Sunday, April 29, 2012

Eats From the Past Week

I omitted the cheese from this recipe, and added roasted cauliflower with a tiny drizzle of grapeseed oil, garlic, and pepper. So good!

Eggplant Pomodoro

Whenever I'm craving pasta, I buy brown rice, gluten free spaghetti pasta. I will update soon with the brand I buy (it's not gross and mushy like some gluten free options are). I chopped up one eggplant, a box of about 50 grape tomatoes, and greek olives, then sauteed them with a little grapeseed oil for about 10 minutes. Add the sauteed veggies on top of the spaghetti, and sprinkle with some red pepper flakes. When I make this recipe, I usually make a 2:1 portion of veggies/pasta.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Health & Fitness

I have been thinking about adding nutrition and fitness posts to my blog for a long time now based on my experience and research. I have lost 55 pounds over the course of 2 years by eating clean and exercising regularly and am ready to share my experience here!

I was (and still am) not so confident about posting "before" photos of myself on the blog, but I feel as though my experience can help others (and seeing 'before and afters' are my favorite part of these kind of posts!)

Let's start at the beginning:
Throughout my childhood I was super skinny, and most of my adult life I've been a healthy, average size. I never had weight issues until I went on a medication that caused my metabolism to slow times (what seemed to be) a million. Over the course of three months, I gained 40 pounds. This weight gain lit a fire under my butt and I started upping my 1-2 day/week exercise schedule to 4-5 days per week of cardio, both on the elliptical machine or spin class. I lost a few pounds, but nothing significant.

June 2009

July 4, 2009

I ultimately decided that I needed to go off of the medication in August 2009 for several reasons. Once I did, the weight fell off. I was almost back to my pre-medication weight after about 4 months by keeping the same lifestyle of doing cardio 4-5 days/week and eating ok (I definitely didn't care as much about what I put in my body then as I do now).

I got engaged in September of 2009, and wanted to really start pushing myself to lose more weight and tone up for my wedding. I started going to group fitness classes using weights and I loved the results. My gym introduced Le Mills Body Pump classes in 2010, and that's when I really started to get more of a grip on my fitness goals. I went to Bodypump 2-3 days a week and did cardio on my own as well 1-2 days a week. The pounds fell off. On my wedding day, I had lost 60 pounds from my heaviest weight. Since then, I've gained 5 pounds of muscle.

Photo credit:

About Bodypump: Bodypump is a one hour workout using weights the entire time, with no rest and high repetitions. You work your entire body during this workout: legs, glutes, biceps, triceps, back, abs, and chest.

Before I was introduced to weight lifting, I thought the way to lose weight was to log in endless hours on the treadmill/elliptical/bike, which I did for a long time with little results. I've learned that weight loss and fat loss are completely different. Aerobic exercise does burn fat, but it also burns muscle (read more about this topic here). Lifting weights not only encourages fat loss, but replaces the fat with muscle and increases metabolism 48 hours after weight lifting.

In addition to one-hour Bodypump classes 3-4 days a week, I do HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) 1-2 days per week for an hour if I'm being good! HIIT consists of 2:1 interval work, for example one minute of sprinting and 30 seconds of walking, repeated several times. HIIT increases your metabolism, and doesn't burn through muscle like consistent cardio does.
I do need to work on increasing HIIT, as I do get a little lazy sometimes!

As for my diet, I eat very clean, however I am not restrictive with my diet ALL the time. When I go out with friends = bring on the yummy appetizers and dessert! Since I am strict with my diet 90% of the time, having cheat days and occasionally eating whatever I want works for me. When I say "strict", I don't mean that I'm starving myself by any means. I mean that I do not regularly eat fried food, sugar, an excess of carbs, soda or red meat. My typical meal usually includes high protein and lots of vegetables.

This has become my lifestyle, and I have never felt healthier in my entire life. I still have goals I want to reach and am not "done", and never will be.

Finally, here I am today:

April 19, 2012

I am looking forward to sharing my favorite healthy recipes, workout tips, and updated running music lists etc with all of you!


Sunday, April 8, 2012

DIY Wedding Flowers

I decided pretty early on in my wedding planning process that I would be doing most of the wedding flowers myself (my wonderful friends and family were also a tremendous help and I would have lost my mind without them).

I did a lot of research before I made my decision but knew off the bat that DIY flowers was most likely the way to go to save on cost. For the amount of flowers and style I wanted, having a professional do the work would have cost a very pretty penny. I did interview a couple florists, and discovered that I'd save about half the cost by doing DIY arrangements.

The style of our wedding was glamorous, and our colors were white, black, pink, and gold. I planned to use all white roses sitting upon the tallest possible tapered vases.

My inspiration:

I ordered 12 31 inch, tapered vases from Wholesale Glass Vases International for $25 a piece, which was a steaming deal in comparison to other retailers and wholesale websites I looked at. Their customer service was excellent, and shipping was super fast.

Here's one of the vases sitting atop my kitchen table:

In addition to the vases, I ordered hanging crystal pieces from Koyal Wholesale, you can see the ones I ordered here.

To make your own floral arrangements with fresh flowers, you'll need:
- wet foam bricks
- floral tape
- clear bowl or tray to fit on top of the vase opening
- garden scissors
- buckets
- flowers
- flower food

I ordered 1,000 roses and 50 hydrangeas for all of the centerpieces and bouquets from Costco's wholesale floral department. I will be completely honest and say that the flowers gave me the most anxiety over every other wedding detail. I worried that they'd brown and die under my care, I worried that I'd order them to early and not have them at their prime on the wedding day, and the list goes on. Looking back, I don't regret my decision at all, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

I was so incredibly lucky to have my friends there for me to help care for the flowers and help arrange them. One of my dear friends had gotten married several months before me used Costco as well, and knew how to care for the flowers once they arrived at my house. She was so incredibly kind to come over the night they arrived, and clipped 1,050 flowers with me.

Here's what boxes holding 1,050 flowers looks like 3 days before your wedding (suitcases, gifts etc everywhere as well):

Before unpacking the boxes, I filled about 20 buckets with water and put the flowers in, in their wrapping to keep the petals safe and closed. After they were all unpacked, we clipped each stem about 1/2 an inch diagonally for better water absorption. This was to be done every other day until arranging the centerpieces, so we only did this a total of two times. Because I was super paranoid, I kept our house as freezing as we could possibly stand to keep all those white flowers alive. Side note: white flowers are very sensitive. One touch to the petals, and they're at risk to brown.

The original plan was to only use roses, but after a trial run, I realized there were too many gaps in the centerpiece, and to fill those spaces would have cost a lot more. Since i love hydrangeas, I decided to add 3-5 to each centerpiece to fill space since they're approximately the size of 5-10 roses a piece. I cannot stress enough how important a trial run is!!!

Here's how to arrange centerpieces in a sphere shape:

Step 1: Cut all flowers diagonally.

Step 2: Soak 1 wet foam brick for about 30 minutes in cold water until completely saturated. Once the flowers are placed into the wet foam, they will receive water and stay fresh for several days.

Step 3: Put the wet foam brick in your bowl (I used clear bowls from the dollar store so that they wouldn't show too much through the vases).

Step 4: Place your floral tape in a criss-cross pattern over the entire bowl, on top of the wet foam. This will be your guide as where to place the flowers and it will keep the wet foam from sliding around.

Step 5: Insert 3 hydrangeas in a triangle shape into the wet foam.

We started by placing one in the middle, and then two around it, in the shape of a triangle.

Step 6: Around the hydrangeas, add about 75 roses. Place your bowl directly in/on your vase.

Some of the centerpieces came out a little sparse, but since we had extras, we filled the spaces with extra roses and hydrangeas. Here are a couple before we added a few flowers to fill space:

If you want to add hanging crystal to your centerpieces, you'll need floral picks to loop onto a piece of the crystal hooks, and simply place the picks into your wet foam as desired.

Since I have two cats, I there was no way I was going to keep the completed vases and centerpieces in my house, so I did pay a florist to store them in her shop for one night.

I really hope this was helpful to brides who are thinking of going the DIY floral route. Given how nervous I was about taking on this venture, I wish I had someone tell me it was going to be just fine.
I would love to hear from brides who did their own flowers and what the process was like, and if anyone has questions, please ask!