Thursday, May 31, 2012

Foodie Penpals - May Edition

The Lean Green Bean

Hi everybody! I know it's been way too long since my last blog post and I apologize. After 2 weeks on the road (including 4 nights in a row spent in 4 different states), I'm home! I seriously have never been so happy to be in one place. The day before I left on my whirlwind trip, I received a special delivery - my May foodie penpal box from Kelly! She knew I would be traveling and sent some delicious airplane-friendly snacks my way. I immediately packed away the freeze-dried apples (yum!!), raspberry fruit bites & strawberry fruit strip - three of my favorite fruits/flavors. I also snuck the almond pocky into my carry-on bag for a sweet mid-flight treat. For the record, almond pocky is superior to all other pocky!!

Sadly I didn't have room for much else in my suitcase (likely due to the 8 pairs of shoes I brought with me), so the rest of the goodies stayed home. Since I just returned a couple of days ago I have yet to try the rest but don't worry, I will get on that right away ha! Also in my package was squeezable applesauce which is totally going in my office snack drawer, and orange cranberry quinoa cereal - I am so intrigued by this! I had mentioned to Kelly that I love spicy food and since she works in Chinatown she sent me some awesome goodies from the neighborhood. A jar of sambal oelek (yesss I can't wait to use this), some delicious-looking tamarind & chili powder candy (seriously cannot wait to try this), and some ramen noodle crackers!

I seriously can't believe all of the amazing stuff Kelly managed to get in to that box and I am sooo grateful for all of my goodies! I should mention that in addition to my edible treats, I also received a handwritten note from Kelly and... an adorable picture of her new baby boy, with a message for me! If it is possible to simultaneously laugh my ass off and melt from cute baby mushiness at the same time, that's exactly what I did. THANK YOU Kelly, for being such an amazing and thoughtful penpal!!

Aaaand I sent some treats to my fabulous penpal Whitney, who I was so excited to find as my penpal because I follow her on twitter!! She was kind enough to write a guest post about the goodies she received:

May was my second month participating in the fabulous Foodie Pen Pals program. I was thrilled to learn I had been paired with one of my Twitter peeps -- @runbangrun! We had recently begun chatting, and it was a nice surprise to be paired with someone that I "know". As someone who is trying to live healthy--while indulging--I would say that Bang took great care of me!

Walking up three flights of stairs, I was excited to see the package waiting on my doorstep. I quickly tore into it and discovered great treats--some of which I have tried, and some that were new to me. I immediately grabbed the jar of apple butter and popped the lid to have a taste. I recognized the label on the jar, and realized my package had come from NC, my home state! What a nice surprise! My next grab was the homemade trail mix... my goodness, it was delicious! Bang even provided the nutritional info so I could calculate my Weight Watchers points. How sweet!

Bang knew I wanted snacks that would be easy to take to work, and she delivered plenty of snacks to do the job. The almond crackers were tasty; I always look at them at the grocery store, but resist the urge to buy them. The ranch flavor was salty, tangy, and very satisfying. I'm pretty sure my boyfriend stole those... The dried apples and granola are perfect additions to my breakfast routine, and the chocolate bandaids--"for life's boo boos"--were perfect portions of chocolate to numb my sweet tooth.

All the goodies were delicious, but only one made me crack up. As someone who follows me on Twitter, Bang knows that I work with a lot of nerds, who I tweet about constantly. Buried deep in the box was a bright package of Nerds candy! Not only did I get a great selection of new snacks, I got a big laugh and a hand-written note: two great additions to any Foodie Pen Pal package.
Thanks for the great and thoughtful selection, Bang! And thank you for hosting my entry. You are a sweetheart!

You are most welcome Whitney and thank YOU for the kind words and for taking the time to write a guest post!! 

- - - - -
And now it's time for some details about Foodie Penpals.  Here’s some info on what the program is all about:
-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.

-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!

-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)

-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 

-Foodie Penpals is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We've determined things might get too slow and backed up if we're trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.
 If you’re interested in participating for June, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

*If you're from somewhere besides the US, Canada or Europe and want to participate, send Lindsay an email and she'll see if there's enough interest this month!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Regrets? I've had a few...

It has been entirely too long since my last post and for that I apologize! Life is quite hectic at the moment with 90% of my energy being devoted to some upcoming & very important work responsibilities. My energy levels have been rapidly depleting as I spend the majority of my waking hours studying (and far too few hours actually sleeping). In fact, I should be outside running right now but I literally can't find the energy to lift my butt off the couch. Tonight I fully intend to be asleep by 9pm in an attempt to regain some energy (and sanity).

Meanwhile, as I mentioned previously, I registered to run my very first half-marathon (coming this fall). When I visited the race website for details I noticed that there was a training page with a link to a local group utilizing Jeff Galloway's training program. I read the details, emailed the program director and made note to attend the upcoming informational meeting. Then I promptly forgot about everything. Oops. A couple of days before the meeting, I received a reminder email and rearranged plans so that I could attend. I knew that Jeff Galloway himself would be speaking at the meeting and was quite excited to hear what he had to say. He did not disappoint!

While some of the things he recommended concern me (drink less water during runs, no stretching), I am very much on board with his run-walk-run method. This is essentially what I do every time I run and it has been beneficial in increasing my distance and endurance thus far. One of the very first things Jeff said was that by committing to a race and to the program, we were effectively changing our lives. This rings incredibly true to me, as I still have a hard time believing that I am a runner. I remember a few years ago, my brother asked me to join him for a run. "I don't run unless I'm being chased" I responded. To which he replied, "OK so I'll chase you..." Suffice it to say, his proposition fell on deaf ears and it would be several years before I ever put one foot in front of the other and "pounded the pavement".

In high school and junior high, we were always required to participate in the dreaded mile run. I, being the non-runner that I was, would always manage to have an excuse for not running. I was sick, I forgot my gym clothes/sneakers at home, the sky was blue... you name it, I used it. The one time I remember being forced to participate, I defiantly walked the entire mile and effectively pissed off my entire gym class. The thing is, I didn't magically begin running overnight. It took some physical strength, sure but what really solidified my love of this sport was a major change of attitude. 

I can't even tell you how many times in my life I have passed up an opportunity because I was afraid I would fail or better yet, would look stupid in front of people. One memory of "high-school me" that stands out was the day I decided to be more active and take a walk around the neighborhood. I was overweight and shy and it took a lot of courage for me to put my fears aside and take that walk. At some point during my journey a car full of boys passed by and shouted mean, high-school boy things at my chubby-framed self. It hurt but I was used to it. What crushed me though was the boy who threw a half-empty soda can at me as if we both belonged there, just another piece of trash on the side of the road. It bounced off of my chest and landed at my feet and with it there on the road, fell my self-esteem. I don't remember going for many more walks after that.

It kills me that I relinquished the power I had over myself to some punk ass kids who I would never see again. I went home and ate myself sick, donning my cloak of fat-invisibility.The older I get, the more I regret letting the opinions of others prevent me from trying something I just might enjoy. In fact, the motto of my early (ahem, very early) thirties has become "kiss my ass". I use that perhaps a little too much, but it works for me. I have spent far too many years living for everyone but myself and I am taking back control of my life.

There are so many instances I can recall where I've said "I can't do that right now because I'm fat but one day, I would like to try it." Folks, let me tell you that is bullshit. You can do and be whatever and whoever you want to be in this very moment. Don't punish yourself or put the good stuff on hold because you're not a perfect version of yourself. None of us are, that is the beauty of our existence. Every one of us is a work in progress and without that progress to look forward to, we would have no purpose! Take a good look at who you are, where you came from and where you want to go, and begin the journey. You just might like where you end up.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

In the name of experimentation

Hello, lovelies! Thank you to all who commented on my previous post, either here or via twitter. Your encouragement and understanding are very much appreciated.

Yesterday was Friday Weigh-Day! I will tell you this, after a 4-pound gain over the course of two weeks I went a little weigh-crazy and "checked" the scale more than once this past week. It was more out of curiosity than anything else and boy is it amazing how much body weight can fluctuate throughout a single day let alone an entire week. For the record, I don't advise weighing in more than once weekly. I think if I did that on any sort of regular basis I would go insane. Anyway, I weighed in yesterday morning and was unsure what I would see staring back at me. Fortunately my hard work this week paid off and I obliterated 3.4 pounds of regret. Cool!

It has been a tough week for workouts around here, as the weather has been 90+ degrees all week. Since I began running in the winter, I am not accustomed to running outside in this kind of weather. It has me freaking out a bit because I know these temps will probably linger through September!! I have realized that, as if training for my first half-marathon isn't hard enough, I will likely spend the majority of my training either inside on the treadmill or waking up at the butt-crack of dawn (before it gets too hot to run outside). Not surprisingly, neither option appeals to me. Although I force myself to be an early bird during the work week, I am so not a morning person. And the thought of running 10-14 miles on a treadmill makes me downright stabby. I will not allow these obstacles to derail me though. Time to put my big girl panties on and suck it up.

I have been experimenting with a lot of things lately. My most delicious experiments have involved breakfast food. Over the winter I became obsessed with steel cut oatmeal. That lasted me through spring but I just can't imagine eating such a warm, hearty breakfast when the temperature is 95 degrees outside. I've been tracking my food intake and mentally noting how I feel after consuming certain foods. I've found that as far as breakfast is concerned, protein is extremely satisfying for me while carbs tend to make me more hungry. With that in mind I purchased a huge tub of plain greek yogurt and began experimenting (FYI a 6 oz serving of Chobani 0% Plain has 18 grams of protein!!).

One morning I mixed my plain yogurt with dark chocolate peanut butter... holy deliciousness. I was actually so full from all of the protein that I didn't even finish my entire breakfast. I froze the leftovers and ate them as choco-peanut butter fro-yo later that evening! My absolute favorite breakfast this week was a little southern twist on plain yogurt: I added some apple butter that I'd picked up at the farmers market and then a little bit of pecan praline granola. OMG! I ate that combo twice in five days, it was so good. Now I can't wait for my next trip to the farmer's market so I can find other fruit butter varieties to try! Do you have a favorite mix-in for your yogurt? I'd love to hear your most delicious (or most unusual!) combination.

Going along with the experimentation theme, I have been wearing my new leg sleeves when I run. After a lot of research and review-reading, I purchased the Zensah sleeves in hot pink. First of all, I love them the way a little girl loves her cowboy boots or princess outfit. I want to wear them all the time, appropriate or not. The best part though is that they're not only fun to look at, they are actually helping my calves. I have mentioned before that I have plantar fasciitis in my right foot. I've done a lot of reading on the subject and I've seen mention that calf tightness can contribute to pain in the plantar fascia (I'm not a doctor, so take this with a grain of salt). I have had tight calves my entire life, and I remember waking up many times in the middle of the night with a "charley horse". Since I have begun running I take great care to stretch my calves after my workouts but I have noticed that since wearing my new sleeves, I have even less soreness in my legs and feet. I'm officially a believer!

Last but not least, I have to share that I am in love... with my new swimsuit! Now I am "that girl" who used to wear a giant t-shirt over my swimsuit in the pool, in the ocean, etc because I was ashamed of my body. I've gotten out of that habit over the last few years because the older I get, the more I believe that if you don't want to look at me you can turn your damn head. That doesn't mean I am at all comfortable when wearing a swimsuit; I'm not. In addition to being overweight, I am very fair-skinned. My legs are like the sun; if you look directly at them you may go blind or at least see spots for a while. True story, but I digress.

I saw a swimsuit recently on the Macy's website and knew immediately that I needed it. Not wanted, needed. I am obsessed with all things polka-dot: I've got polka dot dresses, shorts, even sunglasses (thanks Mel)! I ordered the swimsuit with a hope and a prayer that it would fit when it arrived. When it finally did land on my doorstep I tore the package open and let out a squeal... it was even cuter in person. I slipped it on and looked in the mirror and it is easily the most flattering suit I have ever worn in my life. I can't believe I'm about to say this but... I can't wait for an excuse to wear it! Fortunately for me I will have such an excuse in a couple of weeks when I head west for a conference that just so happens to be at a swanky resort. The thought of my coworkers seeing me in a swimsuit freaks me out but at least I'll feel more confident than I would have with my usual swim stuff.

What have you experimented with lately? Do you enjoy trying new workout gear or do you take the bare-bones approach to fitness? Tell me about your most memorable swimsuit!!