Wednesday, February 19, 2014

It's my birthday, I'll dry shampoo if I want to.

It's my birthday, I'll dry shampoo if I want to. 

As I sit, staring down the barrel of 25, I can't tell if I want to throw up or go to bed early.

This year has been one of the most eventful of my life, and yet sometimes it feels like the least.

This time last year, I was about to turn 24, and I had just taken a new position as a political speech writer-- which is a pretty good job-- one I thought would be my dream job.

Brian and I got engaged this summer, which was super exciting (and still is)!!!

Those are some pretty huge things! Once in a lifetime, you could say. (One would hope.)

On the other hand, along with the new job came a 3 hour daily commute. With the "next step" in our relationship so imminent, Brian and I have been trying to "buckle down."We still have lots of fun together, but spontaneity gets curbed a bit when the major purchase of your first house looms in the back of your brain.

I can honestly say I've never felt so tired in my entire life. I'm tired just writing this. Earlier this evening, after a day of work and a nice "you're getting old gynecologist appointment" I felt almost too tired to chew my health conscious dinner of fish and brown rice with veggies. This year I've made countless resolutions. I've started drinking green juice. I make conscious decisions about my fiber intake.

I feel old. I wonder if 24 is the last birthday people get excited about. I'm halfway to 50!! Probably a third of the way dead! (That's scary if you think about it....)

I'm not mad or even sad about it. I don't feel sorry for myself, and I'm not having a pity party. Actually, I'm going to have a birthday party with some of my favorite people on Friday, and I'm very much looking forward to that! I just feel weird and numb. I've always LOVED birthdays!!!! I used to be that kid who had the hardest time falling asleep on my birthday eve. I used to make lists of what I wanted for gifts and revel in every second of my special day. I still have people who make me feel special and who will be lovely on my "special" day, and for that I am thankful, but the "hold-your-breath", drink champagne, throw confetti and save your birthday balloons until they droop in your room excitement is just not there anymore.

Maybe I'm nervous. Maybe I'm scared because I realize that the past year literally flew by so quickly I'm not even sure what happened or where the time went. Wasn't it just yesterday I was going out to Philly for my 21st birthday?!

I used to judge people who said they didn't do birthdays. Maybe I still do. I didn't buy it when anyone said that they didn't like people making a fuss over them once a year. It's your birthday for goodness sake! You get to be a princess today!! I considered them faux cynics.

Right now, I'm  too tired to be clever or witty or to even have my thoughts straight, but I've got to get this down! It's the last day of the 24th year of my life! I am grateful to have a job and to have people who love me and to have breath in my lungs.

I am trying to be grateful for all those awkward times when strangers confuse me for a high-schooler. I will appreciate that in 10 years. I think.

Between work, and wedding planning, and house hunting, I haven't had much time to do much else that counts as productive. I'm reading and listening to audiobooks, but I find myself choosing books  that I've already read. Perhaps that's my subconscious making sure I don't get to invested in something I don't have the time or mental capacity for.  If I've already read the book, it's still a good book, and I'm still working my brain, but I don't find myself staying up until 3AM because I just HAVE TO finish the next chapter ... or 5. 

Side note: If any of you are looking for a great fiction read-- Stieg Larsson it is! The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest are wonderfully written books that are a challenge that reward diligence and perseverance.  Plus, the protagonist in these books is a girl who kicks ass like no other-- a serious thriller with technological, psychological, and political themes throughout, along with strong feminist undertones. 

I have always been a low maintenance kind of girl, but this year I feel like I could count of one hand the number of times I put serious effort into doing my hair and makeup. I have not touched my eyebrows in SIX MONTHS (That is not an exaggeration-- in fact, I'm treating myself to a nice birthday threading)!!! Is this because I'm tired and lazy or do I care less or  have I come to terms with the person I am and how I look, so that I no longer feel a need to make myself up on special occasions? Am I crazy for even thinking about these things? Probably a little.

All I know is that tomorrow is my birthday, and instead of washing my hair and preparing a cute outfit, I just sprayed half a can of Klorane dry shampoo on my head and threw on some sweatpants. This is who I have become.

 I guess what I have to do is realize and accept that my birthday is just going to be another Thursday. I won't feel any different. In fact, I'll only actually be a day older, not a year. But I can use it as another opportunity to set new goals for myself, including expanding my work goals and ideas, finally getting serious about getting back into my old jeans (Please--- No one use this line as an opportunity to try to sell me something), and find a new hobby that makes me feel like my brain is still working! I don't want to get duller with age. I need to stay curious and open minded. I want to learn something new every day. My days are more numbered today than they were yesterday. Who knows how many I'll really have. For now, I'll continue to use an acne face wash in the morning and a wrinkle cream at night during this transition phase. I am determined to get my excitement back-- about everything and anything!

25 is going to feel old, but it's going to be a good year. I'm going to get married. I'm going to move out of my mother's house (which is terrifying to be honest), and I am going to get something done-- just not sure what yet.  I might even shave my legs regularly, but that's not likely. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Beating the Boring Breakfast Blues

Beating the Boring Breakfast Blues

This time of year, I need a breakfast to stick to my ribs (but not my waistline.) My office is usually freezing, so it’s nice to have something warm to eat when I get in. Also, I need my sleep. I do not have the time or energy in the morning to get up and make a real breakfast. Sometimes, even making a smoothie is too much work for me.

 I used to bring those instant oatmeal packets to work with me…saccharine sweet flavors like banana, strawberry, and peach, but now they’re too sweet for me to handle. Plus rolled oats, especially the instant variety, can easily become a pile a beige mush—not too appetizing!

That’s when I discovered steel cut oats. I really don’t know why I never had them before, but they’re awesome. They do take a few minutes to cook in the morning (usually 10…but if you like them mushy, I guess it could take 20,) but they’re low maintenance. Put some water on low heat and dump the oats in. I brush my teeth. Run to the kitchen to stir. Put my clothes on. Stir. Make my bed. Stir. ETC. Basically, when the water almost completely evaporates, they’re done! Yay! Then you can flavor them anyway you want! 

Little time saving hint: if you’re a commuter like me, and like to bring breakfast to work so you can eat it when you get in, prep all your add-ins the night before (fruit, nuts, honey, sugar, coconut flakes, peanut butter, etc.) and put them in a Tupperware in the fridge. That way in the morning, you just have to worry about cooking the oats, dumping them in the Tupperware, and running out the door. I have an hour and a half commute, so I still need to reheat it in the microwave when I get to work, but they stay hot for the first 20 minutes of the drive if you don’t have such a far trip! 

Also—I know there are “overnight oats” methods when you can soak them overnight and just microwave them in the morning, so feel free to experiment with that if you really hate the idea of using your stove in the morning.

Below is my favorite recipe. It really tastes good, it’s got texture—so you can chew it!—and it’s under 300 calories, and completely holds me over ‘til lunch!

¼ cup of steel cut oats (The ¼ cup measurement is the amount of dry oats; then you cook them according to your package, and voila!)
1 tbsp of chia seeds
½ tsp of cinnamon
1tsp of Sugar in the Raw
½ tbsp of sliced almonds
½ tbsp of dried cranberries
1 tbsp of vanilla almond milk 

If you use this exact recipe, the nutritional info is as follows:
285 calories. 41 g of carbs. 9.5 g of fat. 6 g of sugar. 11 g of protein. 11 g of fiber.  

Not too shabby!

I like Bob’s Red Mill brand for the oats and chia seeds, and you can get them at ShopRite, but it’s totally your preference. Same goes with the Sugar in the Raw; you could use brown sugar, agave, honey, whatever you like. And again with the dried nuts and berries—mix it up to your preference! You could also use regular or rice milk instead of almond milk, or leave it out entirely. I like it, because I have to heat it up again once I get to work, and it keeps the oats from getting dry. 


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

BluePrint: The cleanse for the health conscious and slightly masochistic

BluePrint: The cleanse for the health conscious and slightly masochistic 

**This is a LONG entry, but it’s thorough, and if you’re debating whether or not to try the BluePrint cleanse, it’s pretty detailed and informative (or at least I hope and think so!) so stick it out ‘til the end!

Let me preface this play-by-play of my experience with the BluePrint organic juice cleanse by saying—I’m a normal person!!! I currently have a BMI (body mass index) of 24, which— for those of you who aren’t familiar with it—is one point below slightly overweight (typically starts at 25+.) 

Now I don’t put too much stock in the exact science of the BMI Index, because it is calculated solely by your weight and height (they don’t take my XXL hips or very thick hair into the equation, and there’s not much I can do about that,) but it is a good general indicator of where you’re at weight wise. 

Anyway, let’s rewind to August 23, 2013 when Brian proposed to me. He did good. He kept it a secret and I was totally surprised, which is virtually impossible. I said yes, and the next morning he had another surprise for me—an awesome cruise!! We had a ton of fun, and the best part was the all you can eat all day every day—from a fancy restaurant, to a taco stand, to a  buffet, and a build your own Guy Fieri burger station—plus a few boozy drinks now and then. 

Unfortunately, when we got back and when I got on the scale, it was a bit scary. I put on 5 pounds in 5 days (this was on top of the fact that I never really got my beach body back completely since my senior year of college—so it was five pound on top of the other 15 I wanted to lose before I got engaged!)  I realized then that I was getting married, and, as trivial as this may sound, if I couldn’t get motivated to get in shape for my wedding day, I probably would never find a better reason. 

I started by cutting out all fast food (not that I ate much of it anyway, but once in a while I would give into some taco bell or chicken nuggets of a good five guys burger!) I cut out all processed foods; I stopped eating anything that came wrapped in plastic or cellophane, anything with an unlimited shelf life—no more “Lean Cuisine”and sodium loaded low fat soups for lunch, even though, in my past life, I considered them my “healthy”and “light”options.

(Don’t get me wrong, I lost 15 pounds on the lean cuisine diet, but I was cranky and hungry and bloated from all the added salt and preservatives…not worth it, not sustainable, and not healthy!)

I CUT OUT COFFEE. Which sucked for the 1st day, but I kept green tea on hand and was able to make the transition. I had 2 cups of green tea on my first coffee free day. Then 1 cup a day for a few days after, and finally I just stopped. No headaches or crashing. I was caffeine free for a whole month. Now and then I have a cup of green tea when I’m feeling slow, or just want it, because it’s good. And once in a while I’ll treat myself to a small coffee—because I like it, not because I need it to function! 

I found out about BluePrint at a yoga event in Philly. Some of their reps had a table set up and were giving free samples; they let my friends and I try the whole flight of BluePrint flavors, which was really nice, because it was good to know I could stomach the flavors before I took the plunge into a full-blown cleanse.  All of the flavors were very tasty, and the juices were all organic, cold pressed juices, from a variety of fruits, vegetables, and even nuts! I was intrigued, because the cleanse consisted of drinking 6 juices a day, lots of water, and herbal tea if you wanted. I was more intrigued when I found out that each day, I would be consuming 1200 calories—which is good because I don’t do starvation—I love food too much, and I am the originator of the adjective “hangry” – don’t believe me? Google it.
BluePrint offers 3 levels of cleanses—beginner, intermediate, and expert, and it’s basically based on how much of a crappy eater you are.  The beginner cleanse consists of 2 green drinks a day (out of the 6 juices,) and as the levels increase, so do the number of green drinks per day. Needless to say, I decided to go with the beginner cleanse, also known as the “Renovation” cleanse on their website. 

This cleanse consists of:

·         2 Green juices which include organic romaine, apple, celery, cucumber, spinach,       kale, parsley, and lemon juice.

·         1 Gold juice that includes organic pineapple, apple, and mint juice.

·         1 Red juice that includes organic apple, carrot, beet, lemon, and ginger juice.

·         1 spicy lemonade (kind of like the Master Cleanse drink!) that is water with organic lemon juice, cayenne, and agave. 

·         And finally, one drink that isn’t really a juice at all, it includes organic cashew milk,   agave, cinnamon, and vanilla bean.

OK—so at first, I thought, this is going to be easy. I just drink pre-made, pre-packaged juice for three days. Because, man, is juicing annoying. The chopping, the juicing, the cleaning of the juicer, and the fact that if you wait too long to drink it, it’s already a weird color, especially green juices. 

HOWEVER, this cleanse is expensive!!!

Check out the BluePrint website for further explanation of the juices, packages, and pricing, but if you want to do a three day cleanse, it costs $195 for 18 bottles of juice (6 per day.) AND if you don’t want to drive to NYC to pick it up, they charge you $30 to FedEx it overnight—since it has a short, refrigerated shelf life, there’s no other shipping option. So $225 for a 3 day cleanse. 

They offer 15% off group discounts, and bridal party discounts, but it still stays pretty pricey. Since I am a skeptic and a cheapo, I decided to look into the Wholefoods option (Because, as far as I know, if you don’t buy it directly from BluePrint, Wholefoods is the only other place that sells the juices.) 

I did my research and my math. If you buy the cleanse from whole foods, you need to purchase the following:

6 bottles of green juice (at $9.99/bottle) = $59.94
3 bottles of gold juice (at $9.99/bottle) = $29.97
3 bottles of red juice (at $9.99/bottle) = $29.97
3 bottles of spicy lemonade (at $6.99/bottle) =$20.97
3 bottles of the cashew milk (at $11.99/bottle—Yikes!!) = 35.97

Total cost for the BluePrint 3 day cleanse through Wholefoods is $176.82 –which already saves you $48.18 (compared to buying it directly from the BluePrint site.)


Wholefoods offers a 10% case discount. A case is 12 bottles (I believe) and must be made up of bottles in the same price point, so you can buy the 12 bottles of green, red, and gold juice that you need in one case since they’re all $9.99, and then just buy the other 6 bottles of cashew milk and lemonade separately. If you purchase them this way, with the case discount like I did, you’ll only end up paying $164.83, which is $60 cheaper than buying them through the BluePrint website!!! (You’re welcome. I’m a frugal genious! I know)

$164.83 is still pricey for 3 days worth of juice, but I justified this purchase by telling myself it was a good kickstart to a healthier lifestyle, and I was getting married. It’s important to note that I did not decide to do this cleanse with the intention or hope of losing weight. Yes, I did lose about 4 pounds (about what I put on during the cruise,) and yes I did keep them off, but it’s not a magic fat wand. 

So 3 days before the cleanse, you need to prep for it. Get rid of any heavy processed foods, coffee, dairy, red meat, etc. Basically, I ate steamed or broiled fish, whole grain rice or beans with veggies and fruit. 2 days before the cleanse I ate fruits and veggies rice and/or beans, and the day before the cleanse just fruit and veggies. Pre, during, and post cleanse, I only drank water and hot green tea. Then you start you 3 days of juice.

Day 1 sucked. The taster samples I’d tried a few weeks earlier at that yoga event were yummy! They tasted fresh, and trendy, and healthy! Chugging 16 ounces of green juice on my way to work was hard. You start your day off with one green juice. 

Chug water. 

An hour later, you drink your gold juice—which is decent your first sip, but is soooo sweet it was almost harder to finish than the green! I know it’s real fruit juice, but the gold has 45 grams of sugar in it!!! That’s A LOT! 

Back to chugging water, then onto my 2nd green juice—which is really rough by this point in my day. 

More chugging, then it’s time for a spicy lemonade (my favorite!) More water, and I make it to my most hated of juices—the red (beets, apples, carrots, ginger.) I really do not like beets, and I really, really don’t like drinking them. Also—don’t be alarmed when you go to the bathroom and it looks like you have internal bleeding worthy of a House episode. It’s just beets turning your poop a really scary color of red! Yay! 

Finally, I finish my day off with the cashew, cinnamon, vanilla, agave drink. You have to shake it really well or it gets a little chunky, and the instructions day that you should really try to chew your drink to mix your saliva into it for better digestion—whatever—I felt like a big idiot doing that, and I choked myself once on my own spit. Go me. This drink wasn’t so bad. The first half of the bottle I imagined it was almost like drinking a yummy milkshake. The 2nd half of the bottle gets a lot of chunky sediment, and I started to feel like I was swallowing a poorly mixed protein shake. 

I must say, I wasn’t really hungry all day because I was chugging so much liquid. I was also peeing every 10 minutes…and my pee was clear, so that’s good!

The next day went the same as the first, except I’d gotten used to the routine a bit, and definitely wasn’t hungry. I didn’t feel cranky or headachy. I did have a bit of trouble sleeping the 1st night, which might have been from so much sugar during the day. Gold juice has the most sugar, but the rest weren’t far behind. It was tough because I was at work this whole time, and my lovely office ladies kept asking me if I was sure I didn’t want to eat some pizza. 

That second night I had to go to an event for work where there was like….a wedding style cocktail hour and sit down dinner. I was really good for most of the night, but then I was really hungry, and couldn’t drink my cashew drink at this event without looking like an idiot, so I caved and have some of the steamed veggie side-dishes that were offered. 

The last day of my cleanse, went fine. However, at the end of the work day (it was a Friday) we had a big, fancy office retirement party. I had RSVP’d weeks ahead of time, so I couldn’t back out, and there was so much fancy food, I thought I would die. I caved (again) and ate some stuff…just a tiny appetizer plate’s worth, but I had a few shrimp with cocktail sauce, some veggie crudités, and (gasp!) a cute and tiny grilled cheese. I’m the worst at not eating real food. 

That 3rd night, after the retirement party, I skipped the beet juice and the cashew juice, because I felt bad about eating and really wasn’t hungry. I tried to extend the cleanse into a 4th day by drinking the beet juice for breakfast the next morning, but it was so gross; I could only stomach half the bottle. I felt so guilty about throwing out $5 worth of juice, but whatever. 

I saved the last bottle of cashew milk, and drank it after the gym as a protein shake that day. Good riddance, juice cleanse. I finished it. I cheated a little, but I don’t feel too bad about it. The cleanse was fine. I had energy, I wasn’t hungry, I got a ton of servings of fruits and veggies over that week. 

I eased myself back into regular food, but it took a whole week for my stomach to get used to it. I know this is TMI, but it’s important—I had diarrhea the WHOLE WEEK after the cleanse. Not terrible, not explosive or painful, but not normal. 

I probably wouldn’t do this cleanse again, because it was pricey, and I really think that I could have gotten the same nutritional value by just eating fruits and veggies. The green juice claims to have 8 pounds of produce in one bottle, so it might be hard to eat that much produce, but again—whatever. However, for me, it was a good mental cleanse and jumpstart to a good gym routine and healthier eating habits. I kept telling myself, you just spend $160 on a juice cleanse—you better keep up this healthy stuff! 

So, if you’re feeling desperate for a change and not very motivated or consistent, maybe this is for you. Maybe you love juice! Whatever floats your boat! I’m not going to recommend this either way, because I’m not you and I’m not a doctor. 

I would recommend that you NOT consider doing this for more than a few days. I read somewhere that this is safe for up to 30 or 40 days, and some people—especially crazy brides—do the cleanse for the whole month leading up to your wedding. I can confidently say that sounds insane. You will be cranky and hungry and wanting to chew stuff, and you will be taking in WAY too much sugar every day. Plus, good luck trying to eat anything awesome at your wedding or on your honeymoon because your stomach and colon will not be having it!

Whatever you do, make sure you do your research and make sure you do it safely. Don’t believe anything or anyone who tells you it’s a good idea to try XYZ fad diet or cleanse because it promises you’ll lose 10 pounds in 3 days. It won’t, and if it does—you won’t be feeling well and you’ll gain it all back!

Enjoy ladies and make good decisions!!! :)

The end. Feel informed??