Friday, January 29, 2010

i love pizza

Brandon and I decided to make our own pizzas for dinner tonight. I am in the process of making a family cookbook, so I am kind of obsessed with photographing anything I can use in my project. Thought I would share tonight's dinner with you!

We used store bought crusts because, let's face it, it is just easier. The sauce is olive oil, diced tomatoes and garlic:

Then I piled on the mozarella cheese. Brandon went for an alternative type pizza which you will see soon...

I piled mine with pepperoni and artichoke hearts, finishing it off with a sprinkling of cheese over the toppings:
Brandon's pizza was Greek inspired. On top of his sauce he used a base of pepperoni, layered it with pepperoncinis and then piled it with feta cheese:
Mine is nothing special, but it tasted amazing. Welcome to Friday night at our house!

A not so brief history of me and running

It’s been awhile since I wrote anything related to my diet and exercise regimen... so here you go—a not so brief history of me and running.

I have a complicated relationship with running. I dread doing it, but I am always happy when I am done. Running is hard. It uses a lot of oxygen and works a lot of muscles. The thing is, there is no exercise that clears my head quite as well as running. There is no sport that makes me sweat as much. And there is no exercise that helps me shed pounds as quickly.

I first remember running with my dad on the golf course when I was pretty young. We probably ran about a mile or so and I loved the early morning fog and the peace of the golf course. I liked spending time with my dad; as the oldest of three kids it was a rare moment for me to have time alone with either parent.

In junior high we had to run one mile. The “course” was along the road from the school to the park and back again. I ran it the first time with my friend Jamie and we were so proud of our 11-minute time. For some reason I liked running the mile and I joined the Spring View track team. Eventually I was able to run the mile as fast as 6:43, which today seems like an impossible feat for me!

I ran off and on through high school. By then I was most interested in water polo and didn’t spend much time in my running shoes. I picked it back up again in college thanks to my crazy aerobics and fitness teacher. She challenged me to run my first 5k in the Carlsbad 5000. Carlsbad is a good distance from San Diego so I had to convince someone in the dorm with a car to run it with me so that I would have a ride. I called my parents on the way home to tell them how excited I was for doing it. It was such a great feeling.

When I lived in Spain during my junior year of college I ran on a beautiful outdoor course in flat open land behind my house. I bought a pair of Spanish running shoes, which I finally just got rid of after eight years. Upon my return to college I ran less and less. Finally running just wasn’t part of my life anymore.

My first year teaching I shared a classroom with a teacher who was a runner. She ran between four and six miles each day. I could not comprehend running that much. I watched her as her husband became ill and passed away. She used running as an escape. I was inspired by her to start running again.

My return to running was rough. Running even one mile seemed impossible to me. I couldn’t fathom the four to six miles my coworker was running. But every week I went back to the gym and lengthened my distance just a little, sometimes only a tenth of a mile at a time. Eventually I was running four, five and six miles. The following fall my sister challenged me to 10k—a distance of 6.2 miles in the Davis Turkey Trot. It was the furthest I had ever run and I didn’t think I could run more.

Then my sister asked me to train for a half marathon. I am the least athletic in the family, but I try my hardest to keep up with the younger, more athletically gifted siblings of mine. We found Hal Higgon’s training materials and got started. The half marathon was in March. I was in my second year of teaching, coaching swimming and planning a wedding. Two weeks before the half marathon I got sick—I couldn’t work and I couldn’t run. So I ran a 5k instead and cheered for my sister as she finished the half marathon without me.

I continued running off and on throughout my first year of marriage. In December of 2008 Brandon and I decided to try the half marathon again. We revisited Hal Higdon and in March of 2009 I completed the Shamrock’n Half Marathon with my husband, sister and friend. My training had prepared me well through about nine miles, but I hadn’t run much more than that while training. I didn’t think I could make the last four miles, but I did in a time of 2 hours, 21 minutes and 57 seconds which was well under my goal of 2 hours, 30 minutes. It was definitely not a record setting pace, but I finished.

When I saw my parents in the stands at Raley Field, I told them that I would never want to do that again or run a full marathon (my dad ran three marathons in his day). But now that nearly a year has passed I have the itch to push myself further and see what I can do. Since I started swimming last summer I decreased how much I was running. In the last month as my husband prepares for a full marathon (go babe!) I have returned to running again. I am currently running 3-4 miles three times per week. I am running mostly on the treadmill because it is cold outside and I like that I can watch TV to distract me. I don’t know where I am running next or what the distance will be, but whether it be 3.1, 6.2, 13.1 or 26.2 miles (who the hell came up with these random distances? Ok I know the first two are converted from metric, but since when did America adopt anything from metric?), I know that with a little determination and a LOT of training, I can make it across any finish line.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Five movies to take my mind off work

I am having a rough day. So I decided to distract myself for a moment and think of something that made me happy... for some reason I started thinking about movies. I tried to think of my five favorite movies, but I couldn’t think of that many. My husband is the complicated type. Ask him his favorite movie and he will ask “what genre?” Brandon is like John Cusack in High Fidelity—he will break it down for you in the top five list. These are not necessarily my five favorite movies, just five movies that make me happy!

My favorite movie of all time is “Father of the Bride.” I don’t know why exactly. It is not an Academy Award winning film and there is certainly nothing special about the plot or the film. But that movie makes me laugh and cry every time I see it. I love when Steve Martin gets angry and goes on his tirade in the grocery store about hot dogs being sold in packages of eight while buns are sold in packages of six. I love the relationship between him and his daughter. I love Martin Short as the goofy wedding planner. I dreamt of living in a house like theirs, and before I was married I hoped that my wedding would be as beautiful as the one in that movie.

Another favorite is “Out of Africa.” Meryl Streep and Robert Redford are my two favorite actors of all time, so of course I already think this can’t go wrong. Back in high school I actually read the book, but there is something about that film that moves me. The scenery is amazing and the story itself is intriguing. Robert Redford is handsome and who doesn’t love the elusive man who leaves you wanting more? And it’s a love story and I am girl so it works for me. The soundtrack for this film is great. When I was younger I had it on CASETTE and I used to listen to it when I went to bed.

Don’t judge. I also love “The Land Before Time.” Not the 42 sequels that came out since then. Just the original. What is there not to love about Little Foot, Petrie, Cera, Spike and Ducky? They are looking for the Great Valley and there is that awesome scene where they save themselves from the T-Rex. OOH that makes me think of another favorite—“Jurassic Park.” I can’t really explain my love for dinosaurs. I just like them. I am currently on the lookout for dinosaur themed Valentine’s Day cards, so if you see some, can you let me know?

You may find this strange but I am not really a huge lover of comedy. I have never seen “Zoolander” or “Anchorman” in their entirety. I enjoyed “Talladega Nights” and recently liked “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” But ladies and gentlemen, I am obsessed with “The Hangover.” I know that everyone is talking about that movie right now, but really, I am obsessed. I am pretty sure Brandon is tired of me asking if we can watch it...again. I am trying to think about my favorite part and I can’t even do it. I love the whole thing.

When I was sick a few weeks ago I watched the film version of “Little Women.” This is one of my favorite books from my youth and the movie with Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon is spectacular. I know the script by heart and the setting in the 1800s reminds me of a simpler time. Last night Brandon was flipping through the channels and he stopped on a station that was playing it. He is a good husband for knowing I would want to watch it.

The 15 minutes it took me to write this actually reduced my stress level. So now you can judge me for my film choices and I will go back to work!

Monday, January 25, 2010


On my way home tonight I was thinking about how January 26 is exactly one year since we heard that Loretto High School was closing. Loretto was an all-girls, Catholic school in Sacramento, established in 1955. I graduated from Loretto in 2000 and began my career as a teacher there in 2005.

As I was driving I spent some time thinking about what I would say about Loretto; when I got home the newest issue of Sacramento Magazine was in my mailbox with the story “The Last Days of Loretto.” I prepared myself to read about the last four months there, but the story focused mostly on the financial woes, the lawsuits and the ongoing questions about the closure.

That is not what I choose to remember about the last days. What I think of is community, love and spirit. I think about how beautiful it was that the juniors and seniors welcomed the younger students into traditions reserved for upperclassmen. I witnessed teachers supporting students and students supporting teachers. For the first time in my teaching career I was vulnerable in front of my students and it was okay as we shared anger, grief, and uncertainty about our future. I experienced the greatest outpouring of support and love from my colleagues who are among my most cherished friends. There were faculty room moments filled with tears and others filled with laughter. There were A LOT of after school moments at the bar, where my friends and I processed what was happening to our world. Our days passed like normal, the closing of the school sometimes an impossible reality as we faced the daily tasks of homework, grades and lesson plans.

The situation was ugly, our experience was not.

I have already written about how this one event changed all the plans I had for the next few years of my life. One year later all I can say is that I am still searching. Loretto was more than just a school to many of us. It was a way of life. It was an experience. It was my family. I don't know if I can ever fully be healed from the closing or if I will ever really "get over it." Loretto is where I wanted to spend my teaching career. It is where my unborn daughters were going to attend school.

Below is the speech that I gave at the closing ceremonies for Loretto. It does not speak a fraction of what Loretto meant to me, but perhaps will give you a lasting impression far better than this most recent magazine article.

I grew up at Loretto twice. The first time I went from young girl, to young woman. This time I became an adult, confident in career and life. For the eight years I spent here, for all the men and women who touched my life, I am forever grateful.

Since I was asked to speak several weeks ago, I have been running through all of the different things that I wanted to say. How does one honor 54 years of such a blessed institution in just a few minutes? How do I put all that I experienced here since 1996 into a short story that means something to you? I spent days trying to formulate something that would make sense and so what I have for you are three words—spirit, sisterhood and service.

The spirit of Loretto is a spirit of faith as we are united by our common belief and celebrate together in prayer, retreat and Eucharist. It is tradition—fierce competitiveness handed down through the classes in collections and Homecoming games and Powder Puff games of old, balanced with a gentle love for one another, evident on our sports teams, in clubs and by the sharing of Senior Lawn. It is a spirit of strength, believing that because we are women, educated women, Loretto-educated women, that we can achieve whatever we like in our education, careers and family life. It is a spirit of determination, that despite loss and adversity, that we will overcome. The Loretto spirit is generous, kind and hard working. Sometimes the spirit is even a little silly — assuring young woman that it okay to be funny, daring and even run around at lunch time with a red fleece blanket on your shoulders like superwoman. That by the way, was me.

Everyone speaks of the sisterhood here. But when I hear that word, I first think of my own sister, who was a little resistant to come to Loretto when I was beginning my junior year. Like many of our students, Cristina had to be bribed with the “try it for one year” line. I was desperate for her to love this place as I loved it. Growing up I had had a hard time making friends and fitting in. But life at Loretto had changed that for me. I was welcomed by new friends. I was nurtured by the older girls in choir, I was empowered by the others in Student Council and I wanted my own sister to be part of that Loretto family too. And she, like so many of the others of this school, found it for herself. Loretto is a sisterhood because our shared experience of the Loretto spirit is unique to this place. It is not limited by age, it spans classes and generations. The 11 alumnae faculty and staff here represent 4 different decades and they are a daily reminder that our sisterhood is cross-generational. The relationships first formed in this place remain a living testament to the family we have created.

Service. In the Gospel of John we read of Christ washing the feet of his disciples. This story has held a special place in our Senior Retreat for many years as it has been used to issue the call of service to our graduating seniors. Today I extend this challenge to us all, that just as our feet have been washed, literally and figuratively, by those who have served us, it is our time and our call to go forth and serve others. Let the Loretto community continue to serve others as we have served this community for the last 54 years. Let our legacy be of selflessness, of giving, of a sisterhood who served, of a spirit that would not die.

We are a good people

On a few occasions I taught a unit called Poverty and the Environment to high school seniors who were in my Social Justice class. The point of the unit was to show how environmental factors and natural disasters disproportionately affect those in impoverished nations. The existing weak infrastructure of buildings, government and aid groups combined with inability to control clean water, food sources and the spread of disease all contribute to making an already bad situation worse. It was sometimes difficult to make them understand without any real-time examples.

When the earthquake hit Haiti two weeks ago I thought immediately of what the reaction may have been like in my classroom if I were still teaching. How would my students feel? What suggestions would they have for outreach? Who would be the one with ideas for help? I never doubted that they would care.

I was right. In the days immediately following the earthquake my Facebook was bursting with status updates from former students, family and friends about Haiti. Some promoted campus prayer services, others ads for how to donate to relief efforts, and a few were simple statements of sadness like “poor Haiti.”

On Friday night I stumbled on the radio broadcast for George Clooney’s Haiti telethon. I am generally leery of things organized by celebrities, but the music was good and Anderson Cooper was reporting. As I heard them talk about orphans and tent cities and the people from around the world who were freely giving their time and talents to help the Haitian people, I cried. I wept in my car for those who died, for those who lost everything, and because we are a good people.

We care—we Americans who people criticize for being apathetic; we Americans who are recovering from an economic crisis; we Americans who so often are isolated from the rest of the world—we care.

I believe that we are a good people. On occasion we as individuals or a nation make poor choices. Sometimes we don’t react as we should. But we are a good people.

For four short years I was blessed to work with young women. I think it will be a long time before I stop thinking of many world events in terms of their experience and their reaction. Looking to them gives me hope. The love, passion and joy of the younger generation reminds me that there is still goodness in people. The lessons they are learning both in the classroom and through their world will ensure that we continue to be good people who love deeply and give graciously.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Thoughts on my week

I survived the great California storm (the Midwest is laughing at us) but the diet and I are still fighting.

The worst wind and rain has passed and my house weathered it well with the exception of a small portion of fence which blew over (I am blaming that on the neighbors anyway—our 10 feet is connected to their 30 feet which also fell). Despite my irrational fears about what the storm would do, the house made it. My diet on the other hand is suffering...

It has been days since I have posted anything about it, because really, I have been pretending I am not on one. Which is bad. Despite my desire to be open in this blog about my weight loss journey, I find it difficult to write over and over again how I keep wasting another day. I hate when I am not good at something and boy am I terrible about losing weight after the first couple weeks of success.

Yesterday I ate brussel sprouts for lunch. Don’t feel bad for me, I happen to like those little shrunken lettuce balls. They are especially delicious when smothered in butter and garlic, but alas, these were just regular steamed brussel sprouts. I packed my lunch with leftover brussel sprouts and salad because sometimes eating shrubbery reminds me why cute animals are vegetarian.

All said and done, yesterday was a good day. Today will also be a good day. And tomorrow is going to be a FABULOUS day because I am going snowboarding. Snow is the best result of this silly storm and snowboarding is one of my favorite activies. So I am heading up tomorrow with the rest of the Sacramento valley to enjoy what Mother Nature dumped on us.

I am feeling uninspired today. So this is all you get.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I should have listened to my husband

Today we had our Employee of the Quarter luncheon, which today was pizza, salad and delicious cookies.

Simply stated: I ate too much.

A blustery day

Sometimes Mother Nature reminds us that we are small.

Last night I got very little sleep. Outside my house there were trees falling, trash cans rolling, gas barbeques tipping and porch furniture going through windows.

At least that is what I imagined until I got up (three times) to make sure everything was in its place. If you heard what I heard, you would have thought all of those things too. As I lay awake at 12:30 and 1:15 and 2:34 and 3:47 and 5:15 and finally at 6:10, I listened to the great windstorm outside of my house and thought about how much power was whipping around.

As I listened to the wind last night I thought about how insignificant I am. It wasn’t a pity moment—I realize that I matter in a human sense. But I am insignificant in size and physical power. I am small against the great energy of the earth. There I was in my oversized house, scared that at any moment the forces of earth might take down all that humans built around me. It was a humbling moment, the type of feeling I sometimes get when I look at the ocean or make it to the top of a mountain. That sense—that awareness of my small place in this huge world—helps me appreciate creation and reminds me to give thanks that for a short second in the long history of earth, that I have a chance to experience what was given to us.

After skipping my morning swim (who wants to work out in that wind?!) I sat on the couch with the kitchen lights on and Doppler showing its colors across my TV screen. I was less frightened in the dawn. When I heard this morning that the wind gusts were as high as 50 mph I had to laugh at myself a little for being so overdramatic about our California weather patterns. People who live in hurricane areas experience much worse than that, but I can’t imagine what it would be like to witness bigger winds than those that are pushing their way through the Sacramento Valley today.

So although it makes for traffic accidents, messy hair, wet clothes and generally terrible driving conditions, today I am appreciating this beautiful storm, giving thanks to the Creator and praying that tonight the wind dies down between 11pm and the time I wake up tomorrow morning.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Giving up

This is the kind of day where I almost give up. It wouldn't be the first time. I have given up on my diets year after year. I know I am supposed to change my attitude and call it a "lifestyle change" but I am not fooling myself. I am trying to lose weight and I call that a diet.

I have succeeded and failed many times in my dieting career. In my adult life the most successful diet I ever did was the Atkins Diet (please don't judge me for joining that craze). That is when I got to my lowest weight as an adult. Someday I will blog about that fabulous bacon and cheese diet, but for now, just know that it worked. Then I went back to college and feasted on Jack in the Box at three in the morning and the delicious creations of the catering department I worked for.

Everytime I try to lose weight I give up. I start off well and then I don't stick with it. I fall back into bad habits and I make excuses for myself. Once again I had a weekend full of high fat and high calorie foods and it seems so much easier to say that this is how my body is meant to be. But I don't want it to be like this for the rest of my life. I don't want to go back to old habits and I don't want to have any excuses.

So I got up this morning and cut up vegetables for snacking. I had my banana and coffee for breakfast. I decided, AGAIN, to recommit myself, AGAIN. Every moment is a choice. Every moment is my decision.

Small goals for this week that will help:
1. No alcohol
2. No desserts

Cheers to a good week, for me and for you!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

How do you pick a dog?

How do you pick a dog?

My first dog was Gilly. She was my parents’ first baby and they got her as a puppy. She was brown lab and Dalmatian mix. Gilly was a sweet girl but with three young children, she was often relegated to the backyard and lived for running and hunting with my dad. The summer before 5th grade we said goodbye to Gilly. I knew that she was near the end and I remember laying on the floor in the garage with her the night before she died.

Nearly a year later my uncle showed up at Easter with a purebred Dalmatian. Her name was Bobo and a friend of my uncle was giving her up because she didn’t fit in apartment living. She came home with us and we renamed her Lacey. She was such a beautiful dog with a great personality. She was my mom’s walking partner and now with older kids in the family, she found a place in our family. We laid on the floor with her and threw the ball for her. We gave her nicknames like “Lacey-fer” and she went with us to Tahoe. We took her hiking and walking and Lacey was truly part of our family. When I moved home from college she reached the end of her life, and it was with great emotion that we said goodbye to the family pet that had filled our adolescent lives.

My mom was hesitant to get another dog, but she missed her walking partner. She spent hours researching the popular Labradoodle. Days before she sent a deposit for the designer pet, my brother and I convinced her to go meet a seven month old black lab we saw in the newspaper. The moment I met this pup I knew she was the dog. My brother and I tried to take her home that day. My mom said no. We went back a few days later with my dad. He said “let’s think about it.” Finally we went for a third time and returned home with “Little One” who we renamed Molly. I lived at home with Molly for five months before getting my condo. Ever since then we joke that I have joint custody of Molly because of how often she stays with me. Molly is the coolest dog I have ever met. She is cute. She listens. She can dock jump. She loves to swim. She runs fast. She loves to snuggle with me. She is a licker. She is a lover. She is the greatest dog and I have more pictures of her than other subject. She is Mollford, Molpheus, TaMolly, GuacaMolly.

But I am tired of sharing. I want a full time dog. I want my own licking, barking, snuggling, walking partner furball. And so for the last few years I have been dreaming of a friend for Molly that could come live with me. Finally we have a house where this dream dog can live. But how do you pick a dog?

Today I went to the Folsom PetsMart where the Central California Lab Rescue goes twice a month to show dogs for adoption. I met a brown lab mix named Chloe. She is about 45 pounds and was pretty cute. Brandon and I spent nearly an hour playing with her, walking her and trying to decide if we should take her home. In the end I didn’t know if she was my dog or not. I asked her if she wanted to come home with me and she didn’t answer. I spent the last four hours wondering if I made a big mistake by not bringing Chloe home.

Moments like this I wish (wo)man’s best friend was curled up at my feet. But I don’t know if I can pick a dog. The three great dogs in my life all picked me. So I will keep waiting for the right pup to enter in my life.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A little more homemade...

Brandon and I spent the morning getting ready for some friends to come over to watch the football game. I decided to make salsa and guacamole again after my success the other night. I also made chili and some CrockPot dessert concoction. The dessert was a complete failure but the rest went over well.

The highlight of my day was a visit from my friend Kim. She is witty, funny, a great photographer, writer AND she loves beer. So it is no wonder I get along with her. We went to Arigato Sushi which was delicious, unfortunately we both forgot our cameras!

Here is a picture of my delicious guacamole with the salsa in the background.

Chili with bell peppers, kidney beans, black beans and pinto beans.

So what I can tell you about my diet on the weekend... it is practically nonexistant. I have no pattern and no structure outside of the work week. But tomorrow is Sunday which means I will do a longer run and Brandon and I will have a light and simple dinner.

I have no desire to look up what I ate yesterday so here is a brief synopsis of Friday: I said NO to a bagel, NO to a donut, YES to splitting a salad and sandwich with my mom and YES to Baileys and hot chocolate. I am sure there was something nutritious in between!

Friday, January 15, 2010


Last night my dear friend Jessica came over to visit before her return to Boston and we celebrated with some homemade Mexican food. She says that the closest thing Boston has to Mexican is Chipotle, which we all know is as far from authentic as Chef Boyardee is to Italian. Of course I don't place any claims for authenticity on my food either. Most of what I know about Mexican was learned over a basket of chips and a Corona Light.

Nonetheless I love cooking Mexican food. Last night I made guacamole, which I loaded up with lime juice for a tangy flavor. Then I tried my hand for the first time at making salsa. I had NO idea what I was doing, but I am proud to say that it was delicious. Our main course was really just a tortilla with some spicy chicken, loaded up with aforementioned guacamole and salsa, but even I was a little impressed at the quick dinner I put together.

As a girl trying to lose weight, of course I overanalyzed everything I ate. The guacamole and salsa were also accompanied by my favorite dipping device--the tortilla chip. Despite my efforts to limit the intake of those devilish chips, I still feel like I ate an entire bag. But as I was going to sleep last night, I realized one thing--although I did probably eat more chips than I should have, everything else was controllable.

My salsa had vegetables, lime and salt. No added fats or preservatives. My guacamole had only vegetables, lime and salt. No added fats or preservatives. My chicken and tortillas were fresh--the only things that weren't were rice and beans, which I limited to an actual serving size.

There are so many things within my control. And even when my hand won't stop feeding my mouth, I can still control what I put in it. So instead of getting down on myself, I choose to be happy about the quality of food I enjoyed last night and the wonderful company I enjoyed it with!

Now who wants Mexican?!

Totals Thursday, January 14
Good day! I lost weight!

Total Calories: Unknown. I was at 744 calories before dinner
Exercise: 70 minute swim
Weight loss: 11.5 pounds!!!
Water: good
Coffee with cream
Lean Cuisine Linguine Carbonara
Yoplait FatFree Yogurt
Tortilla chips
Guacamole (avocado, onion, tomato)
Salsa (tomato, onion, bell pepper, jalepeno)
4oz chicken breast
1/2 cup rice
1/2 cup black beans

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Feeling reflective, retrospective

The dust is settling in my life. After the holidays, moving, and the new year, suddenly the cloud of excitement, planning and activity has disappeared. I know things are "back to normal" because I have had time to work out, make dinners and spend time with my husband. In this moment of clarity I see a year ahead of me and I am both sad and excited for the opportunity that lies ahead.

12 months ago my life was different. 12 months ago I worked at all-girls Catholic school and I was making plans to revamp my curriculum and teach different courses. I was three months away from my Masters in Education and was wondering if someday I might want to go into administration. I was looking for houses in Sacramento and my husband and I were planning on having a baby. I enjoyed time with my friends and my students. I coached swimming, led retreats. I loved my life. Last January I had 2009 all planned out.

My friend reminded me the other night that January 26th was the day we learned our school was closing. I can't get that date out of my mind now. Everything that came after that date didn't fit the plan. There was no teaching, no house in Sacramento, no baby. Instead I started a new career and moved to a different county. I love the life I am living now, but it is hard to imagine how it all got so far away from the life I envisioned only 365 days ago.

I am sad because all the wonderful things I thought would come to be did not. I am sad because the relationships I had will never be the same. I am sad because those were GOOD plans.

When I look at 2010 I don't really have a plan. Despite my nature for control and planning, this excites me. My year is wide open. With the exception of SIX already scheduled weddings for family and dear friends, my calendar and my hopes are wide open. My husband and I have a life that is waiting to be revealed to us.

This is a poem I read in high school. For some reason I thought of it while writing this.

Call Me by My True Names

Do not say that I'll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea
pirate, and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
hands, and I am the man who has to pay his "debt of blood" to, my
people, dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.
My pain if like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

-Thich Nhat Hanh

Totals Wednesday, January 13
*Another good day
Total Calories: 1500ish (its hard to count unsliced bread!)
Exercise: 60 minute swim
Weight loss: 10 pounds
Water: good
Lean Cuisine Beef Chow Fun
Sourdough bread
3/4 cup white rice
1 egg
1 serving chicken breast
Yoplait FatFree Yogurt
Low fat vegetable dip

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

See Erin Swim

A not so brief history of me and swimming...

When I was nine years old I joined the Loomis Basin Dolphins swim team. At that age I don’t think I was very aware of my athletic inability, I just liked being on the team. We had carpools and the moms took turns bringing us snacks. Our team was really good that year and the whole experience was fun. I learned how to swim the four strokes and for 12 weeks a year I was proud to be a Loomis Dolphin.

As I matured I began to realize that I wasn’t really all that good of a swimmer. This corresponded exactly with the time when my brother and sister started collecting blue ribbons. On Mondays after swim meets our family folder was stuffed with the blue, red and white ribbons of the winners in the Toohey family, and the pink, purple and green ribbons that this slower swimmer collected. To be honest I don’t know if it bothered me or not; I have always been so proud of my brother and sister that I loved watching them win. You could find me at the edge of the pool deck in my dorky oversized straw hat cheering for my brother, sister and any friend who came along.

By the time I was in high school it was clear to me that I was not a swimmer. I had perfected the imperfect freestyle. My mom could recognize me in any pool by my bobbing head. Try as I might, I was destined to be a middle of the road (lane?) swimmer. But I still loved my team, I accepted my place in the middle of the pool with other mediocre swimmers and I dedicated myself to cheering for my siblings and friends. To this day, my summers on swim team are still among my favorite life memories and I am blessed to have lifelong friends from the Loomis Dolphins.

Five years ago I was given the opportunity to coach high school swimming. I loved every day of it—even the cold and rainy days. It reminded me of all the fun I had in my adolescent swimming years. Independently, my dad started swimming in an adult swim program several years ago. I always wanted to try it, but because I was living 30 minutes away, it was not possible. Every day that I coached made me want to swim even more. One of the things that I find amazing about coaching is how much the teacher actually learns; I wanted to try for myself all of the things I was teaching. So when I changed jobs and was driving past the pool every day I decided that it was time to swim again.

I joined Rocklin Aquatics Masters Swimming in June. RAMS is part of U.S. Masters Swimming which is for adult swimmers. We have two coaches who write work outs and give instruction. The morning practice has between 20-40 swimmers. I love going to this workout. There is so much community and support. There are men and women of all ages and ability. There is friendly competition, but mostly gentle encouragement. I am inspired by the men and women I swim with who are 20, 30 and 40 years older than me. I am amazed that some of these people are also triathletes. The only problem? It starts at 5:30 am.

During the summer when it was warm and the sun was rising I had no problem getting out of bed to go swimming. I improved dramatically and I actually believe I am a better swimmer now than I was 10 years ago. I don’t even bob during freestyle anymore! But my animal instinct is making the winter difficult and for the last six weeks I have found a lot of excuses to stay hibernating in my warm bed. This morning I finally dragged myself out of bed. One thing is certain about swimming—if you skip practice, it will punish you upon return. So practice this morning was, umm, difficult to say the least. My efforts (or lack thereof) even caught the attention of the coach who spent some one-on-one time trying to help me through. Despite all of this I am dedicated to sticking with it. I WILL get up again tomorrow morning and it WILL get easier if I don’t get lazy.

People always say that swimming is a lifelong sport. I am beginning to believe they are right, and I hope that in 30 years I may think of this winter as still the early stage of my swimming "career."

Totals Tuesday, January 12
*Yesterday was a great day! I even fit a beer into my day =)

Total Calories: 1450
Exercise: 3 mile run
Weight loss: 10 pounds
Water: good
Nonfat, toffee nut latte
Raw Broccoli
Vegetable dip made w/ nonfat sour cream
Angel Hair Pasta w/ Tomatoes and basil
Yoplait Yogurt
5 black olives
Lean Cuisine Cheddar Broccoli and Potatoes
1 Corona Light

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Reasons to love and hate The Biggest Loser

I am obsessed with The Biggest Loser. Although I have mixed feelings on the show, I watch it religiously. My biggest complaint is that their weight loss is unreal to me. I have never (and will never) needed to lose that much weight and have always exercised so I cannot really relate to their struggles. The last 30 pounds that they lose is the part I would relate to most, but that is the part of their journey that we never get to see! A friend and I have this idea where we have a mediocre version of the show for people like us who just want to lose “a few” pounds, but somehow I don’t think the networks will go for it. Nevertheless, I am sucked into this show, for the good and the bad.

Here are the reasons I love and hate this show:

1. Shameless product placement. Oh, I think it is ridiculous when they throw out chewing Extra to quench your desire for sweets. Or how they encourage drinking water from your Brita filter. Or when they walk to Subway to eat one of their 6 under 6 sandwiches. But it also makes me laugh every time. I mean, how awkward can it get to try and fit in all those moments into conversation? I imagine that after each one of those shots they break out into hilarious laughter when they realize how absurd they sound. But maybe it works... I did by Brandon a Brita yesterday.
2. Bob. I love Bob. He is the trainer I want. He cares but doesn’t make me want to cry. And I think he is just adorable. I want my own Bob.
3. Jillian. I know she would kick my ass, but honestly, she makes me want to cry. The story goes that she used to weigh 170 pounds and then she lost it all. I don’t care. She scares the shit out of me.
4. Ridiculously long and cheesy suspenseful moments. I just got DVR. Those moments are about to be gone from my life.
5. Weight loss. The weight loss on that show is unbelievable, but doable when you burn as many calories in a day as they do. I love watching them lose weight. I am sucked into it every week as I hope that they get big numbers. I wish I had the opportunity to spend days, weeks or months at a time focusing only on my health.
6. Challenges. I play along. I imagine what I would do if I was there. And in my game, I always win. I don’t think that many of the games they play are that difficult and apparently I am smarter than them.
7. Ridiculous challenges. I was really unimpressed by the fact that on last week’s premiere each team had to ride a stationary bike a combined 26.2 miles. It’s just really not that far. I know these people aren’t used to exercise, but just exertion of energy would have been nearly enough to finish in the top half of the contenders. But I do find that they have some ridiculous challenges later in the season. For example, running of a marathon. I ran a half marathon this year. I trained for 12 weeks. My husband is training for a full marathon—his program is 18 weeks. And everyone else I know who has run marathons also trained like crazy. So I find it ridiculous that one day they just set out to do 26.2 miles. Of course, they did it. So what do I know?
8. Elimination. Someone gets sent home. It is awesome. The two up for elimination either hate each other and beg to stay, or love each other and spend time playing the martyr card so that their friend can stay. And then we get the long, drawn out, two commercial break scene where we see who everyone voted for. Anyone else think that last week’s elimination was possibly the dullest of all time? It was the first episode and up for elimination was a set of identical twins whose names both start with J. I couldn’t tell the difference between them. I don’t think any of the other contestants did either.
9. Crying. This show makes me cry. Don’t lie. You do too.
10. Transformation moment. Call me a cheeseball, but the best part of the show is the very last minute where they show what the eliminated player looks like today. That is why I love this show—I love seeing how people have changed their lives.

Tonight is only the second episode of this season and I am already hooked. Check out Ashley on the pink team... I think she is the long lost triplet of the Olson twins.

I evaluated my eating and concluded that although I had enough calories, I have not been getting enough nutrition. So today my lunch is packed with veggies and fruit and you can expect a better, more balanced day!

Monday, 1/11 Totals
Total Calories: 1530
Exercise: 3.5 mile run (about 45 minutes total, with walking)
Weight loss: 10 pounds
Water: not enough
Nonfat, toffee nut latte
Lean Cuisine Pepperoni Pizza
Garlic Bread
Angel Hair Pasta w/ tomatoes, basil, 3 ounces of chicken

Monday, January 11, 2010

Weekend in Review

In the words of kids these days, my weekend was an "epic fail" in the eating/weight loss department. However the time spent with my brother and friends was amazing.

Friday was decent--I found a low calorie option at the Olive Garden, ate half and passed on the breadsticks. My brother took part of the CPA exam on Friday afternoon so we celebrated with a beer and a few snacks. After he left to meet a friend for dinner, I rallied myself for a three-mile run, which impressed even me since I just drank a beer. But it was pretty much downhill from there. Some friends came over to play cards and suddenly hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps, Kahlua and Baileys were flowing.

One word pretty much describes Saturday: BOOZE. There was beer and Irish Car Bombs and more beer. Then there were homemade cookies, Sonic fries at 2am and a mountain of caramel corn. All this following the great dinner I made of Lemon Butter Shrimp Pasta. I followed a recipe by Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa--if you know anything about her, you know that it wasn't healthy. That woman could get anyone fat on a diet of broccoli and celery with as much butter as she puts in everything. One thing I did learn is that Guinness doesn't have that many calories. So who knows, maybe it was not as bad as I think? haha.

I redeemed myself slightly on Sunday. Although there were waffles and peanut butter for breakfast, I had a small, manageble dinner and put myself to bed at 8pm. I also went on a walk with my husband and the dog, and then did some unintentional exercise while helping move an entertainment center out of the condo.

Weekends like this make me want to give up. I have very little willpower. I am only successful when I stick to patterns and stay away from alcohol. Anytime I take myself out of my predictable pattern, I fail. This is when I give up and say that I will never be able to lose weight. Unfortuntately I know that this will be a life-long struggle for me. I need to learn to find balance. So today I am back on the horse or the wagon or whatever it is I fell off of and am trying again.

In news not food related, we watched "Inglorious Basterds" again and that movie is phenomenal. My friend Jessica talked us into watching (part of) "The Hangover" after our Thunder Valley/Sonic excursion and that movie will never get boring. I also learned that going to Thunder Valley at 1am is not a good idea. Do you think they will count my money lost as a tax-deductible charitable donation?

Happy Monday!

P.S. We have no internet in our new house until Wednesday. Then I will be sure to post my food log on the weekend; if I think more about what I am ingesting, alcohol included, I will make better choices.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Pizza, cookies and the Olive Garden

Last night we went to watch the BCS Championship game at our friends house. I am not really a football fan (case in point: "That was a touchdown? I thought the other line was the endzone.") but who can pass up an opportunity to hang out with friends while having pizza and beer? Plus after the game was over we watched Jersey Shore and I am still laughing right now thinking of the girl punching Snookie and GTL-- Gym, Tan, Laundry. That show is ridiculous and I love it.

I know I didn't need all the pizza I ate-- three pretty decent sized pieces. I am normally a pepperoni and artichoke heart kind of girl, but my friend introduced me to the "Wolverine" and I have to say, it was delicious. So three slices in I found some will power and stopped myself (you must know-- I have a magical power: I can eat things in their entirety. An entire pizza, an entire carton of ice cream, an entire bag of chips. I know--I am special).

I was disappointed in my inability to stop at a reasonable two slices of pizza. Combined with two Blue Moons it put me way over my calorie goal for the day. But one of the things I am working on is not beating myself up for the decisions I make. Every moment is full of decisions and I have a new opportunity every minute to make a better choice. So an hour later when the freshly baked, delicious, hot, chocolate chip cookies came out of the oven, I was proud of my decision to say "no, thank you!"

Overall, I would consider the day a wash. I always am satisfied when I run, but the high calorie count is a bummer.

On today's list of challenges: The Olive Garden. We are ordering lunch today and that is apparently the place we are ordering from. I personally don't like the Olive Garden, or at least not what I remember from my last trip there 8 years ago. I have a hard time getting excited about a place when the best thing that people have to say is "they have great salad and breadsticks." But I have this thing--I hate passing up on free food. It must be leftover in my genes from the Great Depression or something. So as soon as I post this I am on to the website to investigate calorie counts and decide which will win: my deeply rooted urge for free lunch or the Lean Cuisine that I left in the freezer last month. Check in later to see what won.

Thursday 1/7 Totals
Total Calories: 2,061 (WAY over my 1500 calorie goal)
Excerise: 3 mi run, 8 minutes of walking warm up/cool down (approx 430 calories burned)
Weight Loss: 10 pounds
Water: not enough
Sweet&Salty Granola Bar
Lean Cuisine Tortilla Crusted Fish
Pizza-3 slices
2 Blue Moons
1 Mandarin Orange
1 Bag mini popcorn
Diet Coke

Thursday, January 7, 2010

First things first

Want to know about a low point in my life? When a video game weighs you and then definitively states “That’s obese!” Welcome to my life.

Many of my friends are having parallel experiences with weight loss and body image. Since I was in 8th grade I have struggled with my weight. As an educated woman I know how to eat and exercise... but on a pretty regular basis I find a reason to make stupid choices. I can’t do that anymore. So I am making my journey public and hoping that maybe a few people will follow along. Maybe this will give me the inspiration to stick with it.

What I am doing:
1. Counting calories. I am using an iPhone app called “LoseIt” which allows me to count calories, fiber and fat as well as exercise. I will also post what I eat on a daily basis here. Please do not expect it to be all broccoli and rice cakes. I promise to find a way to eat something deliciously bad for me. Starting with tonight. I am having pizza and beer.
2. Run. I have found that running helps me lose weight AND it makes me feel great. I am committed to running at least 3 days a week, minimum of 3 miles.
3. Swim. Last June I joined Rocklin Aquatic Masters Swimming (RAMS). This is a coached swim practice. I love swimming, but the hard part is getting up at 5am to swim in the cold. I swear I will try to go 3 times a week.
4. WiiFit. Brandon got me the WiiFit for my birthday last February. I have used it pretty consistently to weigh myself, although I don’t use it much anymore for exercising. I will continue to use the WiiFit to track my weight loss and BMI.

The good news is that I started this journey in late October and I have already lost 10 pounds. The WiiFit told me yesterday that I am not obese anymore. I was never so excited to hear the words “That’s overweight!” My BMI is still 29 which is far from the healthy BMI I am looking for.

This blog will not be all weight loss, but for now will probably be mostly focused on that. And I am not really all that clever. So please forgive me if my blog isn’t witty or has grammatical errors or seems like one you read on another site yesterday. If I were some sort of genius my blog would be linked to a major newspaper or mentioned on a celebrity website. I started reading a couple blogs by real life friends Kim, Amy and Maureen a few months back and I became inspired by their bravery to share their lives. Thank you friends!