A to Z Challenge

“Y” and “Z” the end of #atozchallenge

Hello peeps! We’ve reached Ye Zenith (see what I did there?) 😀

yz

Ye Zenith
“Ye” is really really old English for “the”

And here we are at the end of the A to Z Challenge. If I had to give myself a grade I’d give myself a solid B. I actually deserve a C for how many times I dropped the ball but I’m giving myself extra points for creatively getting back on schedule. That counts too right?

So what does it mean to reach Ye Zenith? Ye zenith is a high point. We tend to predict our zeniths in life as our wedding day, a promotion, the birth of a child, graduation, reaching a particular goal, etc. But sometimes in focusing too much on the future we miss the everyday things that makes life worth living so I ask that you try to identify your every day zeniths. What was the high point of today?

For me, I reached a zenith today at lunch when I made this great lentil soup (sans celery and grains of paradise) that was just marvelous. I am not a lentil person so whenever I make food with an ingredient that is not my favorite and yet I love the taste, I  celebrate that. How will I celebrate? I’m heading to the gym for a 45-minutes spinning class. Maybe I’ll reach another zenith there.

toodle-oo
Looking forward to A to Z 2016
Goodbye April

Top 5 posts during A to Z Challenge (thanks for the love peeps):

Advertisements

“X” is for Xingu

DO NOT google "xingu" and forgive me for going off-topic.

XHello peeps, and welcome to the fourth installment of What I Read Tuesday (WIRT) where I write about my latest read as I work my way through 2015 Around the World Reading Challenge, the PopSugar Reading Challenge, and complete my personal Goodreads Reading Challenge of reading 50 books this year (I am so behind).  You can imagine how worried I was when I realized that my monthly WIRT would fall under the letter “X” and you can now imagine how happy I felt when I found “Xingu” by Edith Wharton. What a great short story (it should take less than 90 minutes to read) and it is available free through Project Gutenberg. Click here for Xingu.

 xingu

Meet the ladies of the Lunch Club, a book club composed of several (apparently) high-society ladies in Hillbridge, a small town. The aim of the club, as described by one of them, is to “concentrate the highest tendencies of Hillbridge – to centralise and focus its intellectual effort.” They “aspire to be in touch with whatever is highest in art, literature, and ethics.” Sounds good, right? The problem is that most of them don’t really seem to know whatever all that means.

This is a really funny story about the Queen Bee(s) of the time. Edith Wharton (1862 – 1937), a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, short story writer, and designer was known for her humorous insider’s criticism of America’s privileged classes. Xingu is no exception and in under 50 pages gives us social and psychological insight into the snobs of the time (some which are very much relevant today).

It’s easy to give the punchline away so I will only ask that you read it yourself. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy this short story. For book club members it is a must. I’m sure you know (or are) one of the ladies in this group.

Favorite Passage

download (1)

#burn

“W” is for Weekly Words of Wisdom

Hello peeps! We’re back on schedule. YAY!

When I started this blog I intended to post regularly but quickly learned that life would get in the way so I decided that I would at least make an effort to write a digest post every week and so was Sunday Summary born, a weekly post that most times serves as a weekly digest and sometimes allows me to highlight something important that happened or that I learned during that week.

Whichever the case I like to end the week on a high note and always share a quote, book passage, or some motivational words that I hope you’ll like and that usually become my mantra for the following week.

Since the start of this blog (March 2014), I’ve written 52 Sunday Summaries and therefore shared 52 weekly words of wisdom. I can’t really share them all but here’s a sample.

IMG_4493

Happy Motivation Monday. 🙂

Sunday Summary: Catching Up

Hello peeps! Long time, no see.

You know, sometimes you fall off the wagon and other times, upon falling, you decide to take a nap and miss the next wagon that comes along. THAT’S EXACTLY HOW THIS WEEK WENT FOR ME.

I haven’t tracked my food all week, I barely exercised at all, and I completely dropped the ball on the A to Z Challenge.

However, I am not giving up. I am too close to the end. Here’s me playing catch up:

IMG_4468“S” is for Social Media which I love a little too much. In terms of my journey SM has been of great help (post here). I share pictures and progress reports with friends and family who in turn encourage me to continue and keep me accountable. You can find me posting regularly on Facebook and Instagram, and from time to time on Twitter. Go ahead, stalk me (no creeps please). Is there some other place I need to be on?

IMG_4469“T” is for Television which I watch way too much of. Thanks to the magic of time shifting I can binge watch my favorite shows when I have time. My current five unmissable TV shows are HBO’s VICE to stay up to date and Game of Thrones (no explanation needed), BBC One’s Call the Midwife (the good old times sucked! but these women are awesome), Canal+ Borgia (so juicy), and BBC America’s Orphan Black (best sci-fi ever).  Any TV soulmates out there? 

IMG_4470“U” is for Unprepared which is what I was this week for what took over my life. I’m not really ready to share what I am working on but I do recognize that I need to work on my scheduling if I want to keep this blogging thing going. Also, I realize that this blog really does ground me so I promise to do better moving forward. Any recommendations on how to get better organized when there’s too much coming at once?

IMG_4471“V” is for Virtual – one of the reasons I do love doing this challenge is for the blogs I discover. Here are my favorite virtual places to visit:

– Katie Paul at Head Heart Health Best find ever! Katie, I love the way you write and your take on life. I want to be you when I grow up.

– The beautiful lady at Chocolate Makes it Better –  She writes about depression and other issues I share too and makes it better with chocolate. Love at first bite. Although, like me she fell off the wagon regarding the challenge, I do invite you to visit her blog.

– Parul (?) at Happiness and Food writes about… well, happiness and food but took the A to Z Challenge to focus on women issues and has done a fantastic job. I am behind on my reading but I know you will love it and best of all learn something new.

– Another beautiful lady, this time at Failed Experiments & Experimental Failings is another great lifestyle blog with a lot of sass. Just how I like them.

– Eva (?) at Eva Marasca self-identifies as an introvert just like I recently discovered that I have become myself (post here). Her musings are at times funny and others serious but always insightful.

I hope you take the time to visit them (or have already if you’re on the challenge). You won’t regret it. Thank you ladies for inspiring me.

—————————————

OK peeps! It's time to finish strong. Four days left, four letters left. Normally I would share Weekly Words of Wisdom along with my Sunday Summary but I'll be doing that tomorrow so come back for "W" is for Weekly Words of Wisdom. Best way to start the week. XOXO

“R” is for Restaurants

RI don’t know you peeps but in my experience there is just no way to lose weight if I constantly eat out. There is just no way. And I love eating out and therefore I have had to learn to make smart decisions when I eat out and plan ahead in order to not terribly disturb my weight loss journey.

So… let’s talk about restaurants. I love them 😆 and what’s not to love: yummy food, no prep, no cooking, no clean-up. It’s awesome. The main problem with eating out is that we have very little control on how it is prepared and therefore a simple meal of 600 calories at home may easily turn into a 2000-calorie monstrosity at your favorite food joint. What’s a girl (or guy) on a diet to do?

Toni’s Restaurant Tips

TIP #1 Check the menu before you go – Most restaurants share their meals’ nutritional value on their website. Check it before you head out so you have a better idea what are your best choices. There are also apps that can help you make smarter choices at the dinner table. I usually check my copy of Eat This, Not That! or the website. In any case, the trick is to be prepared before you set foot in the restaurant.

TIP #2 Plan out your week – I usually know how many times I’ll be eating out during the week so if it’s only one day I may allow myself to splurge and have a “cheat-meal” with no regrets but if I know that I will be eating out three or more days the next week then I make sure that I choose healthier options with plenty of greens and sauces and/or dressings on the side.

TIP #3 Check your alcohol and/or skip dessert – The biggest change I made to my lifestyle was limiting my alcohol consumption. I barely have any anymore unless I’m out with friends and preferably if I know I will be dancing and therefore burning it off. I also rarely have dessert and if I do I try to share it.

Do you plan your eating out adventures? Got any tips?

“Q” is for Questions

QEver wonder if you are doing life wrong? I am currently in a transitional state, not quite clear about what will be next; a sort of mid-life crisis. As I await for some projects to take form I wonder if I am on the right track or making the biggest mistake of my life. The problem is that there is really no way to know. As Steve Jobs famously said…

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

I recently came across this article, 30 Thought-Provoking Questions You Should Ask Yourself Every Day. I invite you try to answer them for yourself as I take on each question:

1. Who am I really? I am a woman, a daughter, a relative, a friend. I am curious, skeptical, intelligent, knowledgable. I am single, adventurous, adaptable, and always searching. An eternal teacher and student. An investigator and a writer.

2. What worries me most about the future? That we will not learn from our mistakes and therefore we are bound to repeat them.

3. If this were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? Probably not. I would fly back to Venezuela and spend that day with my family and childhood friends.

4. What am I really scared of? Never establishing roots.

5. Am I holding on to something I need to let go of? I hope not. I try not to hold on to things that are out of my control or in the past.

6. If not now, then when? If only it were that easy. If possible, now… always now.

7. What matters most in my life? That I am happy and have no regrets, and that I can somewhat contribute to the happiness of people around me.

8. What am I doing about the things that matter most in my life? Unfortunately I have to accept that regardless of what I do I cannot make everyone happy, but I can make myself happy. I’m learning.

9. What do I matter? In the great scale of things not that much but being here is awesome so I’ll try to make the best of it for myself and those around me.

10. Have I done anything lately worth remembering? Nothing earth-shattering I believe. I can’t answer this now. Years from now… who knows what will be worth remembering.

11. Have I made someone smile today? I did… and laugh out loud too. Mission accomplished. 😀

12. What have I given up on? Having children of my own.

13. When did I last push the boundaries of my comfort zone? In general I push the boundaries quite often but mostly to accommodate others not myself. My comfort zone is very roomy though.

14. If I had to instill one piece of advice in a newborn baby’s mind, what advice would I give? Don’t doubt yourself… let others do it but if you must err in the assessment of your own capabilities, let it be on the side of overconfidence but accompany this overconfidence with a thirst for knowledge.

15. What small act of kindness was I once shown that I will never forget? There have been many… from friends giving me long rides to someone saving me 25 cents at the supermarket.

16. How shall I live, knowing I will die? Fully.

17. What do I need to change about myself? My self-doubt.

18. Is it more important to love or be loved? To love.

19. How many of my friends would I trust with my life? Mmmmm… about 10 who are carefully located in different parts of the world. 😆

20. Who has had the greatest impact on my life? My mother.

21. Would I break the law to save a loved one? Absolutely.

22. Would I steal to feed a starving child? Yes.

23. What do I want most in life? To be happy.

24. What is life calling of me? To make a move.

25. Which is worse: failing or never trying? Never trying.

26. If I try to fail, and succeed, which have I done? Succeeded.

27. What’s the one thing I’d like others to remember about me at the end of my life? That I was there when they needed me and that I made them laugh.

28. Does it really matter what others think about me? Not more than what I think about myself.

29. To what degree have I actually controlled the course my life has taken? At times I’ve been in full control but lately I’ve been on autopilot for too long.

30. When it’s all said and done, will I have said more than I’ve done? Sheesh! I hope not.

I am not sure that I will be asking myself these question every day but perhaps every few months would probably make a good exercise. How did you do?

“P” is for Progress

PHello peeps! Last year, I wrote about being stuck in a plateau. At the time I wrote about lack of progress but now I know better and have learned not to measure my progress in terms of pounds. I’ve learned that not losing weight and being stuck in a plateau does not mean I am not making progress.

I have learned that progress happens in many ways. On my weight loss journey, I’ve discovered these awesome things called non-scale victories (or NSV) that many times are much more fulfilling than seeing the number on the scale change.

Here are my top FIVE progress moments (all NSV):

  1. Taste Change – Mornings when I crave a smoothie and mealtimes when I crave a hearty salad.
  2. Dropping Sizes – Reducing inches is way more rewarding. Sometimes the weight won’t change but I can feel my body changing in amazing ways.
  3. Perfecting Form – That moment I saw myself in the gym mirror and realized that my squat looked amazing.
  4. Reaching New Heights – The sound of Nike+ saying “your goal is in sight” 😀 Crossing the finish line of a 5K run, and realizing I should increase the weights I’m lifting.
  5. Feeling Great – Just having more energy to work hard and play harder. I am still caught off guard from time to time doing something I couldn’t or wouldn’t do before.

So, whatever you are up to peeps don’t get lost in only looking at the final destination but take time to celebrate all the little bits that make it happen; in other words, enjoy the journey.

Progress-lies-not-in-enhancing-what-is-but-in-advancing