Monday, March 30, 2015

That Time I Ate a State

Georgetown #1
Georgetown #2

I'm backkkkkkkkk! I think this has been my longest blogging hiatus and hopefully you have missed me. I've returned from my New York trip and am trying to get back to normal life. I was so ready to sleep in my own bed, go to my gym, grocery shop and catch up on my DVR. Before my trip, I made the conscious decision to not track my food. I've been consistently tracking my food for over a month in the My Fitness Pal app and aiming to hit my macros every day. It doesn't always go to plan but each day gets a little better than the last. I was able to get to a low number on the scale and really scared myself and began to regret my trip ahead. I knew the temptations would be too great and I was looking forward to taking a break from life, so I decided to enjoy myself and not care. I vowed to still work out but eat as many cupcakes as I wanted to. Boy, did I.  Getting back on the scale this week will not be fun but I made a choice and I chose happiness and pizza, which are pretty much the same thing.  I wouldn't say that I went overboard but I did eat dessert at least once a day.  In case you don't follow me on Instagram (BTW, you totally should @sarahstew15), then you missed out on all of my fabulous eats.  I did make it to my beloved Georgetown Cupcake on two separate occasions!  There were too many flavors to fit into one visit!

Cronut and ALLLLL it's filling
I had a lot of pistachio stuff while I was gone.  I've always been obsessed with pistachio and was introduced to pistachio muffins by my friend, Jen P., a few years ago.  I. Can't. Even.  They're SO yum and amazing.  I had two on my trip and a macaron, a cupcake and Cronut.  Those of you unfamiliar with the Cronut craze, they are a doughnut made of croissant, which were popular a few years ago and the originals are sold at a bakery in Soho by Dominique Ansel.  The flavor of Cronut changes monthly and you get no choice.  Upon arriving at the bakery, we discovered the flavor was pistachio orange.  INSTANT EXCITEMENT.  Mom and I each ordered one and we sat down to pose for photos before digging in.  Holy disappointing.  Each layer is filled with either orange jam or this pistachio cream.  It sounds amazing but was basically all filling.  I was squeezing it out and wiping it off--gross.  It didn't taste anything like pistachio.  I'm hoping this was just a fluke in the flavor but I'm completely lost on the madness surrounding the Cronut.  You can keep it and I'll be visiting the tried and approved Donut Plant for yumminess instead.

I regret the Cronut.

I did so much walking around the first few days in the city.  Mom and I cranked out at least 20,000 steps each day.  We schlepped all over despite the 5 inches of snow that arrived the first day we were there.  I managed to get 4 days of the gym in and I even went on Friday night because it was snowing and there wasn't much else going on.  The gym at the hotel in the city was quite amazing.  They had several weight machines, a whole rack of dumbbells and even a rack of barbells.  I was very impressed!

My week was filled with all of my favorites: chicken parm, pizza, bagels, cupcakes, Italian cookies and so much more!  I don't regret anything but am so ready to get back to my new way of eating.  By the end of the trip, I was feeling so gross and one major meal even made me sick.  I can't eat the quantity or types of food that I used to.  There's no way around it that life is different now.  I actually missed my daily eggs and ham scramble breakfast.  Today is day 1 of the NY detox and I'm back on track and logging my food.  I will probably gain a few pounds from the last week but this is life.  You can't be perfect all the time and everyone deserves a break now and then.  The real challenge, dear friends, is not letting the week turn to three (or more).  Put down the cupcakes and get your butt in gear.  Are you listening, Sarah?  Happy Monday!  

Friday, March 13, 2015

Pizza, Thy Love

I've said it before and it needs repeating, I love pizza. It's (usually) cheap, it's simple and it evokes so many memories for me. As a kid, I can remember walking to the nearest pizza shop with my cousins for slices in the afternoons of summer when we would vacation to Long Island. Then there's the middle school sleepovers with friends where we'd order by phone (weird, right?) and request it be delivered by the cutest boy working that night. Then there's college, where we'd get Five Star or Gumby's to feed the crowd gathered at our apartment to soak up the beer in our bellies. Or that one time, my favorite, where a friend bought a large pizza on the street from a vendor while walking out of a bar. After graduation, when I was poor, I'd get $10 Pizza Hut to feed myself for 2-3 meals. Let's be honest, Sarah, it was usually dinner and then breakfast the next morning and maybe 1 slice left for a snack. Next, I went through the homemade pizza phase where I'd make crust from the Pillsbury can and add my own sauce and toppings. I would usually eat the entire thing! Pizza was such a present meal/food in my life and the fact that it's convenient made it a staple.

Question! What's weirder- the fact that I can count the number of times I've had pizza in the last 14 months on one hand or the fact that I know the exact dates of these pizza/Sarah encounters? Well, I think they're both weird. In my old life, I probably ate pizza at least three times a month, which would be 42 times since new life started. In fact, I didn't eat pizza for a solid 6 months when I was disciplined in the beginning. My pizza-eating timeline is as follows:

1. June 13th. Cheese. Rosemary's in Farmingdale, NY. SO GOOD!
2. June 16th. Margherita. iL FORNO in Hell's Kitchen, NYC. It was okay.
Less than 2 weeks later, I was in New York again but this time it was a team-building trip for work. I indulged in New York's finest cuisine on two occasions on this trip.
3. June 27th. Cheese. Somewhere on 8th Ave, NYC. Classic and delicious.
4. June 30th. Specialty slices that I cannot remember because they weren't life changing. Food court at Grand Central Station. Again, okay.
5. December 21st. Ham and tomato. Vinnie Van GoGo's in Savannah, GA. Definitely smells and looks better than it tastes. It didn't live up to my hype and wasn't worth waiting 6 months for.

There you have it, kids! My 5 pizza encounters in 14 months. Crazy, huh? I was thinking about this the other day and how incredibly strange it is. I pondered this pizza timeline for days because I was sure I had missed a few but I haven't. That's it. By now, you're probably wondering, "So what?" The point of my pizza anecdote is to show you that those vices you think have a hold of you are a figment of your imagination.  Food doesn't control you and you shouldn't give it so much power.  It reminds me of a story that I've heard along the way on my always-on-a-"diet"-life about a nutritionist.  This nutritionist had clients who were severe over eaters and were extremely obese because of it.  One client, ate an entire dozen of Krispy Kreme donuts a day.  Holy moly!  So, to combat this, they had him cut back to 6 donuts a day, then 3 donuts a day, then 1 donut every other day until he was able to avoid them all together.  Another client would eat an entire box of Double Stuf Oreos.  Is it a box or a bag?  Tray?  Oh, container, maybe?  I don't know.  They had him switch to regular Oreos, then reduced fat, then 1/2 a bag and so on.  What I'm trying to say is that you don't have to quit your vices cold turkey but you can work to slowly remove them from your life.

I love pizza but I've survived without it. No, pizza isn't the sole reason I was fat and I don't intentionally avoid it. I just save up my pizza points for a worthy experience.  I've got major pizza-point cashing in to do when I finally venture back to NY in 1 week from today. Don't worry, I'll be sure to blow up your Instagram feeds (follow me @sarahstew15) with photos of my food quests.  

Great, now all I want are donuts, Oreos and pizza.  Happy weekend, friends!

Eat Dessert First

Sorry for the silence, friends! It’s been a pretty tough week and I just haven’t had the time to put pen to paper. Well, it’s actually fingers to keyboard but you get the idea. I write with a heavy heart as my family deals with the passing of my grandma last week. I think death inevitably reminds us that life is unexpected and precious. It’s why, dear friends, that choosing happiness is so important. I had a really rough day yesterday and if I woke up in heaven today, I’d be pissed. At least I did enjoy a cheeseburger as my last meal but I’d be so mad that I wasted a day being bogged down by the unimportant nonsense of life. I get that it’s a high bar to set and not every day can be perfect, but it can have perfect moments. Moments filled with joyous laughter, organic beauty or sublime happiness. 

I’m trapped in a box where I don’t know what to write, this week, because I don’t want some sullen-mood post bringing you down! Instead, I offer you a brain purge of randomness about my grandma. I'm beyond grateful for the past year because grandma moved down to Florida and I was able to have more visits with her.  Something grandma and I had in common: major sweet tooth. Recently, at some holiday gathering, grandma was talking about how much she loved dessert and my comment back was that it must be hereditary. The line of us, me/mom/grandma, love dessert, and a day isn’t done without a treat. Visits to New York to see grandma weren’t complete without white package boxes tied up in red and white string filled to the brim with Italian cookies. The crumbly butter cookies with array of colors and toppings brought everyone to the table in grandma’s kitchen. The ones with the jam in the middle, half dipped in chocolate with sprinkles are my absolute FAVORITE! At that same table we’d share black and white cookies, bagels with butter and sandwiches fresh from the deli, all NY must eats. I remember a few years ago, grandma was shuffling about the kitchen emptying the contents of the fridge, which still adorned photos of me as a kid and “#1 Grandma” magnets, in front of me insisting I needed a snack. She handed me a Snapple (the North really needs to work on their tea game) and an assortment of Little Debbie snack cakes. She was never shy about taking a piece of every dessert at the table and she adored cookies. On one of her last days, while in the hospital, she asked mom to get her a package of cookies and hide them so no one else could find them.  

The lesson, dear friends, about life and death is that time is precious, love is vast and there is always room for dessert.  Love and cookies, grandma!  We miss you!

Monday, March 2, 2015

I Got The Eye of The Neon Tiger

In case you missed it, THIS GIRL ran a 10K on Saturday. That’s right folks, I ran 6.2 miles with an official time of 1 hour, 16 minutes, 23 seconds. I had slower mile splits than my usual practice runs but running on cobblestone in a herd of other people was not something I trained for. I wasn’t running for time and, honestly, am beyond thrilled to have made it. According to the official race stats, I was about middle of the pack for my age group and gender. I might not have been the fastest person out there but at least I looked good! I was sporting my new neon tiger chic look with matching shirt and sneakers. Life is a fashion show. My body was screaming at me through nearly the whole race. You guys know I suffer from knee pain, which was back in action, and I also had this cramp radiating through my whole right side from about mile 3 on. I played through the pain and kept on trucking. We rounded the last corner and my running partner, Kate, told me this was the last stretch and to bust it out. In good timing, Katy Perry’s Roar started playing and I picked up my speed. I could see my cutie patootie parents standing on the sides waving me on. I love them SO much.  I was so tired, emotionally and physically, I started hyperventilating and tears were welling up in my eyes. I fought back the emotions and pushed into a full sprint. The clock above the finish line was ticking at 1:16:48 and I was determined to beat 1:17. I’m new, okay? I didn’t realize that I earned extra seconds because I wasn’t the first person over the start line. I heard the beep of the finish line and wanted to crumple to the floor.

I did it. I proved to myself that I can do whatever I put my mind to. Time doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I achieved something I never dreamed I could. It seems weird to have people congratulate you on something that people do all the time. I have a lot of friends who are runners and run this distance (or further) on the regular. What I have to keep telling myself is that this is huge because of who I used to be. This accomplishment is huge because I never doubted I could do it and I never gave up. When it seemed impossible and the pain was real, I kept going. Old Sarah would have thrown in the towel.

I really hope I can inspire you, dear reader, to chase something you think impossible. I’m still overweight, I’m not an avid runner and I’m not very fast but I completed a 10K. I don’t have tolerance for excuses or hearing “I can’t.” You’re talking to a girl who has lost 90 pounds and overcome a heck of a lot this last year. You have to believe in yourself and commit to the process. Stay focused, stay positive and stay consistent. You’ll not only be unstoppable but you’ll see results, too.

I’ve always been a neon tiger but now I've earned my stripes!