Depression: The True De-Motivator

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I am a diagnosed clinical depressive. I am not shy about this. I was diagnosed when I was in college by the therapist I was seeing through my university, who after a questionnaire, immediately referred me to the psychiatrist on campus for further evaluation. Depression is something I’ve struggled with since I was a teenager, and although I originally dismissed it as overwhelming teenage angst, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized just how detrimental depression has been in my life and in my relationships, not only with other people, but especially with myself. My depression often hits me after huge highs or events. For example, every year, after my birthday, I am depressed. When depression hits, it is hard for me to find motivation and it’s even harder for me to believe in myself. This week was one of those weeks.

It’s so easy to feel like a failure when you’re on a mission to be come healthier. There is this stigma that if you make a mistake or if you miss a workout, you have failed yourself or the people who will inevitably ask how your weight loss journey is going or how your training is shaping up. These people mean well, I’m sure, but there is a creeping guilt when you look someone in the face and express to them that you’ve had a rough, off week; there is the same guilt if you’re just trying to enjoy a beer and someone scrutinizes your fucking choices.

Often times, if you’re following people on Facebook or Instagram or whatever who are on the same journey as you, you only see their perfection; you are privy to their healthy meals, their intense workouts, and their feelings of euphoria as they continuously shed pounds. What we don’t often see, and this can be extended to many aspects of life viewed through social media, is the fucking struggle. You don’t see the tears as someone is defeated and has to stop half-way through a hard workout. You don’t see the “bad decisions” people made throughout the week when they chose a food that wasn’t necessarily the best choice. You don’t see the look on someone’s face as they step on the scale, after a week of hard work, only to be let down by a static number. But, there is a struggle, at least for me and that struggle is often exacerbated by depression.

On Tuesday of this week, I had a particularly frustrating run.I pushed this run from Monday to Tuesday because I just did not want to leave my house after work. But, Tuesday afternoon, I put my shit on and got outside. I felt slow, my energy was low, I had to stop to walk multiple times, and I didn’t run nearly as far as I wanted to, or planned. I got home afterward and just couldn’t figure out why it was so hard or felt so terrible. I’m sure the humidity played a part, but I just couldn’t find the fire in me that I had a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t want go to soccer, but I went anyway. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I normally do. From Tuesday on, I slid down and down and down.

My eating habits were shit. I ate at restaurants for lunch every single day this week. I barely drank my protein shakes. I didn’t exercise on Wednesday or Thursday. I worked more this week than normal. I spent too much money. I slept more than 9 hours almost every night. I picked fights with Rob to satisfy some need to understand and justify why I felt so fucking sad. Eventually, I just accepted that I was depressed. I felt my feelings. I walked through them. I examined them. I let them be.

Then, Friday happened. Friday was one of the best things that could have happened for me. I needed to get a long run in. My goal was 4.5 miles and since I ran 5 miles a couple of weeks ago, I figured it wouldn’t be as hard as I thought it would be. It was hard finding the motivation to do it because I was still struggling with feelings of sadness and inadequacy. But, I put my running clothes on and fucking did it. I upped my intervals from 10/1 to 15/1, so I was running 15 minutes and walking 1 minute. My goal was to do that three times and I would be around 4.5 miles. But, at the end of my third and final set, a runner’s high I haven’t felt in a long time kicked in. I hit my fucking stride. I felt good. I felt strong. So, I did another 15 minutes and at the end of that 15, I kept running for another 6. I ran 6.3 miles or 10.1km in 1:08. I felt like I was on top of the world. I stood outside of my apartment and cried because I was so fucking proud of myself, which is a fleeting feeling– I rarely feel proud of anything I do. But, I felt proud on Friday night. I pushed myself. I found my strength and kept fucking going, even when I didn’t want to keep going and I succeeded.

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So, this week has been a week of learning and feelings for me.

This week, two of my good friends left Korea. This is the shittiest part of expatriate life; the friends you make, while they are lifelong friendships, will eventually move on to the next place, whether that be another city, another country, or back home. It’s been rough, but it’s important to remember that I, too, will be leaving this country soon to start my next adventures. I guess I just wasn’t prepared for how much it was going to hurt to say goodbye.

I learned that your sweat can actually smell like ammonia! Basically, from what I understand, if your body does not have enough carbohydrates to keep up with the energy demands, your body will turn to other energy sources, including protein. Your organs can’t handle the excess ammonia, so it pushes it out via sweat glands. SCIENCE!

I also learned that it’s really cool to have a friend who is an Occupational Therapist who can teach you how to tape your foot to relieve plantar fasciitis pain. It’s actually just really cool to have friends from all walks of life who can offer support and advice on numerous, troubling topics. I am very thankful.

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But, here’s the most important thing I’ve learned this week: even if my progress is slow, it is still progress. I am still moving forward, even if there are are setbacks, even if I am depressed, even if I eat cake (which I am doing as I write this). The picture on the right was taken on Christmas Eve, 2015. The picture on the left was taken a little over 8 months later on Friday, August 26. Since December, I have made HUGE strides, not only in my physical fitness but in my emotional well-being as well. It is important to remember that. Most days, my progress feels so small and subtle. But, it is STILL there. My goals sometimes feel far away, but I have lost 27.5 pounds, or 12.5kgs. In December, I couldn’t run for 5 minutes and I ran 6 miles on Friday night. Progress cannot be judged only by side-by-side portraits. I feel better. I AM better. I make better choices. I can do this. My only real enemy is me.

So, for the rest of the night, I am going to watch Sherlock with my partner, who is amazing, and finish eating this piece of carrot cake. Because I can.

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Tomorrow, it’s back on the grind. Run. Eat well. Be kind. Some days, I don’t feel like the same person anymore and that’s okay. It’s okay to change and to grow and to slough off the layers of bullshit that have accumulated on our skin for years. I have no desire to return who who I used to be and I think, after many years, I have finally found the right exfoliant.

Keep sloughin’, y’all.

 

Balance: The Art of Just Enough

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Happy Tuesday/Wednesday to my friends across the world. I think it’s pretty fuckin’ cool I can say that now with complete sincerity. I have friends from all over the world who are living all over the world. Anyway, it’s 11:27am on Wednesday morning for me, which makes it 10:27pm on Tuesday on the east coast of the USA. You know why the future looks so bright? Because I’m in it, son. I hope everyone is having a fantastic week so far– I know I am. For the first time, in quite a long time, I feel totally in  control of my life, my body, and my future. This post is going to contain some recipes, some discussion of balance, and maybe, if I have the courage, a picture of myself in the two piece I tried on. I don’t know if I’m ready to show the world yet, but if I am going to embrace body positivity and self-love, I need to do just that instead of promoting it for everyone else while secretly shaming myself in the dark hours of the night.

I am a firm believer that everyone has something they obsess over. For me, I’m pretty obsessed with large-sized Americanos, as pictured above. I have a pretty serious caffeine addiction, but to each their own. But really, for a lot of my friends, one of the commonalities is an obsession with Harry Potter. Some of them are obsessed with Star Wars or Vikings or Game of Thrones, or Dr. Who; some of them are obsessed with Ultimate Frisbee or Gaelic Football or yoga. But, the point is, most of the people I know are highly involved with SOMETHING in their lives, be it fictional characters or something tangible in their day to day reality. The problem sometimes with obsession, though, is it morphs from a fun way to let off steam or to connect with other people into a very demanding monster. Something I have always struggled with throughout my many years trying to become the healthiest version of myself is slipping on the steep slope of obsession.

After I turned 21, I gained a massive amount of weight. Suddenly, I could go to late night restaurants and have happy hour appetizers and beer. Suddenly, I could go to bars and without knowing what I really liked to drink at the time (because I was a big proponent of Heaven Hill Vodka and Natty Light), I tended to order sugary cocktails. I actually tried to go back through my Facebook to find pictures of me at this time, and they don’t exist. I have removed pictures from that point in my life because I was so very ashamed of myself. That summer, the summer of 2008, I started working out at least 90 minutes a day and was restricting myself to 1200-1400 calories and I was neurotic about it. If I went to a party with my friends and got drunk, I would cry in the bathroom about how I was going to get fat again. If I subsequently ate Taco Bell after a late night bender, the urge to throw up would present itself. I was miserable. I lost 40 pounds in 4 months, but I was eating shitty packaged, processed food. I was nervous constantly about eating the wrong thing. Instead of building a new lifestyle, I built a prison for myself– exercise was my punishment for transgressions and microwave meals were my salvation.

Now, 8 years later, I can safely say I think I’m making good lifestyle changes. I like the way my body  and brain feel when I’m feeding it good food and participating in regular exercise. But, this weekend,  I could feel the creep of obsession– the voice telling me that any mistake, no matter how small, would undo all of my hard work over the past 6 months. I ran a 5k on Friday night and on Saturday, I ate kimchi cold noodles, an ice cream cone, a club sandwich, had a green tea milkshake, and a glass of wine. Sunday, I ate a veggie quesadilla, a cheeseburger slider, some kettlechips, and a soy PB banana chocolate smoothie. On Sunday night, I thought about my food choices for hours– I went over every single item, internally berating myself for not making better choices throughout the weekend. Why did I need an ice cream cone AND a milkshake? Why did I eat kettlechips?

But, there is a valuable lesson to be learned here and that is the lesson of balance, which is something I’ve struggled with in many areas of my life– a balance of alone time and social time, a balance of nights in versus nights out, and most importantly, a balance of living a healthy life with room to have a slice of pizza or an ice cream cone. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again– I will never give up beer. I also love flour tortillas and sour cream. I love pizza. But, these things need a balance in my life between being active and eating apples for breakfast. I am not a perfect human being and I’m glad I’m not. This finding balance is one of the best things I’ve done in my life and I’m finding, the longer I think about it and work at it, the easier it’s becoming. It’s all starting to fall into place. I think this is what I’ve always wanted for myself. Balance.

This week, I’ve been experimenting in the world of food thanks to my recent order from iHerb.

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I have all of the protein now. Honestly, I was fiending for a peanut butter that wasn’t filled with a bunch of bullshit and a way to eat breakfast in the morning since I have a tendency to be quite lazy. So, this week, I’ve been making peanut butter banana protein shakes for my breakfast and it is turning out very well. I stay full for quite a bit of time, I feel like I have energy, and it only takes like, 10 seconds to make them, which is perfect for me.

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I’m definitely in the market for some better recipes, so if any of you have any protein shakes you love, please send them my way!

I also purchased a food processor this week and I am so excited about the potential opportunities this opens up in my the arena of food. I had a food processor a long time ago and I loved it– I made hummus and chickpea blondies and guacamole and all kinds of good stuff. This week, since I am trying to eat mostly low-carb/vegan/vegetarian throughout the week, I tried my hand at a tofu and cauliflower rice recipe and I have to say that I firmly believe it was one of my best meals I’ve ever made.

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I scored both of the recipes on Pinterest, of course. The Honey Sriracha tofu was so easy– you mix Sriracha, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and honey. You fry the tofu. You coat. Simple. The cauliflower fried rice was one of the easiest things I have ever made and it was so shockingly delicious. One of the next things I want to try is definitely cauliflower crust for pizzas. I’ll let you all know once I delve into that world of cooking. This meal was delicious, filling, and I felt capable of running about an hour after I ate it, which is amazing as I normally feel very demotivated if I eat dinner before a long run. But, this food made me feel awake and powerful, so I went out and conquered 3.6 miles, which is the longest distance I’ve run since June. Daegu heat is real and it is brutal, so I sweat like a damn champion, too.

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I am always so proud of my sweat. It’s visible evidence of hard work and of my body working for me. The only time I can deal without sweat is when I’m walking from my house to the bus in Daegu Summer, but that’s just part of living in the hottest city in Korea, I suppose.  This run was not easy toward the end, but the first half, I felt good. I felt steady. It’s moments like this when I need to realize that even when I feel like I haven’t been making progress, I have been. Every extra step is progress. Every time I run and don’t really feel like running is progress. Every time I make food at my house instead of going to a restaurant is progress. I am not defined by moments of weakness, I am not defined by an ice cream cone, and I sure as shit am not defined by the urge to quit when it feels too hard to keep going.

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In 6 months, I have grown more as a person than some people do in their whole lives and I fucking refuse to sabotage myself this time out of fear of my success. I am a fucking mountain– unmovable and unshakable. There will be times when I want to crumble. There will be times when I want to lay in my bed instead of exercise. There will be times when I am tempted to go back to the old ways of self-hate, but those things cannot win this time. I am not afraid of achieving this time. In the words of Eminem, “success is my only mother fucking option– failure’s not.” And it is. The time for complaints and regrets is over– it’s time to fucking grind it out and shine like a fuckin’ sunflower, y’all.

So, after pumping myself up, I’m feeling quite brave. On Saturday, a dear friend of mine presented me with a two piece bathing suit. Initially, I was horrified at the idea of me wearing a two piece– but my fat! but my rolls! but my stretch marks and cellulite and FUCK THAT, SON.

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So, I put it on. And I fuckin’ loved it. It felt wrong to love it– I’m supposed to hate my body. I’m supposed to hide it away and shame myself and starve myself. No. Not anymore. My body can run. My body can dance. My body can swim and climb and ride bikes and move. My body has nothing to be ashamed of. I have nothing to be ashamed of.

As a side note, I am now an an Eminem YouTube hole because of my “Lose Yourself” reference. I hope all of you are having a great week.

Stay Motivated, y’all.

That Time I Scored A Goal in Soccer: A Week of (Mostly) Victories

I want to start this entry with this: I haven’t had a cigarette in almost four weeks.

One of the things people may or may not know about me is I have a tendency to get in these “ruts” where I do the same thing over and over again until I’m tired of it. If I find a particular song that I resonate with, I will listen to it until I can no longer listen to it anymore  (Lookin’ at you “Shake It Off”). I do the same thing with food– currently, I’m addicted to making veggie taco wraps. So, it’s probably no surprise that I do the same thing with television shows. My current obsession is “Rick and Morty” and holy fuck, am I obsessed with it.

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That’s Rick. I love the show because it’s hysterical and dark. and emotional. Anyway, I just wanted to share that with you all. If you haven’t watched “Rick and Morty,” you should probably do that yesterday.

So this week has been a week of mostly highs and a couple of embarrassing lows. I say embarrassing because something I did this week sort of goes against one of my core tenants now but at the time, I felt like it had to happen. I’ll get to that soon enough.

Last Friday, I weighed myself and I was down to 110.7kgs, or 244lbs. That puts me down 9.3kgs or roughly 20 pounds since April. I was, and am, fucking jazzed about it but I realize I still have a long way to go, both in my physical and mental capacity. I want to be healthy for me, not to fulfill some sort of beautification fetish that is all too rampant in the society we live in. But, I find myself creeping back into obsessive territory where I constantly think about the caloric content of food or worry that I’m gaining weight instead of appreciating the journey I’m on. I know I’ll eventually get there, but it’s scary to feel old habits start to form. It is all a process and it all takes time.

Saturday, Robert and I moved into our shared apartment. It was one of the most painless moves I’ve ever engaged in as we only moved down two floors in the same building I live in. We have so much space! That night, we decided to go out and get wriggity wriggity wrecked (that’s a Rickism) to both celebrate our newfound cohabitation and let off some steam from the week before.

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bourbon and ginger– no ice.

We had a great time, but I woke up with one of the WORST hangovers I’ve had in quite some time, which led to not-so-great food choices and more beer the next day. Hair of the dog, right? We ended up going to the Chimac Festival, which is literally a festival devoted to chicken and beer in Daegu. It ended up pouring rain so we retreated to our friends’ apartment and waited out the storm which led to more beer and eventually, cheese-covered jjimdak.

I won’t lie– the next morning I woke up in a fucking daze. I couldn’t shower because our gas wasn’t working and more importantly, I couldn’t make myself food. So, I went about my day and planned on eating at one of the small Korean restaurants outside of my job. Much to my dismay, though, every single restaurant I usually hit up in my time of need was closed– the Korean restaurant, the kimbap shop, the Paris Baguette and Rapang had no sandwiches. Everything was closed! I started to panic– I needed to eat before work or I was going to be fuckin’ hangry teacher and my students are too wonderful to be exposed to that kinda bullshit. Unfortunately, my only option it seemed was fast food. I got a fried chicken sandwich, some fries, and a fuckin’ Pepsi because I am a GLUTTON for punishment. I ate it and spent the whole fucking day in a self-hate, gross spiral where I felt like dogshit and later ate MORE food with my friend Alex, and then later ate MORE food when I got home. Needless to say, my body felt like shit, I felt like shit, and I was lacking any sort of motivation to be kind to myself. My brain said “you fucked up. it’s over” and my body felt the weight of that decision. I felt defeated all from one meal and, honestly, a total lack of exercise in my life. Monday night, I promised myself that I would get up and run before I went to work.

…and I did. I got up and ran in the middle of the afternoon in Daegu’s brutal heat and humidity because I had something to prove to myself– I am capable and I am stronger than I give myself credit for, especially when it comes to motivating myself to exercise. I did not run continuously. I ran in 10 minute blocks, and my pace was slow, but I got out there and I logged some miles. I sweat like a fire hydrant, too.

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On Tuesday, I also saw on Jessamyn Stanley’s Instagram that she would be hosting a free online class at 8am my time on Wednesday morning. If you don’t know who Jessamyn Stanley is, I suggest you educate yourself. This woman has become a figure in my motivational efforts because she looks like me. She shows me that ANYTHING is possible with any body type. I hauled my ass out of bed unwillingly on Wednesday morning AFTER I considered not performing the class because sleep? But, I am so glad I did. It was motivating, even though it was online, to be back in a yoga class. Her style was so great and her vulgarity just made the whole practice fun. Afterwards, I made myself breakfast, started a 30 day plank challenge (I finished day 3 today!) and later in the afternoon, I went running again! I ran intervals this time to practice speed and endurance. It was a walk/run/sprint cycle and I found that I really enjoyed it.

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You can see the intervals in my heart rate! I fucking LOVE my Fitbit, by the way. I completed 2.7 miles, and felt amazing. Then, I ate thai food, drank a double bourbon on ice, and watched Suicide Squad. I didn’t buy my own popcorn at the movie, which is HUGE as that’s pretty much my favorite part of going to the movies. Small steps, y’all.

Today, I was hit with the urge to fuck up again. I do that to myself– I make a lot of progress and then I derail because my success is too scary. But, complaints without actions are pointless, so I allowed myself to sleep in, got up, made myself some lunch, got an Americano, and took my ass to work. After work, Rob and I made broccoli cheddar soup and vegetarian black bean burgers that I stuffed with fresh goat cheese.

After dinner, I put my ass on the subway and played about an hour of soccer with these lovely ladies. I want to say something here: I am so lucky to have such a wonderful supportive expat community to live in. The people I’ve met in Korea have influenced me in so many ways and even when I’m being a grouchy, hermited fuckhead, people still love me and want the best for me. It’s a good feeling to find such a fantastic community so far away from home. As a side note, I scored a fucking goal tonight. YES. I. DID. I can’t even fucking play soccer, but I scored a goal and that, right there, is enough to make my week shine. The fact that I play soccer now amazes me.

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I am capable of so much. I am so worthy of love, affection, time, and attention. I forget that quite frequently. I forget the strength of my legs and the power of my heart and the depth of my soul. I forget that I am a force to be fucked with, especially on my dark days. I’ve always said that the world should fear when I figure out and start acting on my true potential. Well, world, you better start fuckin’ preparing because I am relentless and passionate and I am fucking TIRED of being beaten down.

The world hasn’t seen the best of me yet.

Stay on your grind, y’all.

Stop! Zoodle Time!

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Good evening, y’all. Well, good morning to some of you all. It’s Tuesday morning in Kentucky and Tuesday night in Daegu. I LIVE IN THE FUTURE! It’s actually really interesting being 13 hours ahead of a lot of my friends and my family. I experience an intense amount of jealousy on Sunday nights as it is only Sunday morning, but I also experience a weird amount of excitement on New Year’s Eve when it’s the next year in Korea and it’s still the year before in the US.

Before I continue with this blog entry, I just wanted to let you all know that I am still trying to find my footing when it comes to writing these blog entries again. I sort of feel stunted and nervous trying to do this again. I know I’ll find my groove and my voice again, but right now, if the entries aren’t as fluid as they used to be, now you know why.

So, full admission here: I’ve been insanely lazy since Saturday and I feel like I have a good reason for that. My body is STILL sore from our hike. My calves feel like they’re in a fuckin’ vice and I have no willpower to do anything, especially exercise. My sunburn seems to be healing nicely, but I would rather have heat radiating off of me like some sort of mutant sun than have my legs still be this incapacitated. I am hoping that by tomorrow I will be healed enough to run a couple of miles and get back on the half marathon training schedule I started last week. It’s a 16 week training schedule that has me running 3 times a week with two days of cross-training, which can be anything like riding my bike (hey, Mav) or playing soccer with the ladies of Daegu on a Tuesday or Thursday night. Although I am shit at it, I really do enjoy trying to kick a soccer ball around these days. I’m thankful for an active community that is constantly climbing mountains or playing sports or just enjoying the chance to sweat. It gives me a fuckton of opportunities to get involved and get healthier throughout the year. One of the major issues I face, though, is finding a place where I am comfortable running in Daegu. I used to have these solid running routes in Richmond, but I still feel nervous when setting out for a run here. Sometimes, I run down the street to the elementary school behind my apartment building and run the track, but I feel like the track is not an accurate representation of my speed or my endurance as it’s very easy to fall into an steady pace. I’ve found that if I’m only training on a track, my performance on a street run is not what I expect. Of course, I could also be using this nervousness as an excuse to just… not run, which is entirely possible if I’m truly honest about my tendency to self-sabotage.

Anyway, for the past few months, I’ve been dicking around with a low carb/high protein & fat diet, which really seems to be working for me. I’ve stopped having stomachaches, I’ve been losing weight, and I don’t feel as lethargic as I used to feel. The problem is I seem to get stuck in these food ruts where I only eat the same thing for days in a row, which is fine, I guess, for people who don’t like variety. But, I fuckin’ love to eat all kinds of foods, so I get bored and eventually, I break my cycle of cooking for myself and end up at a restaurant drowning my guilt in Korean dumplings. In the past few days, I’ve been bound and determined to branch out and try to make some new foods that are nutritious, delicious, and fit my goal of low carb eating. One of the ways I’m accomplishing this is by using the website iHerb to order foods I cannot find in Korea (or I can find and it’s just too expensive). For example, I purchased two jars of Peanut Butter & Co. peanut butter because I love peanut butter, but I want it without hydrogenated oil. I also bought coconut oil and protein to start making protein shakes and homemade protein bars in my house as I have recently discovered just how insanely easy it is to make your own protein bars. Take a look at THIS nonsense here, y’all. I will be making these immediately upon receipt of my iHerb order. Another way is buy trying some of these newfangled foods that I keep hearing everyone talk about. The food of this week is the glorious zoodle! Now, I’m sure everyone already knows what a zoodle is, but in case you don’t, it’s a noodle made out of zucchini and it is all the rage in the low carb world, I tell you what.

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I think there are all kinds of zoodlers out there, but my friends Matt & Stephanie allowed me to borrow their hand-held zoodler and as you can see, it was pretty amazing.

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That’s all that is left of the zucchini once it has successfully been zoodled. Robert promptly ate this.

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After a zoodle photoshoot, the zoodles went into a pot and I started preparing the homemade sauce. I cooked mushrooms, garlic, and onion in olive oil for a few minutes

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then, I added two cans of diced tomatoes, fresh basil from our rooftop garden, general spices, tomato paste, and fresh goat cheese.

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I was insanely proud of the results! It was tasty, filling, and best of all, I knew it was healthy and low carb.

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Of course, after eating, I wanted something sweet. I had peanut butter in the house, so I googled “coconut flour peanut butter cookies.” Lo and behold, the first recipe that popped up was the winner as I had EVERYTHING I needed in the apartment to make a batch. So, I fuckin’ did, son.

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This is just peanut butter, coconut flour, an egg, some milk, vanilla, sugar, and some salt. I then put some butter on a pan, because I AM Southern, and ladled them onto the pan.

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And holy shit! They came out so well!

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I have been an absolute MASTER in the kitchen this evening. It’s amazing how far a little motivation and the right ingredients can go. There you have it– I satisfied all of my cravings without compromising my desire to remain carbohydrate deficient. Man, I am just so damn proud of these cookies, y’all. This is a fucking gamechanger!

The plan for the rest of the week is to get a couple of runs in, even if my calves are still sore tomorrow. At some point, I have to push through the pain and get back on track. I also need to run through some kettlebell exercises and probably ride my bike more as I think Maverick is feeling rather neglected. One of my main goals this week is to work through the desire to be lazy and demolish my progress. I want to find where that comes from and start chipping away at the source instead of working through surface problems. I know this is quite a large undertaking, and possibly the key to the universe, but I need to remember that nothing worth doing is easy… unless it’s eating tacos. Eating tacos is always easy and always worth doing.

Speaking of tacos, Kentucky! I’ll be in you this coming September from the 15th-29th. Get at me if you want to grab a beer, a burrito, or a bourbon! Or you know, a roller coaster.

This is me getting my life together. This is me trying to change. I know I can do it– I just have to stop myself from stopping myself.

Stay healthy, y’all.

Catching Up: The End of the Heavy Hipster Hiatus

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happy sunday morning to you all. i’m feeling a bit grouchy and i think it’s because i am hungover and class starts tomorrow. nervous nervous nervous. i am excited about the amount of structure that this will bring into my life. structure makes me efficient; structure makes me insanely happy. it’s when i lack structure that my life goes into the shitter and is very hard to repair. case and point, my hiatus from my blog wasn’t supposed to happen– i even took two weeks off of exercising. again, not supposed to happen. but, on friday, august 5th, my summer job ended and monday, august 15, i have training all week. so the week of august 8-now has been incredibly useless. i haven’t done shit but watch Mad Men and a bunch of movies, lame. just fucking lame. this week, i had 5 days of teaching training and i was exhausted by the end of the day. doesn’t really inspire a lot of confidence in my endurance. anyway, i have been having food and other adventures the past couple of weeks and wanted to share those with you in the hopes that simply writing in this blog will jumpstart my life again.

my mom has inundated me with a fuckton of tomatoes, zucchinis, and cucumbers. i literally have no idea what to do with them. so, i made mexican pasta sauce!

all kinds of delicious.

this sauce had zucchini, corn, black beans, green peppers, onions, and all kinds of spices to make it delicious.

fuck yes whole foods pasta

i was also really pumped about using my Whole Foods pasta that i got on sale the last time i saw my nutritionist. it was delicious, as usual. i love everything about Whole Foods; i do not love that it’s a 30 minute drive for me to get to a Whole Foods, but i’m having a serious craving for some Daiya vegan cheese so i may have to drive up there to buy some necessary cooking supplies when i get paid this week.

don't worry, the cheese is measured!

this was incredibly delicious. i froze the rest of the sauce to use later when i’m feeling lazy and useless (which is usually how i feel on any given day).  and don’t worry, that cheese was measured for accurate calorie count. i also made a pretty ballin’ Minestrone soup last week in my crock pot, but i neglected to take a picture of it. i also froze it and am waiting for another day when i don’t feel like cooking.

the grocery store was also having a sale on tilapia filets. i have never cooked fish before and was anxious to try my hand at taking good, fresh seafood and making it into a delicious meal. i decided to make mexican spiced tilapia quesadillas. i put together (with some advice from friends) my own seasoning

mexican seasoning!

because store bought taco/fajita seasoning is the devil and i can’t understand the ingredients. i added this mixture to the raw filets (covered in olive oil)

yeaaaaaah

baked them for a few minutes, shredded them, and put them into quesadillas with white mexican cheese

banging quesadillas

i even put together a little sour cream and shredded lettuce spread. i was feeling particularly feisty.

i went out to the bar the other night with friends and decided i needed to rock my drink Don Draper style, so i had an Old Fashioned.

Old Fashioned!

it was actually really good, even though people “hoped that i hated it” so i would feel guilty about ordering it. well, scre-hew you, friends, it was delicious and filled with whiskey. don’t be jealous. it also gave me a sweeeet buzz. i was also an adult and steam-cleaned my carpet… like a champion. i was even super excited about it, watching the dirt and grime lifting off of my carpet fibers.

sweet clean carpet

i’m a nerd. whatever.

last week, i was on a baking mission because of all the extra zucchini i have. as i stated earlier, my mother has drowned me in freshly grown veggies and instead of letting them go bad (as i am wont to do) i jumped on a baking train and have not looked back. first up was zucchini banana bread since i also had 3 bananas that were bordering on complete death.

vegan banana zucchini BREAAAAD

and to use the rest of the zucchini that i had grated to death to make the bread, i found a dairy-free zucchini corn bread recipe

CAWNBREAADUH

ignore the missing piece. i had already eaten it. this was definitely my favorite thing i made. to finish off the rest of the zucchini, other veggies i had on hand, and the bag of shrimp i had, i made shrimp and vegetable stuffed zucchini boats. they did not turn out as well as i would have hoped. they were a little dry and next time i make something like this, i will make some sauce to go on top of it. i don’t like dry food. should have just put some fucking ketchup on it.

LARGE ZUCCHINIS

you scrape out the insides

mixture

cook/mix a bunch of shit in a pot

fill

fill empty boats and cook that shit up. make sure you have some ketchup or something. you know much i fucking love ketchup.

in the weeks that come, i will be adding a new paragraph in every entry in the Heavy Hipster called Kara Teaches where i describe my experiences that week. there won’t be any sort of details about my students or anything, but this is going to seriously impact my life and i have to mention it.

that’s all i’ve got. i hope you all are having a great Sunday. stay healthy, y’all.

The Heavy Hipster: Premium Slacker Extraordinaire!

yeah buddy, lookin' like a hobo

you should probably read the caption of the above picture to the tune of “ice cream paint job.” happy monday afternoon, everyone. as my title suggests, i am a slacker both in my real life and in my blog life as well. i haven’t made an update in a bit and i just wanted to drop back in and say “haaaaay” and to let you all know how i was doing. mondays are the pits and i hate them. i know i’ve discussed this before, but really. mondays = lame. monday lameday. there’s just something so obnoxious about monday. the best part of my monday is i’m rocking the tye-dye tee Madison made for me for the harry potter preview a couple of weeks ago. i love it vurry much. anyway. i just wanted to focus mainly on the food i’ve been eating, my visit with my nutritionist, and, well, my slacking. so, let’s get to it.

last weekend, i had one of the best honors in the entire world of being in Raychell and Andy’s wedding

you fancy, huh?

i felt prettier than i have ever felt. we danced down the aisle and i got to witness two of my very good friends get married. the reception was insanely fun; seeing people i have not seen in years made me incredibly happy and it just made for one of the greatest weekends i’ve had in months. i got to talk to a lot of people about what they’re doing with their lives, their futures, and our presents. consequently, though, i ended up looking like this

sexy.

but i had a good time getting to that point.

i started cooking again last week! i’ve been so lazy about making my own food, but the switch flipped again and i’m back into it. i’ve been looking up some new recipes, and i found this awesome website Supercook that allows you to plug in ingredients you already have and build a recipe out of it. you can add parameters, like meat-free or dairy-free as well, so i used the green beans out of my parents’ garden to make green bean quiche! it was my first quiche

da green peppas and da 'shrooms

and i cooked some green peppers and mushrooms while the green beans cooked all on their own

ZE GREEN BEANS!

while they were cooking, i mixed Veganaise (it is what you think it is) and non-fat sour cream

kinda looks nasty. whatever.

and because we bought a grater, i’ve started grating my own cheese from an actual cheese block! it saves money and makes a fuckton more cheese than a 4$ bag of cheese allows. seriously. try it.

muthafuckin grated cheese!

and then TA-DA QUICHE

obviously uncooked

i didn’t get a picture of the cooked quiche because i was too concerned with eating it. fun fact: i eat everything with ketchup like a 5 year old. if i can put ketchup on it, i will. get fucked. ketchup rocks.

i also made sweet potato, zucchini, and black bean burritos with homemade salsa last week!

was not that good

i was not impressed with my salsa. i don’t know what it needed more of, but it definitely needed something. oh well. it was the first time i tried making it and i know if i keep trying, i’ll eventually perfect a recipe i love. my mom is giving me tomatos and peppers from the garden, so i’ll have plenty of opportunities to try.

burrito filling!!!!

this is the burrito filling. inside, you will find sweet potatoes, black beans, zucchini, corn, and onion. i took flour tortillas, sprinkled some vegan cheese on the inside and bam

glory.

if i make these again, i will make some sort of sauce to go on top. they were a bit dry and since i didn’t like the salsa, i was a little displeased. but the actual burritos were bangin’. i love sweet potatoes and this is a new development in my life. i didn’t like them at all and now, i crave them. they must have some sort of vitamin i lack in my day to day diet. another new development has been my general rejection of soda. for the longest time, i was addicted to diet coke and it was a struggle for me to not drink one. but, now, i only want one when i’m hungover and that’s only because the carbonation settles my stomach. i am also recognizing what foods make me feel good and what foods make me want to die. for instance, just today, i had some oatmeal from starbucks because i had a gift card and was running low on time. i had it made with soy milk, put nuts and dried fruit in it, and it made me feel spectacular. i then ate a cookie from subway and that made me feel gross. i then had a flatbread from subway with lots and lots of veggies and now i feel great again. if i can truly learn to listen to my body and adapt to its needs, i’ll be golden. i’ve also been able to stop myself from binge eating by questioning what exactly makes me want to eat. i will even talk to myself out loud, like “bitch please. you don’t want those cheetoes. you’re only eating because you’re bored.” and once i actually confront myself with those discoveries, i immediately back away from the food in question. i still have a long way to go, but these small breakthroughs are important for my long-term success, which is exactly what my nutritionist said on Thursday. i don’t see her again until December, but i am making it my goal to lose at least 10 pounds before i see her again. she’s always so proud of my progress and impressed with my honesty. seeing her makes me feel so much better about what changes i have made, even if i still struggle. losing weight and creating a healthy lifestyle is not about making large changes at once; for me, it’s about learning the intricacies of my body and that means not comparing my lifestyle to others and what works for them. more often than not, i compare my eating/exercise to that of some of my (very)fit friends and it just upsets me. i have to live for me and for what my body needs in order to survive and be successful. these concepts, although easy to articulate and write about, are very hard to shift from theory to application.

i haven’t slept well the past couple of weeks, either and i feel that’s because i have not been exercising. i got wrapped up in the wedding and hit the ground running into last week and just haven’t really stopped to make room for exercise. it needs to happen, and it will. i am just glad i haven’t given up on myself and am determined to get it back into my life. i will need this outlet in the fall because i have a very, very stressful semester looking me dead in the eye and saying “bring it, bitch.” but, i’m relatively sure this upcoming semester will leave me feeling better about myself and more confident about my life choices.

well, that’s about it. i hope your week is starting off fabulously. i now leave you with some pictures of my weekend adventures. stay healthy, y’all.

MONSTER MACHINEEEEEEEEE
myself and Cecilia at ZE WAGON
farley and myself hanging out at the Paddy Wagon.
tricia and i after getting rained out at Rocky Horror.

Expecto Patronum: Dinner for My Parents, Review of Goals, and a Goodbye to My Childhood

Harry Potter Day!!
the day has come, friends. the sad and exciting day of the release of the final Harry Potter movie. this moment will bring to a close years of books and movies and i am feeling incredibly sentimental about it. yes, i drew the Deathly Hallows symbol on my wrist and yes, this picture is from Instagram. i just jumped on that train this week! anyway, i wish i could fully articulate just how much these characters and this series has meant to me for the past 12 years. the excitement they have brought me is beyond measurable. i didn’t initially get into Harry Potter; i thought it was for children and at the ripe age of 12, after 4 of the books had already been released, i kept putting up a fight. but, finally, good friends, who knew my tastes, wore me down and i started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. i was transported into a magical world and sat with Harry, side by side, as he discovered he was a wizard, boarded the Hogwarts Express for the first time, came face to face with the cruelty of wizards in the form of Draco Malfoy, and slowly began to learn of the evils of Voldemort that had infected his past and altered his future. i have grown close to these characters; they have become my friends. now, with all 7 books out and the movie series coming to a close, i am experiencing a deep sadness at the loss of these characters. i know i can watch the movies/read the books whenever i feel like it, but i will never again experience the excitement of waiting for a new book to come out or buy tickets months in advance and wait, impatiently, for the day when the movie arrives. well, it’s here, and i am going to the midnight showing, just as i have done for every movie starting with the Goblet of Fire (i was too young to go by myself at midnght for the other three haha). i’m going to cry like a baby tonight and probably be somewhat depressed tomorrow and i’m ready for the haters; i’m ready to sit through people making fun of me, people who don’t understand the magic that is Harry Potter, i’m ready for it. i don’t care what you think of me.
now, onward to more Heavy Hipster related items of interest! i remembered i needed to take my measurements and reevaluate my goals for August. it’s already halfway through July, so i am going to stay the course i am on right now and pick up some goals for August. here were my June goals:
  • SURVIVE BONNAROO. (i survived and survived it well. i kicked Bonnaroo’s ASS.)
  • lose 4-7 pounds by June 31st– (Not so much… )
  • only weigh myself twice this month– once after Bonnaroo; once at the end of the month. (i’ve been weighing myself more than i should.)
  • finish C25k and begin bridge to 10k in preparation for the 5k in July. (i may not have finished, but i’m back running again!)
  • swim laps in the outdoor pool at least twice a week (it’s a lot harder to find time than i thought.)
  • be kinder to myself and my mistakes (slowly but surely, i am learning to be nice to myself.)
  • 8 glasses of water a day (water is my friend!)
  • accept my new age of 24 when the day comes (June 19th!) (i probably accepted it a little too easy. i got too drunk.)
  • read at least 10 books (i’ve already got 2.5 down!) — (i made it through The Kite Runner, The Road, The Reader, and Eat, Pray, Love. this month, i read Of Mice and Men, started Everything is Illuminted, and re-read The Deathly Hallows).
  • continue to keep parking farther away from the doors at grocery stores/the gym/etc. (i’m actually really good at this!)
  • walk to work (i know it’s hot) at least once a week. — (nope. it’s hot. i’m lazy.)
  • finally, keep a food journal and write down why i crave a food, what triggered the food craving, and find an alternative to that craving that is both satisfying and healthy. healthy habits are formed in these small choices! — (no food journal yet, but it’s one of my ultimate goals.)
so, as you can see, i did not do as well as i would have hoped as far as my goals go. but, i’m going to take some time, think of good goals for August, and post those here once i find the right goals. i want them to be attainable, yet challenging, to keep me on my toes. i feel like i’m skimming through my missed goals, but honestly, i’m so full of energy and motivation right now it’s hard for me to look at my failures and really contemplate them– i just want to succeed.
last night, i made dinner for my parents. i made homemade refried beans, which were delicious. they started like this
beaaaaans
then i added onions, green pepper, and serrano peppers
seasonings are delicious

made some homemade guacamole

tasty guac

shrimp enchiladas with homemade jalapeno cream sauce

yuuum
the enchiladas were filled with dry coleslaw, spinach, shrimp, and some reduced fat cheese. the cream sauce was made with fat free sour cream and vegan butter. it turned out so much better than i would have hoped for! the beans turned out really well, too!
beans in da crockpot
my parents seemed like they were pretty impressed
dad!!!
MOM!
final product.
in other news, i took my measurements today for the first time since June 14th. they are as follows:
June 14th, 2011 Weight: 235.4
  • Bust: 39.5
  • Chest: 38
  • Upper Waist: 36
  • Middle Waist: 43
  • Hips: 44.5
  • Thighs: 26.5
  • Calf: 17.5
July 14th, 2011 Weight: 235
  • Bust: 39.5
  • Chest: 37.5
  • Upper Waist: 36
  • Middle Waist: 43
  • Hips: 44
  • Thigh: 26
  • Calf: 17
  • Arm: 14
i’ve lost about 2 inches around my body in a month’s time, which i feel pretty proud of because of my slacking off i’ve been doing. i’ve also maintained in a few places, but again, i am not disappointed because i’ve been slacking off a whole lot throughout the month of June and into July. i know i can do better, but it’s nice to know that i know how to maintain my weight and inches. i believe it shows i am truly learning. this kind of progress, no matter how small, keeps me motivated and i know i’ll eventually get to where i want to be! i just have to keep going and i cannot let myself backtrack or backslide too much. forward movement is the most important. we cannot achieve any goals if we remain static.
i have one more item to discuss and that is my sister
seeesters
my sister is a bad ass beyond epic proportions. she’s successful, has a beautiful daughter, and still finds time to crank out some serious fitness. she doesn’t take shit from anyone. plus, she’s fucking GORGEOUS, both inside and out. she ran the Warrior Dash a couple of months ago, endures 2 hour spin classes, wakes up very early in the morning to sweat, and has agreed to run the Iron Horse Half Marathon with me in October. this motivates me beyond any other sort of motivation– the idea of doing a race with one of my family members is something i’ve always wanted and Angela is helping this dream become a reality. she is a constant source of encouragement and because of her, i’m back running and and ready to seriously train for this race. it is going to be a long, grueling process, but i know she’ll be there with me every step of the way. i am capable of conquering this challenge and it makes it easier knowing i have family with me.
i’ve exhausted myself writing this entry. sometimes, i feel like i have too much to discuss and end up cramming a bunch of information into one blog entry. but, these issues and aspects of my life are very relevant and important to me. i have to consider every facet of my life in order to find the weak links and make them stronger. i am full of success; i just need to channel that into something positive and get moving! today, i ran 2 miles and it felt good. next time i run, i’m going to try for 2.25 miles and slowly start adding that distance on until i start serious training for the half in August. just knowing i am still capable of running distances makes me that much more confident in my ability. i hope everyone is having a great thursday– we’re so close to the weekend! stay healthy, y’all.