bronchitis, sweet potatoes, buffalo sauce, and feeling like an idiot.

I know it’s been a bit since I’ve last blogged about my food endeavors. Let’s skip the part where you lecture me on the responsibilities associated with food blogging, mmk? Anyway, let’s get down to it.

The Satan of the health gods decided it’d be fun to bless me with bronchitis, and upper respiratory infection and “sinusitis” this week, so don’t expect me to talk about working out because I can hardly string a full sentence together without gagging, let alone get my heart rate up (feel free to make jokes about my sex life at any time). The sinus/upper respiratory half of my infection left with me with little to no appetite (a sure sign I’m close to being on my death bed), so healthy recipes went out the door and were eagerly replaced with the only thing that sounded friendly to my stomach – mom’s homemade macaroni and cheese. No, I’m not sharing the recipe. Not because I don’t want you to have it, but to discuss its cream-based cheese sauce makes my stomach double over in a macaroni-induced craving.

Now that I’m feeling a little better – and by that, I mean that I only have the most obvious sign of sickness, the gagging, weezing, burning cough that makes me a red flag for any and all hypochondriacs – I can get back to eating better. What did I try? Well, at the recommendation and inspiration of some glorious women I know, I tried sweet potato fries.

Here’s where the feeling like an idiot part comes in. I was unaware that yams and sweet potatoes are used for virtually the same cooking purposes, but are technically different things. For weeks, I’ve been scanning my produce section at the grocery looking for sweet potatoes to try in recipes at home. All I found were regular potatoes and yams. Fucking yams. Week after fucking week. Finally, I asked this guy at Kroger today, determined to find my damn sweet potatoes. He points at the yams with a look that could only be more insulting had he not had a giant wart on his lip (yes, seriously), and says to me, “You mean yams? You know they’re the same thing, right?” No, asshole. No. I didn’t know. So I put the damn yams in a plastic bag and made my way to self checkout. Incase you’re as [apparently] dumb as I am and you need photo documentation, I have provided one for you here.

So, what the hell do you do with them? Well, I should tell you that they’re a bitch to cut. Literally, nothing like cutting a normal potato. But, I encourage you to power through because the end result is worth it. All I did was cut one up, toss it in some salt, pepper, garlic salt and olive oil, and bake them for about 30 minutes – 15 minutes on each side. Honestly, they’re phenomenal. And no one cares that they aren’t cut to perfection. In fact, my entire blog is proof that you can cook without fancy ingredients, awesome serving dishes and obscure foods that no one has ever heard of, let alone can find in a basic grocery store. Here are my deformed, yet delicious, sweet potato fries!

See, now look. Some are burnt, some are crooked, some have skin, some don’t. They’re all still brilliantly delicious in their own perfect little way. I’m essentially running the short bus for sweet potato fries, really. What did I eat with it? Get excited… a grilled buffalo chicken salad. CHECK. IT. OUT.

How did I make this fantastic piece of salad paradise? Well, if you don’t know how to concoct a salad, then I can’t help you. But as far as the grilled chicken is concerned – I just cut up boneless skinless chicken breast, similar to how I did for my chicken stir fry recipe somewhere in this blog, and cooked it in some olive oil in a pan. Toss it with some Frank’s Buffalo Sauce (LOVE OF MY LIFE, fo realz) dump it on top of all your favorite salad ingredients. Yes, I added a little ranch dressing, so kill me. But the two dishes made a perfectly acceptable dinner, and didn’t take long at all.

While I’m at it, here are some random food, and non-food related thoughts:

I really need to stop eating ranch dressing. It’s the redneck cousin of salad dressing, not to mention it’s completely fattening and the idea of its ingredients disgust me. Peppercorn ranch is especially delicious.

I feel so dumb this week. I went to bar trivia and realized that I am NOT the possessor of useless knowledge, and the great yam and sweet potato debate of 2k11 has me feeling more moronic than ever. I don’t know what it is, but this week seems to be a repetitive sequence of events existing simply to prove to me that my college degree doesn’t mean shit.

I will never stop loving pasta and all things cream-based. It just won’t ever happen.

I need to stop eating for pleasure, and start eating for functionality. I love food. Too much.

Alright, that’s all. I’ll do better next time, I promise. Happy Friday Eve!

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week 2: tracking, SAD and weekend recovery.

Suffice it to say, this week has started out less than stellar. I had an excellent weekend away at my old college town, reliving the college experience and quickly learning that I am not in college anymore (my body protested after some serious binging). My eating choices were less than stellar; however, I could have done a lot worse, honestly. The worst thing I ate was a drunk helping of chili cheese fries – the rest of my meals were filled with deli sandwiches and organic local food. But, this week has started off with quite the bing-bang-fuck-you as far as my own personal life is concerned, which leaves me feeling pretty shitty, and in no mood to come up with creative recipes to try during week two of my food experiment.

I”m left with a pretty boring lunch today – green beans, salad and tuna from a can. Not exactly the mouth-watering chicken taco chili I was savoring last week, and definitely not worthy of any photo documentation. I’ve laid out chicken and cut up some peppers tonight, so I’m going to experiment when I get home, lest I fall asleep in front of the tv and forget to eat dinner (sounds good right about now). I’m also training someone new at work – which is great as far as office productivity is concerned, but staying busy all day leaves little time for snacking. My personal dilemmas are also not leaving me with much of an appetite… basically, I’m just a whiny bitch this week, and my eating experiment is suffering as a result.

I did do some evaluation after last week’s first round and decided that I’m going back to tracking on Weight Watchers. I continue to pay for an online membership and I’m not utilizing it like I should be (online is super inexpensive too – if you think you can hold yourself accountable, I highly recommend it). I felt like I was eating too much, and I think tracking my foods – however healthy they may be, is going to be the ticket to losing weight. So far, I have tracked everything from yesterday and today (we’re pretending chili cheese fries night did not happen, obviously), and it’s been helpful. I am, however, completely bummed to learn that my no-whip, no-fat venti mocha from Starbucks is far too many points for one to be consuming just for some morning bliss and energy. I’ll stick to my black coffee and fruit from now on.

Anyway, I’m totally fighting an inner battle with this Ohio weather lately. It’s not anywhere in my intentions (or my best interest) to be so gloomy about the gloom, but I can feel myself in a funk because of it and I can’t snap out of it. Seasonal affective disorder at its finest, I know. It makes all the low points seem even lower, and all the high points are stifled by the clouds. There is some subconscious process my mind goes through in the winter – I’m less spirited, less enthused about normal happenings, and definitely less impressed with anything life has to offer me while it’s anything below 65 degrees outside. Coupled with life’s curve balls that are obviously spontaneous and unpredictable in and of itself, it makes for a pretty shitty funk that we SAD kids find ourselves stuck in until Spring makes its official debut. The spontaneous weeks of warm weather are wildly unexpected and definitely pretty fantastic, but it makes the cold slumps that seem inevitable in Ohio so much more miserable.

Clearly, all I’m doing is complaining today. My trainer is going to be mildly miffed today when he learns I haven’t eaten worth a damn, nor do I possess any energy to max out my PT session. Oh, and I also have a 2 mile run this weekend and I probably can’t even jog two miles. Crazy to imagine, given that I completed a half marathon last month.

Seriously, sunshine. Please come and stay forever. I should probably just move.

weight loss stigmas, adjustments and keeping it real.

Dieting sucks sometimes. I really hate the term “diet” too, mainly because what I’m doing is in no way, shape or form even close to a “diet.” I’m simply changing the way I’m eating – but even that can be seriously lame on occasion. For instance, this morning is really one of those days when I would rather had my Starbucks mocha and that deliciously tempting breakfast sandwich from Panera (I mean, who doesn’t like bacon, egg and cheese on an asiago bagel? Seriously), but instead I opted for steel cut oats and…. water. Boring. It’s just not doing it for me today.

Here have been some of my most difficult adjustments this week – there aren’t many, but they’re enough to irritate me.

  • Steel cut oats. I love them, I really do. But they’re not the same as my prepackaged packets of sugary processed oats that I’m used to. I seasoned these up with cinnamon and nutmeg, and it’s still just tasting a little too bland for my palette. Next week, I’ll probably add raisins, walnuts or fruit. Or just quit eating oatmeal.
  • Planning. I’ve always been a planner, but I’ve never been organized. This combination is both irritating and dysfunctional, to say the least. Having healthy meals planned and available with easy access is a task, and getting yourself even one meal behind can be daunting to anyone trying to lose weight or get healthy. If you planned to make grilled chicken, but forgot to set the chicken out to defrost that morning, now what do you do? Most of us get annoyed and end up ordering a pizza, picking up fastfood or eating a bunch of unhealthy snacks for dinner instead. This is, and will continue to be, my biggest struggle.
  • Saving money. Um, hello, that’s not supposed to be a HARD adjustment to make, right? Yeah, I know. But trust me – I’m about as good at blowing money as Lindsay Lohan is at doing blow. So imagine my surprise when I look at my account today and noticed that I actually have more money in my account than just my direct deposit on payday. It’s beautiful – and it’s tough to keep it in there and not blow it on celebratory drinks or clothes. What am I celebrating? I don’t know, but I can always find something.
  • Staying motivated. Keeping your eye on the prize is, by far, the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do on the get-fit journey. It’s so easy to lose motivation, to forget why you started, to give up after one setback, etc. I’m finding little ways to stay motivated – and to be quite honest, this blog is a large part of that. I’ve had a lot of friends and family comment or hit me on up Facebook saying they’re really enjoying reading about my little food experiment, and words can’t express how much I appreciate everyone’s support. As a result, I feel like I have a duty to uphold, and it’s keeping me going.

I feel like people like seeing blogs and weight loss information from people they know and can relate to. Not that I’m all that relatable (I mean, really), but I feel like it’s comforting to discover that someone you know is struggling with health, weight loss, working out, food, or anything of the sort. Even though half the English speaking population is concerned with their health, it makes us not feel so alone to know there are people within six degrees of separation who are on the same train as you.

I feel like there is such a stigma associated with losing weight. I know so many women, including myself at one point, who don’t talk about their weight loss struggles. Why? I don’t know. It’s almost as if by saying we’re trying to lose weight, we’re admitting that we’re “fat” and we’re all suddenly the girls at the lunch table who eat their feelings. So instead, we hide it, struggle with it, and probably lose a lot of opportunities to find support and ideas through friends and family. Here’s the newsflash, people: College happens. Life happens. Chipotle happens. And more often than not, there will be a period of time when you put your health and physical appearance on the back-burner in exchange for your career, a baby, your social life or just your own laziness. It’s not BAD… it’s life. Stop hiding it, and start sharing your stories. I’ve had a lot of friends come through the cracks out of nowhere and express similar struggles and how much they enjoy reading my blog. I’m not some martyr for weight loss or something, I’m just surprised by how many people are trying to lose weight.

The same goes for men. Men are supposed to be perfect physical specimens (or at least they like to think so), so any extra fat or pounds they want to shed is easily written off as too feminine. Well guys, here’s your newsflash: that’s stupid. Sometimes it’s not all about bulking up. Sometimes, it’s about losing some weight, and the only thing more manly than a bachelor pad on gameday is a guy who willingly and proudly takes control of his health.

Alright. I’m out. I’m heading to my old college town this weekend for lots of fun and festivities… I’m sure to come back about 10 pounds heavier and with a dead liver. I’m not holding myself to any standards this weekend, but I think this week is enough to make me second guess some choices I make when it comes to (drunk) eating. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

day 3 and 4: favorite alternatives

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Alright, I’m combining two days into one post here, mainly because I was too busy watching the Glee cast make Justin Bieber sound totally awesome. Yes, I actually do have a pretty respectable taste in music (minus my love for the Bieb) but something about watching them all wear hoodies and sport the official Bieber haircut made my dead-inside-heart go “baaaaby, baaaby, baaaby ooooooo.” Ok, moving on.

I feel really great – proof that fueling your body with the right stuff will actually make you have more energy, feel more active and not be so lethargic throughout the day. Wanna know a secret? I haven’t even had coffee all week. I know, right? I’m usually scratching at the Starbucks display counter if I haven’t had my normal daily dose, but I’m feeling better than ever.  I’ve also been hitting the gym every day this week so far (I know I sound dedicated, but it’s only Wednesday). My trainer has told me, and I’ve heard it before – losing weight is about eating right, maintaining weight is about exercise. I know people lose weight without working out all the time, but that’s totally not for me. I love sweating at the gym, feeling the burn and knowing that I’ve burned X amount of calories instead of just watching Full House reruns.

So, what have I been eating? Nothing too out of the ordinary, but here are some of my favorites.

 If you’re totally one of those fast food breakfast kind of eaters, then I highly recommend trying this. What is it? Nothing big.

– Arnolds sandwich thin, toasted
– 2 sliced turkey bacon
– 1 egg, scrambled and cooked in a skillet
– 2 tbsp 2% shredded cheddar cheese

Seriously, it’s yummy. It gives me the illusion of eating a big “not good for me” breakfast, when in reality it’s packed with protein to start out my day. I know what you’re thinking – who has time in the morning to do that? Well, take it from the girl who has gotten the get-ready-for-work act down to a science, you do. If you ever spend an extra 10 minutes waiting at the drive-thru for your McDonald’s breakfast, go out of your way to the nearest Starbucks, or hit the snooze one more time, then you have time. It’s totally worth it, too. You get up an extra 10 minutes early, you give up the fast food breakfast. Lose weight, save money. I know, I’m an asshole for even suggesting something so realistic.

I’m not a vegetable fan. I love some veggies – asparagus, green beans, carrots, and… well, that’s about it. So getting my normal fruits and veggies servings each day is always a task, and I tend to fulfill it by shoving sugary fruits down my throat (who knew you could actually have too much of a good thing?). Anyway, what a better way to make your vegetables more tasty AND fun than ants on a log? Yes, I’m talking about the childish snack time pal you and your friends enjoyed after school, in your lunch box and between games of Capture the Flag (Ok, that’s what we played as kids. I’m pretty sure kids now only play video games and tweet). Not only does the peanut butter add protein to your diet, it also adds some taste to otherwise dull and boring raw veggies, without going all cream-based on you like my fat-kid favorite, ranch dressing. Side note: God, I miss ranch.

And, my personal favorite this far: Chicken Taco Chili, brought to you by the fabulous mind behind the recipes at www.skinnytaste.com, a website that I like to consider the Bible of healthy and delicious recipes. I won’t list the recipe here, because I really think you should go explore the site yourself, but basically it’s just lots of veggies and seasoning with shredded chicken, cooked in a crockpot for 6 hours while you’re off doing better things like racking up the cash and getting your fitness on.

  Here’s my secret: I avoided any recipe that had any real legwork in it, mainly because I didn’t think of myself as a talented enough chef (or competent enough human being) to learn the art of roasting, grilling, shredding, or anything that doesn’t involve boiling a pot of water for the Kraft macaroni and cheese. So the “shredded chicken” part of this is something I dreaded…that is, until I did it. I pulled three full chicken breasts from the crock pot after 6 hours, and this is essentially what happened. It’s so tender, it literally just falls apart. Long story short? Don’t fear the shred. Embrace it.

The final product is seriously wonderful. I consider it to be my low-fat version of Chipotle, because I eat it with brown rice and a little shredded cheese on top. The recipe also calls for onions, which I did not use. Note: You’ll soon learn that I won’t eat, or go near an onion unless it’s super thin and deep fried. Anyway, here’s the final presentation, in the crockpot and ready for face-stuffing. The best part is that it makes a ton and easily freezes, so you’re set on meals for at least a week. I have one container in the freezer, and I brought another container to work for leftover lunches all week. Yay!

Alright, that’s all you’re going to get from me. Hopefully, I can come up with some more entertaining recipes. My goal for tonight is to cut up some peppers I bought and make an attempt at cooking/eating them… a first in my house, trust me. Side note: this whole cooking thing means I’m finally getting some use out of the kitchen I so love to look at, but rarely use. Yay 🙂

day 2: too much, routine and the menu breakdown.

Well.. it’s day 2. To be honest, it feel more like day 1, since yesterday was just a giant cluster of planning, cooking and awkward eating times. I planned out my entire eating schedule and menu today, which I know seems a bit tedious and meticulous, but it’s so vital for me. If I don’t have food to snack on within an arm’s (or refrigerator’s) reach, then I end up munching on any and everything I shouldn’t be eating.

I managed to avoid a majority of the delicious temptations from last night; however, the Doritos got the best of me. I ate a few.. then a handful… then I had the bowl in my lap (ask anyone there, it was so fat-kid-esque of me). Regardless, I ate my leftover stir fry instead of the pizza, and only drank one beer.

I feel great about my day so far… there’s something about routine that comes really natural to me, and I thrive off of it. As long as I’m not faced with any curve balls, I can easily stay on the right track. I know what you’re thinking… but life DOES throw curve balls, idiot. You can’t live in a box. I know. Shutup. But, I can live in a box for the first few days of this, or at least until I get the basic gist of it under my belt.

So, what’s on my menu today? Here we go:

Breakfast:
1/4 c steel coat oats, mixed with cinnamon and nutmeg
– green monster smoothie with spinach, banana, raspberries, blueberries, grape juice

Snack:
– 1 Thomas whole wheat mini bagel, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1/2 banana

Lunch:
– leftover stir fry with brown rice, chicken, asparagus, red potatoes, pineapple, carrots and garlic

Snack:
– carrots and celery with 1 tbsp peanut butter and raisins

Dinner is up in the air – I might have dinner plans with friends for the beloved Single’s Awareness Day, which I already pre-warned my trainer about. The stipulation is obviously no eating out, but he said I could make an exception for today – probably because he feels sorry for my fat single ass, I’m sure.  Anyway, I have no pictures, and nothing really all that exciting to tell you about today. I’m not tracking on Weight Watchers right now, so essentially this is my online food journal. Pretty sure I’m publicly broadcasting all my fat kid worries… who does that, seriously.

day 1: shopping, planning and battle of the day.

So, I did it. I actually started something on the day I said I’d do it. It was hard this morning – waking up to a house full of delicious bad-f0r-me things that needed to be pitched in order to make room for vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean meat. And trust me… when I was done pitching, my fridge was completely empty (minus the beer, of course). Here’s a before and after picture of my fridge, incase you cared (and I know you do):

There ya go – stocked full of the best of the best. I seriously had to mentally prepare myself for all of this food – mainly because I’m not used to cooking things with more than 2-3 ingredients. I was completely overwhelmed with all my options – chicken sautéed with peppers, vegetable stir fry, chicken chili – it all seemed endless. My trainer told me that more difficult than eating right would be planning for it, and he was right. I wanted to dive in head first and start cooking, but figured it might be safe to plan out my meals for the week and give myself some level ground to stand on before I got lost in recipes, crockpots and dirty dishes.

Me being the foodie I am, I couldn’t plan without eating. Pathetic, right? So, I tried a mini whole wheat bagel with natural peanut butter and bananas. And, just because I’m totally into documenting my first day of healthy living, I took a picture of it… just incase you couldn’t imagine what a mini bagel with PB and a banana looks like.

Looks yummy, right? The crazy part is that I’m so used to following the Weight Watchers Points+ program that the whole idea of not tracking points values for everything is pretty liberating. Could I continue eating this way and tracking the points? Probably. But since I’m diving headfirst into it, I figure I should really just utilize the food for awhile. Weight Watchers calls this the Simply Filling technique… where you basically eat unlimited amounts of clean foods without having to track the points for it. Anyway. How bored are you right now? I mean, really.

So, I decided my first major recipe would be my own healthier take on an already fairly healthy restaurant favorite: BD’s Mongolian. So, here are the ingredients and steps I followed – I’m not giving you measurements because it’s just a stir fry… so basically it’s a free for all with all your favorite veggies.

 

 

Chicken Stir Fry

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
asparagus
carrots
garlic
pineapple
red skin potatoes
frozen corn
teriyaki sauce
brown rice

I just chopped up my veggies and chicken while my potatoes were boiling for about 15 minutes, cutting my chicken into bite-size pieces so they cook faster (impatience at its finest). Then I cooked the chicken up in one pan, while I let the veggies soften in some olive oil and teriyaki sauce in another. Eventually, I combined them all and let it soak for 10 minutes.

Oh. My. God. It’s so good – so good in fact, that I will probably cook this over going to BD’s. AND – the best part of this? There’s no cheese in this. I can’t believe I’m actually eating food where cheese isn’t involved.

But alas, the food-perfection that is this glorious Sunday doesn’t come without its trials and tribulations. I’m already facing my first battle with life outside my kitchen. As I’m heading to a friend’s house tonight for a fun night watching the Grammy’s, I’m already starting to sweat the possibility of all the deliciousness that will be there – pizza, chips, cake – the works. How am I going to combat this? Well, right after eating my stir fry, I immediately divided the leftover rice into individual portions and stocked away all the leftovers in the fridge. So yeah… I’m the freakshow bringing her own “diet” food to the party. But to be honest – mine will taste better than the pizza, and that’s okay by me.

Alright, that’s enough for day one. Hopefully I don’t die of cheese withdrawal before I post tomorrow.

 

the 2-week eating experiment.

So, I should probably preface this by saying that I’m no expert on losing weight. I’m pretty sure the only people I can even stand to hear talk about losing weight and getting healthy are the people who have struggled with it in their own lives before. If you feel the same, then you may continue reading… because I’ve been on the train to Weight Loss and Healthy – population: NOT ME, for so long that it’s pretty much the only stable line on my resume right now.

Seeing my family, friends and co-workers come face to face with the trials and tribulations of getting older has made me realize that losing weight and being healthy isn’t just about looking hot in a bathing suit (yeah, I know – news flash for me too). It’s about living longer – and doing so without a thousand medications and sore knees from walking to the car. Being overweight puts you at such higher risk for a plethora of medical issues that I’m sure you’re already aware of and that I’d like NOT to bore you with (my blogs are fun, not informative, we know this). So while yes, the immediate goal is to get rid of the cottage cheese legs, the love handles and the arm fat before bathing suit season hits, the overwhelming reality is that if we don’t take control of our health at a young age, it’s inevitable that we’ll be loaded with unpleasant medical issues later.

So where am I going with this? Well, somewhere… hopefully. I hired at personal trainer at my gym – for quite the pretty penny, I may add. I do love our 30 minute sessions though, and I look forward to the burn I get afterwards (note – this is probably the only burning sensation a woman wants to receive after a 30 minute session with a man, just sayin). This past week, he asked what kind of food I was eating. Stumbling over my words, I somehow managed to make up 10 minutes of excuses about my diet – everything from justifying eating Chipotle to explaining how skipping dinner sometimes actually made sense to me. After those long 10 minutes (all while doing leg squats, mind you), I finally looked at him and said, “Yeah, I give up. I’m full of shit, and it’s obvious.” It was the first time I actually realized that not only was I trying to trick him into thinking I was doing something right, I had actually convinced myself that what I was eating was okay. Funny, how we can actually lie and deceive ourselves so easily. Who are we hurting? No one…except ourselves.

To combat this, he’s put me on a 2-week cleanse – no, not a raw diet, drinking only cranberry juice or eating a piece of cheese three times a day. Two full weeks of no restaurant food (apparently this means Chipotle, too… horrid, I know) and no prepackaged meals from the grocery – only food bought and prepared by me at home. Not that hard, right? Wrong. For a 24 year old single girl living alone, this is not an easy task. A large part of my social life revolves around food – dinners with the family, eating out with friends, grabbing dinner on the way home after a long day at work, and yes… even dates (no, I don’t actually go on dates, but I imagine some single women do, or so I’ve heard).

I start my grocery shopping tomorrow morning – hopefully not hungover. I’m still allowed to have alcohol, carbs, sugar, etc – it just needs to be natural and not prepackaged and loaded with sodium. You know what this means – bye bye, dear Smart Ones mini pizza bagels… I’ll miss you dearly. Anyway, I plan to blog about it daily – my menu, my struggles, my workouts, and all the bitching and moaning I’ll be doing about not eating Chipotle or cookies. The intention is obviously to see results, and to continue eating this way after the two weeks are up.

So please, stay tuned. You’re in for a pretty regular stream of blogs coming up here in the next two weeks, and I fully intend on making it as informative and fun as possible, all while still trying to maintain my sanity – I mean seriously, I’m still trying to wrap my mind around not eating Chipotle for two weeks.

Oh – and in regards to my last blog: If nice men are the carrots, and bad men are the deep fried chicken, then who are the good ones you actually want? They’re grilled chicken and avocado on a pretzel bun. They’re out there, I promise.

from a real single girl.

I’ve read so many articles about what women apparently want in a guy. Why? Because I’m a woman… and I’d like to know what it is that all these “professional relationship advice givers and score the perfect date psychologists” (or so I affectionately refer to them as) are telling men about what it is that we normal women find to be attractive qualities in a mate.

Is what the experts are saying wrong? No, not really. But it’s not so ideal. There’s no equation to making the ultimate romance happen. Every date is full of thousands of imperfections, there’s no magic time to meet the parents, and let’s face it…first kisses are usually pretty fucking awkward unless you’ve had a few too many glasses of wine and are loaded with liquid courage. So, in light of such articles provided by our favorite go-to sources like Cosmopolitan, The Frisky or pretty much any self-help relationship advice, I’ve compiled a list of things that women, particularly myself, find to be decent qualities.

Challenge me. If I wanted someone to agree with everything I said, I’d spend more time with myself (and let’s face it, I hang out with myself enough as it is). I know I’m not always right, nor do I want to be. Don’t tell me it’s okay that I screwed up, or that I’m going to bail on a workout because I’m feeling lazy when deep down, you know I want to go to the gym. Piss me off, push my buttons and don’t make everything so easy. This is where the nice guys fail. While we appreciate your sincerity, it often comes across as a lack of individuality – the fear of upsetting us, even at the expense of your own opinion or idea. This, gentlemen, will get you nowhere. If you’re willing to sacrifice your own opinions, beliefs and ideas just to appease me, you will not only bore me to death, you will also be quite shocked to learn that I won’t do the same for you.

Be confident, but don’t be so cocky that you can’t admit a weakness. Confidence is attractive. Your ability to get along with my friends and not stand awkwardly when I walk away for another drink is important. Your masculine desire to be right about every single thing on God’s green earth is actually kind of endearing, and most women will respect a guy who will argue with you when he knows he’s got a reason. That being said, if you screw up, own up. You’re not perfect, and neither are we. Being able to admit your imperfections and flaws will in turn make you perfect for someone.

I’m not that funny. Listen, I know I’m kind of witty, but I’m not that funny. You don’t have to pretend that all my jokes are knee-slappers (yep, just said knee-slappers) or that the way I say a common phrase like “I know, right” is so much better than the way any other girl says it. What will make me attracted to you more than you laughing at every single joke I crack or sarcastic comment I throw out, is you poking fun when I screw up the punch line, telling me that my “that’s what she said” totally didn’t fit the line or calling me an asshole instead of “sweetie.”

Keep your friends, but make time for me. I’m a firm believer that if you want something bad enough, you’ll do whatever you can to get it. That being said, it’s so incredibly vital that you keep your friends and I keep mine. While we may want to spend all our time together, there’s not going to be anything to talk about if I don’t go out and enjoy my life without you. Don’t get me wrong, you might be great – but I’ve had a really great life before I met you, and I can have one without you too. You being a part of my life should enhance my life in a really great way – not completely define it. You should feel the same.

Don’t be a carrot, but don’t be deep fried chicken, either. Um, what the hell are you talking about? If you’ve met me, you know I love food, and could probably talk about it all day. So here’s my point: Carrots are the nice guys. They’re so good for you, they’re what you’re supposed to have and they sound really great in theory. But the nice guys aren’t fun, and neither are carrots. There’s a difference between being respectful and honorable, and then being so much of a people pleaser that you live just to make me better at the expense of yourself (see my first point). But you can’t be deep fried chicken, either. Yes, that would imply that the bad guys are the deep fried chicken. It tastes delicious, but you know it’s bad for you. You know it’s bad before you eat it, while you eat it, and afterwards. But you play with fire anyway – the bad guys are fun to flirt with, kiss and have fun with, but no girl actually wants to keep one around forever. So nice guys – quit bitching about how you finish last. The bad guys actually finish last because they usually end up alone…and with a questionable disease.

I know, this sounds like a lot of “me me me.” No decent relationship should be all about one person…which is precisely why I’m single, most likely. But no, really – I only stress the “me” part of this blog because it’s coming from a personal standpoint, that’s all. I honestly think the most important thing anyone can learn about how to actually survive in a healthy relationship is the lesson we all learned (or got stuck in timeout as a result of a major learning fail) in kindergarten – learn how to share.

next up: dieting, exploring why we don’t like carrots (the actual veggie and the metaphor), or how to survive in the midwest and still have a good time.

the decision.

Remember that show on Nickelodeon called “Hey Arnold!” and that weezy kid that lurks creepily behind Helga?

I’m the weezy kid.

My body has finally decided to call it quits on me. First it was the post-race pain in my hips, knees, ankles and pretty much every other joint you could imagine. Now it’s my upper respiratory system divorcing my body and saying “Nope, we’re not going to take your abuse anymore. We’re rebelling. Going on strike. Abandoning ship.” But not before it wreaks havoc on my vacation, my state of mind and my overall outlook towards this sunny week in Marco Island, Florida.

We all know I’m bad at vacations. I’m blogged about them before, and that fact has, unfortunately, remained the same. It’s probably your quickest way to make me go insane – just keep me away from my normal routine for more than 4-5 days and I’m more than likely to go AWOL in pursuit of something resembling normality. Add a 13.1 mile race, a whirlwind 48 hours in Orlando, six family members in one condo and an overwhelming desire to hack up a lung, and you’ve got an anxious, twitchy and snotty-nosed 20-something dying for her escape.

I know, I know. I can tell that you already know where this is going. You’re leaving sunny, gorgeous, beautiful Florida and VACATION for a snowstorm-bound, bitter cold Ohio? Yes. Yes, I am. You can call me crazy, you can call me ungrateful, or unappreciative. But you’d be wrong about all of them. Except maybe the crazy party – but that’s another blog (or novel). The truth is, I’ve set up my lifestyle to allow myself to do what I want, when I want to do it, without any consequence to anyone other than myself. I know, it’s that strange thing called independence, and I preach about it as a single woman all too often. I’m pretty proud of it, to be honest with you. But after much evaluation, I’ve decided it’s probably going to be my ultimate downfall. The difficult part comes from realizing that my so-called fabulous lifestyle geared towards independence and a no-bullshit attitude towards asking for permission is really all I’ve got. Without the ability to choose completely on my own, I feel stripped down, naked and completely vulnerable. Vulnerable to what?! Yeah, I don’t know. But whatever it is, I can’t handle it. Not yet, at least. It makes me feel completely helpless, unable to break free from some sort of invisible straight jacket strapped on me by no one other than myself.

I need my job. I need my gym, my grocery store, my dinners, my dog, my bedtimes, my choice. Selfish, right? Yeah, I know that too, thanks. And I know your next thought is, but that’s always going to be there – enjoy vacation while you can! I know this too. I’m telling you – I’ve thought it all through. But it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve been gone for almost a week already, I’m sitting here sweating out a fever and wondering when the BCS game will be over so I can go to sleep in the living room on my air mattress. There’s only so long I can do it before the creature of habit that lives deep inside my soul starts screeching like nails on a chalkboard.

I should also note that this has absolutely nothing to do with my family and everything to do with me. Most of the time, there’s no one I’d rather spend time with than my parents. But before them, I like to spend time with myself. And I’m at the point where, mentally and physically, I want nothing more than to go home and nurse myself back to health in the easiest way I know how – by following my typical routine.

I also miss my dog.

Things I’ll miss about being on vacation? Watching my grandma cheat at solitaire and claiming she’s won (apparently you can still cheat when competing with yourself). My dad using a lawn chair as a recliner in the living room. The 30 second pauses it takes for my grandma to process what we’ve already talked about. Watching my grandpa watch my brother and my dad set up his most recent electronic purchases. Listening to my mom and dad discuss every single decision they make as a joint choice, blatantly telling them they have freedom of choice, but then secretly admiring tiny bits of their relationship. Watching my family virtually send out an Amber Alert because my brother couldn’t find the Burberry t-shirt that is apparently made of gold and personally hand-woven by Jesus himself (ok, so I won’t miss that part).

But in the meantime, I’m sweating like I’m going through menopause, gagging like I’ve been smoking for 50 years and…yes, still waiting for this BCS game to be over so I can go to bed in the living room (though I publicly hope Cam Newton goes down in flames).

I need to go home.

the race.

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Well, I did it. 13.1 miles throughout the parks of the world’s “happiest place on earth” (and for the record, it’s not the happiest place on earth when you’re on mile 10 and you suddenly find yourself climbing an on rap to a god damn highway. just sayin). Here are the basics:

Walt Disney World Half Marathon
January 8, 2011
Official finish time: 3:01:51
State of mind: Dead.
Yes, I got a medal. Yes, it’s awesome.

It’s safe to say that this event has been one of the biggest milestones in my life. I mean, talk about a kickass way to start the new year, right? I had, for the entire week prior to the race, been making myself sick over running this. Afraid I wouldn’t finish since, truth be told, I’ve never actually completed 13.1 miles before in my life – despite numerous Facebook statuses claiming I was out on the roads in pursuit of such lofty goals. Afraid of the time requirements established by Disney – a 16 minute mile is a simple feat…until you’re 9 miles in and on your last leg because you spent too much time drinking and not enough time training (No, not me. Never!).

I did a walk/jog combo, because let’s face it – I have some of the shortest limbs ever. And I know my time isn’t brilliant – but I’m so fucking proud of myself, it’s insane. I never thought I could do it, and there are so many people and factors that got me through it. So, I’m going to be tacky and give personal shout outs on my Facebook. Cool, huh? What… you think it’s tacky? Yeah, well. Screw you.

Personal thanks goes out to Katy Perry, because “Firework” made an awesome song to cross the finish line to. Also, props to Chris Brown (pre-Rihanna, obviously), Justin Timberlake, Phoenix, Pink, OneRepublic and Eminem for getting me through some of my toughest miles.

Thank you to all of the people dressed up in some of the most ridiculous outfits during this race. Without being able to people watch, the long stretch along the highway would have been aw-ful.

Huge props go to my parents, for getting up at 3:00 in the morning with my brother and I and planning out a route to see us both and cheer us on at different points during the race. The chances of us actually seeing one another were slim, but they came anyway – and yes, I saw them. Also, thank you for walking insanely fast and teaching me to do the same. Passing other walkers while also walking is a huge ego boost.

Thank you to the original inspiration for running this race. I ran this race for all my own reasons, but without the help and support I received, the countless times you reassured me after I second guessed myself, and the endless times you told me to get my ass up and do it again, there’s no way I would have done this. And to be honest, without you around, I probably would have bailed out on this a long time ago.

Also, all the support and encouragement I received on Facebook seriously means so much to me. I know, it’s just Facebook, and as my dear friend who called me to say congratulations to me today said, “Facebook is so impersonal.” But the point still stands. Seeing all of you comment, “like” and support me through Facebook statuses and messages has been seriously awesome, and maybe you’re all faking it, but it really was the ego boost I needed to get through today.

Oh, and as for the Disney aspect of the race? Completely awesome. Running through the parks is pretty fucking awesome, the only shitty part was the long stretch of highway in between. Oh, and a tip to Disney? Don’t cook your food while we’re running. Injecting the theme park with the aroma of saturated fat and deep fried goodness doesn’t make me want to run, it makes me want to eat my face off, which I couldn’t do for another hour. Jerks.

Will I do it again? I don’t know. I need to really reevaluate why I run to begin with. I used to be completely psyched at the idea of running 5 miles, but when I started preparing for this race, I was disappointed with anything that wasn’t in the double digits. I love the challenge, the accountability and the thrill of the race, but I want to be able to run without the stress and anxiety of preparing for my next race.

Alright. It’s time for me to position myself on the couch and not move for the next 48 hours. Every. Inch. of my body hurts. Seriously. I need a massage.

Happy runnings!