getting ready for getting back to school

I write this post having successfully completed my first week of graduate school. It involved a LOT of nerves (golly gee, will everyone like me? Golly gee, am I smart enough for this?) but also a lot of excitement (I get to spend my days LEARNING about EVERYTHING I LOVE?!) and on Thursday night, after my classes concluded for the week, I slept a whopping fourteen hours. Intense in every way!

I’m sure I’ll have lots to share as I get my learning on, but in the meantime I thought I’d share how I kept life healthy and (reasonably) nutritious these in the days leading up to my big life transition. The main thing I tried to do was get in lots of time with my friends/family/support network.

Steve made AMAZING homemade bread (for which he gives me far more credit than I am due, but I did show him the King Arthur Flour website and taught him about the proper length of kneading) and then made REALLY AMAZING homemade French toast with it.

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I got some succulent local peaches and turned them to a compote with just a bit of butter and vanilla and heat.

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Then Steve decided there should be grits, too. Ultra decadent with Kerrygold butter and whole milk; and intriguing with rosemary. Steve isn’t afraid to take risks with herbs and I dig it.

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All this was assembled al fresco, on Steve’s lovely porch. My recently-single friend was joining us for dinner so I offered her comfort and kindness the best way I know how: by buying her favorite kind of cheese. (In a fun coincidence, that cheese, Paranno, is rapidly becoming my favorite as well).

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I eschewed syrup and butter and just smooshed peaches all over my french toast.

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And added, in a cursory nod to protein, a chicken sausage (I got the Applegate farm kind that is free of onion- which is good since my friend has some dietary intolerances and onion is no bueno for her- but also a little bland)

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Another visit with a friend- Andrew! My good buddy from my old job who left was visiting for a few weeks in the summer. We had a lovely time hanging out outside Weaver Street Market (the co-op central to all social activity in downtown Carrboro).

He got a brew and sesame noodles; I got cider and a luna bar. (I used to really like Original Sin when I was at school in Boston but now find it to be a bit bland).

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Another friend date- my friend Leesie’s birthday! Leesie is one of my newest friends but she’s great- here she is photographing her food too!

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We went to Jessee’s for lunch. I rejoiced in the fact that they serve their breakfast menu all day and got their breakfast burrito. It’s GREAT because they put in a ton of avocado and super seasoned and fatty and crunchy and delicious breakfast potatoes.

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Leesie got the even more succulent looking brisket sandwich.

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Now for the family department!

My favorite sister Malindi came down to visit along with her boyfriend Eric. They arrived on a Friday night but due to some unfortunate traffic, they didn’t make it til about 2:45am. Yeurgh.

I refreshed them the next morning with brunch, and then we hit up the fabulous Carrboro farmer’s market, which offered complimentary samples of various delicious kinds of pickled things.

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We spent the afternoon swimming at the quarry in Eno River State Park, which was BLISSFUL. Adding a comic touch, as Malindi put it:

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Then, lucky me, MORE family arrived. My aunt and uncle were traveling home from Fort Bragg, and where better to stop than to visit their favorite nieces?

We all went to my beloved Saturday in Saxapahaw, listening to relaxing music and taking in all the pretty nature. My friends Dan and Bethany were there with their adorable 6-month-old, who makes any occasion cuter.

We took in the people watching, delicious mezze, and beautiful light fixtures at Kipos (my go-to yummy, vegetarian-friendly, festive place to take guests).

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And then 24 hours later, my head hit the pillow and I lay in my bed, marveling, “Tomorrow I start grad school!”

More on that soon!

prep cookin’

My roommmate doesn’t cook as often as I do, but everything she cooks is always a billion times more delicious.

This seems unfair.

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For example, this is the Thai pizza she makes: the base involves whirring up traditional ingredients for peanut sauce (peanut butter, soy, and so on) with MANGO!

Then topping with cheese, purple cabbage, carrots, and green onions in this PRETTYINESS.

When I prep for meals in the future, I’m going to try to incorporate more of Alli’s pizzazz. In the meantime, here’s a peek of what I’ve been doing over the past few months.

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In the center, roasted peaches. In the upper left corner, slow roasted farmer’s market grape tomatoes with olive oil and salt.

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Next, corn pudding. Useful for using up some milk and cheese and things that needed using. This contained lots of eggs for protein-ness.

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This didn’t particularly impress me but friends liked it. It had some lasagna flavors- layers of quinoa, tomato sauce, spinach/feta/milkiness mixture.

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I made some great panzanella just with the roasted tomatoes, some leftover Trader Joe’s whole wheat sourdough (toasted), and oil and balsamic.

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We’ve continued to combat the dance-studio feel of our apartment (with its floor to ceiling mirrors in the dining room and both bedrooms, sigh) with various decorating touches. I cleaned the place in a furious manner to get ready for friends coming over, and ended up taking a minute to appreciate some of the cut touches we’ve added.

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Then I served my friends all the stuff I’d prep cooked! I also made a nice fruit salad, and what THEY brought (which was the BEST part of the meal) was tomato-gouda soup. Swoon.

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Another week I made the following items (ended up throwing them all together one weekend dinner at Steve’s for a leftovers extravaganza)

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1. Trader Joe’s spinach and kale pie, which I lovingly unwrapped. I’d been getting over a stomach bug and wanted to get greens in my system with a modicum of effort.

2. Leftover corn pudding (I’d ended up disliking the texture) reappropriated! Stuck it in a blender with some extra milk and whirred it until smooth. Then layered it in a pan with black beans, feta, and salsa. Deconstructed tamale! Ish!

3. My aunt’s awesome chicken. Sort of.

When I was a kid I used to spend teacher workdays at my aunties’ houses, since my mom perpetually didn’t have enough leave and had to work. This was not at all a hardship- my sister and I always had a blast.

Knowing my fondness for artichokes (which I still retain to this day) my aunt made this wonderful recipe that has totally stuck with me: she breaded chicken pieces in egg and breadcrumbs, sauteed it in olive oil, and served it with artichoke hearts and lemon. It was AMAING.

Since that aunt is now a vegetarian (!) and I didn’t have some of those ingredients, I improvised: I coated my chicken first in mayonnaise (that Steve abandoned in my fridge) and then Bisquick (leftover from various baking experiments). Then I browned it in olive oil (it wasn’t cooked through yet). I deglazed the pan of all its yummy bits with the juice of half a lemon, a bit of wine, and some of the water in the can with the artichoke hearts. I used a spoon to vigorously scrape up those yummy drippings and make the beginning of the sauce. Then I returned the chicken, added the artichoke hearts, threw in some random leftover olives I had, and covered the pot til the chicken was cooked through. Finished with another squeeze of lemon. SO GOOD!)

savannah

“All the trees have beards!”

- My best friend Lydia, on Savannah, GA

Let’s start with Forsyth Park. Forsyth Park was probably my favorite part of the city. Steve liked it too.

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There are indeed beards (okay, fine, chunks of Spanish moss) on nearly all of the trees in Savannah. It makes for a beautiful, atmospheric, and even slightly spooky feel. (Which seems apt, with all the discussion of ghosts that happened on this trip. More on that in a bit!)

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There are war memorials (mostly relating to the Confederacy, sigh) everywhere.

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And lots of trees. Did I mention the trees? (I took a lot of pictures of trees). Steve, of course, appreciated the trees as he usually does.

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Oh, also buildings. Pretty buildings. Not quite as amazing as New Orleans (though in New Orleans the pretty buildings are almost obscene) but there’s a real feeling of history.

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As we learned on our tour, the Masons played a pretty big role in the construction of the city. Steve, as a Mason-o-phile, was ecstatic about this and spent a lot of time trying to explain the various symbols on this sign to me.

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Savannah is quite hot in August (shocking, right?) so a siesta is recommended. After relaxing for a bit, we went to City Market, and got some peach sangria (Georgia peaches)! Surprising no one else, I immediately pronounced mine too sweet (despite having gotten it with fizzy water instead of Sprite). I have learned the hard way that me+booze+sugar don’t mix (and I say that with the highest respect for sugar, one of my favorite things). Fortunately Steve got the job done with both.

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Steve and I had been having a slightly trying day and then when we were in this courtyard, enjoying Savannah’s absence of open container laws, listening to music… the guy started playing James Taylor!

I HATE JAMES TAYLOR!

It’s actually really helpful when I’m having a tough day and hear James Taylor because then I start laughing at the Murphy’s Law-ness of it all and feel better.

Fortified, we then went to Moon River Brewing, which has the loveliest of courtyards.

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The boy enjoyed a brew. I really miss out on a lot of activities because of my distaste for all things hops.

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The boy chowed down on a bacon-involving sandwich and sweet potato fries (don’t worry I borrowed some of those).

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And I opted for a trio of little things.

1. Deviled eggs (smoky and spicy!) with a tuna sashimi ish sort of topper.

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2. BOSS black eyed peas. This was a server recommendation and it was great! Crunchy and tangy.

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3. And another side, the smoked gouda scalloped potatoes. Obviously great.

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Fun fact: apparently our fun dinner spot is considered one of the most haunted spots in Savannah! (Though, of course, basically everywhere worth noting in Savannah seems to be haunted. Which brings me nicely to our next outing)

That night, we went on a ghost tour! It was the Ghost City Tours Beyond Good and Evil tour. It was lots of fun! Our guide, Nicodemus (I think it’s a safe guess that was not his actual name) was both funny and informative. Vaguely Jack Sparrow esque, in retrospect (he also had an Australian accent).

We learned about voodoo (spooky!) and saw some old haunted houses, the scariest of which was this one (photographed in daylight so as not to alarm you too much).

It has a certain look of evil, doesn’t it?

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432 Abercorn. Read all about its grim history here. Though apparently some of that is probably untrue. But, uh, that debunking article is published at the website for the ghost tour company that we used… and our guide happily told us all of those stories… so… who knows. What’s undisputed is that they built this square, Calhoun Square, on a slave burial ground. As far as I’m concerned that is basically an invitation for haunting!

After a surprisingly good night’s sleep (despite the previous night’s subject matter!0, the next day involved more exploring, including a trip to the museum at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Saw an awesome installation with LASERS! Lots of fun. Interactive.

Plus, museums are such a fun vacation luxury. Which is silly- it’s good to be a lifelong learner, and what better way than to go to a museum?!

Post-museum, more walking and then lunch on a rooftop.

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Since it was unspeakably hot, all I wanted was some ice water and iced tea, and this watermelon salad.

But oh, this awesome watermelon salad. Peppery greens (heavy on the arugula), lots of fresh mint, perfect sweet watermelon, creamy goat cheese, and sweet-tangy balsamic reduction. It was the best salad I have had in quite some time. 

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Then, just to make sure I wasn’t dying of being too healthy, I demanded a trip to the ice cream parlor. It’s owned by a Hollywood bigwig, and contains posters of various productions with which he’s been involved.

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Almond ice cream in a sugar cone. Yum!

A tour of Saint John the Baptist cathedral was next. It was very very pretty.

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Then a fancy shmancy dinner, which I’ll chronicle later in an effort to keep this post at a vaguely reasonable length.

After dinner drinks at a swanky bar in a swanky hotel next to Forsyth Park. It was full of vaguely nightmarish paintings. Fun!

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And now a brief discussion of our bed and breakfast.

Look at the beautiful outside!

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We were on Gaston Street, just two blocks or so from Forsyth Park and an easy walk uptown to the river. I loved staying where we were- I found it a bit tourist-trap-y closer to the river.

Our B+B also boasted an adorable fountain and lush garden!

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The mysterious looking door!

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Great location, good food, welcoming owner. Crazy welcoming- greet you at the door with a hug and a piece of coca cola cake. The South is so great! (Though actually, Kathleen is a Bostonian!)

The only thing I wasn’t wild about was that our room didn’t have natural light. I know a lot of people don’t care about that, but I’d love if they’d mention it on the website for those of us who do.

Anyway, it was BOGO (there were a ton of deals on TripAdvisor because August is a slow month in the South… for obvious, obvious reasons) so we got to have a pretty fancy shmancy experience.

This is the beautiful breakfast room. Breakfast always involved candlelight and relaxing music (classical or Sinatra-esque).

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Fancily laid tables. Fruit cups waiting for us (what makes eating fruit so much more exciting when it’s in a fancy cup?! Though I will say on the second day the watermelon had turned and was… pretty terrifying).

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View out on the cute back porch. In general, Savannah had an abundance of adorable courtyards and porches and balconies.

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Beagle observing the breakfast proceedings :D His name was Mr. Cooper and whoo he had a bark on him (as beagles tend to) and he was super cute. See him yawning there?

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Breakfast always included a french press for the table, orange juice, and bacon and snausage. I dispatched the coffee, Steve was on oj and meat duty.

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The first day we were there, the owner, Kathleen, made aaaawesome omelets with grilled corn, eggplant, tomatoes, and feta. The second day Kathleen was leaving town and her son was in charge, and he served these outrageously decadent waffles.

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I love ice cream, and this was homemade, but even for me 9am is a bit early :D So I shoved that to the side and inhaled much of this delicious waffle with those great strawberries.

But wait, there’s more, in the next installment of Southern Road Trip Summer 2014!

tomato day!

What are all these adorable people waiting in line for?

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TOMATO DAY! TOMATO DAY!

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My new favorite holiday. A celebration of tomatoes, in all their adorable shapes and sizes. (Steve got a particular kick out of that one with the pointy top).

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You just walked down a line sampling. I mean come on.

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Some of my favorites:

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And OH MY GOD this mozzarella from Chapel Hill Creamery was the best I’ve ever had. They also make a brie that’s heavenly. Basically they are cheese geniuses.

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There was also hippie music playing.

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And tomato infused beer… it tasted like IPA. Aka GROSS.

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That particular week, I ended up bringing two sets of tomatoes of the cherry persuasion, a cantaloupe, some peaches, and some squash. Wunnerful.

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Here are some fun tomato things to make. (No, fine, not with any of the tomatoes I bought at Tomato Day. Or this summer, honestly. I’m trying to catch up with my archives!)

Secrets to delicious tomato pie:
- Really stinkin’ fresh tomatoes
- Fresh sage
- caramelized onions
- Really stinkin’ fresh eggs

Good crust is great but I only made a so-so one because I tried to get all healthy and found one involving whole wheat flour and olive oil. Eh. Anyway, the pie was still magnificent.

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Now, how about a little focaccia?!

First a mushy mess.

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Then, after time/gluten development/magic, it was proper starter:

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Then it got fed, and grew even bigger and bubblier, into real dough:

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Then I smushed it into submission.

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And then I cooked up (not enough) tomatoes. I used to love going to Olsens (sp?) bookstore in DC but it went out of business. One of their highlights was their amazing tomato focaccia. Anyway. This was not enough tomatoes. But I cooked ‘em up.

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Then threw in a bunch of fresh basil.

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Then scattered it over the top of the bread

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And gave it a bake!

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After all that, it was only okay. Oh well. Look for further tomato adventures!

on worrying

So I just got a hopped-up-on-Oxycontin call from my dad. He just got his hip replaced (just, as in earlier today). I found myself very relieved to hear his (frankly, kind of excessively) cheerful tone, and astonished to learn that he’s expected to walk up and down stairs (!) before he checks out of the hospital tomorrow (!!).

However, prior to that phone call, I found myself shocked, shocked, shocked at how worried I was.

The thing is, my dad isn’t a terrible person, but he’s also not especially fatherly. I haven’t stayed in his house since high school, and don’t really intent to at any future point. I often think about him like a weird uncle who I see from time to time. I don’t depend on him for a great deal, particularly not on the emotional stuff. I called him to tell him I got into grad school, and he said “Oh, that’s nice. Now let me tell you about my Obamacare…” (he is REALLY INTO his Obamacare. As the new hip would suggest.)

But then last night I found myself up at 3am, praying and panicking at the thought of him going under anesthesia and never waking up (sidebar: I just learned from him that you don’t even go under general for this surgery, it’s just a spinal block). I felt guilty for not being in Virginia where he is (despite him explicitly saying that he didn’t need me there, and despite the fact that I saw him last week when I was visiting the fam).

It goes to show you, everyone has their ways of expressing love, and for me it is most definitely worrying. I worry about my sister, that she succeeds with her plans to go back to school and finds work-life balance and gets to meet cool people her own age instead of working in a grim lonely office. I worry about my mom, that she finds work-life balance and has a nice fella around (though she seems to at the moment :D). I worry about Steve a ton, that he finds work-life balance (I seem to associate with a lot of workaholics, eh?) and finds a good place to live and gets to bike around and gets to go adventuring and gets to live and work in keeping with his ideals about protecting the environment.

And then of course I worry about everyone in Gaza, and Iraq, and Syria, and Liberia (ebola, agh!) and on and on and on.

Is worrying productive? Is it good? Guilt and shame certainly aren’t, as a year of therapy taught me- feeling guilty about all the things I ought to be doing to be “good”. Both personally (being a perfect worker/student, working out daily, eating pristine whole foods, etc.) and in my relationships (being the perfect girlfriend, indispensible to Steve, saving him from any and all heartaches that might befall him).

But where does worrying fit into all this? I like being a good listener. I like being a reliable friend (though I often feel- surprise, surprise- that I fall short on that). I like being a conscientious worker. But sometimes I feel so exhausted by going through the basic aspects of life. Then of course I feel guilty about that (I’m financially comfortable and spoiled and don’t have to work for under $1 a day like so many in the world! I don’t have to work with toxic chemicals or do back-breaking manual labor!).

Still I wonder, is worrying keeping me from doing? Could I actually do more good things for myself (like exercise), do good things for others (go camping with Steve), and contribute to the world (volunteer) if I just didn’t spend so much energy on worrying unproductively?

Trying to figure this all out. In the meantime, I’ll try to check in with my dad once the meds wear off…

more on the challenge

So why did a mind body challenge appeal to me so much?

Mind stuff:

- I just left my old job, in preparation for grad school (and cause we lost our funding, actually, but I’m avoiding opening that can of worms). I ended feeling pretty good, but also having normal self doubt. I’ve gotten particularly stuck on my perception that some of my coworkers don’t like me. Now… even if this is true, so? There’s not a single person in the world who’s liked by everybody. There are a lot of coworkers who do like me (and moreover respect me and think I do good work, which is more important). My mental pep talk that I tried to give myself made me think about the transition in my life that’s coming up, and the importance of supporting myself and caring for myself.
- On that note, I’ve been starting preparing for school wayyyyyy further in advance than I did back in the undergrad years. I’ve been testing the statistics software I’ll be using in biostats and being wicked grateful- it’s, uh, worthy of my attention.
- On the relationship front, Steve and I have been putting in some work on improving our communication and seeing awesome results.

I’m interested in seeing how the mind stuff goes. When I made my list, the body stuff sounded much more achievable. Self-care doesn’t come naturally to me. Let me rephrase- formal, preventative, repetitive self care doesn’t come naturally to me. Ignoring self care, getting sick, and loafing on my couch for a weekend- that’s my m.o. It’ll be a changeup, and hopefully a good one.

Body stuff:

(Note: nutrition nerd ahead!)

- My coworker and I have started tracking our meals together for healthy eating inspiration and moral support. In the past tracking my meals has made me a calorie-counting psycho, but our cute little Google Doc spreadsheet doesn’t include that!

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It’s been nice to just be more mindful of what I put in my mouth, and to have someone who has the same goals as I do. (We went out to lunch together today and ordered the exact same meal :D

- I’ve miraculously cut way down on desserts. Desserts are my vice, as anyone who’s known me for longer than two seconds knows. I have been known to call myself a sugar crackhead, and I really have been in a trend of consuming a scary amount of sugar (having to be at work at 7:30am and run an entire camp had a lot to do with that, in my defense). But, one day I didn’t eat dessert and was totally proud of myself for it. And thennnn, sticking with that momentum (and sometimes, admittedly, feeling as if I was in withdrawal) I totally skipped it for 11 of the past 13 days! And the two that I cheated were single, small desserts (two smallish farmer’s market chocolate chip cookies on a picnic with my friends, and one Trader Joe’s reduced guilt microwave chocolate brownie) and spaced out over a few days. Who am I, right?! Note that I’m not sweating all sugar (the honey on my Fage 2% greek yogurt isn’t going anywhere, because that would be depriving myself unnecessarily. Who needs it?!) but I’m trying to be mindful of the junky things and reach for fruit more often.

- Finally, I decided that since I had a spreadsheet full of data (and I looooooooove data) about the meals I’d been eating, I might as well calculate my macros. Macros, meaning the percentage of calories that comes from each macronutrient (carbohydrate, protein, and fat).*
It wasn’t something I gave a lot of thought- I thought I’d be well in the normal range. Sure, I think of myself as a carb addict, but carbohydrates are actually supposed to be your body’s main energy source, so I thought I’d be fine.
Imagine my surprise that on three out of four of the days I’ve calculated so far, my diet was too high in fat! Calories from fat should make up 20-35% of the total calories you eat (per the Dietary Reference Intakes, the national guidelines for Americans created by a board of health and nutrition pros). Looking at my percentage, one day it was 38.9%, one day it was 39.5%, and one day, it was a whopping 43.3% of my calories.Yikes!
I foolishly thought that I was in totally great shape because, say it with me… I hardly eat any meat! And when I do include fat in my diet, it’s mostly from things like nuts and nut butters, avocados (mmm), olive oil or coconut oil, and some full-fat dairy (I buy soy or almond milk- because it’s cheaper organic- but I do love full-fat cheese and low fat but not non fat yogurt). Well, it’s still outta whack. Whomp whomp.
So what’s falling by the wayside? Protein! Again, I foolishly thought I was totally in great shape because… every American gets too much protein! And it’s fine- I’m not protein deficient. A woman my age only needs to be getting 46 grams of protein a day. Obviously if I were running marathons I’d raise that number, but as a non-pregnant, reasonably but definitely not over active person, I feel okay (not concerned, anyway), about the 47, 89, 66, and 68 grams I got, respectively, over the days I tracked.
However. As a proportion of my diet, it’s something I think deserves a bit of my attention. The healthy range for protein as a percentage of calories in one’s diet is 10-35% (see the earlier DRI link). For the days I tracked, my percentage of calories from protein were 9.45% (too low!), 18.3%, 13.8%, and 14.6%. I am welllllll at the low end of the range. And, protein is good. It’s good for muscle growth, satiety, and steady blood sugar. So, one of my body goals is 25 grams of protein for each of the day’s meals. We’ll see how it goes.
Truthfully, part of the reason my protein numbers are a bit low is that I’m not that wild about a lot of the obvious sources of protein. I’m mostly indifferent to meat, except when I have the occasional intense burger craving (which means I’m craving iron, probably… separate topic). I like eggs fine, but I’m happy with two in a serving. I love fancy expensive Greek yogurt but really don’t like the cheap plain stuff at my grocery store (I like having the 2% option, which isn’t available in the large container). I love fish when other people cook it but find it a little annoying to deal with (either icky can grease or icky raw fish drippage).
So. Little Miss Protein Diva has to stretch her comfort zone, and I feel good about that.

Any goals? Any self discovery? Anyone doing the challenge with me?

*If you’re interested in calculating macros:
1. Write down what you eat, trying to keep track of portions.
2. Get a free myfitnesspal.com account and enter in your meals and snacks for a day or a few days.
3. Read the summary at the bottom. Write down total calories consumed, and number of grams you consumed of carbohydrate, protein, and fat.
4. Multiply! Fat has 9 calories per gram, so multiply the number of fat grams you ate by 9 (ex one day I ate 58 grams of fat so, multiplying that by 9 means I ate 522 calories from fat). Protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram, so multiply the number of grams you ate of each of those by 4 (ex that same day I ate 290 grams of carbohydrate so multiplying that by 4 means I ate 1160 calories from carbohydrate; and I ate 66 grams of protein so multiplying that by 4 means I ate 396 calories from protein).
5. Divide! Take each of your macronutrient calories and divide by your total number of calories (on that day, my number was about 1915 calories) and multiply by 100 to get a percent.
So percentage of calories from carbohydrate: 1160 calories from carbohydrate/1915 calories total*100= 60.6% of calories from carbohydrate
Percentage of calories from fat: 522 calories from fat/1915 calories total*100=27.3% of calories from fat
Percentage of calories from protein: 264 calories from protein/1915 calories total*100=13.8% of calories from protein
6. Compare these numbers to the ranges from the DRI link above. Are you in those ranges? Could you use more or less of something? Experiment and find what works for your body!

Grad School Greatest Self Challenge

So I’m doing this thing I’m excited/nervous about.

I’m starting my very first challenge!

For those of you who don’t read food blogs (… most of you) you may not be familiar with the idea of this. Basically, bloggers are constantly challenging themselves to give up sugar/work out every day/ give themselves fifteen compliments a day/ revamp their morning routine, etc. etc. etc. I’ve never been into that.

However, I recently fell in love with the blog Back to her Roots and have been binge reading it. I love this girl. I really love her attitude about health and wellness. She’s good and crunchy too (homegirl grows most of her own food- she walks the walk).

Anyway, she came up with this great Super Summer Challenge and I totally dig it! Moreover, I want to do it! I love the idea of both body and mind goals, I love the idea that it’s about what you DO do, not what you cut out or avoid, I love that you reward yourself for reaching goals.

Why yes, summer is winding down. However, I’m about to enter a new and exciting challenge in my life. I’ll be going to grad school (for public health and nutrition, and I want to be able to be a good example of healthy eating, sane brain, and good activity level in my chosen career).

SO….

When: August 1st through October 31st

Why: See above. Plus, I’ve being doing a few fun new experiments relating to challenging myself that have felt really good. And out of character for me- Steve’s Mr. Goal Setter, I’m Ms. Present Moment (which has been known to be an extreme where it’s like I CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT RIGHT NOW I FEEL TRAPPED but fortunately not very often and increasingly less.) More about that tomorrow.

And now the nitty gritty.

What: my Grad School Greatest Self Challenge (psst- come on board! You can call it a different name!)


Grad School Greatest Self Challenge

I should earn about 110 points per category per day to reach 10,000 points goal by end date. I’m making myself the rule that I can’t earn above 175 in one category for a given day- I have to progress in body and mind!

Ways to Earn Body Points
Take vitamins (10 points)
Put on sunblock in the morning (10 points)
Drink 8 glasses of water in a day (10 points)
Casual exercise (ex 1-2 mile walk) (15 points)
Do 100 crunches or Tiffany Rothe abs workout (15 points)
Track every meal and snack for a day (15 points)
Wash my hair three times a week (15 points)
Medium exercise (ex. 2.5-3.5 mile walk) (15 points)
5 servings of vegetables in a day (2.5 cups) (15 points)
4 servings of fruit in a day (2 cups) (15 points)
Calculate my macros [the percentage of calories I eat from carbohydrate, protein, and fat. NOTE: won’t be calorie counting, just am experimenting. More on this tomorrow.] (15 points)
25 grams protein at every meal for a day (25 points)
Have a no dessert day (25 points)
Formal workout (40 points)
Trying a new workout (50 points)
No going out to eat for a week (500 points)
Run a mile (500 points)

Ways to Earn Mind Points
Water plants and refill hummingbird feeder (10 points)
Give myself a sincere compliment (10 points)
Do dishes (10 points)
Do something nice for Steve (15 points)
Call, send a letter or lengthy email to, or hang out with a friend/family member (15 points)
Write a blog post(15 points)
Get the mail twice a week (15 points)
Clean room (15 points)
In bed with the lights out before 12 (15 points)
Do a monthly budget analysis (15 points)
Spend 1 hour outside of class on school work/preparation [this number will probably increase after class begins] (15 points)
Make hummingbird nectar (15 points)
Journal (15 points)
In bed with the lights out before 11 (25 points)
Take a bubble bath (25 points)
No Internet after dinner (25 points)
Try a new activity (40 points)
Do a craft or creative project (40 points)
No Internet for an entire day (100 points)

Ways to Earn Both Points At Once
Take a walk with a friend (20 points)
Eat all of a day’s meals and snacks without distraction- can’t be in front of a computer, desk, or TV (50 points)

And finally, the priiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiize?

If and when I reach my halfway goal (5,000 points) I get:

A PEDICURE! WAHOOOOOOO!

If and when I reach my full goal, I get:

A MASSAGE! WAHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!