Own Your Beauty!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Things that make you go..........meh

Yesterday was the day of shakes that just should have been tastier.  Everything was lined up right, it all seemed so perfect!  Blendy Shake was a harvest medley of pumpkin, apples, cinnamon, yogurt, vanilla Formula 1 and spinach.  It was supposed to be happy, and comforting, and gently delicious.  Instead it was........boring, bland, chewy (from the apple skins) and kind of gritty.  Oh well, whatever...I drank it anyway and because of all the good stuff it was at least very filling.  So then I have lunch to look forward to!  It's going to be amazing!  I thawed berries overnight, yogurt, an egg, chocolate Formula 1, all Shakey Shaked up aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand.........................boring.  FYI - blender cups are great and all, but that little whisk ball definitely does not break up berries very well.  It wasn't very sweet, had almost no berry flavor, ended up just eating the berries with a spoon out of the bottom of the cup when I was done.  All around just a sad collection of smoothie misses.  Not failures because they weren't undrinkable, just a distinct and significant aftertaste of "meh".
Shakey Shake, Aloe Juice, salad

Anyway, here is a picture of what my average lunch these days looks like, about half the time sub the salad with a cup of soup.  I am really digging the aloe vera juice drinks, although I am sure I could get a much more natural product than good old OKF from the ethnic market on the way home from work, but I like the little aloe gel chunks which you can't get from the concentrate, so for now I stick with these :-) I don't know if they are actually helping my stomach or not, but I haven't had much pain or any heartburn since starting on them so let's say yes to give me an excuse to keep buying them!

All the pills, in mah face!
I guess now is a good time to show a couple of the other things I am putting in my face these days.  These are my morning pills (in my pretty little bowl I have at work...multipurpose, mornings for pills and afternoons for portioning out a snack of mixed nuts!)  Wild Salmon Oil tablets from Trader Joe's, and my multivitamin and cell enhancer from Herbalife, and a few Advil this morning for good measure

I've been told I'm quite nutty before!
And here are the nuts that I am snacking on these days.  This really tasty blend from Lebanon with peanuts, pistachios, cashews, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, chickpeas and almonds.  Seriously, this is why I love my neighborhood in NYC, because the grocery store caters to so many different ethnicities you can find authentic stuff from pretty much anywhere in the world on their very crowded shelves.  You can even buy a whole goat...I'm not kidding, it just hangs there in the window at the meat counter.  It is crazy and glorious and so unexpected for an American market which just makes it even better!  Anyway, I also have a bag of plain old peanuts from Trader Joe's and Roasted Almonds.  I mix them all together and it makes for an interesting (and slightly less expensive) mixed nut combo.  A handful of these with a cup of herbal tea is my standard mid-morning and/or mid-afternoon snackum these days.
All the nuts hold hands and sing Kumbaya

I also found myself in one of those sad places last night.  You know the place, where you don't really want to be out but you don't want to be home alone either but you are anyway.  Then the negative voices in your head start making up stories about why you are alone that almost always end up making you just feel like crap about yourself and oddly angry for no reason at the people you love even though it's not their fault that your inner demons are lying little bastards!  Yeah, one of those nights.  A night best for curling up and watching Youtube videos of old Tony Awards performances, so that's what I did.  And I feel better today, not at 100% yet because I let those awful voices shake me up so much, but it reminded me of how much more is out there to be passionate about, how much is real, how much I love something bigger than myself in the arts, and I am moving forward from there.  So Viva La Vie Boheme my friends!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Caramel Apple Weekend

Dolly Parton knows what's up
Dolly Parton has her Hard Candy Christmas, I have my Caramel Apple Weekend…it’s kind of the same thing except with less singing and dancing prostitutes.  So actually, it’s not the same thing at all.  But I still think I deserve a song!

This was a whirlwind of a weekend!  So first off, how did the Herbalife go?  Well, I would say mixed (or shaken, as it were).  Honestly, I only had 1 shake all weekend and didn’t take any of my pills…whoops!  Friday night I cooked dinner for a friend, shwarma seasoned chicken, homemade faluffins (falafels baked in a mini muffin tin…delicious and adorable!), green beans, hummus and pita bread.  So then Saturday morning there was one little chicken thigh left and that became breakfast.  I did end up with a shake for lunch, which worked better than I thought.  Honestly I got really hungry, still had to round up laundry, do dishes, go shopping, all this weekender stuff and nonsense and just started worrying about what I could throw together with what I had around without even thinking about the shakes, and when I did think about them I figured I was way to hungry for a shake to be satisfying.  But I caved (mostly because I had nothing easy to make or clean to make it in) and made myself a peach cobbler Shakey Shake, drank it while I was doing stuff around the house, and it was delicious and astonishingly filled me up until dinner!  I know, I know…I was skeptical, but it worked out and so it will make it that much easier to keep transitioning to that mind set going forward.  Of course part of the thing with weekends is that I really don’t have a set schedule that makes “breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks” a thing like it is on the weekdays.  If I am getting up around 11:30am, I am usually eating around 2pm, then maybe a snack later, but probably not much until dinner time and maybe a snack late night depending on how things go, but a third meal usually doesn’t happen and the chances of me being out are much higher.  Sometimes a shake is going to work in there, sometimes it isn’t.  But I do have the trust in them now that they can be quick, satisfying, and worth it if the other option for lunch at home is a box of mac and cheese or take out once I hit the road. 
***Peach cobbler Shakey Shake recipe – scoop of peach jam, big sprinkle of cinnamon, 2 scoops Vanilla Formula 1, carton of peach yogurt.  YUM!!!  Seriously, the good peach jam I got from the Greek market totally made this!  Tasted just like a big scoop of peach cobbler icecream or something. 

I actually did a lot of cooking this weekend.  My friend Jessica came over Saturday and I made salsa chicken (thin cut chicken breast filets, in pam, smothered in salsa, sprinkled with cheese, baked), roasted broccoli with balsamic/olive oil/Italian cheese/smoked sea salt, wild rice pilaf, and a very burned batch of cornbread mini muffins that we picked the centers out of because what wasn’t toasty was tasty :-P  I normally make cornbread from scratch, but for ease I had just picked up a box of Jiffy mix and a can of creamed corn…mix, bake, don’t burn, enjoy!  I obviously forgot one of those steps, oh well. 

Call them "Rustic" - they are still delicious!
I also made the aforementioned Caramel Apple Tarts of heavenly delight!  They got a little crazy because I didn’t have a top crust and the caramel went EVERYWHERE – oven is going to smell like burning sugar for awhile!  But they were super tasty and I am restraining myself from just sitting down and eating the pan!  Next time there will be more apples and a top crust to contain the caramel-ly goodness, but this was a winner of a dessert.  Recipe?  Ummmmm…make a pie crust, put it in your tart pan of choice, chop up a buttload of apples, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and lump them into the tart pans, put a glob of caramel in each one, sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar, bake at a hot temperature that seems about right for your oven (375ish for me) for about 30 minutes or until the pie crust looks golden brown.  Cool for as long as you can stand to keep out of them and then DEVOUR!!!!  I know, super scientific, right? This is why I am not a regular baker.

Fry 'em up!! Om nom nom
Sunday night was another cooking adventure.  I had bought a little package with 2 Butterfish at the store because they looked interesting, I have heard some tasty things about Butterfish, and they were only $3.  I see they have the heads on but that’s no biggie.  Of course what I DIDN'T see until I opened the package is that they also were still completely intact and had not been gutted or cleaned!  I had to laugh and think about how many of my friends would have freaked out at this, and instead I grabbed a knife and got into the good squishy stuff and then sent my dad a text thanking him for teaching me how to gut fish and not be squeamish about it when I was a wee youngin’ learning the outdoorsy ways.  Cut a deep X in the side of each of them, rubbed liberally with smoked sea salt, flower pepper and Greek oregano, dusted with whole wheat flour, and pan fried them in a cast iron skillet with searing hot coconut oil.  Took about 5-6 minutes to cook them through then I squeezed a generous half of a lemon on them and HOLY MOTHER OF YUM!!!!!!!!!!!!  Seriously, these little buggers (maybe 5-6 inches long once the heads were off) were so meaty and tasty and crispy and delicious!  I will be buying and cooking these all the times in the world because I am totally in love with them.  Plus, wild caught and small so low on the food chain = low in mercury…such a great and tasty way to get more fish into my regular diet.  Another batch of roasted broccoli, a glass of red wine, a tear jerker fest of catching up on Nashville and Glee it was a perfect Single Girl Sunday.

The Art of Pathetic
Had to deal with a sick doggy this weekend L Poor girl got into something that I can’t figure out and had a sad tummy all weekend (which means she also had a sad mommy who was tired of cleaning up after her because she wouldn’t tell me she needed to go out!!)  but she seems to be back to about 80% today.  Got a haircut for the first time in 12 months…I think he took off about ½ of my hair in bulk, it feels so oddly light now!  The very chic stylist also complimented my hair color and dye job, and since it comes from a $6 bottle of Garnier Fructis and my bathroom and this was a high fashion Aveda salon I felt pretty good about that…haha!  I am also way too excited about a memory foam bathmat I got that makes you feel like you are walking on clouds, and a snazzy double decker drying rack that tucks back into the corner of my TINIEST KITCHEN IN THE WORLD when not in use.  Seriously though guys, this kitchen is ridiculously small…I will share pictures at some point, but I am still learning to work around it and not drop things off my little 2 inches of ledge of prep space on one side of the sink and about 2 feet of counter on the other side.  I need a table or skinny island or something!  This will definitely be my biggest challenge to figure out how to cook well in this little bitty space.  But hey, if My Tiny Paris Kitchen and Mark Bittman can do it, so can I!  
A new haircut and a can-do attitude!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bacon and Beer...mmmmmm...

So after Day 2 I am still feeling pretty good with this whole Herbalife thing.  Honestly, I have already spent
probably $40-$50 less on food this week than I would have and I don’t feel deprived or hungry at all so far.  Again, I am not being obsessive about what I eat when I’m NOT drinking the shakes, although because I also am focusing on keeping my digestive system happy I am not really eating a ton of junk or anything anyway, but for my main meal I am eating whatever I damn well please because falling back into disordered behaviors and thinking is WAAAAAAAAAY too easy when I start moving towards the “diet” mentality.

Anyway, yesterday was pretty easy.  Blendy shake** for breakfast tropical style with pineapple yogurt, shredded coconut, coconut milk, baby spinach, vanilla Formula 1 and water.  I snacked on some mixed nuts and tea halfway through the morning.  Lunch was a Shakey Shake** with almond butter, raspberry yogurt, coconut milk, chocolate Formula 1 and water plus I got a little cup of chicken soup (which was sadly mostly broth thanks to the noodle and chicken pirates of Au Bon Pain!!  Take your proper ratio of chunks to liquid ya jerks!!) to have something warm, and more nuts and tea in the afternoon.
(* Blendy Shake – includes greens, ice cubes, things that need a blender to combine.  **Shakey Shake – powder, liquid, maybe yogurt…can be mixed up in a shaker cup faster and on the go)

I was meeting up with a friend for dinner in the East Village, but I had about 2 hours to kill, so I walked
around for awhile and just soaked in the energy of a fall evening in the city, and then when I got cold sat down in this funky little indoor Belgian beer garden and had a YUMMY Tripel Karmeliet beer while waiting.  The best part was, because I am not holding any same or restriction around my food I was able to enjoy a beer, a salad, some French onion soup, and a very Greek diner plate of Bolognese and not feel like I had to stuff my face because it was my one food of the day, or restrict excessively because I had to be “good” (and then go home and stuff my face in hunger and frustration).  And because I am only spending money and stomach space on one “meal” a day I also have no issues making it the best and most fulfilling food I can, which is better for my body in the long run too.  Winner winner chicken dinner! (or pasta, as the case may be)

The issue came this morning actually, because I had failed to prep my Blendy Shake last night for breakfast, and I was running short on time and I only have the bottle space right now to make 1 Shakey Shake.  So whatever, if I have to substitute oatmeal and yogurt for one shake my life won’t come crashing down!  I figure it is closest to what a shake would be (and a whole lot cheaper) rather than having the shake for breakfast and going out to lunch.  But getting to work was a bitch and a half – bus was running over 20 minutes late, I got a different bus, which took me to a different train, which dropped me at a station that is twice as far away from work and doesn’t have a bus directly to the hospital.  So even though I raced to get out on time, I was still almost 30 minutes late to work and walked twice as far as normal.  Granted, it is only a mile, but I was cold and grumpy and annoyed and then I caught a whiff of the most beautiful smell in the world…
Oh man, there is just something about the smell of bacon in the morning that is better than any other smell and better than bacon at any other time of day.  I didn't end up going and getting it, but it sure did trigger some happy and envious breakfast thoughts!

So, I am about to head into my first weekend on The Herb(alife) and trying to figure out how I am going to handle it.  I am not really telling anyone that I am doing this just because I don’t want to make it a big deal or have to explain or justify myself, or hear all the “good for you”s that I know would come and I think are wholly unnecessary and obnoxious.  Most likely I will just make good choices, try to choose light for any meals where I am with other people and not able to do a shake, and continue to not stress out over it because honeys…if you aren't enjoying your life (and the food that accompanies it) what’s the point??  Bottoms up boys and girls! Let’s make this weekend another new adventure!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Attack of the Turkey Sandwich that ate Manhattan!!!!

So here is a snapshot of my day yesterday with the Herbalife and the theatre and such:

Woke up at 7:45am – 15 minutes to get ready and get out the door for work…I had pre-prepped my shake so all I had to do was add water and blend and get on the road. 

Shake Recipe: mango yogurt, peach jam, egg, baby spinach, cinnamon, Vanilla Formula 1 Powder
Verdict: Pretty yum, but very sweet…would probably reduce the amount of peach jam

Snack at 11am – handful of mixed nuts as my tummy was getting rumbly before Lunch.  Also had a cup of the Herbalife instant tea in here at some point.  Definitely satisfying and wasn’t crazy starving or anything at any point

Lunch 1pm – Turkey sandwich, macaroni salad, cranberry sauce…finished about ¾ of the sandwich and the monster got the better of me!  I am glad I didn’t cave to my urge to also get soup…Those sandwiches are a city of meat unto themselves!

Snack at 4pm – more mixed nuts, more tea.  Honestly wasn’t terribly hungry, just wanted something munchy

Dinner at 6:30pm – Shake on my way to the theatre, also took an aloe juice to the theatre and sipped on it throughout the evening.  I like nomming on the little bits of aloe leaf, feels like a natural bubble tea!

Shake Recipe: Banana yogurt, pumpkin, egg, spinach, cinnamon, 3 dates (for natural sweetness), handful of chocolate chips, Chocolate Formula 1 powder
Verdict: Very tasty, but the chocolate chips didn’t blend well and ended up clumping and blocking the straw L probably wouldn’t use them again. 

Snacks at 11pm and 3am – so I was at the theatre for callbacks and casting discussions until after 2am, and needless to say my little shake had worn offity off!  Fortunately I brought some cheese sticks with me to the theatre, so I ate 2 cheddar cheese sticks then and made myself 2 cheese quesadillas with salsa on corn tortillas when I got home.  Probably too much cheese, should get myself some mixed nuts or fruit for home so I can have more balanced snacks like I do at work.  The sensitive lotus flower that is my stupid stomach wasn’t thrilled this morning but I don’t know what triggered it since I made so many changes all at once yesterday (Herbalife shakes, pills, aloe juice, metric fuckton of cheese, etc.)

I got home around 2:30am and had my snack, almost fell asleep in the living room, got my lazy butt in the shower, prepped my shake for the morning and got to sleep around 4am.  Do you want to know what is a very sad sight?  The notification from your phone that your alarm is set for 3 hours from that point – it made me want to cry but the life of a temp means losing 20% of my week’s pay because I want to sleep just isn’t the grown up or responsible thing to do.  So what if occasionally when typing an email I end up with a mysterious row of R’s typed across the screen where I dozed off while typing?  Caffeinate…hydrate…crash like a beast tonight.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

NYC and Herbalife...unexpected synchronicity!

Ok, so here goes nothing on giving this Herbalife thing a try.  Let me explain…no, there is too much…let me sum up.

  1. I finished my degree in North Carolina, worked in professional summer stock in Virginia and Indiana, spent a year in Orlando, FL as a stage management apprentice at Orlando Shakespeare Theater, floated around like a gypsy for a couple of months, and then got the chance of a lifetime to finally move to NYC and I have been here a little over a month now!
  2. I am now living in Astoria, Queens with my dog, a whole new group of friends, a job as an administrator in a hospital that I love, and Assistant Directing a show at night while trying to figure out just how big of a role theatre is going to play in my life and how to balance it with everything else going on.
  3. I have gained weight…a pretty good chunk of weight.  I don’t feel wonderful (although I don’t feel awful either) but all the walking and squeezing through turnstiles and onto small subway and bus and theatre seats has really hit home how much weight I have gained and I don’t like the way it makes my life that much more difficult.
  4. I am CRAZY busy! Like, leave the house at 8am return at 7pm, leave again at 7:30pm and return finally at 2am.  I have spent SO MUCH FREAKING MONEY on takeout it makes me shed a little tear at all the lost savings and travel opportunities I have pumped into Seamless in the last month and a half (For those who don’t live in NYC, Seamless is this AMAZING website that you can save your address and credit card info and order from dozens of restaurants in your area with a click of a mouse, including Sushi, Thai, Italian, Indian, Rotisserie Chicken, and Cold Stone Creamery…yeah, I didn't need to know that one).  I can literally count on one hand the number of meals I have cooked in my kitchen since I moved and it isn't good for my sensitive stomach or tender pocketbook.
  5. My kitchen is miniature…as in, studio apartment style miniature with not even enough counter space for a drying rack for the dishes - You do them, you dry them, the end!  It also has a smaller sized oven and fridge, and very limited cabinet space so my standard tricks of mass bulk buying and cooking are NOT going to work here.
So with all of these crazy factors in play and a friend who has been talking about Herbalife on Facebook nonstop I decided what the hell…give it a try.  Everyone talks about how expensive it is, but honestly with the amount of money I have been spending on eating out, replacing one or two meals a day with this stuff will probably up my fruit/veggie intake and reduce the amount of money per meal I am spending – both of which are excellent things!  And anything I can prep quickly and fit into my on the go schedule (that doesn't involve tipping the delivery guy) is a plus for me right now.

So I received my package last night and ended up starting it right away, thanks to having to be back out the door in 20 minutes and having no actual food in the house.  I didn't really want to have to get delivery at the theatre, so I grabbed whatever I could in the house and blended it up with the Formula 1 Chocolate Meal Powder and ended up with a yogurt, egg, baby spinach and cinnamon shake.  Conclusion?  Rather tasty!  And surprisingly satisfying…I was at the theatre until 1am and although I brought a snack in case I needed it, I didn't get hungry until I got home at which point I had an apple, cheese stick, and 1 beer while doing post-audition emails and paperwork.  Considering that replaced what otherwise would probably have been Chinese food I would say that is a successful meal swap! 

Also, because I got home so late last night, I knew I was going to be WIPED OUT this morning (which was true…I must be psychic) so I pre-prepped my shake in my to go cup by putting in a carton of yogurt, a spoon of Greek peach jam, an egg, a big handful of spinach, 2 scoops of Vanilla Formula 1 powder, and a good sprinkle of cinnamon and sticking it in the fridge overnight.  So this morning all I had to do was add water and give it 30 seconds worth of spinning with the best stick blender EVER (it’s teal…it works
magic…it even blends greens…Cuisinart, let’s get married!) pop the straw in and I had breakfast to go even if I didn't have time for a shower.  I drank that at 8am while on the bus/train/train/bus to work and drank a mug of the herbal tea mix with some honey and I honestly didn't get hungry until around 11:30am.  At that point I had a handful of mixed nuts to tide me over, and I am going to have my real food meal for lunch – I heard rumors of curry goat over rice in the cafeteria and I am exceedingly excited!  Then tonight I will have another shake in that 20 minutes between arriving home and leaving for the theatre, and take an aloe juice with me to sip on during callbacks.

So basically here is my approach to this whole thing –
  • I love myself and I am happy with myself at any size – it has taken a long time to get here, but I am focused on living my life NOW and not waiting for some magical number on a scale or on a clothing tag to give me permission to travel, eat, love, be happy, etc.  This program for me is a combination of wanting to get physically more comfortable while interacting with my environment, saving some money and saving some time in my busy schedule.
  • I refuse to suffer or exist in a constant state of deprivation and martyrdom.  If I am hungry I will put food in my face!  If I choose not to do 2 shakes/1 meal one day then I damn well won’t!  I am wanting to make sure I am paying attention to my body cues, so I am not going to just down a shake in addition to a meal (hello pointless waste of money!), but if I am hungry and it is still 2 hours to lunch I will make myself that oatmeal, or eat a handful of nuts, or a piece of fruit.  I will drink my alcohol of choice in moderation (which for me is usually 1-3 craft beers or glasses of wine in a week unless I go out and then that shrinks to “in a night” :-P) and when it is time for my real food meal I am going to eat what I want and not make it all crazy steamed, sauce-on-the-side, no carb, Paleo, weighed portion diet food.  I know how to eat healthy, I make general good choices, and I will continue to do so without making that the focus of my life to the detriment of all other intelligent thought in my brain.  I live in NYC, one of the greatest food city in the world, and I am a consummate foodie and cook.  Food brings me great joy, both the preparation and appreciation of it.  I am not giving that up on the hopes that I might shrink my physical being a bit faster – at what cost to my emotional well being?
  • I will focus on how my body feels through this whole process, and make sure to nurture it in the best ways possible.  Eating what I need, but not overdoing it.  Paying attention to my stomach and digestive health, bumping up my fruits and veggies, walking to and from the train more than I catch the bus, trying (trying oh so hard!) to get enough sleep, etc.  Making sure I am physically and emotionally being taken care of, and then also helping to disentangle those feelings of nurturing from being tied to food so that I can appreciate it without letting it ruin me.

That’s about it!  I honestly didn't even weight myself at the beginning of this because I don’t have a scale and don’t want one.  I know what I weighed this summer, and I expect (based on how my clothes fit) that I am slightly less than that now but I don’t have an exact number and it just doesn't matter all that much.  I want to see my clothes get looser and my breathing get less labored, I want to not have to turn sideways to sqeeeeeeeeze through a turnstile at the subway, I want to sit in a theatre seat and not be squished to the point of pain, I want to not choke on my own chest when I lean forward to tie my shoes, I want to be comfortable enough to enjoy fully the life that I am going to continue to live happily regardless!  I also am going to do my damndest to keep this blog on the experience, and anything else that comes to mind,