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A mixed bag

Today started off well. I went to work and had a really nice chat with one of my co-workers about some of our concerns about work. It was really nice to know she felt the same way about certain things!

After work, however, I found a lovely treat on my car.

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Uh oh. I got this while parked in an expired metered spot on campus for 5 minutes. The time on the ticket? Literally 2 minutes before I got back to my car! Seriously? Ugh! I was a little miffed until I remembered hearing about other people that just never paid the ticket. Since it’s through the university and not the city (which can then cause issues when you try to renew anything car related if you have outstanding tickets), the only way they can track you down is if they have your plate on file. They don’t have mine, so I’ll cross my fingers and watch my account for any holds. Hopefully I’ll be home free and won’t have to pay the $30 (who knew parking for 5 minutes could cost so much?)

My mood got better when I got home and found this on the counter:

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Oooh, a parcel for me? Let’s find out what was inside!

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A mysterious white box. Hmm…

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It looks like a water bottle! It was then that I remembered my CIBC Run for the Cure run reward that I ordered on October 5th. And that’s exactly what it was!

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I got this for raising $300 for breast cancer research! Pretty nice, eh? I like the plastic top on it. My current water bottle has a metal top on it and I find it makes the water taste funky. Hopefully this one will work out better!

My mood also improved when I remembered I have a brand new dress hanging in my closet! My boyfriend’s work is having a Christmas party in about 3 weeks so I went dress shopping last night. I spent a little more than I anticipated but I fell in love with the dress on the rack and trying it on only solidified my opinion that it had to come home with me. Besides, I can also wear it for science formal at my school, coming up in March!

Here’s a sneak peek:

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I’m so in love with this dress, it might be borderline unhealthy! Haha! But seriously, I realized last night that shopping in general is so much more enjoyable now that my body image has improved.

It’s been a slow process though. I reached my goal weight of 135 in May of this year and it wasn’t until several months later that I realized just how much smaller I was after losing 40 pounds. I’ve since lost a bit of additional weight (I was at 129 last I checked) and finally, 6 months after hitting goal, I actually feel thinner. It’s been amazing to finally be able to appreciate just how different my body is and to feel like all my hard work has paid off. And it makes shopping more fun! Instead of worrying that I won’t fit into the biggest size, I’m at a happy medium in the sizing spectrum. My main concern is now that I’m not entirely happy with the way it fits, rather than whether it even fits at all.

I feel so blessed, that after hating my body since the age of about 18 (when I gained the weight), I have come to accept the way I look. I can look in the mirror and feel good about myself. I do still have days where I see flaws. My body image isn’t perfect all the time, but the positives certainly outweigh the negatives. I’ve learned to embrace the shape of my body rather than desperately wish I looked different.

Has anyone else experienced a discrepancy between how you look and how you think you look after losing weight? Were you surprised when people would comment that you’re tiny now when you still feel bigger? I’ve heard that it can take months or years for your brain to fully process the changes, depending on how much weight you lose! I definitely had that experience!

Valerie

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Squash success, chick pea fail

This week, I was suddenly inspired to try cooking some things I’ve never attempted before.

First up, squash! I picked out a small pepper squash at the grocery store and did some searching for cooking instructions. It seemed simple enough. I cut the squash up, drizzle some melted olive oil margarine over it and sprinkled some brown sugar on it like my mom does. After baking it in the oven for about 50 minutes, it came out nice and soft and SOOO yummy! I’ve missed having squash! I’m feeling a repeat of this for tonight’s dinner!

I tried my hand at cooking raw chick peas and black beans yesterday. The black beans turned out fine – I soaked them overnight and cooked them for about an hour and a bit according to the package directions.

The chick peas were a whole other story. First, we have some slightly confusing directions:

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So it says to soak overnight to reduce cooking time and later says soaking is not recommend. Huh?? Well, since soaking wasn’t recommended, I skipped that step. It didn’t get any better after that. As you can see, the total cooking time is 55 minutes. After an hour, they still weren’t cooked. So I kept on cooking them, wondering what the heck is going on! My black beans were long finished cooking and chilling in the fridge before these got anywhere near cooked!

I later checked online. You ARE supposed to soak them if you don’t want to spend a million years waiting for them to cook. Well, darn you and your confusing instructions NuPak! At least I’ll know for next time and I guess on the plus side, I got a ton of homework finished while waiting in the kitchen. Being away from the distraction of my computer is so helpful sometimes!

Speaking of my computer: tragic news. I went to use my computer yesterday morning and moved the mouse to “wake up” my monitor display. After a quick glimpse of my desktop, it went black, flashing occasionally along with the power button. Nothing I did seemed to fix it. My boyfriend hooked it up to his computer in case something was wrong with my computer, but it did the same thing.

Sigh. My poor 6 year old monitor finally gave up on me! But on the plus side, I got a shiny new monitor that is HUGE in comparison – it’s a 20” widescreen while my old monitor was only 17” and not widescreen. It was even ON SALE for $40 off! Here it is, looking all glamorous in the picture I shamelessly nabbed from a website.

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The buttons are all touch/heat sensitive, which resulted in me not being able to figure out how to turn it on initially. Now THAT was a seriously embarrassing call to the boyfriend, who works as a computer technician. I’ve definitely learned a lot about computers from him but that wasn’t one of my finer technology related moments! But it works now, even if the menu things are super awkward and I haven’t quite figured them out yet!

My journey into vegetarianism has been going well. I did eat some shrimp one day when out with friends. We went to a cafe near our house and although I wasn’t intending to eat when I got there, I started getting hungry while waiting in line (it was packed – though it was a Friday night). Sadly, their menu isn’t very vegetarian friendly unless you want a salad, pasta or the single sandwich option. So I caved and got a spinach salad with shrimp. I think that will likely be a challenge – finding vegetarian options when going out to eat. Thankfully, more restaurants are willing to accommodate to that now and some even have several vegetarian options which is great!

Now, after this update, I’m off to search for some motivation to write a paper. I have one due next Friday and the progress I’ve made so far is picking a topic. Uh oh… I also have one due the following Monday, which thankfully I HAVE started but I really need to get in gear for these next couple weeks!

Valerie

30 Day Challenge

I’m really struggling to get back into the exercise groove, since falling out of it when I got sick. I’m the type of person that can fall off the exercise wagon after a week of missing workouts, so missing an entire month of regular working out from being sick is making this a real challenge for me.

But I’ve decided enough is enough. I’m better now and I’m a little tired of feeling out of shape and less toned than usual. The only way to change that is to do something about it.

I’m committing right here, right now to my own personal 30 day challenge. From today until December 11th, I’m going to commit to exercising in some manner every day. It can be as simple as taking a 20 minute walk or doing some strength training for 10-15 minutes. But I’m going to be physically active each day.

I also want to get back into running regularly. I really do miss it and hopefully I haven’t lost much endurance. I’ve only been able to run twice since getting sick. Once, I ran for 15 minutes at a time when I thought I was getting better initially (turns out I wasn’t). I also ran for about 8 minutes a few days ago when my cough was basically gone. It may not be much, but it’s a small start and I know I can only build from there. I’m hoping to do a short 3km loop around my neighbourhood tonight or tomorrow to ease back into things.

I know I can do this and I’ve got some accountability right here with the blog to keep me going!

In other news, I bought a winter coat after visiting about 5 stores in the mall. Old Navy was having a 50% off sale but all the coats were: a) as long as dresses on me (I’m 5’3″ so shorter coats are preferred), b) had only 3/4 length sleeves (um, hello, I live in Canada, that’s not going to help) or c) were white or bright green (not my colours of choice). I headed to another store where I fell in love with a coat. Unfortunately, I fell out of love pretty quick when I saw the $170 price tag. A store across the way saved the day. I found a coat really similar to the $170 one for only $100. Even better, this coat included a free pashmina scarf! Score!

IMG_5268This coat is longer than I’m used to but I fell in love with it right away! I loved the way it fit – I’m so used to winter coats being bulky and shapeless but this actually nips in at the waist nicely.

And here is my free pashmina scarf:

IMG_5272The only trouble is this: I’m semi-fashion inept, meaning I’m not really sure how to wear it. Do you use it like a regular scarf or is there some special way to work it? Maybe Google can help me!

On a final note, I found this yesterday (but took a picture today when I brought my camera to school specifically to snap this):

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It was posted beside the mirror in a washroom in the psych department at my university. I’ve read Operation Beautiful in the past and always thought it would be cool to see one in person. Well, I underestimated my own reaction. The minute I realized what it was, I couldn’t stop smiling and I feel like my day got a little brighter. It was just really touching! I don’t know who posted it or when, but it’s been there for at least 2 days and no one has moved it. I hope it stays there for a long time 🙂

Valerie

So far, so good!

My little experiment into vegetarianism has been going pretty well! I managed to eat a variety of things – stir fry made with tofu, vegetarian chilli, spicy black beans & rice. It’s actually been pretty awesome since it gives me the perfect excuse to try out new recipes. And by try out new recipes, I mean, I read the ingredient list and then kind of throw similar things into the mix! I like being creative that way though and so far I’ve yet to make any truly inedible concoctions so I’ll stick to my method (or lack of?) I also avoided eating any meat – though I was tempted as one of my fave lunch meals is grilled cheese with ham. Mmmm, so good!

This week was a little busy. Here’s a quick run-down of the various notable happenings:

Thursday:

This happened:

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Yuck. I guess it IS November though, so it’s going to happen sooner or later! I honestly remember little else from Thursday. Perhaps the shock of snow made me forget?

Friday:

I was so ready to head to campus and go to work since I didn’t have placement at the high school (PA Day for those lucky kids). But then I remembered it was open house day. Ooooh boy. I both love and hate this day. Call me a keener/nerd/whatever but I absolutely love my school and I honestly had a blast talking to prospective students on the March Break open house day earlier this year. But on the flip side, the campus is packed. There is nowhere to sit in my second home (aka the science building) and the Tim Horton’s line becomes unreasonably long. So, yeah, open house day and I have a love/hate relationship.

Saturday:

I babysat on this day and took the little kids to the park. The weather was perfect. It honestly felt like spring and so many other people were out. We checked out two different playgrounds and the petting zoo animals – the turkey is our personal fave since he “talks” to us. The kids find it endlessly amusing that he’ll follow them along the fence. Gotta love them!

Unfortunately on this day, I also got mistaken for a high schooler. Haha… it’s not the first time someone has guessed my age as younger, but come on! I’m 23! I hope this person at least thought I was 17/18 and not 14!

Sunday:

In the morning, I got to be a kid again. I took the kids to this indoor playground place. Imagine the McDonald’s play place, but on crack, so like times five plus a good dose of awesomeness. I don’t know who was more excited: me or the kids! I mean, wouldn’t you be excited, seeing this:

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But even more gigantic and awesome? (Image from Google since I had no camera to take a picture of the actual playground I was at).

Sunday afternoon was spent doing something far less interesting. There was a little of this:

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Oh, how I love poorly Photoshopped and irrelevant textbook covers!

There was also some of this:

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Oh, they look so thrilling, don’t they? 😛

I got really behind on my reading for my religion class and since we were having a quiz, I figured I should probably catch up on the last 3 weeks worth of reading. Good plan, eh? It was painful though and I might have only understood about half of what I read. My quiz mark pretty much reflected that!

Monday:

I thought this day would never end. I was up early and then off to school to do some work for the lab. I may or may not have had to eat mashed up Teddy Grams mixed with pop for a demonstration about the human body. The things I do for my job! Haha! It was off to class afterwards where we all sat through the class wondering why it smelled like bleach mixed with whiteboard marker smell. Combine that with the fact that it was freezing in the room and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I headed home for a lunch of grilled cheese and carrot sticks while I watched Criminal Minds. Then I was back to school again for more work and I didn’t get home until almost 5:30. Whew, what a long day!

Tuesday:

So here we are at today. I had class in the morning which was pretty uneventful. Mostly prep work for our upcoming research project. I now have the difficult task of finding a first year student willing to complete a 10 page questionnaire out of the goodness of their heart. Thankfully I have several fourth years willing to fill it out, but I need to find that one elusive first year that won’t think I’m weird for asking them randomly!

Wish me luck!

Valerie

Testing the waters

Lately, I’ve been toying with the idea of vegetarianism. Already, I don’t eat a lot of meat in my diet – mostly just lunch meat on sandwiches and the occasional piece of chicken or red meat. I’ve already been eating some alternatives such as tofu and beans.

So why the switch?

One reason is cost. I’m living on a tight student budget and meat is expensive. A lot of meat alternatives are much cheaper – less than $1 for a can of beans or $2.50 for a block of tofu that will do 4 servings compared to a steak for two that may run upwards of $7-8, or chicken breasts that typically cost $1.50-2 each.

Another reason is concern over exactly what’s in the meat I’m eating. Since I mentioned cost is an issue, I simply do not have the money to afford organic meat, so that isn’t a viable option.  The only organic-type meat I have access to is the locally farmed beef my parents get each year – they usually give me some steaks, ground beef, etc and it’s as close to organic as I can get. But I don’t enjoy red meat that much so I couldn’t eat it all the time!

Meat is also pretty unsustainable. I know a lot of large farming operations, including those that produce vegetables, are unsustainable (or approaching it depending on their practices), but meat is definitely a big environmental culprit. It simply takes much more energy and resources to raise animals for meat, compared to growing produce. I try my best to be environmentally aware and this is just one more way I feel that I can personally make an impact.

So those are my personal reasons for choosing vegetarianism. You might notice I didn’t touch on ethical issues. I prefer not to discuss my view on the ethics of eating meat as I know it’s a very heated issue for some people and it’s not something I want to get into.

I’ve already been collecting a ton of vegetarian recipes and I’m excited to get started on testing them out. I’m hoping to try a new recipe weekly (if school and work will allow the time for this) and I’m going to document my experiences with a meat-free diet here. It should be an interesting ride! I’ve eaten meat all my life and know only a handful of vegetarians. I also live in a house with two male roommates (and one female, but she’s moving out in December and being replaced with another boy… oh dear!) so I have no idea how they’ll react – they’re both steak and potatoes kinds of guys!

Wish me luck and if you have any recipes to share, please do so! Tips for making the transition are also greatly appreciated!

 

 Valerie

Stove top oats

I accidentally bought old-fashioned oats at the grocery store this week and after a few sub-par breakfasts of rather chewy, watery oatmeal bowls made in the microwave, I finally consulted the cooking instructions. See, before this, I’d assumed that I should cook old-fashioned oats in the microwave just like my usual quick oats. Apparently not!

The only cooking instructions listed were for stove top. Oops! So I followed them (mostly… I’m not usually a strict recipes kind of cook), added some unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze and oh. my. gosh. They were amazing – creamy and puffy and yum yum yum! I found myself wondering why I’d never cooked oatmeal on the stove before (then quickly remembered it’s because I’m lazy). I think I’m going to be doing this from now on even though it takes 10 minutes, vs. the 1.5-2 minutes microwaving it takes. It’s just so much better!

Sadly, said oats disappeared into my tummy before I could photograph their amazingness!

Anyway, enough about my recent love affair with stove top oats!

I took a look at my calendar this morning:

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Geez, October has been a busy month! Thankfully my calendar for November looks nothing like this (yet). I swear I was here, there and everywhere with a million school things to do. By the way, note the colour coding by class/work for each thing – crazy organizer alert – and the sun sticker which clearly makes everything happier!

Anyway, according to my calendar, this is week #7 of my 12 week school term. Week 7! Meaning I’m over half-way done my final term. I have 5 more weeks of classes, with my fist/only final exam 1.5 weeks later. I’m done my undergrad on December 16th! I can barely believe it. I need to do some major planning ahead in terms of my job situation for then. I currently work two part-time jobs and will need to either a) add a third (yikes.. I’ve had 2 jobs many times before but never 3), b) get rid of one and add a P/T job with more hours or c) find a full-time job and ditch both. I don’t know which option I prefer so I might have to do some old fashioned pro/con lists to help me decide the best approach. I think for now, I’ll apply to whatever job no matter the hours and decide based on which jobs I may actually get. The economy is still kind of dicey so I may end up with little choice. We’ll have to see where the future will take me!

I’m off to do some reading (I’m so so behind from when I was sick – possibly with swine flu! ack!) and work later on this afternoon!

Why wait?

For the past week, I’ve been sick with a cold. It’s been no fun at all especially since I barely had the energy to go to class and do homework, let alone exercise.

But I’m better (about 80%) and I decided I would get a workout in today. As I was sitting at my computer thinking about it, I thought “alright, at 8:00 I’ll hop on the elliptical and watch an episode of Gilmore Girls”. Then I thought, why wait until 8:00? What am I doing now that’s so important?

So I jumped on the elliptical right then (well, after a mad search for my running shorts which were hiding out under my bed) and caught up on some So You Think You Can Dance Canada. I only did 22 minutes – after all, I am still recovering a little from a lovely cough/congestion combo – but the point is this: instead of deciding to do it later (why yes, I AM a procrastinator) I did it right then.

And I felt great afterward. My legs were hating me a little, since it’s been a good two weeks since I did any intense exercise but they’ll show me love tomorrow I’m sure!

I’m trying to love the elliptical a little more. The weather has been anything but lovely as of late and as the temperature drops, running outside is going to become less and less appealing. Plus, I live in Canada. I’m not exactly up for the challenge of running on snowy/icy sidewalks. So basically, I need to find something else to do in the winter to alternate with running on the treadmill. I’m determined not to slack on working out this winter! I think the key is entertaining myself while using the elliptical. I can zone out to music on the treadmill but the elliptical and I have less of a warm, fuzzy feeling toward each other. Tonight, watching some kick butt dancers helped so maybe that’s the answer!

I’ll give it another shot tomorrow and see how it goes!


Who Am I?

I'm Valerie, a university student trying to strike a balance between school, my social life and a healthy lifestyle. Over the past year, I've made a lot of positive changes to my life that resulted in losing over 40 pounds! I'm now trying to lead a fully balanced lifestyle and maintain my weight.
October 2017
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