Monday, November 30, 2009

Muffin Top

I had one of those horrifying lightbulb moments this weekend. And by one of those moments, I mean several. Starting with eating that second plate of almost exclusively carbs on Thanksgiving and ending with buying jeans in what is an unholy size yesterday. The new jeans were primarily because I looked in the mirror on Saturday night while putting on makeup and since I wasn't doing the "traditional full-length mirror pose" of sucking in to look good, I saw it. I had/have a HUGE MUFFIN TOP! and I was in jeans that I thought fit me pretty well when I was in one of my fatter phases about 2 years ago. As much as I'd like to attempt to justify this, I don't really believe that jeans slowly shrink over time of washing and drying them. I think, in fact, that I have actually been expanding over time. OH and I broke the belt loop on another pair of jeans on Friday when I was yanking them over my slightly larger bum (maybe because of all those muscles?) and the new muffin top. I'm having some wardrobe malfunctions that are just not acceptable, ok?

Generally, I try to eat healthy but I know my portion sizes need work. Well, portion sizes and the fact that I routinely eat a couple (or few) meals a week at bars. And while bar food may be the most wonderful food taste-wise, it's generally fried and has little to no nutritional value. Ug. Luckily, I like a few vegtables and currently have a mega-obsession with Subway's veggie delite. I know that if I make a few swaps, I can work on this muffin top problem. The problem is that I feel like I am constantly fighting this battle with myself of about 15 flex pounds that are constantly creeping back on. My biggest problem is that the easiest way for me to lose weight is to never work out and just not eat very much which is an unhealthy and not very successful for the long term way to lose weight. SO... I blogged about it weeks ago and after seeing myself in that mirror I realize that I must take action and that action is going to be Weight Watchers.

It sucks but I feel like I need a way to better control my weight. I enjoy going to the gym and working out, I just don't enjoy the way that I constantly feel starvation when I do. And it's unhealthy to yo-yo about with 15 lbs. I would like to lose them and begin to believe that they are gone forever. So, here's your chance to hold me to it. I want to do this and I want to feel like I gave it a good effort and really enjoy looking back at the upcoming onslaught of wedding year photos. And I got a new digital camera as an early birthday present so I'd like to feel really good about the way I look in the new pictures.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Things I'm Thankful For

*My dad and brother are here to celebrate the holiday with me
*That this year has turned out better than I ever could have imagined
*Getting to marry my favorite person in the world in 2010
*That God blessed me with a body that can run 26.2 miles
*How many supporters (both family and friends) I have in life even if they are all over the country and not as close as I would like
*I'm thankful that even though I am more than 1,000 miles from them, I feel closer to my mom, dad and brother all the time
*All the opportunities that I had in 2009 to see different parts of the country and world
*That Adam and I have the means to live the kind of life we want to

I could probably go on forever but I want to enjoy this day and especially the food. I think if I had to pick, Thanksgiving would be my favorite holiday. Not only is it the "kickoff to Christmas", the message of taking time with family and friends to celebrate the good things we have in life is very meaningful to me. Enjoy your day and be thankful!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


My Thanksgiving officially starts tomorrow. I will wake up and start on the pumpkin pie and Oreo cheesecake I have planned, pull the turkey out of the freezer and plot what I'm going to do to season the bird, and make a few other goodies for snacking. My dad and brother are due to arrive in Chicago in the late morning and Adam is off of work so I'm sure he'll be enjoying time on the couch and playing his dorky video games. I'm so excited.

The only thing that puts a damper on my holidays is that my family isn't all together anymore since my parents are divorced. Even though this is either our fifth or sixth (lost count) holidays doing this, I'm not sure that I'll ever fully get used to it. Don't get me wrong, I think that I have a much closer relationship with each member of my nuclear family since the divorce but there is just something about this time of year that always brings me just the tiniest pang of sadness. Mom, I will really miss you this Thanksgiving.

Luckily, in my world, Christmas is easier (sorry, must pause for a moment to wipe tears from writing the last paragraph) to "divide" our time because Christmas Eve has always been a huge day for us. I AM SO GLAD that we'll be in San Antonio for Christmas Eve, it's been way too long since I got to be there for it. But anyway, last year, my dad came up for Thanksgiving which was hilarious because it was the first time he got to meet Adam. Just thinking about that makes me laugh inside because we had some serious adventures that weekend.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving in the city

I may be completely wrong here in my theory but I love Thanksgiving week in Chicago! I would deign to say that most of the people that live in our general neighborhood and the surrounding areas are similar to us (i.e. mid-twenties, young professionals, no kids, parents are either in the suburbs or somewhere else). What does that have to do with anything? Well, most of them leave! In our closer group of friends, the vast majority are going to be out of town for the week/weekend. And it sure seems like everyone else does the same thing! The city clears out! Traffic is next to nothing. Obviously, this theory does not apply to downtown, like Michigan Ave, which will be mad packed all weekend. But here, a couple of miles north, our neighborhood is at it's calmest all year. I LOVE IT!

Just to illustrate my point, there are only a couple of Targets in our near vicinity. And there is only one Wal-Mart in the city limits and it's in the mad ghetto so Target is usually insanely packed. On weekends, it's a nightmare to find parking (and I'm not even going to talk about Costco, that's a whole 'nother ball game of insanity) and the place is a sea of red carts and crazy shoppers. And that is YEAR ROUND every weekend. Frankly, I can't remember a random Monday afternoon or Thursday evening that the place isn't obscenely packed. So last year, my dad was in town and after our Thanksgiving meal, he decided that I needed a few kitchen items (mainly knifes so we don't kill ourselves carving meat this year) so we headed over to Target. On Black Friday. How was it? Quite manageable if you ask me. I didn't even realize it was Black Friday that's how emptied out the city gets! When you have the kind of lifestyle that we live and being in a huge crowd of people is the norm, it's so nice to have some respite from that. I have a feeling that we'll probably be celebrating Thanksgiving here in Chicago for as long as we live here. Plus, at least last year, it was really the last nice weekend we had before Old Man Winter came to attempt to kill us.

So, I'm going to enjoy the next couple of days as every time I walk down the street, I'll see other young city dwellers, lugging their suitcases and hailing cabs to the airport. Happy travels everyone and do I have any takers to hit up the Target sale at 5 a.m. on Friday? No? Ok.

(and I'm sorry for the utter lack of pictures lately. Dang this place is boring! I'm just totally over my crappy camera and hoping for a new one for the b-day (SO SOON!) or Christmas)

Friday, November 20, 2009

I don't really get this whole vampire thing!

Two posts in one day? Done and done.

Currently watching NBC Nightly News, which I could write an entire post about, why do I torture myself by watching the world's problems for 30 minutes everyday? It's depressing! But I digress, they are doing a story on the "New Moon" phenomenon. It made a cool $26 million in only the midnight showings last night that people waited in line for. When I was flying, tons of co-workers were reading the Twilight series. More recently, lots of my friends have picked it up as evidenced by the constant discussion over Facebook statuses. The Twilight kids are all over every tabloid. And that series is really just scratching the surface. I feel like every book and TV show that has come out lately has something to do with vampires (with the exception of Going Rogue by Sarah Palin, although I haven't read it so there may actually be vampires involved, she's crazy).

Am I alone here or are there others that just don't get it? Those teeth are NOT HOT! And all the waify kids in the Twilight movies are just not that attractive. I'm so sick of seeing them that I almost wish that Octomom would have another 10 kids (almost, but not quite, I can't stand her).

No I didn't fall off the face of the earth...

I've just been in Save the Date hell all week! Doing anything 100 times sucks, especially when it involves addressing, stamping, cutting, printing, folding, stuffing and sealing. It was a bigger project than I anticipated but they were mailed yesterday! GLORIOUS!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Spotted on the train...

I think I need to start talking about the hilarious things that I see sometimes on my daily train and bus excursions.

Today during the morning rush hour this man was wearing these phenomenal suede camel-colored cowboy boots. The real deal cowboy boots. They even made clip clop sounds like women's high heels. He was taking casual Friday to a whole new level. I loved it.

On a slightly sadder note, two seats across the aisle from me this afternoon had been splattered with white paint. Some people are SUCH JERKS!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

just FYI

Thanksgiving grocery update- the total was only $156.31, which is totally skewed because Adam tagged along with me and threw in his expensive Old Spice deoderant, body wash and a brand new Sonicare toothbrush to the tune of about $40. So, I did pretty well I think. BUT SERIOUSLY, Jewel-Osco, $3.99 for your own brand of whipping cream? That's crap.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Thanksgiving Grocery List about a mile long. I am just going to make a quick prediction that the final bill at Dominick's will end up being $167.32. Groceries are EXPENSIVE in the city AND we pay 10.25% sales tax. Oh and that is just the non-perishables. I'll still have to make a run to the produce market that week. So, I'll let you know how much it ends up being after I go (which may end up being tomorrow night. I'm starting to get stressed about being able to find a turkey). Thankfully this year I will have access to a ZipCar to get everything home. Last year, I hand carried probably 4-5 of those reusable grocery bags that were full of enough canned goods to stock a food bank. And that was walking a couple of blocks from the grocery to the bus stop and another block and a half home. My arms were sore for a couple of days. Seriously. This year I may end up being sore just from carrying them up the stairs to the condo!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

New Goal and New Blog Title

My URL is still but I have been feeling a bit sheepish lately because it's been almost a month (Oct. 11th to be exact) since I've done any sort of running besides trying to make it across the street without getting hit by cars.

For the next seven months, I'll be talking a lot about my newest endeavor, the Avon Breast Cancer Walk. It will be June 5-6 here in Chicago and I have at least 2 friends planning to walk with me (more on these fantastic gals later). I felt like it was important to do for two reasons: I like having a large overall fitness goal to work towards but also breast cancer has touched several women in my life and I wanted to be able to give back through this run. I need to raise $1800 but I'm going to try to do it creatively and I'll get into more details about that later. In this economy, that's a scary large number but I know of at least four people, survivors actually, that I want to donate in honor of. How many do you know? 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with this disease unless we can find a cure. In the meantime, the money I'll raise will go to help women (and men) with their cancer treatments. It's awesome and I feel really blessed that God has blessed me with two legs that have the ability to walk such a daunting distance. I know it's going to be an amazing journey. I got all choked up watching the video at the informational meeting.

So... in honor of all that, I figured I'd shake things up here at Run, Big Jen, Run and now I'm going to be telling you about my footsteps because I estimate it's going to take about 41,501 of them to make it those 39.3 miles.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My own personal Jillian Michaels

I bought the Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred DVD on sale from Amazon about a month ago and have yet to use it, although I have lots of fabulous excuses like the marathon, my IT band, post-marathon recovery, etc. But this week, I seriously can't use it. I have met the male version of Jillian and his name is Mondale. And my body is going to need about a week to recover from his beatdown.

Let me set the scene for you. After a lengthy process (about six months) of gym searching (but who needs a gym in Chicago's summer?), we finally settled on the YMCA. I was leaning that way after reading lots about it on and it's only about a 10 minute walk from here. I also read about a particular class instructor, Mondale, and how awesome his classes were. Now, it took me a long time to attend the first one. There is something a tiny bit intimidating about group exercise and I'm not sure I've ever been to a class without a friend. I was acutely feeling the loss of having gym buddies, which never affected me at our old gym because I always went with either Adam, his brother, or at a completely off-peak time when there were only 2 or 3 other people there. The Y, not so much, there are always quite a few people milling around.

I finally bite the bullet and quit being a little pansy and decide that my first group class would be Mondale's Ultimate Toning for Lower Body. I figure I just ran a marathon so my lower body is in pretty good shape. On the way to the aerobics studio, I see this guy trainer in the hallway yelling at a woman who was relatively fit. It was eerily similar to a scene from the Biggest Loser. This dude was kicking her ass and she was saying things like, "No, I can't do it any more!" and getting really whiny. It reminded me of Jillian and Amanda's dramatic treadmill scene and I even told him that he was going all Jillian Michaels on her and he just laughed at me. Probably because he saw me going upstairs to the studio and knew the pain I was about to face.

I get to the studio like a good little student 15 minutes before class. No one was there yet so I just sat down with my water bottle (THANK GOODNESS I HAD THAT!) on the floor and waited. The first lady walks in, takes one look at me, and says, "Oh honey, is this your first time? You're going to need some equipment." We went all around the room grabbing a step aerobics thing, a couple sets of free dumbbells, a big barbell and a padded weighted bar. Maybe that was it, frankly, I can't remember all the stuff we got our butts kicked with. The room fills up and we wait for Mondale.

Turns out he's the Jillian Michaels I saw beating down the woman in the hallway. Nice. He turns on the music and we start by doing about 500 lunges. My ass was kicked by just that and then he wanted us to do another 10 million lunges only with the various weights and using the stepper. My legs were shaking so bad and Mondale would come over and yell various things at me such as, "Rookie, get your legs UP" or "LOWER, LOWER, bend your knee". I'm about 99% sure (and I can say this now that it's the day after and I'm sorer than after the marathon) that I've never used about half of the muscles that I worked yesterday. When Adam was asking me last night about what we did, I really couldn't remember all the things. I just remembered that they hurt. The 45 minutes of class are like a black hole in my memory, probably because my brain couldn't be bothered to use it's memory function while it was concentrating on mere survival.

I've never felt like I was going to puke or pass out during a workout before. At one point, I had to sit down and drink some water because I just couldn't do it. WHAT? I just ran a marathon! I thought, despite my injury, that I was in pretty decent shape! Apparently not. As the 45 minutes of Lower Body wore on, people started dropping like flies. A couple of people packed it in and left. No one, not even the skinny badasses, could finish the work out completely. It was truly insane. I was completely embarrassed of my performance or lack thereof. I can't wait to redeem myself next week. My original plan was to go to his early a.m. class tomorrow but there's no way. I'll be lucky if I can walk to the gym tomorrow.

I am proud of the fact that I stayed the whole time and didn't die. I even stayed for his ab workout afterward but I kinda halfassed it because my legs were like jello. I have a LOT of work to do. The best thing was that all the regular girls in the class (and there were no men in the lower body class, WIMPS!) said that if I keep going, I'll get results really quick. It was nice too because I felt a little bit of camaraderie with my classmates. Maybe I'll end up with some gym buddies after all!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I just had to write about this...

Adam and I have a friend that is a dietician and a religious watcher of the Biggest Loser. She talks about it all the time so somehow we found ourselves watching the finale of last season. We were totally hooked. Not that we need another television show to watch, but seriously, what happens on that show is nothing short of miracles.

I set up the DVR to record this season and we've been watching every episode (the only thing that sucks about having a DVR is that you literally become addicted to your favorite shows because you never miss them). The theme of this season is "second chances". They have the guy from last season that was, at the time, the biggest contestant ever on the show, a girl that was the child of a heroin addict that self-medicated with food, the girl that was voted onto the show during last season's finale, etc. But my favorite contestant is the one I want to tell you about. I literally cannot see Abby's story without bursting into tears. Adam was catching up on the show on Saturday and I wasn't even in the room but I could hear her talking and I spontaneously started crying.

Basically, Abby was married and had a five year old daughter and a newborn son in small town Texas. She wasn't feeling well so she had gone to the emergency room while her husband took the kids out. The three of them were hit by a driver going more than 100 MPH and all were killed instantly. Her entire life... gone in a split second. I can't imagine from any angle what she's been through. It hurts my soul to think about losing my parents and brother or losing Adam and our hypothetical kids. I can't hear her talking about it without feeling physical pain for her. If it had happened to me, I probably would have self-medicated with a hell of a lot more things than just food. I don't think that I'd have the heart to go on!

She was doing a workout with Jillian Michaels on the show last week and if you don't watch the show, Jillian is famous for "breaking" the contestants by getting to the root of their issues during their workouts. Her philosophy is that if she can force them to be uncomfortable enough to deal with what's behind their over-eating that they will better be able to deal with it when they leave the show and go out into the real world. Obviously, with Abby, Jillian was about 10,000 times more sensitive than normal. It's not like Abby has issues, per say, she had a mega-tragedy strike her and dealt with it better than many of us could have. It's not like she used alcohol or drugs to deal with her pain. Her situation was different than the other contestants in that she came to the show to lose weight and find a reason to live again. When Jillian was asking her what it's like to lose everything, I was runny nosed and just short of sobbing. It was so sad! But you know someone is amazing when Jillian Michaels is inspired by them.

Abby's team lost at the weigh-in, meaning that they had to vote for a team member to be sent home. Since their team had been sent home to be without Jillian as their trainer in the previous week, Abby asked to be the one voted off because she felt like that visit showed her that she had made progress and she could learn be alive again. Of course, I was screaming at the tv the whole time she was volunteering because she's my favorite, but after watching her talking about it to Al Roker this morning, I realized she was right to go home. After all, she felt like she had completed her journey toward the real reason she was on the show, to find purpose again. She said this morning that she wanted Shay, Amanda and Daniel to stay because they had never known the joy and happiness that she had with her family and wanted them to continue on the ranch to be able to feel the things she already had in life. How great a person is that? How unselfish and awesome is she? Shay, who is the one I mentioned above that was a child of a heroin addict, said on the show that her entire life she had been fighting to try to get her mother to love her and then she came on the Biggest Loser and the one person who gave her love the most freely was Abby.

I'm going to have to stop telling you about her or I'll start crying again! I can't write well enough to even scratch the surface of doing Abby justice. And cheesy or not, the Biggest Loser is really one of the best shows on television right now. I'm kind of mad that I never discovered it before!

Monday, November 2, 2009

We can be found here...

Our engagement pictures are out! YAY!

Now, I just have to spend endless hours pouring over the 128 picture gallery deciding which ones I like best and who is going to get what in a frame for Christmas. Good times! I am so glad we did it, not only because I did want some professional pictures of us in some of our favorite places in the city we call home, but because it was good practice for wedding pictures. And now I know that it is possible for us to not look like freakazoids in photos together.

On a completely unrelated note, it got dark, and I mean pitch black, at 5:00 p.m. last night. I was ready for bed at about 6:30. The jury is still out as to whether this is a good or bad thing :)