Monday, December 16, 2013

All I Want To Get Is A Little Bit Closer

Happy Monday! Only one more Monday before Christmas (and actually, it's our last Monday because our vacation starts this Saturday, woohoo!). I am so totally excited about vacation. Kristen just pointed out that we haven't taken a vacation this long EVER. Even when we went to Florida to run the Disney Half and then cruised to the Bahamas last year, the entire trip was 10 days. So with the exception of intermittent unemployment, this is the only time we've ever both taken a full two weeks off (and let's face it, unemployment is NOT "vacation").

And Kristen definitely needs the vacation. Her job has been crazy busy lately. She works late every day and then spends any and all free time on the weekend doing more work. It's not usually like this, but this is the busiest time of year for her agency plus she was handed a lot more responsibility recently, so she's trying extra hard to impress her big boss and biggest boss (pssh, piece of cake since she's so awesome). We're also crossing our fingers that she'll get a promotion. It's a lot of politics and she'd be the youngest senior director by FAR, but she's more than qualified and has already proven she'd be a good fit, so.... here's hoping! 

Anyway, it is for that reason that I went to the gym by myself this weekend. She just had too much work to do. But I really want to build in a consistent exercise routine, so I ventured into the nasty weather alone.

all bundled up to hit the gym

I did a really tough back and bicep workout ending with a super challenging core workout with the BOSU ball. Ugh, so hard. But worth it. My abs are still screaming at me. Last night I was so sore, I said to Kristen, "life is so hard to live when you can't use your core." She cracked up because I was so pathetic, but it's true! I was laying down reading while she worked on her report and every time I had to get up it was this whole production because I had to utilize my other muscles and counterweight and momentum just to sit up! Tough life.

After that workout, I drank a protein shake and showered while Kristen finished up her work. Then we headed to Grand Central to catch our train to the Tegan & Sara concert!!! We entered through the MetLife building and they had the prettiest Christmas decorations!


I'm totally obsessed with any and all holiday decorations. Especially in the City because it makes everything seem even more magical! 


We usually go to Grand Central via MTA train, but we had to run an errand in the City first, so we just walked over. As soon as we entered the station, I realized that I have never actually been inside the main room in person. I've seen plenty of photos, movies, TV shows that feature it and I've been to the station before, but I usually just go from MTA train to another train underground. 

It really is spectacular in there! It was even more dazzling with the holiday decor. The "100" is for their 100 Years Grand exhibit. I can see why the station is a tourist destination itself!


There was also apparently something else going on. Santa Con. Ugh. 


It seems harmless enough - it's just a bunch of people dressed up like Santa, Mrs. Clause, and Elves, right? NO! It's essentially a huge Frat party. I have never dodged so much vomit in my life. Gross, people. Gross. If I ever needed convincing to never ever do New Year's Eve in Times Square, this encounter with endless drunk co-eds puking all over everything was it.

It was utterly freezing in the station and our MetroNorth train was late, so we grabbed coffee nearby to warm us up.


Our train did finally arrive, however. Then we all had to switch to the train across the platform. Trust me when I say that a train full of drunk 20-somethings is not what you want in this situation. Sloppy. 

But whatevs, we found a seat amidst families and nice old people, so our actual ride was fairly pleasant.


As soon as we arrived in Port Chester, we looked for a place to have dinner. Mostly because we were hungry, but also because the weather was 100% ridiculous and we needed to get out of the freezing ass cold. I spotted a Buffalo Wild Wings and that was that. We shared delicious honey BBQ boneless wings and french fries. Not our healthiest meal, but we shared.

Yummy BBQ wings

They had a bunch of sports on the TV's, but I was mesmerized by the luge (so excited for the Olympics! I love the Olympics so much!) and beach volleyball (I have a huge crush on Kerri Walsh-Jennings, who was playing against the Chinese team). 


We hung out at BWW for a while and then headed to the venue, which was literally one block away. 

Yay for Tegan & Sara!!!

Kristen and I are boring, so we bought tickets for the balcony. There were a TON of super young and enthusiastic people there and they STORMED the stage when the doors opened. But we're just too old for that shit anymore. It's tempting to be that close to the musicians, but then we remembered what it feels like to be standing in a pit of drunk people holding up their iPhones for 5 hours and realized we'd made the right choice. I like the containment of an assigned chair.

To reinforce our boring-ness, we brought our NOOKs with us to read before the show started. Yup, we really did. And it's a good thing because (of course) the show started super late and I was happily reading The Hobbit instead of sitting there, bored as heck.



There were all these trippy projections that went up on the walls and ceiling before the show started. This one is squirrels, eating an acorn: 


This one made us feel like we were on an actual acid trip, or being sucked into a black hole: 


Weirdos. 


This one was less trippy and more "Vera Bradley handbag":


And the biggest hit of the evening was this giant rainbow projection. The gays loved it (it is our thing, afterall). And since both the opener and the headliners are all lesbians, it was fitting :)


I also kept telling Kristen that the ceiling projection looked like the Eye of Sauron. It does, right?!


Once we were all thoroughly engrossed in the projections, the lights dimmed and the show started. The opener was Mary Lambert (aka the chick who sings the hook in Macklemore's "Same Love"). She actually used the hook to write a whole song, which has the cutest lesbian love story music video ever:




OMG.

She was fantastic. So talented. So raw. So funny. So vulnerable. She sang, she read poetry, she did a combination of both. She told funny stories about thinking "Teenage Dirtbag" was a lesbian love song (she did an amazing cover), singing with Jennifer Hudson, and almost being kicked out of the VMAs after performing. Her work is very powerful. At moments I felt so uncomfortable and vulnerable myself. She really is something special! Her EP drops tomorrow and we're DEFINITELY going to buy that up! 

Just Mary and her keyboard

My favorite was this piece she did called "Body Love." It sent chills up and down my entire body. It was the realest thing ever. Still can't shake all the feelings it brought up. Every woman and girl (or person, for that reason) should hear this...






Then it was time for the great Tegan and Sara to take the stage. Phew, the baby lesbians up front totally lost. their. shit.  It was adorable. 

T&S are amazing. I have loved them for the better part of a decade. Their best album ever is "So Jealous" (which was released in September of 2004 and was my official college anthem album). I haven't loved their other stuff as much until this new album, "Heartthrob" dropped. It honestly took me a while to warm up to it, just because the sound is so different, but once it grew on me, I was in love.

You might not know them by name, but you've probably heard their latest single, "Closer":



This is a photo I took with an accurate representation of our seats:


But here are some photos from the same concert that do much more justice: 

Tegan

Sara

T&S

Kristen has actually liked T&S longer than I have (thanks to her lesbian BFF from junior high), but hasn't been into them much recently. She LOVED the concert though and she was definitely listening to all their albums while working last night :)

We both decided that Sara is our favorite of the two, both because she's weirder and more talented. Tegan is great, too, but Sara has a more controlled and pretty voice and her stage presence feels more emotional and invested. Tegan seems a bit more distracted and anxious. It could have (obviously) just been this particular concert, but I've always sorta favored Sara anyway. They actually added two older songs in the middle of the set because ...why not. Their crew freaked out a bit, but it was awesome to have the extra performances (for fans: they added "Walking with a Ghost" and "You Would't Like Me").

We were pretty hungry afterwards, so in good fitness blogger fashion, I pulled out Clif bars for us to nibble on while we waiting for our train back to the City. Always prepared!


It was an amazing concert and totally worth the trek through drunk co-eds and nasty snow. I'll leave you with a video of my fav T&S song (which they did not perform at the concert, but that's okay).




Do you like Mary Lambert or Tegan and Sara? Have you ever heard of them? What was your favorite concert that you ever went to? What's your dream concert?


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Friday, December 13, 2013

It's Okay "Leg Day", I Don't Really Need to Walk Anyway

Man, this getting up early thing SUCKS. But it's totally worth it and I'm very committed to making it happen for realz. It should probably only suck for another week or two anyway. Hopefully we'll continue to get up even when we're on vacation for two weeks. We will be traveling and staying with people we haven't seen in over a year, so we won't just be lounging around a hotel room with nothing to do and no one to see. 

I think the other reason I haven't been feeling spectacular is because I've been fighting an infection. I woke up Wednesday morning feeling pretty ick (lots of sneezing and pressure in my sinuses). I tend to get like that right after the temperature dips below freezing. I think it's probably because the heat finally gets blasted and completely dries out my respiratory system.

my arsenal of infection-fighting tea

I downed about six cups of tea throughout the last two days and it really helped. I find if I just hydrate like a maniac as SOON as I feel something coming on, I can generally stave it off. 

Anyway, despite feeling cruddy, I managed to get my booty to the gym for "leg day." We warmed up on the elliptical (first time for me since going to PT) powered through squats with the barbell (up to 50lbs for me!), leg press, leg curl, lunges, calf raises, and lying leg curls with the stability ball. I also did cable-machine "monster walks" and then we snuck into the empty fitness class room to stretch and foam roll.

Getting our roll on

I have to say that foam rolling is definitely getting easier. The only muscle that still hurts too much to roll full-on is my IT band. I'm working on it, though!

It was a great workout, but I am FEELING IT today! I can barely squat to reach to toilet seat and I have to get up reeeally slowly if I've been sitting for a while.



It's sore, but I secretly love that feeling :)


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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Morning People

No matter how hard I try to prepare myself for this time of year, it always catches me off guard. There's always that one person I cannot think of a gift for, the gift I decided on, but forgot to order, the travel plans, the gift-wrapping, the card writing/addressing/stamping/sending. I honestly look forward to it each year, but once it arrives, I'm quickly reminded why it's also a rather stressful time of year! Good stress, though :)

Kristen and I have been shifting our life to incorporate more productivity into our mornings. We've typically been the type that wakes up to an alarm, hits snooze three times, pouts about having to get up, finally gets up, makes a breakfast smoothie, showers, gets dressed, and runs out the door. It's fine and I'm impressed we even eat breakfast (something I didn't do until my mid-twenties) but we could do better.

We had also been going to the gym at night to take fitness classes, prior to my injury. Now that we're re-introducing regular exercise (and a different kind of exercise routine), we realized we don't really want to spend those precious hours post-work rushing off to the gym and then hastily making and eating dinner. By the time we are done, it's late and basically bed time. It also generally takes us much longer to wind down if we're pumping ourselves full of exercise-induced endorphins right before we're supposed to fall asleep.

So after toying with the idea of switching our workouts to the morning, we finally decided to make the commitment and just do it. 

6:45am warm-up

I'm not gonna lie - we haven't been nearly as successful as we wanted to be. We planned on going M/W/F and then a weekend day, but we admittedly had to go this morning since we skipped yesterday's AM gym session. 

sooo tired, but excited for lat pulldowns

BUT, we did go. And we're planning to go tomorrow morning as well. 

I actually prefer the gym in the mornings because it's much less crowded and generally a lot cleaner. It's also a wonderful way to start the day! I love that we are walking back home from the gym just as the sun is rising. The City just feels so beautiful and alive!

I've also been totally consumed with designing our wedding album. We got married LAST June, but never actually ordered an album (or any hard copies of our photos for that matter). We did give out a bunch of albums and photos to family last year, but it was too expensive to order one for ourselves as well. Plus it was a hugely daunting task to figure out exactly which photos to put in everyone else's album, so by the time I finished that I was completely burned out and basically never wanted to see another wedding photo again.

But then a year passed and we found an amazing deal online to design and print a hard-cover photo book, so I caved. 

hard at work designing and editing

I just finished it yesterday (I easily spent 20+ hours on this thing) and placed the order. Between the two coupons and e-certificate we had, it only cost $61 with shipping! (originally $174). Hurray! I cannot wait to see it in person. We'll probably both cry like babies. It's kind of a Christmas gift to ourselves. I thought of making it a surprise for Kristen, but then was too anxious about it and ended up asking her input on pretty much every decision. Typical.

Speaking of Christmas gifts, our very first one arrived this week!! Kristen's parents bought us a kitchen island, which we desperately needed. Particularly because we have this one random outlet box in the middle of the wall (basically above Kristen's head in the photo below). You don't even want to know the insane things we've been doing in order to use our kitchen appliances. Let's just say there's been many accidents and spills. Blenders are not meant to be used while in your hand.


putting together our new kitchen island

I've been kinda unmotivated about cooking lately, especially new recipes, but my bestie made me this super delish chickpea curry a while back and I finally got around to asking her for the recipe. I couldn't find mustard seeds, but it was still fantastic without them. I'll find them for the next time I make it though. And then I'll post the recipe because it's awesome, easy, and very healthy!

making chickpea curry

Annnd that's it for now! Wish me luck on actually getting to the gym tomorrow. Two days in a row seems awfully ambitious, right?


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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fat AND Healthy?!

A friend of mine posted this article on Facebook yesterday. It's basically all about how scientists have decided that fat people can't be considered healthy because that's apparently a label reserved exclusively for certain people. You can be thin and unfit OR thin and fit OR fat and unfit. But if you're a fatty, you best not be calling yourself fit:

"There is no such thing as being fat and healthy, scientists warn. 
They have strongly refuted suggestions that a person's physical fitness is more important than their weight. 
The 'fat and fit' myth has been punctured by research involving 61,000 people and covering a period from the 1950s to the present day."



Ummm, no.

As a fatty that used to be even fatter, I kinda hate the whole "you can only be healthy if you're thin" bullshit. I know I'm not an IDEAL healthy person (check in with me again in oh, 40lbs) but I've spent the last three years actively working to becoming healthier and lose weight. I consistently workout 4-6 times a week and eat to near perfection. Does my BMI really mean I am not healthy?

How the hell are they defining "healthy" anyway? I had a physical in September and I'm in damn near perfect health. Sure, these extra 40lbs put me at a higher risk for certain illnesses (such as diabetes and heart disease) but I don't have them now, so is it really fair to gauge my level of health based on my potential health problems in a hypothetical future??

We constantly assume we know something about people based on their appearances and we're almost always dead wrong

For example, despite my stellar nutrition and increased strength/cardiovascular health, people will STILL look at me and my spare tire tummy and assume I'm just some lazy lump that "doesn't care enough to take care of herself." Or they'll look at a super thin person and (even if only subconsciously) assume they take good care of their body. Well how do you know they're not a pack-a-day smoker that lives off Taco Bell and margaritas? You don't.

So don't assume whether or not people are healthy based solely on their appearances. And don't tell me I'm unhealthy just because I might hypothetically probably maybe get some disease in the possible future.




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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ch-Ch-Changes

Guess who has two thumbs and is a student again? 

ME! 

Yesterday I went to the local community college and directly applied for the Spring 2014 semester. The deadline to do it all fancy (online) passed a while ago, but this is community college, so you can just go schedule a meeting with the admissions office, bring all your paperwork (transcripts, ID, a check for $70), apply online from their computers, and BOOM! Here's a shot of the letter they gave me literally 1.3 seconds after I finished the application:

all official and stuff

Why am I going back to college? To change careers, of course. Because what's more fun than going BACK to community college after you've already completed a Bachelor's and spent almost half your life building a career? Not much.

But it turns out that graduating into a damn recession (May 2007) sucks and although I loved my major (Psychology/Sociology) I don't particularly love working in mental health, which is what I've been doing throughout the last decade. I've tried dipping into other areas of psych (such as research) and I've worked with many different agencies and populations to see if I could find a good "fit" but no luck. I am actually very good at what I do, but that's not enough to keep me there. It's less about the clients (I can't think of a single client I had that I have bad feelings towards) and more about the overall culture of mental health and human services (I can think of many many colleagues and supervisors that I think are basically terrible people).

I could probably push through and just do something that at best I dislike and at worst makes me absolutely miserable, but ... no thanks. That's just not my style. I've worked so damn hard to build a life that's healthy in every way - physically (duh), emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, socially, and professionally. It just feels silly to put all this effort into having a peaceful, balanced, fit lifestyle only to throw it all out the window to pay the bills. Lame!

sitting in the courtyard, waiting for a tour of campus

So after a shameless meltdown over soup in a booth at Panera, I threw out the idea of going back to school to develop a set of "tangible and employable" skills. Kristen was immediately on board and thus was born the idea of returning to the old college life (minus the skipping classes and substance use, of course). 

I've been toying with the idea of studying physical therapy on and off for about four years. I absolutely love helping people improve their lives. I am also passionate about health and fitness. I thought a career that combines the two would be a perfect fit for me. Plus I really admire my own PT's, particularly Brett, who inspired me to consider the field. Lastly, my Grammie (who was very dear to me) had a stroke shortly before passing away. During that time she was in a rehabilitation facility and she loved her physical therapy team. She loved the support and encouragement (and honestly, just having people to interact with).

Then, right after I launched this blog, a friend told me she could see me working in the health or fitness industry, which got the ol' brain wheels turning even more. I looked up programs in the greater NYC area to see if there were any within reasonable commuting distance. Turns out there is in fact a Physical Therapy Assistant program at a school exactly 1.4 miles away from my house. Win!

I have a meeting with an advisor the second week in January to plan out my schedule and register for classes. The actual Spring semester doesn't start until March 3rd (this school uses quarters, rather than traditional 16-week semesters) which gives me a lot of time to be nervous and worry about 4 million different things, but that's okay. It's a good kind of nervous :)

Lots of changes on the horizon! Very exciting!!!

Also, here's a video of David Bowie performing "Changes" in case you didn't catch the title reference:


Do you love your job? What do you do? If you could change your career today, would you? What would you switch to?



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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cheap and Easy Lentil Soup

This recipe is something I've only made recently, but has already become a favorite in the Smith house. The best part? It's super easy, very cheap, and healthy! Lentils have many awesome healthy benefits and once you blend everything up, this soup becomes a delicious, hearty, "meaty" meal. It's perfect for vegetarians or anyone who's trying to reduce their animal product intake (try it out for a great "meatless Monday" meal). We usually eat the soup by itself because it's so filling, but you could easily add some hearty bread, pita slices, or even a small salad to give your meal more variety and heft.



INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ¼ cup chopped carrot
  • ¼ cup chopped celery
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cloves garlic, smashed
  • ½ lb lentils, rinse and picked
  • ½ cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon paprka
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • Salt to taste




DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and salt and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5-6 minutes. 


2. Add garlic and cook and additional minute.


3. Add lentils, tomatoes, stock, cumin, paprika, ginger, and pepper and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce to low, cover and cook 30-40 minutes until lentils are tender.


4. Use an immersion blender to puree to desired consistency. I like it about half pureed. Or you can blend half the soup in a blender. Stir to combine. Salt as needed.




Enjoy :)


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