“Booze and Grooves”

My friend Ben came up with it.

When I left for Ireland last month, he told me he expected my adventures to be titled “booze and grooves” and to disregard liver health. I’m only listening to his first suggestion.

This weekend we had a class trip to Northern Ireland! The history of division between the British/Protestants vs. Irish/Catholics is jarring yet fascinating. One of the first things our tour guide in Belfast said was, “This is the most dangerous part of Belfast… If a taxi honks at you, sprint back to the bus as fast you can. That’s the most important.”

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Illegal murals are a big part of the culture. They are all political statements rooted in the violent divisions that manifested only two decades ago.

I was that student who asked, “Are you being serious?” He answered with a straight face, “Does it look like I’m kidding?”

“No, sir.”

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But later he told us that he was kidding, and we all laughed (*nervous relief laughs for me*). We still couldn’t really open our mouths about religion or politics though.

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I must admit that I felt uncomfortable in Belfast for the first half of the day, but after visiting the peace wall, going downtown, and learning about the government at the Parliament building reassured me that peace is being pursued.

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They even served us afternoon coffee, tea, and biscuits during our break, which was the cutest. I am officially a fan of digestive biscuits dipped in tea.

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Witnessing and experiencing the city made for one excellent history lesson!

For dinner that night, a bunch of us went to Robinson’s and ate inside a “snug”, which we learned was the ladies’ corner back in the day, where we might have been served alcohol if the men of institution were feelin’ nice enough. Coincidentally, we were a bunch of ladies gathered in a snug on Thursday night. But we bought our own drinks 🙂

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I ordered the shepherd’s pie, which was more like sloppy joe with a lot of mashed potatoes on top, but I was fine with that.

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Pretty much demolished the whole thing. Then it was time to get wild and cuh-razy at the Crown Liquor Saloon, ooo la la.

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Megan and I had not bought an alcoholic drink in Ireland until that night, so we both bought Jameson Gingers and celebrated! Everyone else was probably more excited for us than we were for ourselves, but I appreciated the energy.

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Jameson Ginger is probably one of my favorite drinks that I’ve tasted in my short and limited experience with alcohol consumption, but it still doesn’t compare to the taste of ice cream.

So Megan and I enjoyed our drinks, but we’re more willing to put our money towards a happier cause— dessert. It was still super fun to actually go out with people (I’m such a square usually).

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We still went to bed before 1 am, only after watching an Irish dating show on TV.

On Friday morning, Megan and I grabbed breakfast at cafe approximately 20 paces from our hotel lobby. I ordered porridge with banana, honey, and peanut butter, and it ROCKED. The oats were cooked to a texture that was doughy and satisfying, and the addition of whole milk was life-changing.

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At first, I wasn’t sure if there was peanut butter in there because it was hidden by the banana slices, but after asking, the waiter said, “It’s in there! A surprise underneath. There’s enough for two in there.”

“Enough for two people.” I laughed when I finished the bowl, because that’s how much peanut butter I always put in my oats.

Megan and I went on a brisk walk around the city (brisk because we almost got lost) before our class headed to Giant’s Causeway!

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It was just as beautiful as the Cliffs of Moher!

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The unique part of Giant’s Causeway is the rocks. There are tens of thousands of rocks shaped like hexagons due to how the volcanic lava solidified and cracked over the period of hundreds of thousands of years.

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But you could also choose to believe that giants did it. 😉

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photo from my friend Cassandra!

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PC: Cassandra

Yet another beautiful experience in Ireland.

Not a beautiful experience? Rushing to buy Irish stew with brown bread for lunch and having the butter packets melt from the heat of the stew all over your paper bag on the bus.

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Megan: “Butter disaster 2016.”

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The stew was delicious though!!

One pit stop on the way to Derry for the Games of Thrones fans:

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I don’t watch the show, but if you do, does this look familiar?? (p.s. my friends spotted the whole cast inside a bar on Thursday night!)

Next stop was Derry/Londonderry (depending on whether you’re a Nationalist or a Unionist). We toured some more murals and the big wall in the middle of the city. It was so nice to move the legs and witness some stunning views of the whole city.

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Our hotel was a 15 minute drive out of the city, so we settled into our rooms before taking a taxi back in for dinner. HOWEVER, everything on a Friday night was closed! Megan, Cristen and I wanted to go to a restaurant called Blackbird for a wagyu beef burger (per my mom’s recommendation), but they told us that they stop serving food at 5pm.

Wut.

Disappointed, we walked around to find another restaurant, but everything except the bars and some random fast food places had their gates down. So strange. We decided to go a chain chicken restaurant called Nando’s, which was still a good dinner!

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medium spice chicken on a super grain salad bowl

I was satisfied, and I had missed green vegetables. AND AVOCADO.

Then we wanted ice cream, so the waitress at Nando’s suggested Joe Jackson’s inside a mall down the street. I got the honeycomb and strawberry cheesecake flavors, which hit the spot!

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The night wasn’t what we were expecting, but it was still a delicious and fun adventure. We also successfully hailed a taxi back to our hotel, which was a win.

Also, we had to put key card into this slot by the door of our hotel room in order for the electricity to work. Different!

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Saturday morning, I ate a whole grain roll with peanut butter that we bought the night before for breakfast.

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There was a big gym in the hotel, so I took full advantage during our free morning. I was STOKED to be using gym equipment for the first time in a month!

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I warmed up and did three sets each of:

  • 10 Bulgarian split squats each leg + 20 jump lunges
  • squats (varying weights) + 20 squat jumps
  • 12 deadlifts (105#) + 30 side jump lunges

Then I did EMOM 10:

  • 5 squat cleans (65#)
  • 8 burpees over the bar

That EMOM absolutely crushed my entire being. I don’t often think “I’m dying” after a workout, but this one made me feel that way.

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I stretched my legs and did some lat pull downs, military presses, and tricep pull downs to finish.

Naturally, two days later, I still can’t move anything in my body.

A bunch of us ordered lunch at the hotel restaurant before hitting the road back to Dublin. It was a bizarre experience in that the service took so long and no one really knew what was going on, but we learned that the restaurant isn’t usually open and prepared to serve 15 hungry kids at that time, so everyone was just discombobulated.

The servers were very kind though, and the food was great! These fries…

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I ordered a toasted beef, brie, and tomato sandwich, which I ate on the bus.

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The rest of the day back on campus involved unpacking, roasting brussels sprouts, and jamming out to Disney music with my friends.

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Sunday morning was some play, but mostly work. We have essays due this week!! First, Megan and I went to Mass in city centre, which was a lovely 2.5-mile walk. Then we met up with Cristen at Brother Hubbard for lunch. This is one of my favorite restaurants that I’ve been to Ireland so far!

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I ordered the Turkish eggs menemem, which included herbs and roasted peppers on toasted sourdough. Best scrambled eggs ever.

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Megan shared some of her pulled pork with me too, which was so tasty.

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We walked back to campus, where worked hard for the rest of the day. There was a break for grocery shopping and dinner in there somewhere. And dessert! Megan and I picked up desserts from Bread and Butter on our way back from lunch earlier, so we used them as incentives to get work done.

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I’m always down for carrot cake.

I also got to FaceTime Rachel at night!

“Work hard, play hard” is a fun motto to live by, but then it reverses to “play hard, work hard,” and I’m really feeling that vibe right now. Time to go finish this essay! And hopefully some yoga to streeeeetch.

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overnight oats in a jar that I just ate 🙂

Hope you all have a kick-butt week!!

(p.s. apparently there have been some issues with the commenting system on my blog, so I apologize!! I’ll try to get the problem fixed ASAP!)

So tell me:

Have you ever been to Northern Ireland?

What is the coolest geologic phenomenon you’ve ever seen?

What is your favorite alcoholic beverage? I need ideas for next time!

Two things you did this weekend!

Everyone Hates Goodbyes

I think I put on deodorant five times yesterday.

Walk outside ➔ sweat. Unpack things ➔ sweat. Laugh too hard at a friend’s joke ➔ sweat.

But that’s all okay, because Rachel arrived in Boston yesterday!!! Although I only have a little less than two days with her, we are making the most of this time together.

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the best breakfast I’ve eaten in Boston so far, thanks to the multigrain bagel I snagged from the Catholic Center 😀

When I picked her up from the airport, I ran up from behind to scare her as my greeting. She said, “Alison, you can’t make people scream in an airport!”

True. But I pride myself in my dramatic greetings.

We caught up all day while we took transit, ate food, and walked a lot. After checking out her new apartment for the year (where I will also be next semester), we headed to lunch at Mei Mei for the classic “Double Awesome” scallion pancake sandwich.

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double awesome = scallion pancake, two eggs, white cheddar cheese (LOTS of it), and pesto + spicy ketchup and maple ginger soy for dipping

Highly recommend.

We walked around the city while catching up — probably our favorite pastime!

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I forget how yellow I am until I see photos like this lol

After tons of walking and talking, it was already almost time for dinner. We commuted to Newton for dinner at one of our Boston food bucket list places, Johnny’s Luncheonette.

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I got the meatloaf dinner (half came home for a second meal, buh-bam), and Rachel got the huevos rancheros. My meatloaf was delicious!

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But the real star was the bucket list item— the crunchy french toast. We split an order for dessert and absolutely loved it! The crunch of the cereal added something special, and the french toast itself was very well-executed.

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Rachel and I noticed that our waiter was a little bit judge-y of our eating abilities. The main thing was that, after we finished the whole order of french toast, he said, “You guys HOUSED that,” before walking away with our empty dishes.

Yeah. We did. Thanks for pointing it out, sir. We ladies like to be told we’re houses for diner food.

He may not have meant any harm, but it was funny to us. WE EAT A LOT OKAY.

Back at the apartment, we hung out with friends for the rest of the night. Then the real goodbyes had to happen. All of us talked about how we hate goodbyes, partially because they’re so sad, and partially because they’re too sad that you don’t even know how to conduct yourself.

Sob?

10 minute hug?

Mini speech/ode to the other?

Just walk out the door?

I’ve come to like less dramatic goodbyes but with big hugs. Daliza and I still say, “See you later,” to one another, because we hate sappy goodbyes. The real sadness washes over a few days later when you realize: Oh, I’m ACTUALLY not going to see them.

I leave back for New York tonight, and it hurts my heart a little bit for sure, but I’ll see my family and home here in Boston soon.

So tell me:

How do you handle goodbyes?

Has a waiter/waitress ever commented on the amount you ate?

Do you like french toast?

I’m {Actually} Not Obsessed With Working Out Anymore

Winter is HERE.

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Freezing temperatures hit us like a brick wall this week! However, since mother nature likes to think she has a sense of humor, she’s making it 70 degrees on Thursday. Keepin’ us on our toes.

For the time being, nothing warms you up like some poutine!

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My beautiful friends and I were on a mission to eat poutine from Saus— one of the foods on the bucket list that Rachel and I are determined to complete by graduation.

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If you’re not familiar with poutine, it’s a Montreal specialty that involves French fries covered in gravy and cheese curds. It sounds repulsive, but ohhhh man, it is delicious umami delight.

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Three of us shared a regular order topped with bacon and stout-braised beef, but I’m 99% sure they gave us pork belly instead. We didn’t complain.

I also ate something a little more nutritious—the lemongrass chicken in a whole wheat pita with “Pindasaus” (peanut sauce). So good!

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Thank you so much to Lauren’s dad for treating us! We and our college student wallets are grateful.

Other things from the weekend included…

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My lovely friend Fiona’s pass-in review for Army ROTC!

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street show watching

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a trip to Whole Foods for two jars of peanut butter, two boxes of peanut butter Puffins cereal, and two tubs of Greek yogurt. #Alison’sArk

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THIS.


Moves and grooves. I haven’t talked about them very much recently, huh?

This whole summer, I took it easy in terms of exercise in order to get my cycle started— only doing some bodyweight strength exercises, yoga, handstands, Pilates, and walking. I gained 10-15 pounds, felt more energized, and most importantly, started feeling more comfortable in my body than ever before.

After I messed up at the gynecologist office here in Boston, I finally got my lab work done and the results soon followed. The results evidenced that there’s nothing wrong with me so far. I know this doesn’t really say anything about something like hypothalamic amenorrhea (if that’s what I have), but being well past a healthy BMI and a very healthy body fat percentage, I just don’t have a clue what’s up. I apparently just need to give my body more time, but in the meantime, I have been exercising more (while making sure to fuel even more).

I mentioned several weeks ago that I’ve been participating in modern dance class twice a week as a physical education class, and I am loving it. I had forgotten how happy dance makes me. The dance class is definitely a step up from what I was doing this summer, in terms of intensity. I’ve also been working out at the gym once a week and doing some bodyweight/yoga workouts whenever I feel like it.

Now, I completely understand if this raises concerns about my whole amenorrhea situation, but in 100% honesty, my workout “regimen” (if you can call it that) is keeping me sane and happy amidst schoolwork and activities. Additionally, my attitude towards working out has transformed in the past year.

Just last year, I would often force myself to go to the gym, even if that meant sacrificing sleep. This year, I work out if I have the time and energy.

Last year, I would take a substantial amount of time to think about the workouts I should do that day/week. This year, I am completely going with the flow. 

Last year, I would do high intensity workouts multiple times a week. Yesterday, I did burpees for the first time in four months and I will probably keep those HIIT workouts to once a week, if at all. 

Last year, I would get anxious at the prospect of missing a workout. This year, I think about exercise, but stress is no longer an automatic response to the thought.

Last year, I would set a timer for myself to do some air squats, pushups, or burpees every 20 minutes if I was studying for a long time. This year, I don’t do that. I do like standing while studying still, but that has to do with my antsy-ness, not fitness.

Last year, I would do workouts that didn’t make me happy. This year, I have never loved exercise so much, because I allow myself to do what genuinely makes me feel good.

Last year, I would kinda-sorta monitor my body. This year, I’m only monitoring how healthy and energetic I feel.

Last year, I was still somewhat obsessed with working out. This year, I’m finally not.

To give you an idea of what a week of workouts looks like these days, here are moves and grooves from last week and this week so far:

  • Sunday: 45 min. yoga
  • Monday: apple picking 🙂
  • Tuesday: stretch and massage day for dance class
  • Wednesday: modern dance
  • Thursday: bodyweight exercises/yoga outdoors
  • Friday: leg strength at the gym
  • Saturday: rest
  • Sunday: 60 min. yoga
  • Monday: 100 burpees (← thought I’d try it. cardiovascular system was hurting ever so slightly. won’t be happening again soon.)

So that’s my update for you. My next gynecologist appointment is next month, so we’ll see what that brings. At this point, I really don’t know what’s wrong with my lady system. For now, I’m moving and grooving, but with a healthier mindset than ever…in my entire life.

Thank you for all your support and understanding in this ever-changing journey. It’s pretty crazy how recovery unfolds itself more, even when you think you’re already at a great place.

So tell me:

Have you ever eaten poutine?

One fun thing you did this weekend!

How has exercise/relationship with exercise been for ya?