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Biggest Loser Is Back!

22 Sep

The Biggest Loser is back on TV and this time is “A battle of the ages.” Three teams divided by the ages of the contestants. Interesting way to divide the contestants. So far, the youngest team won the first weigh-in but the middle-aged team put up quite the fight.

There are two new trainers this season – Anna Kournikova and Dovett Somethin-or-other. I miss Jillian but I think Anna and Dovett can make it work. Anna might be a little too sweet to motivate the extra-stubborn, but gosh is she cute. *Cue ratings.* Dovett is tough, more so than Bob, but they showed his calm, life-coach side too. Perhaps he’s channeling Jillian? That’s it. He a tall, built, handsome, black-man version of Jillian. *Cue more ratings.*

Have you watched the premiere of Biggest Loser? Who’s your favorite contestant so far? (I haven’t picked yet – they’re all too whiney still.) What do you think about the show sans Jillian? What about the new trainers? Do you guys even care about the show like I do?


Feeling Gross

23 Aug

I don’t have any health tips today. I just feel like writing. And I happen to be feeling gross. So I’m going to write about just that – feeling disgusting.

First of all, I’m not writing about how ‘fat’ I feel just to hear people tell me the contrary. That’s (one of) the most annoying things women do – fish for compliments. Ick. But ladies, there is not a single one of you that has never felt fat. Defining ‘fat’ is an entirely different conversation, one that will be left for someone – anyone – but me to weigh in on. So for the sake of this post, ‘fat’ means ‘bigger than my/your personal status quo.’ Fair enough? I suppose I could say I feel BTMPSQ but I’m not going to.

I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend and indulged in not only margaritas but french fries galore.  I also sat a lot (it’s a long drive to and from Las Vegas and sitting by a pool is one of my favorite past times). And instead of hitting the gym hard last night to make up for my gluttonous behavior this weekend, I attended a wine mixer with a new(er) friend with the hopes of making even more new friends and potential professional contacts. But here’s where I really did a terrible thing…

After the mixer (that did NOT have heavy hors d’oeuvres like promised) I realized I hadn’t eaten since 12:45 that afternoon. A couple cubes of cheese and some extremely thin apple slices are not dinner (nor are they heavy hors d’oeuvres…). So when I got home, I mindlessly gnoshed on pita chips and hummus in front of the TV (terrible, terrible idea and a habit I’ve GOT to break) followed by not one but two large Trader Joe chocolate chip cookies. Two. TWO!

Why? Because I felt like it. Absolutely no other reason than that. When I finished the second (good Lord why was there even a first??) cookie, I promptly went to bed.

So many things are wrong with that. SO MANY. I went too long without eating, slowing down my metabolism. I then had nothing but salt and sugar for a late-night dinner and after that, I went to sleep – further slowing my metabolism.

I also just realized that my last few posts have been themed the exact opposite of what this blog had started out as. Healthy: Party of One? My giant ass.

My body hates me right now and I don’t blame it. I can feel and see it’s tantrum. “Oh yea, you want fries with that? Have some love handles too!”

I’ve made a good faith effort to get back on track today – low-fat yogurt for breakfast, raw almonds and dried cranberries for mid-morning and afternoon snack, and a mixed greens salad with oil and vinegar for lunch. Dinner will be a Lean Cuisine (yes, a lot of salt but portion and calorie controlled nonetheless…that, and I desperately need to go grocery shopping).

Tonight I will repent even further at the gym. Cardio! Weights! Plyometrics! Sauna! Blood! Sweat! Tears! No muscle will go un-worked! No sweat gland will be dry!

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry Body! Please forgive me! I will never(ish) treat you this way again.

Just Desserts

17 Aug

The past two days I’ve spent over 45 minutes on either the treadmill or elliptical or both, followed by some weights and ab workouts. Even though it was nearly 80 degrees inside my house last night, I earned this. (Also, I hate wasting food and Lord knows how seldom I use heavy cream and I had some left over from making cheesecake, so this really had to be done.)

I made dark hot chocolate, home made whipped cream and sprinkled the final product with cinnamon. Ah-mazing.

Ingredients: Heavy cream, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, Dove dark chocolate squares, milk (not shown)

Chill beaters and a tall narrow bowl for 15 minutes in the freezer. Add 1 C heavy cream. Beat until soft peaks form. Add 2-4 tblspns of powdered sugar (depending on your desired sweetness) and 1-2 tspns vanilla extract. Beat until stiff peaks form. Voila! Whipped cream.

For the hot chocolate, I used the remaining bit of cream, some soy milk and a little bit of 2% milk. Heat milk in saucepan and add Dove dark chocolate squares (I used 8 – and some leftover semi-sweet chocolate chips I found in the fridge that weren’t enough to do anything else with.) Heat until chocolate melts stirring constantly. Delicious!

Dark hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream sprinkled with cinnamon served in an oh-so cuddly mug


Delicious imperfection

The whipped cream was a little too dense to sit prettily on top like the kind that comes from an aerosol can, but oh well! Maybe a shorter whipping time would help that. Sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy! (Probably not on a summer night like I did, but even then – so good!)

Home Again & Broke

2 Aug

I’m home! I spent the day getting ready to go back to reality. Grocery shopping, the gym, laundry, mani-pedi with the bestie and now, I’m broke.

I had to restock all my food and toiletries and please believe me when I say the pedicure was absolutely necessary. This was only the second professional pedicure I’ve had in my life so you know it was desperately needed. Of course a Starbucks was called for before being pampered. And then In-n-Out for dinner was a must. I mean, I AM back in Cali after all. And after binging on delicious animal-style fries and vanilla shake we HAD to walk around the Ontario Mills to help settle our meal. Which of course reminded me that I got a coupon for a free pair of underpants in the mail while I was gone, so we had to stop at Victoria’s Secret which of course led to a matching bra purchase (I had another coupon though!)

Fortunately, I go back to work tomorrow and can start working on bringing in money rather than just dishing it out, but there are so many fun things I need to do before my first (small) paycheck comes in!

I need to do happy hour on Thursday with my bestie at our favorite watering hole! I need to go out dancing with my friends (old and new) on Friday because I haven’t seen (some) of them in over a month! I need to meet up with my new friend and her friends at the OC Fair because I love my new friend so much and meeting people is one of my new favorite things! (Fortunately, the day we’re going to the fair, I just have to bring 5 pieces of gently worn clothing to get in free so that helps.) I need to have girls night next Monday with my grad school friends because they never come to anything I try to put together!

Dang all these unexpected expenditures!

Don’t you just hate it when life happens?

Italian Adventures: Homeward Reflections

31 Jul

I’m coming home today. I’m all packed and have a few minutes to spare before my taxi comes to take me to the airport.

In a way, I’m going to miss this apartment. Yes, it’s constantly dirty. Yes, there are 7 other girls here. No, they never sleep during normal hours. But it has been my home for the past month. I have been happy to come home to it after long weekends in Rome and the Amalfi Coast. But I am looking forward to coming home to MY bed and MY room and all of MY familiar things. I’m looking forward to coming back to my life.

I’ve learned a lot on this trip. First and foremost, I’m braver than I thought. I mean, I signed up all alone. I knew no one when I got on that plane 30 days ago. Now, I have about 30 new acquaintances and a few new friends that I’ll keep in touch with when I get back home. I’m still learning/grappling with the fact that I’m reserved. Something about my innate aura sends a message to people that I’m not…something. Fun? Approachable? I don’t know what exactly. But it’s the reason I’ve always had a hard time meeting people and making new friends. In a way, it’s good. Because only the people who take the time to actually talk to me and get to know me become my friends. The rest are too fickle and superficial, and I don’t want or need them around anyway. However, I’m still deciding if I really want to be able to turn my reserved-ness off easier/faster or if I want to embrace it whole-heartedly.

Also as far as bravery is concerned, I’ve navigated the streets of Florence to the point where I can go anywhere here by myself and be completely comfortable. I’ve learned bits of Italian and can ask for certain things in Italian. I know that traveling to other countries is very manageable now. I’ve also done all of this without a cellphone or phone number of any kind. Imagine how much easier it would be with modern technology! I’m not afraid of leaving my comfortable home and in fact, I’m eager to keep venturing out and discovering new places.

But at the same time, I’ve learned how truly fortunate I am to live where I do. I love California. It’s amazing how many people honestly dream of coming to California and I was born and raised there. I’m also very lucky to live in the States. We Americans are really spoiled. Things we take for granted are sorely missed abroad. Like free water at restaurants. Ice in your beverage. Option, options and more options! You can’t go to a restaurant in Italy and order a salad with no this, extra that, and dressing on the side. In fact, if you ask to many questions, the waiter walks away. There’s no Netflix or Hulu or Pandora or local broadcasting channels that stream shows online in Italy. There is no Target or WalMart. There is no one-stop shopping. There is very little – if any – diversity in food options. Aside from tourists, there’s very little diversity period. And everything is expensive. I would never want to live permanently anywhere else.

I’m grateful for this experience. I’m proud to be able to say I lived in another country for a month when I was in my 20s. I’m also excited to be a more interesting person now that I can say I’ve traveled – I have so much more to offer in certain conversations! I’m thrilled with the excitement for life this trip has given me. I want to see and do everything, and have every intention of tackling as much of it as possible.

I’m also grateful for the people who have very much influenced me for the better during this trip. Sarah is incredibly independent, confident and strong. She’s traveled to plenty of places and has the same outlook as I do on many things. Becky is outgoing and fun and entertaining and super talented – she’s the personality that I have with my closest friends and family, and that I wish I could have with everyone, but she’s that way all the time. Both of these girls make me want to be better in different ways and that’s great!

I think most importantly though, I’ve learned that change is good. Change is growth. And that being open to change or not having a plan – if just for the day or your whole life – is good.

Italian Adventures: Fun Tidbit

31 Jul

Before I left for Italy, I posted about my grandma and throughout this trip I’ve thought of her many times.

I’ve seen dresses and shoes in store windows that reminded me of things she brought to the States from Germany. I’ve been to different places in Italy and wondered if she was in the same spot many years ago during her travels. And yesterday, I smiled to myself in Venice when I heard something I haven’t heard in a very long time.

I was in a crowded area following my tour group when we passed by this family. I believe they were German but I could be making that up in order to fit my memory better. Anyway, as we passed, one of the children lost their balance and started to fall as one of the adults quickly grabbed the child and said, “oops-sa-la.”

I haven’t heard “oops-sa-la” in years. My grandma always said it when “oops” or “uh oh” was called for and I’ve never heard anyone besides her say it.

It was a nice way to bring my trip full-circle.

Italian Adventures: Secret Bakery

30 Jul

My roommate’s friend who studied abroad told her about a secret bakery in Florence near our apartment. Apparently, they work/bake all night and deliver the goods to other restaurants during the day. So, the only way to buy the pastries fresh is to visit the shop from 1-5 am.

We found it tonight. It’s down a small alley of a residential neighborhood and has an unmarked door. You can tell it’s the bakery by 1. the delivery van in front 2. the sign that says, “Be quiet please” and 3. the delicious smell.

You have to knock on the door – pound rather – and wait for the baker to come and unlock it. He opens it just enough for you to say, “croissant?” to which he answers, “chocolate, cream or plain?” After taking your order he shuts and locks the door. It’s like a drug deal but with sweet treats!

For only 1 euro each, the 4 of us that made the trek in the middle of the night each got a fresh croissant. We saw a group of guys walk away with pizza slices and one had a pineapple danish. Yum!

Tomorrow morning, closer to 5 am, I’m going over there to get a few for breakfast at the airport. Too bad we didn’t know about this joint sooner.

Becky, me, Jonathan, Sarah after our second Secret Bakery Trip

Italian Adventures: Venice

30 Jul

Venice was beautiful! It was so exciting to be in a place that I’ve only seen in movies. The gondoliers really do wear striped shirts and straw hats! The gondolas really are as romantic as they seem! There really is water everywhere (which is probably why I love it so much).

On a water taxi in Venice

We saw a glass blowing demonstration (Murano glass, made on the Venetian island of Murano, is world famous) and I bought a pair of glass earrings. Then we took a walking tour of the city and saw great palaces, Steve Jobs’ house, another palace whose renovations are being funded by Woody Allen, the hotel where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie stayed during their filming of “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” and of course, we rode on a gondola. And I had a Spritz, a drink invented in Venice (so was the Bellini but the place that claimed to have invented the drink wanted 15 euro for one – HA! Pass.)

Glass blower

Pisa Palace

Steve Jobs' house in Venice


The day went by pretty quick – we walked the two main islands of downtown Venice but it was a 4-hour bus ride from Florence each way (after a train ride from Venice to where our bus waited), so we didn’t have a ton of time in the city.

It was a good day trip to wind down the whole Italian experience.

Tomorrow, I’m packing, cleaning and investigating this small town just outside of Florence with a few people. Tonight, we’re making a trip to the “secret bakery” that apparently only opens from 1 am to 5 am. We’ll see how that goes…

Italian Adventures: Wingwomen & Lads

29 Jul

I’ve decided I don’t like wingwomen. The better they are, the less I like them. Not as people – it’s the idea/practice of wingwoman-ing I’m not a fan of. It’s very flattering when a guy starts talking to you but the moment you realize it’s because of a wingwoman, you instantly feel like someone let you win at a board game. Then, you feel like you’re second-best.

What’s that? You liked my friend but she has a boyfriend back home so you’ll talk to me because she talked about how great I am? Yes, well, had you talked to me first you would have known how great I am all on your own. Ciao, sucker.

Also, despite their accents, Irish men are just as lame as American men.

Italian Adventures: Museums, Rain, Caffe Lattes & A Giant Bottle of Wine

28 Jul

Yesterday was one of those days that only happens once in a great while. You wake up with a whole day as a blank slate with only one thing you HAVE to do and the rest of the time is yours. Most of the time, for me anyway, these days turn into me being bored and desperately searching for something fun to do before time runs out or I end up doing something lame like cleaning or homework. However, yesterday did not end up that way.

It started with a tour of the Palazzo Pitti – a huge palace of a wealthy family (the Pitti) and all the artwork, furniture and other extravagances they had. Afterwards, Becky, Jonathan and I went for lunch. We went to this place along the river that’s absolutely beautiful. We lingered over our long lunch before realizing that it was raining outside. Even though we were in shorts and tank tops, we strolled back to my apartment to get my museum pass. I changed into jeans and a sweatshirt (in July!) and Becky and I grabbed some umbrellas and went to explore the Boboli Gardens.

Boboli Gardens

The gardens were lovely and we had the place pretty much to ourselves. Then, we went back to her apartment so she could change and we could have a small sit. We chatted in her kitchen for awhile before heading back towards my place. On the way there, we stopped for a cup of caffe latte. We sat outside along the river and sipped our coffee in the misty weather and just talked.

Finally, we made it back to my apartment where a few other girls were home. We played around with Mac’s Photobooth for a bit before Becky and I headed just outside of my building for a quick pizza for dinner to bring back upstairs. About halfway through our dinner, the guys showed up with a 5-liter bottle of Chianti that they bought from one of the wineries a few weeks ago.

That's how we roll

About 10 of us sat around our kitchen table, drinking wine and playing Kings Cup with red wine (how classy!). A few more people stopped by briefly before heading out again, but 5 of us stayed in and played a card game before heading to bed.

The weather gave this warm, fuzzy, cozy feeling to the whole day. We packed quite a bit into our day without any planning and the sheer laziness of everything was very welcome. Nothing spectacular happened but it was one of my favorite days on this trip.