life on the wagon

Swagsters!

I forgot to tell you about a very important event yesterday!… I bought my books for school!

Classes begin in exactly 3 weeks, and I can’t even explain to you how excited I am. This is really the start of something new for me, and for Markus for that matter. Once I’m finished, we’re really going to be on our way. ย There’s so much to be excited about. I really have this feeling that the world is ours for the taking. ๐Ÿ˜€

Nerd Alert

So, in case I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m going back to school to get a degree in Economics. This first semester back I’ll be taking two Econ classes and two Geography classes (I’ve decided to minor in Environmental Geography). I was planing to take one more class, but have recently decided to stick to four classes, as I will still be working full time. Anyway… outside of the cost, buying school books is one of my absolute favorite things in the world. I love looking at the required reading and getting a peak at what we’ll be covering over the semester. Like this gem…

*swoon*

I wish I was joking about how excited I am to dig into this book. I just find it all so fascinating and pertinent. I sincerely cannot wait! My anticipation reassures me that I’ve made a smart choice by going back to school. ๐Ÿ˜‰

But let’s get serious for a second…

I’d like to switch gears and share something with you all that I’ve kept quiet for a while. Sure, some people in my life know about this, but tonight I felt like I was ready to go public, as what began as a sad situation has transformed into a source of immense pride for me.

Swagsters, as of today, I have not had a drop of alcohol in 25 days.

Through the course of the last few years, I struggled a bit with over indulging in beverages of the alcoholic persuasion. While I wouldn’t say I was an alcoholic, I would say that I had problems with moderation when I did chose to drink. I know that there were times, many of them, that I drank alcohol as a way to cope with and escape from my life.

Over the years I’ve usually been able to catch myself before things got too out of hand, but recently, I realized that I was spending too many nights saying to myself, “Tonight is the night I prove to myself that I can drink with moderation.” And then I would proceed to get drunk. The next day I would feel ashamed, embarrassed, depressed, bloated, uncomfortable, tired and just generally ill.

25 days ago, I hit a low. 25 days ago I finally awoke to the realization that even though I enjoy the taste of wine and beer, I could no longer put it into my body. I realized that, for me, the consumption of alcohol was pure poison to my body, mind and spirit.

(Side note: This does not mean that I think no one should drink. I mean to say that I, personally, should not drink.)

The first few days after I quit, I was glad that I had done so, but I was still left with the lingering guilt, gastrointestinal discomfort and body dysmorphia that drinking brought into my life.

But then, the clouds started to lift away and the sun began shining down on me. I remember thinking for a while beforehand that I always felt like there was a cloud hanging over me, and I was beginning to think I might actually be depressed. But as the days of sobriety wore on, I finally began to realize: that cloud was laced with booze. Slowly, but surely, I started to find happiness again. My heart began opening up and I started to see the real beauty in the world around me.

This week, I have really been noticing the changes. Body dysmorphia is nearly a thing of my past. In fact, I’m growing immensely proud of my strong, healthy body. I’m reaping the benefits of my clean eating and exercise, instead of nullifying them with alcohol. (I’m starting to see abs, y’all.) I have more energy. I don’t need naps. My mood is more stable. I am able to better focus. Without the cloud of guilt and shame, my spirituality has been set free.

Today, I was truly struck with pride. 25 days ago I was as close to hating myself as I could possibly be. Yet, instead of hating myself, I chose to see the open window of opportunity. The universe was offering me a chance to make a change, and I took that opportunity.

And I am so proud of myself.

I have never felt this level of pride for something I have done. I suppose I wanted to share this all with you because it explains the place I’ve been in the past few weeks. It explains why I have spent so much time examining myself, my authenticity, my Truth, my Me-ness.

The Real Jenny is stepping up now, and showing herself.

That being said, I hope you all will stay this journey with me. I feel conflicted because I do not know what direction this blog will take. It will be transforming into it’s authentic self right alongside me. I worry that people won’t like what I say or write, but I am going to keep plugging along, in the hopes that my purpose will reveal itself.

What do you say Swagsters? Dive in with me?

relax, recuperate, rejuvenate

A little later than intended, I’m back.

These past two days off of work have been wonderful, and as much as I kept telling myself, “Jenny, you should blog! You should write! Don’t neglect it!” I just couldn’t bring myself to do any “shoulds.” I just needed to focus on self-care.

So what have I been up to? Here’s a bit of what’s been going during my time off:

Relaxation

Yesterday, I walked to pilates class. The studio is a little over a mile from my house, and it was a gorgeous day to be outside. I felt little twinges, now and again, of guilt for giving up my shift… and then I saw this:

divine intervention

Signs from the Universe don’t get much more obvious than that! Silly as it may be, seeing this license plate helped me relax and know that I had done the right thing.

Pilates was kind of a bust, to be honest. It was a beginner’s class, but I didn’t find it very challenging. Either way, I was proud of myself for trying something outside of my normal workout tendencies, and, I told myself… at least I walked there! ๐Ÿ™‚

I had a couple of errands while I was in the area, and the one I was most excited about was going to get a library card. I have NO idea why I haven’t done this any sooner. I’ve been swooning over some books online, reminding myself that I don’t need to spend a ton of money on books and suddenly the obvious hit me: get a library card, silly! So I did. ๐Ÿ™‚

And I brought this baby home with me:

I’m a David Mitchell fangirl.

Number9Dream by David Mitchell has been on my to-read list for a while. My absolute, all time, nothing better, mind blowing, life changing favorite book is his novel A Cloud Atlas. I’ve been itching to read more of his work for a while now. I’m almost 100 pages in (oh man, I love days off), and so far I’m really loving it. It’s different than A Cloud Atlas, but not in a bad way. If it’s anything as life changing, rest assured, I’ll be writing about here. ๐Ÿ™‚

#BudgetVegan food

Today was the last day of week 2 on my grocery budget. This week was much better than week 1. I found that by the end of the week I a) was not running out of as much food (I didn’t need a replenishment trip at all!) and b) was not bored by too many leftovers. I was able to add more variety in my diet this past week, and I even found room to stray a bit from my planned menu.

cheezy lentils stuffed pepper

This was one of my unexpected meals. I had bought this red pepper intending to make a tofu scramble, but somehow that never happened. In the spirit of wasting less, I decided to stuff it! The insides are just green lentils in a cheezy sauce. I’m still tweaking the sauce recipe, and then I”ll post the recipe for this baby. This was super yummy and I can’t wait to refine it. Even Markus was impressed with my fancy looking dinner!

warm peanut butter cup protein oats

I have really been enjoying my protein oats with cooked oats this week. This particular version includes cocoa powder and is topped with PB2, watered down to a saucy consistency. I’m not sure if it’s because the oats are cooked , or what’s going on, but this week I have not needed a snack between breakfast and lunch. This is such a satisfying meal that today I had to force myself to eat lunch 4 hours after breakfast. If you know me, you know that is a looooooong time for me to go without eating. I usually eat every 2-2.5 hours.

homemade hummus on quinoa flax bread

Lunch today was the first time I realized I was running low on things. Not too shabby, considering it took to the last day of the week to get there! I only had a small bit of veggies left, and those were reserved for dinner, so I made one of my favorite, most simple lunches. As I said, I wasn’t super hungry yet, so I went with something smaller. Markus bought some quinoa and flax bread from Whole Foods, and so I, um, borrowed (thanks, honeybuns) two small slices, toasted them and topped them with homemade hummus and avocado. On the side I had half of a grapefruit.

Then it was grocery time! Today was an exciting day: I got a discount at Whole Foods. I have a friend who works there and graciously allowed me to use his discount.

20%, y’all.

However, I didn’t want to use this as an opportunity to cheat. If I spent my whole budget ($55 this week) after the discount, I would have considered it a fail. So I still weighed all my veggies and fruit, only bought what I needed for the week, and chose brands that were on sale, etc. Before my discount I ended up at $60. I don’t know how that happened, except for maybe the part where I bought $9 (aka 3 pounds) worth of brussels sprouts. Oops.

Actually, I did buy a few extra veggies that aren’t normally on my weekly list, like chard and some mushrooms. Either way, going over by $5 is no big deal, and again, I won’t need to go to the grocery again until next Tuesday.

But lest we forget the discount. What I actually paid was $48.

Damn, that felt good.

I got a LOT of food for $60.

Moving forward, I will definitely be reconsidering my purchases to try and get closer to my budget goals. I figure a margin of $5 is not a terribly large margin, anyway. But maybe there was room for some rearranging and rethinking. Who knows! It’s still a process of learning and either way, I’m still saving between $60 and $70 a week by menu planning and paying strict attention to what I’m putting in my cart. I can’t fault myself for the extra $5!

So, Swagsters… What have you been up to the past few days?

 

falling off the face of the earth

Swagsters, I hope you know I haven’t left you or forgotten you!

Life has been crazy. I just ended an 11 day streak of work. The first half it was just dandy but by the last few days, I had no energy except to work, come home, eat dinner and go to bed. I was feeling so overstimulated by the noise, people and sights around me. All I wanted after work was dead silence, not to move or even open my eyes. Yesterday I didn’t even have energy for a positive attitude, and worse yet… I didn’t want to even try to be positive. It was that bad.

Today was supposed to be day 12 of work, but I gave my shift up. Yesterday showed me that body, mind and spirit… I needed a break.

So I slept in this morning and soon I’ll be headed to Pilates class. It’s going to be a total ME day. I’ve got I restore my swag levels, ya heard?

I hope you can all forgive my absence, but know that I’ll be back tomorrow with a brand new post for you!

Lots of love and a thumbs up to greet the day!

20120806-090913.jpg

photo dump: food prep

Swagsters!

….I’m tired.

It’s been a busy Wednesday so far! I am about half way into a 12 day stretch of work, so all my spare time right now is being spent keeping my home life organized. Markus had to be at work at 6 this morning, so we got up around 5:30. When I got back from dropping him off, I got back in bed for a bit, but couldn’t sleep, really, so I got up and went to have breakfast.

Initially, I had planned on going to BodyPump at 10 am, but last night my $6.49 dumbbell bargain steal was delivered by UPS! And since I just vastly prefer working out on my time rather than the gym’s schedule, I decided I would begin my home weightlifting workouts today! Today I started with back and shoulders. I did the following workout:

super sets: 3 sets, 15 reps each

I would love to tell you what I mean by “BodyPump rotator” above, but I have no idea what the real exercise is called. Hehehe. Total fail, I’m sorry… I’ll look into it and get back to you all. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also started with a short plyometric warm up to get my body prepped. I just love weights! By the time I was finished, my shoulders were definitely burnt out.

After my workout, I put myself straight to the kitchen to start prepping all my food for the week.

Yesterday I did my grocery shopping at Whole Foods. If I calculated correctly, I shouldn’t need to restock at all this week, except for maybe bananas. I spent $53.90, a mere $3.90 more than my goal of $50. Woohoo! It was also a “heavy” grocery week, in that I needed some staples like apple cider vinegar and oats, etc, that bumped my total up. But those are things I won’t need to buy again for a while, so it’s all good!

the haul

One of the things I did this week was to buy dried chickpeas instead of canned. It is way cheaper. One bag costs about what 2 cans would, but you probably get somewhere around 4 or 5 cans worth of beans. #winning

So last night I soaked my chickpeas and this morning I cooked them while I worked out.

cook while you’re sleeping! rinse and soak your dried beans overnight.

it takes 1.5 hours to cook garbanzo beans. put ’em in the pot and leave ’em to do their thing while you do chores, homework or a workout!

I really enjoyed the process of getting these beans ready to eat. I likened it to baking bread. It’s a long process, yes, but you get to really understand how your food comes together and what goes into the bag or can of product you buy at the store. I find this very meditative as well: watching, noticing, staying aware of the state of your food. It’s beautiful.

Once my chickpeas were cooked, I decided to make a batch of hummus and Tone It Up! garbanzo patties.

mmmmhummusmmm

I used this recipe for my hummus. It’s pretty basic and quite yummy, but moving forward I will tweak it to be more my liking. (Read: more garlic! Less lemon! More tahini!)

Tone It Up! garbanzo patties from their nutrition plan!

I prepped these bad boys and then put them in the freezer. All they’ll take is a few minutes on a skillet and they’ll make a quick, delicious protein option. I did alter the recipe a bit, using almond meal instead of flax and adding curry to the flavor profile.

I used 3.5 cups of garbanzo beans between these two recipes, and I swear I still have another 2.5 cups left! I put those in the freezer as well, and will use them later this week or maybe even next week! (Can I get a woop woop for stretching that budget?!)

Next I made black bean patties, also from the Tone It Up! recipe plan. (Confession: this week I resorted to my Tone It Up! nutrition plan for lots of my meals. If you’re new to clean eating, or even if you aren’t, I highly recommend trying their plan out. They have some super awesome vegan recipes and I always consider it to be some of the best money I ever spent.)

yum!

I used my last can of black beans to make these, and a can only makes 3 patties, but that’s just fine. Next week you can bet I’ll be buying dried black beans and prepping them just like my chickpeas today!

Up next! Carrot salad is going to be a major player in my lunches this week. (This recipe, again, is from Tone It Up!… sorry if I’m alienating anyone, but these recipes are all so simple and if you really wanted something close to them, feel free to just google yourself a recipe… or buy the plan!)

carrot salad

I made several days worth of salad and that will be perfect for me as I head into the weekend at work. Such a simple and easy ย lunch to take to work with me, along side a black bean or garbanzo patty!

At this point, I was famished. I was ready to actually eat some of the food I was making. So I whipped up this deliciousness:

Vegan Waldorf salad on a bed of spinach with a side of baked Japanese yam “fries.” So simple, so easy, so delicious.

I can’t even explain to you how good it felt to sit and eat. I’d been in the kitchen for over 2 hours by this point and my belly was so happy I had finally stopped tempting it with yumminess and finally gave it something to do. ๐Ÿ™‚

And now you find me writing you this post from my side of the bed, with the blinds closed and the lights off. That can only mean one thing: it’s nap time. I have to work tonight and since I had such an early morning, I think a nap would only be wise.

Enjoy the rest of your day, Swagsters!

mighty me

It’s Tuesday, and if you’re reading this you survived Monday, so HOORAY FOR EVERYONE!

My good mood and positive outlook are still with me today, as you might be able to see, even though the sun is not exactly shining today.

My morning routine was a little scrambled today, as I had an appointment to get to after taking Markus to work. So instead of going right into my morning workout, I woke up and did an 8 minute mediation before heading downstairs to breakfast. I decided I would workout after my appointment, when I had more time. Plus I had a big idea that I would go for a run today. I’ve signed up for the Rhythm Race on August 18th, so I figured I might as well prepare myself by, um, running.

My workout started with the Whistle Workout from BodyRockTV. I love this work out. It’s 16 minutes instead of 12, and those extra 4 minutes are killer.

I’ve done this workout 3 times now and I’m so glad that I started writing down my reps because today I saw some improvements I was not expecting! Check it out:

Here’s a list of the exercises. It’s 24 rounds of 10:30. (For full explanations of exercises, see the link to the video above.)

1. Surfer kick-outs
2. Alternating upright row with a twist
3. 5 high knees + 1 half burpee
4. Back lunge with kick (right)
5. Back lunge with kick (left)
6. 5 star pushups + 1 burpee
7. Ninja jump tucks
8. Exploding pushups

The first time I did this workout my reps looked like this:

1. 7/7/6
2. 15/15/15
3. 5/5/5
4. 13/14/13
5. 13/14/14
6. 2.5/2/2
7. 7/7/7
8. 8/14/13 (I ended up doing these on my knees after the first round so I could maintain form)

Now, after doing this workout 3 times over the span of a month, my reps looked like this:

1. 11/10/10
2. 15/14/15
3. 8/7/8
4. 12/13/13
5. 13/13/14
6. 2.5/2.5/2
7. 8/8/8
8. 14/12/13

I highlighted my notable improvements. ย I was SO proud of myself when I saw this. It felt so good to see that my hard work is paying off. I’m getting stronger and faster. A lot of my (and most people’s) fitness adventure is kept alive on faith and trusting that changes will happen, aesthetically. That’s well and good, but sometimes we (myself included) forget about the changes in physical strength. It was a good reminder to me of what happens on the inside. Plus, having tangible results every now and again is just so inspiring! And I couldn’t not pat myself on the back. Not even my little negative voice can deny that I’ve made improvements!

After I caught my breath a bit, I hit the pavement for that aforementioned run. I have a little almost-2-mile path that I do in my neighborhood and I decided I’d go with that default run today. For not running very consistently, it went really well! I even went a little farther, since the run ends at my front door, and I wanted a chance to walk and cool down a bit.

woop woop!

Today’s been one of those days that reminds me why I actually work out. Not just to have toned muscles and a strong, healthy body. But to pat myself on the back, to build confidence. To stop and say to myself, “Wow, Jenny. That was impressive.” “Wow, Jenny. You are strong.” And to mean it. To see how hard I work and push and then see how I survive it. It becomes a metaphor for life. It’s how I get my swag and take it into my real world.

I can do anything. I am Mighty Me.

Have you done anything lately that makes you feel mighty?

Are you running any fun themed races soon?ย 

failure: you can do it!

Happy Monday, Swagsters!

It is a bright, sunshiney day and I’ve got a disposition to match it! Ever since I ย woke up yesterday, I sort of feel like I’ve been floating around, smiling and okay with whatever comes my way.

Workout

This morning I woke up and did BodyRockTV’s Get Pumped on the Patio workout, followed by abs and finally, I rounded everything out with an 8 minute meditation. It’s all about balance! Exercise + meditation are honestly, for me, the most positive ways to start my day. Admittedly, my meditation has been sporadic, and I’ve been getting to it “when I can” so today I decided to just throw it on the end of my workouts, since I do both in the same room.

Right now I’m feeling so energetic, like I haven’t experienced in a long time. I think I was actually overwhelming Markus a bit when I took him to work this morning. He was still waking up and I was practically bouncing off the walls in the car. (If cars can have walls… you know what I mean.)

Budget Update

Okay Swagsters, I have been doing really well with my budget this week. It’s been great not going to the grocery store every day and spending money. It takes a lot of stress off my back to not feel like I’m constantly handing all my money over to various vendors. Wednesday is the first official day of my new budget system as well. I’m excited to see how things go!

Grocery day is also Wednesday, and I must admit, I’m going to be cutting it rather close. I definitely need to refine my planning a bit. I totally underestimated my veggie consumption. Don’t ask me how that happened.

Tonight I’m going to work up my meal plan for the next week and my groceries as well. This week I readjusted my budget to $50. Upon further reflection, I realized that $50 is a much more realistic number than $40, for me. And I don’t think that’s a terrible amount of money to spend at all for one week of clean, vegan eating! I ended up spending about $54 at the end, because I ran out of carrots yesterday and that’s simply not going to fly for me. Gotta have my carrots.

I caught myself thinking, “Dang, Jenny, you failed at your budget this week. You had to buy more. You didn’t do very well.” Well I let that thought go for about 5 seconds before I stopped it and said, “Hey there, Negative Voice. I’ve never done this before. I’m practicing and it’s probably going to take a few weeks to adjust. So, why don’t you just cut me some slack, okay? I’m trying, and that’s the most important thing.” (And then, in my mind, I stuck my tongue out at Negative Voice, but that’s not very mature, so let’s gloss over that fact, yeah?)

Do you ever do that to yourself? You try something new and then immediately adopt this attitude that you should be brilliant and perfect at it and shouldn’t have to need even an inch of flexibility with it because you are you and you don’t fail (where “don’t” = “are not allowed to”). I catch myself in this trap so often. It’s one of those things that goes along with having an eating disordered past. I’m not allowed to fail. Everyone else is free to do so, and I won’t even judge them for it. “No one’s perfect!” I’ll say with lots of compassion. But then I’ll turn to myself and say, “How dare you fail! That’s not acceptable! You specifically wrote on your blog what your budget was and what will they say when they see you went over?!”

What an overwhelming way to speak to myself! I’ve let it go on too long, and my goal this week is to really work on being compassionate towards myself. I work on taking power away from my negative voice, but a lot of times it’s not very compassionate. It’s almost like I roll my mind’s eye at myself and say, “Come off it, Jenny! Be positive for a change! Stop thinking this way! STOP BEING MEAN TO YOURSELF, YA BIG DUMMY.”

Oh right, because that’s toooootally being nice to me.

Yesterday I worked on readjusting my approach. When I spoke back to my negative voice, this time, I tried it differently. I brought some patience into the mix. I brought some compassion to the table. And it makes a HUGE difference. I relaxed a lot quicker when I spoke back with love instead of anger. I’m killing the Negative Voice with kindness.

Weekly Goal

So that brings me right to my personal goal for the week: stay aware, practice mindfulness and be compassionate towards myself. I do not have to be perfect and I do not have to be a harsh critic of myself. I will strive to be gentle and nurturing with myself. Because I deserve my own love.

Can you relate to my perfectionism? What do you do to combat it?ย 

Do you have any personal goals for yourself this week?ย 

How do you practice compassion towards yourself?

I have got to jet, Swagsters! Work is on the docket today and I’m at risk of running late! Have a great Monday!

living simply

In another lifetime, (at least it feels like another lifetime) I lived in a tiny studio apartment in historic Henderson, KY. It was a little green house, and my friend and I lived in the upstairs unit.

our little green house

We lived on a quiet little street that lead you directly to the river and the downtown area. We had 2 kitties, Lily and Harry. We shopped at the world’s tiniest farmer’s market, where we were able to only buy cucumbers, various forms of squash, tomatoes and the occasional red pepper. Strangers smiled, waved and inquired after your well-being. We biked or walked all over our little town. We had a very small shared living space that consisted of a kitchen table, 2 big fluffy chairs, a radio and just enough space to lay down our yoga mats. Our apartment was so small, our clothes closets were actually in the shared living space. We didn’t even have a TV. Most days, if there was sound coming from our wide open apartment windows, it was NPR over the radio. It was so quiet. So peaceful. So simple.

Why am I taking you on a tour of an apartment I lived in 3 years ago?

Admittedly, I am feeling incredibly nostalgic lately. I’m realizing that there is a big part of me that misses my Old Kentucky Home (if you’re from KY, you’ll get that reference). I miss the southern hospitality. But above all, I miss the simplicity of the way my roommate and I lived. It’s not that life was simple, it’s just that whenever we returned to our apartment, it welcomed us with simplicity. It was as though the apartment itself was saying, “Shhhh. You’re home now. Relax. Everything is okay.”

Before I get in over my head, let’s all agree that I’m having an existential crisis right now. Many days in a row I have been asking myself “Who am I, really?” Am I Kentucky Jenny? Am I Connecticut Jenny? Is there a Constant Jenny that links the two together? How does a person know when they are being their Authentic Self compared to when they are being the Adapted Self?

I know right?! I overwhelm myself sometimes.

After much meditation, lots of yoga, lots of looking inward, and a tear or three or four, I feel like I might finally be getting somewhere. I’m getting to a little green house in Henderson, KY. I’m getting to a place that welcomes me Home and says, “Be simple. Live simply.”

I can’t actually go back to Henderson. I can’t go back to that apartment. I can’t go back to the life I had there. But I can let simple be the essence of Constant Jenny.

This is probably an anticlimactic post because I don’t have a game plan. I can’t say to you, “These are the changes I am implementing.” I could say, “I haven’t watched TV in 3 days.” But that’s not the point. This is the kind of thing that happens organically and isn’t exactly tangible. What I can say is that this morning, for the first time since I moved to Connecticut, I feel like Me, capital M-me. It’s a feeling that words can’t do justice.

It feels simple. It feels good. It feels like home beyond geographical restraints.

Do you do anything that helps you remember who you really are? Meditate, pray, journal, etc?
Have you ever asked yourself these questions? ย 
What are your thoughts on living authentically?

I realize I’m not asking simple questions today, swagsters. But I invite you to explore this with me. We look outside of ourselves for answers more often than not, when sometimes, the answer is within us all along, if we’re just willing to go inside and listen.