Who Lied To You?

“Who lied to you?” It’s just such a versatile question. Usually it comes out when I hear people’s ridiculous expectations for adulthood. I have low expectations from life. Some would call me cynical but I prefer the term pragmatic.

 

To clarify, I don’t mean that I’ve resigned myself to bring unhappy. Far from it. My parents made sure I had a healthy self-esteem, and they’re very encouraging of me pursuing my career goals. They were also supportive of my decision to get married at a young age. But they never let me operate under the illusion that things would just be handed to me, that the world is naturally fair and just, or that I would never experience disappointment.

Some people think you should raise your kids without fear of limits, and I agree with that up to a point. There’s no need to tell 5 year old Johnny, who wants to be a movie star, that the odds of him just being able to make a living off  chewing gum commercials and bit parts like  “Guy at Bar #2” are slim to none. But 13 year old Johnny who just joined the drama club, got a part in the school play and announced he wants to go to Juilliard needs a reality check. Don’t crush his dreams, but he needs to be looking at community theater and acting lessons and open casting calls like yesterday. And if he’s not willing to give up quality time with his Xbox to work towards his dream, then maybe he’s just interested in acting as a hobby and should consider other career options.

So yeah, adulthood is expensive as f*ck. And stressful at times. But am I surprised that workplace politics are often reminiscent of grade school? Or that nobody congratulates you for cooking at home and paying your bills on time? Or that as a woman, sometimes people are more concerned about my marital/motherhood status than my job goals? No, no, and no. Shoot, sometimes when things go left I honestly wish I had an excuse to be mad. But (un)fortunately, nobody lied to me!

A lot of my peers also seem to be really invested in becoming known, and having a legacy beyond their family and close friends. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with it, but I’ve never really wanted to be famous. Sure it would be cool, but (possibly to my detriment in this branding focused world) I’m more of a get sh*t done and let the chips fall where they may kind of girl. The only validation I’m seeking is your own contentment because the approval of others is a fickle beast. I don’t have time for it.

 

New Year, New Me (for real though)

My fitness journey has been interesting. Today I am officially 10 pounds down from my highest weight. In the grand scheme of things, and my ultimate goal, that’s not a whole lot. You can’t see it yet. But I can feel it, and given that this has been my struggle for a long time I feel that I should celebrate my progress.

Some background: My parents weren’t the best fitness role models. My dad has had a potbelly as long as I can remember, although it has shrunk a bit since he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes a few years ago and started watching what he eats. My mom, on the other hand, is naturally slim. Her house is full of cookies and candy and she makes a pie every other weekend. But she can indulge her sweet tooth with abandon because her metabolism is super high. She’s had three kids and had a flat stomach up until her 50s (she’s 66 now and still doesn’t protrude, it’s just soft). And yet she HAS never lifted a dumbbell or done a crunch in her entire life. Guess whose genes I inherited? *eye roll* I’m figuring out what works for me, though.

  • You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it (#noNike). Turns out it’s a lot harder to half-ass something than to fully commit. Consistency wins the day. It’s not sexy, and it’s not fast but it gets results.
  • We have no idea what a serving size is. And it’s not our fault. The nutrition labels lie. According to my dietitian, a single serving of carbs is just 20 grams, which is about a half cup of anything (cereal, rice, beans, corn, etc.). I went back & reread some labels and basically, we’re screwed. We don’t know what a meat serving size is either (4oz of skin on poultry or fatty meat, 6oz of lean meat or seafood). A typical burger is 6 ounces of fatty beef but a typical salad (which costs 2x as much as the burger) comes with just 2 ounces of skinless chicken breast. It’s a recipe for failure.
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A true balanced breakfast.

  • Healthy people spend a lot of time cooking. Now of course some folks are okay with eating nothing but protein shakes, hard boiled eggs and the standard meal of chicken breast/tilapia, broccoli/green beans and brown rice/sweet potato for the rest of their lives. For those of us who require more variety in our meals…put on your favorite show and get in the kitchen. You’re gonna be in there a while. I actually enjoy cooking but I can’t cook ahead as much as I want because our fridge isn’t big enough. When we get a house I need the double wide one and a deep freezer.
  • You’ve got to move it, move it. Some people have just always loved being active. They played a sport for every season of the year, they run 3+ miles a day or else they “just can’t function”. It ain’t me. Yes, the exercise high is real but your mileage may vary. I haven’t yet had one that came anywhere close to the one I get from fresh baked brownies or some adult time with Tex (*wink*) though. I’m kinda jealous of those folks who o.rga.sm when they work out. If it was that good to me it would make getting off the couch a lot easier! My victory is that I no longer dread breaking a sweat. Most of the time.
  • Drink some water. Then drink some more. When you’re eating half the portion sizes you used to, cutting liquid calories is essential for you to not feel hungry. I try to empty a 24 oz water bottle 3 times a day at least. It feels easier than pouring a glass at a time. Is it boring? OH MY GOD YES. I’ve subbed out green tea (with a single teaspoon of honey) for my coffee, but I don’t always want a hot drink. So now I love Topo Chico sparkling water.

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My Top 5 Favorite Terrible Movies

Growing up, I didn’t have cable. This was partially because my parents objected to us watching too much brain-rotting television (my siblings and I all have graduate degrees so I guess it worked!), and partially because we couldn’t afford it. My husband grew up with cable and loves watching movies. Between him and the fact that I’m making up for 18 lost years of pop culture exposure, I watch a lot of random sh*t.  Some movies are just so bad, that they’re good. So I’m cataloging a few of my favorite hidden gems.

  1. SAVAGES

You guys. THIS IS MY FAVORITE BAD MOVIE OF ALL TIME.  I first saw this movie with Tex and Teddy McBright. It has a gratuitous threesome in the first 5 minutes, and the ending is completely insane. On top of that, Benicio del Toro and Salma Hayek utter each line of this cheesy script as if it were a Shakespeare play. You can’t look away. It’s magnificent.

2. HOMEFRONT

This is a close second with Savages because it’s just as foolish. Jason Statham is my guilty pleasure that I don’t feel guilty about. I discovered him in The Transporter wayyyy back in ’02 and he’s been bae ever since. Anyway, he’s starring in this opposite James Franco as a meth king in the Louisiana bayou. I sh*t you now. Tex’s uncle and aunt who always host Thanksgiving are retired, and unc has all the time in the world to go down the Netflix rabbit hole. This was the after dinner movie for 2014. I think I was the only person who genuinely enjoyed it, and I have no shame. I laughed. I gasped. I yelled at the tv. It. was. everything!

 

 

3. THE FAMILY

A Luc Besson film that was given a scandalous 29% on Rotten Tomatoes, this movie is a diamond in the rough. It’s like Home Alone, except instead of a little boy setting booby traps for robbers it’s a formerly connected family setting booby traps for  the mob. Totally worth it just to see old man DeNiro scowl while trying to act like a regular, suburban American dad…in France. Tommy Lee Jones is more deadpan than usual as their humorless FBI case officer. Honestly, this might be the most quality film on this list.

 

4. THE PRINCE

What do you get if you mix Taken with John Wick and add Bruce Willis? A hit, ladies and gentlemen, that’s what! This was the 2015 after Thanksgiving movie. It didn’t quite live up to the splendor that was Homefront, but it was pretty good nonetheless. Bruce Willis stars as Bruce Willis and John Cusack stars as an unconvincing bad guy. There are gunfights and explosions and Rain is criminally underutilized for him to be pictured on the movie poster.

 

 

5. LAWLESS

The story of the Bondurant brothers is predictable. We know it won’t end well and that the women are just going to get them caught up. The accents are offensive at worst and merely bad at best (I swear some of these folks just swagger-jacked Cletus the slack-jawed yokel).  But the scenery and the costumes are gorgeous, and the actors make this entertaining. I came for Shia LaBeouf (don’t judge me!), but I stayed for Tom Hardy. That man can act his way out of a paper bag.

So that’s my top 5 bad movies. Have you seen any of these? Do you plan to watch them? Any bad movie recommendations? Let me know in the comments!

Can’t Shop, Won’t Shop

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For the past few years, the media has been chronicling the fall of the in-store shopping experience. It never really resonated with me. Aside from everyday needs like groceries and toilet paper, I do a lot of shopping online, usually because what I need either can’t be found in the store, or are significantly more expensive there. Things like textbooks for school and electronics are much more affordable online. For instance, none of the stores near me had an HP laptop with the storage and processor speed I needed for under $600. I found exactly what I wanted on Amazon for about $400. A two day wait was more than worth it to save that much money!

I also shop online out of necessity. First of all, I have big feet. I can buy sneakers in store, because I have no shame in shopping the men’s section (there’s almost always a confused looking dude who checks to make sure he didn’t accidentally wander into the wrong section, LOL!). But there’s not a single shoe store within 30 miles of where I live has a decent selection of size 11 or 11W women’s dress shoes EXCEPT for Payless, whose shoes may as well be made out of cardboard*. I’m also plus size (on the smaller side of plus, admittedly, but just big enough that I can’t just walk into any store and find something that fits).  Most brands have an abysmal in-store plus size selection, so if I don’t want to wear

a) suits made entirely of stretch fabric;

b) dresses that make me look like a church deaconess;

c) Mom jeans with an elastic waistband; or

d) oversized floral polyester blouses that shouldn’t be exposed to open flame

then I have no choice but to shop online. Walmart can get you through in a pinch, but no white collar worker who can afford to buy better would choose to craft their professional wardrobe out of Faded Glory and House of Dereon separates. On the other end of the scale, Macy’s overcharges for plus clothes that look like they belong in Walmart. Nordstrom and Dillards are expensive, and sell more dresses and cocktail outfits than everyday basics.

Anyway, I finally had occasion to shop in store. I got a Visa gift card for Christmas, and I hate using those online because if you find something that’s more than the card value, you can’t split payments. I was looking for two things: an alarm clock with FM radio and an aux cord for my iPod, and one of those handheld massagers**. Both of these items were at Bed, Bath and Beyond. However, I wasn’t prepared to spend $50 on a clock, and the only massager available was a $250 chair cushion. The clock was $20 cheaper on Amazon, as well as a host of affordable massagers, but I felt like both of these items were too mundane to justify waiting on shipping. Surely I could find a good deal at a different store! So off I went.

Target was a bust on the clock- there was only one clock that met my specifications, and it was a super fancy $80 model. I couldn’t even find the clocks at Walmart (they weren’t in electronics or home office) and I was so annoyed by that point that I didn’t bother to ask an associate. F*ck it, I’ll buy a clock online. I suppose it’s something of an anachronism by now. The irritating part was that both of their websites claimed to have several massagers available in store. I even had the option to order online and pick up in store the same day. But THE WEBSITE WOULD NOT TELL ME WHICH AISLE THE PRODUCT WAS ON. The all caps were necessary because it was stupid. What is the point of going to the store to buy something if you can’t look at it and see if you even want it first? If I was willing to buy something sight unseen, I’d just have gone to Amazon.

At any rate, all of this integration of e-commerce and physical stores means nothing if you can’t find the product. Sure, I could have hunted down a sales associate*** to ask for help, but if I can see the inventory levels online there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to find out which section a product is in as well. Whatever. Guess I’ll just buy it on Amazon.

UPDATE: After blogging this, I  went to CVS to buy shampoo. Before leaving the house I checked the website and saw there were massagers at my local store. They were easy to locate,  and the model I bought was listed for the same price as it was on Amazon. Plus, I had a $2 off coupon and $5 ExtraBucks rewards  from the loyalty program. CVS is out here winning!

*Not gonna lie, those cheap a** shoes got me through childhood, college and law school. But the first thing I did when I started working full time was buy a $100 pair of name brand shoes. Once you’ve had arch support, there’s no going back.

**Not for the bedroom, y’all. For my neck and shoulder.

***LOLOLOL as if one would even be available? Or even have the answer? I’ve worked retail, I know what it it is.

New-ish

It’s that time of year again for resolutions. There’s plenty on the internet about how we need S.M.A.R.T. goals instead of resolutions, because without a plan of action good intentions easily fall by the wayside. I already started working on my main goal. Apparently carbs are the devil as far as my metabolism is concerned because I ate pancakes, biscuits, and cookies (albeit in moderate portions and spread throughout the week) and didn’t gain one single solitary pound. Here’s to vegetables, dammit.

Aside from that, I don’t have the bandwidth for too much else this year besides finishing my tax certificate and finding a new job. I’ve been planning and hustling and grinding and worrying and I’m tired! *cue Fabo* “I’m tahd o’ strugg-a-lin!” So my other goal this year is to let go and let God. I didn’t get this far on my own anyway, and obsessively plotting every single step I take is useless and exhausting. I’m gonna put caution on a long leash and wade in the baby pool of recklessness. I mean, let’s not get crazy, right? Bottom line, I’m doing my part. I got the degrees, I’m getting the certification, I’m applying to the jobs and hitting the networking circuit. Not much more to do at this point than let things happen. I’m blessed with a hard working husband and the fact that I had the presence of mind to keep our monthly expenses down to what could be supported on one income instead of two. I’m winning. I just need to remember it. The plan is to get back to journaling, and start a twice weekly yoga/meditation practice to keep me balanced.

In other news, I went home to ATL for a whole week and had no parental drama for once in my life. I saw almost all of my cousins, the core GT crew, and got a ton of sibling quality time. Definitely one of the best holidays I’ve had since before my parents divorced. The world might be going crazy but there are still good things. I needed to remember that.

 

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Adventures in Dieting

A few months back I wrote about becoming more comfortable with my body and getting into fitness. And I’m proud to say that there have been only a few weeks this year where I haven’t worked out at all. But I haven’t met my weight loss goal. I’ve been losing and gaining the same few pounds all year. A lot of that was due to my eating habits, but stress and lack of sleep didn’t help either. The latter two are anathema to any kind of lifestyle change–you simply don’t have the willpower or energy to do better. Even after quitting my job, I didn’t get it together the way I told myself I would. My workouts got more frequent, and I ate a few more meals at home, but I didn’t make any drastic changes to my eating habits.

one-more-cookie

Well, I promised myself that if I didn’t do it on my own I’d have to get a personal trainer or something. I really thought exercise would be the hard part for me, but now I realize why it wasn’t. Exercising means that you only have to make the right choice once a day, at most. Provided you’re doing at least moderate intensity workouts for the recommended number of hours a week, you can get results exercising 4 days a week or all 7. But you have to eat, multiple times a day. And you’re supposed to eat meals and snacks from multiple food groups. So that means your burden to get it right, and opportunity to get it wrong, multiply exponentially!

Long story short, I signed up with a virtual nutrition coach a couple weeks ago. I get personalized meal plans via Dropbox, twice weekly meetings over the phone or via Skype, and workout suggestions as well. Since I know exactly how many servings of each food group I need each day, it makes meal planning much easier. I no longer have to agonize over whether I’m supposed to have something or not. And the plan is structured in such a way that I don’t have to count calories.

Just by comparing what I normally eat to the sample menu, I saw that I was eating way too many starches, somewhat overdoing the fruits, and not eating enough protein or veggies. They put me on a 3 day cleanse (which was actually really reasonable and involved all solid foods). But the one stickler was no starches! I could add one serving of a healthy starch for each hour of exercise. Y’all, I didn’t think I was going to make it. Bread is E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. Bread is bae. Bread is life (ask Jesus!). I mean, “give us this day, our daily bread” comes BEFORE “forgive us our trespasses” in the Lord’s prayer.

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And truthfully, on the first day I was hurt. Looking yearningly at the husband’s breakfast bagels in the pantry. Nibbling sadly on (literal!) nuts and berries, thinking:

got-carbs

And of course there was no sugar either. I was limited to 3 fruits (and not the candy tasting ones like pineapples and mangoes) and 3 TEASPOONS of honey per day. Y’all. That is ONE cup of green tea. I started to have an orange midafternoon and then told myself, “Better save that for dessert.” DESSERT, Y’ALL! On the second day, I went searching through Pinterest to see how I could make grapefruit more appetizing. I cheated (slightly) because sniffing a bag of dried semi-sweet coconut turned into eating one glorious, 1/2-inch piece of sugary goodness. But I got myself together and had an oven broiled grapefruit topped with cinnamon and a precious 1.5 teaspoons of honey (I just sucked it up and had some dry ass green tea). It wasn’t cake or cookies or anything like it. But I gutted that thang! The third and final day was much better, and I realized that my sweets craving is much more emotional than anything else. I don’t need it, and surprisingly, the fruit satisfied me enough that I didn’t go looking for more sweets. I got tired of tea and wanted some coffee, but that usually involves significant amounts of cream and sugar. So I went to Starbucks and got a skinny french vanilla latte instead (it’s made with skim milk and sugar free syrup). The last time I had one, I was disgusted. This time though? It. was. hitting! And for under 150 calories too.

This is what my life has come to. *weeps silently, yearning for a biscuit*