Monthly Archives: October 2014

Grad School

I’m applying to grad school!

I’m very fortunate to work for a company that will fund further education and so I talked to my manager last week and he said he would approve me going back to school in January for the Spring 2015 semester. Yay!

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When You Start to Feel Discouraged (Suddenly, Despite Progress)

I’ve referenced the fact that I’ve lost a significant amount of weight more than a few times on this blog. I use “significant” a bit loosely, because I’m very short and was never overweight in the first place, but what I’ve lost ultimately adds up to about 16% of my original body weight, so it’s no small matter. Anyway, clarifications aside, there has been a significant improvement in the way that I look and the way that I feel about myself this past year.

Most of the time, I feel awesome. It sound silly to say, but I will freely admit that I’ve spent a bit of time admiring my smaller stomach in the mirror, particularly once the two-pack I’m currently rocking started to show and I got a few new muscle lines I didn’t even know I could have. I feel more comfortable in my clothes – I started wearing tighter shirts and shorter shorts and dresses, and I didn’t think twice about it (when before I absolutely hated shorts because I felt like my legs were too fat).

However, it’s hard to feel good about the way that you look 100% of the time, particularly in today’s society, and I am no exception to that rule. Occasionally, even though I know with every bit of logic available to me that I am perfectly healthy bordering on fit, I still feel fat. And that can be really difficult to deal with when you’ve worked so hard to get to where you are.

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Nutrition Fiction: Low-Carb Diets Are Best (/Carbs Are Evil)

I have to start this post with a biology lesson. You probably already know that there are three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. These are our bodies’ sources of fuel, but they are not all treated equally.

The article I linked to above explains this quite well, and in more detail than I’m going to, but the short version is that carbohydrates are your body’s primary fuel source, largely because they are the easiest to break down. While your body can and will break fats and proteins down into energy, it takes longer than breaking down carbs and therefore, as a less efficient process, is not preferred by your body in most cases.

Fat contains the most energy potential per gram, so it is also commonly used by the body as a source of fuel – either in low intensity exercise where it has the time to break the fat down, or during endurance exercise in an attempt to preserve glycogen (sugar), which comes from carbs and is used by your body to create energy.

Finally, the least preferred source of fuel is protein. It is used in late stages of endurance exercise, when glycogen (sugar) runs really low and the body is forced to break protein into amino acids for fuel. However, this is not ideal because protein is much better used for other purposes – specifically muscle build and repair functions.

So that brings us to how low carb diets work.

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Open-Faced Apple Chicken Omelette

I had another busy weekend full of cooking! This time, though, the results were substantially healthier. Which is good. Cause now that my week of exercise and nutrition break is over (I kicked off the beginning of my return to healthiness with a 6.3 mile run Saturday morning), it’s time to get serious again.

So speaking of getting serious, omelets are a really great healthy breakfast because they’re filling, adjustable in size, easily modified for lots of variations, relatively easy to make, and (depending on what you put in them) very nutritious! I actually almost feel silly giving a recipe because omelets are so easy that really all I probably need to do is say “hey, make an omelette and put this stuff on it.” But alas, I will provide the entire recipe anyway. Here’s mine:

Apple Chicken Omelette 1

And here’s how to make it:

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Cheating On My Grocery Store

So I live about 0.4 miles from a grocery store. (Actually, I live about 100 yards from a Costco but I have neglected to buy my membership thus far so I can’t go there yet.) This grocery store is excessively convenient because it’s directly on my way home, and so it’s generally my grocery shopping locale of choice. However, there are several other grocery stores within ten minutes of my apartment and every once in a while I decide to try a different one, just to scope it out.

That is pretty much always a mistake.

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How NOT to Make Grape Jelly

A while ago, I bought grapes. I like grapes, and I’ve been eating them, but not as often as I eat other fruits and the trouble with grapes is that you have to buy them in huge quantities, so this evening I found myself realizing that I needed to figure out a way to use or preserve all of my grapes, pronto, or I was going to be throwing away a whole lot of them.

So of course, as I do when I want to use up anything in my kitchen, I went to allrecipes.com and searched “grapes.” Enter the recipes for grape jelly.

“Oh!” I thought. “What a great idea!” I thought. “How hard can it be?” I thought.

I clicked on the first recipe and read the list of ingredients: sugar, water, pectin, and grape juice. “Well that won’t work,” I thought to myself. “I’m trying to use up my grapes, and I don’t even have grape juice.” I clicked on another recipe. This one used actual grapes, but still called for a ton of sugar. I happen to buy no-sugar-added preserves, so I knew it was possible to make it without. I tried Googling “no sugar added grape jam recipe.”

It wasn’t until I got through two or three of those that I finally realized the elephant in the room: all of the recipes required pectin, and I had no idea what that was and definitely did not have it in my kitchen. In retrospect I imagine it’s probably similar to gelatin, which I do have, and maybe I could have substituted, but in the moment I had a completely different thought process.

“That’s ok! I made those cherry cheesecake bars yesterday and the cherry part ended up like jelly before I mixed it in – I’ll just repeat that process with the grapes. I’m such a good cook now; I don’t even need a recipe for something I have definitely never done before.”

Cherry Cheesecake Bars

Cherry Cheesecake Bars

Fun obvious fact of the day: cherries and grapes are very different and are not good substitutes in recipes where consistency is really important. With that in mind, you can probably imagine where this went. So, without further ado, I present you with my very own recipe for…

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The Aftermath

I ran a half marathon on Saturday.

Actually, I kicked ass at a half marathon on Saturday. The MapMyRun screenshot below shows my splits, but I forgot to stop the timer at the end so my actual clock time was 2:05:55, which meant an average pace of 9:36 min/mile – a full 24 seconds faster than my goal pace, which was awesome.

Lowcountry Half Marathon

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