2013: The Best is Yet to Come

2012 began with a morning stroll down a quiet Duke of Gloucester Street with James. It was unseasonably warm, and the blue sky and warm sun filled us with hope and excitement. After 12 months of various ups and downs, and learning to adjust to my new identity, the year ended with a crackling fire in the cozy basement of our darling new house.

The holiday season was very good to us this year. We decked our newly purchased halls and had a merry time doing it. We hosted our first holiday party (2 in fact) and hung our first outdoor lights. We each had a birthday, and it seemed the whole month was one long feast of merriment. Most importantly, this Christmas season gave us an opportunity to step away from all the stress and think about all the wonderful things that we have done this year.

Strangely, the night before my 25th birthday, I found myself in a state of panic. “I’ll never be 24 again,” I said to myself. “How is it that my 20s are slipping by? What have I to show for it?” Silly, I know. I’m engaged, I have degree, and I own a single family home. Not to mention the numerous bucket list items I have fulfilled already. Still, that night I felt so much anxiety, like none of that had mattered at all and that I wasn’t good enough. I had spent so much of 2012 worrying about jobs and money that I hadn’t spent near enough time enjoying my life.

So, I have resolved to spend the New Year of 2013 being happy. Actually, I have 3 resolutions this year. First, to enjoy my house more, as that is the only reason I trudge through my job each day. Second, to grow deeper in my Catholic faith and read more spiritual literature, both alone and with James. Third, I’ll be keeping to Jorge Cruise’s eating method the entire year. My dad lost 40 lbs in 2012 by eating like Jorge, so I’ve decided to do the same. My plan is that these three small resolutions will feed off of each other and grow into a better-adjusted, happier me.

So much good is set to happen this year. In less than 5 months, I will finally marry the love of my life, and I will finally get to live in the home we are building together. Following the teachings of our Faith and living apart has not been easy by any stretch, but engagement is almost over now, and we know our sacrifice will make things all the more wonderful when our marriage finally begins. I’m so happy that 2013 is finally here, and that the best is yet to come. I’ll be seeing you.

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How I’m Getting My Life on Track

I am a list-writing fanatic. A compulsive lister.¬†Whenever I feel stressed out, I find myself frantically making lists. To-do lists, goal lists, lists of things that make me happy, lists of things not to eat, lists of future lists to make… it goes on. Last night, I finally figured out why.

Last night, my mom and I dinner with our cousin, who happens to be a health coach. We’re going to start a 6-month program to get ourselves healthy. The great thing about this program is that it’s not just about dieting. It’s about taking your whole life into perspective and realizing what you need to do to be healthy mentally and physically.

During this meeting, I figured out why I gained 15 pounds in the last year. Prior to Nov 2010, I was a freelance SEO writer, I worked out daily (often at the local park) and I cooked a LOT¬†(usually healthy food) to relieve stress. Now, I have a sedentary¬†job that¬†I don’t love, I don’t have a home to go back to, and¬†if I want privacy with James or with my mother I have to go out to dinner. I no longer have a private kitchen to cook in so now¬†when I get stressed, I give into cravings. WOW. What a life style change! With¬†all the stress making me feel¬†hopeless, making lists is my frantic grasp at taking control. I try to organize my life on paper since it’s so disorganized in reality.

So what now?

I’m really excited to have a health coach for 6 months. I’m looking at¬†this as having¬†someone to help me stay on track with exercising,¬†choosing healthy stress-relief¬†outlets, and learn some new, better ways of eating.

The minute I got home, I made a list (no surprise)¬†of healthy stress-relievers: exercise, prayer, writing, blogging, organizing my room,¬†and making lists. I’m so excited to start this new¬†program. 6 months from now, I’ll be interested to see the final results!

Awesome Easy Portobello Panini

I was in the mood for a Portobello burger today around lunch time, so I came up with this amazing sandwich. It feels like you’re eating a ton of food because the mushroom is so big, but at the same time, it’s all veggies so it’s good for you and relatively low-cal depending on how you do it. Here’s what I used:

1 Portobello mushroom cap

1/2 small avocado, sliced

2 slices honey wheat bread

1 slice tomato

a little lettuce

salt/pepper

And for the chipotle mayo:

1 chipotle in adobo sauce

about 1/4 cup mayo

Here’s what you do:

1. Drizzle a little oil (i¬†prefer olive oil) in a grill pan on the stove, and turn it up to medium high heat. While that’s heating up, make the chipotle¬†mayo. Basically, slice open the chipotle¬†pepper, scrape out the seeds (this cuts down on some of the heat) and chop the pepper into tiny little pieces. Then add your chopped pepper to the mayo, and there you go, chipotle mayo (and enough for tomorrow, too). You can play around with the pepper to mayo ratio to suit your taste.

2. Grill the mushroom. You can scrape the gills out first, but it doesn’t matter too much. It also doesn’t matter which side you place on the grill pan first: I’ve tried it both ways. It needs to cook about 3-5 minutes each side.

3. While that’s happening, spread margarine (or butter) on one side of each slice. Place the slices butter-side down in the grill pan. They’ll get really soft right away. After about a minute, when the cooking side is getting nice grill marks, flip the bread to toast the un-buttered side. This will just make the bread a little stiffer and stronger so it can hold the sandwich. This only takes about a minute so be careful not to burn it.

4. One the mushroom is just about done, place a piece of cheese on it while it’s on the grill pan so¬†the cheese¬†has time to melt.

5. Build¬†your sandwich. Spread chipotle¬†mayo on the bread. The stack the mushroom, avocado slices, lettuce, tomato slices, a little pepper and salt, then the second slice of bread. Cut it in half so you can admire the amazing looking cross-section and Bon Appetit ūüôā

How to lose 10 pounds permanently

A little update on my New Year’s Resolution… it’s working! Not super fast, but that’s fine. Everyone says that when it comes to losing weight, slower is better because it’s more permanent. I mean just look at the past winners of The Biggest Loser. People who lose weight quickly almost always gain it back. I even lost 20 pounds once in a month, and then (once I couldn’t keep up with running every single¬†day) it came back.

This time it’s different. I’m using Lose It!, and iPhone application that allows me to keep track of my daily caloric intake. It’s slow going, but it’s been easy. I haven’t felt like I’m sacrificing. And today at my “weigh-in”, I found I lost 10 pounds!

I even “cheated” a little… which is probably why this weight loss is going much slower than planned. But still, the fact is that it’s working. I’m so excited!

How to do this without an iPhone or iPod Touch:

I don’t work for Apple, so I can tell you that honestly, you can make this work without buying an iPhone and downloading Lose It!.¬† Basically, keep track of your daily caloric intake and your exercise, and figure out a daily calorie goal that’s low enough to lose weight and high enough that you’re getting the food you need. (It’s pretty simple, just keep a journal.) Also, there are “filler” foods (like lettuce and other green vegetables) that you can eat a lot of without destroying your goal. This is what I used to do, before I had and iPod Touch. Now, Lose It! just makes it simple for me.

Losing Weight Doesn’t Have to Be Boring

Time to celebrate! This morning I stepped on the scale, and a few more pounds have disappeared! For the first time in my life, I’m losing weight in an easy, natural, sustainable way.

It’s called eating heathly and exercising more.

I know what you’re thinking. No brainer, right? But I’ll tell you something: I’m one of those people who hate exercising. I cry at the thought of running. And I¬†don’t like giving up my evening dessert either.

As someone who’s struggled my whole life with weight issues, I’ve tried all kinds of ways to look and feel better. I tried those fad diets like South Beach, where all I did was grieve over my missing carbs. In high school I tried weight loss bars and shakes, but the only thing that happened was I felt sick all the time.

When you try something like bars, shakes, or giving up an essential food group (like carbs), not only does your body miss out on essential nutrients, but also you get sick of eating the same things all the time. That was my problem. It’s hard to eat the exact same thing for lunch every day. Sooner or later you go back to your old ways–as well as your old weight.

Variety is essential if you want to be able to sustain your weight loss. I’ve been eating different foods every day. I’ve still been eating all of my favorites, like salami and provolone sandwiches, chicken and dumplings, stuffed shells, cheesesteak sandwiches, brownies, and ice cream. The trick is I define reasonable portions for myself–portions that keep me satisfied so I don’t snack between meals.

The other essential part of my plan is my morning workout. 6 days a week, I do 15 minutes on my elliptical followed by 18-30 crunches and 10 sit-ups. All of this happens while my country music is blaring. I think it’s the music that makes is bearable. But the great part is, it leaves me feeling good about myself all day long.

For the first time, losing weight doesn’t leave me feeling sad, deprived, and frustrated. Finally I’ve found a way to lose weight that’s letting me feel happy and good about myself. And the best part is–it’s working!

The #1 Killer of Self-Esteem

This morning I woke up, and, like most mornings, stepped on the digital scale in my bathroom. Ugh… who really enjoys that? Even if the number is lower than it was yesterday, it’s still not low enough. If the number is higher… let’s not go there. Luckily, this morning the scale had good news: yesterday’s exercise paid off. Encouraged by the loss of a few pounds, I decided to keep up the trend. I spent 10 boring minutes on my elliptical, followed by sit-ups. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s usually enough to keep the pounds melting, in my case.

In the afternoon, I went to the mall with my cousins Genna and JJ. This was more exercise, walking for miles though shiny halls full of goodies. We were looking for dresses, actually. Cousin Tony is getting married in September, and my friend Andrea’s wedding is in November. I’ve made up my mind to look absolutely stunning at both events.

I found a beautiful dress at Lord & Taylor. It looked perfect. My cousins agreed. We sent a picture to James, who also loved it. But, almost inevitably, it wouldn’t zip all the way. This is the problem with dress shopping. You find something perfect… but it doesn’t zip. And they didn’t have any bigger sizes.

I’m usually pretty happy with the way I look. I never think much about it. Leave it to dress shopping to bring out all of my insecurities. Really, why should I care about my weight? I think I’m beautiful (usually), and James is crazy about me. What more is there? The only reason I really care is for dress shopping. Shopping would be so much more fun if more clothes fit.

Leaving the mall empty handed, we went out to dinner. I decided I was going to get a salad. I couldn’t let all that walking go to waste. It was all going to be great. Enter Don Pablo. Mexican food is my biggest weakness. I ordered fajitas, thinking that chicken and veggies would be safe. Pile on three tortillas and guacamole. I was completely stuffed. I feel like my day is completely blown to pieces.

Maybe I‚Äôm exaggerating. It was a lot of food, but it wasn‚Äôt so bad for me. At least we didn‚Äôt have dessert. Regardless, I am completely terrified of my scale. I don‚Äôt want to see the number in the morning. I don’t want to see¬†all my work gone to waste.

Maybe it won’t be so bad. Maybe I’ll be encouraged enough to continue with my work-out routine. The worst thing I could do is give up.

I really want that dress.