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How Israel Saved My Life

27 Jan

There are so many reasons that I shouldn’t have gone Israel this summer. Heck, by the time the trip came around, I was 10 days past the age cut-off! Travelling with complete strangers, without the security blanket of familiarity, put me out of my comfort level, to say the least. At JFK, I constantly called E, sobbing, asking him to let me come home. I was grateful for the opportunity, but so unsure of why I had it.

I’ve been home for almost 6 months, and it’s taken me this long to fully absorb the situation, to understand the why’s instead of the how’s. Long story short? It was meant to be.

In ten days, I saw so much of the country, and was constantly on the move. I learned to make a tour bus feel like home, to have almost 30 strangers feel like family.

busdawnjeepFriends3medfalafel

I was surrounded by art, mysticism and amazing falafel in Safed; rode a camel in the middle of the desert. I prayed at the Western Wall, sat in the same place on Mount Masada where I was Bat Mitzvah’d. I had (a vegetarian!) dinner in a Bedouin tent and swam in the Mediterranean. I cried at Yad Vashem, and  laughed loud and long, covered in mud, and floated in the Dead Sea.

ArtisrColony

 

Camel

 

 

DeadSea

 

 

Bedouin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hiked, swam, rode and rafted; sometimes in the front, and others in the back. Not once was I alone, physically, emotionally or spiritually. When I struggled, there was someone to carry me through, and at times, I was that person for others. Not once did I count a calorie. Not once was I ashamed of my arms, stretch marks or thighs. Not once did I hold back from a conversation or activity out of fear  or feelings of not being good enough. Not once was I ever not good enough.

Pictures may say thousands of words, and for the first time in a very long time, they’re written all over my face. See that smile? The one in every picture? 100% genuine, my friends.

I went to Israel, looking for a free trip, and I ended up taking quite the journey. At some point, at some time, that nagging little voice inside my soul went silent, as if the Universe was whispering, “shhhhhhhh”.

Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle. It’s work to get through the day, and it takes prioritizing, evaluating and learning to step back in order to do it. The difference between before Israel and after Israel? I want to make it work. I want to grow, to breathe, to be better. I want to be the kind of person that others look up to, and be involved in my community. I want to be a positive force, and be a wife, sister, daughter and aunt that my family is not only proud of, but likes and respects. It’s not about the next 10 pounds or 5 years, even though I’m still aiming for those. Some days might be awful, and some may be filled with light and laughter. And that’s okay. It’s okay to have good days and bad, and even ones that are just okay. I’m not making excuses or giving up; I’m allowing myself to feel, and to be human. Now that I’ve tasted happiness, I’m not willing to give up the craving.

Eretz Yisrael

20 Jun

I’m sitting at the airport, waiting to board my flight to Washington, then JFK, where I’ll meet up with 40 strangers, head to Madrid, and eventually Tel Aviv.

No laptop, no SparkPeople, no tracking, and worst of all, no E. I’m struggling with being out of my element, and doing it on my own. The day we became husband and wife, I promised Ev that I wouldn’t leave him again, and now here I am. It’s silly, I know, and the next 10 days will fly by, but I feel like a bad wife regardless.

I’m excited to try all these crazy new things, like hiking Mt. Masada, making pita with the Bedouins, and riding various animals (camels, donkeys and the like). I’m excited to see my cousin Amanda and her husband Aaron, and maybe meet up with my cousin Lois and her family. I’m looking forward to meeting new people in the Holy Land, and seeing it with open eyes.

I just wish I was doing it with E.

I have some guest posts lined up for y’all, so enjoy them – I’ll see you in 2 weeks!

–C

Wk 1 Check-in, 26 to 27

24 May

Hey everyone!

Hope y’all had a rocking weekend – mine was certainly busy! Between family events, working in the yard and my store having a 40% off sale, it certainly flew by. Is it just me, or is the year flying by ridiculously fast?!? I wish there was a way to make it slow on down.

One week ago, I put myself on the 26 to 27 challenge, and it’s time for the first check-in. This week’s highlight was seeing my father and stepmother for the first time since October, which was around 25 lbs. ago. She gave me the best compliment ever, and told me that I looked like I did when I was a little girl, pointy chin and all. I tell ya, it warmed my heart! I weighed in yesterday – I went to take a picture of the scale, and it never occurred to me that the camera would add on weight…duh! Guess you’ll just have to take my word for it. I’m not one to put my weight out there, but for the challenge’s sake, why not?

Beginning challenge weight: 220.9 lbs.

Current weight: 218.7 lbs.

Total lost: 2.2 lbs.

I’m going to be honest, I was not expecting that at all! Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled; I thought I’d be stuck in the 220’s forever. I ate, for the most part, in a way that honoured my body without sacrificing enjoyment, which I’m really happy about. As always, you can check out what I eat on my SparkPeople food tracker. I don’t know how you feel about me posting meals and calorie counts every day; it’s great for accountability, but I really don’t think it’s all that interesting. Agree or disagree?  Either way, here’s a sampling of (most of) what I’ve eaten this week:
Chicken, Black Bean & Rice Burrito

I’m not perfect, and this is definitely proof of that.

  1. Hydrate! The goal was to drink at least 2L of water a day, and I did okay with this one. Most days was between 7 and 8 glasses, with a couple of days at 10. Hot decaffeinated tea has been a big help, as is the water bottle I keep at work, but this is still a huge challenge.
  2. Cut the crap I feel like I did pretty good on this one – I made the best choices possible in most situations, and really thought through what I was eating and why.
  3. Take some Zzzzzz I’m calling this one a big ol’ fail – I think I made it to bed at or before midnight once all week! I woke up at a decent hour most mornings, with one being 9:30 am and one being at 10:30 am. Better, but nowhere near good.
  4. Make meals matter NEED to work on this one more – I haven’t had set or regular meal times all week, and it’s messing up my sleep schedule.
  5. Caffeine-a-no-go Caffeine’s been almost completely cut out; I’ve had half-caff coffee one morning, and some diet orange soda another, but the rest of the week has been caffeine-free.
  6. Shake it! Another success – went to the Y twice this week, worked out once at the hotel while on mini-vacay, and did some arm-busting yard work this aft.
  7. Smell the roses I had a ton of fun this week! We saw David Copperfield and Chicago in concert, saw The Losers, walked, talked and planned some projects we’d like to start on the house. My biggest advancement, though, was to go with the flow. It’s hard to be a planner when you’re trying to be the most accommodating, and with my dad and stepmom in town, I feel like I gave up a lot of control to be able to allow them to have the best trip possible. I’ll admit, it wasn’t too bad, and it did make it much easier to enjoy a short but sweet visit with the ‘rents.

All in all, not too shabby. This week I’m pushing for major hydration, regular meal- and bed-times, and four days in the gym (I’m hoping the pool will be open!). I feel stronger than I did last week, and I think it has to do with making a plan and sticking with it. Despite issues with school and scheduling, I’ve stayed fairly focused, and I’m starting to see the connections in work and play. I need to stay focused and breathe, and everything else will follow in line.  Plus, the more relaxed I am, the more gets done, which translates to more time I get to spend like this:

Have a great week!

26 to 27, day 1

16 May

Day 1 of 26 to 27 went pretty well, and was definitely interesting! Although I don’t necessarily believe that counting calories/macros are 100% needed, I’m going to post all meals eaten over the next 26 days, as well as the calorie counts and macro nutrients (carbohydrates, fat and protein). I usually track on a daily basis, but I’m posting them for accountability and to be able to better reflect at the end of the challenge.

Breakfast was eaten around 10:30, and was really simple. I waited too long to eat, and was starving! I had a bunch of mini bell peppers we picked up at Sam’s Club over the weekend, along with a cottage cheese cup, a few water crackers and a couple of Morningstar veggie sausage links. I love the Morningstar maple sausage patties, but the links just didn’t do it for me – the texture was completely off! I ate everything but one link, along with 4 cups of water. Breakfast came out to 238 calories, 32g of carbs, 5g of fat and 17g of protein.

I’m not sure if it was too light or I waited to long to eat, but breakfast didn’t hold me over at all! At 12:15, I had a double chocolate dream VitaTop, vanilla Greek yogurt, raspberry-pomegranate preserves and sprinkled with a dash of ground flax and slivered almonds. Post-photo, everything was mixed together and immediately consumed. Snack 1 was 258 calories, 47g of carbohydrates, 4g of fat and 16g of protein.

Several loads of laundry later, I realized that it was time for lunch. At 3, I helped Ev pan-sear some cornmeal-crusted Gardein fillets, and wrapped them in whole grain tortillas with a sprinkling of vintage cheddar and some spicy brown mustard. Served with a few Doritos on the side, I took a bite and had my second food fail of the day. There was just something…off….about the taste. Gardein as a whole just isn’t for me, I think, which is a shame. Super high in protein, low in carbs and fat, but I’ve only found one of their products that I can stomach. By 3:30, I was sitting down to another wrap, this one filled with refried jalapeno-black beans, a sprinkling of vintage white cheddar and some raw asparagus on a whole-grain tortilla. Much better! Lunch (including the sample of the Gardein wrap) was 265 calories, 31g of carbs, 10g of fat, and 18g of protein.

After what felt like a ton of delays, we were finally heading down the road for our night out on the town. While E refueled my car, I refueled my body with a tea I received as a (free) sample this morning – orange, passion fruit and jasmine green tea from Lipton. I usually dislike green tea, but this was awesome, tasted like Froot Loops, and brought me 3 glasses closer to my daily water goal. Win all around!

We made really good time on the drive, so we had dinner around 6:30 at one of our favourites – Tricky Fish. They use mostly free-range, organic and local ingredients, and their tofu tacos are killer. I was craving a sandwich, and ordered the free-range chicken breast sandwich with salad as my side.

Killer! The bun was soft and bready, the chicken perfectly cooked, and the veggies were so fresh. I topped my sandwich with spicy mustard and a little cocktail sauce, dressed the salad with lemon juice, malt vinegar, chipotle Tabasco sauce and a bit of Newman’s Own ranch dressing to cut the heat. Best meal of the day, hands down, by far. I also had 2 more glasses of water at the restaurant. Dinner was a total of 493 calories, 47g of carbs, 15g of fat and 39g of protein.

We had a little time to kill, so E played photographer, and we had an impromptu photo shoot. Professional model, right here!

We headed down to the Clay Center, and got ready to see David Copperfield. E was a professional magician in his early years, and Copperfield is one of his idols. It was my first time, and E’s 7th at least! We had amazing seats (3rd row, center), and it was absolutely incredible. Copperfield still has it, and is hysterical – gotta love a guy that can make you laugh. The highlight was sitting behind Gov. Joe Manchin and his family – I met them during the GMA remote at the Kitchen, and have an official photograph of me crying on his shoulder. I know how to keep my cool, apparently! Thankfully, no tears were shed last night, much to E’s relief.

We came home a little late, but I decided to whip up a quick snack since we were both pretty hungry. I ordered a bunch of different protein powder samples a few weeks ago, and decided to try one out. I made up a quick shake, using nonfat milk, ice, cinnamon and BSN Lean Dessert Fresh Cinnamon Roll protein powder. After seeing it on Janetha’s blog, I’ve been dying to try it. It took a couple of sips to get used to, but it’s actually really good! The whey aftertaste is minimal, and it has a good texture without being gritty. Snack #2’s totals were 204 calories, 20g of carbs, 3g of fat and 24g of protein.

Why do I look so nefarious?!?!

The daily totals were 1458 calories, 176g of carbohydrates, 37g of fat and 114g of protein, or a ratio 47.3%, 22.1%, 30.6%. Not bad at all! Feeling really satisfied and hydrated, thanks to the 9 glasses of water I drank. Onto day 2!

26

16 May

Happy Sunday, and welcome to the new site! It’s in a state of transition, so pardon the dust, and please update your readers!

It’s been a crazy week, but a good one, with the days I spend at JamieHuntington’s Kitchen being a definite highlight – how could it not be? That place is pure happiness! The semester’s over, grades have been posted, and I feel like I can breathe again. All in all, a ton of weight feels like it’s been lifted off of my shoulders. Unfortunately, it hasn’t come off my ass. I haven’t lost any weight in a month. I also haven’t gained an ounce, but despite the fact I still fit comfortably into my clothes, I just don’t feel right. With everything that’s been going on, I haven’t made exercise a priority, and my eating is a whole ‘nother story. My life isn’t always about a number on the scale, but add up the lack of energy, insomnia, bloat, and general meh I’m feeling on a daily basis, and a change has to be made.

My 27th birthday is in 26 days, and I’m celebrating by challenging myself, making 7 changes to start my new year off right!

  1. Hydrate! No wonder I feel so blah!!! Most days, I don’t even think I reach my full 8 glasses. So the new plan is to drink AT LEAST 2 liters a day.
  2. Cut the crap There’s a huge difference between eating like a normal person and eating for the hell of it. Food is fuel, and I’ve been running on fumes. So, it’s simple – make better choices. Eat more whole foods, up the protein, and limit sugars and sodium.
  3. Take some Zzzzzz My head usually doesn’t hit the pillow until after 1 a.m., and I’m struggling to wake up in the mornings. Two alarms and a vibrating disc can’t wake me up, and my schedule’s all out of whack. Challenge? Short of being on the town for an event, I’m hitting the pillow before midnight, and waking up at 8 a.m., no matter what.
  4. Make meals matter I’m not eating regularly, so by the time nourishment comes along, I’m hangry and stuff my face. For example, Friday’s meals had breakfast at 10:30 a.m., lunch at 4 p.m. and dinner at 10 p.m. with a snack at 1 p.m. Not bad, but I hit a few walls. New rule? Breakfast within 40 minutes of waking up, followed by nourishment of some sort every 3 hours after, for a total of six ‘meals’. No running on fumes for this gal!
  5. Caffeine-a-no-go I’ve been guzzling on caffeinated beverages like they’re about to go extinct, with Diet Mountain Dew being the king of the castle. It’s no wonder I can’t sleep! I’m not willing to cut caffeine completely, but there’ll be none of that after 7 p.m. No unsweet tea, coffee, or diet sodas; caffeine-free is a-okay, but only 16 oz. per day.
  6. Shake it! Now that school’s out of the way for a little while, I have no excuse not to get physical. The gym needs to become a priority again, so the goal is to exercise 4x a week. It doesn’t have to be inside, but it does need to happen. It could be yoga, swimming, cardio, walking, strength training or what have you – the sky’s the limit. I have a 5k trail walk in a couple of weeks, and if I don’t get back in shape, I’m going to be huffing and puffing.
  7. Smell the roses As E would tell you, I’m a little on the tense side, and I need to relax. I’m giving myself permission to do something relaxing at least once a week, and enjoy the moment.

Looking at the list, everything’s connected – I can’t sleep because I’m tense and full of caffeine, I feel sluggish and tense because I’m not sleeping or exercising and I’m eating like crap. I’ll be checking in every 7 days, with my last check in on June 10th, my birthday. Want to join in and help celebrate my last 26 days of being 26 in style? Leave a comment, and let me know what you’re changing for the next 26 days. Don’t forget, you can still help me reach my goal of 50 to 50 for the Epilepsy Foundation; each comment is now worth a dollar, and I’m 17 away, so head on over and make yours count.