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Sunday Summary: One More Post

Hello everybody… wow, I just realized that it’s been over six months since I have written anything on this blog so I guess this means I am moving on to other projects. But, before I go I wanted to really close this chapter and share a little of where I’ve been and where I’m going. I will not deactivate the blog so the recipes, ideas, tips, stories that I have shared will continue to be here. All of it, warts and all.

OK… so, weight-wise. I have gone up. My last post was about continuing with adding green smoothies to my routine. That lasted until the cold weather settled in (sort of) and since then I went off the rails pretty badly. My depression flared and that didn’t help either and I ballooned to 197 lbs. I am, as of today, at 185 lbs. about 25 lbs over this year’s lowest but still 40 lbs. under my all-time high and I am happy about that.

Mid-december I had a major depressive episode and I realized that it had been building up for a while (since around June): I had lost interest in a lot of things, missing a lot of gym classes, and overeating sweets (mostly oreos). I finally exploded in tears and anger and had to get back on my meds, make an extra effort to drag myself to the gym and took on the Scarsdale Diet (with modifications) which is a simple and pretty easy diet to follow. After a week I was down to 186 lbs. and I’ve been using it as inspiration to plan my meals from then on. It’s been working. I am currently much calmer, little tears, and better at controlling my bouts of anger but there’s a lot of work to do still ahead.

Today I was reviewing my list of 2015 New Year’s Resolutions and I see that  I only fully completed 3/10:

#3 Start a Race Bib Collection: I did that… I ran/walked one 5K every month this year and now I am the proud owner of 12 race bibs. Not bad.

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#5 Pay off credit card: I am so happy to announce that I am credit card debt free. WOO HOO!

#7 Visit friends: In April, I had to take a trip to Washington DC (I’m in SC) for some errands and stayed a few days to visit with two of my graduate school friends. I had an amazing time and will cherish those memories for a very long time.

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So… all in all… not bad. Now, I hope to receive 2016 in a better mood.

2016 New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Begin a New Chapter: I’ll be moving to a different country next month. Keep up with my adventures on Instagram.
  2. No longer obese: Another year is another opportunity to stick to good eating habits and exercise routine. This year I learned that I have to keep my depression on check.
  3. Keep running: I’ll continue signing up for 5K’s and running in general. The goal for 2016 is to keep track of all my runs and reach 150 miles by the end of the year (that’s 3 miles a week; it’s doable).
  4. Read 50 books: Here I go again. I only read 17 books in 2015 and 20 in 2014. Obviously I went the wrong direction. 😆
  5. Save Money: Last year’s money goal was to pay off the credit cards and I did so this year I’ve decided to go with the 52-week saving challenge. Wish me luck!
  6. Volunteer: I wanted to join a group in 2015 and failed at that. I participated in little volunteer projects but not to the level of commitment I really want so I’ll try harder in 2016.
  7. Visit Venezuela: It’s been nearly five years since I have seen my family in Venezuela. It’s time to correct that.
  8. Write a Novel with #NaNoWriMo: Another one from 2015 – I have a story stuck in my head; hopefully I can let it out in 2016.
  9. Keep a Food Diary: I used to be pretty good at writing down what I ate. I don’t add a lot of detail so it’s not that hard but this is one of the things that I stopped doing around mid-year and that I know really helps me with weight loss.
  10. Conquer one item from my Confidence Bucket ListAnother goal from 2015 that went unfulfilled.

OK… there they are. 2016… I believe I am ready.

“G” is for Greyhound

… the bus, not the dog.

 Greetings from The Capitol peeps! Last night at 2:00 am I embarked on my first bus trip. It was an 11-hour trip with three stops. Although I was nervous at the beginning of the journey, the experience has been great and has opened a whole new set of possibilities.

Here are my 10 tips for bus travel:

  1. Bring a travel pillow (or a regular one) and a blanket.
  2. The space under the seats is bigger than it looks. Take advantage of that.
  3. There are electric plugs on the bus. Keep your battery fully charged.
  4. Stretch during stops. Take advantage of the layovers to stretch and walk a little.
  5. Bring healthy snacks like fruit and nuts. And plenty of water.
  6. If your listening to music, a book, or podcast make sure to use earphones and keep them at a resonable volume. 
  7. Be friendly. It’s ok to plug yourself out of the world but be a good neighbor and user. Make eye-contact with the people you encounter, especially the staff.
  8. Take off your shoes (but no smelly feet please). 
  9. Bring tissue and hand sanitizer. Although I found the bathrooms in above average shape, it’s better to be prepared.
  10. Keep an open mind and enjoy the ride. It’s not going to be super comfortable but if you do your part you’ll meet some great people, hear some great stories, and maybe even help someone along the way. 

This is how I looked after 11 hours of travel with little sleep. Not bad I think. 

  

Where I’m from: A poem

workshop-button-1Taking a break from the regular posts about weight loss, exercise, fitness and food to complete this really cool exercise brought to me by Kat at Mama’s Losin’ It and her weekly prompts. Here’s the template if you wish to make one of your own or head over simply to check out the origin of the poem. Thank you so much Kat for bringing this up to my attention. Please note that the term “poem” is used loosely.

PS. Kat posts her weekly prompts every Tuesday but you may get them a week in advance by subscribing here.

Where I’m from

I am from rotary phones, from Colgate and pleated skirts.

I am from the harlequin dolls (one that I denied breaking).

I am from the ferns, the mango trees, and a black rubber doll that always travels with me.

I am from watching telenovelas and cooking from scratch, from Hugo and Olivia, the Reyes and the Echezuria.

I am from the mind your own business and living in everyone’s business.

From “you are the master of what you know and the slave of what you say” and “you are not a golden coin, not everyone will like you, and that’s OK.”

I am from too many beliefs to stick to any. My mother was of one religion, my father of another, I was given freedom to question and experiment finding myself with none; not a popular choice.

I’m from Venezuela, born in the capital with roots along the coastlines and around the world, enjoying arepitas de anis made as a treat by my aunt, and the traditional chivito (roasted goat meat) made by my grandmother during the holidays.

From my aunt’s shoes that I threw in the trash because my uncle said they had turkey poop, and from the time he made me cry telling me that bunnies and deer were dying as we saw a small fire up on the mountain (they probably weren’t by the way), and the ghost stories grandpa liked to tell about the time he worked as a truck driver.

I am from my grandparents closets and storage rooms where chunks of life from before mine reside, pictures of the first roads, first cooperatives, first schools, of which my grandparents were builders and pioneers; newspaper clippings of events in which one of us was spotted, first edition encyclopedias from a long time before Google; and so many more invaluable things that trace my family’s history. I am from them… and then some.

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Check out my black rubber doll. We’ve been together over three decades. She ages well. 😀

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TBT: Being a Kid

workshop-button-1It’s that time of the week again. Kat from Mama’sLosin’It provided some really great prompts this week (as always) and I decided to go with #2 List 7 things you miss about being a kid. Just in time for a #throwbackthursday post. Thanks Kat!

 

SEVEN THINGS I MISS ABOUT BEING A KID

Background: My memories of being a kid are mostly good. I did not have the traditional childhood but I am so very appreciative of what I got. I am an only child and was born in Venezuela but moved with my parents to the US when I was one year old and we lived in the US until I was nine while both of my parents pursued higher education in the US. I spend the rest of my childhood in Venezuela. Most of my childhood was spent with mom since dad traveled a lot and then they were separated. However, while my mother was certainly my primary parent, and to this day, my solid rock; dad was always loving and caring just not as present.

  1. My main chore was to learn – everything was learning and making mistakes was not so severely looked upon as I feel it is now. I have had to relearn to be OK with mistakes.
  2. Be fearless – I rarely go on roller coasters anymore and I am much more aware of my own mortality which I had no clue about as a kid.
  3. No planning required – When you’re a kid… at least for me… my life was planned for me: when to get up, go to bed, go to school, take a bath, etc. My meals were planned and clothes miraculously appeared clean and ironed in my room; and while I was tasked with cleaning my room I now know that mom did some extra cleaning after me.
  4. Coordinated vacation-time – It would be years before I would truly appreciate how great it is that all your friends’ and cousins’ vacation occur at the same time. Now that we all work, it’s harder and harder to meet.
  5. Cartoons – and I mean, my cartoons… 80s cartoons.
  6. Diet -free – I didn’t have to worry about calories or working out. Mom made sure I had a balanced diet and school and friends made sure I moved a lot. I wasn’t thin though… I was always (and am) a little thick but never enough to raise a red flag and I didn’t ever feel inadequate as a child… my body would not become an issue for me until my mid-teens… and even then, it wasn’t bad.
  7. and my favorite… imaginary friends were totally appropriate and welcomed.

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~ It sometimes feel unreal that I once was a child, I hope it’s not just me. ~

 

Foodie Books: My Top 5

Hello peeps and Happy International Literacy Day. If you are here reading this count yourself fortunate that you are not one of the 781 million people in the world today who are illiterate. Click on the image below for UNESCO’s most recent infographic on world literacy.

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As I had mentioned in my Hello September post, I found some inspiration for this month’s posts via Brittany’s September Writing Prompts post which suggested that on occasion of International Literacy Day, we share the five books that have changed our lives. However, in trying to stay relevant to the content of this blog and since there are way more than five books that I consider have changed my life (by the way, friend me on goodreads if you like) I decided I would share the top five books that have impacted my relationship with food. Here they are:

  1. When it comes to foodie books, Michael Pollan takes the cake, though he might not eat it 😀 The first book of his I read was The Omnivore’s Dilemma which was a mandatory read for my graduate course on environmental communication. The class, and in a big way, this book made me very critical of food sources and foodways and I became a vegetarian, a regular at fresh food markets, and overall a much more conscious eater. Although the new behaviors didn’t really stick for long and today I consider myself much more of a flexitarian, the lessons ran deep.
  2. Three years after The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Pollan published my favorite of all his books, Food Rules: an eater’s manual. The lesson is simple: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. If there is one little book I think everyone should have in their kitchen it’s this one. I truly believe that. Many of the rules in this book were already present in The Omnivore’s Dilemma but this book is much much shorter and simply straight to the point. There are 83 rules in the book; these are my favorite ones:
    • Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients.
    • If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.
    • Eat animals that have themselves eaten well.
    • If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you’re probably not hungry.
  3. I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver on a whim. I saw the book at my local bookstore, it looked interesting, and I took it home. It’s a story about a family that, for a year, decides to only eat food they can either grow themselves or buy locally. I don’t want to give it away so I’ll simply say that I was left in awe of what this family was able to accomplish without killing each other. I don’t think I would have lasted a month. The book is funny and like with Pollan’s books, you learn a lot about food production, transportation, and sources.
  4. OK… let me go way way back in time. This and the next book I’ll talk about are the first fiction/non-fiction books I read where food was also a character. I was in my early twenties (maybe even late teens) and read them both in their original language (my native): Spanish. The first one was Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel which taught me that how you cook (your emotional state) is just as important as what you cook. In my current journey I have found that enjoying the food I make and enjoying making it keeps me committed.
  5. The second book where food is a character is Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses by Isabel Allende. In this book, Allende intertwines food and love. Whether you give much credit to the aphrodisiac power of food, the recipes will for sure, at the very least, spice up your evening. Both Like Water for Chocolate and Aphrodite include recipes throughout the book which I suggest you try. You won’t be disappointed.

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Happy Literacy Day!
What are your foodie books?

 

Foodie Friday: My Grocery List & Meal Plan Ideas

Hello peeps! (scroll down for the links)

People often ask me what I eat so for those who wonder I’ve decided to share my grocery list and a sample 3-day meal plan. Please keep in mind that I am not a nutritionist or dietician. This is what I have learned works for me. Most of the food decisions I make are based on books, magazine articles, and blogs I have read; info forms given by my doctors; and soundbites of advice I have heard from other people on a similar journey, and TV and radio shows. This is NOT meant as a guide for anyone but my hope is that you’ll find something here that can help or inspire you. 

When I started this journey I thought I knew what to eat and I wasn’t completely off but there was (and still is) plenty of room for improvement. I started with a pretty typical diet menu: low-fat cheese and turkey ham sandwich for breakfast, a piece of fruit for a snack, some form of protein, salad, and small portion of starch for lunch, maybe another piece of fruit mid-afternoon, cereal and low-fat milk for dinner, and a cup of tea before bed. That was the routine and it got old pretty fast.

Little by little I started to discover new foods and new recipes. My injury in March made me increase my berries and nuts consumption as these are foods that enable muscle recovery. I gave up dairy shortly after for a variety of reasons. It was an experiment at first and while I now consume some dairy every now and then, I mostly avoid it. That changed my eating a lot. Currently, a typical day looks like this: Smoothie and nuts, or eggs, avocado, and salsa for breakfast; fish, chicken, or beans for lunch with something green; granola, almond milk, apple, nut butter, and dark chocolate for dinner; snacks as needed.

The biggest lesson I have learned is that not all calories are created equal, as not all fats, carbs, and protein are created equal either. I consume a lot of fat mainly from olive oil, avocado, and nuts. I consume a good amount of carbs from fruits and some from starchy vegetables like sweet potato, potato, corn, cassava, and plantain, and try to limit my consumption of rice, pasta, and bread. I eat a lot of white and fatty fish such as tilapia, salmon, and tuna; I also have turkey, usually ground, and chicken but much less so than fish. I have learned to like a wider selection of vegetables and learned to reduce my salt intake by taking advantage of fresh and dry herbs and spices (Mrs. Dash is amazing). This is what I have learned little by little over the last year of change and there is still much to learn, I know that.

We must think of our bodies as what they are, a complex arrangement of cells that need food to function. Unfortunately for those of us in the US we’ve been duped by the Standard American Diet, appropriately abbreviated S.A.D. 😦 , which tends to be unbalanced, too high on saturated fats and sugar.

bon_appetit_in_many_different_languages_typography_sticker-r8a48e2d356c14e19a98c55af47968083_v9waf_8byvr_512Many people usually say “I just enjoy (fill in with sinful food choice) too much and cannot give it up.” Don’t! I love pizza and I love chinese food. I have them each once a month or less. My absolute worst food choice is chicken wings so I have those only a handful of times a year. I also enjoy everything I eat every day. I love my smoothies, baked falafel, spinach pesto, fish dishes, nighttime granola, etc. If you are not enjoying what you’re eating, you’re doing it wrong.

Alright, here it is:

If you follow me on instagram, you’ll get a glimpse of my meals and click here for all my previous posts with recipes or links to recipes. Bon appetit.

I grew up with Robin Williams

I knew he was awesome but I really didn’t know how awesome he was. I found out about Robin Williams passing when I was leaving the gym. During my drive back home I kept thinking about all the movies I had seen him in and trying to remember when I was first introduced to his performing brilliance. I got home to find my facebook newsfeed flooded with news updates and reactions.

It’s been 72 hours and neither the news updates, FB feed, or twitter feed have ceased, many of the bloggers I follow have written about him and/or depression and now here I am writing my own homage. As I write, I have Good Will Hunting playing in the background and I am reminded that: “You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.” I wish he had been able to realize this before he took his own life. We are going to miss out on so much. Depression is a b*tch.

I was probably 3 or 4 when I saw Robin Williams in a movie for the first time. It was Popeye. I loved that movie and since then, I’ve always prefered real life actors over animations, unless of course, animation is the only way to go (like Happy Feet – click for Robin Williams singing Frank Sinatra in Spanish). I don’t remember Mindy & Mork a lot. I was too little to get it I guess. The next film I remember is Good Morning Vietnam, I was 10 when it came out. I probably didn’t understand the context of the Vietnam War just yet but I started to understand the power of mass media and my love for movies kept growing. The next year, I saw him as King of the Moon in The Adventures of the Baron Munchausen. In 1989 I saw him in the movie that would make me a Robin Williams fan forever, Dead Poet Society. If there is a fictional teacher I would ever draw inspiration from it would have to be John Keating: inspiring and motivational.

Then came the 90s and during my teens I saw Awakenings (1990), The Fisher King (1991), Hook (1991), Aladdin (1992), Toys (1992), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Jumanji (1995), The Birdcage (1996), Jack (1996), Flubber (1997), Good Will Hunting (1997), What Dreams May Come (1998), Patch Adams (1998), and Bicentennial Man (1999). During those pivotal years I learned about mental health, homelessness, parenting, loyalty, family, friendship, LGBT rights, science, psychology, suicide, healthcare, and got introduced to Asimov. It amazes me how much I can say I learned from Williams’ performances.

As I grew older some of Williams’ movies also turned darker and/or more serious. I enjoyed watching him play such different characters like sociopath Sy Parish in One Hour Photo (2001), and crime writer Walter Finch in Insomnia (2002), I also saw The Final Cut (2004), RV (2006), Man of the Year (2006), Happy Feet (2006) and II (2011), Night at the Museum (2006) and II (2009), License to Wed (2007), August Rush (2007), and World’s Greatest Dad (2009).

I’m sadden to admit that I hadn’t seen much of his latest work but I have seen his comedy specials and talk show interviews. I’ll be watching The Face of Love (2013) soon and I am looking forward to the third installment of Night at the Museum (2014). I will always regret never seeing him on stage.

I always knew he had tremendous talent but on the wake of his death I have read these intimate stories about him talking with soldiers, encouraging new comics, and being an awesome dad and avid video game player. He was this whole person fighting his own demons while playing all these other characters for us to enjoy. And I am so sorry that he is gone now, that I won’t get to see him in another movie, on stage, doing stand-up, in an interview. I am sorry that so many people will miss out from learning directly from him and his presence.

Death is always sad, suicide is always devastating, depression can kill. I hope that this helps people better understand depression and suicide. I hope it prevents someone from committing suicide and/or pushes someone to seek help. I’ll continue to take care of myself and work towards keeping my own demons at bay.

If you or someone you know is battling depression, don’t stay quiet and don’t keep it to yourself. Click here for a list of hotline/crisis lines. And remember,

be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about drkehres