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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hot in Cleveland

Every morning in Africa a Gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a Lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest Gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a Lion or a Gazelle... when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.

Don't worry, I'm not in Africa. I just love that quote. Although, I do have a few friends Ally and Marisol who are. These ladies are doing the Peace Corps and are very brave.  Check out their blogs!

But, yes. I have done it. I've moved to Cleveland, OH and started my job with City Year.

I was offered a different position which started a month sooner than I had planned on. This meant I had ten days to buy a plane ticket, pack up my life, say my goodbyes and move to Ohio. But since I was unemployed, this couldn’t have come at a better time.

I am very aware that I am not very good at the goodbye part of leaving and there are quite a few people that I did not get to say goodbye to (and I am sorry about that). But at this point in my life, nothing ever really feels permanent. I don't feel the need to end things, because nothing is ending. It's just another thing I am off to do, but KC is my home. I'll always be, back... sooner or later.

I rode the Cleveland public transportation all by myself. Anyone who has ever traveled with me knows how moronic I get having to navigate and such on my own. I am perfectly OK with people or my GPS (Veronica) telling me when and where to go. Simply, I just don't do well with times, directions, or explanations. At least not in English.

So my first day on the bus I learned that there is more than one 6th and Superior, an east and west, who knew? Not me, apparently. I got off on the wrong one and walked around for a bit. An old man tried to help me, but once he said "patriotic" and mentioned flags I was lost. The doorman at the Hyatt was no help either, just kind of looked at me. But don't worry, Google.maps saved my life. Because of all the time I had scheduled to get lost (trust me, it was an inevitable factor), I was 30 minutes early. So, by my standards it wasn't all that bad.

As a new senior corps member (my new position), I still have no idea what I'm doing, yet no one seems too concerned about that. I figure if they're not worried, I'm not going to worry about it either. They just keep saying "you'll learn that in Boston".  So let's hope my week-long training in Boston does just that.

I have also met one of my housemates (although I won't be moving in to my new apartment until late July). He is a very chill and funny guy who seems to know a lot about the city, understands my sarcasm and shares my love for David Robinson. He has picked an excellent location for our apartment AND introduced me to his friends that he's had since the age of 5. I know he probably didn't think that was a big deal, but the only friends I have from when I was 5 are my siblings. I have been to so many schools I have no idea what it would be like to have friends for that long. They all seemed so close and were very nice.

It was pretty awesome and I was only a little awkward, which was [only half] my fault. We met his friends at the Greenville Inn Bar in Chagrin, OH. Which it definitely sounded like a party from the outside, but on the inside it was…well, it was old.  Not the building or anything, but the people.

If any of you have ever seen the show 'Hot in Cleveland', please watch the pilot episode, you'll know what I'm talking about (it has Betty White and is funny), but I'm almost positive this place inspired the show. I couldn't find the link for the pilot, but in honor of the Cavaliers I found the LeBron is Le Gone. Like the show, in this particular bar whenever a woman (not needing to be so attractive) would walk in all eyes would flock to her and if she appeared to be single, she stood out. I myself began to see them as slightly more attractive then they actually were, but realized it was only by comparison. I know this sounds bad, but you know the place I'm talking about, women were not dressed for their age nor their body types. I think all women are beautiful, but you have to dress to your body! I've seen size 4 women look way less attractive than a size 16, simply because they were not dressing for their bodies. Realistically, this was just one of those bars that if you had just broken up with your boyfriend (or had just gotten a divorce) and you wanted obscene amounts of attention and free drinks, this is where you would come (as long as you didn't mind a slightly more 'mature' man).

Let me clear this up, I am by no means saying that older people can't go out and have a good time, in fact I'm all for it. Go out, blow some steam, it just caught me off guard and was something I was not used to being a part of.  Because I'm not talking a 30-old (because that is not old), but rather a 50 plus-old.

There was a live band which was neat and they played good music, but they were definitely targeting a specific audience. I was assured that this was not a typical place for my housemate and his friends to find themselves in, a fluke in communication if you will, but frankly I found the whole situation hilarious.

That night I was actively participating in my favorite sport (or at least what should be considered a sport): people watching. My favorite of the night? Oh there were so many, but I will go with the 55 year old man wearing an orange sherbet button-down tucked into his tight, black, boot leg jeans. He had the moves and hips of a 25 year old. You would have had to have been there to appreciate his side-shuffle-turns, because I certainly did.

Huddled to one spot by the bar, my housemate, his friends and I sat around talking as they were saying goodbye to a friend who was moving to Wisconsin. The loudness of the band made it slightly difficult  to talk to people, therefore, I admit it was [a little] awkward having me sit there some of the time. But his friends were so nice and they tried their best to include me in conversations (even if I didn't know what was going on exactly). My housemate was excellent at filling me in on the circle's drama and I even got to see some of it unfold (slightly). Boy loves girl, girl loves boy, boy and girl break up, boy and girl getting over a slight stage of hating each other. You know, typical stuff.

Overall, I had an awesome time and the thing I love most about new cities is meeting people. Well, that and people watching, but mostly meeting people.

I promise, once my life is a little more settled and I can wrap my mind around the fact that I live in Ohio I will update on my soon-to-be new health, nutrition and fitness routines (and uniform. Also referred to as the maniform).

Monday, June 13, 2011

911! I Think My Trainer Is Trying To Kill Me…

This is what I think to myself every time I'm working out.  Really, I do.

Just kidding... sort of.

Let's see, Mondays and Wednesdays consists of cardio/strength training (variations of planks, hill runs, Hindu push ups and more). Tuesdays/Thursdays are kickboxing.

What once would have been considered my entire workout is now my warm-up. GAH!

In two weeks, I developed a hate/hate relationship with sprawls (and it didn't take very long). Although, it seems to be getting easier, I don't see how throwing your body, touching your hip to the ground and jumping up could ever be something I enjoy.

I never would have imagined me doing jabs, hooks, the Ali shuffle, front kicks, side kicks and definitely not combos. Tuesday during kickboxing during class I didn't follow the proper technique and during a jab-hook-side kick combo, I got a little too excited and twisted my neck (this, I could imagine). The pain was something I had never felt before. There was an immediate shot through my neck down to my back and after an attempt to continue, I realized my neck was STUCK. I went to the back of the room and tried to move it, but every attempt resulted in a sharp noise piercing into my ear. I wanted to cry, not out of pain or embarrassment (well, maybe a little), but mostly out of fear.

Dear, God, what had I done to myself?

Immediately, my mind shot back to when I was 6 or 7 and reading a newspaper article on a girl who had killed herself by flipping her hair.  I know I was a weird kid. I read a lot. I also hate cats because of Toxoplasma gondii. Sue me for being impressionable.

Anyway, after 5 minutes I could move. It was hard to get back into the last 10 minutes, but if I have learned something through this whole process it's to KNOW YOUR LIMITS. Obviously, I was OK. However, it is really important to pay attention to technique. The hardest part is discerning between when to stop and when to give a little more. If you think you're going to throw up, give a little more. If you think you hurt your knee, slow down. You just never want to walk away from a workout thinking "I could have done a little more". Don't use exhaustion or difficulty as an excuse. Puuuuush.

David 'Vava' Littlewood (find him on facebook and tell him I sent you!) is my kickboxing instructor. Dude competed for the world title about a week ago. Long story short, Vava is legit. I have never sweated or done so much in one session as I did in my Thursday class (I definitely need a sweat band for this class). I left class tired and feeling great. He explained every move, provided alternatives and encouraged us.

I can literally feel myself getting stronger. My push ups are getting firmer and quicker. My hill runs are getting faster, steadier and more frequent. I even finished Wednesday strength training intervals first. Sexy Back Boot Camp is really opening me up to different exercises and pushing my idea of what is enough exercising. I am realizing  how strong I can be, and I love it.

I really love it.

Time for me to be real with you. For a while now, I  was only guessing at my weight and wasn't positive of where I stood. Well, everyone had to weigh-in before boot camp started, and I really didn't anticipate those results. I had gained back eight lbs of my weight loss. EIGHT. I weighed in at 216.4 lbs.

Surprisingly, I didn't get angry or upset. I just took it in. What can you do? Well, you can fight back. That's what you can do.
Boy do I fight.

As of now, I am back down to 211.2 CRAZY. Some of the loss is water weight, but I can feel the difference in my clothes.  That's where it counts. You shouldn't be obsessed with weighing yourself and critiquing every pound you put on or off.  Naturally (and not so naturally), your weight is going to fluctuate, so if you weigh two lbs more than yesterday, WHATEV. You have to learn to brush it off.

I feel great. I have so much energy I can hardly sleep. This is the best I have ever felt. This is what counts. I am buying exercise clothes size L instead of 2XL. I am running. I am  boxing. I am healthy.

I read a friend's facebook status "Whenever people compliment me on my weight loss I feel worse when I gain a lb." She had a 50lb weight loss and looked amazing, but felt bad about her 1lb gain. You have to get into the best mindset for this, the right motivations and most of all, be realistic. This is a journey and a lifestyle, so before, and after you reach your goal weight, there is still a life to be lived.

Do not OBSESS. 

Weight gain is possible even in the healthiest of lifestyles. If you're stressed, have a lack of sleep, are taking certain medications, are going through menopause and have certain medical conditions, you can gain weight.

We aren't perfect, so quit expecting yourself to be.

So, let's get back to running. I plan on running the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k in September. If you haven't run in a while, start off slow. The worst thing you can do is jump into this. You'll hate it and/or injure yourself and never want to run again. Try taking a brisk 5-minute warm-up walk. Then, alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Do these three times this week!

Current weight: 211.2 lbs
Workout song: Firework- Katy Perry

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Don't Stop Believin'

Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on

Journey's Don't Stop Believin' is one of my favorite songs. The beauty of the first verse is either or both people are trying to escape something, on a train to somewhere fast and far. I am not running from anything, but I am running for something. I am done with "living in the background of my own life". I am ready to take on life and see what's in store for me. This song was the theme to undergrad. Every time I hear it, I can't help but remember all the good times. So, I believe it's time to make this the theme song of my life. Only remembering good times, never giving up.

 What is  your theme song for life?

I know that this is something I've mentioned before, but it is something worth mentioning again [and again and again]. BODY IMAGE. Many of us struggle with it and if you don't, consider yourself blessed and never stray from that.

I think back on all the conversations I've had with people and how they see themselves. Two girls bringing me to tears telling me all the "diets" they have tried because they thought they were fat (and they aren't). One diet even scared me, the 2-4-6-8. I can only imagine that it's hard to restrict yourself to 200, 300, even 400 calories a day. Drastic weight loss, but only with high health risks.

I have a friend who is a beautiful 155 lbs (a size 6/8 down from a 10/12 in high school). She changed her diet and transformed. I look at her body and it is so strong and she is such a beautiful person, inside and out. Yet, she has a wish list of things she wishes she could change about herself.

I even know somebody who hasn't worn shorts in YEARS, ashamed of how her legs look.

I am horrible at this. I am constantly comparing myself. I wish I were smarter, he goes to such a great school and does so much. I wish I were prettier, she doesn't even wear make-up! I wish I were thinner, she's so toned. I wish I were faster and so on... Of course, I keep this all inside, never telling anyone or giving anyone the chance to "counsel" me on this. Well, I'm done with that.

Can I just say that I love Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Osbourne, really I am a fan! I love that they inspire women with their weight loss journey's and look SO great. But, they're also celebrities with endorsements, personal trainers, chefs and money to burn.  I am broke, between my bills and student loans, I don’t really have that kind of cash to dish. So what does an average person do??

Well, I have taken up a hobby of blogging, not just writing, but reading as well. Many of the blogs I have read deal with lap bands and such, which if that's what you need, go for it! However, I want this to be natural and am looking for something so much more than weight loss. I am looking for a lifestyle.

So this blog in particular really speaks to me.  Her starting weight was 208 and now weighs 134 lbs. She is adventurous, real and a bad ass. She runs half marathons and is awesome.

Her latest blog "Body Image and a Reality Check", is one I think everyone should read.

"Yes! A thousand times yes, she is photoshopped! She is photoshopped to within an inch of her life! No one looks like that! Even THAT MODEL doesn't look like that! Do not compare yourself to these images because you will never attain that look! You will only be disappointed when you can never live up to an impossible beauty standard! None of these women look like what you see in magazines and on the internet! It's a false reality used to make you feel bad about yourself and buy their products!"

Learning to appreciate your body for what it can do, compared to what it looks like is SO important. I will never be a super model. But man, I am a bad ass. I get through these workouts giving it my all. I will only get better and stronger. You don't start out the best, but you always get better, if you work at it.

We are such complicated things. The intricacies of how we were created and work amaze me. We must continuously love our selves. LOVE YOUR BODY. Losing weight is for your health and life extension. Don't think "if I lose weight I will get a boyfriend or I just really want a nose job" because this, my friends, will hold you back.

It takes gumption and my aunt always says "it takes one step at a time to get to the top of the stairs". As a part of boot camp, Kri, my trainer only wants to see POSITIVE facebook statuses.  I challenge you to do the same.

Make a list of all the things your body does and read this list often.

My body can:
Read (a lot)
Appreciate music
Hug my mom and dad
Praise God
Play and swim with my younger siblings
Watch Movies
Tell jokes
Make people laugh
Give a speech
Ride a camel (lol)
Do push ups!
And so much more…

I think about all the people I admire and respect. My parents, family, friends and historical heroes, and I realize that the way they look really has little affect of how I see them. So why should my appearance diminish the way I see myself??

Count your blessings, not your blemishes. I hardly ever used the fitness center at school (for free), because I was ashamed of how I looked. But now, I workout in front of some pretty fit people and the only one I am worried about is ME. This is about ME. This is about YOU. Not them. You NEED to understand that.

Think of all the time you have wasted thinking badly about yourself. All the energy you have put into criticizing yourself. What could you have done in that time? I could have run miiiles. I could have painted a few master pieces or even read a few books. A healthy lifestyle includes a positive attitude, which means a healthy and happy body image. Start with setting realistic goals. I had a friend (who has over 150 lbs to lose) say she wanted to be 120 lbs. While, that may be doable, we need to focus on our now goals. Right now I'm on the road to 180. After 180, we'll see.

So instead of being disappointed that you don't look a certain way, I want you to reframe it: The next time you find yourself saying negative things about your body because of what it looks like, I want you to see all the ways your body is amazing - think of all the things it does for you in a single day: it keeps your heart beating and keeps you alive, it gets you around from place to place, it walks, it drives, it bends, reaches, grabs, writes, sews, paints, draws, plays instruments, runs, bikes, swims, jumps -  it picks up and holds your kids & your loved ones. Your body is a truly amazing thing - a functional work of art.

The reality is, I will never look like a model. Setting a goal to look like one will only leave me disappointed. It will diminish all the work that I am doing. So, I am reframing my thought. Remember, you can't weigh your self-esteem.

Workout song: Journey, Don't Stop Believin'
 119 BPM, best for a 13:06 mile run

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day 2

Dayyyyum. Now, I have been working out for about 6 months, so honestly, I didn't think boot camp would hurt this much. But, dayyyum, I feel it in my sleep. It's not that the workouts are all that difficult but these are exercises I don't do regularly. They are working muscles in a way that I haven't. Therefore, my body is SORE and it's only the 2nd day!! At this moment, I don't even want to imagine having to sit by the end of the week, because it's taking a little will power as it is.

But if I'm honest, I have to admit…I love this feeling. This soreness is a constant reminder that I must be doing something right. Right? I guess we'll see in 6 weeks.

My day consist of waking up at 415 am.
I have a protein booster and an apple.
I get to the gym.
Run three laps around the building.
Core training.
Cool down.
Go home.
7am Breakfast. Plain oatmeal with cinnamon and bananas.
Snack. Fat Free Yogurt
Lunch. Salad (Ice berg lettuce, light feta cheese, almonds, celery, turkey, light vinaigrette).
Research and such.
530 pm. Dinner. Grilled Chicken breast, broccoli, brown rice.
Whatever else I need to do.
Get to bed by 1030 pm.

I hope that you're enjoying the new recipes tab! Check it out, I'll be adding a new recipe every week.

We all know by now that working out is only half the process. You can work your butt off, but your butt won't go anywhere if you don't eat what you're supposed to. So  I've also been thinking about metabolism. I need to find foods that will boost it and nourish me. Well, it turns out that some of my favorite foods are FOODS THAT BOOST YOUR METABOLISM. Check these out. See which ones you intake and which ones you could easily add. Making sure you get the proper nutrients and vitamins can do wonders for your weight loss/maintenance and overall health.

Almonds’ essential fatty acids help raise your body’s metabolism. These healthy nuts are loaded with lots of essential nutrients. It is the best natural fat burning food. Therefore it is used for losing weight naturally as it has good fiber content. In addition to this, more fiber content helps in proper digestion as well as increases energy level. There are also some studies that say it benefits brain development and just don’t overdo it because they’re also very high in calories.

This is a low-calorie snack, high in fiber, which your body must burn calories to break down. Apples are one of the richest sources of flavonoids (helping in the prevention of heart disease and stroke). Apples are also a good source of many vitamins - especially vitamin C. Actually, eating 100 grams of apple everyday gets you about 1,500 milligrams worth of anti-oxidant properties. Plus, since apples help you stay full for longer, you’ll eat less.

Low in fat and packed with protein, beans keep you full for long durations, and your body must burn extra calories in order to process this fiber-rich food. The harder your body has to work to digest those calories, the less of them will be absorbed. The difference between a spoonful of sugar and a spoonful of beans is startling. In fact, if you'd like to reduce your calorie "price" by 10%, add an extra 14 grams of fiber. This means that if you eat 2,000 calories per day, and add 28 grams of fiber to your meals, those calories will only "count" as 1600. Cool!

Broccoli contains a highly effective metabolism-boosting team of nutrients: calcium and vitamin C. Calcium acts as a metabolic trigger, while vitamin C helps your body absorb more calcium.  Broccoli is not only beneficial to your metabolism but it aids your nervous system, blood pressure, bone health, repairs sun damage, your immune system,  prevents cancer, prevents age-related macular and cataracts (vision) and fights against heart disease!

A little bit of cinnamon can go a long way. Add some zing to your daily cup of tea with this tasty spice to help your body metabolize sugars more effectively and maintain steadier blood sugar levels. Cinnamon can also help  lower your cholesterol.

Coffee has caffeine, which does give you a boost. Just make sure that you don’t exceed 2 or 3 cups a day, or you risk a host of side effects, including irritability and jitters.

Curry increases the amount of calories your body burns and speeds up your metabolism.  Turmeric, often the main ingredient in curry that gives it the yellow or orange color, was said by medicinal herbalists to be a strong anti-inflammatory which cleans and restores the liver. As a result of its anti-inflammatory qualities, it is also helpful in treating arthritis.

This diet super fruit lowers the insulin levels in your body that trigger your system to store fat. Plus, it is rich in fiber, and your body must burn extra calories in order to break it down.

Green Tea is the main source of epigallocatechin gallate, known better as EGCG. This healthy catechin speeds up your brain and nervous system, causing your body to burn more calories.

The capcaisin found in jalapeno causes your body to burn extra calories for hours after you ingest them, speeding up both your heart rate and metabolism.

Because your body takes a long time to break down the fat-soluble fiber in oatmeal, this healthy food lowers your body’s insulin level and speeds up your metabolism as a result. Over 40 studies show that eating oatmeal may help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. According to Quaker, all it takes is 3/4 cup of oatmeal each day to help lower cholesterol. The soluble fiber in oats helps remove LDL or "bad" cholesterol, while maintaining the good cholesterol that your body needs.

One cup of spinach has nearly 20% of the RDA of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion, prevents constipation, maintains low blood sugar, and curbs overeating. In addition to speeding up your metabolism, it’s a great source of antioxidants, magnesium, potassium, iron and vitamin C.

This protein-rich meat builds lean muscle tissue, which causes your body to burn extra calories and raises your metabolism.

The high levels of protein present in natural yogurt require a lot of energy to be processed. Plus, the pro-biotic cultures found in yogurt help regulate your digestive tract. Yogurt's got power-boosting protein and bone-building calcium. It can also help you lose weight and fend off a cold.  A cup of yogurt a day can help you recover faster after a workout.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mi Tiempo Con Don Juanito y Doña Maria

I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

As my time here in Kansas City is coming to an end, I have been thinking about how I've spent this first year after undergrad. Last September, I packed my bags and headed to the border. Together for Hope and Road Trip Project are non-profits that sent me and a few others to the border. I found myself in Eagle Pass, TX, a small town of 22,000 people, where, coincidently my parents were both born and raised.

I had spent many a summer break in that town. However, just like college, discovering something on your own, without the crutch of my parents and family, is different. Not that you could describe Eagle Pass as "exciting" or anything. There was a "dance club" in the town, that just so happened to double as a bistro/restaurant during the day (and often during the night). As a border town, there was a lot of gossip of drug lords and los Zetas cartel (neither of which I encountered).

I met and worked with, what should have been high-ranking politicians, including the sketch commissioner (recently divorced), FEMA officials, HOPE K board members, and the Mexican Consulate. I say what should have been, only because in a town like Eagle Pass, county commissioner just didn't seem so prestigious to me. EP ran on its own time and in its own way. Days were long and the first few days felt like weeks.

There is a story that always comes back to me when I think of the Texas valley. This happened when I was making my way to Orlando, FL for my best friend's wedding.

I boarded a white 15 passenger dodge van. It was old, rickety and hol[e]y.

I had to ride this old, rickety van to San Antonio. In a regular car it takes 2.5 hours to get to San Antonio from my small little town of Eagle Pass, however, my trip took a total of four hours.

It smelled like gas (awesome), had holes (on the exterior and interior), and I'm certain was going to end up abandoned on the side of the highway one day (or the central object of a horror film).

I was the youngest of the 10 passengers, so I offered to sit in the awkward middle back seat that required me to climb over the other seats to get to. I went to put on my seat belt, and it broke. Literally, it fell off the top connector unto my lap. Safety first (I know).

At the border checkpoint, everyone got through smoothly, except me (of course). I was asked a zillion questions, and my face was studied intently. "Why are you here? What business do you have? You're from Missouri?? Why do you live in Eagle Pass if you have a Missouri ID?" Damn that Missouri ID.

After that the older gentleman sitting next to me attempted a conversation. His accent was thick and muffled by his salt and pepper mustache that looked like a fury caterpillar on his upper lip (making his Spanish difficult for me to hear). He gave up after four or five of my lo sientos (I'm sorry).

I took a quick 30 minute nap and woke up for the rest stop in Batesville. Where is Batesville, you ask? I have no idea. I had never heard of it nor do I remember driving through it any other time. Actually, I only knew we were in Batesville was because of the sign "The Batesville Restaurant and Gas Station". It was the ONLY building on that road for 30 minutes.

There was an elderly man and woman sitting in front of me who I found very interesting. It was so fascinating how they somehow managed to argue the entire way. They argued about a television show, the color of their living room, their car, his shirt, the mayor, what they wanted for dinner, if diet soda was really better than regular--they argued about it all. She kept calling him a "burro" and when it got quiet; he turned to me and said "I don't know why I keep her around. She's just so rude to me." I giggled and then she said "because...el me quiere" (he loves me). "Oh, I forgot" he said. They smiled and were calm the final minutes of the ride.

They ended up getting off at the airport with me. They were arguing about him not letting her help with the luggage (he has a bad back you know). Well, after security and everything they ended up at a gate next to mine. They were headed home to California, where they were originally from, to see family. Since I had helped them translating and with the computer stuff they asked me if I'd like to sit with them and make sure they got on the right plane. Doña Maria had never flown, was nervous, and Don Juanito had flown only once before.  They had finally given in to the fact that they were too old to make the trip by car, and his daughter said "Papi, you are going to fly, that's it" and apparently she meant it.

While we were waiting, I asked them how long they had been married. They laughed and looked at each other then they looked at me. I wasn't sure why they laughed and was a little embarrassed that maybe I asked the question wrong. My Spanish, although improved was still rough. She said "'s a story but we're not married. We've been living and traveling together for over 20 years, but we're not together, at least not like that."

They noticed my puzzled look and proceeded to tell me their story.

Juanito y Maria had met when they were 14/or 15 and in high school. He had asked her out to have a coke, but she apologized and told him she wasn't allowed to date. Don said Doña isn't much of a rule breaker. Instead he asked her parents if it would be alright if they could be friends. Maria was the smartest girl in school and she had an opinion on everything, which most girls didn't. Juanito loved that they disagreed on everything and that she pretended to hate him. Juanito was sarcastic and that annoyed Doña. Don promised her father it would never be anything more than friendship and that he would be a man of his word. That didn't mean much to Don Oscar who never really liked Juanito much, regardless. Don Oscar warmed up to the idea only after Juanito started dating the neighbor girl and after a year, Juanita and Maria had become the best of friends.

Neither of them could imagine it any other way.

Throughout high school and college, Juanito was quite the ladies man and Maria had a few boyfriends here and there but never anything serious. They went to school together to become teachers. In their final year they both started dating seriously respectively a Carlos y Irene.

Doña was married at 22, soon after graduation and Juanito stopped talking to her for a while because he despised everything about Carlos. In fact, after the wedding they didn't speak until she had miscarried her first child a few years later. Juanito was at her house the very same night he heard the news. He knew that she was in pain. He said "I knew she was going to need me to be there for her and she knew I was always going to be."

Juanito said Carlos "was pompous and treated her like, like a child. It's not that he didn't respect her; he just didn't appreciate her mind and preferred her not to work. I never understood that or what she saw in him. She's quite a beauty. Guys should have been fighting over her, not her settling por ellll (for him)." Maria understood Juanito disliking him, but never really understood him being angry with her over it.

Doña said her husband was a handsome, well-to-do man, and she said "I really did love him". She thought with time they would be in love with each other. He adored her and offered all the security a respectable woman would want. The fact that she had trouble having children started to weigh on her and she tried as hard as she could to make him happy. She thought having their son would solve the marital problems they were having.

She said, "Well I guess I was wrong because in the end he still cheated on me with a pretty young girl and left me, solita". I moved home with my parents, but after a year I couldn't take it anymore. So I moved to New York, where Juanito lived.

Juanito, married at 33. He finally found a pretty, young girl that was the best at just making him laugh. He tried hard to be serious, but around Irene, he couldn't be. They were happy, had a daughter and everything was going so well. Irene got cancer and died and Juanito was left to raise a teenage daughter, Olivia.

Don y Doña leaned on each other. They had been blessed in the midst of chaos. They knew they would never be alone. After their kids had grown-up and moved away, they were alone (together). They've spent this phase of their lives travelling and enjoying all the God had intended. They lived all over the US and had settled in little ol’ EP about 5 years ago.

And that was it. They said good-bye, boarded their plane and left, California bound. If I ever return to EP, I would love to look them up, but I don’t even know their last names.

The loves they had had didn't last, but in a way they still found a type of true love. This assures me that men and women can be friends, close ones at that. Yes, perhaps this could be an exception to that 'When Harry Met Sally" rule, but I believe in it nonetheless.

I always wished I had taken a picture of Don y Doña, but it doesn't really matter. I know that I'll never forget them.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sooner Than Later (Drake cover) - Jenny Suk

I'm such a fan of covers. I love hearing people interpret songs. Plus the video is pretty cool!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Got Kefir?

Hello, old friends.

When I started my journey, I promised that I would be honest with you. I'm not on the Biggest Loser, so I'm not going to drop mucho pounds every week, but gaining weight wasn't something I had thought of as a potential issue. Nevertheless, it's all an excuse. I just need to be better, more focused.

In talking to my friend, I realized that being honest with ourselves is one of the hardest things. I can basically convince myself of anything. I can conveniently forget something, if I try hard enough. I have tried to avoid my weight gain, play it off even. This is me, forcing Selina to be honest with herself. Truth is, I felt guilt. From what, you ask? Well let me take this back...

A few months ago my little sister was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. This is a digestive disorder that can make eating a painful experience. At the beginning, the doctors tried to explain to us what it would feel like, and basically it came down to  "it's something you may never understand". So, during what they call "flare ups", she gets this pain in her abdomen that she will just have to learn to deal with. What's worse is there is no list of DEFINITELY eat or DEFINITELY avoid this kind of food.  Unfortunately, it's just a game of Russian roulette---basically, keep going until you find the one that stops you.

When we first got to the hospital, my parents said the pictures of her colon were unimaginable. I had never seen them so disheartened. The doctors said that at first, the hardest part would be the healing process and to try and help, they would put her on steroids. The ironic thing about the steroids is that though it was intended to help, steroids changed a lot for her. It altered her in several ways, but mostly it made her hungry. Half the time, when she ate, she didn't even realize she was eating.

Doctor's orders were for her to be on a very restrictive diet. She was unable to eat any fresh fruits or vegetables, forced to avoid salads, whole grains and any type of fibrous food. You know, all the things that I had been trying to get my family to eat.  Her favorite food in the world, the tomato, was no longer an option on her menu.

At the time, I was at the peak of my dieting and stuck with my own food for a while, but eventually my guilt kicked in.

How could I  eat the foods she loved around her, tempting her?? This diet was new for her, and she constantly forgot "I'm not supposed to have that" which meant pain later.

So I needed to reevaluate. At least while she was healing, I needed to rethink about what we ate and kept in the house. With a family this size, (8-9 people) you can't cook whole grain pasta and fresh spaghetti sauce for everyone and open up a can of chicken noodle for her. That would have made this harder for her.

My sister is a 5'0, petite girl. She has a small frame and is very conscious about herself. So this meant that if there was any change to her body, she would notice.

As all our vegetables and whole grains slowly left the house, she and I both noticed ourselves gaining weight, slightly obsessing the amount of times that we weighed ourselves. What was once my weekly ritual had become my two-to-three-times-a-day ritual. VERY UNHEALTHY. I would weigh myself 10 minutes after every meal. In fact, (and probably even luckily) my scale's battery died, and I haven't been able to convince myself that it is worth the money to replace. It has been weeks since I've weighed myself, and I think that was something I needed.

With her new diagnosis, even physical activity was limited. She had a try at soccer, but needed to take a step back not to hurt herself. She no longer could go to the gym with me and there went my workout buddy.

Besides a diet and restriction on every type of food she loves, she needs to limit the amount of stress in her life. She has been struggling to maintain grades and assignments, with all her doctor visits, hospital stays and discomfort. She gets sick and gets stressed, making herself sicker. She needs to do work and gets stressed, making herself sick again. A vicious cycle it is.

I was frustrated and confused, but I never gave up hope. An old friend of my mother's came by for a random visit. She said "why didn't you tell me Lexie was struggling with this?? My daughter was diagnosed with Krohn's disease!" It was finally some light. Krohn's disease is a more severe version of ulcerative colitis, affecting the entire digestive system. Her daughter had struggled so much, spending months in the hospital and taking many medications, eventually needing a catheter just to make it through.

She opened us up to the world of Kefir and Kombucha. Kefir is a probiotic that is made from milk (similar to yogurt). You put these grains into lactose, and it grows. You strain it and then you drink it. When you're first learning how to make it, it's not so tasty. But she said it changed their lives. Kombucha tea is a cultured tea that is so easy to make and when done right is DELISH!

I have spent weeks trying to perfect the processes, slowly demonstrating to everyone how to make it and what to use them for. I make a daily smoothie (it's a milk substitute!) instead of a protein shake. Plus, the tea is so good!!

It's still a little early in the game to see if this is working, but we have been able to introduce some produce and whole grains into our lives. Which has given me the go ahead to get back on track. I have so much more energy with these drinks. My mom no longer suffers from low blood sugar (when she misses a few days, it comes back) and my dad doesn't feel heart burn and overall, just looks healthier.

Who knows, maybe these are just placebos and God gave us what we were asking for. Even so, I don't care. My healthy lifestyle is back.

For recipes and tips, and to hear about a woman who has dedicated her life to cultured food check out

If you are interested in getting cultures for kefir or kombucha just let me know, and I will set you up!

To make up for my lack of physical activity I have enrolled in the Urban Hitt Fitt's KC180Fitness, with trainer Kri Chay.  Kri is a personal trainer and a graduate of the University of Iowa. He conducts high intensity interval training kickboxing fitness for rapid weight loss. Kri has set up a program based on nutrition, education and fitness. He is an Under Armour Combine360 Certified Trainer, one of a few in the entire state of Missouri.

I have agreed to give Kri six weeks of dedication and trust to whip me into shape, in time for my move to Cleveland. I will update you guys on my progress, but with the testimonials that I've heard I know that I'm in good hands.

The introductory price is $80+. If you are interested you can find him on or you can ask to join the Urban Hitt Fitt group

Although, it has a few temporary glitches at the moment his website is usually up and running at

I know that my weight gain is a setback, but it won't hold me back. This is life and this is how it goes. I can't win them all, but I will win this. I want to get to a point in my life where I am just so proud of myself. With who I am and everything about me. My body and weight are a part of that. I believe in myself and I know that you all believe in me too. I  wish I could express to each of you how much you push me not to give up and to keep going. I am so appreciative of you all and the love and interest that you have shown me.

 I think I realize more and more, this isn't just about me. It's about saving my life, my family's lives and inspiring all those who struggle with body image, confidence and weight that if I can do this, anyone can.

Current weight: 212 lbs
Workout Song: Keri Hilson, Pretty Girl Rock (Yes, I did.)