Saturday, January 30, 2010

28 days of vegan: Day 6

Yesterday was my first "junkie" day of veganism. (Veganism? Is that right?)

I ate a LOT of vegan snacks that were left out after the Grocery team meeting (I work in a natural food store, for the 3 of you out there who don't KNOW me-know me). And I ate a few pieces of dark chocolate that might have contained small amounts of milk. That's what I attributed the digestive "upset" that occured later to, anyway.

Dinner was a fantastic portobello mushroom burger and sweet potato fries. So good I didn't even miss the cheese.

About cheese... that's the one thing (besides bacon) that I always think I could never give up. I am not alone in that feeling. People LOVE cheese.

(very NSFW and pretty over-the-top, but if you like Sarah Silverman, check out how much she LOVES her Baby Bel cheeses)

Turns out, just like every other love, this one's mostly chemical.

Cheese contains pretty decent doses of tryptophan, which, when combined with a carbohydrate (grilled cheese sammy, anyone?) crosses the blood brain barrier and turns into --drumroll--


...nature's feel good chemical. This is what Paxil and Prozac and all the rest do for us: they keep our serotonin levels high.

Does this mean I will be sadder and moodier (than normal) for the month? Probably not, for two reasons. One, I have tryptophan at home just in case. It's an over the counter supplement, and can help with mood and sleep. But the second reason is that most beans, soy, and nuts (including natural peanut butter) contain even higher levels of tryptophan.

That doesn't mean I won't miss cheese, but knowing a little more about WHY I miss it helps. And knowing that a good bowl of red beans and rice can be just as comforting, if I give it a chance, also helps.

I am still feeling a bit bloated and visually, I feel... flabbier. But my clothes all fit the same, so I am not sure exactly what I'm seeing. It could also be that I haven't gone running or to the gym in two weeks, and guilt is getting the best of me. I am going to remedy that tomorrow morning at some Bikram yoga, I hope.

Friday, January 29, 2010

28 days of vegan: day 5

Owing to an omission in the recipe, last night's "meatloaf" was pretty weird. It was too soft, sort if a fake meat flavored oatmeal... But after chilling overnight, today's leftovers are much better.

I only got a couple hours of sleep, so I'm pretty beat. But still feeling good...!

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day four

I feel great.
Started the day with blueberry and pecan pancakes. Without eggs or milk they are very different than other pancakes...

No fork needed!

Crispy! And with peanut butter, they are also pretty decadent.

Last night I wanted meat. It's totally just my crazy pants, since I haven't been meatless long enough to physically crave it. But I am the queen of gratification, preferably immediate... It only takes putting something on the no-no list for me to want it.

So, I made a "chicken" seitan stirfry and tried to sate my craving with two desserts, one before dinner (fantastically rich rice dream sandwich dipped in chocolate) and one after (lemon sorbet with warmed blackberries and their juice). All that sugar is surely not ideal for my weightloss goals, but mentally it helped.

In fibery news, I felted down a gap XL sweater from way back. It's now about a medium and fits great!

I will be trying out the Vine Yoke cardigan with my Austin girls starting on Feb 4th. There were many, many suggestions and tips on Ravelry. So glad I checked! But first, I need to hustle on the hat and some arm warmers for an old friend!

In writery news, I am scrambling to finish an essay by Sunday for a writing contest. My vegan notes will be much sparser for the rest of the week...

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

28 days of Vegan: day3

I had a headache for much of yesterday. Luckily, I know detox symptoms when I feel them, so I rode it out and it is 90% gone today.

Beans, rice, and avocados last night was delish, as was the tofu-berry mousse. My dining companion, Jeff, who is NOT vegan (but is a good sport) had seconds and thirds.

Today's coconut milk latte is not as good as the rich soy from yesterday.

My body is a bit bloated from all the fiber, but I still feel lighter somehow...

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 2...

Starting weight: 147
Starting BMI: 25.6 ("overweight")

Soy lattes? Delightful.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

E 2 vegan experiment: Day 1 (now with more knitting!)

So far so good.

My breakfast cereal was remarkably complex (4 different types of cereal, 3 fruits, some add-ins and almond milk) but also quite tasty. I wouldn't have imagined EVER that grapefruit and kiwi over cereal could be good. How is it good? It's crazy pants.

I also made up two lunches and two dinners worth of meals, it took about an hour. There was very little vegetable chopping, which is sort of my healthy eating nemesis--which is why I think it went so fast.

At first I wasn't really sure that this could work for weight loss, but since the E2 diet doesn't allow any added fats (no oils that don't occur in a whole food like nuts or avocados) and at least today's carb load is all very complex--I will now admit it isn't totally impossible. I do wish he would include the calories for the recipes, but I am going to trust him on this.

If you want to join me or try the diet, you can get the book here:

And join the website for free here:
The Engine 2 Academy

I forgot to get a starting weight today before my ginormous cereal bowl, so I will do that tomorrow.

In knitting news, I will be knitting along on a sweater project with my girls in Austin in a couple of weeks, so I am trying to finish up a couple of gifts. Here's the first one in progress...

I hope she likes it...!
Who's hat, half-way done!

Just a basic hat pattern using a Paton's blend for ease of upkeep for my friend Sara (whose nickname in high school was "The Who"). The flashing is pretty distinct, I hope she likes it!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

ISO: skinnier butt

I have been working on getting in shape and eating better for a couple of years now. So far, I'm down a little over 50 pounds from my starting weight, down about 12 beats per minute on my resting heart rate, and my BMI has dropped from nearly 34 to almost 25. I have also finished 3 half marathons. And I fit into a size 8 for the first time in my life. I'm close.

I have been hovering around my current weight and size for months and months now. Down five, then back up; rinse and repeat. Living with my parents has been really difficult, as they are junk and comfort food junkies. All the stuff that got me to nearly 200 lbs is around every day--cookies, chips, steak and mashed potatoes, cheese and bread. Plus my new 40 work week and 45 minute round trip commute means that I have less time to work out than ever.

I'm in a rut.

So I am going to try to jostle myself out of it by going vegan for one month. One month is doable, right? For a bacon and cheddar loving girl, it might be a bit hairy, but lately getting out of my comfort zones has done wonders.

I would welcome any of your feedback on either getting off of a plateau or persevering in the face of calorie-laden tasty, tasty adversity. Anyone out there doing it? Any of y'all vegan? Do you miss shrimp and brie?

Thursday, January 21, 2010


It's raining in the desert! Today is the kind of day for flannel pajamas, hot tea, knitting, and classic movies.

Unfortunately, I am at work. I am trying to think good thoughts about that, but the rain!

The race recovery was swift and complete, I am working on two writing contests, and daydreaming about where I will be and what I will be doing next year.

There is a hat I absolutely need to knit, but where is the time? And who can knit a hat, when such dreamy socks are sitting around waiting to be finished?

Post-shopping-bliss bliss

Monday, January 18, 2010

PF Chang's Rock n Roll Half Marathon race report

PROLOGUE: I don't run for the solitude. It is true that some mornings (when I can drag myself out when it is still actually morning) are lovely, especially in Austin on the Town Lake trail, with the sun rising and the crispness in the air that wasn't yet full of everyone else's breathing and thinking and doing. Some mornings, the music is just right to complement the quiet. Mostly, though, running is a way for me to socialize actively. In Austin, my running team, the fantastic Huevos Rancheros, and my running group coaches were my inspiration and encouragement. They were great rabbits to chase on the training runs and wonderful friends to talk with on the sometimes grueling long runs.

When I got to the Phoenix in July, I talked my little sister into training with me for this race (she lasted up until the 7 mile run before all but bailing completely because of her too busy life and some thorny personal issues) and then some coworkers (none of them were ever able to make a long run or the first few quality workouts I bothered to organize). It was a frustrating process, hoping for people to volunteer the same level of excitement for the ridiculousness of running great distances for a chunk of metal on a ribbon.

Eventually, the work team dwindled to five other folks who were serious. We baked cookies, begged for items to raffle, and even collected spare change to raise money for everyone's entry fees. Just before we registered, the five became four.

It was still a team, and our store bought us shirts.

Fueled by whole foods!
Fueled by Whole Foods

On race day, two of the four showed up for the meet-up. One called out sick, the other apparently showed up and ran on his own.

Team WFM ready to rock n roll
Peter, Sam, and I pose pre-race

Peter and Sam ran and finished their first half marathons and I am so glad. They seemed to have fun, and I hope they feel the same sense of accomplishment I always do when I cross under that banner.

My attempts to build a team were less than successful, and I can't help but feel disappointed. Race day, and the race itself, however, were awesome--so I want to start there.

PF Chang's moderately cultural abomination of a mascot

Just three weeks before the race, my friend Jeff decided he might want to run it. We had been running a few times, a 5k, a 6 1/2 miler, and finally a mighty 10 miler. The last two were his longest runs ever and I felt that if we went slow, he would be able to finish come race day. He signed up, and on Sunday morning I headed to his house.

The PF Chang's Half Marathon is a one way, mostly flat route from downtown Phoenix to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. We left Jeff's house downtown at 6am and headed to Tempe to park at the finish line and shuttle up to the start.

Team Awesome, ready to crush it
Team AWESOME ready to rrrrrumble

I am notoriously late for everything except planes and races--yes, there are exceptions to every rule, but generally speaking. The half and full marathons each had separate start times and gates, we were supposed to start at 8:30. While six seemed crazy early, it gave us enough time to park with tens of thousands of other runners, board a shuttle without too much wait time, and arrive at the start village with no rushing. The two other WFM team mates showed up around 8 and we chatted for a bit before lining up in our corrals.

Chang's race also had a new (to me) corral system, based on your projected finish time, that allowed for a less crushing start. It also meant that way back in corral 19 it was after 9am before Jeff, Sam, and I crossed the start line, right underneath John McCain's encouraging words. I guess if he had won, he might have been at the Full marathon start line?

John McCain cheers us at the start line, srsly
John McCain, pointing like Uncle Sam. WE CAN DO IT!

Biggest drag at the start? No "Eye of the Tiger." We did hear the theme from Rocky and some Lady Gaga, but I attribute later sluggishness to the lack of this key component.

Biggest fun at the start? Jeff and Sam getting respectively queasier and amped to cross the start line.

And finally we were off! The first two miles are always tough for me, warming up and getting into my pace takes time. As usual, I forgot to set my stopwatch, but unlike the last race, I remembered in less than a minute after the start.

Sam took off before long, and Jeff and I settled into just under a 12 minute mile pace. We were able to keep that up for the first five miles. The route was entertaining, with several local bands and area drill teams with themed cheer camps. One school had pirates, another cave-girls. Some had fashioned mini-arches to run under--we hit as many of them as we could. Jeff was a great running buddy, as he cheered back at the random spectators with me and cracked jokes along the way. "'Official Photographer'? How about official guy in the way?"

Our race was spent mostly passing walkers and reading signs. One woman held up a sign that said "If it was easy, I'd do it!" and another, simlply "CRUSH IT"

My sister, who was unable to run the race, made a couple of signs and with her husband and two sons was supposed to be "somewhere" on the route. Our start was so late, I didn't expect them to still be out, but they were there just after the mile 7 marker. My sister had a sign that said "We <3 CDFB!" It was great to have a cheering squad!

Right after we saw Bree and the boys, we made a pit stop. I have never stopped en route, but today was glad I did. Rather than Gatorade, they were handing out something called Cytomax. It is much sweeter and delicious than Gatorade, but went right through me, just before mixing with my Gu to create some sort of painful rock in my stomach. Next time, I will stick to water. The stop probably added just under 10 minutes to our time.

It was a good thing there were bands and cheering kids, as the route itself was not very picturesque. We briefly tracked through a nice neighborhood, but most of the course was on Phoenix main streets lined with strip malls, pawn shops, and dollar stores.

In the last two races, I missed the mile 8 marker, and, it turns out, for the better. There is something really sucky about mile 8, primarily the 5 miles left to go. The stomach pain had been joined by some foot pain, mildly reminiscent of the first race and the plantar fasciitis. I was actually considering walking! Luckily, Jeff was the third quarter rabbit, and he kept us going. I really felt unprepared for this race, once I was out there.

The two of us kept up the encouraging words past the mile ten marker. This is usually where my second wind kicks in, but I was so beat. Not enough sleep, not enough speed or interval work--I was running on fumes.

Mile eleven marker was a key point. We were both so beat to hell: wincing, gasping... but goddamn it, finishing. The route wound through the desert-y out back of the sports center complex. The other runners around us were mostly quiet, struggling.

We pushed forward, toward the stadium, passing fewer walkers as the whole back of the pack wanted to finish strong. The last half mile seemed to take forever, with folks in medals heading towards us on the sidewalks, back to their cars. Finally, we were in sight of the arch! Jeff picked up speed from I don't know where, and I grabbed his hand and we sprinted across the finish line.

We did it! Sprinted the finish and everything!

Official chip time: 2:49:10

The first few moments after, we were both wobbly and queasy. We got our medals and beat a hasty retreat to the car for Indian buffet and banana split desserts.

At the beginning, I said this race was awesome. It was hard as hell, but for the first time, I had someone running with me and keeping me company the whole way. I consider this race, my slowest and least scenic, as my favorite so far.

Rawk n rollz, y'all!

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Hoodie for All Seasons

Ok, maybe not all seasons, but at least three of them. Here is the run-down on my sweet tweed hooded cardigan that I finished in early Fall. I have worn it quite a bit since then and am still in love.

New hoodie!

The sweater on Ravelry

Pattern: Basic Chic Hoodie by Bonne Marie Burns
Fiber: This crazy stuff called Four Seasons that I found online ages ago and haven't ever found since. It is a wool, angora, and nylon blend; it is dark chocolate brown with orange and tan tweed specks.
Modifications: The only real mod I made was on the hood. It was supposed to come to a point, but that's a little too elven for me. I did a simple tuck and hem at the point and it worked great.

Hoodie - hood detail

What I loved the least about this pattern: I love the speed and lack of seaming that a raglan affords, but the hood took about FOREVER. It seems so small in my mind's eye, but took as much time and yarn as a sleeve. The ribbing around the hood might be about two or three stitches to wide, and it tends to want to curl in, but otherwise no complaints.

Hoodie - button & raglan detail

What I loved the most about this pattern: Everything! Bonne Marie sure can write an easy-to-follow pattern! Lovelovelove the little knit-in pockets and I was stoked to find perfectly shaded buttons to match the tweed. I wear this sweater a lot.

New hoodie in the wild

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Running to stand still

On Sunday, I will be starting (and hopefully finishing!) my third half marathon.

I am dragging four coworkers and a friend along for the ride.

Wish us luck and stop back by for the race report!

(this is from my last race--a sunset 3.1 miles)

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Seven down

As of this afternoon, I have completed all seven of my grad school application. Letters of purpose and intent, entrance essays, CVs versus resumes... And manuscripts of what I think is my best writing--it's all in the wind now. There is nothing to but wait. (Well, wait and write and knit and run.) Think good thoughts.

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Saturday, January 09, 2010

O Sister, can you spare a Xanax? Or, There's not enough holy basil in the world to get me out of the anxiety cave today

In the fourth grade I hung around a small group of girls led by the two prettiest girls in my class, I'll call them the Heathers. While I was in the crowd with them, I was third-string on a good day. First, I was already overweight—not by much, but it didn't take much back then. Second, I liked weird things like holding the class python or the visiting tarantula, playing with my little ponies (we were too old by then), and listening to classic rock. Lame! Lame! Lame! They suffered me, I think, because I could draw and had good ideas for Projects. Collaborative collages, sing-a-longs, impromptu talent shows—I was the idea girl.

But I was never cool.

This manifested itself most often by exclusion from the cadre's network of informal “clubs” that would form and dissolve on a weekly or even daily basis. The Heathers would decide to wear their tiny little Levi's jean jackets one day, and suddenly there would be a Jean Jacket club. After begging and pleading, my mom begrudgingly bought me one. I proudly wore it to school only to learn that as an off-brand, it “didn't count.” They had a club for girls with purple clothes, but, it turns out, my thrift store sweatshirt was “old” purple. I mean, who knows if the right jacket or purple culottes even existed for those little girls hell-bent on excluding lest they be excluded? We were cutthroat, even at nine years old. I tried to affect a who-gives-a-shit attitude, but I never fooled anyone. I went home and shoved that loser coat into the furthest reaches of my closet and only wore it when my mother made me. She paid good money for it, after all. But I wouldn't wear it to school.

Ever since I can remember, my biggest fear has been mediocrity.* I just can't stand the thought of being third-string anything in my life anymore. I can do better than that.

While there were a lot of contributing factors to my lay-off, this is one of them: I had a nice responsible, normal job and I fought it tooth and nail once I lost interest in being excellent at it. I became a stubborn, rock-kicking, eye-rolling child at every turn because the title of best was out of my reach. I mean, I put it out of my reach, but let's not get mired in details. Ultimately, I was bored and boredom made me difficult. I deserved to get kicked out of the IT club. While this has given me the opportunity to right some wrong turns that I have made in my life (good), it has also exposed me to the possibility of grander and more public failures (badbadbad).

I found out today that I did not win an essay contest that I entered last fall, when all the boldest steps toward my new life were being made. I have a stack of no thank-yous and a list of other contests I haven't won, but this time the essay was all about my life changing process. I put together some thoughts on this last hard, weird, fun, and fucked-up year. And I wrote a good essay about it. But apparently, not a great one. And right now I am fighting every instinct to give up.

It's childish and unproductive, I know this, but I am really disappointed. Ever since I let strangers into my house in Austin and moved in with my parents it has been one rejection slip after another, and I would just like a SHRED of evidence in support of this crazy-ass notion. Just one thing that is good enough for the Heather Editors out there—is that too much to ask?

*My second biggest fear now is gaining back all the weight I've lost. NOTE: I am going to spare us all the self-deprecating rant about my fears being so self-centric, but know it's rattling around in the brain box with the rest of the misfit toys.

Monday, January 04, 2010

First Monday of the year

I would like to dislike Mondays less in the coming year. Starting with the next one.

I love that House rides a Repsol Honda like Nicky Hayden.

PS, the run went great. Highlights included city parakeet sitings, stopping for mango lemonade, and the post-run Thai dinner to end all dinners.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Ten for 2010

Today my friend Jeff and I will be running ten miles in honor of the new year.

It will be his first tenner, and my first in new shoes, so we will be taking it slow.

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Story of my life

I am always running late. It is a combination of poor estimating skills and lack of motivation. I mean who wants to rush through the morning just to arrive at *work*?

This morning I watched the sunrise from my morning walk. The soundtrack was provided by Bobby Bare Jr.

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Location:Phoenix, AZ

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year

It has been sort of a weird Fall.

Last year's resolutions didn't go as planned.

Technically, last year didn't go as planned, in a number of ways. And while we're at it, the year before didn't really follow the plan either. This probably says something about plans, best laid (or is it lain?) and otherwise.

This year I will also not make any real and sweeping resolutions. It doesn't seem to matter whether I declare them or not, it's the follow through part that makes it happen. So I will just leave it at this: I intend to do my best this year, in all aspects of my life.

Some things that I have done lately: I finished a cardi and never posted it, I have applied to 4 of the 7 grad schools that I have my eye on, I went on a pretty cool roadtrip to the Grand Canyon and then another one to Tucson and parts nearby. I was published in the Rio Review again (yay!) I entered some writing contests, but haven't won any of them yet (but there's always tomorrow).

As far as going forward, I have set for myself some writing and fitness goals for the near future, and this blog will play a bit part in all that. If anyone is still out there: Happy New Year and talk to you again soon.