days 28-30 {full, routine, me}

Back from Chicago and the Northern ‘burbs of Illinois and I am full.

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Full of Chicago style hot dogs, deep dish pizza from Gino’s East, apple cider donuts, authentic corn on the cob, chili and corn bread from the Heartland Cafe, more pizza, apple pie, and many a delicious breakfasts.

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But more importantly, I’m full of appreciation and love for my life. And for this guy.chicago6

I know I blab about Will a lot on here (hey, he’s sort of the most significant person in my life right now) but I have to say, I’m the luckiest girl. He’s hands down the best. Just all around. The absolute best.

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Him and his parents are essential elements of my life and I just love em’ to death.chicago10

This weekend was all over the place in terms of my usual routine. First of all, I was in a different time zone. I mean, yeah it’s only an hour difference, but that matters people! It’s so bizarre to me! Like… I was watching the season premiere of SNL at 10:30 central time.

I didn’t run or do any hard exercise this weekend and my knee is feeling better today. We did some bike riding which was kind of hard on it, but the walking we did over the weekend felt totally fine (and the slow activity probably was good for it).

I ate carbs, carbs, and more carbs this weekend. And while it was stressful on some level, it was delicious and good for me. I regret nothing.

But definitely a break from my normal routine. It couldn’t have come at a better time too because my normal routine that I’ve gotten so used to over the past year or so is about to change in a major way. It was like a transition into a time of change. I’m excited and nervous and kinda freaking out- but I love it so much and am so excited. And yes. I’m going to continue to be very vague until everything is solidified 100% and I feel comfortable/ready with announcing the news I’m holding onto in my life.

In due time my readers. In due time.

Until then, I leave you with me [In all my fall time + patriots tee + I heart mums, glory]chicago11And I will say, I think I have a better sense of me than I did when I started this “September Blogging Break.” This whole month I’ve been making decisions for the betterment of me and to put myself in a position where I’m happier. September was a lot. October is bound to be even more. In a good way.

Keep it wicked healthy xoxo

days 26 and 27 {upside down + powerful}

This is the upside down face of a happy young lady who couldn’t be more excited to jet off to Chicago for the weekend tonight. If you didn’t know, Will is from Chicago and we are meeting there (he’s flying outta Boston and I’m flying out of DC) to visit his parents for the weekend. P1020779

I told Will that it’s a mark of TRUE LOVE that I’m giving up the premiere of the NBC Comedy Block and Parks and Recreation to fly to Chicago tonight 😉

Anyway. To say this week has been long would be an understatement. There has just been so much going on in my work life- it’s absurd.  But actually. GAH. And on top of that, I’ve of course been keeping up with my fitness game and foodie adventures.

Food highlights of the week are definitelyTHIS recipe for Mediterranean Haddock (which I made with Cod), THIS autumn chicken salad recipe (which I made using dried cranberries instead of grapes + avocado + walnuts), and THESE sweet potato pancakes. Yum all around.

But after Goruck Nasty on Saturday, strength sets + yoga Monday, bootcamp Tuesday (which featured running + 200 squats, pushups, and situps), this “hawk” bootcamp workout yesterday (click through for the workout- it’s a good one), and a five mile run today… my body isn’t the happiest with me.

My legs are definitely saying- hey Allison, take a break plz. I kind of hurt my knee on an obstacle at Goruck and it’s been bothering me all week too. Ugh. I need to let it get better. I’m finally listening to my body. You got it, legs- body- mind- let’s rest now. You more than deserve it.

Actually, I’m turning my normal weekend schedule upside down and not exercising at all for the next three days. I’m not even bringing my sneakers or workout clothes to Chicago. I’m all packed to go and they are not included. This way I won’t even be tempted. It’s an anxiety provoking thought but I need a slowww weekend away from DC and my life here. Walking and leisurely activeness? Totally fine- I’m game. But putting a hold on the intense exercise will be good for me for a few days.

My schedule once I come back goes right into being busy busy busy and crazy go go go yet again THUS I really want to take advantage of these next few days away to relax.

The next four days are the last days in September, and subsequently the last days of my September Break. Can you believe it? I can’t.

When I come back, I’ll have photos for the remaining days, I promise. I want to take lots of pictures this weekend so hopefully there will be some good ones for all you readers. One of the themes for the days ahead is “full” and I can already tell you that one is going to feature some deep dish pizza. All day I’ve been thinking of pizza and I’m pretty sure its because I’m going to Chicago. It’s meant to be,

Before I sign off for the weekend, I wanted to do a post in advance- day twenty-seven (which is technically tomorrow). I already have the perfect photo and I won’t have access to the internet tomorrow AND I’m not technologically savvy enough to auto-post or whatever.

So without further ado, here is day twenty-seven’s photo for the theme powerful.

Goruck Memorial Board

Part of the Goruck Nasty was a memorial walk. At the beginning, we listened to an inspirational speaker talk about the fallen and how this walk was to pay tribute to them and their service. We were instructed to take an American Flag from the board and carry it up the mountain in front of us. Once we reached the top, we were to put the Flag into a similar board.

This picture was from when I reached the top.

I think the walk was a mile long. But it was the hardest, steepest walk I’ve ever done. Like- I can’t even explain to you how much of a stuggle it was. And not to mention, it was raining and extremely foggy at this point so you couldn’t see the top of the mountain we were climbing- so you really had no idea how far up you had left to go. It really got to my head.

BUT it was so worth it and the thought behind it was wicked powerful. Knowing who that walk was for and who it was honoring- that’s what made me want to get to the top. Pain? Eh, that’s nothing. Climbing that mountain was the least I could do.

Keep it wicked healthy xoxo

day twenty five {cozy}

I specialize in cozy evenings with dessert…P1020765

[The last of my sweet potato brownies and a wonderful little treat from the local DC company Gouter (pronounced goo-tay). Although, I only had a sip or two as it contains cold brew coffee and I wasn’t trying to be up all night. But I HAD to try it! It is delicious by the way]

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and cozy mornings with breakfast.

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[I followed THIS recipe for sweet potato pancakes (but used almond flour instead of peanut flour) and topped them with a little apple sauce, cinnamon raisin peanut butter, and banana]

I also specialize in having the best friends a girl could ask for. My best friend Rachel sent me this wicked cozy scarf that she got for me when she was living in Israel. It’s beautiful, thoughtful, comfortable, soft, and way too nice. I only own three scarves. She is the reason for 2 out of the 3.

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And while jewelry isn’t cozy, the warm feeling I got from the ring she also sent me made me feel pretty damn cozy.

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It has written in Hebrew what translates to the expression, slowly slowly. It’s a saying that means a lot to her and that she has bestowed upon me (and that I’ve grown to really love). It’s a reminder for both of us to take things slow and easy every now and again. And she has an identical ring. Matching bff rings? They’re so much more than that but for all intents and purposes- yes. And I love her/it.

Keep it wicked healthy xoxo

day twenty four {reflection}

DISCLAIMER: I’m apologizing for the lack of photos in this post- totally defeating the whole “photo focus” of this little “blog break” I’ve embarked on. But I needed to write this one out for my own mental sanity. My blog my rules though, right? Right. #sorryimnotsorry

Reflection is important. It’s something I do often. It’s a tool I use to make myself feel better and to realize in what ways I’ve grown or become stronger. It’s also a tool that I use to think about ways that I can do things better and areas of my life that still need some work. I’m an over thinker so for me, reflection is a part of my every day life. I’m always assessing, recalculating, and analyzing.

Reflection was a big part of my day today and yesterday. I found myself looking to the past grasping at good truths about my life to prevent myself from heading into a downward spiral of self-disgust. These have been days where nothing I do is right. And if we’re being real, and I always am being real, I feel fat and gross and unhappy with myself. The truths I tried to remind myself of and reflect upon were in regards to all of the positive changes I’ve brought into my life since this time last year. There has been a lot of them. And I tend to forget each and every single one on bad days.

Reflection was what I used today and yesterday to combat my internal monologue. It is what I used to drown out the doubting and negative commentary flooding my brain.

Yes. You weigh more than you did six months ago- but you gained weight intentionally and you’re actually a living, breathing, fully functional human being now. You don’t restrict yourself anymore on a regular basis and you feel good about your food choices. Your relationship with food and exercise has improved dramatically and this has allowed you to accomplish great things in the realms of academia, your professional life, and in the world of fitness. Russia trip? Increased work responsibility? Goruck Nasty? None of those things would have been possible without the changes you knew you needed to make and made. 

On Sunday I threw away my scale. Literally. I walked to a trash can in the city with Will and threw away my perfectly good scale. I don’t need it anymore. And I didn’t want to bestow it upon anyone else. I bought it when I was losing weight to chart my progress and it slowly became a way to torture myself and dictate my days. It was this time last year that I said I was going to stop calorie counting and that I was going to stop weighing myself. It was in a post I made about “September Goals.” 365 days later, I think I’m finally there. When I was writing those September goals in 2012, I didn’t realize they would truly come to fruition in September 2013. But it’s been a year, and I think I’ve made it. That is success. And despite feeling like crap for no reason- there’s no way of denying that I’m happier and healthier today than I was a year ago.

{Side note: look how much has changed from that post I reference to from September of last year! What the hell was I eating for breakfast?! The answer- hardly anything. There is no protein in that meal and hardly any fat. I was living off of fruit. I thought I was being so healthy when clearly I wasn’t fueling myself properly at all. You can tell how calorie focused I was then versus how nutrition focused I am now. I can tell you right now, there was probably 2 tsp. of peanut butter on that HALF of a sandwich thin. And I can tell you- I felt GUILTY about it. Like what?! If there isn’t a full 2 tbl. of fats, a solid amount of carbs, and a source of protein in my breakfasts now I like go into a conniption fit.

My fitness level has clearly improved and my love for fitness has truly developed. I don’t need to make exercise appointments anymore. Going to the gym and trying new workouts on my own and pushing myself to do more is something I just do. I still write them in my calendar but more so to help me figure out my life logistically.

Also- look at what hasn’t changed. Things I still need to work on? Patience and more love}

Reflection reminds me of how sad and unhappy I was because of food, exercise, and my weight. Reflection reminds me of how much more compassion and love and patience I have been able to find for myself. I still have a long way to go, but things are so much better.

Reflection is an interesting thing.

Reflection didn’t come to me in yoga yesterday. I wanted to go to spin but knew my body needed a break so I went to yoga instead- hoping to find some peace and listen to my body’s craving for an active rest day vs. intense physical activity. It didn’t happen in yoga, but it happened as I laid in bed before sleep. It was like I was able to see everything and take in where I’m at in life and be content. It’s rare that I have these moments. But last night I did and I slept like a baby. Which is also rare.

Reflection: do it and do it often.

Along the lines of reflection, before I go, I have to give a HAPPY BIRTHDAY shout-out to my step-dad, Kevin! Whenever it’s a member of my family’s birthday, it’s really easy for me to look back on how much of an impact that person has had on my life and remember all the sweet memories I have that involve them.

He’s been an amazing father to me and I love him to death. He’s one of the funniest people in my life. His comic relief and sense of humor are something I miss on a regular basis. I went through some old pictures to find a few to put on here and THAT reflection– being reminded of some good times- made me crack up laughing.

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Thanksgiving of years ago- but me, my sister, and Kevin look so happy! It was a good day.

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anddd this is Kevin pretending to be John McCain. spot on impression, no?

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and this is him on Easter when he decided that as a family, we should have alter ego names for the day on our red solo cups and he went with “Chad.”

LASTLY- this video is from FIVE YEARS AGO but here is him singing Don’t Cha on our new Karaoke machine on Christmas Day. GAHD. I love my family more than anything.

Happy Birthday, Kevin 🙂 I miss you and love you so much. I hope you had an amazingly relaxing day full of no baloney. Youda man.

Keep it wicked healthy xoxo

day twenty three {smell}

Some say that smell is the human sense that triggers memory most. For me, this is definitely the case. My nostalgia is often sparked by random scents and the gates to all of the feelings/emotions are opened. Don’t even get me started on how this time of year (fall + winter + holidays) is like prime time for smells conjuring up memories. When I was in Massachusetts last last weekend, I was almost brought to tears by familiar scents that reminded me of home and my childhood. Okay, maybe there was an actual tear or two. I’m embarrassed for me.

I’ve read that a lot smell-memory connections are formed particularly in your youth because that’s when you experience smells for the first time. Huh.

While although these associations formed long ago will remain the strongest I’m sure, I can’t help but think that I’m forming new smell-memory connections as I adventure forward with food and create more of a life out on my own.

I have a feeling that future recipes involving my cast-iron skillet and the smells that emanate from my culinary works of art will later on in life remind me of my early twenty-something life in my little apartment.

Warm, cozy days and meals made at home in the cold of the fall and winter.

I made this mediterranean frittata for Will and I on Sunday. I wanted to use my cast iron skillet for the first time on something easy. I also wanted to welcome in cast iron skillet season (I’m calling it a thing), but also not go too crazy on an over the top fall dish. I decided this frittata would be the perfect transition dish from summer to fall and from grill season to cast iron skillet season.

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I cooked onion, zucchini, red peppers, and spinach on the stove in the skillet for like 10 minutes (with evoo + garlic + s&p + basil + oregano + paprika) and then took it off the hear poured 6 whisked eggs + 1/4 cup feta cheese + a handful of sundried tomatoes into the skillet- covered it with foil- put it in the 350 degrees oven for 30 minutes. Simple.

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One thing is for certain: in the future, the smell from the oven/stove of gas will remind me of this time in my life because occasionally I (like a HUGE idiot) forget to turn the oven off when I’m done using it. Yesterday, after making the beautiful frittata you see above, I forgot to shut the oven off- ate- cleaned up- left to run errands- and returned to a hot apartment like three hours later smelling dangerously of gas. YIKES. File under things, NAHT to do. I’m the worst sometimes. Double and triple check you’ve turned off the heat, Allison! 

Keep it wicked healthy xoxo

days 20-22 {frozen, on track, and number}

Woah woah woah- how did THIS frozen treat end up in my freezer.

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Oh right, I was suckered into buying it when I stopped by a little grocery store nearby. Mmmm locally made ice cream with no artificial ingredients or preservatives. The main reason why I bought it was because I needed something to serve with these bad boys…

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BROWNIES. But let me tell you guys something- the only ingredients in these brownies are: sweet potato, applesauce, dates, peanut butter, cocoa powder, eggs, and baking powder. And some dark chocolate chips.P1020748

No white sugar. No flour. How crazy is that? And they’re moist and fluffy and delicious! Perfect with some ice cream- that’s for sure.

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I followed this recipe and am still amazed at how good they came out. I was so happy to get back from my Goruck Nasty challenge yesterday to a warm, well deserved, relatively healthy brownie.

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Speaking of the Goruck Nasty… I DID IT.

I stayed on track with my “training” aka continued to work out and focus more on strength training for the past month or so anddd I showed up to the mountain in McGaheysville, VA yesterday and kicked butt! Well, as much butt as a girl like me can possibly kick. But I finished the course nonetheless and have the patch to prove it!

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It was an extremely hard experience. The incline for the running portion of the course was so steep that you couldn’t run- you had to power walk it. It was HARD. Especially after maneuvering your way through rough obstacles. But I knew that it was going to be hard going into it so I felt prepared. I wasn’t overwhelmed by it. I mean I was running a course designed by U.S. Special Forces. But still. I will emphasize- this was no walk in the park.

I will also say- I couldn’t have done it without the amazing people from my gym, my friends, instructors, and even the strangers that I got to know throughout the day. Their help and their encouraging words and unrelenting positivity + my own mental and physical strength = success. It’s so much harder to give up when you’re getting high fived and cheered on by people. Thank GAHD for my partners in crime from Balance Gym.

Out of the 27ish obstacles, there were only 6-7 that I couldn’t do either to the fact that 1) I physically just couldn’t do it or 2) the line to do the obstacle was over an hour long (!) and me and my crew didn’t want to wait that long. We completed the course in four-ish hours. And man were those hours LONG.

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don’t be fooled- this is us after finishing and “getting clean.” we were a HOT MESS straight off the course. I’m amazed we even managed to look this presentable afterwards.

It was raining, it was kind of cold, it was painful, and it was just as hard stay positive as it was to physically get through everything. Mud. Rocks. Dirt. High grass. Steep hills. Crazy obstacles that made me ask, wait, why did I PAY to do this, again?

I had some flashbacks to the OutRun Adventure I did last month and some more why on earth am I doing this- I am actually crazy- no, I’m actually STUPID thoughts running through my brain- but knowing that I had come so far and already done so much- it really got me to the end.

If you don’t push yourself every once and a while to do something wicked challenging, you miss major opportunities to grow and you’ll never really know what you’re capable of. Goruck Nasty was a learning experience that’s for sure. And it was also an amazing human bonding experience with some of my favorite people.

Cadre Godfrey- proud number 0672 -reported for duty.

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And today is a big ol’ recovery day- and it’s the FIRST DAY OF AUTUMN. To celebrate, I made Will and I these pumpkin almond flour pancakes (great recipe, by the way!) and painted my sore toes and fingers a deep red color.P1020757

Ruby Slipper by Mary Kay, number CK08 to be exact.

Keep it wicked healthy xoxo

day nineteen {yes}

Okay okay- I’m caving. I’m saying yes to fall. I’ve been hesitating jumping full force into embracing the next season for fear of “getting into it” too early but who I am kidding here. I just didn’t want to be one of those people that celebrates the holidays too soon and rushes into Halloween only to rush into Thanksgiving only to rush into Christmas. Someone said to me today, hey did you know Christmas is like 15 weekends away? And I wanted to punch said person in the face- slow your roll, man! It’s technically still summer till Sunday so maybe chillax on the whole holiday cheer thing. I’m trying to enjoy my September.

But with the weather being noticeably cooler and extra layers being needed and pumpkins + mums + squash + cranberries lurking around… it’s hard to deny that fall is wicked close. It’s like, right there. And because fall is my favorite, I’m throwing in the towel and proclaiming WAHOO FALL! YES. FALL.

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2013-09-19 12.53.162013-09-19 12.53.26For the past month I’ve been saying no, Allison, wait before you go pumpkin crazy- don’t stock up on cans just yet but um on Monday I bought my first two and have already crushed one of them. For the past week- I’ve been saying YES- pumpkin in/on/around everything!

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Whether it’s on toast…

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I was inspired by THIS little recipe which centers around the convenience of breakfast toast. My one toast had honey peanut butter, ricotta cheese, mint, and plum. The other toast had a mix of pumpkin, ricotta, and dark chocolate peanut butter + banana slices.

or in pancakes…

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I used THIS recipe. They were a little too doughey for my liking though- I think it was the oats. Next I’m going to try an alternative recipe that uses almond flour instead of oats. I’ll keep you updated on how that turns out.

Oh and they are topped with a banana cream sauce I concocted- it’s just half a banana mashed mixed with 1 tbl. cashew butter and 3 tbl. almond milk. 

or in a post-workout smoothie…

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I didn’t measure most of the ingredients but it was 6 ice cubes, 1 frozen banana, ~cup unsweetened chocolate almond milk, ~1/3 cup pumpkin, 1 tbl. unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1 tbl. almond butter.

or on FRENCH toast…

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P1020737P1020740P1020743P1020745One + an end piece of whole grain toast, dipped in 1 egg + 2 tbl. almond milk + cinnamon, pan seared in 1 tbl. coconut oil (alongside a banana), topped with 2 tbl. ricotta cheese, ~1/2 cup pumpkin, walnuts, spoonful of granola, sprinkle of chia seeds, and like a teaspoon of maple syrup.

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or in oatmeal (tomorrow’s game plan- I’m thinking dried cranberries + oats + canned pumpkin + cottage cheese + walnuts)…

I’m CLEARLY pumped about pumpkin

And I’m officially declaring here and now that I’m saying yes to welcoming fall.

Keep it wicked healthy xoxo