s slightly unpleasant, the gurgling, but I know you will be worth it, so I keep going.
Finally, you are almost here with me.
I hold you in my hands and swirl you around in our own private dance. You’re flushed and rosy and sparkle in the light. All around you, your long legs stretch out and melt against the glass. I am salivating and breathing harder now. I am ready for you.
I pull you close to me, my lips touching you. The smell of you, your color, it’s all too much. I must have you now.
Ahhhh. You are delicious. I drink you in and hold you on my tongue, savoring every last drop of you. I have missed you. I have missed us.
I promise not to stay away so long next time. We belong together. You, me and that dirty old Rib Eye.
- Photo: All rights reserved by oisingormally
It’s the morning of Day Six and I am up at 6:45 on a Saturday. Somebody alert the media.
I am sipping espresso with a splash of cream instead of my usual coffee drowned in Hazelnut creamer.
No pounding headache from too much gin and wine.
The usual regret of eating too much is absent.
Kids, I drank the Kool-Aid and it’s working.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This week has been tough. During the first three nights of this insane detox, I was sweating like a whore in church. Tossing and turning, going from intense heat to freezing cold. I actually thought refraining from sugar and alcohol was giving me the flu.
I had a meltdown on night Four. The day had been rough for me. I was craving chocolate, pizza, cheeseburgers and lots of wine. I was whining and pissy and fed up.
We were making “fried” chicken fajitas coated in cauliflower (I know, it’s extreme) and wrapping it in lettuce. Having never undressed Boston lettuce before, he simply was telling me how to do it right (I was failing at this very easy project) and I lost it.
Tears of frustration rolled down my face.
“I need sugar and I need a drink! I can’t do this anymore!” I cried.
Poor fiancé. He hugged me and we both laughed about it once my hysteria calmed down.
I managed to have my first sober lunch with a friend that I normally would have had drinks with. She showed solidarity and didn’t have any wine either. It turns out that good conversation can be enough. Who knew?
The sweating has stopped and sleep has been amazing.
We’ve lost a couple pounds and we’ve saved around $150.
My thinking is clearer and I feel pretty damn good.
I am, however, terrified that I won’t ever want to drink again. I know that I’m now entering the Honeymoon Stage and may feel superior to those around me drinking and acting like idiots. By week three, I may look down my nose at you and say something stupid like, “You don’t need to drink to have a good time.”
I’ve always wanted to punch people in the face who say things like that.
Don’t worry, this too shall pass. I enjoy my social life way too much for this to last forever. And giving up gin and wine and the occasional Belgium beer would leave a void in my life that I simply cannot fill with kale and cabbage.
In the meantime, I apologize in advance for being overly optimistic (I normally frown upon too much optimism) and excited about my new clean lifestyle. If I try to lure you in by telling you my mind is clearer and I have seen the light, just roll your eyes, have a good laugh and order yourself a drink.
Let’s talk about these favorite things of mine.
Right now it’s 6:52 pm on March 3rd and normally we would be picking out a bottle of wine for dinner. Instead, we will be having tea. Lots and lots of tea.Detox tea to be exact. And compared to wine, it really sucks.
We are both pretty angry about it.
All day I have had moments of daydreaming about a buttery Chardonnay dripping long legs of yumminess inside a white wine glass while I peruse the Internet. Or having a delicious salad and cleansing my palate with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. I’m Dreaming of sipping on a Hendricks and soda during Happy Hour at the local bar.
I’m not a huge carb person, but I do enjoy my Carr’s water crackers with chunks of cheese, an afternoon snack of Kashi Warm Cinnamon cereal, and my morning egg sandwich on an English muffin. I don’t crave pasta or eat plates of fries, but carbs are definitely slipped into a lot of foods, so it could be tough.
OMG. Where do I start? Lindt’s Classic Recipe Hazelnut Chocolate has taken up residence in our kitchen drawer for months. It’s there for me when I’m happy, sad, moody or just bored. It’s the perfect finish to a great dinner. Peanut butter. I am obsessed with peanut butter. I eat it by the spoonful, which is part of the reason I can’t squeeze into my size 2’s anymore. First World Problem, I know. But it is what it is.
There are fricking Girl Scout cookies in this house that the fiancé had to HIDE from me. They were even hidden in plain sight-the freezer-and I didn’t find them. He brought them out on Saturday, when we were tipsy and having fun. This is why they need to be hidden. We ate an entire sleeve.
I’m not going to lie and try to be optimistic about this. I am not going to promote this healthy lifestyle as something fun and energizing. I am going to die when I watch The Real Housewives of New York and they are drinking wine and eating chocolate. I will lash out at friends who are going out to enjoy Happy Hour.
This is simply an emergency situation (impending muffin tops and ass jelly) that calls for unfortunate sacrifices.
And so, I hold my cup of detox tea up to you and toast to juicing our vegetables, eating our lean protein and trying not to kill each other.
Photo: All rights reserved by d3_plus