Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bigger On The Inside

Every man is a Tardis; defined by a rigid structure on the outside and containing infinite possibilities within. I think the most common misperception about weight loss is that it's a physical act. You move your body, you eat the right food, and then your results happen. 

Yes, the Tardis travels, but it's what's inside that gets it from place to place. 

More important than your physical ability to become more athletic and active is the decision to take the first step, the second, and so on. It takes a strength of mind and sense of vigilant determination that I'm not sure everyone is ready to deal with, especially if what you're seeking is a major transformation. 

Losing 100 lbs took a little under a year for me and in that year, my size wasn't the only thing that changed. It was a little bit like regenerating. I discovered I had a "fighting hand." I confronted my demons, I stood up for myself when I felt I was being mistreated, and when I made mistakes I fought to get back on track. Those were not things that were a part of my personality before hand, but they feel like a second skin now. 

The fact is that life is going to hand you a lot of distractions that fall outside of your rigid little plan of action. During the last year, I had to constantly ask and remind myself why I was putting myself through it. I reminded myself of all the things I was rejecting from my life and why. I had to get in touch with why I was worth getting up at 6AM to run, why my decision to not enjoy Holiday season treats along with everyone else for one year was a necessary step, and why I should keep exposing myself to new workouts, and nutrition knowledge despite being comfy with my routine. I got in touch with what I wanted. I wanted to be able to go to the doctor and not have my weight be an issue. I wanted to cosplay with confidence. I wanted to be able to experience a more physical body. I wanted to salvage a chance at a career in the entertainment industry. I wanted to be proud of every part of myself and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I live without regrets. 

What you want can change, but it's important to keep revisiting it or you'll lose direction and focus. Hell I wanted to be an astronaut more than ANYTHING when I was younger. I still want it, but it was unrealistic given my complete lack of mathematical prowess. It felt like an earth shattering regeneration when I realized I needed to look somewhere else for a goal and drive, but it's what has made me who I am today and it got me in touch with my more natural inclinations and talents as a story teller and as a performer. I'm sure I'll face a ton of wibbly wobbly timey wimey transformations throughout my life as I learn more specifically what I want, but as long as I keep asking the question, I think I'll get where I'm going. 

When it comes to your health, keep asking yourself what you want. Don't be afraid to change things up as long as you keep traveling. Don't be afraid to end up in the wrong place and learn from it. Don't be afraid when you see your personality changing along with your physical body. Don't be afraid of the destination when you arrive. 

Don't blink. Not because of the angels, but because if you do, you might miss all the fantastic nuances of the journey you're on. You won't remember the number on the scale as much as you'll remember everything you learned on the way there. That's what will keep you traveling in the end. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Call to Arms: Childhood Obesity Amongst Geeks

I'm putting out a call to arms. This country has a real obesity problem and it starts with our kids. I feel like our wee nerdlettes have it even worse because society expects them to grow up in their mom's basement, stuffing themselves with Doritos and pizza and not contributing to society beyond fighting over the conclusion of Battlestar Galactica on web forums. 

I'm not a nutritionist and I'm not a physician, but I am one of those former-fat-kid-dreamers who is fighting her way to a healthier adulthood without rejecting her fandom or blaming it. I don't think loving comics, scifi, and fantasy is an obesity death sentence like some people do. Geeks are naturally obsessive so if they can obsess about what inspires them, they tend to be more unstoppable than ANY other section of society. At least, that's my opinion and I am terribly biased! I've said this many times on this blog but I had one major mental shift that helped me want change, rather than being told I needed to make it. 

I don't want to watch heroes. I want to be the hero in the epic tale of my life. 

Kids these days are so detached from what they do and what they eat. Some don't even know what fresh food is or where it comes from. 

Heroes are people they admire in TV shows or movies or they play them as avatars in video games. Sure, they want to be like Thor, train Pokemon like Ash, or adorably parkour around obstacles like Rapunzel from Tangled, but what if that went beyond simply playing dress-up or appeasing their interest with more content featuring those characters. What if we could get them in touch with what those characters actually do and stand for so that they can put those things into action in their own lives. 

What if we could show them what Chris Hemsworth does to train for Thor and helped them learn how to do a popper sit-up or push-up? What if we took them to a beginner parkour class so they could pull Assassin's Creed stunts? What if we encourage them to build an adventurer's heart like The Doctor! What if we got them into water bending by doing tai chi in the mornings? What if we taught them to cook food that looks like it came out of a Ghibli film so that they could grow up with the power to feed their health rather than their impulses? 

It's gotta be possible. We should be leading the way for the next generation. I don't have kids but I've spent some time as a mentor and as a camp counselor and I'm pretty passionate about being a good influence on our youth. I want to start taking Project Reroll into that realm. If have any readers with kids, younger siblings, or even people they babysit up to 17 years old, I'd like to issue my first "Mini Slayer" challenge.

The Mini Slayer Halloween Challenge

This week is Halloween, incidentally one of my favorite holidays because we get to ask ourselves what and who we want to be! It's incredibly empowering! 

  • The first step is to take a picture of the kid participating in the challenge in their Halloween costume and have them write a sentence about why they chose be that thing/person. 
  • Then, for just one week following Halloween (Friday to Friday), you and the young slayer participating will agree to do three active adventures based on the theme of their costume. This could be going for nature walks if they were Poison Ivy or finding your center with some Yoga Jedi training. Get creative! Make it something they're excited about!
  • The second part of the challenge deals with diet. Aside from one piece of candy a day, you will agree to make every meal using fresh, non processed food and that you will eat at least one serving of vegetables and one serving of fruit each day. You do not have to eat Paleo, but ideally this whole plan will force you to spend a little time talking about food and cooking together each day.
  • At the end, I'd love to hear about some of the meals you made and see pictures from the activities you did so I can share them here, on our Facebook page and on Twitter. There's no scale or measurements involved here. It's just about using fantasy to inspire and integrate active and healthier experiences into a kid's life for one week. 

Please send all photos and descriptions of your experiences to and leave a comment here if you're planning to participate so I can be on the look out for submissions! Best of luck Slayers! I choose you!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Jedi Fuel Pumpkin Smoothies
Winter is coming, and 'tis the season of all things Pumpkin Spice. Sadly, almost everything that calls my name is terrible for me. If I'm choosing to spend so much time building themed teams in Pokemon X, then I can't be simultaneously stuffing my face with everything that suits my fancy.

Geek Nation
I'm convinced that there are Sith Lords out there with knowledge of all of my worst seasonal weaknesses. Between Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks, Pumpkin Smash smoothies at Jamba Juice, and an array of pumpkin flavored pastries at Dunkin' Donuts it's temptation city.  So I put out the call on twitter and facebook for Paleo Pumpkin recipes. Boy did I get a ton of great stuff back! My friend Michelle linked me a recipe for Raw Pumpkin Balls, which I haven't gotten a chance to try yet but I can only believe it's like Halloween exploding in your mouth based on the ingredient list. However it was my "Jedi Sister" Emily who blew it out of the park with a Paleo replacement for that Pumpkin Smash smoothie I've been  hankering for. 

Emily and I spent our youths looking at the sky and imagining our adventures among the stars as Jedi Knights. When we met at soccer practice and admitted our love of Han Solo, it was BFF central. We even saved all our money so we could go to Space Camp and buried a Jedi time capsule in my back yard with all of our childhood secrets. 

Emily is a powerful role model. Not only is she a thoughtful, empathetic, intelligent person, but she is determined to meet every challenge she faces head on. I remember when she got into the Naval Academy, she started doing athletic training at home in Chicago so that she would be ready. No one else I knew at that age was attempting something like that. Add to her list of accomplishments living abroad in Japan to serve in the navy, starting grad school, and spending her free time training for half marathons. Seriously, is there anything she can't do? Apparently not because I tried this recipe and its amazing. I made a few tiny adjustments, but we wouldn't be Jedi Sisters if we didn't collaborate on our missions! Try it out and let me know what you think!

Jedi Fuel Pumpkin Smoothie

  • Ingredients
  • 2/3 cup of almond milk
  • 1/3 cup of organic pure pumpkin (canned is fine, but read the label to make sure no sugar or chemicals are added)
  • 1 cup frozen organic pure pumpkin (same as above)
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

  1. The day before you intend to make your smoothie, put one cup of canned pumpkin in the freezer. Make sure it's chopped up a bit so that you can use it in place of ice. Make sure you put it in a freezer safe plastic bag.
  2. Add all the ingredients to your blender. Make sure your "ice chip" pumpkin pieces are broken up. 
  3. Blend till smooth. 
  4. Drink in your Jedi Fuel, confident in your delicious yet healthy Light Side diet choice. 

If you have other pumpkin recipes you'd like to share, please feel free to add them in the comments! On a slightly separate note, while I was at New York Comic Con, I chatted with some industry folks about what it would take to self publish a Project Reroll Paleo cookbook. Would that be something you Slayers would be interested in? 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Baked Chocobo with Greens and Sweet Potato

Everyone is playing the new Final Fantasy MMO but me and it's driving me to madness. It's the kind of thing I would absolutely love to play but can't afford to spend the money on for the amount of enjoyment I'd get out of it at this point. I know as soon as I decide to give in and buy it, they'll all be bored and switch to something else. So I've decided to do something a little... drastic?

I'm going to kill and eat all of the chocobos until there are none left and my friends won't have mounts  for their adventures, they all flock back to ME, and hopefully play Pokemon X/Y instead!


Ahem. So anyways.

The best part is, this Paleo recipe is DELICIOUS and super easy to whip up. Without further ado, here's my recipe for:

Baked Chocobo with Greens and Sweet Potato

Serves: 3


  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 1 bundle of asparagus
  • 3 Sweet Potatoes
  • 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon of garlic powder.
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. 
  2. Take a baking sheet and line it with aluminum foil.
  3. Cut off the butts of the asparagus and check for mold (GROSS, but do it just in case or you'll need all the white mages).
  4. Wash the asparagus and then lay it out evenly on the baking sheet. 
  5. Drizzle 2 tbs of  extra virgin olive oil on the the asparagus followed by salt, pepper and a teaspoon of garlic powder.
  6. Once that's done, use your hands to evenly toss the asparagus with the seasonings and oil. 
  7. Cut the excess fat from the chicken and then use a knife to score the top of the breast 3-5 times. 
  8. Place the chicken in a baking dish and add 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. 
  9. Roll the chicken around in the marinade until it thickens and everything is evenly coated. Warning: When you put all of the ingredients in that dish, it will look wrong because everything will seem like it's in a sea of oil. Once the garlic powder and the oil/balsamic gets rubbed into the chicken a bit, there will be far less extra marinade in the dish, so just trust me. 
  10. Put both the asparagus and the chicken in the oven.
  11. Set two timers; one for asparagus and one for the chicken. Set the asparagus timer for 11 minutes and the chicken for 25 minutes.
  12. When the asparagus is done, take it out of the oven while the chicken continues to bake and cover it. 
  13. Wash sweet potatoes and dry carefully so that they don't steam in the microwave. 
  14. Scour them with a knife 3-5 times on each side.
  15. Wrap each potato in a piece of paper towel. 
  16. Put each one in the microwave for five minutes (Make sure you do it individually or they won't cook all the way through). 
  17. Pull your chicken out when the timer goes off. Check to make sure it's cooked all the way through.
  18. Serve your chocobo meal and eat it. EAT IT WHILE THE CHILDREN CRY. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Projects & Pumpkins

Hey Slayers! Simone here, checking in with some fall updates!

I don't know about you, but I'm having a crazily busy fall so far. This is the first autumn in 18+ years that I haven't been going back to school full-time, and I naively thought I'd have more free time now. Ha!

There have been some fun new developments, though. First announcement: I'm stably employed! Hooray! My temporary position will officially become permanent on Monday. This is my first non-retail/non-temporary job ever, and I'm pretty psyched. Just in time for my student loan bills! Yay, adulthood!

Now that I officially have an office desk, I think it might be time to try making a terrarium to decorate!
My current desk decor could use a little help, don't you think?
Also, I gotta say, the 5k last weekend was a blast. My coworkers and I achieved our goal of not stopping to walk for the entire 3.1 mile course. I have never done that before! We had lovely weather and a really nice time. They might even be able to talk me into doing it next year... We'll see!

I've also been working on some other personal goals! My friends and I have added Monday as a third garage CrossFit day. It was originally intended for just our roommates, but quickly grew to include several Tuesday/Thursday regulars as well. I'm getting really close to strict and kipping pull-ups, and starting to tap into a more "can-do" mental state as well instead of telling everyone "I can't." It certainly makes for a more fun and rewarding workout experience. :)

I'm also going to do my first workout in a real CrossFit gym with my mom! I'm not sure if I can afford a membership yet, but I know having access to skilled coaches would probably double my progress. I'm also interested in being a coach someday, but I have a ways to go yet! My mom is a little apprehensive about the "hardcore" appearance of CrossFit, as I'm sure many people are (I was too!); I'm hoping to show her that it can be for everyone, and that at the right gym it's just a supportive community with a fun, dynamic, and challenging workout to get through together. Either way, we'll both be giving each other moral support! :)

In my copious remaining free time, I'm trying to teach myself Photoshop/Illustrator and basic web design. I have no background with this and never got the chance to take classes in college, but my own personal blog just turned 5 last week, and I'd like to refresh it a bit! I'm also working on my Lara costume little by little. Here's the first glimpse at my thigh holster -- it's still in progress, but hopefully I'll have more pictures after the weekend!

Last Friday night = National Treasure and crafting. No regrets!
Meal planning is still a struggle as always; I did well earlier this week and then had a (delicious) grilled cheese and two cupcakes for my coworker's birthday yesterday. But life goes on -- this weekend I will be sure to make meal planning a priority again. I'm also putting together an exciting nutrition challenge for my fellow garage crossfitters that I'm pretty excited about!

Speaking of meal planning and preparation, do these paleo pumpkin chocolate chip muffins from PaleOMG look great or what?! I sense baking in my weekend!


Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Only Way to Fail Is to Give Up

Photo by G. Edwards Photography
This past weekend at New York Comic Con was a ton of fun for a lot of reasons, but there was something that happened which reminded me of how far I've come in the last year and it's a sentiment that I think everyone should try to incorporate into their lives.

As you all know, I spent over 120 hours in the last month making my Dragon Age costume for Comic Con. I learned a whole new set of skills. I spent a lot of money, sweat, tears, and passion on creating my Tallis costume for NYCC. I carefully tested everything out before the event and wore the armor around the house for a few hours so I could make adjustments for comfort and fit. I was ready.

I wouldn't find out how sadly mistaken I was till the morning of the con on Friday. My friend had done my hair and make-up, another had helped apply my ears, and yet another was on hand to help me get suited up. I had a support team of champions at the ready to help me look my best. I'd done a Whole30 leading up to day of the con to slim down a little. Well, apparently I slimmed down more than a little. When I pulled on the leg guards, they immediately slid down my legs. I couldn't take a step without them falling down around my ankles. The more that happened, the more they started to destroy my boot covers. When I was going to the bag check the bag ripped my choker apart somehow. It was like watching Vesuvius destroy Pompeii. The pieces of the puzzle were all there, but they were losing functionality by the second. I really just wanted to crawl into a hole and die. Not only had I made this costume for me, but I made it so that I could have an immediate "in" for starting conversations with people and telling them about this site and my mission to help my fellow geeks get what they want out of life, whether that's getting healthy, getting into cosplay, or just chasing after their life goals. Obviously conventions are fun, but they're also great for networking and cosplay is a wonderful way to bring fellow fans out of the wood work. 

It was just a gargantuan disappointment. It made me miss one of the panels I was most looking forward to and it felt like the world was crashing down around me as my masterpiece fell apart. It got to the point where I had to make an important decision. I could struggle to wear it all day and be horribly uncomfortable as the costume was destroyed through wear and tear, or I could take it off and just be a normal con-goer. That might sound like a silly thing to stress over, but in the past year I've realize how very important cosplay is to me. It has completely changed my convention experience and I oddly feel naked without it. 

As horrible as that all felt, I also knew that making the decision as efficiently as possible was for the best. If I had stayed in that state of dejected panic, I would have ruined the whole weekend for myself. After giving myself five minutes to be super depressed, I got myself to a bathroom, changed into my street clothes, shoved my business cards in my pocket, and hit the show floor with renewed vigor. 

The next day, I grabbed my Ren Faire costume, and added a few pieces from Tallis for details. Even though I wasn't a recognizable character, I still got attention from photographers and other cosplayers because I stood out from the average con goer. Every day, I made it work with what I had and I made sure to create my own opportunities to meet my personal heroes and anyone else I thought would enjoy hearing about Project Reroll. I made friends in every panel line and made a schedule for all the signings, industry meet-ups, and special events I thought I should attend. I met pro cosplayers like Yaya Han, Ivy Doomkitty (who I just featured a few articles ago), and Nicole Marie Jean. I attended afterparties to bravely worked the room (something that still horrifies me to this day) and was rewarded with meeting my favorite Mythbuster, Grant Imahara! I waited in line to meet Felicia Day, who was so congratulatory about my achievements that she gave me a high five, followed by taking the time to talk about how almond milk was our jam and that cupcakes are the greatest thing ever. On Sunday I went to a panel on how to protect your new business from a legal perspective and after asking a question about my idea for a geek themed Paleo cook book, I got approached by someone who helps new authors put together book proposals. As an added bonus, my year of research into cosplay helped me recognize Monika Lee and Jessica Nigri on the street on Monday so I could meet them too! What was a disaster turned into an amazing weekend of meeting new people, building public knowledge about our growing Slayer community here on Project Reroll, sharing stories, playing ALL THE DEMOS, and celebrating my geek identity. Even though I couldn't premiere my new costume, it still made for a great one year cosplay anniversary.

A year ago I might not have been capable of picking myself up like that and carrying on, let alone making the absolute most of a bad situation. When you work hard at something like weight loss or sticking to a very strict diet, the first time you experience a big failure, it can be extremely derailing. A lot of people give up right there, but in reality, giving up is the only way to fail. If you  make a mistake, you can recover if you just keep working hard afterwards. So be brave (like this amazing little girl who wanted to be like Sokka so much that she shaved the sides of her head to achieve his exact hairstyle for her cosplay. WATER TRIBE.). Don't let disappointments get in the way of the bigger picture. There's always something you can do to make the most of a bad situation. Hell, you might even be able to transform it into an AWESOME situation if you put your mind to it. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Tink's Baked Sweet Potato and Pixie Dust

Ok, so I'm a glutton for Once Upon A Time. It's definitely a guilty pleasure of mine. This season has a special focus on Peter Pan, one of my all time favorite stories. There's nothing better than enjoying a guilty pleasure show with some guilty pleasure food. I wish I could eat bon bons and ice cream while I watch but if I did that every time I craved something sweet, I'd be the size of a house again. With that in mind, I've gone in search of other sweet tooth appeasing vittles that pack more of a nutritional punch! 

Today I'm going to share one of my very favorite and extremely simple Paleo deserts courtesy of everyone's favorite fairy, Tinkerbell! She just made her first appearance on Once Upon a Time last night! This recipe takes an hour to prepare, so often I'll get it started right after I finish cooking dinner so that I'll have an hour to eat, digest and feel ready for my deliciously sweet treat! Without further ado, here's my recipe for: 

Tink's Baked Sweet Potato and Pixie Dust

Cook time: 1hour
Serves: 1

Baked Potato (try to choose a small-ish one that fits in the palm of your hand).
2 tsp Coconut Oil
Pixie Dust! (Also known as cinnamon!)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Scrub your sweet potato in cool water and remove all imperfections and stringy bits. I don't mind the potato ends, but sometimes people do. If that's you, then use a small pairing knife to cut off the tips of the potato on each end.
  3. Dry the potato carefully with a towel. If you don't, it will steam in the oven instead of bake.
  4. Use your knife to stab a few holes into your sweet potato.
  5. Measure out your coconut oil and carefully rub it over your potato until it's coated and glistening like the second star to the right! 
  6. Place the potato on a foil lined baking sheet and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.
  7. After 30 minutes, flip the potato. 
  8. After the second 30 minute bake, remove it from the oven. You may notice that there's a syrupy residue. This is perfectly normal. Just remove any burnt bits from the potato before putting it on a plate. It almost always just sticks to the foil.
  9. Use a knife to cut the skin from one end to the other and then press them together with your fingers to open up the potato. 
  10. Use your knife to break up the inside of the potato a bit.
  11. Now for the pixie dust! Take your cinnamon and use your finger to tap it onto the potato. You can be the judge of how much you need. I usually just give it maybe 5 finger taps at most depending on the size of the potato. You can use your fork to mash/mix everything up.
  12. Give your treat little bit of time to cool or you'll burn yourself, but in about 5 minutes or so, depending on your own personal taste, it should be ready to put in your face mouth Bangarang style!

What do you eat to satisfy your sweet tooth? Please share your suggestions with your fellow slayers in the comments!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Wizards, Run!

"I did the only thing any reasonable wizard could have done. I turned around and ran like hell." --Harry Dresden (in Jim Butcher's Death Masks)

"Foot chases still happened often enough that I had taken up running for practice and exercise. Admittedly, I was usually on the other side of a food chase, mostly due to my personal policies on hand-to-hand combat with anything that weighed more than a small car or could be described with the word chitinous." --Harry Dresden (in Jim Butcher's Blood Rites)

"Now, I'm not as strong as those really big guys. . . . I don't do swordplay as well as [other folks]. I don't yet have the magical experience and know-how to outfinesse the really experienced wizards and sorcerers who have been hanging around for centuries. . . . But I'll take any of those guys in a footrace. Guaranteed. I run -- and not so that I'll be skinny and look good, either. I run so that when something that wants to kill me is chasing me, I'll be good at running." --Harry Dresden (in Jim Butcher's Small Favor)

James Marsters rocks as the audiobook narrator.
We all have different preferences when it comes to exercise; one of the reasons it took me so long to become "athletic" is that I disliked traditional sports and loathed running. I had mild asthma as a kid and no grit or mental determination to push things physically. Why should I bother? I thought. There are plenty of good books I could read instead.

One of my favorite book series, The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (no, NOT the TV show on Netflix that never happened), is about a wizard living in modern-day Chicago. What starts out as a fun sci-fi/fantasy series featuring a snarky guy who can do some magic evolves into a compelling, dark, and intricately designed storyline featuring a snarky guy who can do a lot of magic. I highly recommend giving the series a try if you haven't read it; book #10 is my favorite and #12 just leaves you on an insane "WHAT?!" moment. (There were only 12 books out when I got into the series; be glad you can now go straight on to 13 and 14.)

Anyway, one of the neat things about the books is the character development: Harry Dresden faces a lot, and you see him make tough choices, experience loss, learn from his mistakes, and really come into his own as a powerful contender in the magical community. He's bold, he's chivalrous, he's sassy, and he's smart enough to realize that sometimes he's outclassed, and running away is the best bet.

It's got fangs!
I took a gun safety class once, and the instructor called it the "Nike defense." When I took a krav maga (Israeli self-defense and street combat) class, the instructors stressed that your legs are your best weapon; run away when possible. Similarly, when discussing a hypothetical knife fight, the self-defense instructor at my kung fu school reminded us that Rule #1 of a knife fight is "Don't get into a knife fight." (Rule #2? If you're in a knife fight, bring a knife.) The TL;DR version of all of these safety tips comes down to this: Trouble? RUN.

My roommate in college was a cross-country runner, and when we were out in the city together, we always joked that she was "Flight" and I was "Fight" -- we had this glamorous notion that I'd hold off Scary Attacker Guy with my Tiny Girl Kung Fu and she'd run for help. The problem with this is, of course, that I have zero fighting experience whatsoever. I've taken a class here and there and live with 3 martial artists, but I'm no MMA fighter in disguise (yet?), and I wasn't doing CrossFit yet either, so my strength was pretty lacking -- and my running stamina was equally nonexistent.

CrossFit has definitely increased my athletic capacity, and there are running components to a number of the workouts. But Tough Mudder was the first long-distance event I'd ever done, and it was more of a walk/jog/shamble combination than a nice long run. You will frequently find me during running CrossFit workouts gasping "This is what death feels like" in an over-dramatic fashion. And while I don't aspire to be a marathoner, I'd like to have a fair shot of surviving the zombie apocalypse -- which means better running stamina. (I'm also a terribly slow sprinter, so add "speed" to the list of things to work on.)

I finally took a leaf out of Harry Dresden's book and decided that it wouldn't hurt to work on running, just a little bit. So when my coworkers asked me to sign up for a 5k with them, I allowed myself to be talked into it. And when I nervously went for a run with those coworkers a few weeks ago, I had a revelation: you can run as slow as you want. I always think that I need to charge out there and get it done, and I couldn't fathom running 3.1 miles without stopping until my coworkers (with the help of the Nike+ running app) showed me that pacing is key. I suddenly discovered that if we're talking a 13-minute mile, I can shamble along quite nicely without stopping to walk.

Talk about motivation!
I may never love running long distances, and I can get both the enjoyment and the fitness I want from CrossFit, martial arts, parkour, etc. But my glacial 12-13 minute mile pace is a step towards increasing both my mental and physical endurance, and it gives me a target to work at improving. Since the run with my coworkers, I've used the inspiration as well as both the Zombies, Run! app and the Nike+ run tracker and headed out into the beautiful fall weather on my "rest" days to log two 1-2+ mile runs without taking a single break to walk. I'd say that's a pretty good start. Bring it on, 5k!


Monday, October 7, 2013

Top 5 Curvy Cosplayers

While I want to support being healthy, I also support the concept of body positivity. I think that taking your health seriously is a personal journey and it's about learning how to embrace who you are at every step along the way, not just the finish line. I don't think being thin makes you who you are. I think taking action to improve your life will show you who you are and that sometimes that can result in becoming a more fit person. 

One of the things that helped me embrace myself and see myself for all the things I could potentially be (rather than all the things I'd never live up to) was cosplay. Becoming Appa made me believe I was confident enough to show off a costume I'd made without feeling like I wasn't able to embody the character. Training to become Rainbow Dash for PAX East taught me that I loved running. Creating my Dragon Age costume has been a celebration of getting my body to a place where I am believable as one of my favorite characters who I find incredibly empowering and badass. Each costume has helped me become more of who I am through taking on elements of other characters that I'm not sure I can live up to!

When I first started cosplaying, I was terrified because of the prevalence of this kind of behavior:

Alexandra Dal
This week, I saw an article about a girl who posted a picture of herself portraying Lara Croft from Tomb Raider on Halloween. It was a character she loved and she went out with her friends on Halloween and took pictures like we all do. She posted the picture to facebook and as the internet is known to do, it got hold of the photo and it went viral with the caption "Fridge Raider." On the surface, even she found it funny, but what the internet did to the image ultimately went from trolls having their fun to viscous bullying and body shaming. People wrote responses telling her to kill herself. They weren't just having a casual giggle. They tore her APART. 

It makes me want to cry because this girl is braver than I will EVER be. She was self assured and she wanted to be Lara Croft. She didn't care that she didn't have "the right" body type (something I still agonize about before each and every costume I make). She went out there and she enjoyed herself. Her reward? Ridicule from a pack of anonymous "dickwolves" who vilified her for having the audacity to go out with her friends and dress up for a night of fun on Halloween. 

Cosplay should be fun for everyone. It's about using your crafting hobbies to express how much you love something. It's not about how hot you are or how many interviews you get (though that stuff certainly has it's place in the "pro-cosplay" world). For most people, cosplay is about being a part of something and finding other people who love that same thing. 

That being said, that article made me want to point you guys in the direction of some ladies who are taking the world of cosplay by storm while rocking their curves and their craftsmanship. I want to celebrate them both for having the confidence I didn't have when I started this journey and for standing out from the crowd with their excellent designs and craft skills. Without further ado, here are my top 5 curvy cosplayers! Hopefully they will inspire you to get your feet wet no matter what size you are!

1. Darkspawnhorror 
She has a bunch of pictures on tumblr of her work, but I came across her "Marian Hawke" cosplay when I was looking for some empowering photos of Dragon Age cosplay to help me get inspired to work on Tallis. She looks like she's having a blast in every photo and what's more, you can see she has an eye for detail. Check out her guantlet and all the leatherwork. With an attitude like that, I just have to believe she must have chosen every snarky remark for her playthrough of DA II. 

2. Ivy Doomkitty
As an L.A. based cosplayer, Ivy rocks her curves in every costume from Star Trek to Elektra. I love her redesign of Dr. Doom. She's rocking the corset to create an amazing silhouette and it's a really creative repurposing of a male character for the female form. She rocks the sexy all the time and is probably more confident in her body than I will ever be! You can like her on Facebook to see more of her work. 

3. Lady Annika "Magneto" Cosplay
What I like about Lady Annika is that she's short and she doesn't necessarily have the hourglass form that some of these other ladies have. Yet, there's something amazing about the creative way she redesigns male costumes for her body. My favorites are her Nightwing and her very recent Walking Deadpool. She makes really awesome armor and the SFX make-up on her Deadpool is great. Go like her on Facebook to check out more of her work. 

4. Becky Young
Becky was on Heroes of Cosplay and while she's not as obviously curvy as some of the other ladies on this list, she admitted to struggling with her weight and being self conscious about looking good in her costumes while on the show. Watching her get cinched into her Merida costume and seeing her tough it out on the treadmill reminded me of all the other struggles that go on in the cosplay world OUTSIDE of simply making the costume. Her Pinkie Pie costume stood out to me long ago, even though I didn't know who she was at the time. She was just so bubbly and fun looking! If anypony is going to have a little meat on them, it would be the one who lives above the cake shop and loves to party! She embodied the character perfectly in every image I've seen. I also love that she is constantly working to improve her craftsmanship and I admire her the most out of all the ladies on that show. She was just the most "real" to me. I hope you'll check out her work on Facebook and give her some support, whether you were a fan of the show or not. 

5. Bellechere
The QUEEN of CURVES is Bellechere. My. God. If you are not following her work on Facebook, then you should be! I would venture to say she's probably the most successful curvaceous cosplayer out there. She is a confident sexy craftswoman who loves taking on superheroes. Her Captain Marvel is epic. Her Power Girl is epic. Everything is flawless and just because she's curvy doesn't mean she's afraid to show her fair share of skin. Check out her Goblin Queen costume if you're wondering what I'm talking about. I adore her. I'm always excited to see what she's going to do next. 

Those are my top five. There are probably more out there that I'm missing and I'd love to hear about them. If you know someone I missed, please feel free to add links to your favorites in the comments! 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Survivor Is Born

"A famous explorer once said that the extraordinary is in what we do, not who we are. I'd finally set out to make my mark, to find adventure. But instead adventure found me. In our darkest moments, when life flashes before us, we find something. Something that keeps us going. Something that pushes us. When all seemed lost, I found a truth. And I knew what I must become."
Since I grew up without gaming consoles, I missed out on the Lara Croft franchise as a girl. Over the past few years, however, I've had access to my boyfriend's Xbox 360, and with the help of my roommates I finally got to play the games whose trailers had enticed me earlier. Starting with Assassin's Creed II, I began to get the hang of using a console controller just in time for my friend's annual Halo LAN birthday party as well as the release of Skyrim, my one true gaming love.

Then I started hearing about the new Lara Croft game, and after seeing a promotional trailer on the Xbox home page, I was intrigued! I play video games largely for the story and the scenery, and like Skyrim, Yamatai looked like a great escape. After graduating from college I have far less time to play and am currently only about 75% way through the game, but I've been really enjoying it so far.

I know a number of people think that "new Lara" is too whiny or fragile, but I love her. In my opinion, it makes her that much more relatable. Wouldn't you freak out a little if someone was unloading a 50-caliber Gatling gun at you after you'd battled supernatural storms, seen your friend kidnapped by madmen, and fallen into a river of blood? Yeah, me too. Lara may be understandably upset, but you'll note that she never complains: she is still strong, capable, intelligent, and determined not only to survive, but to get her companions off of the island as well.

To me, the realism of her fear and vulnerability only makes her that much more heroic. As Mark Twain put it, "Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear -- not absence of fear." I'd like to think that I have fair odds of surviving, say, the zombie apocalypse (as long as I can maintain access to a steady supply of prescription contacts), but if I were Lara I'd still have spent the majority of this video game shaking at that first rainy campsite and questioning my life choices. I find her bravery and perseverance inspiring (and her acrobatic mountaineering gives us all something to strive for).

Anyway, Lara's my newest heroine, and though I've never cosplayed before, I'd really like to be a redheaded version of her for Halloween this year. I've got a few pieces (tank top, cargos, boots, bandages) and found an absolutely fantastic tutorial for making things like the gun holster, bow, quiver, axe, etc. Time for me to attempt some crafts and learn how to get dirty!

I know my first-ever cosplay attempt won't be anything as good as the professional example below, but it's great to have such awesome sources as inspiration while I start learning the ropes! For those of you like Anne with more cosplay experience, feel free to chime in if you have any tips!

She nailed it! Original source and cosplayer unknown (thanks tumblr) but credits are as follows: Photograph - Dim Horizon Studio; Makeup - Matt Silva; Costume and props - the-lady-nerd, Ana Aesthetic, Austin Sirkin (holster), Adam Greene, Carter Eastis, Kristen Anne; Hair - Gregory Dobrasz at Fresche Hair Salon & Boutique

Happy October, everyone! What are you going to be for Halloween?


Paleo Diablo Burgers Stuffed with Baked Pineapple

Sometimes Paleo can get a little old. I do try to keep costs low by focusing on making things I can eat over the course of the week after one big cook on the weekend. However, every once in a while, I have to mix things up or I go crazy. That's kinda how I feel about playing Diablo! It's not an every day kind of game for me, but you can always go back any time and add a little kick to your day. So that's what inspired the name for this recipe. I tried it out with my friends Shannon and Steven who are my Whole30 accountabilibuddies! It was nice to have a chance for all of us to get together and try something new! It has a real kick to it, so if you like spicy food, then go for it, but it's not for the faint of heart!

Diablo Burgers Stuffed with Baked Pineapple


  • 1 lbs of ground spicy Italian sausage
  • 1/2 lbs of ground beef
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • Cayenne pepper to taste.(I think a pinch will do you just fine, but some people want their mouths afire)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 pineapple
  • 2 tbs coconut oil

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Cut your pineapple in half. Chop it into half inch cubes and add to a mixing bowl with your coconut oil.  Toss till it's all evenly coated.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment and place your pineapple on the sheet. Put in the oven for 15 minutes. After that, flip/toss the cubes and then replace in the oven for another 15 minutes.
  4. While your pineapple bakes, rinse your mixing bowl and then add the ground sausage, beef, salt, chopped onion, cayenne pepper, and parsley. Use your hands to mix thoroughly.
  5. Then roll your meat into 8 even meat balls.
  6. When the pineapple is done cooking, remove the sheet from the oven. When your meatballs are ready, then flatten four of them. 
  7. Place as many chunks of pineapple in the center of each flattened meatball as possible. 
  8. Flatten the other meatballs over the top of the first set. Make sure you pinch the sides closed. They cook best if you can't see any of the pineapple showing through. 
  9. Place a large frying pan on the stove with medium heat. Spray with a light coating of olive oil. 
  10. Then evenly space your stuffed paddies on the pan without the edges touching.
  11. You should be able to cook them for about 5 minutes on each side, but you might want to slice through one to check that it's done. I like them medium rare but sometimes it takes a little extra time depending on how thick you made them.
  12. Serve with salad, guacamole, sweet potato, and/or any extra pineapple you couldn't fit inside the burgers.