Monday, June 28, 2010


I learned about Notes From The Universe from Medicinal Marzipan (whose blog should be bookmarked by all!) and have been delighted at the little messages I receive in my inbox, usually upon waking. They've been forcing me to be mindful right out the gate. I'm a fan of fortune cookies and the occasional horoscope, but something about these emails seems infinitely more useful and insightful into my every day life than the typical novelties.

Today's note:
Believe it or not, Jenelle, of all the types of happy, "yeehaa!" and "whoohooo!" that exist, the greatest are those derived from truly helping others.

Especially when you help yourself along the way by choosing approaches that tickle you. It most certainly won't hurt if you have fun, crank up the music, shake-shake-shake, and scarf a new healthy body while you're at it. In fact, maybe we could use your healthy body as we help others....

The Universe

Today's note reminded me stop taking myself so seriously all the time. I can be goofy, but in recent weeks and months have seen that part of myself being overshadowed by the Jenelle who talks ad nauseum about her problems and various discontent. It's to the point where I feel like I'm picking out the negative aspects of most situations and discarding the things that would make me laugh under usual circumstances. Life is funny and beautiful and full of things to smile about. I need remember it.

To keep this on topic with my blog, I want to make mention that I'd like to use this approach towards how I exercise. I was complaining to my boyfriend yesterday of the "Sunday Blues" as I call them because weekends are usually so unpredictable, active, and joyful. Often, I feel like Monday begins a sequence routines. Planned meals, planned exercise, full days in a cubicle, straight to bed by eleven. Rinse, repeat. I tend to feel trapped in the cycle and lacking amusement. I think that in the future, I'd like to try taking some classes that push the usual limits of my schedule as well as my concept of exercise. Does anyone have any suggestions to shake-shake-shake things up?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Salmon Cakes

twentyten // 171 // salmon cakes

I've had a can of salmon in my cabinet for about three months. I've been in a bit of a cooking slump lately and attribute it to the ridiculously hot temperatures we've been dealing with in Philadelphia. On Monday, however, I decided to finally put the can of salmon to better use than just haphazardly throwing it on top of a salad. I found a ridiculously simple recipe for Salmon Cakes on epicurious (love this site and iPhone app) and played with it just a little bit. Here's what I came up with.

1 can (14.5 ounces) wild Alaskan salmon
1 1/2 scallions, chopped (divided)
1/4 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon olive oil
Handful of fresh basil, chopped

Drain salmon & put in bowl. I used the kind that contains some skin/bones, so I also made sure to pick out any visible/inedible bones. Stir in egg, 1 scallion, breadcrumbs, curry, and basil until thoroughly combined. Form 8 small patties. Heat oil in medium pan over medium heat. Cook patties until light brown (3-4 minutes), flip and cook about 2 minutes more. I served these over fresh spinach tossed in balsamic vinaigrette and sprinkled the rest of the scallions on top.

south carolina // 2010 // aaahh
Summer Vacation: Mom & I excited about the shark in the water about ten feet from us. Really!

And just a little fitness update:
I've been pretty consistent on exercise this week, making it to the gym every day since Monday and adding in some additional at-home workouts. I NEEDED this after getting back from my little family vacation (see above). I tried Harley Pasternak's 5-Factor Fitness workout on ExerciseTV, and am intrigued. I've gotten a bit burnt out on the Shred and have shelved it for the time being. Lately, I've just been having fun trying new things and trying not to make working out feel like a job. Warm weather also tends to encourage me to hop on my bike more often, and I've been enjoying that as always. I got a new bike in May and LOVE riding it. It handles really well in the city and goes a little faster than my old Huffy (which I've lovingly passed down to my mother).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Getting Real


Truth: I've been avoiding my blog. I've been putting my focus inward because I'm still trying to make peace with my body and these sorts of things are hard to talk about with loved ones let alone the whole internet. But I'm at a point where I feel like perhaps broadcasting my issues might help someone shed some light on issues of their own. My weight loss journey has bred some disordered eating habits in my life. As much as I'd like to tell you all that I reached my goal weight and life was perfect and yours can be too, it just didn't happen that way.

When I started eating less and moving more I was morbidly obese and I found calorie restriction to be something that could potentially save my life. Getting the weight off took little effort and went fast because I was determined not to trip up for fear of slipping back into old unhealthy patterns. That chapter ended two years ago. Since then I've been struggling with life after weight loss. Once I hit my first goal weight, it wasn't enough. Five more pounds. And once I lost that, ten more pounds. Reflecting on how I was treating my body at that time where my weight was plummeting below goal frightens me, to be honest. I was eating far too little and exercising far too often and hit a point where my body just stopped losing. I was hungry for praise and attention for my weight loss and once it stopped I didn't know who I was.

Eventually I decided to learn to love food again. That's about the time I started this blog. I was relatively comfortable around food. I put some of the weight back on and have hovered around goal for some time now, however on bad days, weeks, months, I'd revert back to bouts restricted calories/over-exercise. These bouts were always met by a subsequent binge. The kind of eating where you feel like you can never get enough or there will never be enough. The kind of eating you save for times when you're alone and no one can see you because you've believed that eating was "bad" for so long.

With the binge eating and slight re-gain has come a slew of other issues, body image being one. Despite losing all of that weight, I learned that happiness could not be found in size 8 jeans and I would not learn to love myself just because I didn't have to shop in the plus-size section. I still look in the mirror and pinpoint my flaws rather than my successes.

It's a lot to share, but I guess I just want to stress to others on their weight loss journey to be gentle with themselves, for the consequences of setting your expectations too high or resorting to extremes can lead to a lot of troubles way worse than a few extra pounds. Learn to love your body as it is NOW and health should be easy to achieve. So many shame themselves thin instead of focusing on nourishing and strengthening their bodies. Every day I am working towards fixing my relationship with my body, mind, and (of course) food.

On a lighter note, I feel like this past weekend I've made some significant progress. I took my first dance class yesterday. On a whim, I signed up for a crash course in Argentine Tango. It consists of two 4-hour sessions in which you learn the basic moves of the social dance. Because I still struggle with said body issues and leftover shyness from my obese days, the idea of dancing with strangers had my stomach in knots. This first class took me way out of my comfort zone. Around the second hour I was about ready to give up, but I pushed through my discomfort and at one point a switch went off in my head. I can't explain how connected I felt to my body. There was a new awareness of my arms, my chest and my legs as the music echoed through the studio room. When following, we were encouraged to close our eyes as our partners led us around the dance floor. Once I let go, it felt kind of like I was gliding around. Weightless, even.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Thoughts on Living Large & Feeling Small

Ganoga Falls @ Ricketts Glen State Park:
ricketts glen // at the edge

These past few weeks have been confusing for me, however as I stood next to a 94 foot waterfall near my hometown last Saturday I had a moment of clarity. I felt small for the first time in weeks. Maybe months. I felt small in size. I felt small in ratio to the nature surrounding me. My problems felt small, too. I just breathed the misty air, listened to the water rushing over the edge, and let everything go.

Last time I checked in here, I was busy. I was eating more, but over-analyzing how much I ate and how much I exercised. All the math and charts on calories in, calories out, grams of this, percents of that were starting to drive my productivity throughout the day down and my stress level up. It all felt very unnatural to me so I decided it's time to just stop for a while. I don't want to plan every morsel and fret over every bite any more. I started reading Geneen Roth's When Food Is Love, which has inspired me to give intuitive eating a try. Eat when you're hungry, don't eat when you're not. I'm trying to pay more attention to what my body is telling me than to what the food scale is telling me and so far it's helped me really appreciate the food I'm eating.

I'm doing a little spring cleaning from the inside out. Intuitive eating is one part of it. The other part is self-love, which I've discussed a bit here. Body image is something that most women struggle with, and I am no exception. I've made a promise to myself not to pick on my reflection from here on out and have been practicing positive affirmations. It's freeing to feel like I'm starting to accept and love the body that I have rather than pine for the body that I want.

Healthy Happy Hiking.

I want to stop trying to perfect my life and start living it as is. All the kinks and wrinkles will smooth themselves out in time - there's no sense in letting the moment pass while worrying about what's to come. Challenging myself physically, nurturing my body, kindling my creativity, connecting with nature and sharing the love that I have to offer are my priorities.

Our hike through Ricketts Glen reminded me of all the places I'd like to travel to and terrains I'd like to conquer. At 24 years old, I can't help but think about all the adventures ahead of me. I find nature so humbling. For example, the waterfall is magnificent, beautiful, and strong and it doesn't even have to try. It just is. I guess in many ways I'd like to be just like that 94 foot waterfall.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Balancing Act

Please hire me!

Business is picking up for me. For those of you unaware of my occupation, I am a graphic designer. I have a full time design job in New Jersey by day and by night I try to do as much freelance as possible. When the latter business is slow, I find it relatively easy to make time for exercise and cooking. When it's not slow (which is ideal), fitting it all in without going mad is a struggle.

Somehow, exercise so far this month has included:

Tuesday, March 2: Arc Trainer (30 min) + No More Trouble Zones (30 min)
Wednesday, March 3: Arc Trainer (30 min) + Yoga Meltdown (35 min) + Back 2 Bollywood (30 min)
Thursday, March 4: Arc Trainer (30 min) + The Shred (25 min)
Friday, March 5: The Shred (25 min) + Brisk Walk (45 min)
Saturday: REST
Sunday, March 7: Bicycling as transportation (15 minutes) + The Shred (25 min)
Monday, March 8 : Arc Trainer (30 min) + No More Trouble Zones (55 min)
Tuesday, March 9: Banish Fat Boost Metabolism (55 min)
Wednesday, March 10: Arc Trainer (30 min)
Thursday, March 11: The Shred (25 min) + Stationary Bike (30 min)
Friday, March 12: Arc Trainer (30 min) + Hip Hop Cardio (20 min)
Saturday, March 13: REST
Sunday, March 14: REST
Monday, March 15: Arc Trainer (30 min) + The Shred (25 min)
Tuesday, March 16: The Shred (25 min) + Brisk Walk (40 min)

Looking at that recap, I feel pretty good. It looks like most days I get almost an hour of activity in. I'm not sure HOW, since I feel as though I've constantly been behind a computer screen lately.

However, this past week I've had some pain in my right knee as well as my left ankle. It's quite discouraging and I don't want to stop being active. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I can do that won't put further stress on these areas? I'm feeling like The Shred might be the culprit, though I'm going to switch from the Arc Trainer to the elliptical for a week and see if less impact helps.

Evidence of upping my calories. Meal courtesy of the gentleman.
Disclaimer: This is not my typical breakfast!

I've upped my calories substantially to balance with the exercise and feel like my energy level has improved, so all is well on that front. I'm not weighing myself at the moment to prevent discouragement. I'm eating healthy and feeling good and realize that this is all that matters. Since I started eating more substantial, well-balanced and satisfying meals I've noticed my post-work kitchen raid for snacks has subsided. I'm also a lot nicer to everyone. That's a perk, right?

Reflecting, I feel like I'm doing an OK job at balancing everything out between work and wellness. I need to work on fitting my social life in there, as I've been pretty impossible to hang out with lately. How do you find a balance between everything?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Recipe: Whole Wheat Blueberry Banana Muffins

whole wheat blueberry banana muffins

I bake a lot for others but for the first time in a very long while I baked something for me to keep in my apartment. I didn't want to go grocery shopping for more food (it's a Sunday ritual of mine - why rock the boat?), and since I have upped my calories a bit I needed some more portable snacks for work. I decided to journey onto dangerous territory and try my hand at self-control. Like Diane at Fit to the Finish recently posted, I too have had struggles with having "just one" of something I bake. Does anyone else have problems with this?

I successfully kept myself in check, only eating one right after they cooled a bit. I attribute this to the fact that I'm eating more throughout the day. I don't think I have felt the need to stuff myself these past few days because I'm not constantly hungry.

But less about me and more about these muffins! Mark Bittman did a write up a while back on how to make whole wheat muffins more palatable without adding a ton of white sugar. His secrets are a.) use whole wheat pastry flour because it yields lighter results, b.) use a cup of pureed or mashed fruit/vegetable (I opted for banana as I always have some extra ripe ones in my freezer) and c.) don't over mix!

I decided to take his tips and work with them to make the following:

Whole Wheat Blueberry Banana Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 mashed ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup frozen blueberries tossed in a few pinches of flour

  1. Preheat oven to 400° and place 12 paper baking cups in muffin pan. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and cinnamon in a large bowl.

  2. Mix beaten egg, brown sugar, greek yogurt, oil, banana and vanilla in a separate bowl. I used a hand-mixer here to make sure it was really well combined. Add to flour mixture, stirring until just combined. It is important not to over-stir. Lightly fold in blueberries and divide batter among muffin cups.

  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned and toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Benefits of Chopsticks and Other Realizations

I'm still waiting for life to settle down. I thought last week would be calm, but I thought wrong. Threats of snow storms and traveling from here to there have kept me busy. Because of this, my dinners have not been glamorous. I am the type of person who will throw random things in pots and pans and eat whatever comes out of it as long as it's warm and satisfying.

My go-to this week has been veggie stir fry.

diet tip #302859879
I tend to eat dinner with chopsticks because it forces me to eat slower and, therefore, more mindfully. I almost never finish everything in the bowl when eating with them mostly because I can't get at all the little bits in the bottom!

All I do is fire up my non-stick skillet, heat up some oil, throw in some chopped veggies (carrots, broccoli, green beans, edamame and mushrooms in this case) and vegetable stock and let it all cook. I then add a few drizzles of soy sauce and sesame oil, serve it over some brown rice and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top. This particular night I also added in a scrambled egg for protein. I rely a lot on those, but have decided to start cooking more meat at home. I'm taking baby steps back into this and bought a fillet of salmon that I'll experiment with this week. I was eying up the organic chicken last night at the grocery store but I'm going to see how the salmon goes first.

This past weekend was pretty interesting. I was able to work out with my mom for the first time maybe ever. We did Jillian Michaels' Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism workout in its entirety and we were laughing almost the entire time. The next morning we were also able to do Level 1 of The Shred. It's really amazing to see my mom, at 51-years-old, so fit and able to keep up with these DVDs. I can only hope to be as in shape as she is at her age. She was giving me a run for my money during some of the exercises.

twentyten // 057 // not your mother's workout
Mom During Cool Down

There was also a downside to my weekend and the past week in general. Though I've been successfully strict with my activity levels, I have been lax on eating again. For a while I was eating around 1200 calories/day, but I don't think it is sustainable and began going overboard on anything I could get my hands on at home (especially carbohydrates). I'd come home from work and lose control before I even ate dinner. To prevent this from continuing to happen, I've decided to cut myself some slack and be more realistic with my diet, bumping my calorie-intake up to about 1400/day.

At the end of the day, I need to remember that I'm not trying to lose weight - I'm trying to get fit. And if I'm not fueling my body correctly, there's no way it's going to be able to keep up.