Is This Really Necessary?

So I know my friend, D, just went through this recently where she went on the pill and was horrified by the resulting aftermath. I, too, decided that maybe I would give it a shot. My reasons are different from the majority of women on the pill. I typically don’t sleep with men so I’m not really concerned about getting pregnant. However my cramps can be a nightmare and I am an emotional disaster depending on the state of my hormones. Clearly, knowing that I’m an emotional disaster depending on the state of my hormones means I should try to fuck with them by using some synthetic ones. Clearly, I’m a genius.

Well anyway, the hype is that they help a lot. That said my first week with them was far from pleasant. It involved a lot of crying. Crying of the sobbing uncontrollably variety at work. And let me tell you it’s a little hard to explain why you’re sobbing uncontrollably when there’s really no reason other than my hormones are out of whack and that pen was the wrong color. Seriously, the blue was upsetting (or something equally trivial and stupid). That said things seem to have calmed down, I’m in the middle of week 3 and I’m still a little easier to tip over to the side of crying, which is super awkward cause I’m not really a crier, but it is getting a lot better.

Though I have to think, if this were something that effected men we wouldn’t be doing experiments on our own body right now. They’d have figured something better out instead of – well just wait it out and see what happens. I mean seriously, what kind of an answer is that. I am living in my own personal version of hell and you’re telling me that I just have to wait and see if I adjust. Do I get a refund on those 3 months of my life? Cause that would be stellar too. Anyway, at least I feel vindicated about some of the times when I do know that I’m just super on edge and it’s not *just* me. I suppose in a way that makes it worth it, though I’m not entirely sure just how.

My Favourite Fast Meal

Ok so I don’t cook a lot but when I do, I really do care that it has to be something good. And generally it can’t take too long or be too involved. Because let’s face it, I’m impatient and I always feel like I don’t have enough time to do anything overly involved. Not to say I can’t, but I generally choose not to. However, I believe I have perfected the 15min meal.

So today, I have the day off, it’s the day after Independence Day and I really really wanted chili cheese fries. However, I am also sick and have been feeling on/off like crap all weekend. So I opted for something slightly healthier that really only takes 15mins to cook. (Yes, I timed it, it’s 15mins on the dot.)

This really is my go-to when I want something fast and easy and tasty to make. It’s so ridiculously simple and half the time I have most of the ingredients in the house anyway. (At least, if I’ve gone grocery shopping in the recent past that is.) So here’s how you make it.

Orzo with Spinach, Pine Nuts, Tomatoes and Feta
1 bag spinach
cherry/grape tomatoes (depends on your fancy)
crumbled feta
a handful of pine nuts
1.5tbsp olive oil (I like extra virgin)
Red chili pepper flakes
Crushed basil (or you can substitute all spice for this)

Boil the orzo until it is tender – or to the point where you would typically want to eat it.
In a large saucepan heat the oil until it is quite hot. Add in the red chili pepper flakes and crushed basil (or all spice). Add in the pine nuts. Brown the pine nuts and lower the heat. Add in the spinach. Cook until the spinach is completely wilted. Add the completely boiled orzo. Turn off the heat. Throw in the tomatoes and feta on top. Mix it together and ready to serve.

Broiled Lollipop Lambchops
2 lollipop lambchops
Worcestershire sauce
Garlic salt

Preheat oven to broil.
Cover the lamb chops in Worcestershire sauce and sprinkle garlic salt generously over both sides of the chops. Then place the chops on a broiling pan. Leave on one side for about 7-10mins. Then flip over to the other side for another 5-7mins depending on the size and how well you’d like them cooked through.

These were done for ~15mins, they’re about medium size to keep a great medium rare finish.

A Little Too Much Sun?

Ok so this will sound silly. At least, I get laughed at a lot by my white friends because of it. But I just recently discovered sunburns. It’s probably my least favourite discovery of *all* time. I mean let’s be honest, how many brown people do you know that burn? I don’t really know any. Well until now and that would be myself.

About 2 weeks ago I was lying out on the beach for a couple of hours when I got my first burn. It was just my nose and cheeks but it was definitely enough to be disconcerting for yours truly over here. Quite frankly, I wasn’t exactly sure what happened except my face was pink and it stung like mad. I mean what is that about? And then this weekend I was in a parade and my shoulders, oh my god, my shoulders. I had no idea that it was this bad. Or that this was even possible. I mean sure I’ve seen people get sunburns. And I had imagined that they don’t look like fun. But the intellectual understanding versus actually getting a burn is a far far far cry. Maybe I’m just a wimp but seriously. Sunburns, not cool. I clearly need to invest in sunblock. Well not only invest but actually remember to put it on. For now I’m off in search of some aloe. and maybe some ice.

The Never-Ending Struggle…

with body-image. I’m pretty sure I’m not all that unique in this struggle actually. In fact, I’ve found that most of my female friends have many of the same issues I do. I mean we all complain about different things and have unrealistic expectations of what we should look like. And each of us carries this burden in different ways. The most fascinating part about it is also that most of us have a view of ourselves that are skewed in remarkable ways. For example one of my friends recently got married and apparently put on a few pounds after her wedding. Now she’s my old college roomie, I’ve known her for over 9 years now (wow we’re getting old) and the weight she’s gained is barely noticeable. Seriously, the only reason I noticed is because she said something and then specifically pointed out all her problem areas. I mean yes, we’re not 18 anymore. None of us look the same. That’s totally unrealistic to expect that we will ever look the way we did when we were in our teens again.

I was recently thinking about this because my mom came to visit. And as usual she had a comment about what I looked like. Now last year I went through some major ups and downs which caused me to lose a drastic amount of weight. This is me in January:

This is me on Memorial Day:

So perhaps I have gained a little weight. And yeah the two photos are two totally different contexts so they look drastically different. But the main idea is that in all honesty, I haven’t gained *that* much noticeable weight. Even without the added input from my mom, I have noticed a certain unhappiness in myself with my weight and the way I look. To counter this I’ve used a few methods from my best fried, Ev, where I was taking status photos every week (now every month) to see where my body is at and give myself a more realistic view of what I actually look like. The problem is that I know I don’t necessarily see the right me even in photos. A lot of it is dependent on my mental state and how I think I should look. It’s amazing how frequently it interferes with my own well being. I know that I may be a little extreme but I don’t think I’m the only woman that beats up on herself over a pound here and there. The thing is I used to do this when I was 107lbs. I was teeny tiny and I thought I was horrifyingly overweight. I think it’s something that you have to really take with a grain of salt and start to appreciate your body for what it is and not for the super stick thin images that we’re presented with in magazines and on TV. I have a friend who has started to do that and I’m not sure how she does it yet but boy do I hope to get there some day.

Seriously, You Can’t Care Even A Little?

This is what I want to say whenever I speak to anyone in the billing departments of hospitals and even moreso when I speak to the people at the insurance companies. Because really, I do honestly believe that they don’t care *at all* about us. And it’s really frustrating to be on the phone trying to figure out why your bills are so high when you have a full-time job. Or in my case a full-time job and part-time school. Why do I have to spend 40+ hours trying to figure out why I was billed this way and why this is even a valid bill to begin with. Granted at some point you even start wondering if it is worth spending this much time trying to work out your bill or if you could be spending your time on other things. I mean if I calculated the amount of time I’ve spent trying to get this figured out and how much that would cost my company that bills me out by the hour, I’m pretty sure it’d be a tiny fraction of what my time could be used for. Yet, for me that sum of money is actually legitimate and it makes a difference whether I have it or not so here I am on the phone with like 8 million different health care professionals trying to figure out what to do.

Sometimes I really wonder who works there. I mean honestly how can you just sit there and tell someone that well I’m sorry you just have to make that choice, which is what I heard on the other end of the phone today for a procedure that I’ve been “strongly advised” to get. For something that could be a life or death illness that has yet to be diagnosed. But what incentive do I have to spend this money when I’ve been told that I’m not sick for the past 5 years. However, there is a chance that it could all go horribly wrong and so now I have to make a choice between what my doctors think I should do and what I can afford to do. I don’t even have much of a choice about what I *want* to do.

And don’t get me started on the bills that Congress are looking at. I mean what kind of a cruel joke is that. You are giving the insurance companies essentially complete power over the masses and requiring all of us “little people” to buy into plans that perhaps we can’t afford and in fact may even be detrimental for us. Honestly if you can’t come up with legislation that is somewhat decent don’t even bother. I’d rather have people stick to what is right than try to pass something that really only makes sense for the bottom line of hospitals and insurance companies. I’m sorry supporting insurance companies and hospitals is really not my concern. Nor do I think it’s something my tax dollars should be paying you to help!

New Beginnings

Happy 2010! I’ve been contemplating a New Year’s post for a little while but I was struggling to figure out what to write about. This past year was… well eventful. In some really fantastic ways and in some really horrible ways. I’ve actually taken a little time to reflect on all of it and to be honest, I would do it all again given the chance. The good, the bad and the ugly, it’s all a part of what shapes the person I am today and I think I’m better for having had those experiences. It would be great to always have things be happy and everything work out for the best but how would you know just how much to cherish the good times if you never had the bad? And how would you know how precious all those moments are? Besides, if nothing bad ever happened you would never learn from your mistakes. I think it’s true that having truly failed, having tried your hardest and still failed builds so much character because it is learning to pick yourself back up and try again anyway knowing that you might fail again but to succeed would be a true accomplishment. So in 2010, I’m going to try harder. I’m going to try to be stronger, smarter and to be as open as I can. I’m going to make an effort to do those things that are scary and see what happens. Because I’d rather try and risk failure than simply accept mediocre.

I rarely make New Year’s Resolutions because I think most people have a tendency not to follow through and quite often I’m particularly bad about it. But this year I’ve made a few that I’m really trying to stick to:

  • So for one, my friends started this fitness challenge and being the silly optimist that I am, I figured why not give it a shot? Who cares if I can only do like 2 push ups at a time. It’ll be fine… Haha I’m on day 2 and let me tell you I’m a little concerned. Though I will give it my all and really really try to get through it.
  • I’m going to try to be a grown up and actually start cooking for myself again. (Thankfully one of my friends is moving into the neighborhood and he likes to cook too so we’re going to attempt to do this together).
  • To start running every day before work and hopefully a little on the weekends too – doesn’t matter how much, I just have to do it (again, I was good half way through last year and then life got a little messy and I stopped so I’m going to try to go back to it).
  • To be assertive about my needs and wants and to make sure that I’m taking care of myself. But to still remember to be kind to the rest of the world even though I am trying to be good to me.
  • To start volunteering again.
  • To get out there and start rediscovering Chicago and all of the things that I love about this city.
  • To try and reconnect with friends that I’ve made here who I’ve been really bad about keeping in touch with. And to make new friends whenever I get the chance. (It’s great to meet new people and do new things!)

I think it’s a good list. And it’s not an unreasonable number of things to try and do. Obviously we’ll see how it goes but I think it’s a positive way to look out for the new year. I have faith that the future will be bright.

Forget All Those Diets, This Is Really How You Lose Weight

So I’ve lost 27lbs this year and really the bulk of it, 17lbs I lost in the last two months. I lost them strictly due to stress and anger. It’s amazing what the body can do when you put it in a stressful situation. And if you reduce your eating to about a tenth of what you normally eat and you don’t sleep for more than 4 hours a night (and even then that’s if you’re lucky). You’re really changing your body’s patterns. Not to mention that stress and anger burn calories all on their own like you couldn’t imagine. Combine that with a need to release tension and add a good several hours of exercise a day just to work off all the excess energy you have from stress and anger and you’ve got a sure fire way to shed pounds very very seriously.

Now in case anyone missed the sarcasm in my tone, I do not actually believe any of this is a good or healthy way to lose weight. Effective, yes. Healthy, not even close. However, the first 10lbs I lost the old fashioned hard work way and I really believe that is the way to go. I mean yes, I am happy to have a better body image due to my circumstances but I can promise you I felt much better about how I got my body to start changing when I did it the right way. It’s not by following some miracle diet. In fact, I didn’t follow any diet. I simply ate when I was hungry and an amount that lead me to feel full but not overly full and to institute exercise in my routine. I go to the gym (or play soccer) 6 days a week. I’d like to do it 7 but I know that realistically I have to allow myself at least one day off. Seriously, diets are not effective it changes your patterns for a short period of time and the weight will come back. If you just make healthy changes in your lifestyle and commit to raising your metabolism it will work. It will just take time. It took me 3 months to lose 10lbs but man did I feel really successful when I did it. I’d even say it feels much better than losing nearly 20lbs in less than 2 months because I know that the first time around I was trying and I was taking care of myself. The second time around was due largely to external factors. And of course, I’m a girl so I have my own set of body image issues but it really is far better to do it the way you feel accomplished as opposed to a way where you feel like you cheated the system.

Has The Infatuation Worn Off?

It appears that at least for Maureen Dowd it has, which makes me rather happy because it did get a bit tiresome to read her generally quippy columns that were just glowing reports of the soon-to-be commander-in-chief. This most recent op-ed was actually quite refreshing as she brought up our fearless leader’s ability to crush a fly and I quote:

If only the president could be so brazen about pushing through gay rights and health care.

Thank you, Ms. Dowd. I couldn’t’ve said it better myself. I sure wish our fearless leader would be a little more fearless with things that mattered than with, say, a fly.

This has actually been quite a sore point for me recently because I have quite a few friends (who just happen to be straight males) that have been so baffled by the reaction of many gay activists at Obama’s inaction. Personally, I think we should let gay marriage go through the states before we try any federal action, it just seems to be a bit premature to me but I can understand why many people are upset about it. They backed a candidate who pledged allegiance to equal rights but is now incredibly quiet on the issue now that he is in office. I find that disappointment quite understandable, though considering he did say on the campaign trail that he does not believe in gay marriage even though he does believe in equal rights I am not all that shocked. So in general, I’m quite glad that some of the Obama fan camp are actually looking at him objectively.

Sometimes You Just Need To Ask For Help

So I recently moved apartments, I didn’t go terribly far or at least I wouldn’t call a block and a half away terribly far. During this whole process I learned that sometimes you just need to ask for help. Now I’ve been pretty bad at asking for help my entire life. This was really bad in college when your classes get more difficult and professors expect you to be smart enough to ask for help when you need it. Well, some of us take longer than others to learn that it is better to ask for help than to flounder in “I can do this on my own” land.

Back to moving, for the main part of the move I did ask a couple of friends to help me out, which was super helpful. But I really think it would have been wiser if I had asked, oh everyone I know in Chicago to help me because in reality having just 3 people (where two of us were pretty small girls) moving is not fun. Not fun at all, in fact.

You would think I had learned from that experience right? Since I’ve finally gotten mostly unpacked but I do still need a few things here and there to be put away etc, I decided to get this beautiful dresser from Crate & Barrel yesterday evening. I can’t tell you how much I thank my lucky stars that the stupid thing has to be assembled because man, is it heavy. And I swear if it had been one piece going up 3 flights of stairs with that sucker may not have been possible, at least not all by myself. Taking up the pieces that make it up on the other hand wasn’t so bad. But um, it only has 4 pieces so the big one is still a fairly large sucker for a small person such as myself to be hauling upstairs. Thankfully, I made it up there still in one piece, although I might’ve thrown my shoulder out and gotten a few choice bruises in the process.

Fitness Dieting Bets?

Now that’s certainly an idea that never occurred to me until one of my childhood friends’ fiance told me that he had a bet with his best man that whoever lost the closest to 10% body fat by his wedding they would donate some amount of money to the charity of their choice. Now this was an especially interesting bet because the fiance is significantly more conservative than his friend so the charities that they picked out were specifically chosen to irk the other person and to give them motivation to do better than the other guy. I remember hearing this idea and finding it quite amusing but brushing it off as just something a couple of crazy guys were doing until I opened up my Thursday Styles to find: Dieting? Put Your Money Where Your Fat Is.

I currently find this a really intriguing idea because typically I think most dieting incentives that I’ve seen work for people tend to go hand in hand with dating. Actually one of my friends has an interesting theory that whenever people first get into relationships they start with this “must go to gym and get hot” mentality because of course you want to impress the person you’re dating. And according to her then it moves into the “happy fat” part of the relationship and if there is a break up then there is the post-relationship “get back in shape” to burn stress and then cycle repeats.

So I think this diet betting is an interesting idea to keep some of the motivation after you have found the person you have reached the “happy fat” phase. And hopefully won’t have to go through the pain of a break up to maintain a certain level of fitness. Or you know, you could be one of those motivated people who just likes to go to the gym. For myself, I find joining sports teams works as motivation to stay in shape because otherwise you end up letting your teammates down. And let’s face it, who really wants to lose? I mean everyone says losing isn’t a big deal, especially if you’re play for “fun” but I don’t think anyone actually means it. At least not anyone that has ever played competitively in their life. We may be willing to admit that we aren’t at the same level of fitness that we once were when we were competitive but by no means do we actually want to be a “bad” team.