May Foodie Penpal

May 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

This month my foodie penpal was Amber.    The stuff she mailed was awesome.  This was the first time I received FRESHLY baked goods!  I love it when I get a note telling me why they sent particular items and how I can use them.  Amber sent me a chocolate chip banana bread that, as she explained, her family loves to eat with peanut butter.  She sent me a loaf of the bread with a little packet of Peanut Butter & co’s Dark Chocolate Dream.  Spread on that banana bread….so good.  The fiancee helped me out with the banana bread…had a hard time keeping within the weightwatchers points with that.

She also sent some pure maple syrup and apple butter that are locally made in a nearby town.  I love it when I’m sent local items from my penpal’s home town.  It adds such a sweet touch.

Thanks to Amber for the goodies!  So thoughtful!

May foodie penpal gifts


Chocolate chip banana bread and apple butter



Weightloss Math

May 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

I have a new goal!  Waiiiit for itttt…

Over the past few months i’ve had no motivation to exercise or work on my health consistently.  In December my girlfriends and i all enthusiastically purchased super expensive hot yoga packages.  I stopped going on feb 29 and my attendance was pitiful in the meantime.  February i got my butt to the gym for a new membership….and went three times to date.  March i rejoined weightwatchers with the goal of losing 25 lbs but did not manage this well.  Ive lost 6 lbs and regained 1, honestly, not bad.  I’ve been averaging about NEGATIVE 50 pts per week…not exercising, and using all (plus many) extra points. To my own credit, im still tracking everything everday.  Research does show that those who track their intake lose more weight, even if they are over -calorie goal.  So ive got that going for me….which is nice.

When it comes down to it im just flat out lazy so making any sort of effort to exercise would be unlikely…would be easier to make a bejeweled unicorn appear and perform cartwheels.


lazy + no immediately attainable goal + no plan of action + food around me = no action, ergo failure. Such an ugly word.

Failure rectification-

Sat here thinking earlier that i (and most successful- goal – reaching people) require sips rather han the proverbial fire hydrant explosion of water in order to complete tasks.  Weight loss is no different.  I broke it down by means of some savvy math i learned in 2nd grade.  If my goal is to lose 25 lbs in one year, that means i only have to lose 2 measly pounds per MONTH.  TWO per MONTH,  1/2 lb/ week, or 0.07 lbs/day.  That is the most attainable goal i’ve ever set for myself.  Which reminds me that iVe never really set attainable goals in the past hence the failure.  Lying to myself thinking that just because i have a wedding dress to fit into now so just lose 25 lbs is moronic.  Seriously.  Who can be expected to lose weight without a stepwise plan?  Im much smarter than this so why did i wait so long to apply elementary school math? Again, im lazy, so there.

So there i have it – an actual plan instead of a useless list of exercised and foods i will eat/not eat this month.  I can now incorporate exercise to my semi-successful WW plan and not get pissy if i lose just two lbs per month bc my goal is…..TWO pounds each MONTH, not 25 lbs in one month.  I’ll probably dabble in some hot yoga, running, and light weight training.  Totally attainable.  For once i have a solid plan , with more details TBD…but the most important one is set. 🙂

How do you set weightloss goals?

April Foodie Penpal

May 1, 2012 § 1 Comment

Pretty neat experience.  Joined FoodiePenpals and was matched up with Lindsey (@simplyshep) and Jill @eatingpath2yoga (my recipient).  Patiently awaited the arrival of this mysterious package.  Invited my sister over the day that I opened it up….so exciting!  Here are a few photos of my April gifts.  Lindsey sent me some pretty healthy snacks!

Great assortment of sweet and savory. Chocolate granola which I have yet to try, peanut butter fudge which I immediately downed, irish oats, justin's and....

Produce bags and pepper jelly! The bags are an awesome idea and that pepper jelly...well that will come to very good use this weekend. We're hosting a cinco de mayo party and I'm thinking of making a pepper jelly dip with either creme fraiche or cream cheese.

I also got a pretty great recipe from Lindsey.  So cute.

Lindsey’s Oatmeal Recipe:

1/3 cup rolled oats

2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 scoop fresh cinnamon roll protein powder
1 tbsp psyllium
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
1/2 cup nonfat, plain greek yogurt
1/2 packet stevia
1 tbsp fresh ground almond butter
fresh fruit
Stir it all up, stick it in the refrigerator, and let it sit overnight. In the morning, just take it out and eat it. It’s so so good!! You’ll have to give it a shot! 🙂
few more pictures of my goodies:

Nice idea! Can't wait to use them on Friday when I go to the market.

this was gone in minutes. sending something to a chubby chick is a happy disaster. 🙂


Can’t wait to find out who my May foodiePenpals will be 🙂


Muffin Top Motivation

February 27, 2012 § 1 Comment

Oh Boy 😦

Awesome. Up 17 pounds since June.  Was/am very down about this, self-pity, possibly a lick of seasonal affective d/o (?), absolutely zero motivation to control my weight.  I’m a chronic complainer but non-action-er; not a good trait with those important things in life.  Last time I posted, my goal was to track on sparkpeople and get more yoga in my schedule.  Since then, I’ve barely gone to yoga but a handful of times despite an astronomical monthly fee, joined another gym closer to work, and continued to eat like a boar, not to mention failing to track meals.  Recipe for shitfest.

I do not respond well to non-constructive, insulting criticism as noted in my first post, so I’ve been exquisitely lucky to have an incredibly encouraging, loving, and motivating (OXFORD COMMA, HA!) boyfriend this time around.  He reminds me daily that I’m beautiful just the way I am but I absolutely do not feel beautiful.  My clothes are even tighter, my face is more full, and I’m always exhausted, spiraling into even lower level of motivation. I feel like a failure with every look in the mirror or put on a pair of jeans. Forget the skinny jeans.  Vicious cycle.  Oh, and my appetite is atrocious. I could eat another full meal right after finishing one, always have room for dessert, and have been cooking even more non-healthful recipes…mainly butter-laden junk.  It’s awful.

Well, thanks to my sister’s awesome boyfriend, I changed gym locations and even had a personal training session…Meh.  What felt amazing was going to the gym and creating my own workout routine last night.  I haven’t been this excited to exercise or take care of my health in a LONG time.  Feels so good to have that motivation back.  Thankfully, I have an incredibly supportive family who will need to heavily rely on for continuing motivation and healthful habits.  Will continue with the Hot Yoga but discontinuing the renewal membership at the end of the month.  Continuing with the gym and home work outs when needed.  Found some great FREE workouts from women’s health and fitness mag…they will be a staple.  Might even re-join weightwatchers with my mom.

wish me luck!

Time to Revamp

December 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

Since the last post may changes have come about; great boy, progressed to second year of residency, travelled to California for the first time, and gained an S-TON of weight.  Gained NINE lbs!!  Was working nights only, discontinued weightwatchers because of cost and basic lack of commitment, and haven’t set foot into a gym in almost 2 months.  I feel like crap, my clothes don’t fit, and my face looks bloated.  I need to start looking and feeling better in my clothes. It also wouldn’t hurt to feel more confident naked.

Goal is to lose at least 10 lbs by March, when Z and I go on a cruise for vaca.  That gives me 3 months, paced, that would allow about one pound per week.  I want to look the way I did at this time last year.  I was hot and in amazing shape….not so much anymore.

Changes I’ve made over the past two weeks and those to come:

(1) gradually started working out.  Starting light with hot yoga several times per week, accompanied by co-residents to keep me motivated. I’m paying an exorbitant fee for these classes but I’m banking on the team effort and peace it brings me, to make it worth it in the long run.

(2) started using SparkPeople to track my food.  I am throwing out the weightwatchers POINTS mentality.  It’s practical for longterm loss but doesn’t come for free and I also feel like basics will always be basic – why pay to use a site that counts my calories?  Regardless of the “research” behind their methods, weight loss will always be about calories in < calories out.  I don’t need a site to limit the fats/proteins/carbs I’m eating because calories will add up just the same.  Despite this, I will start doing my best to limit my carbs, but I won’t replace that with more protein or fat….just more veggies and a but more fruit.  Best part – it’s FREE!

(3) Brought my work-out DVD’s to Z’s apt and he wants to start working out with me.  I suggested P90x together, he agreed. It won’t be a daily activity but we’ll do it when it’s convenient and works with out schedules.  We’ll see how that goes.

(4) My parents got us an elliptical for the apartment.  My gym is close to my parents house so I haven’t been able to make the daily drive an quite frankly haven’t had the motivation to go.  I’m discontinuing my gym membership when it expires in Jan, and will use the new machine as often as I can.  Will really miss the way spin class made me feel but perhaps I’ll find local classes to attend periodically – which will probably become way too pricey in addition to the hot yoga fees.

(5) limiting the amount of artificial sweeteners, Starbucks, and dessert. Holidays are going to be less exciting without the treats but hopefully a slimmer waist will make up for that feeling.

(6) revisiting Twitter as a motivational resource. I need it now.

(7) using that technique I used several months ago of documenting my work outs on a calendar.  I need to show myself that I’m doing this and that I’m sticking with it.  Worked great in the past and I know it’ll work this time.

What do you think?  How have you guys revamped your habits after a huge set-back?

Fit and on Plan during EuroTrip 2011!

May 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

I feel relaxed and fulfilled, realizing how lucky I am  to be able to say that I just traveled abroad to visit extended family in EUROPE.  Just returned from a trip to Hamburg and Paris (oooh la la!) where I was able spend much-needed QT with family and explore both the historic and ultra modern parts of both cities. To describe my trip in one word – FREEING. It was my first vacation after almost EIGHT months (since my last week of time off) of intern insanity and not a singe two day weekend since that time. It was needed and well deserved.

The most remarkable part about all of this, keeping with the purpose of this fitness blog, is show how I managed to stay on track while enjoying traditional Afghan and European meals.  I was actually terrified to go; I know my appetite and the fact that I was traveling to food & wine-rich places with opportunities to eat my way fat again was almost overwhelming.  I am also proud to say that I come from a long line of talented cooks who know their ingredients and NEVER measure.  While this is a blessing, it’s also hell for me because once I taste a morsel of well-made Afghan food, I find it almost impossible to control my portions.  I was also going to spend a considerable amount of time with my cousins so I was fearful that we’d frequently go out to eat and that I’d have a hard time controlling my cravings from the flavor and lipid- heavy menu options.  Point is that I didn’t think I had what it would take to control myself in Europe and basically didn’t trust myself to make smart decisions. Thankfully, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

My tactic once I arrived at Manchester airport: Simple, really. Just followed the Points system.  I didn’t want to spend the money on an internet package for my phone so I picked up a few paper trackers during my pre-trip weigh-in.

  • tracked EVERY SINGLE bite I ate. And I mean every, from each bit of cucumber to chocolate croissants
  • I did NOT limit myself because I knew I deserved the hell out of this trip and I was not about to leave without tasting some things I had dreamed of, I just tracked each bite
  • Walked almost everywhere, except taking flights, driving from one city to the next in which case we either took the train or my cousins drove
  • made sure I had a bottle of water with me at all times and made sure to drink at least 3 daily
  • told my cousins that I was trying to keep track of what I was eating (love my family but regardless of how Westernized my family is, all Afghans have the same habit when it comes to feeding your loved ones…they pile food on your plate regardless of whether you can eat it or not and love to buy snacks/food for you everywhere you go)
  • made sure to keep some homemade trail mix with me just-in-case
  • took the stairs where ever possible; train stations, museums, the Eiffel tower where I was determined to take all 669 stairs to the second level, and the  hotel room in paris…which was on the 13th floor
  • only had one dreamy cup of cafe while in Paris (I’ve been poison coffee  sober for almost 2 months! Living off of a daily venti iced unsweetened green tea.  Coffee/espresso makes my stomach feel like i’ve released a piranha in it)
  • wore comfortable, practical shoes so that I was able to get the most out of my trip without developing painful feet
Results: Weighed-in two days after returning; Lost 1.6 lbs!! Since then, at today’s weigh-in, I’m down another 2.6 lbs.
Reasons why I think I’ve been successful lately:
(1) continued tracking and being very careful in Europe + walking all over the cites,
(2) started to Spin again. I looked back to my lowest weight while on WW and realized that I was spinning at least 3-4 x/week. Lately (for the past 5 months) I’ve been spinning nearly ZERO times. I had been doing P90x at the encouragement of one of my closest physical therapy friends…that DID NOT work for me at all.  I was actually doing p90x Lean and still managed to gain weight despite continually tracking and staying within my points range for the most part. My clothes felt tighter and I felt uncomfortable.  It was not just muscle weight I was adding, there is just not enough cardio in that program and it didn’t work for me. I still occasionally use a few of the programs when I’m mixing up my weekly routine, but spin class, body pump and sorry attempts at running really give me my weight loss mojo.
(3) when i got back I re-read the WW Articles in search of the major pitfalls on the new PointsPlus system, because I really didn’t think was working as well as the old Points system for me.  I had been losing weight faster on POINTS and looking back on pics from November, noticed a clear difference in the way my face looked at that time…wasn’t as round as it is now.   I noticed that I might be eating too much fruit and probably underestimating volume.  This article was great. 
Just a tid-bit about European culture: their diet is generally not composed of the same processed garbage as ours.  Yes, they still have a McDonald’s and Au Bon Pain at every corner and have adopted the cafe culture like no other, but the food QUALITY is pristine.  For example, my cousin’s wife in Hamburg (and subsequently my cousin in Limoge) made the most amazing eggs I’ve literally EVER had.  Here’s why they were amazing; they were real eggs.  I wish I had taken a photo – the yolks were a deep orange, smelled like a farm fresh egg (if you’ve ever had one, you know exactly that freshness that I mean), and the taste…Oh my god…the taste was out of this world. Who knew that a simple egg seasoned with just salt and black pepper sould taste this heavenly.   Second, the MILK.  The 2% milk tasted like whole and it was naturally sweet.  Ice cream even tastes “cleaner” in Europe.
**Side note: I’m big into researching environmental impact on food quality and I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmingly upset that the europeans are light years ahead of the US when it comes to food quality and environmental standards.  It’s based on a EU policy which Germany has obviously adopted but perfected by working towards less fossil fuels and nuclear energy towards more natural forms of energy.  We have a long ways to go….even in terms of their modernism which makes all of the US appear like a third world nation (if you don’t believe me, check out the architecture of South Hamburg – it’ll blow your mind).**
Few Pictures of my trip


In the Eiffel Tower

L'arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees

Macaron, Paris

Cidre and Galette

Cheese at the Market, Paris

Fois Gras....not weightwatchers friendly but very Foodie Friendly

Afghani Aush at my uncle's in Limoge, France.

Crepe with pureed apple, walnuts, vanilla ice cream, and more chocolate than even I could handle

Iranian restaurant with my cousins in Hamburg. total happiness

How have you stayed fit while vacationing?

Here are a few tips to review (which I should have done before I went abroad) if you’re about to embark on a trip abroad:

“Everything in life is only for now”

May 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

Everything in life is only for now – quote from Avenue Q imprinted on a pin that one of my patients wore on her hospital gown everyday

This post will focus on what I’ve gained, both with respect to my medical knowledge and my fitness.  It’s been an emotional and physical test of my ability to cope with loss, gains, and learning what is most important in medicine.  It’s been painfully humbling to say the very least.

This month has been a particularly challenging one, not in terms of the medicine, but in terms of the emotional connectedness and empathy I felt on a daily basis.  I spent four weeks on the Hematology/Oncology ward.  This means I was taking care of patients with blood disorders such as obscure anemias, bleeding disorders, leukemia, lymphoma, and specific cancers such as lung and melanoma.  There is no other service that teaches you how to connect with your patient or fosters an environment where bedside manner can make or break your relationship with the ill patient.  This was, in all respects, my favorite rotation of intern year.

Human connectedness

Those two words describe the essence of the service.  I have never developed connections with my patients as I did this month.  Yes, of course I care for all of my patients and am generally interested in their well being, but let me assure you then when you have a patient who is experiencing end of life, the relationship beckons deeper love.  I think this was, by and large, a month where I learned more from my patients and was “helped” by them more than I could ever have done for them.  I found myself going the extra mile, staying many hours beyond my duty hours just to spend time with the families, ensure that crashing patients were safe, all loose ends were neatly tied, and, foremost discuss end-of-life decisions- the latter being the most emotionally moving aspect of my training to date.   It become my job to initiate a natural path to death with my beloved, terminally ill patients.  No other profession is honored with the rights to discuss DEATH with another being, to tell a true fighter that it’s ok to let go. I would do absolutely ANYTHING to allow them the most comfortable and peaceful path towards death. I grew intensely attached to my patients, regardless of age, stage of disease, or stage of grief.  I found myself calling the nurses long after I left to make sure the dying had enough pain meds, were comfortable, and that their families could call my cell if they needed. Humbling, terrifying, mystifying.  While the families we cared for were losing a loved one to sinister disease process, I was gaining insight into the depths of family values, the human experience, family dynamic and the meaning of love.

Losing patients to disease hit me so much harder and signing a patient’s DNR/DNI form would bring me to tears at times.  One patient’s decision to become DNR/DNI (meaning that they did  not wish to have CPR or any life support) led me to the closest bathroom where I spent a solid 30 minutes sobbing.  Of course I didn’t do this in front of the family during decisions of that magnitude, but I can assure you that I broke down into tears while holding the hand of several of several patients while  listening to their life story.  Beautiful.

Also, something that I saw on this service that I didn’t see an ounce of on my other rotations was POSITIVITY.  I was astounded at the positive attitude and zest for life that my patients had.  Considering the grave prognoses I wrote in charts daily, I was inspired that each patient was living for THIS day.  They focused only on THAT days’ total blood count, THAT days’ pain control, THAT days’ time with family, and some days even shared the travel plans they had for their last days.  There was only one time where I saw a patient cry over their disease, otherwise these patients were the embodiment of stoicism.  Again, they taught me lessons that a medical text book or attending could never teach me.  The quote in this post’s title was on a pin adorned by one of my myelodysplastic patients everyday.  She was preparing herself for a bone marrow transplant but was developing complicating infections because her immune system was being ravaged by the disease process.  Every morning I walked into her room she was playing vivaldi on her iPad, had her hair and make-up done, and would smile at me and say, “Good morning Miss Thing, I’ve missed you! How are we gonna start this day?”…and all the while all I could see was her rouge smile, while in the back of my mind knowing how ill she was, yet she saw past the disease and chose to live her life.  Her’s, as well as the experience from others, made me re-think those little things that I get worked up about, that we all stress about, and that we allow to ruin our day.  I thanked all of my patients at the end of the month, wished them well, sat in my car and and just cried, not wanting the month to end and not wanting to lose these patients.

Who would have thought that dying patients would teach me how to live. One day at a time.


Two weeks ago I reviewed my previous work-outs and saw that P90x (lean) made me put weight on and it was by no means only muscle weight. I went up a dress size and felt uncomfortable.   This gain did not make me happy but, like I said above, I have chosen to focus only on my activities and wise food choices I make THAT day.   I have several goal dates in mind (long term) but refocused on the short term goals by staying in the now.  With this mindset, a change in my exercise routine, a new exercise partner (mini-me, baby sis), discontinuing P90x (because there is not nearly enough cardio), I have lost two pounds this week.  This loss occurred despite going out to dinner and enjoying a few fantabulous vanilla bean cupcakes with Nutella frosting that I made for  my heme/onc nurses & attendings.


I’ve chosen my French Onion soup because, like the experiences I’ve had this month, it’s simple, full of flavor, and the simplicity gives it it’s divine savory flavor. How fab does this look!?

French Onion Soup
As adapted from Gourmet, 2006


  • 2 lb medium onions, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced lengthwise – **I actually used sweet onions**
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 Turkish bay leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine – **I used equal amounts of Gewurtztraminer for the sweetness and acidity to offset the savory croutons and broth**
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth (32 fl oz) – **I used fat free, reduced sodium, minimal loss in flavor**
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 (1/2-inch-thick) diagonal slices of baguette **I used freshly made, large cut Butter- garlic croutons** from the Fresh Market
  • 1 (1/2-lb) piece Gruyère
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano to sprinkle atop just before broiling

Cook onions, thyme, bay leaves, and salt in butter in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, uncovered, stirring frequently, until onions are very soft and deep golden brown, about 45 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in wine and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in broth, water, and pepper and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.

While soup simmers, put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Arrange bread in 1 layer on a large baking sheet and toast, turning over once, until completely dry, about 15 minutes.

Remove croûtes from oven and preheat broiler. Put crocks in a shallow baking pan.

Discard bay leaves and thyme from soup and divide soup among crocks, then float a croûte in each. Slice enough Gruyère (about 6 ounces total) with cheese plane to cover tops of crocks, allowing ends of cheese to hang over rims of crocks, then sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat until cheese is melted and bubbly, 1 to 2 minutes.

What experiences have reshaped you recently?