Weight

This post has been a long time coming. Actually, deep down, this topic may be the real reason that I started a blog in the first place. Seeing that it’s the start of a new year and a perfect time for resolutions, I think it’s high time that I got my thoughts on this dreaded topic written down. So, here we go. Here is my brutally honest, and terrifying [for me], but necessary post about weight.

I’ve never been “fat“, but I’ve always struggled with weight. Growing up, I was always bigger than most of the girls in my class which made me feel self-conscious, but was great for my elementary school basketball career. I was the tallest, or second tallest, kid (including the boys) in my class every year up to sixth grade. Because I was taller and bigger than most of the boys, I always felt like somewhat of an ugly duckling.

Hiding in the back behind everyone at the beach

Early high school years?

I believe that genetics plays some role in your predisposition for gaining/losing weight. My family has a history riddled with obesity. My dad’s side of the family is a large Italian family in more ways than one. Mostly everyone weighs 300+ pounds, sometimes with life threatening results. To put it in perspective, my dad is known as the skinny uncle…and my dad, although I love him dearly, is by no stretch of the imagination “skinny”.

My parents were always very careful with us growing up. Watching what we ate, making sure that we were involved in sports, and I am grateful for that. But regardless, my weight tended to yo-yo. Most of it had to do with my lifestyle choices. When I used to come home from school and eat a bowl of chips, I gained weight. But when I stopped doing that, and started going to soccer practice instead, I lost some of it.

These trends have continued into my adult life. As a senior in high school, I had a few extra pounds on me and I always felt self-conscious about it. Even though I played soccer, I ate A LOT of pizza. Like, A LOT of pizza. Plus, once soccer season was over, I just stopped exercising completely. My weight ballooned up to the 170’s.

Senior Year Beach Week

Then I got to college. I started forging out on my own, making my own decisions, on my own time. I started exercising every single day, sometimes for 2 or more hours. I was in great shape and got down to my lowest (and healthiest) weight in my adult life: 150.

At my lowest weight. And yes, I am dancing in a High School Musical Parade, SO WHAT!

I was able to still eat pretty terribly, but maintained my weight anyway because I had the time to work out every day. But then graduation hit. And so did sitting in an office all day. During my first job out of college, most days I would be out for 13 hours+ between commuting and work. I just didn’t have time to exercise like I did in college. Plus, by the time I finally got home, I would be way too tired to lace up those running shoes. I started making not-exercising a standard.

I stepped on the scale today and saw a number that shocked me: 175. Over the past two years, I’ve gradually (and somewhat unknowingly) gained 20 pounds. That’s just unacceptable. If you don’t believe me, here’s some proof.

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2011

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2011

I can see it and feel it all over. So, I started thinking about how this happened. I think weight gain (and loss) mostly has to do with your everyday choices.

I know my eating habits aren’t the best, but I never realized that I’ve been making excuses for myself. Sometimes I find myself telling people that “I’ve barely eaten anything today”, even though I ate a Poptart (200 calories), pretzels with peanut butter (300 calories) and a candy bar (300 calories). That’s 800 calories I’m not accounting for in a day when I’m just mindlessly eating. Then I’ll go and order a pizza with the mindset that it’s okay because “I’ve barely eaten.” This sort of thinking is unhealthy and absolutely needs to stop.

So, why am I talking about this in excruciating detail in my blog? Well, I’m starting a challenge…with myself.

The challenge: lose 20-30 pounds by 2013…that is, if the world doesn’t end, of course.

I want to get back down to where I was at my healthy weight in college. We’ll call it my feel-good weight. It was the time in my life that I felt physically and mentally the most at peace with my weight. Right now, although it may not seem it, I am teetering the balance between normal and overweight on the BMI scale, and I don’t like that.

This isn’t just all for vanity. I’ve been feeling the effects of the extra weight more and more lately. I don’t have as much energy as I used to, running is more difficult, and sometimes I wake up with a stomach ache after a night of binge eating pizza and cookies. Waking up with a stomach ache is pretty much the worst feeling in the world. Lately, I’ve just had a general feeling of “blah”.

  • The Challenge: lose 20-30 lbs by 2013.
  • Starting Weight: 175
  • Goal Weight: 150
  • How I’m going to do it: 
    • Start counting calories. I plan to use the MyFitnessPal app for iPhone. I don’t know how long I will count calories, but I’m going to do it at first because I honestly have no idea how many I consume on an average day.
    • Cut portions. I’m an American, and I eat oversized portions. We all do, it’s true.
    • Less carbs. I’m a carbo-holic. I love them, I live for them. I’m still going to be eating pizza and bread, but probably just less of it. I must condition myself to like salads.
    • Drink more water. Did you know that most of the time when your body thinks it’s hungry, it’s actually thirsty?
    • RUN! At least 3 times a week, preferably 5 if I can fit it into my schedule
    • Stop making excuses. They’ve just got to stop.
    • Blog about it. I’m thinking maybe a bi-weekly post with an update. That will provide some accountability. Plus, then I can share things that do/do not work for me.
    • Take before and after pictures. I love to see progress. Maybe I’ll even post them.

Any advice? Success stories? Failures? Also, if anyone wants to embark on this journey along with me, the more the merrier. I’d love to have a support group to help keep me accountable.

Christmas Traditions

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is learning about other family’s traditions. It’s fascinating that so many families celebrate the same holiday in such different ways. As a kid, I was so stuck in my own traditions. It hasn’t been until recently that I realized that not everyone celebrates Christmas exactly like my family does.

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My family traditions are very special. Most of my family resides in Pennsylvania, so we all head up to my grandma’s house. My parents met in high school, so both of their families were born and raised in the same area. That makes it easy to see both sides of the family during the holidays.

Every year, on Christmas Eve, we head over to my Aunt Linda’s house to celebrate with my Dad’s side of the family with a true Italian Seven Fishes Dinner.

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Obviously most of our time is spent eating, but we also find time to open presents, and drink fuzzy navels.

This year, on Christmas morning, my brother and I completed our 5th Annual Chrismas Morning Run.

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I got the chance to try out my new Under Amour gear!

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Compression pants = baller. It was a pretty rough run. We only did 3.2 miles, but my lungs were burning after the first mile. After that, my body started to remember what it was doing and I felt better. I really need to start running again.

After that, my mom’s side of the family started showing up at my Grammy’s house for a 2pm Christmas feast.

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Now, you are all well aware of my picky nature. Typically, for Christmas, my grandparents buy me cheese bread and I fight with my younger cousins about who gets more. This year, I went above and beyond and ate ham, corn, mashed potatoes, and scalloped potatoes…along with a slice of cheese bread (some traditions just can’t be broken).

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It was all so good that some of us (aka my cousin Eric) had to lick the plate!

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Then we all gathered around and opened gifts. Every year, all the grand kids take a picture with the grandparents.

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I ❤ my family.

Christmas was my Pappy's favorite holiday. He was such a grouch, but he absolutely adored Christmas. He loved the little holiday toys that played music and danced. So, every year around this time, it's impossible not to think of him. One year, my Aunt Renee, found a black Christmas hat that said "Bah Humbug", she wrapped it up with some coal and gave it to him on Christmas day. We all got a huge laugh about the hat and agreed that it fit his personality to a tee. The hat became a Christmas day tradition.

Last year, the hat stayed in storage. But this year, the tradition was passed down to the next lovable, grumpiest in the family…ME!

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I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to carry on this family tradition.

We all ate cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. Oh and fudge. Lots and lots of fudge.

And drank frosty navels. Lots and lots of frosty navels.

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And got to spend lots of time catching up with my awesome family.

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Oh, and my Pandora bracelet is almost complete!

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What a wonderful holiday! I love celebrating with family and friends who I just don’t get to see enough of.

What are your holiday traditions?

I’m thankful for

Happy Turkey Day everyone!

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. While I haven’t tried turkey and most of the sides are a little bit out of my food realm, I always enjoy making up for it in the dessert round. My dad makes pumpkin pie from scratch (using real pumpkin) which is simply divine! Mmmm…I can already taste it!

But while we are all stuffing our faces, let’s take time to remember the true reason for this holiday. Giving thanks, counting our blessings and being grateful for what we have.

It’s been quite a trying year in many ways, but here are a few things I am thankful for:

My family

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Good friends (near and far)

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Health

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Learning to Cook Delicious Food

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Football

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The beach

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Puppies

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Settlers of Catan Parties

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Chipotle

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Christmas lights

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Technology (I’m totally writing this blog post from my iPhone!)

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Where I came from

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Where I’m going

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Happy Thanksgiving!!! What are you thankful for?

Grocery Shopping

I’m a prideful person. That being said, it takes me awhile to admit that I have a problem, or that I am afraid of something, or that I need help.

I started this blog with the lofty hopes of being able to cook for myself. How many recipes have you seen? Approximately 1. While I have strived at the whole trying-new-foods thing, I have fallen flat on my face at my primary goal: cooking. Recently, I’ve been asking myself why?

Then, the answer hit me: I fear shopping for groceries.

(Photo Cred)

Sounds ridiculous, right? Just saying it out loud makes me a little bit embarrassed. This can’t be a common problem.

Unfortunately, this is not a joke. I picked out dozens of recipes from various cookbooks and online sites that I want to try, but every time the thought of cooking crosses my mind, the feat of grocery shopping for the dish overwhelms to me.

I’ve always lived pretty simply. You can ask my college roommates, my shelf in the pantry was the least full by far. It consisted primarily of pancake mix, granola bars, and two year old lemonade that I refused to throw out. The catch: in college I had a meal plan and access to some of the finest collegiate dining facilities in the country. Have I ever mentioned on here how much I miss college? Because of this, I never taught myself to cook. I never had to. Result: I’ve never had to grocery shop for a meal.

I guess I didn’t take that into account when I started this little blog.

(Photo Cred)

To me, walking into a grocery store is like venturing into a foreign country where I don’t speak the language. As the saying goes, it’s all greek to me. What’s the difference between brands? How do I know what cut of meat to get? I feel like I’ll be wandering around the store aimlessly for hours. This is enough to deter me from cooking. Sound familiar? I do the same thing while trying new foods. Just the thought of trying something new scares me, and that’s enough to make me never do it. How do you think I’ve gone by whole life without eating a single vegetable? Kind of makes me wonder to how many other things in my life I employ this philosophy. Hmmm…

Sorry to get all introspective. Moving on.

Money. I know that organic and “real” food is a bit more expensive than the processed “bad” food. The ultimate American irony, is it not? We’re supposed to eat well, but it costs so much less to eat like crap…and then we all wonder why obesity is such a huge issue. Yes, I have a job. Yes, I can afford it. Yet, my college mentality (read: my I-can-stretch-60-dollars-out-over-a-month mentality) persists. One of my roadblocks to grocery shopping has been this thought, “I’d rather not spend $70 on groceries today, so I might as well not go at all.”

I’m working on ways to overcome this. Peer pressure has seemed to work so far. It’s true that things are less scary when done in groups. So, I would appreciate cooking buddies. [insert shameless plea here :D] But I do know that eventually I will need to overcome this on my own, and that thought is also scary.

What are your grocery shopping tips? Any advice (other than to just suck it up) to help me overcome this fear would be greatly appreciated.

Photo Friday: Graduating from the Kiddy Menu

Chipotle Edition

Disclaimer: If you don’t realize how big of a deal this post is, then let me clue you in. Just under 3 years ago my family wanted to stop at Chipotle for lunch. My family’s big fans of the restaurant which we didn’t have close to where we lived in southern Virginia. I wouldn’t eat anything there. I complained, whined, threw a fit…but they wouldn’t listen and dragged me there anyway. I refused to eat, citing that nothing on the menu appealed to me (no, not even chips). Shortly after, I found out that Chipotle could make custom made quesadillas which they technically classified as being on the Kid’s Menu. I have been ordering them (and holding up lines at Chipotle) ever since.

So, for me, this is huge:

The life and times of a picky eater

Let’s talk about food.

If you know anything about me, you know I’m an extremely picky eater. For the most part, people don’t believe me when I try to explain just how picky I really am. To give some perspective, here’s a selection of foods that I have been eating for 2 years or less:

  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Crab
  • Hamburgers
  • Hot dogs
  • Potatoes
  • Eggs
  • Steak
  • Granola
  • Strawberries

You may be asking yourself, but what the heck did you eat?! Well, that’s easy: PIZZA! And lots of it!

Pizza and I go way back. I’m pretty sure at one time it was, besides potato chips, the only thing I really ate. Sometimes I think that my good-old momma must have eaten an abundance of the cheesy, saucy, greasy, goodness when I was in the womb and that’s where my affinity comes from, but I can neither confirm nor deny this. What I do know is that I seriously LOVE pizza. Preferably any kind with a cheese-pepperoni-bacon overload, but I’m actually not that picky…if you can even believe that.

Every holiday for as long as I can remember, I’ve eaten pizza. My family always cooks a super elaborate turkey or ham meal with all of the sides and fixings. About 20 minutes before meal time we make sure that there is room in the oven for my Thanksgiving/Christmas/Easter pizza! One holiday, we forgot to put the pizza in the oven, and instead of toughing it out and eating “real food” like the rest of the fam, I waited an hour and ate all by myself. This is serious.

Yes, that’s a picture from last year’s actual Thanksgiving meal. Sorry for the quality, it was a quick snap with the iPhone.

I will let you in on a secret that I’ve tried to keep under-wraps: it’s not that I don’t like a wide variety of foods, it’s that I’ve never even tried them.

Recently I’ve been asking myself WHY I am doing this? I have to get special order chicken tenders made at weddings (embarrassing), I order off the kids menu at dinner with people I barely know (also embarrassing), and I am creating a huge inconvenience for so many of my friends and family (embarrassment strike three, and WE’RE OUT)!

So, I’m saying out with the old and in with the new! Over the past 2 years or so, I’ve already made great strides in expanding my palette. I now eat everything on that list of foods I mentioned above. This may not seem like much, but coming from the girl who only tried rice for the first time 3 months ago, it’s HUGE! I’m on a roll and I want to keep going. Over the next few months (and hopefully years) I want to stray away from the kiddy menu and into adulthood. I know it won’t be easy, but I’m ready to stop being picky. I’m done being embarrassed by my palette.

That being said, what exactly is my plan of action?

  • Step 1- Learn what I like: How can I possibly know if I like something if I’ve never tried it? I want to try as many new foods as I can!
  • Step 2- Learn to make it: Here’s another dirty secret of mine – I’ve never cooked a meal. Not one. No, not even a measly grilled cheese. Nothing. It’s time to learn.
  • Step 3- Make it healthy: I’ve done a fair share of research on this already and I know what’s healthy and what isn’t. Up to this point I just haven’t really cared. But alas, my body is finally starting to realize that it isn’t 21 anymore. Eating carbohydrates all day-everyday just isn’t going to cut it. I’d like to start introducing fresh food into my life. And vegetables *shudder*.
  • Step 4- Make it last: This can’t be a temporary change. It has to be a life one. I’m still trying to figure out exactly how I’m going to do this.

So, here’s to change: as new, exciting, humorous, and SCARY as it may be!