Friday, March 29, 2013

Project Reroll Walks to Mordor

In about a year, I'll be headed to New Zealand on a three week family excursion to explore the great outdoors and visit some of the beautiful sites used in the Lord of the Rings films. I want to do an actual backpacking adventure to Mordor. I was really amused and inspired by the 6 day trek from Hobbiton to Mordor completed by the guys from the webseries, "A Simple Walk Into Mordor." They found out that the filming locations for Hobbiton and Mordor were only 120 miles apart and that contrary to popular meme beliefs, one could pretty simply walk into Mordor. I feel like that is a totally doable journey and given the fact that we'll be there for three weeks, we could embark on a similar trek and still leave tons of time for luxury and indulgence!

However, I may be somewhat limited by my traveling companions. My parents are joining me and while they are fairy active on a regular basis, they are over sixty years old and might not have the same "hardcore" attitude about retracing Frodo's journey that I have adopted. We've definitely agreed to do some hikes and camping, but I thought I might be able to encourage all of us to do more of the backpacking adventures I have in mind if we spend the months leading up to our trip getting more active as a family.

I was really inspired by Steve Kamb's article on Nerd Fitness about the actual distance you'd have to walk to get from Hobbiton to Mordor and the amazing benefits of walking as exercise. He broke it down into legs of the journey, each between 389 and 683 miles. Walking is low intensity exercise anyone can do (as long as you have the use of your legs) regardless of age and it's a great way to supplement your regular exercise program because it won't put any extra high impact stress on your joints. Aside from being low impact, it doesn't add any stress to your exercise routine. If you're strength training, intense cardio can have a negative impact on the gains you're striving for. If you're already running, then this exercise won't place further strain on your body. You can easily add it into your day without a gym membership and it burns a fair amount of calories once you get moving. It's even good for mental health and clearing your head. 

So, I thought, why not have our own trek to Mordor in preparation for our actual trek to Mordor. When I shared this idea on Facebook, I received messages from a bunch of people who said they'd be interested in doing the same thing. Hey, the more, the merrier! Read on to see how you can get involved in "Project Reroll Walks to Mordor."

In his article, Steve broke it down into eight legs of the journey that average out the miles walked by the Fellowship as they branch out into different mini groups. We'll be using this breakdown for the challenge to keep it simple and focused, but you can get more detailed about it if you want. You can find more detailed breakdowns actual distances walked by all the members of the fellowship in Lord of the Rings  on This site breaks the legs down into smaller mileage so you can see where they stopped to rest for conies and taters.

We'll have to measure our distances travelled. I decided I wanted to get a FitBit a while ago so I used this opportunity to make good on that idea. It measures miles, steps taken, and calories burned. You can break it down by day, week, month, year, or lifetime. It's a handy little tool to which I will definitely devote a much longer blog post in the future. I don't care how anyone else measures their miles for the challenge. You can use your own pedometer device or download an app for your phone. It's all about what works for you!

This is a challenge, not a contest. It's just a fun way to measure our activity and encourage more of it! You don't have to "prove" how many miles you walk and it doesn't matter when you start. It's all in good fun and fitness.

You'll notice I added a page to the blog with a description of the challenge and a link to an open spreadsheet. Feel free to join our fellowship and add your name/handle and progress to the spreadsheet as you. I'll be updating my miles every Wednesday. As long as you do it weekly so we can all get in the habit, I think we'll be able to get a regular idea of how everyone is progressing. You can feel free to encourage and/or harass other members of the Project Reroll Fellowship in the comments on the page. My personal goal is to have finished the mileage by the New Year in preparation for my trip. If I walk an average of 5 miles a day, I should be done in a year, so I'll have to pick up a pace since it's almost April! Lucky for me, I rack up miles pretty easily in NYC.

Well, what are you waiting for?! Add your name to our spreadsheet and get moving! We've got some fat and a very important ring to toss into the fires of Mount Doom!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Zombies, Run 5k Trainer Review

Six weeks ago I embarked on a quest to become a distance runner. 

I didn't wake up at 250 lbs and say, "I'm going to run this weight off, hooray!" Hell no. I quit the cross country team two weeks into the first semester of my freshman year of high school. Growing up, running made me feel like I was going to die.

I never experienced runner's high, just runner's hell.

It wasn't until I lost some of the weight I'd been holding on to for years, realized I'd be out of town and away from the gym for several weeks during the summer, and started using the character I was preparing to cosplay as an inspiration for my workout routine that I finally decided to give running a real chance. I committed myself to at least eight weeks of running training with Couch to 5k. However, no sooner had I started my first week than someone brought Zombies, Run to my attention. It's an app that turns your boring, soul-sucking run into a post apocalyptic race for survival. That's right, fellow nerds! There's a fitness RPG for your phone that will knock your socks off and change the way you look at running forever, or at least that's what it did for me. You can collect resources and build up your base to resist attacks and of course, you can use all the statistics that the app tracks to see how you're doing as far as speed, distance, and much more. They have a website where you can log in and see detailed analysis of your run on a GPS map and accompanying timeline of the music that was playing and the descriptions of the part of the training program that you were on at the time. In this way, you can see how certain exercises affected you and how specific songs or locations may have influenced your run. When something matches fitness, entertainment, and geekdom this fantastically, I just can't resist.

As someone who couldn't run for any serious distances, I was really happy to see that they had a Couch to 5k equivalent. Zombies, Run 5k Training builds up your capacity for distance running while roping you into it's own engrossing story line that keeps you coming back for more in your quest to train as a "runner," one of Abel township's most valuable resources. In the world of Zombies, Run, runners function as lines of communication to the outside world, rescue mission operatives, and collectors for survival gear in the area. Rather than fight the zombies, your job is to move as quickly and quietly as you can so as not to attract undue attention, but more often then not, you do end up outrunning your fair share of hordes while you're out on missions. There's nothing like the fear of having your brains ripped out of your head and eaten by hungry zombies to keep you running at a good clip even when you feel like you want to stop pushing yourself. 

With Zombies, Run 5k Training, you have three missions to complete per week for eight weeks that get you in good enough shape to complete a 5k without stopping to walk. You can repeat missions if you're not ready to move on and all the distance running is labeled as "freeform" (run or walk if you need to).

Here are the pros. The story keeps me invested in my training even when I don't feel like I want to work out. The voice acting is surprisingly great! There is a colorful cast of characters and I always look forward to the times when I get to learn more about them. There's a great mix of drama, comedy, and color commentary on the exercises you're being asked to do during drills (high knees, heel lifts, skipping, etc.). I love inhabiting the character of Runner 5. Going on rescue and resource missions makes me feel like a badass. You can create a workout playlist and use it through the app so that the mission directions and storyline play on top of it throughout your workout. You can use GPS or the accelerometer to track your stats which means if you have bad weather or you prefer to use a treadmill on a regular basis, you have that option available to you. I love being able to assess my improvement or any shortcomings by looking at my run stats on the website. Every week when a new mission program comes up, I always think that it will be an insurmountable challenge, and yet every time I step up to the plate, I finish just fine- not easily, but I feel like my training has really paid off. However they put together the progression of the missions, I completely trust it because I've never felt the need to repeat a mission along the way and I've never stopped to walk during my "freeruns." You can also share your maps and your runs on Facebook and Twitter, which can be fun as well if you're into that sort of thing. The bottom line is that this app makes me look forward to doing something I've always hated. 

Here are the cons. The app does glitch out sometimes. The music player has trouble with large playlists and will sometimes tell you it can't use certain tracks. I usually select "run anyway" and it still has plenty of songs to choose from, but it is a drag that the bug hasn't been fixed despite complaints on their website and in iTunes reviews. Personally, I've used the accelerometer feature over the GPS twice on the treadmill to avoid dangerous running conditions due to inclement weather. The first time it completely bugged out my workout playlist and no music would play. I fixed it by selecting a different playlist but every few minutes it would stop playing any music at all and I'd have stop the mission and restart it. No one wants to be constantly fiddling with their phone and pulling it in and out of their pocket while they're running. It's distracting and very annoying. I got through it, but the statistics were pretty much useless when that happened because my mission got recorded in 4-5 separate pieces. At the very least it didn't make me start the whole mission over every time or I would have rage quit. If running on a treadmill is your thing, I have to say it isn't the best for this particular training app because there are several missions that ask you to stop and do heel lifts, squats, or stretches, causing you to constantly pause your machine. It's also frustrating to constantly be changing the speed on the treadmill to match the commands that the trainer is giving you. Maybe this wouldn't be an issue with the regular Zombies, Run app, but I'm not sure as I haven't had a chance to dig into that yet. The only other bug I've seen is that sometimes it doesn't immediately record my training session statistics on the website. This has happened twice over the six weeks I've used it and the stats usually show up when I complete the following mission. It's not like they're lost or I'm aren't permitted to continue to the next level, but they just don't show up for whatever reason which is a drag. 

Honestly, despite the bugs I mentioned, this is one of the best fitness apps I've ever used. It's taken me from zero to near hero in just six weeks and I can't wait to sink my teeth into the regular Zombies, Run app when I'm done. It's well worth the little bit of money it takes to purchase it and the fun you'll have becoming "Runner 5" will make you wonder why you didn't start running sooner. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

How to Pack for Comic Con

Con packing can be as easy as throwing your favorite geeky t-shirts, convention passes, travel documents, toiletries, and any cash you think you might need into a bag and walking out the door.

If you're a cosplayer, it gets a little more complicated.

If you even have a hope of eating healthy and on a budget, then it's harder still. Sure you're walking around all day, but if you don't want to pack on the pounds or destroy any weight loss progress you've made beforehand, then you are going to want to plan ahead in some capacity.

Let's be honest, con food is hardly ever nutritious and the inflated prices at most convention centers are enough to make me cringe. Personally, I'd rather splurge on one meal a day (usually dinner) and save the rest of my hard earned money (that I haven't spent on assembling/crafting my cosplay!) for the dealers' room. So after three years of experience attending New York Comic Con, PAX East, BlizzCon, etc. and now viewing these events through the eyes of a health conscious cosplayer, here are my tips to help you prepare for successful con.

If you are cosplaying, do your final fitting and test run for your costume. Make sure everything fits and you can move well over an extended period of time without the whole thing falling apart. Then, as you remove your costume, carefully pack it up into your suitcase piece by piece so that you won't forget anything. After all, you just had the whole thing on so you'll be able to keep all the pieces in one place as you remove them. 

Put all the little details, bits, and pieces into a giant bag so they don't get lost in the bottom of your suitcase. Nothing is worse then trying to get ready, freaking out because you forgot something, and then finding out sometime during your stay that you had it the whole time.

Make sure nothing is going to bend or break and that everything is cushioned and in place for the journey. You can lay down a layer of plastic bags to separate your costume from the rest of your stuff if you're afraid of anything ruining it.

Try to get your cosplay finished as early as possible. Set an actual deadline a few days in advance of when you leave to have it finished. That way if there are any emergencies, you can get them fixed in time. It's not a perfect science but it's well worth the effort!

Add in any hair products, styling brushes, etc. that you might need to touch up your 'do.

Make a bag of make-up, SFX accessories you're going to need for your costume, con wear, or party attire. That way it's all in one place and you won't have to go searching your apartment at the last minute for that special blue mascara you bought JUST for this costume.

Make an small emergency kit with scissors, a super glue stick, needle, and thread to carry around with you at the convention. If you have armor of some kind, duct tape is great to keep on you as well. If something breaks, you can fix it up right away and keep enjoying the con without skipping a beat. I also keep a phone charger with me since my phone is my camera and I want to be able to use it all day for photos and finding friends around the con. It's up to you to decide what you specifically need. For instance, in my test runs for Rainbow Dash, I noticed that the white cloud details on my shoes had a tendency to come loose, so I also packed a few extra clouds and the cloud fabric so I could tend to them on the fly or back in the hotel room at night if something really went awry. 

Make a list of anything you can't include in your bag till the morning you leave (phone, iPad, keys, chargers, toothbrush, hairdryer, etc.) and leave that list next to your bag. You can check it before you walk out the door to make sure you didn't miss anything important because you were in a rush.

If you are planning to work out at all during your stay at the convention, then set yourself up for success. Look at the weather. Make sure you're going to be warm if you're going for a morning run. See if your hotel has a gym. Make a plan. If you look into this stuff ahead of time, you're more likely to follow through. Pack up all your appropriate gear once you know what you're goals are. For PAX East, mine is to go for a run Friday morning. I know it will be hard to muster the willpower, but I'm gonna make it happen and once it's done, it will be out of the way!

Make a plan for what you're going to eat. I'm on a tight budget so for PAX East, I decided I'd have one meal "out" a day. The rest I'd be bringing from home and taking with me to the con each morning. I packed a small baggie for each day with a breakfast bar/muffin, some Truvia for my coffee or tea (which I plan to buy each morning in the lobby of my hotel), a morning snack of cashews, an appropriately sized granola bar with high fiber and low sodium for lunch, and an afternoon snack of 1 oz dried cranberries/raisins. That should get me through each day with enough energy until I get to dinner time. Check out the restaurants in the area you're visiting and see if they have menus online. Try to choose what you're going to have ahead of time so that you're not hung out to dry and susceptible to temptation. Be in control. Again, the more you plan, the more likely it is that you will stick to it. I cannot emphasize that enough. You will always make better choices ahead of time than you will in the heat of the moment when you're exhausted from walking around the con and a bacon cheeseburger sounds like just what the doctor ordered.

Have a budget. You've shelled out the money for travel, hotel, and con passes. Think realistically about how much money you will have to spend at the con on food/fun souvenirs and stick to the parameters you set ahead of time when you're in your right mind. Every time I don't do this, I'm really excited about all my new shinies until the moment I check my bank account on Monday and cry. 

See if the convention has an app that lets you create your own schedule of events, panels, and guest appearances. This way you can plan for what you want to do, who you want to see, and even figure when you might have time to eat the food you packed along the way if that helps you with your planning. You won't want to find out later that you missed a panel with someone you really wanted to see!

Last, assemble any passes, after party tickets, hotel confirmations, and travel documents so you can have them all in one place. Like everything else, I like to keep them in their own plastic bag.

These are just my tips based on how I prepared for my trip to PAX East this year. I'm really excited to attend the convention with all my friends and premiere my Rainbow Dash costume after losing over 90 lbs. It's been a long journey to get to this point, and there's more work on the horizon, but this will be a weekend to celebrate how far I've come will all the choices I've been making to pick new stats and slay the fat! 

I certainly do feel a little anxiety when it comes to eating healthy at our dinners out each night, but I really feel like I've given myself the best chance to succeed that I can. I'll let you know how it all goes when I get back! If you have any tips you swear by when it comes to prepping for conventions, leave them in the comments! 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Buffalo Chicken & Sweet Potato Meatza Recipe

The more I learn about the Paleo diet, the more I feel like Sokka from Avatar: The Last Airbender would be all over it. "Meat and sarcasm." That's pretty much his whole identity according to the water tribesman, himself. Sokka is a man on a mission for meat and Paleo dieters won't shut up about how much meat they put into every dish they can. It's a match made in diet heaven!

People refer to eating Paleo as "eating clean" and I get that, but really guys, just imagine a life where this is your reality! Ground beef in eggs served with bacon, chicken and veggies at lunch, and a giant slow cooker beef tip stew for dinner. If that sounds attractive, then maybe Paleo might be a good fit for you. So I thought, if I'm exploring this diet, why not try out another Paleo recipe in the name of appeasing Sokka- something that really puts meat in the Paleo spotlight.

That's when I discovered PaleOMG and their recipe for Buffalo Chicken and Sweet Potato Meatza. What's a meatza, you ask? I didn't question it, myself. I expected that it would be like pizza until I realized that clearly it would be nothing like that since Paleo doesn't allow for dairy or wheat products (sorry crust and cheese! You're out!). The idea here is that the ground beef serves as a crust and you dress the chicken in a Paleo friendly hot sauce along with a few other spices. And voila... or something! All I knew is that Sokka would approve and therefore, challenge accepted.

As for what a Buffalochicken might look like in the Avatar 'verse, I imagine something like this:

Are you sufficiently horrified yet? Good! Let's make a Meatza! My ingredients/recipe varies just slightly from PaleOMG. I call it:

Sokka's Buffalo Chicken & Sweet Potato Meatza

Serves: 9 (PaleOMG swears it serves 4-6, but given the content and my focus on weight loss, I decided servings should probably be one slice and my meatza cut up nicely into nine slices that measured just over a cup. My boyfriend, on the other hand, had two slices. It depends on personal preference!)

  • 2 lbs Ground Beef (if you can get grass fed, then it's better for Paleo purposes. If not, whatevs!)
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1/4 cup of hot sauce. (Hot sauce isn't techically Paleo, but I chose mine from a list of Paleo friendly sauces and it was a Paleo recipe site so I let it slide. My hot sauce was Frank's Original and it was DELICIOUS)
  • 1 tbs dried basil
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • Sea salt
  • Black Pepper
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil (PaleOMG suggests 2 tbs Coconut Oil but I couldn't find any near me and I didn't want to pay a bunch of money to buy some online that I wasn't sure I'd use.)

Kitchenware to have handy:
  • Casserole dish (glass or metal)
  • Frying pan with glass cover
  • Mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • Knife
  • Paper towel
  • Spatula
  • Oven mits (no seriously)

  • Wash your hands. You're about to be touching a lot of meat.
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • While the oven is heating, prep EVERYTHING. Once this recipe starts moving it's important that you give full attention to the actual cooking because things start happening very fast. 
    • Peel and chop up your sweet potato into quarter inch cubes.

    • Season your ground beef in a big mixing bowl with the basil, oregano, and any salt and pepper you desire. I try to eat low sodium so I just added a little sea salt and a few good shakes of Black pepper. Now get in there and mush it all up together into a giant seasoned meat glob.

    • Wash your hands.
    • Get your ground chicken open.
    • Prepare small plate or bowl containing your garlic and onion powder, along with any salt and pepper you want to use. You could also just dump the seasoning onto the chicken and mush it up like you did with the beef. It's up to you!

    • Measure out a 1/4 cup of hot sauce.
  • We are go for launch. Take your giant meat glob and use it to line the bottom of the  casserole dish. It should be about a quarter inch thick and even all the way across.
  • Stick it in the oven for 12-15 minutes to bake.
  • Put your frying pan on medium heat. Add your extra virgin olive oil to the pan and once it heats up and once you've coated the pan, add in your sweet potato cubes. Push them around a bit to make sure they get covered in the oil. 

  • Then cover the pan to let them steam and soften for about 5 minutes. Watch them carefully. They can easily burn during this phase if you're not careful.
  • When you're happy with the softness of the yams, add in the chicken and then dump the onion & garlic powder/salt & pepper seasoning on top. 
  • Use a wooden spoon to break up the chicken and mix it in with the sweet potatoes. Cover it again and allow it to cook completely.

  • Now dump in your pre-measured hot sauce and make sure you stir it into the sweat potatoes and chicken thoroughly. 
  • When your beef is done cooking, pull it out of the oven. You may notice a lot of grease. Do your best to drain the pain of it and feel free to use paper towel to mop up any extra. No sense in eating more of that than you have to.
  • When you're satisfied with your degreasing, dump your chicken and sweet potatoes on top. Make sure it's spread out evenly. You might want to add more hot sauce on top of everything at this point. 

  • Put the casserole dish back in the oven and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and serve! The serving size should be about a cup, maybe a little over. The advantage of Paleo is that if you eat from a prescribed list of foods, you don't need "servings" and you just eat till your full. However, I'm doing Nutrisystem and flexing the plan to try this recipe, I was operating off of a sense of proper serving size, which, personally, I think is important to keep in perspective no matter what diet plan you're using. 

All in all, the recipe was very... well, meaty! It might be a little too much meat for me personally, but even the small serving I had was enough to really fill me up which was very satisfying. If I were to do it over again, I wouldn't have been so afraid of the hot sauce and I would probably skip the whole "Meatza" idea and just use the portion of the recipe for the buffalo style sweet potatoes and chicken to serve with a heap of similarly seasoned veggies. So, give it a try and let me know how you like it! Also make sure you check out PaleOMG because that site has a ton of fascinating and delicious recipes for anyone who wants to try Paleo but doesn't want to just have chicken and broccoli every night. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My Special Somepony!

This past weekend was spent on the final preparations for PAX East. I use costumes and events like this to mark weight loss goals and I'm really excited about this one since not only have I already surpassed my milestone goal of losing 88 lbs, but also because my boyfriend, Brandon, is going to participate in this cosplay event with me. I've been hard at work crafting and sewing our costumes and super anxious to see the whole thing come together. Brandon is leaving for spring break and meeting me in Boston for the convention, so I wanted to make sure he tried everything on in case anything needed to be adjusted.

As an actor, I'm used to assuming roles, playing make believe and transforming myself physically, but this is Brandon's first time cosplaying at a fan convention and I wanted to make sure he was as excited and happy as possible. When he finally put everything on, he just lit up! It was like he walked right out of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and into my living room. He was glowing and grinning from ear to ear. It was truly adorable and not only was I so incredibly proud and happy with my handiwork, but I found it so rewarding to give him the ability to experience one of my favorite aspects of conventions. 

You see, Brandon has really been there for me during this journey. He's dealt with my obsessions over calorie counting, my anxiety over not being able to constantly indulge in comfort food, my plateaus, my gains, and my victories. He's been the one to talk me through a lot of the inner turmoil I've had as my body changed, I saw myself differently, and I began to be treated differently by people out in the world. I think we all need people like that in order to process our changes and find lasting success.

I've read so many blogs and forum posts about couples, family members or close friends wherein one person is trying to get healthy and the other person isn't. Brandon is certainly supportive of my quest and aware of my choices, but I don't expect him to make the same ones in order to make me comfortable. Sometimes the posts I read are positive, but a majority of the time they describe sad tales of sabotage, passive aggression, and constant frustration that ultimate derails the person working on their health or causes them to slow their progress.

While I do believe in accepting that we cannot control every variable around us (i.e. expect other people in our lives to eat what we eat, ban all goodies from the house, workout all the time), I do think we all owe it to ourselves to create an environment that's conducive to our success. If what I'm describing sounds all too familiar, I really urge you to sit down with anyone who is causing this kind of strife and address it. Explain that you don't expect them to go through it step by step the way you are, but that you do expect them not to actively make it harder on you. If they still don't get it, go to that uncomfortable, vulnerable place and tell them WHY it's so important to you that you succeed. If they have any sense of empathy at all, they'll begin to understand how big a deal this is to you. 

The hardest thing to accept is that some people are just toxic. If you go through all of that conflict resolution and the person on the other side of the table remains defensive, negative, or unsympathetic, then you need to accept that he/she is not someone you can be around if you really care about your health. That might be easier said than done, but I truly believe it to be the case. When it comes to the behavior of others, the one thing you CAN control is whether or not you're putting yourself at risk by subjecting yourself their presence. That can make or break your success. We spend every day making choices about our health and this one is just as important. Make sure that everyone around you has your back and your best interests in mind.
I'm certainly glad to have my Special Somepony in my life because I know he's a big part of why I've been so strong throughout this experience and I hope he knows I don't take any of his efforts for granted. Sometimes it's nice to do something that let's the person/people who support you know just how much they mean to you. whether that means making them a bacon cheeseburger even though you can't have one or transforming them into pony from a children's cartoon about friendship and magic.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Stay on Target Stir-fry

Ah my monthly plateau. I've eaten perfectly all week and worked out six out of seven days and yet today at my weigh-in I find I've gained a 1.2 lbs. This happens every month right before "the time that shall not be named" and even though I know it's just a fact of life, it still drives me completely up the damn wall. Seeing a negative number on the scale can really mess with your head, but you just have to persevere and remember all the work you've put in plus how important it is to continue moving forward. As Gold Five says in Star Wars: A New Hope, "Stay on target!"

One thing I've been working on is amping up my knowledge of nutrition and various different diet plans. I've been interested in learning about Paleo even though I'm unsure if it's ultimately what I would want as far as a full time eating plan. I'm a part of the "Nerd Fitness" Rebellion and a lot of people on those forums swear by it and I can see it's appeal because it's one of those diets that really does allow you to eat a ton of different delicious things in any quantity you like as long as you avoid the big "no-nos" which are anything processed; wheat, flour, sugar or its equivalents, dairy, or legumes.

As a part of my "Level Up Your Life" 6 week challenge on the Nerd Fitness forums, I made a goal to cook three Paleo recipes in order to help me explore the plan and also remedy my lack of cooking ability, something that is going to have to change if I'm going to maintain my weight loss and eat on a budget once I reach my weight goal on the Nutrisystem plan. So without further ado, here's the recipe I came up with for stir fry!

Stay on Target Stirfry

  • Broccoli
  • Shiitake Mushrooms
  • Carrots
  • Chicken Breast
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Lime

  1. First wash and cut up all of your veggies. I bought mine already cut up and ready to go which really cut down on my prep time so if you don't mind spending a bit more money, then awesome. Are they cut up? Great! Set them aside.
  2. Next put your skillet or wok on the stove. Set the heat on low.
  3. Cut up your chicken into small pieces. I prefer half inch thick slices but it's really up to you.
  4. Throw your chicken into the skillet and drizzle a dash of your extra virgin olive oil on it. We're trying to be conservative with this ingredient. Now use a spatula to stir the chicken to get it all coated with the olive oil and make sure it's all spread out evenly. 
  5. Now season the chicken with the garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt (be conservative!), and black pepper. 
  6. Cut your lime in half. Squeeze one half over the chicken and save the other for the veggies.
  7. Cook the chicken for 10-15 minutes to make sure it's cooked. Keep moving it around with your spatula every once in a while to make sure it's cooking evenly and that everything is covered in the seasoning. I also use this time to clean up after myself while I'm hanging out; wash the cutting board, the knife, clear away any packaging, etc.
  8. When the chicken is done, remove it from the skillet and put it aside on a plate.
  9. Dump all your veggies in the skillet. Drizzle a modest amount of olive oil on them.
  10. Repeat the same seasoning process you used for the chicken.
  11. Squeeze the second half of the lime onto the veggies.
  12. Stir everything up. Keep moving it around so that it will all cook evenly.
  13. When you think it's done, then taste one of each type. If it tastes done, then it's done! If it doesn't, keeping going and repeat the taste test process.
  14. When the veggies taste done, dump the chicken back into the skillet and cook everything together for about a minute.
  15. Turn off the heat and serve up your stir fry!

It's delicious, healthy, and will definitely help you stay full and stay on target when it comes to weight loss! I promise you that you'll be super excited to clean your plate and sad to see it all gone. I know I was! Let me know how you liked the recipe if you try it out!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

That's a Lot of Hair

Everyone has been commenting on how long my hair has gotten. I have nice hair and all, but damn. It really is engulfing me at this point. I think I used to hide behind my hair and makeup to a certain extent. Those were things I didn't have to work at that I felt were naturally beautiful about myself- a very short list to be certain! I wanted my hair to be long because I could use it to pull around my face and camouflage how big my shoulders and neck were as well as how undefined my features had become. I used my makeup to define the features I liked and I put a lot of effort into eye makeup. It was as if I was saying, "LOOK HERE. DON'T LOOK ANYWHERE ELSE. GOD HELP YOU IF YOU LOOK ANYWHERE ELSE." It makes me laugh when I think about it now. 

At this point, I don't feel like I need to hide. As my mom put it, "You need to make sure your outer you matches the amount of effort you put into making it what it is." Maybe that's a little vain, but when you work in entertainment like I do, it's especially important to have a sense of style about you and to put your best foot forward. First impressions are important, and for me, they can make or break me when it comes to entering an audition room. I'm not saying I'm blowing out my hair and doing elaborate makeup every day, but I put a lot more thought into how I walk out into the world now because I feel like it's worth it. I try to wear clothes that fit and to dress up a little if I'm going out. I'll never not prioritize being comfortable, but there are ways to be comfortable and look like you give a damn. Before, I did "whatever" because I figured there was nothing I could do to salvage the whole mess anyways so why even try? I think I was doing myself a disservice in so many ways. If I had cared more about how I looked, I might have cared more about my health. The truth is, I care about both of those things now- though obviously my priority is treating my body with care and love rather than self destruction and rejection. I really feel like that dichotomy is finally shifting inside of me in a really  meaningful and positive way. 

So with all that in mind, I decided to go get a haircut today! If I had my druthers, I would have done something dramatic about the color, but one step at a time. I don't want to erase past-me just because I'm changing so drastically. And yet, after liking my white wig at New York Comic Con so much, I've been considering going super white platinum blond like Daenerys from Game of Thrones. It would be a MONUMENTAL change so I'm not about to jump into it blindly. I've heard that color might be really hard to maintain, but the stylist who I worked with today made it sound like it wouldn't be that hard for me because my roots are really light. I thought I had pretty dark hair, but it's possible my hair has been changing color and I just didn't know since I just keep recoloring it red. At any rate, first step, shorter hair and less broken dry messiness! Let me know what you think!


Monday, March 4, 2013

Common Complaints about Dieting and Weight Loss

When I read other health and weight loss blogs and forum posts,  I see a lot of repeated complaints and excuses. Having made most of these myself and learned from the experience, I thought I'd do my best to give you my point of view on how to approach them and stay on track with your goals.

  • "I'm losing 1-2 lbs a week, but it's not fast enough."
    • When we're unhappy with ourselves and going through a physical transformation, it's really common to want some sort of magical cure. We all know that feeling! We want to wake up the next morning to find all of our insecurities have melted away. Well, folks. weight loss is not magic! This is why I'm leery of any ads that say things like "the pounds just melted away." That gives you impression that you don't have to do anything to make it work and that's just untrue. Stop thinking that just because you have plan or you are going to the gym more than you used to that you won't have to put in the time and the grueling work that it takes to meet your goal. Losing one or two pounds in a week is fantastic. That's a healthy rate for your body. I used to be so guilty of complaining that I was tired of not being "done yet." I behaved like I was a Christmas ham that needed to be done by dinner time! I let these impatient and discontent emotions consume me and ultimately derail any diet I ever tried. This time around I looked at how much weight I had to lose and made an estimate for how long this whole journey might take at a rate of 2 lbs lost per week. I immediately had to face the fact that it might take me a year and a few months to lose 120 lbs. I groaned and griped, but knowing what I was facing for the long haul helped me commit. I knew what I was getting into. Do yourself a favor and stop being hard on yourself for not going fast enough. If you're working out and you're eating right, the weight will come off. 
  • "My friend/husband/boyfriend is losing weight faster than me. It's not fair."
    • There are so many factors at work here. A lot of times (not always), guys are able lose weight faster than girls. It's just how they're built as humans. That doesn't make it easy. If you're a girl, don't hold yourself to their impossible standards. If your friend is the same sex as you, what are they doing to lose weight? Are you strength training? Are they not? Are you truly as committed as they are? Are they doing things right or are they actually suffering from some sort of disorder? Are your metabolisms really different? Even if you can answer all those questions, you need to focus on YOU. I know a lot of people in my social circle who have a few pounds they'd like to lose. They're all on their own personal journeys and so am I. A lot of them have a lot less weight too lose or progress to make than I do and it would be easy to get bitter about that, but jealousy is such a useless waste of my energy. That stuff is so arbitrary and out of your control. If you're worried about your diet, assess how it's going for you, talk to a nutritionist, and make sure you're executing a great plan that you can sustain. What works for your friends might not work for you. Make peace with that. 
  • "I hated this one workout I did and now I don't want to workout at all."
    • I have to admit, this one annoys me when I hear it. Do you know how many options you have, regardless of age, injury, or disability? Walking, running, dancing, Crossfit, spinning, weight training, yoga, Tai Chi, swimming, step aerobics, Freerunning, Martial Arts- too many to even list. There is something out there for everyone, but you have to follow through on finding it and sticking to it if it's going to do you any good. If you hate something, great! Don't do it, but don't throw up your hands and write off all exercise. That's just silly! I see so many people say, "I can't exercise." Can you walk even 10 minutes a day? Then do that! Just because you're not benching 300 lbs doesn't mean it's not worth your while. You can gradually increase the intensity of your workouts as you go. You don't need to have super high expectations of yourself when you start. At 250 lbs, you better believe I thought the idea of running was insanity. Now over 90 lbs lighter, I run three times a week because I slowly got myself ready for it. Today I ran 21 minutes without stopping for the first time and it felt great, but I didn't just wake up one day and decide to do that. I trained my body to handle it so that I'd have something I could do when I need to work out on vacation. The fact is, you need to be active no matter who you are and with all the options available to you, there's gotta be SOMETHING you can do and enjoy. Once you find that thing, do it and love it! AND! Don't be afraid to return to something you didn't like later in your progress because with your new fitness level you might find that you are less discouraged and more comfortable. 
  • "My friends get to eat all this stuff and I don't and now I'm sad."
    • Ok, first of all, your friends don't get to eat anything. They are choosing to eat what they want and so are you. If their priority is health, they're going to choose differently. If that's not a priority for them, they might not be as rigorous about portions and willpower as you are. You can only do what's right for you. The key is "choice." Don't let temptations control you if they arrive out of the blue (i.e. someone brings in cupcakes to work, you see a hotdog vendor on a street corner, or you pass a Godiva shop.). Treating yourself is fine as long as you plan for it. Then you can adjust the rest of your daily nutrition around that choice. I know I wouldn't make it through life if I were completely Nazi-like about what I ate every single day. Birthdays, holidays, and special occasions come up and you can enjoy them guilt free if you just put a little forethought into your choices. Bottom line, diets don't work if you eat all the food on your plan AND THEN start eating additional items on top of that. That's not a diet. That's just eating because you feel like it. Recognize the difference and learn how to incorporate indulgences into your plan when you want to. 
  • "The scale isn't moving. I feel like giving up."
    • I've been so guilty of this when I hit a plateau. Sometimes your body needs time to adjust. Keep up with your diet and exercise and science dictates that you will lose weight. It's when your frustration becomes an excuse for cheating or being lazy that people start losing it. I see so many people throw up their hands and say, "I'm doing EVERYTHING RIGHT." Are you? If you are, then great. Stop worrying. If you're not, get yourself back on track and the scale will move. After losing over 90 lbs on this quest, I'm no stranger to the plateau demon. All I can say is that it will stick around and make you doubt yourself and hate the process for a week or two and then bam, the scale moves again and you feel elated and super happy that you didn't derail yourself in frustration. It's worth it to stick it out!
  • "I cheated on my diet and now I can't get back on track."
    • When I cheated on my diet, I used to stop everything I was doing right and punish myself mentally. I'd give up on my diet and start filling my disappointment with more food. Then I'd get mad at myself for cheating more and I'd berate myself again. Then eat again- and so on. It was a vicious cycle. I've cheated on my diet a hand-full of times over the last 8 months, but I kept going. That's really the most vital piece of advice I can give. If you mess up, the results on the scale are punishment enough. If you truly want this for all the right reasons, you'll keep going. Just assess what happened. Try to figure out what triggered it and understand why you did it. Then forgive yourself and move on! Tomorrow is another opportunity for you to make great choices. Don't let one bad choice represent you when there's so much you have already done to improve your health. 

I realize that there's a bit of tough love in this post, but sometimes I think we all need a little kick in the caboose to remind us that this is a challenge and sometimes we're going to face roadblocks, pain, and stress, but that doesn't mean we should give up and say "this doesn't work" or "I can't do this." There are ways to get beyond your complaints and excuses. Learning how to move on from them is every bit as important as the results of your work. We have to change our thinking or those hard won results won't last.