354. Random Thoughts Thursday

I could probably write  a separate post for everything here, and I probably should for content, but I don’t feel like it.  So instead I present you with a bunch of randomness currently on my mind.

Last weekend was quite the weekend for me.  It was full of all kinds of firsts.  I ran 16 miles for the first time (along with 14 and 15 miles along the way!) I shot a gun (multiple guns actually) for the first time ever, and I made homemade bagels for the first time. (FINALLY! I’ve only been talking about making homemade bagels for about 3 years now!) It was quite an impressive weekend really.

The boy owns guns and likes to go shoot them with his buddies. I have no interest in guns and even less interest in shooting them. Plus, I’m a disaster on my own; I don’t need to be a disaster with a deadly weapon in hand. But I know the boy likes guns, and I knew he would REALLY like it if I went shooting with him one day. So for Christmas I applied for my FOID card (Firearm Owners ID – It’s an Illinois thing. Illinois loves it some gun laws.) and gave the boy a copy of the application along with a note promising to take him shooting once I received my FOID. We finally picked a weekend and went. Honestly, I was surprised by how nervous, uncomfortable, and just plain scared I was to begin with. When we walked into the range, I would flinch or jump every time someone would fire a shot. I was on the verge of tears for at least the first 20 minutes simply because that’s how I most often react to the stress of nervousness/ being uncomfortable. Ultimately I had a good time. I would definitely go again but probably not anytime soon. Nik puts up with a lot of my ridiculousness (and my various kitchen experiments) so it was nice to do something that was really all for him.

I don’t know if I was feeling extra ballsy after my adventures with guns or if it was just fresh in my mind because I found a recipe when I was pulling recipes from old issues of Cooking Light and Vegetarian Times to add to my recipe binder, but I decided I was also going to make homemade bagels on Saturday.

I used this recipe from the November 2011 issue of Cooking Light. I’m not sure why I waited so long to make my own bagels, but I’m glad I finally did this because these bagels were AWESOME! I stuck to the recipe pretty closely to make sure they came out right, but I did make a few minor changes:

  1. I left out the barley malt syrup because a) I didn’t have any and b) I didn’t feel like trying to track it down. The recipe says you can leave it out so I wasn’t worried.
  2. I brushed the bagels with egg yolk thinned with water. I also topped half of them with salt, minced onion, poppy seed and sesame seeds to make everything bagels.
  3. I only made 11. I had 6 that were about 3.5 oz and 5 that were about 4.5 oz. I could have cut down all the 4.5 oz bagels to make a 12th bagel, but I was too lazy.
  4. I baked for almost twice the suggested time. I cooked them until golden brown on top and hallow sounding.

I totally rocked my February Challenge, and I feel like a rock star for it.  If you’ve been reading my blog for some time now, you know how good I am at failing at my fitness challenges.  Last month, I killed.  I blew my goal of 175 activity points (which I increased about a week into the challenge from the original 150 points) out of the water clocking in at 212 activity points for the month.  I tracked 26 out of 29 complete days.  I did fall short on my fitness class goal only attending 4 out of 5 classes.  However, that was a scheduling failure rather than me blowing things off.  There are a pretty limited number of classes I can actually attend to begin with since I don’t get home until about 6 in the evening. When you account for my Weight Watchers meetings on Tuesdays, my darts league on Wednesdays, and my training runs on Mondays and Thursdays, I’m left with Friday, Saturday and Sunday for classes.  There aren’t any evening classes on Friday and I run on either Saturday or Sunday.  That leaves me one day a week to do classes and since there were only 4 weeks in February, well…getting to 5 classes wasn’t really realistic with marathon training taking top priority.  What’s important is that I didn’t fall short of the goal simply because I was being lazy.  So because I feel like my challenge was a huge success despite that, I’ve decided to go ahead and reward my successes.   I’ve deviated from my original reward plan though and ordered How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (the reward for my bonus weight loss goal) instead of the fitbook.  There is a method to my madness though kids.

The reason I went ahead and ordered the cookbook instead of the fitbook is because I’m following Michelle’s lead and going for a Meatless March.  Back in September 2010, I made the decision to stop eating animals.  I never proclaimed myself a vegetarian because I expected to eat meat again, and I have.  Lately though, I’ve been wanting to get back to a primarily meatless diet.  This seemed like a great way to do it!

I signed up for my fifth half marathon yesterday.  The Rock n Roll race series was offering a Leap Day discount of $29 off any race.  I’m usually able to pass up a deal, but that’s a really great discount.  I decided to snap it up and registered for the Chicago Rock n Roll half marathon on July 22nd.  I was hesitant to sign up since I hate running in the heat.  (Really, I just hate the heat.)  But it was hard to pass up such a deal, especially when it would be an encore performance, and a chance to kick ass, of my very first half marathon.

Last week I decided to impulse buy a cast iron skillet, a cast iron grill pan and The New Rules of Lifting for Women off Amazon.  I haven’t used the skillet yet, but I’m a fan of the other two items thus far.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Have a happy Thursday!


342. In The News: Is BMI Ever TMI?


I came across this article (That one, above, click the link and read.  I’ll wait.) today which I found really interesting.  There’s a new law in Georgia intended to combat childhood obesity.  Students will be weighed in PE classes, and their BMI information will be sent home to their parents.  The information is also being reported to the state.  There’s definitely an element of privacy/ personal rights and responsibility here, but that’s not something I really see as a huge issue.  In the age of Facebook, Twitter, and the airing of your personal business all over the internet, I often struggle to buy into the invasion of privacy argument.  I’m not saying that isn’t a concern for some: just that it’s not a concern for me.  My concern is whether or not this is an effective method or a wasted effort.

I tend to agree with one of the individual, Randy Weiner, who was quoted in the article.  I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad law, particularly because the information is being provided to parents not the children themselves.  I think the intention is good, but ultimately I don’t think it will be highly effective.  If the parent’s don’t value good health and nutrition then giving them information about their child’s BMI probably isn’t going to change much.

While I think much of the responsibility for childhood obesity falls to the parent’s, I do think schools can impact change.  Personally, I think the more effective way for schools to combat childhood obesity is through education, better nutrition in school lunches, and increase activity for students.  Those are the kind of laws I would like to see passed because those are the kind of laws I think would have the biggest impact overall.

Honestly, I don’t think there’s any sort of “quick-fix” or immediate way to reduce childhood obesity.  Obesity in general is deeply ingrained in our current culture, and I think it order to really impact change, we need to be focusing on more long-term efforts like educating our children so they can, hopefully, grow into healthy(ier) adults and raise children who are healthier than they were.

What do you think?  Do you think this is a good law?  Do you think it’s an effective way to impact change in the current childhood obesity rates?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!



318. I’ve Got a Bad Habit

Generally on my blog, and in my life overall, I tend to focus on the good.  I focus on building good healthy habits.  I focus on the positives when things start to get me down.  What can I say? I’m an undying optimist.  Today, though, we’re talking bad.

Despite all the good healthy habits I’ve built over the last three years of my life, I still have many a bad habit.  I’m awful at cleaning up after myself.  I can be really terrible about saying “Thank you.”  I don’t take compliments well.  I leave my wet towel on the bed.  I’m sure there are a ton of other tiny habits and idiosyncrasies that you could consider bad habits of mine.  For the most part I think my bad habits probably bother other people a lot more than they bother me, but there is one bad habit of mine that actually makes me crazy.

I am a nail biter.

I’ve been a nail biter my entire life.  It never really bothered me as a child or teen.  Really, it never bothered me much at all until recently.  Growing up people always told me what a terrible, disgusting habit it was.  In grade school we did a science experiment that involved putting touching out finger tips to a petri dish and the watching the bacteria from our fingers grow in the dish.  I shouldn’t have been disgusted, but I was perfectly content to continue biting my nails.

And bite my nails I did.  And I didn’t just bite them, I destroyed them.  I would bite them to the nubs and the point where they would bleed and hurt.  You’d think that would deter me, but it didn’t.  Sure, there were attempts to quit, but they never took.  I tried manicures, fake nails, that nasty tasting stuff you put on your nails to deter you.  Then after my friend’s wedding in October 2007, I managed to quit biting my nails – for the most part.

I’d still bite and pick at my nails when they got “too long,” (I really dislike having long nails.  If I can’t feel my nails pressing into my palms when I make a fist, they are too long for me.) but I didn’t bite them to the point where they were destroyed all the time.  I’d also chew and pick nail polish off in lieu of biting, but I didn’t actually bite my nails.  And for the most part, they usually looked really nice.

Lately that’s all changed.  I’ve been biting my nails and picking at my cuticles worse than I have in years.  And truth be told, it’s starting to really bug me, but I just can’t seem to stop myself.


So now my goal is to stop again.  I’m not really sure how since there wasn’t any real strategy the last time I quit biting; I just sort of stopped.  I guess step one is to start by paying more attention because more than anything, my nail biting seems to be a mindless habit.  So help me out friends: any former nail biters out there that have tips for me on quitting?

302. Fun Facts Friday

I promise you my Fit Friday Run on the Hudson post will be up later.  I just have a couple more pictures to add in.

But for now I thought this would be fun.  Who doesn’t love fun facts on a Friday!

1.) What’s a nickname only your family calls you?
There actually isn’t one.  My nickname, Stina, originated with my brother because he couldn’t pronounce Kristina as a little kid, but no one in my family actually calls me Stina.  It’s always just Kristina.

2.) What’s a weird habit of yours?
I don’t know…friends, what are my weird habits?

3.) Do you have any weird phobias?
I don’t think either of these are weird, but I’m terrified of falling from a great height or off a ladder.  I’m not afraid of heights though.  I’m fine with being up high as long as I know I’m perfectly secure and not going to fall.  I’m also terrified of getting stuck in an elevator.

4) What’s a song you secretly love to blast and belt out when you’re alone?
Pretty much anything off any of the Glee soundtracks.  I once drove the entire 2+ hours from my house to my family’s summer house having a Glee sing along.  I was hoarse by the time I got there!

5.) What’s one of your biggest pet peeves?
My #1 public transit pet peeve is really loud cell phone talkers.  If you must talk on your phone, use your indoor voice people.  I don’t need to hear your side of the conversation from across the train car or over my headphones!

6.) What’s one of your nervous habits?
It’s not so much a nervous habit as a it is a boredom or stress habit, but I bit my nails and pick at my cuticles and skin around my nail – especially on my right thumb.

7.) What side of the bed do you sleep on?
Depends on what bed I’m sleeping in.

8.) What was your first stuffed animal and its name?
I don’t know what my first stuffed animal was, but I still sleep with a Loves-A-Lot Care Bear from my childhood.  It’s super skanky looking, but I refuse to part with it.

9.) What’s the drink you always order at Starbucks?
I don’t frequent Starbucks much, but probably the Pumpkin Spice Latte.  That’s the only thing I will go out of my way to go to Starbucks for; otherwise, I usually just grab an iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts.

10.) What’s a beauty rule you preach, but never actually practice?
I don’t even have my own beauty rules let alone beauty rules I preach…

11.) Which way do you face in the shower?
Face to the water unless I’m rinsing my hair or shaving.

12.) Do you have any ‘weird’ body ‘skills’?
If I do, I haven’t discovered them yet!

13.) What’s your favorite comfort food that’s ‘bad’ but you love to eat it anyways?
French fries or potato chips or Goldfish crackers – I also have zero self-control when it comes to these foods.

14.) What’s a phrase or exclamation you always say?
“Dude!” When I’m writing I tend to use the same phrases over and over again, and then I end up having to go back and change some of them because I can’t deal with the redundancy.

15.) Time to sleep, what are you actually wearing?
Pajama pants and a t-shirt or shorts and a tank

16.) What did you used to wear that you thought was cool but now you realize it wasn’t that hot?
Umm…pretty much anything I wore in high school.  The worst offenders were probably the giant baggy pants that I could have fit my entire body into one leg.


297. A Brownie Sundae by Any Other Name…is Still a Caloric Nightmare.

This isn’t a new topic – to me, the healthy living blogging community, or society as a whole – but it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately as I’ve been diligently (and less than diligently) tracking my Weight Watchers points: availability of restaurant nutritional information.

Laws in place in New York require calorie counts be on the menus at restaurant and fast food chains.  (I’d completely forgotten about this until we were at Applebee’s in NYC!  I was actually confused by nutrition information on the menu until I remembered it was required by law.)  There have been studies that show it doesn’t have a huge effect on people’s selection – about one in six people use the calorie information and select lower calorie options.

Truth be told, the majority of the time when I’m going out to eat, I’m not really trying to be healthy.  No matter how healthy you try to be at a restaurant, it’s still not going to be as healthy as something made at home.  It is what it is.  Generally, we eat out at most once a week.  I consider this my splurge meal, and I’m going to get what I want.  Having the calorie count on the menu isn’t likely to dissuade me from ordering what I want unless it’s absolutely ridiculous.  That said, I still want to be able to track my food and assess the “damage” I’ve done.

I appreciate the laws that require restaurants to include calorie counts on their menus and signage, but what I would really like to see is a shift in the restaurant industry to readily providing more healthy options and easy access to complete nutrition information.  I don’t even necessarily care if it’s on the menu.  There are plenty of other ways to make nutrition information available to your customers without making it “in your face” which is another complaint I’ve seen about calories being posted on menus.

  • Provide a booklet at each table – like the dessert or drink menu – listing all the nutrition information.  If the customer is interested it’s at their disposal.  If they’re not, they can ignore it.
  • Make it easily accessible on your website by a downloadable PDF – the key here is easily.  Don’t make the customer dig around for it or request it from you. (I’m looking at your Buffalo Wild Wings!)
  • Even better, provide “meal builder” function on your website.  Panera posts calorie counts on their menu boards, but their website has a feature that allows you to determine the complete nutritional information for your entire meal, and it’s fully customizable.  If you substituted your bread, you can swap it out in the meal builder tool; did you leave off the sauce?  You can subtract those calories quick and easy.
  • Electronic kiosks with the nutrition information are another option.  I believe au Bon Pain has these, but I could be wrong.

In any case, don’t tell me I can’t have it.  (This statement was originally directed at Friday’s, but I just discovered they now provide complete nutrition information on their website.  Kudos!)  I understand that for smaller restaurant chains and family owned restaurants providing nutrition information can create an additional burden, and in this case, I can generally estimate.  However, large national chains have no excuse.  Plus, refusal to provide me with nutritional information makes me wonder what they’re hiding.

What do you all think?  Is the availability of nutrition information important to you?  Was it important to you before you shifted to a healthier lifestyle?  Would/ do you let nutrition information dictate your choices at a restaurant? Do you think if in your face nutrition information became the norm people would think about it more, or do you think that would make it so common place it would be just as easy to ignore as if I weren’t there at all?

I’m really curious.  It seems like such a simple idea – provide people with information about what they’re eating, but a lot of people seem to get really bent out of shape over it.  It also wasn’t something I gave much thought to prior to 2009.  I knew eating out meant high calorie dishes, but I never realized that some of those desserts (my beloved brownie sundaes!) often contain an entire day’s worth of calories!

268. A Fear of Success?

When I blog, I tend to steer clear of post in which I do a lot of self-reflection.  It’s not that I don’t spend time reflecting on myself; in fact, I spend a great deal of time thinking about myself.  Lately, I’ve spent so much time reflecting – primarily my struggles with losing weight and reaching goals, that it’s overshadowed a lot of my blogging inspiration – hence the lack of posting lately.  I’ve considered posting some of these things, but to be perfectly honest, I think in such a random and fragmented sense that my thoughts usually don’t make much sense to anyone other than me (I spent three days composing this post going back over it to see if it would make sense to an outsider.)  However, I’m sure there are plenty of people who can identify.  Plus, at the end of the day, this is my blog and I’ll self-reflect if I want to.  So here’s what’s been consuming my mind lately…

I’ve talked before about how I’m not very good at seeing things through when I set goals.  Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about why this is.  I’ve examined my reasons before and come to valid conclusions – I overwhelm myself by trying to do too much.  I don’t keep them in the front of my mind so I forget.  And I’ve done things to try and solve my issues based on these conclusions – I go for small starts.  I set just few goals.  I create mini vision boards and stick post-it notes all over the place.  I’ve been creating daily goals to try and boost my confidence in sticking to goals.  Despite this all, I still come up short in sticking to so many of my goals. 

Recently something has occurred to me though: a sort of break-through if you will.  It’s occurred to me that my problem is actually making the commitment to my goals.  I set goals yes, but the truth is I never really commit to them.  I don’t really dedicate myself.  This begs the question why.  Why would I not commit to things I really want?  Why do I not commit to things I know I can achieve?  Why do I settle instead of going for things?  I’ve only come up with one answer, and that is fear.  I’m afraid.  It’s not necessarily that I’m afraid to commit, but I’m afraid of what will happen once I commit.  Part of me is afraid that I’ll fail, but even worse, a larger part of me is afraid I’ll succeed.

On the surface, I present a cool-as-a-cucumber, laid back attitude, and for the most part that’s an accurate depiction of my personality.  However, lurking beneath the surface there’s a tiny perfectionist, type-a control freak.  This is the part of me that’s afraid to fail.  The fear of failure isn’t what really bothers me.  I get it.  I understand being afraid to fail.  It’s the fear of success that bothers me.  It just seems so irrational to me.

That’s why I’ve spent so much time thinking about it.  It just doesn’t make sense.  I guess maybe it’s rooted in a fear of the unknown.  Perhaps I’m not scared of being successful so much as I am what will happen if/ when I do succeed.  That my life would somehow be changed for the worse?  Still seems silly, but…

As I’ve been thinking about this I’ve looked back on myself a lot.  I’m used to be good at stuff, but it’s rare that I ever letter myself be much better than average.  In high school, I was a good swimmer, but I wasn’t great.  And when I got a chance to be great, I quit.  Yes, there was more to it than that – I didn’t get along with the coach.  I was taking multiple AP classes.  There wasn’t enough time in the day to balance school and swimming and friends. – but ultimately, I quit when I got to the point where I was being pushed into going from good to great.  That was part of the reason I didn’t like the coach.  He pushed for more than just good enough.  I can find repeated instances of me basically calling it quits and settling for good enough: my grades in college, my decision not to teach, my staying with Chris for as long as I did.

Truth be told, it was Rachel’s post on how to handle praise that really triggered this entire post.  At the heart of my personality, I’m an introvert.  I don’t like to be the center of attention.  I don’t like people paying attention to my achievements.  I don’t like praise, and I don’t handle it well.    Her post got me thinking about how I handle praise and take compliments.  I don’t.  Receiving praise makes me really uncomfortable.    I down play everything.  When I first lost weight, I hated it when people would call attention to it.  I could handle about one comment before I started getting anxious.  If people started gushing about how good I looked, I immediately downplayed it.  “Oh, it’s nothing…”  When my friend Sarah would give me props on running calling me “the little marathoner,” I immediately emphasized that a 5K is only 3 miles.  Even when I cook or bake, I’m constantly nit picking the dish.  It could be this… It should be that…

Maybe I’m not so much afraid of being successful, of being great, as I am uncomfortable with the attention it will bring on me. 

But how do I fix it?  Do I just face the fear?  That seems much easier said than done.  Do I slowly learn to take praise better?  I guess that’s as good a place as any to start.  So here I go.  I’m going to do my best to learn to take praise.  If you compliment me on anything and I downplay it, feel free to slap me upside the head…or something.

267. Adoptiversary!

Happy Adoptiversary to my favorite little guy!


Today marks one year since I adopted Maxwell from the Chicago Ridge Animal Welfare League.  I seriously couldn’t have adopted a more awesome dog!  He’s been (mostly) well behaved from the very start.  He’s energetic and loves to play, but he’s old enough to calm down and relax when playtime is over.  He’s not super barky.  He doesn’t lick my face.  He loves a good cuddle.  Seriously, he’s the coolest dog ever.


Maxwell wanted to help install the bathroom vanity doors.

King Maxwell

Maxwell in his Halloween costume. He's king of the house so I dressed him accordingly.

To celebrate I making him a fancy dinner of shepherd’s pie. (Okay, I’m really just giving him some of our dinner sans the garlic and onions.) For dessert I’m making him these doggie carrot cake cupcakes from Dog Treat Kitchen. (I’m not make the cream cheese frosting since I’m pretty sure he’s lactose intolerant.) and “ice cream” (aka the famous banana soft-serve.)

After dinner we’re going for a car ride (to my parent’s house) so he could play in the yard.  He’s also getting a new toy.

Little does he know tomorrow we’re getting up early to go to the vet for his annual check-up…