Food Friday

It’s been a busy week adjusting to my new job! The position I am in is part of a completely new part of the organization and there has been A LOT of information to process. Unfortunately, I still have to work this weekend at the pizza place, so I won’t get much of a break, but after this weekend, I can look forward to a more predictable M-F schedule.

Don’t worry, I’ve still made time for exercise! The day of my “rest day” I made sure to go for two ten minute walks on my breaks; I have gone running after work two evenings this week (and did a workout video once); and I rode my bike to work today. I’m still adjusting a bit – I hope to get in more walks as the weather warms up, to bike in more often (I haven’t located the locker room yet), and to take advantage of the on-site gym.


Anyway, since this is Food Friday, I do want to focus a bit more on food.

Packing my lunch and continuing to cook healthy meals has gone well, overall – Kris even cooked once this week while I was on a run (I normally don’t let him near the kitchen)! I am going to experiment to see what sort of healthy fare I can find in the cafeteria today, as I am out of bread to make my normal PB&J sandwich. Hopefully I find something suitable and avoid the coffee shop – I’m not sure if I can, though – they have BOTH coffee and ice cream (in some of my favorite brands).

I would like to reflect a bit on what exactly I have been eating this week and what has/has not been working well for me:

  • Speaking of coffee, drinking coffee only at home is not going to work out. If I don’t actually want to spend half of my salary at the coffee shop, I should probably invest in a thermos. I have had a caffeine headache everyday!
  • My breakfasts have been holding me over – every morning I have been having a bowl of oatmeal (made with half water, half milk) with maple syrup, craisins, and cinnamon mixed in. I haven’t felt hungry until lunch time AT ALL. I’m honestly amazed. As it warms up I may switch to Greek yogurt; we will have to see how that compares.
  • My lunch so far has been a PB&J sandwich, carrots with hummus, a piece of cheese, and a piece of fruit. It seems small when I eat it, but I have felt pretty full. I usually only snack in the afternoon so that I’m not hungry later, not because I’m super hungry when I have the snack.
  • Working out at night might take some adjustment. I usually eat some sort of granola bar in the afternoon for a snack to give me energy for the workout, which works well, but then after the workout I am STARVING. I eat dinner and immediately feel hungry. I’m not going over my calories but I feel like I’m shoving all of them into a 2 hour post-workout period.
  • I need to plan better for nights I go out to eat. We went out for dinner on Tuesday, and I made it my rest day because I didn’t have time to do both. In theory, that was a good idea; in practice, my reasonable for a restaurant dinner (a falafel gyro with a side of fries and 2 beers) made me go WAY over my calorie limit for the day.

I also wanted to take this as a chance to talk up the Aldi brand granola bars I bought last week. They are amazing! I bought two kinds: a Clif and a KIND knockoff. Both taste pretty much as good as the originals (I might even prefer Aldi’s crunchy peanut butter Clif-type bars), and are significantly cheaper. My only complaint is that they don’t have more flavors. Hopefully people start buying more of my favorite flavors in the name brands so they trickle down to Aldi!

 

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Thanksgiving Break Recap

I technically got back from Thanksgiving break on Sunday, so apologies for procrastinating on putting something up about it. I was just really tired and I’ve been kind of busy this week (the semester is finally wrapping up AND I got an expansion pack for Civilization 5) so I hadn’t gotten around to making a post.


My break started out AMAZINGLY. First, my roommate and I celebrated our own mini-Thanksgiving the night before I left. I think it turned out pretty well considering that I planned it in like one day and made almost nothing from scratch. Except chocolate chip cookie pie (which is unfortunately not pictured). Note: I substitute oatmeal for the nuts, which is the best way to make this recipe. Unless you prefer nuts, which is ok, I guess. Also – warning: NOT HEALTHY AT ALL.

Not sure how I did it, but the crescents turned out quite well. And the prepacked marinated turkey was surprisingly good!

The “best” part came next. I had originally purchased a plane ticket to fly into Harrisburg after my classes ended on Tuesday. Now that I had no classes, I was a little disappointed that I would not be getting in to see Kris until 11 pm. Then, I discovered that I could switch my ticket to another time that day for $75 or less. How exciting – a flight was getting into Harrisburg right after Kris was getting off work AND it was free to change to it. I was super excited – but I should have known better. I was flying, after all, which cannot go well. That is the job of the TSA, after all – to make sure everyone has a miserable experience in airports (or at least I think that is their purpose?).

I ended up missing my connecting flight, meaning that I would be stuck in Cleveland for 5 hours until the already delayed next flight left. It was snowing in Cleveland and freezing rain in central/southeast PA (they were cancelling flights into Philly) so I was quite worried about getting stuck in Cleveland. I obviously wound up crying in the airport and eating a bunch of unhealthy food (I had the worst latte and cupcake ever). At least there was a brewery with giant beers nearby!

My awesome dinner at Great Lakes Brewing Company, where I had a beer named after the burning river incident and they inexplicably COVERED my fries in parsley. I mean, everything tasted great, but that was odd.

I did eventually make it home early… at 10 instead of 11. It was pouring rain in Harrisburg and Belle had a panic attack. I’m sure part of it was her exposure to her new safer car harness.

Look how upset she is 😦

I was also really not looking forward to the drive because of the giant snow/rain storm hitting the east coast. Both of our mothers were sending us thousands of panicked text messages not only about whether I was ever going to make it from Cleveland to Harrisburg but about how we probably shouldn’t drive to Charlotte after all this. We went down 95 instead of 81 though (95 is further east) which only added “1” hour to the trip (like 2 or 3 with traffic) and kept us away from the really bad weather in that part of Virginia. We actually never saw snow once (it stopped snowing in North Carolina right around when we crossed the border). We also got to see some interesting sights by going this way, such as 7 cops with people pulled over in a row near Duke and this really weird redneck/Italian/Mexican part of Charlotte (“Guns & Thrift” was near a Mexican grocery store, and “Scottish Plaza” had nothing but Mexican and Italian restaurants and stores with their names in Spanish). There was at least one good part of the drive: the return to civilization (i.e. the east coast) meant the return of Sheetz (Wawas were also present, but they are the worst)!

Coffee and donuts for our road trip! White chocolate mocha and blueberry fritters are pictured.

We did finally make it to South Carolina where we had a lovely time…other than the weather. Of course because we were coming down from up north they had record low temperatures. Look how bundled up Kris and I were for our Turkey Trot:

Freezing in the car after picking up our packets.

At least the Turkey Trot went well other than the temperatures (I actually NEVER got sweaty the whole time because I didn’t thaw out until like mile 2). Kris ran about the furthest he has ever run in one go, and we got to run through this super swanky neighborhood.  The race was also huge! We watched the start of the 8K and it took 5 full minutes for all the runners to pass us near the starting line! They also had nice medals and t-shirts for everyone (sorry no pic, the medal is in Harrisburg and the shirt is dirty). My only “complaint” is that I would have preferred hot chocolate over ice cold water after the race, but I guess I wouldn’t expect a race in Charlotte to plan for that!

We spent the rest of the break mostly just chilling and doing some light black Friday shopping (I got a jacket for myself and some Christmas presents for others; the only thing we bought on super sale was a video game for Kris’s brother). I decided that for the first time this semester that other than the Turkey Trot I would take a short break from working out as well in order to relax. It was nice, except that coupling that decision with Thankgiving/traveling (I always eat poorly with traveling) lead to me being pretty bloaty upon my return. I think I have nothing to fear, though, considering that my weight is back down to normal despite eating pizza almost every day since returning. Plus, buckeyes are always worth it. Luckily, our drive home was uneventful (we were able to take shorter route) and we were able to enjoy a nice date night (sushi!) before I left the next day. Now I just have to drive back in a week!

New Workout Plan?

Let’s start with one of my most common complaints: I am not a fan of our current weather. I think mother nature heard me begging for fall to begin and overreacted, because it is basically winter. I had to wear a wool coat and a scarf today! The biggest problem is the cold rain. Ever since my half marathon it has basically been 40 degrees and kind of rainy all day every day. It got a little better this afternoon and stopped raining, allowing me to go for a somewhat pleasant walk, but the weather for my run was sort of miserable due to it being 35 and raining. Yuck. At least my new shoes were very comfortable outside. Glad I gave them a chance beyond the funky treadmill that made my shin hurt, because they felt VERY different out there and I really liked them.

Anyway, the last time I posted, I complained that my workouts have no structure to them. I have since tried to come up with a plan that incorporates everything I was thinking about and goes through finals week:

Monday – Stretch (due to long run previous day) and lift

Tuesday – Medium length (4-6 mile) run or longish (~10-15 mile) bike ride

Wednesday – REST

Thursday – 3 mile run and lift

Friday – Medium length run

Saturday – Long bike ride and lift

Sunday – Long run (8-10 miles?)

I like that this plan incorporates everything I want. It has at least one day of dedicated biking, and hopefully at first I will be able to continue bike commuting. As long as it isn’t rainy every day (I’m not a wimp but I have to teach in what I’m wearing, so I can’t get super soaked) or super icy out I can handle cold temperatures – I do heat up on the bike, after all. I will probably switch to the long bike ride on Tuesdays after commuting becomes impossible.  It also lets me try New Rules of Lifting for Women again while keeping a decent amount of running mileage (at the least 15 miles per week, and at the most 25). I am mildly concerned about the existence of only one rest day, though. Each of the days on their own doesn’t seem like that difficult of a workout, and I can’t really decide what to cut, but I worry that with such a plan I will get burnt out. I guess that Monday (lifting only) is not a super strenuous day, so that might help. I will just try to remember that the only “end goal” of this workout plan is to not be lazy over the rest of the semester so its not like if I miss a day anything bad will happen. In fact, I expect to completely mess up the week of Thanksgiving, for example. I guess I will just start this plan next week and see how it goes!

Holidays and Family Fun!

First, I’d like to complain about the fact that I am still feeling sore from my half yesterday – that cold weather REALLY made my legs stiff. I was even limping a bit last night! It’s slowly feeling better as I move around, though. All in all, I had a pretty good day yesterday after my half, though. I had an awesome lunch and dinner (Irish for lunch; Mexican for dinner); accidentally stumbled on a preview day at the Sephora that is opening in our town next week (I exhibited great self control, purchasing only things I actually needed); and my roommate bought an awesome new car!

Today I am enjoying a Sunday where I don’t have to dedicate 2 hours+ of the morning to running. I’m making some chili, planning out some DIY Christmas present ideas, and “getting some work done” (hey, I downloaded some PDFs).  Side note: the accidental sexism of crafting websites is baffling. All of the generic “Christmas sewing project idea” type lists are full of nothing but women’s clothing and purses; in order to get anything else, you have to add “for men” to that search query, and then you end up with the actual generic presents, like coasters, wallets, lunchboxes, etc. I can see why some are lumped into a “for guys” category (i.e. stuff for sports like golf, which are male dominated – the sexism problem is related to the sport itself, not the crafting websites), but there are some things categorized as “for men only” that are just ridiculous. For example, this keychain was on a list as a “man keychain:”

I’m so feminine that I can’t see the manly details, apparently, because all I see is a fairly generic looking keychain.


Ok, I’ll end my rant and move on to my post now.

A few months ago, I started to think about how I should run a Thanksgiving 5K this year. I thought it would be fun to run in a big, just for fun race and a good way to get in some exercise over the break. To top it all off, I am spending Thanksgiving in South Carolina this year (my in-laws live there), so it won’t be freezing cold. This means that not only do I get to do a fun race, but that I get to have nice fall-like weather instead of freezing cold conditions (well, at least there is a chance) and that I get to do a race in a new city! Yay! In order to make this plan come to fruition, I started Googling to see if there were any good 5Ks near them and came across the Charlotte Turkey Trot*. This looked like a great race to do just for fun – a large number of participants, the timing is not competitive (they are having a competitive 8K), and costumes are encouraged!

I asked Kris if he would mind if I did this as part of our trip down there, and half-jokingly suggested that he do it with me. Now, I didn’t really expect him to say yes, because he hates running, but he mainly hates running because I am an asshole. I’m just way too hardcore for him. I am just doing this race for fun, though, so I should be able to refrain from yelling at him the whole time (only a slight exaggeration of how us running together has gone in the past). I have been super excited to do this with him ever since, but I hadn’t posted about it yet because I was afraid it wouldn’t work out. You see, he didn’t own any running shoes (in fact, he owned no athletic shoes at all!) and he hast gone running maybe twice since the last time I tried to make him do it (over a year ago). He has finally purchased the shoes and promised to run at least a little bit, and we have discussed whether he seriously wants to do it enough that I believe him, so I finally registered us for the race today! I’m super excited! We have also discussed doing some lengthy bike rides and some other local charity-type walk/runs (for example, the 5K run for the Bullies they have in Harrisburg) together, so you can probably look forward to more posts about joint ventures into fitness with my husband 🙂

Note: we want to wear Thanksgiving themed costumes so I need ideas, pronto! Don’t make me spend 15 hours on Pinterest trying to learn how to make a DIY pilgrim hat!

*To all of you who are suddenly panicking for me because I am going to South Carolina but have mistakenly chosen a race in North Carolina, don’t worry, I am well aware. Kris’s parents live on the border. His dad works in Charlotte! I promise it is nearby!

Throwback Thursday

Before I get into the meet of the post, I have to say…I HATE rest days before races! I think the problem is that I’ve been working out SO MUCH that I feel relatively lazy. Think about it: for the last month, I’ve been running 30 miles per week (ok, so “only” like 29 3/4 some weeks) and bike commuting 3-4 times per week (except the week my bike was immobilized). This week, I’ve run 6 miles and bike commuted twice. I was going to bike commute today, but it is rainy, so I can’t. If it clears up I’ll take the dog for a long walk or something. I also plan to get in about 30 minutes of light, non-running activity tomorrow to keep my legs from being stiff for the half marathon.


I don’t think I’ve ever officially done a “Throwback Thursday” before but I was looking through some old pictures yesterday and I came across two that I just could not keep myself from talking about.

Picture #1: June 1, 2011

Now, I’ve shown before pictures before, so what is important is not necessarily what I look like in this picture – it is the context of this picture. If you go look at my “progress pics” page, you will not see this one on there. This is because I had not found it before and had to scrounge around to try to find full body lifestyle type pictures to include with my official “before” photo, and I hadn’t really done very well at it. That is, until I came across this picture, which is basically like the perfect before picture once you know the story behind it.

In this picture, I am standing in my parents’ garage wearing my old girl scout badges – my mom just took it because I was being silly. We were in the process of going through a bunch of my old things. Over the last few years, I had been operating under the assumption that because I was “barely” plus-sized (I am wearing one of Kris’s mens XL shirts and size 20 shorts in this photo) I could get back into straight sizes “in a few weeks if I tried,” and at this point in time I was trying to come to terms with the fact that I was going to be plus-sized for the rest of my life. This day was a major turning point on that front, as I “got rid of” most of my “skinny clothes” (about size 10-12) since I was “never going to be that skinny again.” I say “got rid of” because they somehow magically reappeared whenever I got near those sizes again. Thanks, mom (I still don’t want them, because they are from my weird emo phase).

A few days after this picture was taken, though, I went to the doctor. This was where I had my official 240 pound weigh in. That didn’t bother me as much as the other things the doctor said, though. This was the third appointment in a row where the doctor pointed out my high blood pressure, and she called a day or two afterwards to tell me that I had high cholesterol as well. I wasn’t worried so much about being heavy as being healthy, so I started researching on the internet to see what I could do to help with my high blood pressure and cholesterol. A mere two weeks after this photo was taken, I joined MyFitnessPal as a way to keep track of my diet and exercise. By the end of the summer,I was back into a size 14 or 16, letting me safely shop at most clothing stores again. Oh, and if you are wondering, my blood pressure and cholesterol are totally fine, now. My new doctor was actually confused when I wanted him to check my cholesterol and fasting glucose levels!

Picture #2: October 16, 2012

Now, this picture seems to be an entirely unexceptional mirror-selfie taken with a potato at first glance. But in reality, it is MUCH more exciting than that. You see, this picture was taken right before I wore size 4 pants out in public for the first time. Additionally, if you look at the date, this picture means that this week marks the milestone of me maintaining at least my size for entire year, as there has never been a point during this year at which I could not wear these pants (and I am, in fact, wearing them today)!! During this last year, my weight has gone up and down a bit -from as low as 121 to as “high” as 132, but I have been able to get through the year without going back to some of the slightly larger clothes I have kept around (I have at least 5-6 pairs of size 6 and 8 pants laying around, mostly because they were so new I didn’t want to get rid of them).

I’ve felt really down on myself for my maintenance progress lately, as I’ve been hovering in the upper end of my acceptable weight range, even though I know it is an artifact of actually eating enough while I train for this half marathon. Last time I trained for a half, I got down to my aforementioned low weight (keep in mind that at 5’5″, 117 lbs is considered underweight, and I was nearly there) and lost my period for months on end; I should be rejoicing that I was able to manage my health better this time. Instead, all I see is days of eating like a teenage boy (because I am typically biking 6-8 miles and running 3-6 every day, so that makes sense). So today is a great reminder of how far I have come and what I have accomplished – a whole year of staying the same size is really quite the achievement in the weight loss maintenance world, where we know there is something like a 90% chance of us regaining all the weight and more. I accept that I won’t stay a 120-something pound size 4 forever, ESPECIALLY after I have children, but every year that I maintain that I am fighting the statistic. Side note: as a person who in practice does statistics for a living (even if I am technically a political scientist) I would REALLY like to get a hold of that data….

Foods on Fridays

Fridays are now my rest days, which is sort of weird to me. When I trained for my previous half marathon, I switched Thursday’s workout to Friday because Thursday was my busiest day of the week. This year, I don’t want to do that, though, because I have two hard days in a row on the weekend and want my rest before and after. I guess I’ll just have to get used to not eating a ton on Friday 😦 Speaking of workouts, though, yesterday’s attempt at strength training without a gym went ok. In the park where I run, they have these little stations intended for strength and stretching exercises. Example:

This thing is for stretching your hamstring and achilles.

What I decided to do was run like the first two miles of my three mile run and then workout at each of these stations while jogging between them. My “pace” for my last mile was terrible because of all the starting up and stopping (it takes time to get going and to slow down), but I felt like it was a half-decent workout. My abs hurt, at least. Some of the stations, like bench dips and this thing where you have to vault yourself over a fence-like thing with your upper body were actually quite difficult. I wish they would do something to make the benches more comfortable, though (they are made of metal) – I have a giant bruise on my lower back from doing crunches! This was a fun new thing to try, but I will be glad to return to weights!


I also signed up for a race yesterday! I’ve been looking for some short-ish races to do throughout the fall as the training program I am using calls for me to do a few. As luck would have it, a friend emailed me yesterday about running a race together on one my needed race days! I had overlooked it because it is a “trail marathon,” and I have never run a marathon let alone one on a trail, but she told me that you can actually sign up to do a race as short as a quarter marathon (I think this is about a 10K) so we will be running that together. I think it will be fun to have someone else there, even though we may not run together, and it will be fun to try something new. The whole thing isn’t on trails, anyway (I have actually run on part of this trail before).

I still need to find a few more races, though. For example, I am supposed to do a 5K in like 2 weeks but everything available near where I will be is a triathlon or a special theme race like the Warrior dash, which is too expensive and won’t let me really practice running at race pace. I also can’t really adjust the date because next week I am visiting relatives and the week after I am supposed to do the race I have a student government thing. I might just have to resign myself to setting up a treadmill at race pace and seeing if I can do it.


Now, on to the food! This week had numerous adventures.

It started out kind of poorly. On Sunday, I made these TERRIBLE chocolate pancakes. I am not linking the recipe because I don’t want to accidentally imply it was the recipe, because it was not the recipe, it was me. I just didn’t mix them well enough or something. They were totally gross. The rest of Sunday was a little better – we had Thai food! Yum!

Then, on Monday, I made a homemade pizza:

pepperoni, mushroom, and spinach on a whole wheat crust

It turned out quite well except that the crust really should have been used on a larger pan (I think this is 12″) and I bought button mushrooms instead of mushroom stems and pieces. I was REALLY in control and ate only 1/4 of a pizza, so this was not where the problem came in. You see, I had to eat only this much pizza because I knew we were going to the bar for trivia night and I would want 1-2 beers and a snack. I was also in control at the bar, having 1 beer, 1 cider, and splitting some chili fries. I “ended” the day at approximately 25 calories over – not too bad, considering what I’d eaten! Then, I remembered that I had been craving a one of those peanut buster parfaits from Dairy Queen, and that the sundae I’d already had that weekend had not quit the spot. We ended up going to DQ so I could get one, and it weighed in at 700 calories (which I knew ahead of time). This was a really terrible decision that I really regret, as it made me feel too full, anyway.

I also had a day where I tried to make one of those cake mug things, but again, I messed it up. The last time I tried making one (using a different recipe) it was too eggy, so this time I substituted greek yogurt for egg. This part went ok, but I didn’t put enough sweetener in, so it was too bitter with all of the unsweetened cocoa powder. I think if you used enough sweetener this would be really good, though!

Things got somewhat better after that. I made some much much better peanut butter banana pancakes for breakfast one day (normal blueberry ones all the other days). These were AMAZING and I cannot recommend them highly enough. They tasted great, had a great texture, and were easy. They aren’t low in calories, but they aren’t necessarily bad for you either. This breakfast, using sugar free syrup, was around 500 calories, so if you typically eat a bigger breakfast than I do (like 200-400) calories this would be a very good option.

Yumm!

The rest of my food this week was not that adventurous – again, I was just using up leftover steak from the bogo steak sale at my grocery store, and the most exciting thing I did was marinate it in BBQ sauce one day. Oh! I also made some cinnamon sugar baked sweet potato “fries.” I picked up this trick from a restaurant that serves them this way – basically, instead of putting salt on the fries, shake them in cinnamon sugar (I used Splenda) and bake them like that. They are still fry-like but sweet! It’s super delicious!

The good news is that after the DQ incident I have done amazingly with calories this week. My only setback seems to have been that I am apparently not eating enough during the day because I am RAVENOUS at night. My dinners of steak, potatoes, vegetables and beer have left me feeling so hungry I am like shaky afterwards. WTF. It’s not like I’m not snacking – I’ve been through a bag of peaches and cheesesticks this week. It’s probably just a combo of PMS and starting new training, so I’m sure I’ll get over it. At least I hope so – it makes sticking to my calorie goals SUPER difficult. Here is to hoping I can keep the calories in check over the weekend, especially with a Friday rest day!

Filling up your calories with beer is ok if there are multiple puns on the bottle, right?

Have a good weekend – I have relatives coming in so I probably won’t be on much. Here is a cute picture of my dog to help get you through.

Friend Makin’ Mondays

Today is day one of my training program for my half marathon on October 19! I should really get around to getting signed up for that….

Anyway, it doesn’t really feel like day one because Mondays are stretch and strength days basically meant for long run recovery. Once I’m doing long runs, I am sure they will be welcome, but right now I’m just bored. Also, I don’t really have any strength equipment here.

So, what is my plan for today? For the stretch portion, I plan to do some of these yoga moves I found on Pinterest. I’m not a big yoga person but with how tight my hips tend to get these might be beneficial. Some of these even remind me of stretches recommended for IT band problems. for the strength portion, I plan on resorting to a core workout that requires no equipment.


Today is also Friend Makin’ Monday! I didn’t do it last week because it was about TV and I don’t really watch TV (To be fair, I do have Netflix so I could have probably rambled on about old TV shows or any of their original series. By the way everyone who wants to see something that is actually different, original, and awesome go watch Orange is the New Black right now. You will thank me). This week’s topic is easier for me, though, so I’m jumping back in!

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: www.alltheweigh.com so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

Ten Things that Make me Happy

  1. Being in Pennsylvania. I enjoy my time at school, but miss my husband and our little doggy Belle when I am there. I also like the area where we live. We live downtown in a small city, which I highly prefer over the rural area I grew up in because there are always things to do, even if it i just going to the park (where I grew up, you had to drive like 10 miles to get to the closest public park!). Also, when I am in PA, I am usually working on my own projects and spending time enjoying my own hobbies rather than dealing with the stresses of grad school.
  2. Various foodstuffs. I really like to savor and enjoy a good latte, alcoholic beverage, flavor of ice cream, or pastry. And of course, pizza in all its forms.  Because I am in weight loss maintenance, this can be a real struggle. Luckily for me, it is more of an “ice cream increases my current mood” than “I am sad must eat ice cream” feeling, so I can MOSTLY control it.
  3. Pampering myself with beauty products. If I am in a bad mood, taking a nice shower with a nice smelling soap, then getting out and putting on lots of lotion and doing slight grooming (like shaping my eyebrows) and putting on my fancy makeup can make a world of difference.
  4. A closely related one is wearing put-together outfits. I am not a person who can stay in my pajamas all day – I’ll just feel depressed because not getting dressed makes me feel like I didn’t even do anything all day but lay around (even if I am wearing those pajamas while working on a major project from home or something). This means even lazy days at home usually involve at least wearing real pants rather than yoga pants or workout shorts. Even if I’m just going out to run errands, I try to make sure I am wearing a somewhat nice (though usually still casual) outfit, as I just feel so much more happy and confident.
  5. Running. I am a very anxious person and running really helps to reduce that. I joke that I am expending so much energy on running that my brain cannot divert any of it to worrying anymore. In all seriousness, I think it helps because it gives me a peaceful, solitary time where I am alone with my thoughts and I can focus on them and sort them out rather than trying to worry about them while simultaneously grocery shopping or something.
  6. Being able to be active in general. I love being able to walk my dog, bike with my husband, or do other normal activities that require physical exertion without much thought. I think this one is particularly important to me because it used to be quite difficult. Yes, I still walked the dog a lot, but it felt like a chore and a workout rather than a pleasant, relaxing experience.
  7. “Shopping” for big purchases. I will spend hours online looking at $400 boots and purses that I won’t be able to afford for years. I really over think purchases and will spend hours “agonizing” over them but I shouldn’t really call it agonizing, because I actually sort of enjoy it. I think I spent an hour last week debating between two rear bike racks that held the same amount of weight and cost the same amount of money. Seroiusly. I also love researching things like homes/apartments and vehicles. I have probably been driving poor Kris mad looking at homes in our city this summer that we will not be able to buy for probably at least 2 more years (you know, when we actually live together and I have a real job and we can actually save enough for a down payment). I think I pick this up from my dad – both of us are constantly talking about things that we could probably never buy or are at least unattainable right now and making our significant others think that we are going to run out and buy a $4,000 lawnmower (ok that one might be my dad). At least I come in handy when it is actually time to find a new apartment or whatever!
  8. Wow, this is getting difficult. I think it’s because I am doing such abstract topics. Like, I could have split number 3 into like taking relaxing showers; grooming; and using fancy makeup. Oh well, it’s too late now. Oh! Talking! I love talking. I love rambling on and telling stories and jokes and making people smile. Kris is a very introverted person and I joke that we go well together because I love talking and he hates talking so I get to talk twice as much by talking for him and never needing to listen!
  9. On a closely related note, teaching. I am always a little nervous about teaching a whole class in the abstract, but I’m never nervous about going into the classroom for the day to teach the “kids” (some of them are my age or older) a new lesson. I am lucky in that I work in a college setting where even if the topic is not my main interest I get to focus on what I am passionate about, so I basically just love that my job is to go in everyday and help young people learn about these topics that I love. It is especially rewarding when they come to love them as well. Even if they do not come to love the topics as well, I try as hard as I can to make the topics exciting; share my passion for them; and at least get them to learn something new, and from what they claim about me on teaching evaluations, they at least usually come to understand the information that they have learned and why it is that I am so passionate about the topics and enjoy that I have been able to share that with them.
  10. Finally: warm clothes and blankets. I love being bundled up in about 50 layers of wool. It just makes me feel so safe and comfy. Summer clothes are fun because I love the bright colors and honestly the thin, flowy fabrics are more flattering on my new straight body type because the big boxy sweaters make me look like a box, but I much prefer my literally 100% wool winter wardrobe (ok, a FEW things might be wool blends). what can I say, I get cold very easily.