Saturday, March 30, 2013

Days like Today

Days like today make me reconsider my decision to spend time at home this summer.  While I know I need the break, I will miss my friends an awful lot.

I woke up before the sun (again!) for my usual bowl of oats, lemon water, and coffee.  After doing some blogging and letting breakfast digest, I set out to meet my running club for a long run!

I had 15 miles on the agenda, but I figured that doing 14 (12 with the club + 1 to meet them and 1 back) was good enough.  It was a great run!  There were some parts where we were really pushing the pace, but I felt totally fine!  I think my awesome new shoes and elongated sleeping patterns helped.  Throughout the run, I just kept thinking ... ok, so now only 16 miles to go and it's a marathon!

After retrieving my laundry from the now-opened laundry room, taking a shower, and flopping for a while; I headed to campus to pick up some coursebooks and help my friend move into her new housing assignment.  She didn't enjoy apartment style living, so she reassigned back to campus for the spring.  I think it was a good choice for her.

We hung out, chatted for awhile, then headed out to a nearby town to pick up some take-out.  We ended up grabbing some pho.  I'm now obsessed with Asian noodles!

I only snapped a picture of the broth because there were these weird, well, my friend called them a rather inappropriate-for-the-blog body part, but I'll just go with 'things' floating in it.  Any ideas?  I know it wasn't meat.

Stuffed to the brim, we watched some episodes of Scrubs (I still don't understand the obsession with this show) and called it a night.

I really want to spend more time with my friends this spring.  Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my work and stress that I hermitize in my misery.  They always make me feel happy :)

Do you like pho?
Are you a fan of Scrubs?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Five for Friday

1.  I went to an awesome yoga class at noon today.  It left me weak, yet "buzzed" at the same time.  Does anyone else feel somewhat emotional after yoga?  The sensation is difficult to describe, but for the rest of the day after a yoga class, my emotions are on a roller coaster.

2.  I took myself out to lunch at Sprout Cafe today!  The restaurant was so crowded, so I opted to take my salad out and eat it in this gorgeous park.  I got a little sun burt too.  Oh the woes of California life.
Sprout Salad

Park panorama
3.  I bought myself two new dresses at Anthropologie.  Thinking back over my winter wardrobe, I didn't nearly make enough use of the cute clothes I have.  This spring, I want to really make an effort to wear something other than yoga pants / workout gear out and about.

4.  I haven't been very good about going to church these past ten weeks, even with it being the holiest time of year.  Today, though, I went to the 8:00PM Good Friday mass.  As I walked towards the church, its gold mosaics of Jesus and Angels bright and welcoming despite the night sky, something came over me and I nearly cried.  I have neglected religion for quite some time now, yet I am grateful that I am able to return, reflect, and feel a part of something more.

5.  Apparently, when my apartment complex says the laundry room hours are from 9:00AM - 10:00PM, they mean it.  I am going to look like the running hobo tomorrow.  All of my clothes are locked in the laundry room in the dryer.

15 miles on the agenda tomorrow!  Good night!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Before the Sunrise

Today was the first day I woke up before the sun this entire spring break. I've been sleeping an absurd amount recently; somewhere around 9-11hours a night! I guess my body needed the rest.
Ezekiel 4:9 Cereal in Almond Milk and Lemon Water
Lit by the my standing lamp, (not the sun).
I've still been having a tough time getting my day started, though, and I'm not sure why. I've just been feeling really burnt out lately. But, hey! Good News! Only 11 more weeks until summer!

Even though most of my friends are pursuing intense internships with big companies, I have decided to take the summer "off" and go home. I will still have a job, just not an intense one that will stress me out. I think I need a break and some familial companionship. This is probably the last time I will ever have an actual summer anyways. Unless I become a teacher, summer vacation will not exist in the working world.

I also want to be well-rested for my internship this upcoming fall semester.  I will be spending this fall in Washington DC taking classes at night while interning at a government organization! It will be an exciting, yet exhausting experience. I know I will need all the energy I can muster.

I can be go-go-go all the time if I want to be, but what is the point of working myself into the ground?
Summer is on its way!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Already Time for WIAW?

Now I understand why bloggers are always amazed that it is "already time for another WIAW" post.  I can't believe how quickly the week has gone by.

I woke up pretty late today.  It happens.  I'm on spring break!  So, I made some coffee and had my usual pre-run snack of a banana, and two crackers spread with Sunflower Butter and topped with raisins.  Sorry, no picture.

I didn't feel much like running.  But, once I got out there, I flew!  I don't know what came over me, but I managed 8 miles in one hour!  I don't think a run that speedy has happened this entire training cycle!  Bring it on, Boston Marathon.

I came back home feeling the high, guzzled water, and made my favorite post-hard-run lunch:
a baked sweet potato, greens, red bell pepper, tempeh, and a dollop of hummus.  It totally hit the spot.

I finished lunch off with ... more sunflower butter and raisins!  I have a problem.

Later, I had some apple and more tempeh with hummus.  I think my body was craving protein.  And, before I set out to do some errands, I ate a few bites of a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Larabar and had a few more crackers.

I came back home with a few new course books and one for fun book, Cloud Atlas.  Has anyone read it?  I've heard it's pretty mind-blowing.

I threw together a pretty lazy dinner of a massive salad bowl filled with greens, quinoa, red bell pepper,  cucumber, brussels sprouts, and cannelli beans.  Then, I sautéed a zucchini, some swiss chard, and mushrooms in a little vegetable broth and served it alongside the salad.


I cleaned up the kitchen and am flopped on the couch about to start my new book!  I hope you all enjoyed your Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Taking it Easy

I woke up multiple times last night to go and sit by the toilet.  My stomach was so nauseous.  I'm not sure if it was something I ate - last night was the first time I had nutritional yeast - or if it was caffeine withdrawal symptoms.  Eventually I gave up trying to empty my system and went back to sleep, hoping that I would feel better in the morning.

Nine hours later, I rolled out of bed, still feeling ill.  I chugged some water and, even though I didn't want to upset my stomach further, I made some coffee.  I figured that if my nausea was indeed caused by caffeine withdrawal, the only remedy was caffeine.  A mug of coffee and a big bowl of oatmeal later and I'm doing okay.  Not great, but okay.

I'm going to take it easy for the rest of the day.  Maybe I'll do some shopping and hunker down at a cafe to get some work done. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Marvelous Monday

After a few days of rather heavy posts, I've decided to lighten things up around here and celebrate ...

Marvelous Monday!

I admit, though, that getting out of bed this morning was a less than marvelous experience.  I had wanted to get a run in pre-breakfast, but my stomach demanded otherwise.  So, I ended up eating my typical pre-run snack of crackers spread with my new addiction, Sunflower Butter, and sprinkled with raisins; and a half a banana smeared with more Sunflower Butter; and then, just going back for my normal breakfast.  Apparently, my Jet Fuel K-Cups failed to propel me out the door.

My normal breakfast was pretty marvelous though!  Oats in an Almond Butter Jar!  I snapped a picture after I ate it.

When I did finally get moving, I knew I was in for a marvelous day. 

I love the Bay Area.  Winter is the equivalent of an east coast fall, and is gone by March.  I've been running in shorts and a tank-top for weeks now!

I was only up for an easy 5 miler, so I ran the loop around campus at a recovery pace.  Those 21 miles on Saturday, great as they were, really did me in.

I totally zoned out on my run.  I'm not sure what I was thinking about, but for once it wasn't how much my feet hurt thanks to my new shoes!  For awhile now I've been dealing with foot pain on the ball of my right foot.  I've tried orthotics, rolling my foot on a tennis ball, and self-massage, but the pain didn't go away.  After this weekend's long run, I couldn't wait to take off my shoes and walk around.  I figured that this was a sign my feet wanted less rigidity every now and then.  So, I bought some Asics Lyte33s yesterday at Fleet Feet.  They feel great! 

I will still use my Asics Gel Neos for most of my training, but I like having the Lytes as an option.

After my run, I refueled with some tempeh and hummus and a few bites of butternut squash, changed clothes, and hopped on my bike to go to yoga.

I haven't been to yoga in awhile, but I want that to change!  Yoga is a great total body strengthener.  With my taper beginning, I really want to focus on overall strength.  Maybe I will get abs?  Hah.  Doubtful.

Yoga kicked my butt, though it left me with a great post-yoga buzz.  I took advantage of my renewed energy and location and did some errands downtown, which included a stop at the Whole Foods hot bar for a salad snack.  Yum.

Then, I went home to try my hand at making the Forks Over Knives Broccoli Rice Casserole.  We don't own a really good blender, just a small one, so I had quite the struggle trying to blend the No Cheese Sauce.

Finally, it worked!

While I waited for the casserole to cook, I steamed some vegetables and made a salad.  Does anyone else eat while they cook?  Sometimes I swear that for every freshly cut piece that goes into the bowl, one piece goes into my mouth.  I should probably stop this habit as it certainly doesn't align with my mindful eating goals.

The casserole turned out beautifully!  And tasted quite good too!  Next time though, I will use more broccoli.

Now, I'm going to curl up on the couch with a mug of decaf coffee and maybe a sweet treat of some sort and find a movie to watch online.

I hope your Monday was marvelous too!  

Sunday, March 24, 2013

On Writing: Thoughts and a Review

I just finished Stephen King's On Writing.  While reading this book, I often found myself thinking about my own writing background.  This book, part memoir and part advisor, brought back memories I had completely forgotten and re-inspired my love and respect for both writing and myself.

When I was in elementary school, I loved writing.  I wrote stories all the time.  Aside from Christmas and Easter, the most exciting yearly event of my childhood was the first day of summer when my mom would let my brother, sister, and me pick out any notebook we wanted from the stand at Wal-Mart.
"By the end of the summer, I don't want to see a single blank page in that notebook." My mom would say after we made our purchases.
I was sure there wouldn't be.  My mind was already be brimming with ideas for my next "novel."

Somewhere along the line in my education, that creative exuberance gave way to perfection-driven banality.

As school got more difficult and grading became more competitive, I started to doubt my mom's assurances that I was a "good writer."  If Laura earned a higher grade on our English assignment, then she was a better writer.  Sensitive child that I was, I quickly realized that the grades I earned were correlated to how others treated me.  Teachers liked me when I earned good grades and my mom was so proud when I brought home a 100% on a paper.  High grades meant that I was both a "good" and loved writer.  My writing had gone from, as Stephen King put it, "closed door," writing done to please yourself, to "open door," writing done to please others.  While both have a place in the literary world, the figurative door needs to be closed before it can be opened.  In looking back, I realize that my education experience, in a sense, flat out took the hinges off my "door" and made it a walkway.  Everything I wrote, I wrote for the grade, for approval from others; not because I wanted to.

The "closed door/open door" concept can be applied to other aspects of my life, not just my writing.  I'm pursuing a minor in economics simply because employers want to see something "quantitative" on my resume.  I despise economics; it is boring, math-driven, and difficult.  Nevertheless, I have pushed through many tear-filled nights and failed exams, just so that a company will hire me one day.
I order salads at restaurants, even when I am in the mood for pasta, so that I can keep a trim figure and look someone's definition of pretty.  And I only say the things that are formally accepted, even when the perfect opportunity arises to crack a profane joke.

I look at all that I am doing in my life, from my writing to my conversations, and I have basically constructed a house of walkways.  Without even a front door, I wonder why I even have a house at all.
Filled with sincerity and tips of the trade, On Writing inspired me not just to go out a buy a new blank notebook, but to start finding ways to "close doors" and do the things that make me happy.  I recommend that everyone read On Writing; that is, only if you want to. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

21 Miles and Reflections on Running

I'm currently training for the upcoming Boston Marathon (April 15!).  When people find out that I'm working towards Boston, then inevitably ask me, "What's your time goal?"

If this were last year, I would have said sub-3:23, which was my qualifying time.  But, after being injured this past summer and easing my way back into the sport, I have decided to adopt a more laid-back approach to running.

Leading up to my injury, I was preoccupied with mile splits, with running doubles, and with going as fast and as far as I possibly could.  I would wake up some mornings, run fifteen miles, then go to class and finish up the day with a hard eight miler with my running club.  I knew I couldn't maintain this lifestyle, not with a demanding courseload and friends who wanted to hang out; nevertheless, I tried to, just so that I could make a PR.  And, instead of even crossing the finish line of my goal race, the San Francisco Marathon, I ended up in physical therapy.

While I would love to nail a PR in the Boston Marathon this year, I now recognize the sacrifices I would have to make.  My stress level would skyrocket, my grades, would suffer, and my friends wouldn't know I existed.  With my type-A personality, working towards a PR at Boston would become my obsession.  I knew that this training cycle, I wanted to find sustainability and balance among all the aspects of my life.

Around mile 11 of today's 21 mile run, Emma and I started chatting with a pair of runners who had stopped at the same water fountain that we did.  We were a decent distance away from any towns, so I figured they were out for a long run also.
"Are you training for anything?" I asked.
The one man just laughed, wiping sweat off his brow with his shirt.
"I like that answer."

"Training for life" pretty much sums up my approach to this year's Boston Marathon.  Life is not a race for the fastest time.  Sure, one could argue that life is a distance event.  But, life is also a fulfillment event.  Running, like life, can take you on adventures to beautiful places, if you are willing to take a breather and look around.  It can also strengthen friendships, if you are willing to take it slow enough to chat.  And it can teach you to love and respect yourself, if you are willing to give yourself a break every now and then.

This April, I don't want to sacrifice my enjoyment of running (or life) just for a race; I have no time goals for the Boston Marathon.  Of course I want to finish.  But, I also want to be able to think back on the entire experience - the exploratory trail runs, the weekend runs with friends, and the short strides up Heartbreak Hill - with a smile.       

Thursday, March 21, 2013


I have a difficult time relaxing.  I constantly feel like I need to be doing something even if I don't have any pressing deadlines or obligations.  So, for these first few days of spring break, I am making it a point to chill out and do the things I enjoy.

Normally, I set an alarm every day.  Even on weekends.  I like to have a jam-packed schedule.  Last night, however, I didn't set my alarm and I ended up sleeping a full nine hours!  That is unheard of for me.

Even with so much rest, I still had trouble getting out of bed.  This brings me to my next goal for spring break: kicking my caffeine addiction.  During a typical day, I have 3-4 cups of coffee.  While I love coffee, I think I need to make it less of a daily crutch and more of a daily delight.  I doubt I will ever stop drinking that first cup o' joe in the morning, but the afternoon pick-me-ups can hopefully become a thing of the past.

After downing my glass of water and coffee and noshing on a few crackers spread with almond butter and raisins, I set out for my run.  I wasn't sure how far I really felt like going, so I went by feel.  I ran down a backroad near my apartment, which led to a hilly park near campus.

I ran to the peak and back down to my apartment for a total of 6.7 miles at a comfortable 8:30 pace.  My knee and IT Band were acting up a bit due to the sloping, hilly paths.  The last thing I need right now is an injury, so I will probably just do some yoga tonight and take it easy on my run tomorrow.

After showering and eating a relatively strange breakfast of spaghetti squash, broccoli, tempeh, hearts of palm, celery, and pasta sauce (gotta listen to my cravings!), my roommates and I went to DSW and Forever 21 to celebrate spring break and do some shopping!
Breakfast: spaghetti squash, broccoli, hearts of palm, celery, and pasta sauce

My new shoes!

How do people walk in these things?!

I forgot how nice it was to just wander through a mall.  These past ten weeks I have been in a complete bubble.  I can tell you all about the Russian economy, but probably nothing about spring fashion trends.

We came back to the apartment and I made myself a nice lunch featuring more Forks Over Knives recipes.
Half an apple, carrots and hummus, vegetable biryani,
and a bowl of greens topped with Fava Bean Salad
While my stomach was full, my mind was not satisfied.  I ended up following this lunch up with quite a number of crackers, raisins, and almond butter.  This combination is killer.  At least I am almost out of crackers, so maybe I won't overdo it in the future.

Stuffed to the brim, I forced myself to sit on the couch and read my new book for the remainder of the afternoon.  Caffeine withdrawal hit hard at around 3, but I pushed through by drinking an obscene amount of decaf coffee and tea.

Now, I'm waiting for my friend to pick me up so we can go and catch up before she leaves to study "abroad" on the east coast.  I'm going to miss her :(

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday

In my previous post, I mentioned that I had gained a few unwanted pounds. Though they aren't terribly visible, I can feel them when I have to start dancing my jeans on or when I have to slow down on a tempo run. As my training for the Boston Marathon enters its final few weeks, I want to make every effort to holistically focus on my health. This goal includes sleeping, stretching, strength training, and eating intuitively. I'm not going to diet; I simply want to be more aware of the food I am putting in my body.

What better day to start than today- Wednesday? Happy What I Ate Wednesday everyone!

Breakfast: I have started to force myself to drink a full glass of water before I fumble with my keurig for my morning shot of caffeine. Rehydrating my body first thing in the morning has been a great way to jump start my day.
After having my glass of water, I made my coffee with a splash of soy milk creamer and the rest of my breakfast. My breakfasts are rather uninspiring. Today, I had a bowl of Ezekiel 4:9 cereal, sprinkled with cinnamon, and topped with a banana and almond butter. I have been loving vanilla almond milk (unsweetened of course), so I added some of that and dug in! Sorry, no picture - I forgot it was Wednesday!

Before my run, I had an espresso love gu and a few raisins with a cracker.

Then, when I came back from my easy paced 10 miler, I had some Vegetable Biryani I made last night from a recipe in the Forks Over Knives cookbook for lunch. I have been working my way through the cookbook and most of the recipes have been quite delicious. This was the second time I made the Vegetable Biryani recipe.  It's a favorite!  I also ate an orange on the side.
*I hope to improve my food photos with this blog.

I should have stopped at one serving; I didn't need more. But, I guess after my run I was pretty tired and I ended up losing a bit of self control. I indulged not only in more vegetable biryani, but also in a few too many scoops of almond butter, dried fruit, and crackers. I know as a runner I need fuel, but I am still disappointed that I did not listen to the needs of my body and basically binged.

I spent the rest of the afternoon downloading some new music and chatting with my roommates.  I also made a spaghetti squash that I bought at Whole Foods a few days ago.  I plan on using it in some recipes later on this week or just eating when I feel hungry.  I snacked on half an apple and some carrots while I waited for it to bake.

Later in the afternoon, I hopped on the shuttle bus to campus and walked from my stop to Starbucks where I was meeting a friend for some (decaf) coffee.
Beautiful day!
Since it is finals time, our campus residence is sponsoring free drinks!  I ordered the usual - decaf Americano topped with steamed soy milk.  I know some people don't like Starbucks because it is so "mainstream," but their espresso remains my favorite.

Then, my friend and I went off-campus to Sprout Cafe for dinner.

Sprout allows you to create your own salad or choose one of their pre-made salad options.  I designed my own salad with a butter lettuce base and topped with red peppers, roasted beets, roasted brussels sprouts, sweet corn, black beans, and carrots.  I had balsamic vinaigrette dressing on the side.  All salads at Sprout come with a slice of fluffy wheat bread, which I enjoyed dipping into my dressing.  I 'm new to this whole "take photos of food" thing, so I failed at taking pictures, but, I can assure you, my salad was delicious!

When I came home, I wanted something sweet, so I ate a Kind bar.  I wasn't hungry.  In fact, I'm not sure why I decided I needed to eat a Kind bar.  This indulgence wasn't very intuitive of me.

I'm now drinking some tea and watching a movie with my roommate.  Overall it was a good day.  I need to quit my addiction to almond butter, though to help me resist the exhaustion/emotional eating problem I've developed this past semester.    

Life Gets in the Way

When I restarted this blog after my Russia adventures this past autumn, I intended for it to become an enjoyable part of my daily routine.  However, as is evidenced by my online silence and complete lack of a single post since January; schoolwork, running, and trying to "figure out my life" - a phrase I have said all too often these past few months - took priority.

Had I maintained my little healthy-living blog, you would have witnessed many not-so-healthy times.  This past semester, I did not sleep enough, I mindlessly ate way too much, I gained some weight, I lost some muscle, and I had a mental breakdown that prompted me to call my mom in tears approximately every week.

Now, I have two weeks of spring break ahead of me.  I finished my final final - haha :] - yesterday.  I plan to use this time to rest, reinvigorate, and reconnect with the healthy-living blog world and "the good life."

Welcome Back!