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Thoughts on the Gym

When I moved to Boston in 2008 I had just graduated from law school, had no job and was studying for the Oregon bar exam (that’s a story for another day).  I was probably in the best shape of my life after living in Eugene and walking miles and miles every day in the woods.    There’s a lot of free time when you are a 3L in law school.  I knew I needed to join a gym to keep myself sane while studying and luckily there was a woman’s gym about 2 blocks from my apartment in Brookline.  I joined and was a member there until 2015 when my son was born, my credit card expired, and I ignored the gym’s calls to give them a new one.  Oops!   I loved the classes the most and did step aerobics, bootcamp, a weight class and yoga almost every week.  I still gained about 15 pounds because nothing can combat all the baking and wine drinking I did back then but at least I was strong.  After I had Camille I had a hard time fitting classes in but I would still go to the elliptical and spend an hour reading a magazine or watching their TV.  A luxury when you have a baby.

Flash forward to 2017 and the beginning of my sabbatical from work and I knew I needed to do something to get more exercise.  My old gym had just moved into a new space which invigorated me to join again.  So many things are still the same and I have been surprised at how comforting and familiar it is to be back there.  Most of the teachers are different so I am learning which ones I like and don’t like.  On Friday mornings I noticed there was a Zumba class that you had to sign up for, which meant it was really popular.  I decided to give it a try and I was in love.  The teacher is a young man, obviously a dancer, with an insane amount of energy and a light that would make anyone happy.  After one class another class goer said, “this class is better than any drug to improve your mood,” and I had to agree.  It was probably only my second Zumba class ever so I was way behind and flailing all over but at the end I was tired and happy.  Unfortunately, I go back to work tomorrow and will not be able to go to the Friday morning class anymore so I’m going to try out the 7pm Thursday class which I’m expecting will feel even more like a party.

In addition to Zumba I have tried some of their yoga classes including one with a teacher that said things like, “as you go into this pose, remember your destination is infinity…” with a completely straight face and what sounded like a fake accent.  Whoa boy.  Otherwise the class was good so I’ll probably go back.

Since joining I am surprised at how much I actually look forward to going where I used to kind of dread the classes, even though I would always feel good afterwards.

Huh, I guess they were right about this working out thing. It does make you feel good!

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Another book about Happy

There seem to be hundreds of books with some version of “Happy” in it and I’ve read maybe three or four.   The Happiness Project was a great one, and even though I read it a couple of years ago I still use, or strive to use, tips from there.  The Secrets of Happy Families was a good one also which I obviously need to read again because our family could use some tips right now.  Especially about bedtime.

This is the most recent Happiness book I’ve read and while it did not give me any life tips, it did make me cry and be grateful for what I have.  Happiness: A Memoir: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After is about a child that was born with a blood disorder and how her parents handle the situation.  It was very gripping and I read it in one day.

Next up is a book that was recommended to me by a colleague.  It’s called Chemistry, by Weike Wang.  I’ll let you know how it is!

Books

Reading is Fun

My family is all about reading for fun and we are especially obsessed with the library.  My mother took my brother and me to the library at least once a week and she would always check out the “New Fiction” section and grab a couple books.  Well, now I do the exact same thing while my children whine about going down to the kid’s section or just plain leaving already!

I am a fast reader and can usually make it through a book pretty quickly but since having kids it has become more difficult.  By the time they go to bed I’m usually too tired to even turn on Netflix so my reading time is usually on the train to work or in the middle of the night when I wake up and read on my Kindle.  Oh well, at least I still read a little!

I will be keeping track of my current reads on the Goodreads widget on the side of the blog.  Right now I just finished the new book from Graeme Simison who also wrote The Rosie Project.  The Rosie Project was a great book so I was looking forward to this one.  I almost gave up on it halfway through but I’m glad I stuck it out.  It was not as great at The Rosie Project but I still enjoyed it.  The main character is Adam Sharp (duh) and he has been with the same woman for 20 years when he hears from an old girlfriend he had while on a business trip in Australia.  He starts to reconnect with his old love and it takes a bit of a strange turn.  I recommend picking it up to see where it goes…

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More Apples

I am up to my ears in apples (is that the right expression?) so yesterday I peeled a bunch and made applesauce and apple cake.  We still have a ton of apples so if anybody has any thoughts on new ways to use apples please let me know.  I am still not in the habit of taking pictures of everything but here are the recipes.

Slow-Cooker Applesauce

  • 6-10 apples, peeled, cored and cut into pieces
  • 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/4 cup water
  • sprinkle of salt

Add all ingredients to slow cooker and cook on low for about 5 hours or until all the apples are broken down.

Tips:  Two cinnamon sticks led to it being very cinnamon-y so next time I would probably use one.  I used an apple cutter, like this one, for the apples and did not cut them more than that.  It worked great.

Apple Loaf

  • 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup flaxmeal (I used Trader Joe’s flaxmeal)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups peeled and diced apples, any kind

Topping

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
  • sprinkle of salt

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time until thoroughly mixed.  Add buttermilk and vanilla and mix until all incorporated.

Stir together the dry ingredients and add to butter mixture.  Mix until just incorporated and then fold in apples.  Pour into 9×5 greased loaf pan.

Mix all topping ingredients and cut in butter until mixture resembles a course crumb.  Sprinkle on top of cake batter.  Bake for 50-60 minutes until a tester comes out clean.

Family

Around the House

Well, you are learning a lot about me so I’ll just keep it going.  Today’s lesson, I am a mess.  I like to keep things clean, as in not filthy, but I have a hard time not being messy. I just can’t seem to find a place for everything!  I like to think it is because we do not have enough space but that probably isn’t true.  We have a three bedroom apartment with quite a lot of other space and a basement where we can store things.  Organization is a problem and on my sabbatical I have also been working on organizing and getting rid of things!

However, I do not think my husband and I are the only problem.  My children cannot keep anything together.  Everything becomes a toy and gets moved around.  For example:

This morning the guitar was Moana’s oar and got thrown onto the chair:

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This box that I keep makeup in was emptied and used as some sort of phone:

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A small doll went for a swim in the homemade jello we tried to make last night (it was not really edible but apparently made a great swimming pool):

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“Beautiful” paintings drying on the radiator:

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And of course mama still hasn’t moved the apples from where they landed on Sunday:

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How do people keep their houses clean??

 

Weight Loss

Losing It

My day job is as a lawyer at a non-profit in Boston and one of our perks as a non-profit is that we get a sabbatical after 7 years of working.  I never thought I would stay there for 7 years but I did, and I made it to my sabbatical!   I have had the last 7 weeks off to do whatever I want.  One of my goals was to focus on my health.   I quit my gym membership after having our second baby because I could not figure out how to fit it into my schedule.  I was pretty happy with my weight about 6 months after Elliot was born but since then I have slowly gained it back.  I have never been much of a dieter but after Elliot was born I read a book called Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes and it convinced me to try a low carb diet.  Sugar has always been my friend so stopping sugar was intimidating.  After a couple of weeks not eating sugar or many carbs I did lose weight and I lost my cravings for sugar.  Of course the extreme diet did not last but I have significantly lowered the amount of carbs and sugar I was eating and overall felt healthier.   I’ve tried to extreme low carb it a couple more times over the last 2 years but I haven’t been able to stick to it.  A couple of weeks ago I started to hear about this fasting thing and read some more about the benefits of fasting but it sounded terrible because who wants to be hungry?  I skimmed The Obesity Code by Jason Fung but it was also too extreme.  I have no desire to skip eating for a whole day!  However, I am not a big breakfast person so I thought I could at least try skipping breakfast for a week and see how it goes!  The diet people call it 16:8 because you fast for 16 hours and eat between 8 hours.

For the past 1.5 weeks I have eaten my meals only between 12-8pm.  I joined the gym and still work out in the morning after only having coffee and water and it has been fine.  I was sure I would feel tired or dizzy working out without breakfast but as long as I drink a lot of water it has been fine.  Now, when I go back to work next week it might be a little harder because I am used to having breakfast as soon as I get to the office.  We’ll see if I can make it to noon!  If not, I may shift the eating window to 11-7pm and see if that helps.

And…I’ve lost 2 pounds in a week and a half.  Of course I’m still trying to eat healthy when I eat but I have also eaten apple crisp, chips and guac and pumpkin beer so not exactly perfect.  I’ll keep you updated on how it goes.

A little bit more about what I have been doing:

  • Eat first meal around noon, usually a loaded salad.
  • Stop eating by 8.
  • Drinking a lot of coffee in the morning with a splash of milk or heavy cream.  I am going to try to move to black coffee but it’s hard!
  • Drinking a lot of unflavored soda water and regular water.  Anything with flavor, including gum, will stimulate your hunger so keeping it plain helps a lot.
  • Working out most days.  Zumba, HIITS, elliptical, yoga and walking are my favorite

Weight has gone from 173.2 to 171.4.  I started working out mid-August and did not lose any weight so I really think the fasting has made a difference.

 

 

Recipes

Apple Crisp 101

It’s decorative gourd season everyone!   That means apple picking, pumpkin displaying and eating all desserts with a pile of whipping cream.  Living in New England, especially with children, means that we must go apple picking at least once a season.  Most fall seasons I end up going more than once which means a lot of apples to eat and cook with. Last weekend we ended up at Carlson Orchards in Harvard, Massachusetts.  We have been there a few times and I like it because it is usually less crowded and it is less carnival-y than many of the others.  At first we picked up a small bag but the kids were having so much fun picking apples (and asking me to hide them in my purse) that we eventually got the bigger bag.  Now we have TOO MANY APPLES! img_5904.jpgImmediately I came home and started making apple crisp.  My family has been making apple crisp for generations so sometimes I even make it without a recipe.  I’m including some tips and a recipe that I like with some substitution suggestions.

Apple Crisp Tips

  • Chop up the apples however you want – size and shape generally does not matter
  • Mix the apples with lemon juice, sugar and your spice preference
  • Check your cupboards for topping helpers.  Granola is awesome, oatmeal is good, just flour will do.
  • Serve warm with freshly whipped cream, ice cream or spray whipped cream, I won’t judge.

Apple Crisp Recipe

Ingredients 

  • 6-8 apples, peeled and diced however you like
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon*
  • 1/2 juice of lemon
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup oatmeal**
  • 2 Tablespoons flaxmeal (optional)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted cold butter

Prepare the Apples Mix the apples with the lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon and add to a 9 x 9 baking pan.

Prepare the topping  Mix all the dry ingredients.  Cut the butter up into small pieces and add to flour mixture.  Use a pastry cutter, two forks, or your fingers until it resembles a coarse crumb mixture.  Pat topping onto apples.  Bake for 40 minutes or until apples are bubbling and top is set.  It may not brown so don’t wait for that.

* Cinnamon can be added to taste.  My husband is from Europe and thinks Americans use way too much cinnamon so I like to mix up the spices.  I recently found something called Bakers Spice from Penzley’s Spice that I really like.

**Instead of oatmeal you can use any granola you have on hand which will make a super crunchy and delicious topping!

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