Entertainment I’m loving

My pal Alex sent me a text about the show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend a couple weeks ago.  I didn’t pay too much attention to it at the time (see previous post about kind of nuts November).  Needing a break from Falalala Lifetime and all the holiday movies, I pulled it up on hulu earlier this week.

It’s Amazing.

I am almost embarrassed to admit that I think it’s so funny because I can totes see myself in some of the crazy things the lead character does.  The main character is played by Rachel Bloom who I want to be best friends with.  Her cute short hair also makes me consider cutting mine again.  There are one or two songs in each episode and they are hilarious.  Here’s one where she is trying to impress the parents of the boy she likes and knows just how to manipulate the parents into loving her.  I’ve always liked shows that break into song (Pushing Daisies and Smash to name a few).  If you’re not watching, give it a try.

It’s also Holiday movie season when so many Oscar Buzz movies are released.  I saw Spotlight this past weekend and loved it.  It’s the front runner for Best Picture right now, is what I understand from Entertainment Weekly, and I thought Mark Ruffalo was a dynamite supporting character.  He did so well.  I am late to The Martian party, finally seeing it last night.  Rex told me that the book is much more suspenseful, you felt more scared for this character who is alone on Mars and could very possibly not make it.  In the movie, you kind of always know he’s going to be fine.  I thought the movie was great, the character Matt Damon plays is fantastic.  I laughed more than I thought I would at some of the quips he dishes up.  I liked it so much more than last year’s Gravity – a similar story about someone being alone in space.  It’s hard for me to fathom that anything takes 400 days.  They were talking about that being the length of time to get back to Mars to save the astronaut left behind.  400 days.  The universe is so big.

TV, Movies and Music!  How lovely is Adele?  She is so gorgeous and so talented.  I can’t even take it.  I’ve been enjoying her and all the PR she’s doing for the new album right now.  I didn’t love Hello the first listen, but now I find myself belting it out and will probably join the bajillion others who have bought her new album “25”.

Looking forward to catching movies Trumbo, Room and Brooklyn this weekend or early next week.   I saw a preview for the new Leo D. movie The Revenant last night before The Martian.  I can’t say that I understand at all what the movie is about based on that preview, but I know it’s getting a lot of early Oscar Buzz as well.  I came across this article that explained the plot some.  I can’t say I’m excited to see this movie.

No-good November…unless you look for it

I had dinner at Gayle & James’ house last night.  Technically, I brought dinner to their house.  Gayle thought this was hysterical in a “breaking the social norms” kind of way.  They invited me over to dinner and I brought dinner.  It seemed normal to me.  Plus, I was on a pumpkin penne roll.  Gayle had a tough month.  I had a tough month.  She called it No-Good November and I agreed.

I thought about making this a good news/bad news post.  November came with some bad news:

  • Toxic co-worker did not make throwing my one day conference any easier at the beginning of the month.
  • I had extensive gum/dental work done that still has the left side of my face slightly swollen.
  • I had this other health scare.  I understand a doctor having to give you the worst case scenario.  There’s a reason it’s called a health scare.   It was scary for a few days while I waited for some test results to come back.  Turns out, it’s one of the best case scenario outcomes.  It was still a kind of terrible couple days, and then even getting the okay news felt kind of devastating at the time.
  • Both of the football teams I follow went from undefeated to losing a game this month. (The Buckeyes and the Bengals, fyi.)

The thing is, I can’t even wallow in this bad news.  Because:



In this week of Thanksgiving, I’m not waiting to do the traditional “What I’m grateful for” post.  Here’s the flip side of No-Good November:

  • I threw an awesome conference, full of executives who spoke, keynote speakers, breakout sessions and networking.
  • The night I got the not-really-bad-but-at-the-time-devastating test results I had a friend I could call while crying about my life being over (I’m just a touch over-dramatic).  I always know that when I need Claire the most she’ll be there.  Lucky me.
  • I can add guest lecturer to my resume!  A dear grad school classmate of mine invited me to come and speak to his class about personal change and resilience.  I visited Miami University for the first time, got an A-plus campus tour, and was able to visit with my friend Ron, who is one of the best men I know.
  • I pulled off a successful surprise weekend for my friend Meg.  Over a month ago her husband asked if I would consider coming in for her 30th birthday weekend and of course I would!  The visit came at the perfect time for both of us.  Bill picked me up at the airport, pretending he was going out to play golf, we came home and he called Meg downstairs and she took a moment to register what was happening and then started screaming.  I’m lucky to have friends who are so happy to see me they are still screaming while hugging me.  We had a great weekend of oyster festivals, sushi dinners, long walks, great beer and Colonial Williamsburg.  It was so great to spend time with Meg and Bill.  I’m incredibly grateful Bill asked me to come and be a part of the weekend.
  • I ended up watching a Ballroom dance competition on a random Tuesday night because my friend Jenn is awesome and said, “Hey, we should do this” and she was completely right.  I loved the spur of the moment change for this event.  It was amazing to watch up close and walk through the convention center where they had all the vendors set up.  I just wanted to play dress up in all the costumes.
  • I hosted the 2nd annual Pumpkin/Cards Against Humanity night!  I made one of my specialty dishes – Pumpkin Penne – and pumpkin cupcakes. My friends brought wine and a couple pumpkin beers and we had a lovely and very fun time.  I love them all.
  • I learned about Fat Wood fire starters.  Fantastic!
  • Thanksgiving Day is one of my favorite days and it has nothing to do with the food, although there will be some cooking happening too.  I love a morning workout (My favorite STL YMCA used to host a “work out before you pork out” session and it’s a tradition I’ve kept up), the parade while I address Christmas Cards and read all the black Friday ads.  Last year I had this terrible cold over Thanksgiving and could barely stay awake.  This year Peter is coming over for dinner and a mini How I Met Your Mother marathon.
  • Last night, as I was leaving Gayle sent me home with a “Thanksgiving Day present” which I promptly opened this morning.  It was a beautiful glass ornament.  And I’ll hang it on the tree in a few days to remind me of the new friends I made this year and how grateful I really am.

Everything is going to be okay.  It’s all about how we frame the world, yes?  I could choose to think about No-Good November, but instead I’ll think of {insert catchy, rhyming, awesome} November instead.

Going someplace it needs to go. A W30 wrap up & more.

I gave blood today.  Not just blood, but double red cells. I give blood regularly, the building I work at has a permanent donation site set up in the basement.  AND they give us half a day vacation each time we donate.  It’s a total racket.  But, a racket that gets me 3 extra vacation days a year. I’ll take it.  I would (probably) do it even without the vacation days incentive.  I have O- blood, the universal blood type.  I have a dad who had a lot of surgeries.  I have a grandfather who is still having a lot of surgeries.  It’s kind of a no-brainer to donate.  Last time I was there the nurse told me I should consider the double red donation.  It take a little longer, the recovery time is longer (I can’t donate again for 112 days, as opposed to 56 like regular blood). I don’t love needles.  I didn’t love the idea of some of the blood leaving and then coming back blood cell-less.  I kept hearing a line from Sports Night, when Jeremy is explaining why he won’t donate blood.

Jeremy: It’s this: That blood is ostensibly going someplace it needs it to go. It’s on its way to oxidize something. I have to respect that.

I had to take it easy tonight, no working out due to the more intense blood donation.  That worked out okay since I had to take off work early for a doctor’s appointment, and then had to catch up on that work here at home.

Somewhere in there I heated up the other half of the stuffed squash and had that as a late lunch early dinner.

And that’s how Whole30 is coming to a close.  It’s going out like a lamb.  It isn’t a struggle or an ordeal any longer.  (Not like that bastard Day 11.)  It’s just the way I eat.  The way I think about how food makes me feel.  I will not have the glass of wine tonight.  30 means ALL of the 30 days.

I started this for a few reasons.  I saw pictures of me in Spain and wasn’t happy with what I looked like in them.  I needed a distraction from other things going on and this provided that.  I wanted to feel as good as I could.  I have no desire to head straight back to the sugar and the processed foods.  W30 does provide a “reset” as promised.

There are more goals.  A friend who is good at numbers told me to set some mini goals to keep me focused now that this is over.  I lost 11 lbs in the last 30 days.  The goal is to lose 10 more by the end of the year.

Equally impressive to me is that I wrote about it every day.  I look forward to taking a break from daily blogging.  I intended to keep these posts more about what I ate, that they might be helpful guides to other W30’ers out there.  It didn’t really end up being that.  Best laid plans and all.

I like structure.  I like rules.  I will feel a little sad to let them go.  But, it’s time and there is someplace I need to go…What’s next?!

Best dinner ever on W3029

I didn’t make a lot of new recipes this W30 go around.  Even if I made new dishes, I didn’t use a recipe, I just put things together.  That’s what I did tonight.  I’ve seen enough versions of this dish to just throw it together and it came out so, SO well.

Dice a medium onion and cook in olive oil until soft.

Dice a medium onion and cook in olive oil until soft.

Dice up an apple and toss that in when the onions are soft.

Dice up an apple and toss that in when the onions are soft.

I had some carrots that were near the end of their lives - I cut those up and they went in along with a pound of ground pork  Along with a healthy dose of my favorite Dion's spice blend, some extra sage and nutmeg. And then because I will put shaved Brussels Sprouts in everything, I shredded about 20 of them and tossed them  in the pan.

I had some carrots that were near the end of their lives – I cut those up and they went in along with a pound of ground pork Along with a healthy dose of my favorite Dion’s spice blend, some extra sage and nutmeg. And then because I will put shaved Brussels Sprouts in everything, I shredded about 20 of them and tossed them in the pan.

While everything else is cooking in the pan I cut an acorn squash in half.  I leveled out the bottoms so they would sit flat.  I rubbed the insides with some olive oil

While everything else is cooking in the pan I cut an acorn squash in half. I leveled out the bottoms so they would sit flat. I rubbed the insides with some olive oil

Pile stuffing high into each half of the squash.  I covered each in foil before cooking for 40 minutes at 400 degrees.  Then I upped the temp to 425, removed the foil and cooked another 18 minutes.

Pile stuffing high into each half of the squash. I covered each in foil before cooking for 40 minutes at 400 degrees. Then I upped the temp to 425, removed the foil and cooked another 18 minutes.

OMG!  It was delicious.  I nearly went back to eat the other half.

OMG! It was delicious. I nearly went back to eat the other half.

When I checked on them after 40 minutes I was worried the squashes weren’t cooked all the way through.  I wondered if I should have par-baked the squash before stuffing them.  That’s why I cranked the heat up a bit and left them in a bit longer.  Then I was a little concerned that the top would be overcooked – but it all came out perfectly!

Which brings me to Day 29.  Day 29!  

Days 29-30: HolyOprahIt’sAlmostOverWhatAmIGoingToEatNow?!?!?!

It’s day 29, and you’re still rocking. The thoughts you had yesterday of throwing in the towel are gone. You cruise through the day and as you crawl into bed you have a small thought that then grows into full-blown cold-sweat panic. Holy crap. Tomorrow is day 30. The last day. What the hell are you going to do after that?! You worked so hard, fought through all the anger, the naps, the cravings to get to the awesome you’re feeling now. The rules have been your backbone, your lifeline, your excuse for being “that person” in social situations. Are you just going to give them up on day 31? No. You firmly resolve that there will be no deviation on day 31. If it ain’t broke…

It’s totally normal to feel a twinge of panic as your Whole30 comes to a close. For the past month, you’ve lived, breathed, and literally eaten the rules. You feel incredible in your new high-octane body. It’s natural to hesitate at the thought of making any changes – even if the change is a return to what was “normal” for you before. And, the truth is, you don’t have to go back to the way you used to eat. But keep in mind that the Whole30 was intended to be a reset, an introduction into the world of Good Food. I know it’s scary, but keep an open mind, okay?

I grocery shopped this morning and bought only W30 compliant food.  I don’t intend to dive back into bad habits.  Claire checked in on me this morning to see if I was thinking reintroduction plan.  I think I just want a glass of wine.

Anyway – more on post W30 plans tomorrow.  Today just know that you should make a stuffed acorn squash immediately!

Commitments you make to yourself (W30D28)

No, there was no Day 27 update.  I made it through a movie night with some friends last night.

I wore my hair in one of my new banana clips to movie night.  They are just as good as I remembered.  I did not make this face all night.

I wore my hair in one of my new banana clips to movie night. They are just as good as I remembered. I did not make this face all night. I don’t know exactly what’s happening with that. 

Rex, Peter and I made the trek up to the suburbs to hang out in our friend’s big, pretty house with a big, pretty theatre room.  Let’s just pause and consider how great a movie room would be.  We watched The Hangover because we all needed a good laugh.  I brought a can of La Croix and stayed strong against Chris’ amazing Bourbon collection.  I did smell Rex’s glass of Bourbon at one point.  Mmmmm.

This morning I did all the things I intended.  Slept in a little. Watched this week’s Grey’s Anatomy.  Got to a Zumba class.  Straightened my hair.  (I did not say it was an ambitious list of intentions.)


All done by 2pm when Shannon picked me up to take a little trip to the outlet mall about an hour outside of town.  I’m at least halfway done Christmas shopping.  I like being done early.  I don’t have enough stuff for my mom yet, and the plan was to pick her up a few things today.  I had no plans to get anything for me.  Oh, plans… I mean, when EVERYTHING at White House, Black Market is 50% off you have to consider the return on investment.

I did get a few things (for people other than me) and we had a nice time on our little afternoon away.  We were done shopping by about 6:30 and I was super hungry.  I had scoped the restaurants that were around the mall and found a Chipotle among the fast food places.  We had dinner there and then headed back.

This is where one of the final Whole30 timeline updates comes in.  28 days.  Isn’t that good enough?  NO!

Day 28: 28 is as good as 30…right?

It’s day 28. DAY 28! You’ve almost made it!  You pushed through all the rough spots, fought off the food boredom, and you’re really loving where you are right now.  You’ve had a solid breakfast, packed a delicious lunch, and planned a stellar new recipe for dinner. You’re primed to make it through day 28 without breaking a sweat. But then you get to work. Today is your department’s monthly birthday celebration, and at the mid-morning break a co-worker teases, “You’ve been so good for 28 days! Isn’t 28 as good as 30? Just have one cupcake with us to celebrate.” You brush the comment off – you’re used to them at this point – but it really gets you thinking. What have you got to lose at this point?  What benefit could two more days possibly bring you? Isn’t 28 days just as good as 30?

The answer is a loud and resounding NO. 28 days is NOT as good as 30, and we’ll tell you why: You owe yourself 30 days. You made a commitment to give yourself 30 full days of Good Food and improved habits. When you make a commitment to self-improvement, it’s a big deal! If you cop out now, you’re telling yourself that the commitments you make to yourself are open to compromise. You’re telling yourself that you are not important enough to honor your commitment to you.  But that’s not true, is it? You ARE important. You ARE worth a full commitment. Require that of yourself and celebrate with a renewed sense of integrity, not a cupcake.

I love that line about commitments that we make to ourselves.  They are just as important.  They might be the most important.  Which is why I did not get a fun coffee drink to sip on while we shopped.  Which is why I eventually got out of bed to workout.  Why I avoided all the really good bourbon last night.  Why it just seems to make good sense to keep taking good care of myself with real food.

I’m settled in front of the fire, Hallmark Holiday movies overflowing from my DVR, and all the commitments I made to me being prioritized.

The Event. (& W30D26)

Whew. The conference I’ve been planning for months was yesterday.  It is now over.  I am so relieved.  It went well.  People seemed to enjoy the speakers, the breakouts, the information and meeting new people.  Success.

I delivered one of the breakouts yesterday.  I was the last session of the day.  I don’t know if I remember what I said.  I was so tired and so fried.  Wish me luck on the survey results for that one.  I had gotten exactly 2 hours of sleep the night before the conference and sustained myself with mostly coffee yesterday.

Post conference many of us went to Bar Louie for happy hour.  The weather here was unseasonable warm and perfect yesterday and we took over the patio.  I sat with some change leads from Des Moines and Scottsdale that I don’t get to see regularly and we had a great time.

I had one colleague put a fair amount of peer pressure on me to have a drink.  It would have been easy.  He was all – 26 is practically 30 days!  No.  No it’s not.  And it would have been nice to have a drink probably.  But, again, it didn’t change anything I did.  I still joined my colleagues for an hour on the patio.  I still laughed and had fun and told stories.  I just happened to have club soda with lime.  The large group divided into three different sub groups to grab dinner at various places.  I was invited to all three, which was nice.  I accepted zero of them.  I was exhausted.

I got home and regretted not doing as much prep earlier in the week.  I wanted something easy.  I was too tired to cook.  I thought I’d heat up a sweet potato, throw some shredded pork in it and call it a day.  I was out of sweet potatoes.  I had some frittata that was probably on it’s last day of usability and I decided that was the answer.  I promptly fell asleep on the couch within 10 minutes of finishing that.  It was probably about 7:30pm.   I woke up around 10:30pm really disoriented.  Where was I?  What time was it?  Was I supposed to be doing something?  Did I get everything done?  I also had a splitting headache, which seemed unfair for not drinking anything.  I made my way upstairs to bed and fell back asleep by just after 11pm.  (Hence providing no Day 26 update yesterday.)

The secret to W30 really is prep work.  It’s not a meal plan that lends itself to convenience.  It’s not that it’s overly complicated, it just takes thoughtful preparedness.  And last night when I wanted something so easy and so fast and I was so tired, that would have been when I broke.  I’m glad I made it through.

And I feel I was rewarded handsomely for it.  Because this morning some old jeans just fit.  Like, zipped up without heroic measures.  We’re not there yet kids, but we’re making steps.

Also this morning my mostly toxic co-worker managed to rain on the parade of conference success.  Sigh.  I am someone who loves feedback.  I love to get better and do better and appreciate when someone will share a perspective that I may not have with me.  The feedback that toxic co-worker provided is not that kind of feedback.  It’s just mean wrapped in passive aggressiveness.  I listened.  I nodded.  I made sure to take a minute, discuss the feedback with a trusted colleague to make sure I wasn’t dismissing something I should be hearing just because of who the sender of the message was.

On the complete opposite spectrum of impacting my mood this morning is my friend Jenn.  After a hard couple of weeks, after carrying a lot of things over a finish line, and feeling just a little more alone than I usually do – I walked in to this on my desk this morning:

This is a Caboodle, banana clips and a pack of scrunchies.

This is a Caboodle, banana clips and a pack of scrunchies.

I feel strongly about some things from the 80’s.

  • Caboodles are just good sense.  They keep lots of stuff organized and in one place.  Why did these ever get unpopular?!
  • Scrunchies.  I have a lot of thick, curly, mostly insane hair. Regular hair rubber bands get tangled in it.  Scrunchies are a curly girl’s dream hair accessory.  Again – why did they get uncool?  Different fabrics match to your outfits!  They don’t get stuck in your hair!
  • Fanny packs.  I believe the biggest flaw in the fanny pack is it’s name.  It’s just bad marketing.  Had Fanny Packs always been called belt bags (or hands free satchels) then they would remain a wardrobe staple.  They are convenient!  They are practical!  Everytime I try to convince someone of this I’m laughed out of a room – I do not think people are thinking this through.  Yes, the neon ones are a little much, but there are other options!

We’ve talked about these things before.  This morning was an amazing surprise.  I never imagined seeing a Caboodle again in my life, let alone one stocked with banana clips and scrunchies.  It was the best Throwback Thursday of all time.  I can’t say enough how much I adore the friends I’ve made here in Columbus.  It’s just an awesome present from an awesome friend.

So there goes the last day and a half:  anticipation of how the conference would go, relief of it ending, spending time with colleagues, overcoming toxic feedback, and being downright giddy about my #tbt present.  I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more TGIF than I do this weekend.

Best of time? Worst of times? (W30D25)

Today is the first day that I wanted to rebel during a meal.  I wanted a sandwich for lunch.  I wanted something fast.  I wanted something I could bring back to my desk and eat easily while I worked.  Salads require a knife and fork to eat and that gets in the way of working.  Alas, I did not get a sandwich.  I made a salad.  I brought it back to my desk.  I ate it while I worked.  And it was fine.

I have a headache for the first time since on W30.  I’m fairly certain it’s stress induced.  Once the conference I organized is over I will be a much happier person.  Why didn’t I recruit more help for this?  Why did I take so much of it on?  Why didn’t I delegate?  We’ll never know and it’s too late now.  I just really can’t wait for 20 hours from now.

My first thought was to be kind of bummed that I can’t celebrate tomorrow being over with a drink.  It’s the habit, right?  I know a group of us is going to a bar across the street afterwards.  I know it would be so nice to have a drink and relax.  The thing is, I still will do that.  My drink will be a club soda and lime, but it’s still a drink, I’m still with my friends and I’ll still relax.  Maybe it’s good timing that this super stress-y week falls during a no booze (and no ice cream) time.

I wanted a hug today.  I’m really not a hugger so this comes as a surprise to me.  But that’s what I wanted.  I wanted someone to give me a hug, tell me tomorrow will be fine, and probably let me shed a few exhausted tears on them.  Since there is no one to hug me and tell me tomorrow will be fine, I wanted a chocolate chip cookie.  We had a board meeting at Panera after work and they make pretty okay chocolate chip cookies.  I wanted the cookie to be the hug.  Except, I didn’t really want a cookie, I wanted a hug.  (What a vicious circle.)  This is the digging deep that W30 helps with.  In the past (i.e. like a month ago) I would have fed the stress.  W30 says there is no eating your feelings, identify the emotion, get what you actually need.  There’s still no one to hug, but I have this cat:

She's furry and lets me pet her.

She’s furry and lets me pet her.

Not quite a hug, but tonight it will do.  No eating feelings.  Pet them out instead.

I didn’t get home until after 7:30.  I took a minute to make actual food for dinner.  I let myself eat before jumping back online and back to work.  Which is what I am doing now.

Comfort W30 food dinner

Comfort W30 food dinner

Just get through tomorrow, Sarah, it’s going to be fine.