Monday, December 28, 2009

A Side of Confidence

This Christmas my thoughtful brother George and his thoughtful (and shrinking!) wife Sue gave me some new workout clothes. Let me tell you, nothing gets me motivated quite like shiny new sportswear. Typically I'm the girl at the gym with the oversized sweaty black tee and pants intentionally purchased a size too large, but this new ensemble forced me to show myself off today. I'm not perfect... but is anyone really? I think I looked pretty OK for a girl who used to weigh almost 300 lbs. It was nice to look in the mirror (especially after Christmas!) and actually feel good about what I saw. I had a little extra pep in my step on the elliptical. Surely I had to burn one or two extra calories for exuding self-confidence.

Here's hoping everyone is having a safe, happy, and healthy holiday! I plan on really trying to keep up with this blog in 2010. Until then..!

Friday, December 11, 2009

2009, in photos and words

I reflect on 2009 as one of my favorite years to date. It was my first full year at goal weight and I can truly see how my life has been transformed by my weightloss. However, I want to focus on things that happened outside of that part of me, so here's a brief visual summary of my adventures.

the aftermath

2009 was a clean slate. No joke. I worked on wiping it clean all throughout December and somehow emerged a new person once the clock struck midnight. I was uncertain but optimistic about what this year would bring. I spent the month learning be alone and looking inward so I could move forward. I did.

conversation hearts

A month of firsts. Josh and I went on our first date at the end of January and by Valentine's Day we decided to we'd call each other boyfriend and girlfriend. After spending January convincing myself I needed this time alone I was completely caught off-guard by Josh. Everything felt right immediately. This really was a magical month.

good afternoon

I think that March is when my love affair with Philadelphia began. I got called to Jury Duty this month and was picked for a trial that lasted a week and a half. I woke up early in the mornings and waited for the El to take me to City Hall. I wandered Reading Terminal and discovered new things about the city on my lunch breaks. After this experience, I felt totally ready to explore on my own.

new bike!

I purchased my bike this month and got up the courage to ride it in the city. It was a triumph of sorts, as I was positive I'd be too nervous to actually do it. I'll never forget the feeling I got when zooming past cars sitting in traffic while I test rode my Huffy (later dubbed "Betty").

year two // day 228

Picnics and craft fairs. Getting lost and found in the city. Farmers' markets. Sunshine. May was quite a lovely month. I feel I really capitalized on the city's offerings and got to see a lot more of it up close and personal because of my new bicycle. Also: Josh and I went to see Animal Collective together, which was so very fantastic. I had purchased the tickets back in January before we had met in hopes I'd have someone to go with me.

road conditions

Hot, uncomfortable June. I refused to install an air conditioner because I was rarely home. With Josh on summer vacation, most of my time was spent at his apartment (which has central air). I dealt with a lot of stress this month with Rosemary my cat. The uncertainty of where I'd be living after my lease was up in combination with some money struggles made for a taxing month.


There were lots of summery things involved in July. I was happy again, having figured out my moving plans so I enjoyed the month. We spent the fourth in my hometown and then I went on a family vacation to Myrtle Beach at the end of the month. Mom, Dad and I went parasailing at the beach, which is something I'd never dream of doing at my heaviest. I ran on the beach with my brother and took a bike ride when I needed some alone time. By this point in the year I had realized I needed "me" time to be happy. This is something I didn't have much of in 2008, and in 2009 it became so very precious. My beach trip with the first half of my two week vacation extravaganza, which continued in August.

year two // day 299

The latter half of my vacation was, of course, Portland. It was my first flight (more firsts!) and first trip with Josh. It was the sort of trip that changes your perspective on things a bit. My favorite part was the nature. This particular photo, however, was taken on our stop at Skidmore Bluffs where we watched the sun set over the train yards and Willamette River. Again, I challenged myself to do and try things I've never done before. Upon my return to Philly, I moved into my new apartment. I feel like this is really where the slate was clean from 2008. I was so happy with my new life and ready for more new things to experience.

Jessica & Geoff // 013

My entire family spent September waiting anxiously for the arrival of our new family member, who decided to bless us with his presence on September 27th. His name is Harrison Wayne and he was the complete star of the year for the Rittenhouse clan. We all love him so much.

let's go away for awhile

I happily turned 24 this month and found much to be thankful for since my 23rd birthday. I celebrated with so many new friends that are all wonderful. Freelance picked up this month and it flew by so fast. I cherished my downtime, but was glad to have something so productive to keep me occupied.

philadelphia tweed ride // 017

Philly Tweed Ride was a highlight of the month. It's something I would never have joined in on a year previous. I swapped the tweed for a big red bridesmaid gown for my cousin's wedding in the middle of the month. It was sort of surreal to see my childhood best friend all grown up and saying her vows. Seeing my brother as such a great father has also been eye-opening as to how mature we've all become. The month ended with a bang, as we had an unconventional Thanksgiving involving an ER visit and some supermarket take out. I think all in all, it made me appreciate my family even more.

mini ornaments for a mini tree

We're not very far into the month and I can tell already it's going to be busy. I'm not sure how to define it yet. We'll see how the holidays go. I've been very reflective and happy with how this year's turned out. It's safe to say it's one of the best. I feel so lucky and loved and optimistic for 2010.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Comfort Food and Part-Time Vegetarianism

what's for dinner? // vegan chili over polenta

'Tis the season for sharing home-cooked meals! After Thanksgiving weekend's indulgences, including turkey, I decided to cook up some vegan chili to share with my boyfriend on Top Chef night (Go Kevin!).

I threw together some chili and opted to serve it on top of polenta. I never really thought to do this with chili, as it's always been a bit of a standalone meal for me. The addition, however. added another dimension of texture and flavor to the meal. Being nutrient-dense, comforting, and quick I suggest this meal after a long, cold day.

1 onion, diced
2 T olive oil
2 t chili powder
1 t salt
15 oz can of diced tomatoes
15 oz can of kidney beans, drained
15 oz cooked lentils
1 c corn
1/2 c vegetable stock
1 c diced cilantro

In a large lidded pot, saute onion in olive oil until soft. Add salt and chili powder and cook for an additional minute. Add tomatoes, kidney beans, lentils and corn and let simmer until hot (about ten minutes). Add vegetable stock as needed if it's too thick for your liking. Stir in cilantro and serve over prepared polenta.

I ate leftovers for lunch the next day and it was even better so make sure you save some!

Sidenote: On the subject of vegetarianism—or, in my case, pescetarianism—I've fallen of the wagon. I still do not consume any beef products, but have slowly been re-introducing other meat into my diet when dining out or eating with family. I still cook vegetarian at home and would say that I eat a vegetarian diet about 90% of the time, but am no longer restricting myself from the occasional slice of bacon here or Thanksgiving turkey there. I lost all of my weight while consuming lean meats regularly, so don't think this will affect my maintenance. It might even be a good thing as it'll add a little more protein and perhaps prevent me for over-doing it on carbs. I don't feel like I need to justify my decision, but I do feel like I should make it known that I am no longer able to be labeled (which is a relief!).