I’m Back (and Married!)

I’m back! Things got crazy over the last month or so as my fiance (now husband!) and I were putting the final touches on our wedding, which was last weekend. If you ever planned a wedding — or know anyone who has — you know how meticulous and consuming it can get. Luckily, the day went amazingly well. We had a gorgeous sunny November day. Everyone looked great, and danced like crazy! The professional photos did not come in yet, but so far all the photos from friends and family are great, and I can’t wait until the photographer’s come in.

While Nov. 3 felt like a fairytale, there are some things that I wish I did differently on the day of and leading up to the event:

  1. Start earlier. We were engaged for almost 2 years, so for the longest time, it felt like I had forever to plan my wedding. Then life happened, and I got hurt, work got crazy for me and school got crazy for Mitch. The next thing you know, we were three months out with no clue what kind of flowers we wanted.
  2. Realize that booking the florist (and other vendors) is important, but the exact kind of flowers won’t make a huge difference. Many brides and grooms (myself included) get caught up in minor details like flowers and accessories and what not. Looking back, when I think of my wedding, my mind goes to marrying the guy of my dreams and dancing the night away, not how many flowers and candles were on each table (and truthfully, I still don’t know).
  3. Eat all the things at cocktail hour. I took cocktail hour as my time to talk to everyone and say hello, thank you, etc. I don’t regret that at all, but I now realize that nobody would care if the bride chatted it up with them while eating a pulled pork crostini (which I heard were amazing!)

Would I ever want to go through the stress of planning a wedding again? No, definitely not. But as for re-living the day, I would do it ten times over!


Trader Joe’s Fall Haul

There’s a Trader Joe’s on my way to work that I’ll often stop at just as it opens. (What, like you don’t stand outside the doors of TJ’s at 7:58 , anxiously awaiting its opening on a regular basis?)

As always, I first headed straight to the free sample of a cookie and mini coffee cup, and then grabbed all my usuals: Everything But the Bagel, organic frozen acai packets, etc. But then I noticed some new products … some new seasonal products. Nothing turns me into a corny ball of nostalgia and bliss like things that smell like pumpkin and apples and whatnot. So, I picked up a vanilla pumpkin candle (how could I not? It smelled great and was only $3.99) and pumpkin body butter. For my desk at work, I also picked up an actual pumpkin (seriously guys, I said that fall brings out the cheesy in me), though that was short-lived because it was dropped and got a crack in it and started to smell terrible. But to counter the gross smell that the pumpkin left on my hands, I also picked up a bottle of apple-scented hand soap.

Some other non-fall things I grabbed were:

  • Dried mango slices. While these have no added sugar, they do carry a hefty amount of sugar on their own. But they are so. freaking. good. So good that I definitely ate more than one serving that day at work, and so good that I probably should not add this to the list of things I pick up once a week on my TJ stops.
  • Jojoba Oil. I’m trying to transition into a cleaner, more simple skin care routine, so I decided to add this to my arsenal. I use a super small amount of this on my face after showering, and it feels so moisturizing, and is not heavy and oily like coconut oil. Though I do still use coconut oil on my face at night time when I’m feeling particularly dry.
  • Roasted, salted cashews. For my snack drawer at work, to prevent me from getting hangry at 3:00 p.m. and wandering over to the vending machine.

Ultimately, my trips to TJs include a little bit of everything. I’d love to hear other people’s favorite products!

Pumpkin Chili

Fall is by far my favorite season, so as soon as September hits, I like to pull out my slow cooker to make my favorite recipe: pumpkin chili!

Not only is this crazy delicious, but it is also pretty cheap and easy to make, and is one of those things you can set and forget in the morning and come home after work to an awesome home made meal. Or, prep it on Sunday to get rid of a case of the Sunday Scaries!

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 lb. of grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of pureed pumpkin
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 small yellow onion, chipped
  • spices: paprika, chilli powder, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes

Making it is so simple, that it almost feels funny to write out the steps!

  1. Brown the beef in a skillet. It does not have to be cooked all the way through.
  2. Add that to the crock pot, and then dump in the tomatoes, pumpkin, carrots, celery, beans (drain them first!), chopped onion and spices. I don’t measure my spices, and you can definitely mix it up depending on how strong you want the flavor/spice.
  3. Mix it up
  4. Set the crock pot on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 3-4.
  5. Enjoy!



On Freak Outs and Muscle-Ups

It was a random Thursday night and all the CrossFit classes were done for the day. I hung back, standing in the middle of the rig, looking up at the pull-up bar. I was nervous.

Just do a muscle-up. Just jump up, and do it. 

At the time of my injury, I had been doing CrossFit for about four years — three of them were spent ripping up my hands, pulling to low or turning over too slow (or not at all) in an attempt to achieve a much-coveted bar muscle-up (BMU). I finally got my first one during the CrossFit open in workout 16.3. I’ve never hit the lottery, but I’d imagine it’s a similar feeling to being fully locked out at the top of the rig, surrounded by awesome friends and coaches cheering you on.

From that day until my injury, I worked on my BMUs, improving the smoothness of the movement (no chicken-winging here!), and would spent almost all open gym sessions listening to my fiance, Mitch’s, guidance on how to take the next step and get a ring muscle-up. Mitch is kind of like our gym’s muscle-up guru.

And then I got hurt.

Being out of the gym for so long was obviously a huge detriment to my strength, but my psyche was messed up, too.

So on that Thursday night, Mitch pulled up a 20-inch box and placed it in the middle of the rig. I meticulously chalked up my hands, admittedly procrastinating, and then stepped up on to the box. Scaled muscle-ups from a box, in theory, should have been no problem for me. I wrapped my over-chalked hands on the pull-up bar. Bent my knees and got into a hollow-rock position. Pulled to the bottom of my chest.

“You’re pulling low enough. Just get your body over the bar,” Mitch said, referring to the part of the muscle-up where you use the connection point of your body and the bar as a fulcrum, and get your chest over the bar so that you can push up to fully extended arms, thus completing the movement.

I knew I needed to turn over. I knew how to turnover. And ultimately, I knew that if I did, I physically wouldn’t have too much an issue getting to full lock out above the bar. So I pulled again. No turnover.

I pulled again, this time getting my body over the bar. The physically hard part was over.

“Yes! Just lock out!” Mitch said, as I came back down to the box, in tears.

“I want to go home.”

“Why? You were so close. C’mon you know you can do it.”

“I cant. Not today.”

As I dragged my box back to the corner of the gym where it belongs, I began to cry. It was a mix of fear from being so high on the bar to total frustration at no longer being able to do something I worked so hard to do. Mitch comforted me, and we went home, ate dinner and went to sleep, trying to focus our minds on something else for the time being. Then I woke up the next morning and added a new goal to my list.

Collagen? Stress? Figuring Out This Chronic Pain Thing

The chronic pain that lingers a year and a half after a traumatic injury can be confusing at the very least. In the acute stages right after my injury, there was no guessing around the question “why am I in so much pain right now?” There was an answer: the ankle (leg, too) was recently broken and swollen so large that it looked like something that should be floating down the streets of Manhattan during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Fast forward to today. The pain comes, but the answers do not.

For a few weeks, I was doing a scoop of collagen in my morning coffee with the high hopes that it would help my foot in some way (as well as make my skin, hair and nails positively radiant for the upcoming wedding, but that’s a post for another day!). After much frequent use, I ran out, and kept forgetting to buy some more. And over the past few days now, I’ve ended my days hobbling or with a bag of frozen vegetables (sorry, Mitch) atop my ankle. Is it the collagen?

I’ve also been more stressed, which they (you know, all those people I listen to on podcasts and books about healthy living and the 390812038 ways to eat a sweet potato) say can trigger inflammation. Is it the stress?

But I’ve also been through this before with my injury. I’ll go through a few weeks where I feel quasi-OK with just a little pain and generally no limping. And then I’ll hit a week or so wall, where I’m modifying CrossFit and yoga and leaving Mitch in front of the stove to finish dinner so I can put the puppies up. Am I just moving in inflammation cycles now?

Considering I’m less than two years out from the whole she-bang, I’m pretty new to this chronic pain thing. Any and all advice is welcome, as well as suggestions to make it better.

My ultimate question is this: is this the pattern of the rest of my life?

Fall Meal Prep Helps Sunday Scaries

I’m finally getting back into the swing of things when it comes to meal prep. I tend to be a lot more lax with it when it is the summer, because I’m not in school, Special Olympics is in hiatus and, well, who wants to spend a day in front of a hot oven when it’s equally as hot outside?

But now that we’re starting to see some semblance of fall, I’m diving back into my Sunday routine head-first. This week, it was a kale and sweet potato frittata, pumpkin chili (I’ll post the recipe soon!) and some simple side salads with raisins and avocados.

Between work, school, CrossFit and some scheduled social time with friends and family this week, this will definitely come in handy for the week. Plus, there’s just something about preparing for the week on Sunday that makes the world of a difference for my Sunday Scaries.

Stuff I Can Stand Part 2: Early Fall Favorites

Labor day has passed, the temperature has finally dipped below the 90s, and to me, that means its fall. Now I’m ushering in my favorite season with a list of some new favorites. Let me know what you think!

Fall manicure. Doing my own nails works best with my budget and crazy schedule, but I do try to use a gel-like polish so that it lasts longer. I’m currently wearing Sally Hansen’s Miracle Gel in the color “Cabernet with Bae” (LOL) and it’s my first fall color of the season. At the time I’m writing this, I’ve already been wearing it for five days, and it only has one small chip in it. Not too shabby for a DIY!

“Practical Paleo” by Diane Sanflippo. This book was another early wedding gift, and you guys, I. am. Loving. It. It’s so much more than just a cookbook. In fact, the first couple hundred (yeah, I said hundred) pages are informational, discussing different health conditions and the foods that fit them best, meal plans, how to chop and onion and so much more. All the information is really digestible (no pun intended… OK… pun intended), and the book is easy to flip through. Think of it as a combination between “It Starts With Food” and the “Nom Nom Paleo” cookbook. I’m definitely excited to cook my way through this book, so keep a lookout on my blog/Instagram as I do!

Trader Joe’s Cold Brew Tea Bags. While the fall is typically when I switch to hot drinks all day every day (2,000 cups of tea, anyone?) I received a really nice glass pitcher as an early wedding gift, which was perfect to try out Trader Joe’s cold brew. Making it was crazy easy (fill up the pitcher with cold water, put in two huge coffee bags, put it in the fridge and go to sleep) and to coffee turned out delicious! I’m a fan of cold brew, as it’s not so acidic as iced or hot coffee. Even my fiance, Mitch, the coffee aficionado, approved!

The Well-Fed Women Podcast. I have about a 35-minute drive to work each day, so the hour-ish that I spend in my car is the perfect amount of time to listen to a full episode of Well-Fed Women. The podcast is hosted by two awesome ladies, Noelle Tarr and Stefani Ruper, who are extremely knowledgeable in nutrition, exercise and overall wellness, who take a really down-to-earth approach at eating well. Particularly, they’ll often go against the grain and tout the benefits of eating healthy carbs (yes carbs!) in the midst of what seems like an endless world of fad low-carb diets. In each episode, they answer questions for listeners who write in, and are never judgemental. Well-Fed Women definitely makes my morning commute a bit less miserable.