Thursday, July 30, 2009

Catharsis of Negativity

In nearly every running blog I've come across, there is an entry in each regarding body image, allusions to weight issues, or mention of some sort of dieting.

Given how these things are constantly on my mind, I have made little mention of them here. This is assuredly NOT because I am confident about myself. I am constantly thinking the worst of myself (to put it nicely) and comparing myself to others (because I KNOW others are doing it already). In fact, you could say that because I am afraid of opening up a can of worms, I stay away from all topics of this genre. Time to make my contribution to the blogging world.

I've always been preoccupied by my appearance, because I was a slightly chubby kid, at least in relation to my skinny older sisters. As I got older, I only got more large, seemingly, and the Asian girls around me looked more alike and more... skinny. And because I didn't look like that, I thought I could never be pretty. So I made little effort to learn how to put on makeup, dress nice, or otherwise maintain myself. Nerdy and ugly, more like the picture below (and that was me on a GOOD day, suckin' it in!), no guys wanted to be with me, etc. etc. Just about every negative thought imaginable lived (and to a degree, still lives) with me each day.

Inevitably, I went to college and got more negative comments from my parents everytime I came home for the weekend. Finally, I started drinking huge Diet Cokes or diarrheal tea for dinner, fat-burning smoothies at breakfast, the crusts of my sandwiches at lunch, and chewed gum incessantly. (To this day, I still have an affinity for the crust of foods because I developed a taste for them during this time!) I even got hooked up with some drug-store "quick fixes" from one of my roommates. My stomach was constantly hurting from all the artificial sweeteners and I got really jittery at times, but along with the 2 hours at the gym each day, I lost quite a bit of weight. No, I never got that skinny, and I don't think I have any pictures from that time period (that one of me in red might be AROUND that time, but I don't remember), but there was progress. Okay, so it wasn't really even much at all, maybe 5 pounds, but it really messed me up. For one thing (and this was the least of my worries), I noticed more hair on my brush (though I have a ton to spare, I guess). For all that struggle... Not eating makes my brain fuzzy and me very cranky.

Fortunately, later on, I picked up running and have been learning to appreciate what I can accomplish. I've mostly kept away from artificial sweeteners (though I do chew gum for work/school stress sometimes) and have not since used any weight-related tea or supplement. After running, I must have put on 5 pounds, but I think a good portion of that is muscle. And to the right is a picture of me (in grey) with my gut proudly poking out. That was last year (I'm down about 5 pounds since then). Do these differences really make any difference???

It is really sad what some people will do merely for appearances. If I had spent that energy elsewhere, I could have been helping people, having fun, and living my life. I am a few pounds above what I'd consider an ideal weight and may not be perfect in general even if I was there (see recent picture at top). My habits not quite what they should be, and shutting up my inner critic has been a downright struggle. I still hate parts of my body, but I realize that there are far more important things in life than this. But I also have learned how to maintain myself and the healthy habits that will (hopefully) keep me within a certain range. And it helps to have a companion who appreciates me in spite of the fact that I did not pop out of that cookie cutter from which all those "SwT AzN BayBIEs" came.

P.S. For more empowerment, visit http://www.operationbeautiful.com/!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

JamFrakas

These bars have a funny name, don't they? Well, maybe that's because they are supposed to be for kids.

Kiddie or not, this is a vegan and organic bar that is actually quite tasty and under 100 calories. These are made from the makers of Larabar, but unlike their moist, date-y cousins, these bars are light and crispy, yet have some chewy density so that you feel decently satisfied (with some milk/soymilk, ideally... I wish I had these as a kid!).

These come in a few flavors, though peanut butter goes really well with the texture. None of them are very sweet, which is good, but trust me, they are tasty! I found these at Trader Joe's.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pampered Toes


I can't believe I am posting about this, since anyone who knows me will understand that I tend to have an aversion to feet. I don't know if this is some sort of disorder, but much better, I think, than the opposite sentiment (i.e., fetish). What don't I like about feet? I don't know. As a kid, you're always told to keep them clean and that they smell. I looked at cracked, fungus-ridden, and chipped-pedicure feet and rather quickly associated feet with "gross."

Anyway, I can't bash these body parts, since obviously they are the key to running and are often taken for granted, shoved in uncomfortable shoes, and just overused(!). Unfortunately for me, genetics in my family have led me to form this pseudo-bunion on one of my feet. I say genetics because my mom tells me so, and although I like any shoe that makes me taller, I doubt it was the primary impetus for this painful affliction.

There is no cure for bunions. Even those who get surgery risk re-developing them, so while mine is manageable, I would like to keep it from getting any worse. This is where these Pampered Toes come in. These are basically huge toe separaters that are suppposedly meant to stretch your toes (like yoga) and relieve the day's discomforts. I had read reviews online, and the vast majority were positive. For those of you who read magazines, you will see that this is PedEgg's knockoff of the more expensive ($40+) Yoga Toes. I got this latest experiment for $9.99 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond (I had a 20% off coupon and saved even more).

The product is made of a gel that you are supposed to warm up before use by washing them in soapy warm water. The recommended session is 10 minutes at first, so that you get used to the feeling and not get a charley horse or something (which I am prone to in my feet). I used them for 20 minutes. It was actually quite relaxing to have them on, and I started wondering if I could use these the next time I paint my often-bruised toenails. On that note, it's been MONTHS since I have been able to go without polish there, because of a big toe that's taking long to grow back out after a bruisin' (there were others which are just fine now). I can't wait until that day comes and hope that no others bruise while I'm waiting. (Hope my feet aren't hating me because of my foot-aversion. I'm sorry!)

I'll continue to use these a few times a week. It might encourage me to start doing other spa-like things to unwind if I would ever make the time for it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Birthday Recap

A few weeks ago, I flew the coop yet again at work to celebrate "The Ukrainian"'s birthday. This is not the first birthday of his that we've spent together, but this is the first time I have been able to plan something for him.

That morning, I told him that he could not come downstairs from his shower until I told him he could. Downstairs, I was quickly churning away these crepes, hoping to make a breakfast light enough so that we could eat at our ultimate destination. This was my first time making these, and they were surprisingly easy and very much tasted like intended. Unfortunately, I completely forgot to take a picture of the setup I had once I called him down (it was more presentable than these pics below), but we managed to get these shots later as we were eating them.




Above: Crepes w/banana, powdered sugar, apple butter, raspberry preserves. I later saw him put syrup and cream cheese on his.

Shortly thereafter, I gave him his gift (rice cooker), which he like(d/s) and went to the bank and get gas. He usually drives when we go out, so I was only giving him directions to our next destination. It wasn't until we were off the freeway that he asked, "Are we going to the Huntington Library?"

The Huntington is a botanical garden with several museum-type buildings inside. We basically spent the whole afternoon there looking at everything, enduring the heat of July. I had made reservations to their tea room, which basically is a buffet tea service. This was his first time having "afternoon tea" and going to the Huntington, so he had a great time!

Later that night, we had to go to his parents'/grandparents' to toast him, and he told them about the place. We even brought back a lot of scones (see below) for them to try (they did not make it past the evening).

I know that we won't always have the opportunity to take time off work and do this kind of stuff on birthdays, but while we can, why not, right?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Champion Running Skirt - Target

Guest Review by Tea Time:

A couple of weeks ago it started to get really hot here in Socal. I am one of those people who wear too much clothes to run. Not sure why. I always figure that I can always take it off but if I didn't have it with me, then if I get cold, I would be screwed. Anyways, as I mentioned it got really hot here lately so I had to start wearing shorts again. I hate my legs so I was not looking forward to this. I went to Target one day randomly to pick up other things, not intending on buying a running skirt but I did wander into the workout wear section and saw these Champion running skirts. I've read lots of blogs where girls would praise these things up and down but I never thought they were for me. I decided to try a pair on because I noticed that the skirt would cover my butt when I was running. I have a thing about people looking at my butt while running. Especially if I am running next to a heavy traffic road. Okay, maybe that is just me. Anyways, I ended up buying said skirt since on top of covering my butt, it was really comfortable (I mean ridiciously so) and it was really quite cute. If you have long legs, this skirt will make you look even cuter (see the ad), but I have short legs and I think it still is pretty cute. I took the skirt out for a test run with my running group. My coaches made fun of me for wearing a skirt to run. They are very serious runners, so I was embarassed but I can tell all the girls in the group were jealous of my running skirt...haha. This skirt comes in two design and can be found at Target. They have an all black one and one with skinny white piping down the sides. I think they also come in burgundy..sorry I cannot remember as I never buy any running wear bottoms in anything but black. I love these skirts, I have 2 already. :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Apple Butter

I've been wanting to try apple butter for quite some time, but I wince at the thought of spending more than $4 on a jar of anything. I looked around at the usual suspect stores and realized that this must be a seasonal item or something. I did find a huge, cheap jar, but decided that the high-fructose corn syrup was not worth it.

Finally, "The Ever-Nurturing Ukrainian" found a pure unsweetened version in the $3-range at Henry's Farmer's Supermarket from the L&A Juice Company. So the ingredients in this one read:

apple juice, evaporated apples, cinnamon, clover, and citric acid

Nutritionally, it seems similar to regular spreads, and taste-wise, think of some very smooth applesauce with a stronger apple flavor... that's apple butter! This stuff tastes best when it's cold and requires refrigeration since it doesn't have preservatives. And no, it is not really a "butter" by any means, except for that fact that it's spreadable.

In my weaker moments, I eat this with pretzels, as the sweet/salty combo is very satisfying. I also used this for crepes (to be mentioned in another entry). It also flavors bread and oatmeal wonderfully, and I'm sure would taste very good with peanut butter. Due to the strong flavor, you don't have to use that much, either.

P.S. On a side note, I went to the doctor yesterday, and I learned nothing new about my lip condition. At least he confirmed that my airways are not falling victim to this newly-developed allergy. I basically am left to figure out the cause on my own, most likely a product I was using. So I guess this means I must ceremonially toss all of my lip products except the Burt's Bees balm I'm using. I'm also avoiding eating oily food, since that also seems to exacerbate the issue.

He said it is nothing serious for now and told me to take Claritin or Benadryl (already have been and am a living zombie because of it). If I ever did have a bad episode, though, he offered prednizone (steroid) shots. Great *sarcasm*, but I always seemingly get the episodes on Saturdays, meaning that I could never get to him until Monday anyway. And if it worsens to a point where I can't breathe, there's always the good ol' 9-1-1. Better use my detective skills and find out what the culprit is...

P.P.S. I'm going to one of Moby's North American concerts this Fall with "The Ukrainian" and hopefully others! My man is such a good sport. I now have three months to get him familiar with the music so that he can get some more enjoyment out of the experience. I can't wait!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Nature Made Flex Supplement - Sample

It's been a long time since I've posted a sample, so here is one for the knees (see link below)!

Lately, I haven't been able to run very much at all due to this pain in my hip that is healing only verrrryy slowly, which is a horrible blow since I had been becoming faster. Then this past weekend, I had another lip-swelling episode, presumably because I either ate something weird at the barbecue I attended or because I attempted to put on some lipgloss for the first time since this whole ordeal started two months ago. I'm going to try to get a doctor's appointment finally, because it is really annoying and embarrassing.

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Link: http://instoresnow.walmart.com/enhancedrendercontent_ektid73180.aspx

Friday, July 10, 2009

Kefir

The latest obsession of mine is kefir, fermented milk commonly found in supermarkets. You may have seen these thinned-out-yogurty drinks at race expos and wondered who would possibly like them.

I have nearly completed my first huge bottle of this stuff, which is approximately ~$2.50/bottle (32 oz). I've been running around to different stores to compare the prices and even found coupons for the stuff so that my kefir habit can be sustained.

I get the low-fat plain variety, which has 110 calories and 14 grams of protein per cup serving, plus 30% of my daily calcium requirement. Given that I don't drink milk due to my slight lactose intolerance and don't care to drink straight-up soy milk very often, I can have my dairy fix (albeit thicker and more sour) and maintain my bones. One would be surprised at how satisfying dairy is until it is unavailable, or in my case, indigestible.

There are many other flavors such as pomegranate, cherry, vanilla, and blueberry, but I would rather go for the pure stuff and save myself some unnecessary sugar and weird aftertaste. The plain one is just sour, much like plain yogurt, and to me tastes best when used to wash down other food I've eaten. I generally just drink the stuff on its own, though I'd like to blend a smoothie or at least throw some berries in it one day. So far I've smashed a banana into it and poured some in my oatmeal (yes, it tasted weird).

So far, my stomach has handled this product fine. The probiotics (10 times more than yogurt) are supposed to help me digest the lactose. Kefir is actually very popular in Russia. "The Ukrainian" schooled me by reminding me that it is pronounced "keh-FEAR" instead of what I had been saying, "KEE-fur." He and I have been drinking the stuff for satiation and muscle repair.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Random Photo Entry 3 - Let Freedom Ring

I decided to put in place a theme for this random photo entry. For those of us in the United States, it's Independence Day weekend, when we show our love for our country and freedom by overindulgence and polluting the air with fireworks. Not glamourous-sounding, but it's still fun to me!

I'm thankful for living in America, and here's why:

Above: In America, I can pay to run and get a medal just for finishing! (This photo is a bit dated, so a few of the recent medals that can't fit on this hook are missing... *blush*)


Above: Things grow easily in most of America's climates, including my still-alive forget-me-not sprouts!



Above: A novice like me can bake blueberry pie filling bread and get compliments over it!


Above: I can go to Asian markets to get ingredients to make my own sushi! (fillings: imitation crab meat, avocado, cucumber, smoked salmon, vegan cream cheese)

Other reasons why America is great:
  • ethnic cuisine is abundant
  • most Americans will acknowledge that we have a diminuative geographical or historical background and that in general, and that other countries are just as good as ours and we had better watch out... and finally, that we are simply too fat
  • stole reality TV and made a huge, huge culture out of it
  • theme parks
  • our President
  • cool flag
  • it's the home of the late MJ