Busy as Busy Can Be

2012 has been a busy year for us.  I’d actually venture to say that the last 12 months have been a whirlwind.  Our lives brought us a new job for Dan and I began settling into my new job as well.  Many friends of ours got engaged and we attended six (6!) weddings in the past 6 months.  I was Maid of Honor for my sister and Dan was part of the bridal party in 2 weddings.  We danced away the nights, ate copious amounts of cake, laughed, drank and spent much of the past 12 months (and more condensed, the last 6 months) running around with hardly a moment to breathe.

We celebrated birthdays both big and small and spent time with family and friends.  We loved every single event we were a part of, and couldn’t ask for a more loving and caring social circle and family.  But as the dust settles, I think it’s time to admit a major problem I’ve created and allowed to perpetuate–

I’ve gained weight.

Not a couple swing pounds, but an absolutely positively without a doubt noticeable difference on my frame.   “Tighter” doesn’t even seem accurate to describe the condition of the clothes in my closet.  I feel uncomfortable and angry at myself for not taking time to stop.  For not taking the time for myself.  For constantly going and ignoring the scale rising and my pants tightening.

I think I used our busy schedule as an excuse.  There were fabulous dinners to eat, bites at cocktail hours and family parties, cocktails to be enjoyed.  Then there was the exhaustion that came, inevitably, with spending weekends out of town.  Instead of enjoying myself on the weekends and eating healthier during the week, I gave up entirely and constantly used my exhaustion as an excuse to order take-out or cook an unhealthy easy meal.  I would tell Dan I was tired, that I couldn’t possible cook, so we’d wisk up an unhealthy meal or just go out to eat.  Both our wallets and our waistlines suffered.

But the dust has settled.  Aside from normal social activities and family outings, there are no more excuses.  No more excuses for laziness, no more excuses for poor eating.

There comes a time where you have to stop.  Where the reasoning fails and all you’re left with is the truth.  It’s time to change.

I’ve decided to start being serious about what I eat and how I move my body.  The bottom line is, I don’t have much of a choice.  I can’t stay at my current weight.  It’s not healthy and most importantly–above all else–I’m not happy.

I love to cook and I don’t think that will change much.  Maybe my portions will be smaller, or I’ll reserve the really fun cooking for the weekends.  Working out will be beneficial as well, since eating less, well, hasn’t worked quite frankly.

It’s hard for me to put out on a blog, on the great and vast internet the fact that I truly do need to lose weight.  I am hopeful the honesty I’ve provided will motivate me to succeed.

Cheers (with water) to success!

Don’t Trust The Electronics

My camera is being just absolutely awful.  Like put it in timeout and ground it for the weekend bad.

My computer is being equally as fussy and not uploading pictures.  It’s also about 6 years old and I treat it horribly, so I can’t say I’m sitting here in shock that both are rebelling against me.

I wanted to post a recipe and a review of Trader Joe’s Green Curry Simmer Sauce, but that will have to wait until tomorrow until we’ve all calmed down.

So, here’s a picture from our wedding weekend:

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Dan was in the wedding party so I had a lovely lady (whose significant other was also in the wedding) to hang with all day and ride the party bus over with.  Lovely day, lovely friends.

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Chance is all snuggled in for the night and my computer just pulled a nasty little move, so for the sake of sanity I’ll be handing the laptop to Dan demanding he “fix it now”.

Have a great night and steer clear of anything with batteries.  Shifty things.  Not to be trusted.

Bravo, You Have a Problem

Obsessed.

That’s probably the one word Daniel would use to describe my love for anything Bravo tv related.  In fact, last year we cancelled our cable in an effort to save money.  At first Dan was all “We’ll be able to watch everything, just a day later.”  What I didn’t know was that didn’t extend to everything.

When I found out I couldn’t get Bravo re-runs via our Roku box I threw.a.fit. not fitting of a mature adult.

But how will I know Caroline’s feelings towards Theresa?????????

Pumpkin was disgusted.

You’re a stupid LIAR.

I stomped around for months, lamenting that there was NOTHING to watch on TV.

I’m in TV hell.

And all Dan wanted to do was spend quality time together, instead of me planting myself in front of RHO___ (fill in the blank).

I’m cute, just look at me and you will never need television again.

There’s only so much a man can take, and not so soon after we called Comcast and stuck it to them, I came groveling back.

I watched hours upon hours of On Demand RH marathons.  I watched it all..New Jersey, New York, Beverly Hills, Orange County, Atlanta.  I flipped for Flipping Out and declared Andy Cohen my new best friend.  You couldn’t pull me away from Top Chef and I was obsessed with James Lipton’s brand of serious/off beat humor.  Bethenny was my imaginary BFF while Jeff Lewis and Co. told us what was up.

I shhhhhhhhhhhhh’d Dan every time he talked.

And then I met Gallery Girls

Eeep.

Love hate tv.  That’s what they are.  But I just can’t walk away.

BRAVO TV…how bad will it get.

And will I ever stop watching?

NO.

What’s your favorite secret channel?  What’s a guilty pleasure show you would sadly (or gladly) shun your family to watch?

Also, WTFFFFFFFF is up with Aviva from RHONY?  Crazy be crazy.

 

 

Stuffed Serrano Peppers

This recipe came to pass because I was, for some strange reason considering the fact that I’ve never had them, craving Chili Relleno.  I must have seen a picture, which implanted in the back of my mind cheese stuffed deep fried peppers.  That’s the sort of stuff my subconscious holds on to.

Once I investigated, I had a hard time committing myself to stuffing chilies full of cheese, coating them in a whipped egg bath and then frying in oil.  There are loads of food I’m willing to deep fry or consume an unwordly amount of calories on, but I thought for the sake of no special occasion, maybe it would be best if I dialed back the glutton.

I present Stuffed Serrano Peppers.  There’s cheese, beans and spice–the holy trinity of dinner.

Stuffed Serrano Peppers

Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side

Ingredients

4 Serrano Peppers

Olive Oil

1 cup Refried or Black Beans (I used a combination)**

6 oz Queso Fresco, crumbled

2 oz Pepperjack Cheese, shredded

Cilantro, to taste

1/4 cup chopped raw onions (if you do not like, they can be omitted)

Pinch (or two) of cayenne pepper

1 egg (or two egg whites)

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

**Dan believes these would be “unbelievable” with chorizo.  But I didn’t have any, so too bad for him.  Feel free to make them with chorizo and let me know how amazing they are.  I’ll pass the info on to Dan**

Directions

First things first: roast some peppers!  We don’t have a grill, so I roasted my peppers in the oven at 400 degrees.

I lightly coated (with my Misto) the peppers in olive oil, then slid them into a 400 degree preheated oven for 15 minutes, then flipped and roasted them for another 15 minutes.  When they’re done, they should look like this:

Nice and wrinkled

Place your pretty peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  This step is especially important if you chargrilled your peppers.  The heat contained in a bowl by wrapping them will make it easier to peel the skin off.

While the peppers set for 10 minutes, turn your oven down to 375 and prepare your stuffing.

Mix together your beans (or other cooked protein), queso fresco, pepperjack, cilantro, onions and chili pepper (if desired).  At this point you can taste the filling and decide if you want to add any extra spices (salt, pepper, cumin, garlic or onion powder).

Smash/mix them all together.

Your peppers should be steamed by now.  Pull your first victim out and begin to pull the skin away from the pepper.

Slice the pepper open down the center and across the top.  Be gentle, it’s the peppers first time.

Scoop the seeds out of the center, leaving some if you want to burn your dinner partner’s mouth (not that I did…).

Once you have defiled all 4 peppers, begin stuffing them.  I divided my filling into four (scoring it in the bowl) and picked up the filling with my hand and formed it to fit into the pepper.

When you stuff the peppers, it’s easiest to place the filling in the middle and carefully fold the sides of the pepper over the filling.

Once all your peppers have been stuffed, assemble your breading station.  Whisk your eggs in a bowl and pour the panko onto a shallow plate.

Dip each pepper in your egg wash and then cover in panko.

Finish your peppers and place on an oiled baking pan.  I always cover mine with tin foil as well because I’m lazy when it comes to clean up.

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, or until the insides start to creep out.

Enjoy with Sour Cream and Salsa.

The best thing about this dish is that it looks (and sounds) harder than it actually is.

Enjoy!!

BEHIND THE SCENES:

Ugly creepy pepper that I fed to Dan.

Why even bother asking her for help?

Run Run Run as Fast as You Can

I started running, for fun, about 2.5  years ago.

Sweaty!

My main motivation behind beginning to run was to lose weight.  I had some lbs. to shed, and since running guaranteed maximum calorie burn, I was eager to begin.  I started slowly, just running until I felt tired, then turning around and running home.  Each run, I tried to challenge myself a little more.  Try to run a little faster, a little farther, try not to think about how much my lungs burned.  In the beginning I ran about 1.5-2 miles 4 times per week.  I looked forward to my runs because I felt that each time I went out there, even if it was just one step further or one second faster, I was improving.   As the pounds began to melt away, I realized that running gave me so much that tone legs and a whittled midsection.  So much to look forward to–a chance to make goals and achieve them, a new body I loved, and time to myself to clear my mind.  I wasn’t particularly fast, but none of that mattered.  Running was a solo sport that provided me with more than I ever could have imagined.

It was also a cheap sport, initially.  I needed sneakers and a sports bra, the rest I had laying around.  I didn’t have fancy gadgets, just me and the trails.  I found myself while my feet hit the gravel, my breath giving my stride rhythm, my head and heart clear and open.

I entered a race about 2 months after I started running, a local 5K.  Dan came and cheered me on, where I pushed myself farther and faster than I ever had before.  Something inside me knew I could do better, knew that I could run a little faster next time and so I decided to race a little more.  Just one or two here or there, challenging myself to go farther and faster, beaming each time I crossed the finish line.  Since I ran smaller races (or maybe I was faster than I give myself credit for), I was able to place first in my age group in both a 5K and 10K, and I was proud that I had committed myself to something that I challenged myself to get better at every single day.

I started to read about mile splits, subscribe to magazines devoted to running, talk about what sort of sport beans I preferred for my long runs, and purchased a Garmin so I could accurately measure my speed and distance.  I committed myself to everything running.  I checked blogs before I went to work and stared at pace calculators until my eyes got blurry.

In short, I became a slave to what I had once loved.  I began to dread my long runs, longing to just run with no pace in mind, no mileage that I had to achieve.  Still, I carried on, signing up for a half marathon with my sister.  I felt that I had to run a half.  It’s weird to write that, because no one ever told me that.  No one said “Hey Marcella, you’d be a real runner if you ran further.”   Yet there I was, with a watch that measured each stride, beating myself up if I wasn’t fast enough or efficient enough.  It was a love hate relationship that left me feeling empty inside.

I had no idea what I was doing, or why I was doing it.  I felt a sickening competition every time I read about running.  I felt like I would never live up to the marathon/triathalon/long run training I read about on runners blogs.  I envied their ice baths after 20 milers, but had no idea why.  I was obsessed and consumed with a desire to be someone I was not.

I persevered though, training for my half through a cold and dreary New Jersey winter.  I was proud that I stuck to training, and enjoyed most of my runs, but something about them felt so…empty.  I don’t know if it was the miles I didn’t like, or if I just felt like no matter what I ran, I would never be good enough.  It wasn’t one thing or another, but my heart was no longer with me.  I couldn’t find my joy.

After months of training, Sara and I ran our half together

and I vowed to never run again.

The race was everything my training and moods had predicted.  I cried, tried to quit several times, and ran with absolutely no ambition.  I wasn’t running for myself, I was running to fulfill some sort of vision of myself that didn’t have to exist, I just didn’t know it at the time.

After the race, I took a break.  I needed to “recover”, and recover I did.  Days turned into weeks into months as I let my body and spirit go soft.  Each time I wanted to run, felt the itch or urge, so many things held me back.  I was mainly afraid to fail.  I was afraid I wouldn’t have any of my stamina (an accurate belief) and I would feel the same things I felt during my race and training runs.  That no matter what I did, how fast I ran, how far I ran, I would never be a real runner.

As time went on, and the endorphins stopped flowing, I found myself slipping into a depression I had managed to control for many years.  My anxiety reared it’s ugly head but I just couldn’t get past my own mental battle.

It’s been some time since I regularly committed to running.  Since I woke up early, rubbed my eyes, splashed water on my face, brushed my teeth and stumbled out the door, waking up in my early miles, drinking in the cool crisp air and stillness of a morning untouched by anyone else.  The pride I would feel having logged miles before many people had their first cup of coffee.  It launched me into and through the day, that feeling, and touched every aspect of my life.

Yesterday morning, as I walked to grab coffee and eggs, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia.  The smell, the stillness, the ever so slight chill in the air with the promise of a sunny clear day still to be had.

So this morning, for the first time in too long, I slipped out of bed, rubbed my eyes, splashed water on my face and brushed my teeth.  I clumsily laced up my sneakers and found some running clothes that (thankfully) still fit, and hit the streets of town alone.

It wasn’t pretty.  It was huffy and puffy.  My legs strained and parts of me that never used to jiggle made themselves known.  I don’t know how far I went, or how fast, but for now that’s probably best.

I commend and envy people who train, challenge themselves, run half and full marathons, complete in triathalons and ironmans.  I think they are AMAZING.

But I’m not them.

And that’s ok.