Out of Blogging Shape

Merry Christmas!!! I hope you all had a fantastic day with loved ones yesterday!

Six months ago, you wouldn’t have to ask me once to remember to blog, but currently, I feel as though I’ve fallen out of “blogging shape”. Several friends have had to remind me that I could utilize my break from school to blog more, and I just respond by saying, “…Huh. You’re right. I almost forgot I had a blog.”

Part of the reason I’ve been hesitant to bite the bullet and blog more frequently again (besides grad school busyness finally dying down and my subsequent desire to do absolutely nothing) is that I feel like I have too much I could blog about. As I both implicitly and explicitly described in my traditional end-of-semester blog post, I have learned oodles of academic lessons and life lessons alike; I could probably write a short novel about everything that swirls around my head these days.

But as I would do when getting back into physical shape, I’ll ease into blogging shape again by starting light and slow. Let’s start with a recap of Christmas break so far.

(Also, I’m running out of media storage space on WordPress, and since your girl doesn’t have the time nor the money to upgrade to WordPress Premium just for extra photo storage, we’re gonna work with collages. Not ideal, but better than nothing!)

Christmas collage

We made it to balmy Florida last Friday, feeling climate-confused (i.e. hot and cranky) carrying our heavy winter coats out of the airplane and into the humidity of Orlando. I cannot complain about the 70 degree temperatures and blue skies down here though 😀

Most of our meals have been Asian home-cooked meals made by Madre. Everything from pho to spring rolls to sticky rice with Laotian sausage to Korean galbi jjim (aka the best beef dish I ever did taste). She snuck in steak with blue cheese sauce one night too, and that was SOULFUL. I love cooking for myself in Boston, but ain’t nobody got time for steak over there.

Other things I’ve eaten include oatmeal (classic), Cheetos (childhood fave), avocado egg toast (classic), fried bananas (omg), salads (nutrition), and fried pork belly (LIVE UR LIFE).

Moves and grooves have come in the form of hula hooping, peddle boating (Ben gifted the boat to the fam for Christmas!), Just Dance, Wii Sports, and some outdoor workouts.

Side note: If you peddle boat fast enough, it’s a decent butt workout. Should I peddle boat to a spin class playlist??

We technically started Christmas Day on the dot at 12am with midnight Mass, which was gloooooorious! Ladies dressed in red, trumpets blasting (legit trumpets were used during Mass, so fun), joyful spirits, and Jesus in the manger. UGH.

I also ate an embarrassing number of my aunt’s homemade cookies to celebrate. 🙂

After sleeping in, we ate brunch and then FaceTimed many of our family members for a couple hours. I fried some bananas for the masses and did 100 burpees for time and for… fun (?) before we headed to our family friends’ house for Christmas dinner!

The top left corner photo of the collage shows just a little bit of what we ate. Everyone’s mother is such a good cook!! Options included pot roast, galbi jjim that Madre made, sweet and salty ribs, pancit malabon (Filipino noodle dish), peanut oxtail with eggplant and bok choy, asparagus, and loads of white rice as the base for all that goodness. Dessert included fried bananas, brownies, and pistachio muffins. #blessed and #stuffed.

The “kids” (read: all of us under the age of 27) watched a hilariously and nauseatingly cheesy Hallmark movie before we switched to Beauty and the Beast, to which we sang along with passion and enthusiasm.

Back at home, I prayed with the Christmas Day Gospel (John 1:1-18) and reflected on the truly incredible and beautiful mystery of Christmas. This quote from the former pope also struck me:

God’s sign is the baby in need of help and in poverty. Exactly the same sign has been given to us… God’s sign is simplicity… God’s sign is that he makes himself small for us. This is how he reigns.

He does not come with power and outward splendor. He comes as a baby — defenseless and in need of our help. He does not want to overwhelm us with his strength. He takes away or fear of his greatness. He asks for our love: so he makes himself a child. He wants nothing other from us than our love, through which we spontaneously learn to enter into his feelings, his thoughts, and his will — we learn to live with him and to practice with him that humility of renunciation that belongs to the very essence of love.

God made himself small so that we could understand him, welcome him, and love him…

Christmas has become the feast of gifts in imitation of God who has given himself to us. Let us allow our heart, our soul, and our mind to be touched by this fact!

— Pope Benedict XVI

And with that, I wish you a blessed week ahead, friends. I think I’m going to go on a walk (step counts always plummet by literally thousands when I’m home vs. at school), work out… and maybe study a bit (I know, I am cringing too, but I must retain information!).

I feel like I used so many parentheses in this post. *shrug*

So tell me:

How did you celebrate Christmas (or any other holiday during this season)?

Best thing you ate this week.

Have you ever gone peddle boating?

 

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The Most Low Key New Year’s Eve

Happy 2017!!! That’s such a weird year number, but I can’t wait to see what it brings.

Saturday started with a fun stair workout to mix things up:

10-8-6-4-2 sets of stairs with two 5# dumbbells. This circuit in between each set:

I like this one a lot! After stretching and showering, I helped Madre prepare lunch for some family friends who I hadn’t seen since I was in diapers (so basically meeting them for the first time!). I made the salmon by baking it with a marinade of garlic salt, pepper, mustard, honey, and dried dill. It was one of the best salmons I’ve ever cooked!

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Madre did most of the cooking though. She made sautéed vegetables, brown rice, Chinese sausage, pork ribs, and pasta with meat sauce (“for the kids”). As always, everything was fantastic! Madre is amazing.

We ended the meal with her fried bananas, clementines, and some mint chip ice cream that was sitting in our freezer. We defy all common food combinations.

Once our house guests departed, we headed to vigil Mass. After that, I felt a wall of exhaustion hit me — the kind where I don’t want anyone to talk to me, because it takes too much energy to respond (or at least respond without sounding really grumpy). So I napped!

Soon after I woke up, we left for our 8pm dinner reservation at Seasons 52, a restaurant I had visited once before and wanted to return to while we were in Florida. They serve up a lot of delicious seasonal dishes that are sophisticated but not intimidating, healthy enough but not obnoxiously healthy.

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We all shared a braised short rib flatbread and blistered shishito peppers to start, which were both super tasty.

For me entree I ordered the caramelized sea scallops with leek and butternut squash risotto, broccolini, and lemon butter. I LOVE scallops and these were great!

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We like to share bites of all our dishes, so I had a bite of Madre’s roasted pork tenderloin with mashed sweet potatoes, Ben’s seafood paella, and Pop’s lamb shank. All got a big thumbs up!

Our last dessert of 2016 was a trio of the famous Seasons 52 “delights” — classic desserts in mini glasses. I got the pecan pie, Madre got the chocolate peanut butter torte (this was my favorite!), and Ben got the raspberry cannoli.

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With full and happy bellies, I drove us home for the New Year’s countdown. There were fireworks going off from every direction (I think Disney was setting off a show every hour), so we didn’t even have to go anywhere to experience the celebration. Good thing, because my whole family was in bed before midnight, haha.

I spent the first hours of 2017 FaceTiming Rachel! It was cozy and fun 🙂

On the first day of 2017, I spent the whole day chillin’ at home. I…

  • Slept in. I feel like my sleep deficit is finally catching up with me.
  • Moved and grooved. I stretched (oh so sore from Saturday’s workout), tried to learn a dance on Youtube (lol), had a dance party by myself, and did Colby’s first workout of her 10 day holiday workout challenge!
  • Blogged (2016 recap here!)
  • Caught up with a couple friends
  • Listened to a great podcast
  • Caught up on other people’s blogs
  • Made breakfast for dinner

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open faced egg, Canadian bacon, and cheese sandwich + sautéed spinach

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more bread for dessert — toast with butter, honey, and cinnamon (tastes like a cinnamon roll!)

I’m off to San Antonio tomorrow for SEEK, a Catholic college students’ conference, and I’m pumped!!

I also just want to say thank you for being you. For your support this past year, your kind words, your prayers, and your existence. Much love to you ♥︎

So tell me:

How did you spend NYE and the first day of the year?

“It’s Just Food”

This is the phrase that has helped me keep a happy relationship with food in the past month or so.

When we were still in Dublin, Megan and I were talking about the different kinds of gluttony (#CatholicConvos), and what I learned from our conversation was that there are different kinds of gluttony. It’s not just eating too much; it can be eating too little, being unnecessarily picky or elitist with food, or being too preoccupied with food.

(Important: This doesn’t mean that people with eating disorders are gluttonous by choice, but there are similar behaviors involved.)

At the end of our conversation, Megan said something so simple that stuck with me:

It is just food.

Personally, this phrase helps me fight both temptations to overeat and temptations to restrict.

  • If I’m feeling greedy for food, I can tell myself, “It’s just food. It will not bring you lasting joy.”
  • If I’m feeling disappointed that something I ordered at a restaurant was less healthy than I was expecting, I can tell myself, “It’s just food. You are not a bad person because of this food. Enjoy what you’ve been given and be grateful.”

I am nowhere near perfect, of course, but reminding myself that food is just food can be very helpful in the moment.

(Also important: Food is just food, but of course this does not discredit the value of nutrition. Dietetics is a career for a reason!)

Now, let’s see how 2016 has been closing out over here!

Wednesday

I woke up wanting to do some fun moves and grooves that were different from my usual HIIT formats, so I came up with this circuit that I could do outside with the random pieces of equipment we had on hand.

4 rounds:

  • 30 double unders
  • 10 agility skaters each leg
  • 10 bar facing burpees
  • 30 stability ball crunches
  • 20 hamstring ball curls
  • 10 bench jumpovers
  • 10 decline pushups
  • 10 bulgarian split squat to press each leg
  • 3 wall walks
  • 20 double KB squats
  • 15 side plank crunch reaches each leg

This was super fun and tiring! Props to Madre for doing a great job filming 🙂

Afterwards, I showered and ate a small bowl of Greek yogurt, banana, cereal, and pb before we set off for yet another brunch! This one was big, but not as big as Monday’s. I think we would die if we did that again.

We went to Peach Valley Cafe, which is a place Ben and Madre had visited a couple times before. They wanted us to try their famous apple fritters with strawberry yogurt(!?)!

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they shake ’em up table side and then pour them out for the hungry crowd

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Ohhhhh man. These were like those freshly made, hot cider donuts at an apple orchard, except with bigger apple chunks inside and a creamy, sweet tang of strawberry yogurt on top. Unexpected but delicious combo!

For my main course, I ordered the superfood salad with salmon, but they accidentally gave me the summer salad, which I didn’t realize until I had already eaten half of it. It’s just food though.

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It was average. BUT Madre gave me basically a whole one of her blackened cod fish tacos, which were fantastic.

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Pop also shared his amazing buttery biscuit with us.

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Plus a couple of Madre’s sweet potato fries, which were definitely from frozen, but that’s okay.

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Okay, so maybe this was just as big as Monday’s brunch.

We headed to a park after brunch to walk around and admire its intense greenery.

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Next stop was Winter Park, a very posh and trendy city. In true “us” fashion though, we perused the outrageous candy store with seven billion kinds of soda and sweets that are intriguing but also make you gag.

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a disgrace to carrot cake and pb&j

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kid in a candy store 😉

We didn’t get candy, but we did get a burger from BurgerFi, which is not even an independent, trendy restaurant. It’s a chain…and there’s even one in BOSTON. Hahaha.

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Madre gets weak at the knees if anything has wagyu beef in it, so she asked if we could split it four ways… Pop: “I can’t tell if she’s kidding or not.”

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Ben: “It’s probably only 10% wagyu beef”

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it was super tasty, but oil was driiiiipping down my hand

After our burger adventures, we walked around Rollins College, which has a gorgeous campus.

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Pop: “It’s more like a resort than a college campus.”

Our next stop was East End Market, a small hipster market with lots of local produce, artisan foods, and craft beers.

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they even grow their own greens out front!

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I didn’t get anything here, but Madre got some brisket tacos, and Ben and Pop delighted in a beer flight.

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I really wanted to try their blueberry vanilla beer that they were raving about, but I’m not legal in this country yet. The one time I actually DO want to try beer…

We visited the Gaylord Palms Resort afterwards, since Madre loves it there. And finally we ended with a late but proper dinner at a local Latin restaurant. Ben and I shared the grilled chicken plate, which was a great ending to a great day.

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Thursday

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breakfast: overnight oat smoothie with oats, yogurt, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, pb, pinch of salt, frozen banana, and greens + granola

Mall day with Madre! We spent a long time at the Mall at Millennia, Marshall’s, and Costco (probably my favorite place out of the three, honestly). At the mall, we had lunch at California Pizza Kitchen.

At night, we joined the boys to watch Sing (Tori Kelly is in it hehe), which was a fun and very well done animated movie with a lot of talented voices. Definitely recommend!

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from Monday at Universal Studios 🙂

I may or may not have cried when Tori’s character, Meena, sang “Hallelujah”.

Friday

I started the day with a warmup and 16 minute workout before breakfast and a shower.

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the return of Gina’s cookie dough breakfast cereal!

Then Ben, Pop and I were off to Blue Spring State Park to see some manatees! The temperatures were frigid for Florida (read: low 60s with a breeze), which is perfect manatee spotting weather.

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tail spotted

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peep the little big guy’s snout

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these poor sea sausages are endangered 😦

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the spring really does look blue!

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We walked around and observed the gentle giants for an hour or so before I got really hungry and needed a big sandwich. I found Laspada’s on Yelp, so we drove there to get some bomb cheesesteaks.

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because why not have Northeastern cuisine in the South?

Ben got an original philly cheesesteak combo, I got the chicken cheesesteak supreme, and Pop got a grilled chicken salad.

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very hungry girl + eating a hot and fresh chicken cheesesteak = extremely satisfied

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Shoutout to all my Southern friends who are obsessed with authentic sweet tea:

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It really is better than Arizona iced tea.

When we got home, I laid in bed for a solid 20 minutes, on the verge of a nap. But then Pop asked if I wanted to walk to the driving range with him, so I agreed.

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We practiced “chipping”, which is a bit easier than “driving”(?) the ball. I might be getting okay at golf.

We are packing in the fun into the last of 2016 while it lasts! Be back soon with an end-of-the-year post 🙂

So tell me:

Thoughts on the “it’s just food” mantra?

Three things you’ve done to close out 2016!

13 States in the Past Week

It’s like I’ve traveled through colonial America.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Habari Gani, and happy holidays ALL AROUND!!! I hope you have all enjoyed your holidays and that they have been filled with good people, conversation, fun and food 🙂

Let’s catch up! As the title suggests, I’ve been hopping all over the place ever since I arrived in (1) New York from Ireland.

Monday

On Monday morning, Madre dropped me off at the train station so I could head up to Boston for a couple days! It seems petty, but I really wanted to see Rachel and all my friends at school before finals ended and everyone scattered for winter break. 

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salad that I packed in a tupperware for a midmorning snack

(P.s. the train left from (2) Connecticut, and went through (3) Rhode Island before arriving in (4) Massachusetts.)

Upon arriving in Boston, Rachel kindly picked me up at the train station. We hugged, [almost] cried, and went straight to lunch at a bucket list place. As we do. 

Al’s Cafe was a two minute walk from the station and perfect for us hungry ladies. The item to get was the large meatball sub. Since we were quite hungry, we also ordered a large steak and onion sub. 

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But guys, when they say “large”, they actually mean MAMMOTH. These sandwiches are the size of freaking baseball bats!! Two feet, more or less.

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We split them, and although we ate a decent portion of them, they still made for a good 2.5 meals. They’re super delicious and cheap to boot!

I saw as many people as possible while in Boston, and it was just delightful. I couldn’t stop smiling.

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my friend Kelsey so sweetly made a welcome home sign for me ♥︎ ♥︎ ♥︎ 

Rachel’s Christmas gift to me was also spot on.

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Tuesday 

We tackled one more bucket list place on Tuesday morning – the Thinking Cup for a cup of coffee.

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I don’t drink coffee, so this was actually my first full cup of coffee EVER. I got a cappuccino, and it was…fine.

I had to add a little sugar to make it more palatable, but I finished the whole thing, so I didn’t dislike it.

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A tasty Greek yogurt cup for my real food.

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I had a little over 24 hours with Rachel, as I had to drop her off at the airport at 1pm, but those 24 hours were worth it!

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I was pretty sleep deprived but also antsy at this point, so I took a long walk after dropping her off, which made me feel a lot better.

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Then I went to Mass at the Catholic Center, followed by dinner with Joe and girl talk with Fiona and Kelsey before I had to head back to NY.

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‘Twas a beautiful thing to reunite with some of my favorite people in Boston, even if just for a couple days. 

Wednesday

I started my day with a Popsugar cardio-kickboxing-sculpt-something-basic-girls-do workout, and then my parents and I took my great-aunt out for a Korean lunch!

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Korean short ribs might be my favorite meat ever

In the afternoon, I had to unpack and re-pack for Florida and Texas (more to come on Texas later).

That night, we picked up my brother from work in the city and rode into the sunset for (5) Maryland, our first pit stop in our road trip to Florida. We passed through (6) New Jersey, (7) Pennsylvania, and (8) Delaware.

Thursday

My cousins came to our hotel to have breakfast with us, so I moved and grooves super quickly with this < 10 minute body weight countdown workout before going to the lobby for a nice complimentary breakfast (yay for Marriott!) with the fam.

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Always fun to see these cuties (and my aunt and uncle, who are also cute 🙂 ).

Then it was time to hit the road again! We drove through (9) Virginia before arriving in (10) North Carolina for the night. 

Cracker Barrel for dinner! One of the most satisfying meals there ever was.

complimentary biscuits and cornbread (praaaaise) + lemon pepper trout with sweet carrots, steamed broccoli, and mac and cheese + apple pecan crumble pie a la mode to share for dessert

Friday

I utilized the exercise room for a 20 minute workout before breakfast. 

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plus a hard boiled egg

The last leg of our journey included (11) South Carolina and (12) Georgia before we finally reached (13) Florida! A total of 19 driving hours later…yowza.

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lunch on the road — Madre’s fantastic Asian pork and egg sandwich on Jewish rye bread (what a tasty combo, honestly)

We celebrated our arrival with dinner at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant!

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Ben and I also watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that night, which was unfortunately quite unsatisfactory compared to the book. There’s just SO MUCH HAPPENING IN THE BOOK. 

Christmas Eve

I got to sleeeeeep innnnnn (sort of, I went to bed at 2 am).

We ate breakfast, cleaned the house, exercised, and also I massaged Madre on our new portable massage table (that I requested ever since I started giving massages in Ireland)!

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We went to the Christmas vigil Mass in the evening, which was wonderful and so joyful! The Lord has come!

Then we drove to our friends’ place for Christmas Eve feasting and fellowship.

Christmas Day

I was up and at ’em early(ish), not for presents under the tree but to prepare brunch for the family. Just as exciting, in my opinion! I made Ben my sous chef 🙂

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I made square, muffin-sized quiches, and Ben helped me make cinnamon rolls, Canadian bacon, and turkey sausage.

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individual quiches = more buttery crust surface area (I used this crust recipe and this quiche recipe as a guide)

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mini frittatas with the extra egg mixture that couldn’t fit into the quiches

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in pajamas — the best way to do Christmas brunch

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used the Minimalist Baker’s recipe!

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swoooooon

Not gonna lie, Ben and I crushed the brunch game. We were all mighty happy clams all day after this meal!

Other Christmas happenings: more massages, a nap, yoga, and a visit to Disney Springs after dinner! Disney Springs is basically like Disney’s own little city with lots of shops and restaurants.

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a couple white dudes freestyle rapping — entertaining for sure haha

We walked around for a good 2+ hours, weaving in and out of the surprisingly dense crowd.

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the decorations were beautiful! (Disney only does aesthetically-pleasing everything, or else it’s not Disney.)

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Hoooooooowee. That’s a lot of catching up to digest, isn’t it? Just like how my stomach has a lot of digesting to do from brunch yesterday STILL. More on that in tomorrow’s post though!

So tell me:

Two things you did for Christmas/the holidays this weekend!

Does your family have any Christmas/holiday traditions?

Something outrageous, funny, or exciting you witnessed in the past week.

Current Mood(s)

It’s been a funky weekend.

My mood is currently a slurry of the following:

Upset, confused, uneasy, and heartbroken by the shootings (Christina Grimmie + mass shooting at Pulse) in Orlando this weekend.

I’m having a hard time just typing this blog post, because I’m watching several videos, reading tweets/statuses/articles, and just grappling with the whole situation and with the state of the world. May God be merciful to all, and may He grant rest to the souls of those who died and console their loved ones.

Friends, keep loving more deeply every day. Reflect on your purpose in this world. I don’t mean to be preachy right now, but when it comes to life and death, it’s important to ask yourself: What if my life on earth ended today? 

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Enraged, saddened, yet awe-inspired by the powerful letter the Stanford rape victim read aloud to her attacker.

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Unsure if cutting down on dairy is helping my tummy troubles. I’m currently drinking Lactaid milk (surprisingly, it’s exceptionally tasty milk) and avoiding Greek yogurt and cheese. I think I feel better with less Greek yogurt in particular (*tear*).

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the day before my mom picked up some Lactaid // carbs+pb isn’t the same without a glass o’ milk

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leftover green banana pancakes + banana cream sauce + glass o’ Lactaid (← doesn’t have the same ring to it)

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overnight oats made without Greek yogurt but with extra Lactaid milk, chia seeds, and half a scoop of vanilla protein powder — not bad!

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classic banana egg white oats (video tutorial coming soon!)

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baked banana bread oatmeal for this week’s breakfasts

I’m also unsure because I’m weak. I had a tiny bit of ice cream Saturday night with our leftover apple strudel from the farmers’ market 🙂 And I had a few cheesy jalapeño Popcorners yesterday.

I didn’t keel over or anything though, so it’s all good.

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Another likely culprit is definitely stress. I don’t notice my stress, but I think my body/mind has objectively been stressed these past few weeks.

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All that being said…

I’m ashamed and disappointed in myself. Honesty is the best policy. I feel ashamed that maybe my tummy troubles were actually coming from a few too many days of eating until I was stuffed, even if it was just a bunch of vegetables.

I have definitely not been binging by any means, but I do know that I sometimes stress eat and/or eat too quickly when I’m stressed. I was struck by the possibility that maybe my insides haven’t been cooperating because I just haven’t been too kind to them in regards to the volume I eat.

So I’ve been more aware of my stomach cues (without worrying about calories or anything), which (DUH) has been helping me feel more comfortable. I’m tempted to beat myself up about my recent eating habits, but I know that will just do me a disservice. Evaluate, learn, make the changes, and move on.

Somewhat off topic: Lunches these days have been all about eggs, which I find are easy on my stomach.

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two egg omelet with greens and onions + cherry tomatoes + avocado toast

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avocado toast with sunny egg and sriracha (among other things) for lunch on Saturday

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delicious bowl of quinoa, roasted broccoli, sautéed greens, onions, cherry tomatoes, chorizo + sunny egg + sriracha added post-pic

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Thankful that my body can move and exercise. I always try to be, but I’ve had to especially remind myself to be thankful this weekend because of some recent body image issues that I’ll talk more about tomorrow.

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Mom and I have been doing 7 minute workouts and Pilates together. So wonderful to move and groove with Madre.
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Working at a rehabilitation hospital has also done wonders for my perspective on physical ability, movement, and health.

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scene at lunch break

Saturday’s workout was a doozy! 4 rounds for time:

  • 10 burpee tuck jumps
  • 20 crazy Russian twists (10 each side, 15#)
  • 30 side jump lunges
  • 40 air squats with side leg lift
  • 50 mountain climbers

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HUSTLED on those last squats and mountain climbers when I saw that I could finish at 20 minutes

I did this yoga video yesterday, since everything was sore and my body had been craving good, organ-nourishing twists.

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Happy that I get to spend quality time with my parents on the weekends. We went out for sushi on Saturday night after Mass, followed by an evening walk.

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Mom and Pop’s sashimi for two

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cutest soy sauce dish

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my order: “Soho roll” (tuna, salmon, yellowtail, avocado, rice, roe, wrapped in soybean paper) + eel cucumber roll

Ain’t nothing like gooooooood sushi.

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Excited for friends and family in their adventures and endeavors. It’s so cool to see loved ones explore the world, learn, grow, and allow God to work through them.

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So there’s a lot happening in the head and the heart right now. A lot of it is growing pain, I think, which is encouraging and comforting. God is good, always.

I’m sorry if this post seems like a big, negative smash on your Monday, but that’s not my intent. This is just a reminder to myself and to all who read this that we need to support and uplift one another. Joy, beauty, heroism, and love exist, and it starts with you.

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So tell me:

What are your current moods?

Have you ever gone through periods of “meh” eating habits, even if you have a healthy mindset?

What are you thankful for today?

What is the best thing you did this weekend? Mass + dinner and walk with the parents ♥︎

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