Sunday, June 28, 2009


So I'm going to be brave and post this pic. I've done a lot of amateur modeling for friends over the years, mostly for fellow art students under tight deadlines. The first two pics were taken by music photographer Jeremy Saffer, a very good friend on mine who I've modeled for many times. The middle picture is actually from a set, which another photo of was published in some book overseas. The last pic was taken by another good friend of mine (who I've mentioned on this blog several times), Kelly Jensen. Decapitated because... I don't know the internet is creepy.

The first photo is from December of 2005. My diet consisted of meat, some fast food, and a lot of beer and whiskey. I went to the gym MAYBE twice a week, where I did a half hour of elliptical and some weights. I was finishing up my senior year of art school, and scarfing down cheese and hors d'oeuvres at openings and washing it all down with free booze. The second photo is from June 2007. I had started working out on a regular basis, and had been vegetarian since January. I was working out 3 to 4 times a week. 1 - 2 days were spent at Muay Thai classes, and a lot of these pics from this shoot show my legs covered in bruises from full-contact sparring. The other few days a week were spent doing a half an hour of intervals on the elliptical, and strength training. The third, taken Saturday, shows me the 6 days a week of working out triathlete in training.

1. Dec 2005 - Approx 135lb
2. Jun 2007 - Approx 120lb
3. Jun 2009 - 115lb

There's a huge difference between 1 and 2. Looking back on those pics I can't believe how heavy I look compared to now. 2 and 3 is harder to see, especially since I'm clothed (for once). The biggest difference is my thighs! They have toned up so much, and I'm so proud of my progress. Those legs have gone hundreds of miles and I've spent hours of strength training to tighten them up. It's also hard to tell, since my shirt is kind of unflattering, but my stomach is a lot more toned. My hips kind of look bigger in 3 but it's only because my stance is wider.

I can tell you that since 2007 I've definitely lost a lot of cellulite. I've been toning up the weight loss for a whole two years, and I still have a little ways to go. My butt went from badaonkadonk to flabby pancake, and after two years I'm finally okay with it. It could be a little fuller with muscle, but I think if I keep working at it, it will get there. I wanted to post this to show that toning up TAKES TIME. And it's slow but believe me, it's so worth it. I was wearing shorts on Sunday I used to wear all the time during the summer of 2007. They used to be totally filled with my thighs. Now they are ridiculously loose. I went from a size 8-9 pants, to now size 5, and even then sometimes the size 5 is a bit too big!

There is no magic pill, no easy way to get a toned body. It takes patience, time, strength training, watching your diet, cardio, motivation, and a lot of determination.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Here Comes the Pain Again

Here in the northeast we've had the wettest, soggiest, most depressing summer ever so far. It seems fitting that my insides have been just as miserable as the outdoors. Last night I had a horrific bout of pain that had me contemplating driving myself to the ER. I was scared and don't know exactly what happened, but it seems my gastritis flared up big time. I made it through the night somehow, and managed to do a quick workout this morning, even though I wasn't 100%. When I got to my desk at work, the pain came in waves throughout the morning and I left work late enough to have it count as a half day.

I'm pretty miserable right now, but it's been nice to rest up and cuddle with my beloved cat Björk. I haven't had much quality time with her with all the training I've been doing. I really don't know how tri-moms do it! I have so much respect for all the moms out there that train, I can hardly take care of myself and my cat let alone myself and tiny humans.

Thanks for the comments on my last entry! I got some great feedback about posting my simple recipes. I hope to do it more often. I have for you today two ridiculously easy ones. One quick and simple meal, and one snack.

Baked Potato with Steamed Broccoli and Carrots. This takes 15 minutes, and for me is my go-to comfort meal. People at work ask me all the time how I bake a potato in a microwave, which always strikes me as odd. My dad's been doing it forever and I never thought twice about it. Stab a potato a few times and wrap it up in a paper towel. Nuke it 4 min on each side. For the broccoli and carrots I use my rice cooker to steam them and it takes 10-12 min. Before I had a rice cooker I'd boil a bit of water, put a colander in the pot, and cover it with a lid. I use about 1Tbsp of Earth Balance margarine to add flavor and moisture to this meal, and sprinkle on salt and pepper, as well as a bit of onion and garlic powder onto the carrots and broccoli. This is one of those warm meals that fills me up without being fattening and leaves me satisfied every time.

Bananas with Almond Butter, Raisins and Agave Nectar. This is a snack I use to satisfy a sweet craving. To me it's like a homemade, healthy candy bar. Cut a banana in half, and then cut the two halves lengthwise. Spreading peanut butter or almond butter on a banana is a pain! I usually have to use my fingers to help spread it out. (By the way, Raw Almond Butter at Trader Joe's is FANTASTIC and cheap, $4 a jar! Thank you Kelly for telling me about this, I'm spreading the word! Haha, I'm so lame!) If you're into raisins, like I am, put a few on top. Over everything I add a drizzle of Agave Nectar. This is also a great post workout snack, I would advise against this as a pre workout snack, as the banana and raisins may upset the stomach when its jostled around.

For the past few weeks I've been using Buckeye Outdoors to really track my nutrition. If I went by the online caloric needs calculators I would need well over 2000 calories a day. It seems this is way too much for me. When I eat around 1800 a day I usually gain weight. So I've been keeping my intake to around 1500 -1800 max. Eating lots of raw fruits and veggies has helped me to reach my goal and feel full/satisfied for longer. Before work (usually the night before) I pack two 2 cup snack containers. One I fill with a fruit salad of pineapple, cherries and blueberries. The other I put in carrot sticks, celery and a little container with hummus. These have been great and I highly recommend putting together fresh veggie/fruit snacks like this for work.

Anyway, back to laying around in bed, watching The Office on Hulu, looking up recipes and snuggling with Ms.Björk.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Back to (Mostly) Raw

Last year in the summer time, due to the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, and my reading of the Thrive Diet, I was inspired to go raw. I did really well and actually didn't want to eat cookies and junk. I would look at a brownie, and instead of seeing yumminess I only saw a processed fat brick of sugar. Unfortunately I started having gastro-intestinal problems, and I had to go to a specialist. I was convinced I had a parasite. (Don't even bother asking why I thought that.) Anyway, I think all the problems were actually the result of red bell peppers. I was adding them to my daily salads, probably eating one whole pepper a day. As soon as I eliminated them from my diet and upped my probiotic intake, my symptoms vanished. Sadly, I love red bell peppers. It's a lame allergy to have, since they're in everything that seems healthy and yummy. They're in a lot of veggie burgers and mixed vegetable entrees. Since I wasn't sure what was causing it, I also went back to my regular diet and went back to drooling over brownies and cookies.

Last week, in a reverse of last year, I decided to go mostly raw again because of my stomach issues. I've been eating low acid foods for awhile now, and really paying attention to alkalizing and non-alkalizing foods. (Info here, hopefully this link works.) I have been eating more fruits and vegetables and I was finally like, hey I might as well go rawish again. I experienced the good benefits of a raw diet last year too, so it wasn't a complete loss. My skin indeed cleared up, just like they claim. I experienced those weird euphoric bouts of energy. Actually those crazy euphoric states made me realize how healthy eating raw is. If I eat a baked good, I feel the sugar rush, but it's more like my brain going haywire followed by a subsequent crash and feeling like crap. When I ate mostly raw I'd have these surges of energy out of nowhere that would last about 20 minutes and I would feel great. I'd say a sugar rush is a cloudy buzz, my mind doesn't exactly think well and I can hardly focus. During the raw food buzzes I would just feel happy and full of energy. It was weird, and I'm still skeptical of the whole thing, but I can't deny they happened a couple of times.

So what have I been eating? When I wake up I drink 2 - 3 pint glasses of water. I'm always dehydrated in the morning. Then I have my usual smoothie. I make it with either unsweetened soy milk or almond milk with Wyman's Frozen Blueberries, banana, fresh strawberries, Nutribiotic Brown Rice Protein and Acai juice. Lately I've been adding some romaine leaves, since my lettuce finally matured! Aw. Sometimes if I really want to treat myself, I open a can of coconut milk and pour some in. Oh man, it adds fat (good fat) but it is so delicious! To the left is actually a picture of a berry juice concoction. Water or coconut water instead of soy/almond milk. I also added frozen pineapple.

Sometimes I make a green smoothie/juice. Surprisingly I don't find these as enjoyable as the fruit ones. I picked up some kale at the Farmer's Market this weekend. This juice is kale, apple, banana and frozen pineapple. I'll admit it, I totally held my nose when I drank it. But I feel great after drinking it and have lots of energy. (Even though I just decided to skip spin class and continue writing this. Whoops.) I realized now that I probably would have enjoyed it more if I added some agave nectar. Sometimes sweet fruits alone aren't enough for the overpowering green taste. Adding a kale leaf to a fruit smoothie is great because you can't usually taste it.

For lunch I eat a giant salad. I pre-pack a tupperware container with mixed baby greens, walnuts and craisins. I usually bring an apple and strawberries to cut up before I eat my salad. Sometimes I add an avocado, again it adds fat, but it's healthy fat. I can't eat avocados every day like some raw foodists, they make me feel so heavy. Every now and then they are a great treat. My coworkers usually stop into the kitchen if they walk by and see me preparing my lunch. I bought cheap cutting boards from Ikea for work, and the kitchen has a few knives. Every time someone sees my salad they ooh and ahh over it. It's a salad! It's easy! Do it up!

This weekend I discovered the awesomeness of zucchini "pasta". I've seen so many raw recipes for vegetable pasta, and I was always curious to see how it tasted. I finally stopped wondering and did it. Simply peel a zucchini, and then once all the skin is off, continue to peel the zucchini into a bowl. Voila, you have zucchini pasta. For this one I added warmed portobello mushrooms. I fill a skillet with enough water to cover the bottom of the pan and add sliced mushrooms. I put the temp on low and add ground pepper and salt, sometimes onion and garlic powder too. This pasta also includes basil and parsley and green beans from my garden! And canned tomato, I hate dealing with tomatoes, so I keep canned unsalted diced tomatoes around.

Yesterday I made pesto from ridiculously aromatic basil from the farmer's market. I made enough for my roommate and I and it was fantastic. He said his mind was blown and he couldn't get over the fact that we were eating zucchini. Try it! You feel less bloated after eating it than pasta, and it's a lot less calories. We decided since pesto is so fattening, the only "healthy" way to eat it was with zucchini pasta.

Portobello roll-ups. I took romaine and basil from my garden, then warmed up some portobello and added a bit of rosemary. These were delicious. Great as an appetizer, or a light meal. If you don't dig wrapping up things with just lettuce, I really love Joseph's Lavash Bread. They're low calorie, soft and delicious. I've been using them to make cucumber wraps too. For those I spread a tablespoon of hummus onto a piece of lavash bread (half of a whole rectangle of lavash bread is one serving), add greens, thinly sliced cucumber, a slice of cheddar cheese and some salt and pepper. I have been eating the cucumber wraps as a break from a daily salad. The cheese isn't that healthy or raw, but it's delicious so whatever.

You know what else is delicious but isn't that healthy or raw? Strawberry shortcake. Hells yea! My roommate baked shortcake and whipped up cream he bought at the farmer's market. For the shortcakes he used strawberry yogurt, and I have to say they came out amazingly well. Like I said, I'm going mostly raw, or rawish. I've been trying to eat at least two raw meals a day and only adding non-raw elements. As long as my meal contains some sort of fruit or vegetable I'm happy.

I've stumbled upon a great blog called Choosing Raw. I love Gena's take on eating raw. She has a great relaxed and realistic approach to eating raw. It's hard to find a raw blog author out there that isn't a bit stuck up when it comes to not eating completely raw. Gena has an encouraging voice and great advice. It's the first raw blog I really enjoy and I've been reading her older entries too. She seems as fascinated as I am by nutrition, and is open to new findings and claims. I love that she's not about following one "raw guru's" advice completely without question. She wants people to find their own path to healthy eating, and I'm all for that too!

Since last year I've found a lot more raw focused sites and blogs out there. It's kind of exploded, and it's great! I'm definitely excited to learn more recipes and read more discussions about raw food, as I find it pretty fascinating. Again, sometimes I think I should have been a nutritionist. I was giving people in my triathlete group some snack ideas the other day. They were really interested in my thoughts on finding natural alternatives to satiate cravings. I was pretty excited by this and was happy to finally be able to give some advice instead of being the newbie always asking for help!

Ohhh. Here's an image if you dare. Friends have been asking me how bad my blisters really were. CLICK HERE but I'm warning you it's pretty gross! (Oh and kind of blurry.)

PS - Hey lurking friends, leave a comment! A lot of people tell me they read my blog but they never comment! You don't have to comment every time, but feel free to leave some love every now and then. It's nice to know I'm not talking to myself on the internets.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Catch Up and Triathlon Training Horrors

I have been remiss in my postings. So much has happened since my last post. Last week was a surprisingly good training week. I went into it not expecting much since the week before I hadn't done ANY biking. The rain has been practically daily, and well, I don't know what is going on. I look at my bike and I just DON'T want to ride it. I don't want to go anywhere. Maybe I'm just bored of the same local routes, maybe I'm still subconsciously defeated after the Bloomin' Fail. I have no idea. So I bought a trainer and have been going to spin classes.

Sure spin class isn't exactly an indoor training session, but it makes me push myself really hard. Last Tuesday was my first spin class in ages and by the end I was sweating so hard, my sweat was hitting the pedals and spraying me in the face. It was awesome! I felt so invigorated, all the negativity I've had about training washed away and onto the floor. Afterward I stretched for a long time in the sauna.

Wednesday brought an amazing swim class. The coach wasn't really prepared, usually they have a swim workout planned ahead of time. She grabbed post-its she had her favorite swim workouts on and we decided on one. All in all it was 2400 yards. I can't even remember it now, but I believe the main set was 50 yards x 24. 25y moderate, 25y fast. The girls in my lane and I were going insane by the 15th set. 24 of the same thing is insane, but we pushed ourselves and I didn't give up. My arms were killing me by the cooldown but I wanted to complete the workout.

Thursday was another awesome spin class, and Friday I had a camera put down my throat. It's official, I have gastritis. The experience sounds awful but it was quite nice. The worst part was not eating until after the procedure, which was around 2pm or so. My parents came all the way down from Massachusetts to drive me there, and we got there early. Like, an hour early. But it was great because they were able to do the procedure basically right when I got there. I was put under with a different chemical than usual, so I even had no side effects! I drifted to a peaceful sleep, and when I woke up, it was over and I was upset! I wanted to be asleep longer, I didn't want to wake up just yet! When I got home, my indoor trainer had arrived, and as soon as I opened the box, the sun came out. Typical.

Saturday I had great kickboxing and kettlebell classes. Then, for some god awful reason, (Because studies show running barefoot is actually better for you) I decided to run barefoot, for a mile. I thought this was starting out easy. I was all psyched up for a 6 mile run, I figured I'd do the first mile barefoot on the track by my house, and then the rest in shoes in the neighborhood. That was a ridiculous plan. RIDICULOUS. But at the time I had no idea. After the second lap I felt my feet burning, this seemed normal because, well I'm running barefoot on a rubber track for the first time. So I pushed myself, and ran the entire mile in 8:30ish. Sweet, right? Uh then I put my shoes on, and it felt like I was walking on gel packets. It was SICK! So disgusting and I was like, oh God I'm screwed.

I ran into my friends who were on their porch as I hobbled up. I told them what I just did and they looked at me like I was insane. "Wanna see?" I asked. "NO!" said one friend. "YES!" said the other. I slowly took off my shoe and peeled off a slightly bloody sock to reveal the most disgusting blisters I've ever seen. The pad of my foot was bubbled up, like filled with a massive amount of lymph. They screeched in horror and I laughed. I laughed probably because I had A. Just run a mile, and B. My adrenaline was kicking in due to the pain. I hobbled back to my apartment and that's when the pain REALLY set in. I called a fellow Trifitness member who I know runs barefoot. I had completely forgotten my tri group's triathlon was Saturday. I'm a great member aren't I? Anyway, he told me about the race as I whimpered, searched Google for answers and then I asked what the HELL do I do?! He had no clue because apparently he's never had blisters before. My voice cracked and I got off the phone, and then I just bawled.

I sat there in my apartment, alone, blubbering for a good 5 minutes. I was screwed, and I did it to myself. I had sidelined myself right when I was feeling on top of my game. Idiot. Moron. Imbecile. All the names I had for myself ran through my head. I called my friend Dan. I told him what happened to get it out. I got off the phone and attempted to deal with my wounds. I could hardly walk, I used whatever I could, braced myself on counters and walls. This wasn't going to work. I texted Dan a plea to come over and buy stuff for my feet. Meanwhile I searched the internet, to lance or not to lance? What do I do? Dan wrapped me up but after an hour or so I was like, we need to lance these things. We fired up a needle, and sat on my couch. It was something out of a movie, pretty hysterical I'm sure from someone else's perspective. We're on the couch, hunched over my feet, I'm whining, whimpering and yelling while lymph squirts out of my blisters. One squirted me for 30 seconds, all over my shirt. SICK! But I was relieved to get the crap out of my feet.

The difference was major, and if you ever find yourself in the same position, LANCE IT. Stab it! Get it out! Just be careful, sterilize, and do it! (Just know you are risking the chance of infection, and I'm currently paranoid I'm still not in the clear for that.) I was walking again, albeit hobbling. By Monday I was already running again, though in shoes this time, and on the treadmill. I don't think I'll be doing any good distance this week until all the pain has subsided and the skin that's post-bubble flattens out completely.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Green Saturday

Yesterday I spent most of the day outside playing with my "garden". The new fence STILL isn't up! I texted my landlord. He said the guy he chose to do it backed out because he found a bigger project or something. So he's going to get ANOTHER estimate and then ANOTHER date. We shall see.

When my landlord had the new rock wall put in, he had to move my pansies, Thai basil, and lettuce into this giant pot. I was pissed until everything magically sprung up triple size.

The goings on of yesterdays projects.

Planted my roommate's tomato seedling he got from the farmer's market. It has grown so much in a month! I put layers of compost with the soil. Not too much compost, because it was straight out of the container we keep in the kitchen. It has its first blossom!

The planted tomato seedling and my babies! I think they are "retarded" or something. I think that's the actual term to use here. They were planted on Earth Day in April and they're still teeny tiny! So we decided to have them out in full sun during this glorious weekend.

Impatient, with some plants that needed planting, I bought yet another flower box. Ugh. Here's parsley and basil my friend Chelsea gave to me because she realized it was cheaper to buy the plants at the grocery store, than buy the prepackaged herbs. BUT she lives in Denver so she had to get rid of them before she flew back. The vibrant basil plant is the seedling I bought at the farmer's market. It has grown into a beautiful plant! Also one of my bean plants I grew from seed.

So my roommate gave me a lot of shit about BUYING a flower box when we could just make one out of the falling down fence that is going to be replaced. He stole a few boards and decided he was going to make one. This took entirely too long, the wood was entirely too rotten, and in the end didn't think my purchase was that bad of an idea after all.

The end result. I had to line it with plastic bags so that the dirt didn't just cover my balcony in mud whenever I watered it. It's a charming addition to the balcony nonetheless. More bean plants I grew from seed.

Finally, my cilantro went "ape shit". I think that's the technical term for growing 3 feet in a week, right? I mowed that stuff down a couple weeks ago and it sprung up faster than zombies at a brain feast.

All in all it was a great day. Our other project was making something to hold compost. I bought a 25 gallon trash barrel, and my roommate used a blade to cut out air holes around it. We wanted to use a drill, but his battery died. Anyway, now we have compost! Finally a place to put pulled out weeds, dead leaves and general organic debris. I'm entirely too excited about it. After we finished up, I went for a 4 mile run. I was so happy I did it in exactly 32 minutes. 8 min pace, not too shabby! Especially since I haven't been running outside very much, the weather's been awful. This weekend is awesome and much needed.

Now I'm off to get ready and go to the Rev3 Triathlon in Middlebury, CT. I wanted to get there for the start but I was up way too late last night. Oh well, I figure it's a huge race, with a lot of pros, less than an hour away. Sure I'll mostly see what's going on on the screens they have set up but I want to go and see what it's all about. Good luck to Carol who's out there now! Her blog is the Triathlon Training Blog!


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Muay Thai, Excite!

Every few months or so I search for Muay Thai gyms in Southern Connecticut and come up with nothing. I was recently talking to a co-worker about my old gym when I casually searched "Fairfield Muay Thai" in Google. Much to my amazement, 'The Center Martial Arts' popped up. (I don't know why it's not "The Center for..." or maybe include a hyphen, but that's their name.) When I looked at the website alone I was excited. A few days later I went in to watch a Muay Thai class. The trainer, Hitalo Machado still currently fights MMA. I can't tell you how much this excites me. Finally someone who is up on his game because he has to be. Oh and he has some serious reach. Look at all that blood and spit! I get giddy just looking at it. Not in a blood lust kind of way. I'm just really excited to have a trainer who can kick so much ass!

While I watched the Muay Thai class I quickly noticed a sign that this is Muay Thai, not "American Kickboxing". Calves. From the clinching and kneeing you form some serious calves you don't get from traditional kickboxing. Hitalo and the guys who obviously train a lot all had Muay Thai calves. As I watched the class further I got even more excited, this was familar, this is where I need to train. I talked with one of the owners, Sensei Paulina for quite some time. When she told me she is Thai, I said "Sawatdee Kaa" (Hello) and she was very excited by this and said "Sawatdee Kaa" back. I told her I definitely want to take the time to train in Thailand someday. Then I met a girl who has a fight planned either this month, or next I can't remember. I never thought I'd ever meet a girl who actually fights Muay Thai. It will be her first fight, and I was really happy to hear that The Center set up the fight and is very supportive of female fighters. Makes a lot of sense considering the two owners are female. How rare is that? Well I've certainly never heard of ANY martial arts gym owned by a female.

I talked to the girl for a bit, and she is really nice. She is finishing up her doctorate AND training almost every day. She said she was looking forward to finally having a girl to spar with. I am excited too, but nervous since I'm rusty and she's a bit bigger than me. I WILL get my ass kicked by her, there is no doubt of this. But that's okay, I really need my ass kicked to get back into the game. The Center fully sponsors their fighters, which is awesome. They are even thinking of sending her to Master Toddy. Basically he is THE person in the US to send a fighter too, especially if your fighter happens to be a woman. He's VERY open to training female fighters, and was on a show (I have to admit I watched every episode of on Hulu) called "Fight Girls". (Oh it sounds so lame and kind of was, but they were fighting Muay Thai! I couldn't NOT watch.) "Fight Girls" also featured my fav Muay Thai crush, Gina Carano. (pictured)

Last Saturday I tried out my first class, Advanced Muay Thai. I did pretty well considering I haven't clinched in well over a year. The kid I was practicing with is as scrawny as me, and I think about 15! It was really hard to get back into the habit of watching a trainer, following what he's saying and then practicing the sequence while at the same time remembering my form. Hitalo noticed right away my "wave" as he calls it. In traditional Muay Thai you drop the opposite arm of the one you are kicking for balance. He said that my "wave" needs to go. Then he asked me where I trained. "Plus One in Hartford" "Ah Peter... yeah I used to train with him." Small world! He said he wasn't as traditional as Kru Peter (btw, this makes me sad) but their styles are very similar. We didn't spar during the class, but that's probably for the best. Last time I sparred it was an embarrassment. I have to finish up my contract with Aiki, which ends this month. So hopefully I will be starting at The Center next month. I already ordered new Muay Thai gloves, heavier ones that will be better for sparring and their heavy bags. Now I need to get new shin guards, mine are WAY too thin.

PS- Oh man after some googling, turns out Hitalo is 3 years younger than me! God, when did I get OLD?! Well whatever, a lot of women fighters are older than 25, so I got some time.