Category Archives: Health

Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

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Maybe this makes me an extreme nerd or a yuppie foodie, but one of my favorite activities of late is meal-planning!

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I’m so serious.

I look for time during the week when I can sit down to plan my Thursday grocery shopping trip and my meals for the week. Meal prep ahead of time not only saves me time and energy when I come home exhausted from Internship, it prevents me from making lazy meal choices (i.e. canned soup) when I’m ravenous after the gym. For example, the other night I was feeling extra productive, so I sliced and diced the veggies to marinate overnight that I knew I’d need for the following night’s stir fry dinner. When I came home later than expected the next afternoon and grudgingly still went to the gym, my growling tummy was beyond grateful that I had felt so in the mood for meal prep earlier! All I had to do was cook some brown rice, saute the veggies and presto: dinner.

This week, I’ve been feeling particularly excited about meal-planning, especially with Fresh Market opening so close to school! Yesterday morning was the grand opening, and people were shoving queuing at the unholy hour of 7:55. Uhhh… no thank you!

Anyway, today I made my weekly trip to Kroger for staples, armed with my meal plan for the week and my grocery list. I am usually pretty good about sticking to my list and keeping “splurge” buys to a minimum. So, without further ado:

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Beverages: La Croix sparkling water ($4.49), lemonade mix — per Ian’s request ($1.89), O.N.E. coconut water — impulse buy ($2.99), Vita coconut water — impulse buy ($2.00), and organic milk ($3.69)

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Dairy: Chobani Greek yogurt and Chobani Flips (3/$4.00)… I misread the price tag and thought they were 10/$8.00

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Produce: bananas ($1.24), shredded lettuce ($2.99), seedless red grapes ($1.55), organic celery ($1.69), pomegranate ($2.49), cucumber ($0.75), green pepper ($0.77), Fuji apples ($3.29)

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Random: much-needed [and on-sale] highlighters ($1.29), brown rice ($2.49), organic seedless raisins ($3.49), Truvia natural sweetener ($3.99)

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Grand total: $55.83

I’m all set for the week with breakfast items I already had, fresh fruit for snacks and sides, meals for Ian’s visit this weekend, and five dinners! I’m still planning to drag bring Ian with me to Fresh Market on Saturday to explore, but I fully plan to have a list in my hand and a spending cap in my head. That place makes me giddy!

Now, on to equally as exciting stuff: I spent a little time playing around in the kitchen this afternoon, and I devised my own recipe for quick and easy Waldorf salad. I’m more than happy to share!

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Homemade Waldorf Salad
1 stalk celery
1 C plain Chobani Greek yogurt
handful of raisins
2-3 handfuls of red grapes
half of large Fuji apple
1/4 C whole almonds

Slice the celery, grapes, and apple into bite-sized pieces. Mix all solid ingredients together, then add yogurt. Stir until yogurt coats all ingredients evenly. Refrigerate for up to 5 days. Bon appetit!

Well, blends, I’m off to prep for a double-dose of class tonight. Have an excellent evening!

Stay tuned this weekend for a peek inside my OCD fridge, as well as my exploits at FM! ๐Ÿ˜‰

P.S. I’d love to hear about YOUR meal prep and/or meal-planning! Do you measure portions out precisely? How far in advance do you cut perishable items? Do you cater your grocery shopping to portable foods for on-the-go? Let’s chat! ๐Ÿ™‚

Feelin’ Saucy

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Yeah, I know, enough with the food puns already, A.K.! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m in between binges of Dance Moms, but I’ve been itching to pop in and blog about a little trick I devised for those of us who live alone. For those of you ladies or gents who are married, cohabitating, or have roommates, this trick might not be of use to you. Nevertheless, sometimes it’s hard for anyone to use an entire jar of spaghetti sauce.

[Side note: my favorite clean spaghetti sauce involves a homemade concoction of EVOO, fresh garlic, sautรฉed yellow onion, diced tomatoes, Italian blend seasoning, and parsley. When I don’t have the time or energy to do homemade, I opt for a sauce that is low on sugar, packed with veggies, and has as many whole ingredients as possible. Prego Chunky Garden Tomato, Onion and Garlic is my favorite sauce du jour.]

No matter what variety of sauce I’m using, it’s rare for me to be able to cater the amount of sauce to a meal for one. I’m still learning just as much as I am experimenting! That said, I never know what to do with the other three-quarters of a jar of sauce. Finally, last week when I was craving no-yolk noodles, burger crumbles, and spaghetti sauce, I had a revelation: Why not freeze the leftover sauce in individual portions?! Ta daaaaa!

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I kept out the sauce I needed for the evening’s meal, froze one portion in the jar, and poured the rest into this muffin tin. I figure two cups’ worth of sauce will suffice for each spaghetti meal, and I won’t have to worry about cramming in meals to finish the jar of sauce before it goes bad.

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And voilร ! Frozen spaghetti sauce, prepped and ready for a meal anytime.

I’m sincerely hoping that each cup of sauce will pop right out as easily as I’m imagining… I guess I’ll find out in the next week or so!

If you’ve ever frozen sauce in a manner like this, I’d love any tips or tricks you have for guaranteeing that the sauce will come right out of its container for heating.ย 

Have a saucy evening, blends! ๐Ÿ˜‰

The “H” Word

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Fair warning: This morning’s topic is something I’ve been needing to get off my chest, so today’s post will be much more soapbox-y than most. Caveat emptor! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Maybe it’s just me, but have you noticed recently that HEALTHY has become an ugly buzzword? People toss it around to mean anything they want it to mean: low-fat, low-carb, fat-free, “diet,” “light,” sugar-free, “all-natural,” etc.

Don’t get me wrong: I believe that every single person on this planet has the right to decide what is “healthy” for his or her diet (i.e. food and nutritional plan of action) and lifestyle. Conversely, I also believe that there are looseย standards of health and nutrition that the vast majority of people don’t meet. Frankly, I don’t think Americans in general know that — barring special circumstances, such as lactose intolerance or severe allergies — their nutritional needs can be met through nature’s abundance. That is to say, a well-balanced diet and regular exercise can maintain health and longevity for most people.* Of course, there are people who can’t get everything they need from nature, and require non-natural, synthesized medicines; for example, I take an anticonvulsant twice a day to prevent grand mal seizures.

Anyway, I digress. The point of today’s post is to discuss how misshapen the word “healthy” has become. I see people all around me on the daily posting photos on Instagram and Twitter of their so-called healthy meals. Most of the time, these meals consist of bite-sized portions of something green, a mouse’s fair share of a protein source, and absolutely nothing with carbs. The caption will usually read something along the lines of, “Tonight’s healthy dinner!!” followed by twenty or thirty obnoxious hashtags: #food #healthy #eathealthy #eatclean #cleaneating #getfit #mydinner #myhealthylife #weightloss #fatfree #under300calories #lowcarb #foodporn #imstarving #helpme

#YouGetTheIdea

Now, let me just add this caveat to my bitching: I am absolutely just as guilty as these offenders of posting pictures of far too many meals with said hashtags adorning them. I fully realized when I brainstormed this post that I would probably come off sounding like the biggest hypocrite.

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I didn’t know I was going to eat my own words for breakfast!

What bothers me about people’s Instagrams and tweets is not the picture itself, or even the pious words beneath: it’s the fact that many of the women I know personally and follow on social media are either proud of or unaware of the fact that they may be depriving themselves of what their bodies need in the pursuit of being “healthy.”

Now hear this, ladies: “Healthy” does not always equate with fat-free, low-fat, or low-carb. While humans’ bodies can sustain themselves on fats and proteins and the body does not actually need carbohydrates to function, those who exercise frequently will require carbs. Weight loss has to come from somewhere, and that usually means converting whatever the body has taken in into energy: burned calories. If all I had eaten today was a piece of toast, yogurt, and a salad, I wouldn’t wonder why I felt weak and exhausted after a 45-minute cardio workout. Add some damn carbs to that plate!

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No matter who you are and no matter your choice of lifestyle or diet, the human body requires sufficient energy to do the work you ask of it. If inadequately fueled, the body will conserve its fat reserves and its energy sources instead of burning them off or converting fat to muscle. If the body is repeatedly deprived of sufficient fuel, it will begin to weaken and break down significant muscles and tissues, such as the heart.

I’m all for weight-loss programs and true clean-eating. I’m all for prominently displaying results and lifestyle changes. I’m all for self-pride and the acceptance that no matter how hard I work, there will be someone else out there who is doing it faster, harder, and more diligently. I’m okay with all of this, because I’m okay with who I am, how I choose to live, and the lifestyle I believe to be healthy for me.

It may seem as if I’m ranting and raving because I’m subconsciously insecure about my eating habits, or I feel overshadowed by others’ weight loss successes, or because I’m a tremendously snooty know-it-all, or some other Freudian interpretation. Quite the contrary, my blends. I am more secure in my body, in my lifestyle, and in my personal choices than I have ever been. I feel just as comfortable concocting a quinoa bowl as I do in chowing down on some Coldstone. I feel every bit as secure eating a gigantic salad as I do munching on kettle corn or Red Hot Blues and guac.

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My overarching point is this: To each her/his own. With my blog, my social media outlets, and my soapboxes about “healthy” eating, I never mean to cause anyone discomfort or make people feel bad about how they treat their bodies. My personal belief is simply as God has instructed me: my body is a temple. I am to worship it and to treat it with the utmost respect, because it’s the only physical vehicle I’m going to get on this earth. If it’s well-rested, properly fueled, and exercised appropriately, that’s about the best I can do by the old bod.

If I’m making those around me feel as agitated and turned-off as some of these “health” nuts have made me feel recently, then I am more committed than ever to leading by example and to not thrusting my beliefs in people’s faces. I aspire to inspire. My mantra regarding social media is this, and to this end I do lead by example: if you don’t like what I have to say, don’t follow me. It’s as simple as that!

All that said, I truly welcome your comments, questions, suggestions, and even challenges on today’s (and any) post!

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(*I am not a Registered Dietitian, personal trainer, life coach, prophet, or Omniscient Eye. All opinions stated in this blog are strictly my own and are based on personal experiences and research. For complete dietary intake, nutritional, and supplementary needs, you should consult a physician or other professional.)

There’s No Good Title for This Post

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I feel like by now, I should know that when I toss around words like “normal” or “routine,” my week will be anything but.

Monday, I developed a headache midway through the workday, but I was pretty well able to ignore it… Until it turned into a full-blown migraine after dinner. I was in bed by 9:00 and I couldn’t have been more grateful to myself for having picked out my outfit, packed my gym bag, and packed my lunch in the afternoon. Being proactive (read: OCD) pays off ๐Ÿ˜‰

Tuesday, my mom and Caroline and I went to see Jesus Christ Superstar at a Richmond-area church whose choir director was Caroline’s and my childhood choral conductor, and whose drama production manager is the current drama lady at my former high school. The musical (a.k.a. rock opera) was phenomenal, and it was hard to believe Jesus, Judas, and Mary Magdalene were played by high-schoolers!

Wednesday, I started to get that itchy, tickly throat I often get before a major cold, sinus infection, or allergy attack knocks me on my ass. Nothing ever really came of it, but I still felt like someone was progressively sucking the energy out of me as the day wore on. I had all but resigned myself to skipping the gym when I started to feel guilty… and I went anyway. I didn’t feel one bit like running, so I hopped on the bike and spun for about 30 minutes.

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While I was having a private pity party, a news feature popped up about Annette Fredskov, a woman who recently completed 366 (three hundred and sixty-six) full marathons in 365 days, finishing strong with a double-marathon. I thought, if this crazy bitch can run 26.2 miles every single day, how come my procrastinating butt can’t even train for 13?!

I’ve realized recently that no matter what I choose to train for, I’ll always feel like exercising differently. Training for something gives me incentive to push myself and try for harder and faster and longer and more difficult, but it also causes me to grow weary of that particular event. For example, today I “cross-trained” by swimming a mile:

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(i.e. putting off half training for one more day, but still getting good exercise and calling it race prep).

If I were training for a competitive swimming event, I would probably find excuses to run or hop on the elliptical. Swimming is just such a fantastic total-body workout, and it really melted my stress away after a long and difficult work week.

See what I mean? ๐Ÿ˜‰

#FirstWorldProbs at their finest: not knowing which elective exercise to perform when.

My throat still hasn’t felt any better over the past three days, though I have been downing this stuff and as many fluids as possible…

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…while pretending I’m naive to the fact that my body will excrete whatever it can’t use. Curse you, vitamin C threshold.

Getting to sleep by 10:00-10:30 every night doesn’t hurt, either, nor does not having much on my plate for this weekend. In fact, tonight’s activity of choice is studying for the CPCE I am scheduled to take August 24. What a delightful Friday evening! Ha…

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May your throat feel less scratchy than mine; may your Friday night be more adventurous than mine; and may your weekend be just as free and relaxing as mine. Ta ta!

I’m Baaa-aaack!

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Goodness gracious! I haven’t blogged in NINE days! I sure have missed the blogosphere, but to be honest, I didn’t have too much to tell you guys.

As you know, I was in class for three weeks. [Hopefully, my last summer classes ever.] Then, I got home last Friday, June 28, and we left for Smith Mountain Lake at the crack of noon on Saturday. SML has been one of my family’s favorite vacation spots since I was in elementary school. Most families are either lake people or river people or beach people; I like to think we’re all three ๐Ÿ˜‰

We stayed at Covered Porches, by far the most beautiful and generously furnished vacation home we have ever rented. It doesn’t take much to impress this old gal, but Covered Porches was everything I was expecting and then some. It was even the perfect size for ten people. This is depressing for me to admit, but this vacation was possibly my last full-blown family excursion before Ian and I tie the knot. Eeeeek! Mr. and Mrs. Giles going on vacation ๐Ÿ˜‰

I am so grateful that Ian was able to join us for the entire week between “bouts” of med school, and so were a few college friends. It was quite the fiesta with the Lew Crew!

The weather was actually pretty crappy all week, with either rain, storms, or gloomy skies every single day. No matter; it didn’t slow us down one bit.

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We spent the week laughing hysterically playing “Cheers, Gov’nah,”

organizing splash contests,

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lounging by the lake,

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playing Blackjack with beer bottle caps as currency,

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tubing (which is quite a workout, by the way!),

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hunting down four-leaf clovers,

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frolicking on the dock,

playing cornhole,

swimming and paddling around,

chatting around the campfire,

and simply enjoying the lake life.

I would be remiss if I glossed over how I ate while on vacay. I always like to think that my grad school lifestyle will carry over while I’m out of my routine, and it almost never does. I feel as though if it were truly one hundred percent my lifestyle, I wouldn’t have trouble maintaining it when I’m out of my norm. However, I also believe that sometimes it’s okay to indulge. That may not be the appropriate term to use to describe this week… Maybe gorge is more accurate. I ate my body weight in s’mores one night, and in tacos another. I also drank enough Seagram’s and Bud Light Lime to float a small fleet of battleships.

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It’s not that my family doesn’t eat nutritiously — quite the contrary, actually. For example, one night we planned DIY mini pizzas with whole wheat shells, low-fat cheeses, and veggies galore; one night we sautรฉed Polish sausages with green peppers, onions, and sauerkraut; and each morning there was Chobani, oatmeal, whole grain cereals, and “skinny” bacon available. I just seemed to be a bottomless pit this week! Next week, as I always vow post-vacation, I’ll get back into the swing of things and plan delicious, nutritious meals. I’ll also jump back onto the workout horse.

That reminds me, though…

Being on vacation and being away from the gym does not equate with being sedentary in my book. Between running back and forth from the house to the dock (uphill, both ways, in the snow), swimming, canoeing, tubing, swinging, paddling, and numerous intense games of volleyball, I certainly don’t feel that I lacked for heart-pounding, BP-elevating action!

In other, completely unrelated news, one of my favorite parts of vacation with my family is that TV is hardly a thought. Unless the weather is so bad that playing outside is not an option (or the Orioles are playing ;-)), the remote collects dust. And that’s the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it.

Well, there you have it folks. The reason for my hiatus: fun, sun, family, friends, celebration, and relaxation. After a trip to OBX, two summer classes, my sister’s 21st birthday party, a week of refresher training for my summer job, and a trip to SML, my summer may finally settle into a regular routine. Well, except for nursery duty at Vacation Bible School next week…

Also, I said I had news regarding the half-marathon my tubing buddy Lauren and I are running, and I do! Stay tuned! ๐Ÿ™‚

Hey Coffee… Ya Miss Me?

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Howdy, and happy Thursday!

I don’t have a tremendous amount to tell you, because as you know, I’ve been in class for the past three weeks. Two weeks ago was Eating Disorders, and last week and this week were Substance Abuse and Addictions counseling. I just wanted to pop by because I’ve missed you all so much ๐Ÿ˜‰

I thought I’d share with you briefly my experience going caffeine-free. As part of my Addictions class, each of us was asked to “give up” something — obsessive texting, Facebook-checking, smoking, drinking two 2-liters of Coke a day, or what have you.

My poison? Caffeinated coffee.

Both Ian and my mom always joke that before I’ve “had my coffee” [read: come fully awake and gotten out of my sleep funk] it’s best not to talk to me unless you require little more than a grunt. I certainly wouldn’t say I’m addicted to coffee; I do, however, rely on it to wake me up and keep me awake on important mornings.

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I realized, after having been caffeinated-coffee-free for the past 10 days, how much time I used to spend on coffee as part of my morning routine. There’s not just the brewing and the drinking… there’s the doctoring, the mixology, the waiting until it’s the perfect temperature, and then the requisite stop at the “facilities” before I can head out the door. The past two weeks, I have had anywhere from 15-30 extra minutes to read, watch Netflix, get a few more things done, mow the lawn, milk the cow… You get the idea.

The real reason I decided to allow coffee to be the vice I would give up is because I don’t want to rely on caffeine anymore. I want caffeine to be a treat instead of a regularity. I have found that I relish this extra time in the morning; rather than setting my alarm later, I’ve been enjoying pushing snooze a time or two, and then languishing in bed before going through my routine without haste.

I did allow myself to make decaf whenever I wanted it because decaf doesn’t serve any sort of eye-opening purpose for me. The purpose it does serve? To be my after-dinner sweet treat while I read on the porch. It doesn’t take much to satisfy me in the sweet-tooth department, and a cup of Folger’s doctored with Truvia, a little skim, and a dollop of fancy creamer hits the spot ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m certainly not planning to give up caffeinated coffee or other beverages on a permanent basis. I’m just enjoying making them more sporadic. As evidenced by my attitude now compared with 57 hours in, this challenge has done me a world of good!

Just FYI: I’ve got lots of new stuff coming to Sarcasm, including vacation plans and an update to the half-marathon Lauren and I are running! Stay tuned!

We Have a Winnerrrr!

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Blends, I don’t even know how to contain or describe my excitement:

My friend Colleen, over at The Lunchbox Diaries, did a giveaway of the Simone France travel kit she received, and I was chosen as the winner!

I absolutely cannot wait to receive the travel kit in the mail and review it! As you know, I have never done a sponsored post (not that I wouldn’t) but I love to review products of my own volition and report back to you.

To be honest, I do very little in the way of skin care — because I’m that lazy. I do use a St. Ives facial scrub that supposedly “removes blackheads”… Yeah, like they’re just gonna up and walk away! And I also use a Mary Kay moisturizer that my mom’s consultant recommended for chronic dry skin. I actually have combination skin, meaning that it’s both oily and dry.

My nose and my chin have gathered so many little blackheads because I touch my skin a lot (gross, I know). My forehead tends to break out when I sweat a great deal, such as weeks that I run several days. Before I go to bed, I know I should do something in the way of removing the day’s oil and impurities, but I am just. too. lazy.

When I receive this little miracle kit that Colleen has raved about so much, I plan to make an honest attempt at using it on a regular basis. I’m not self-conscious about my skin, per se, but I wouldn’t hate having clearer, more evenly complected skin, either.

As soon as I’ve given Simone France a fair shot, I promise to write a full and honest review. In the meantime, I’ll just dream about the future of my clear, beautiful skin ๐Ÿ˜‰