“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower” [Albert Camus]

Two words: pumpkin spice

… I just googled (don’t you love how that’s become a verb??) trying to find the nutritional information for pumpkin spice products at Dunkin’ Donuts, and was unsuccessful. I did, however – find these creative recipes using DD products, helping the pumpkin spice fan bring some zing to their own kitchen.

Pumpkin spice is autumn to me. Fall is on the brink. Granted, paying $2.33 for a medium coffee on a daily basis doesn’t necessarily go along with my bank account at the moment (almost $14 a week? No thanks), but one or two a week really can’t hurt.

It’s been a very productive week so far. I spent my day in the big apple yesterday, and am pleased to announce that I’m one step closer to being a. full-time employed and b. a big city gal! Yup, you read it right. Starting on the 13th, I’ll be spending my Mondays and Tuesdays (and Thursdays, from home) working for cafemom.com! Blogging, researching and brainstorming; I’m so so so excited to learn more about the business, get more clips and of course – business casual clothes and NYC in the fall.

After a minor egg white puff mishap (followed by 10 minutes cleaning the microwave) I headed toward the gym early this morning to do today’s workout:

Does anyone have suggestions on how to incorporate strength training into a half marathon running routine? I find that the worst thing is doing some lifts, waking up sore the next morning and then having to run four miles. What is your favorite thing about race season? And if you’ve never run a 5k, what do you think is the biggest obstacle holding you back?

“You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it” [Charles Buxton]

There are parts of summer that I love. Really.  I love the grits of sand between my toes, the hot sun upon my bare bronzed  shoulders, feeling carefree during late nights at bars that have a patio to enjoy warm temperatures and of course the food that comes with it (fruit tastes better when it’s above 75 degrees, I swear).

But the taste of fall throughout the last few days has been a legitimate tease. I wore jeans and a American Apparel sweater. I bought warm coffee (medium french vanilla with skim milk) and anticipated the arrival of pumpkin spice. I thought about buying Christmas (and Chanukah) presents and of course, about the boy coming back home, finally.

But – maybe it’s best not to rush it. Because once fall rears its head around the corner of summer’s swag filled with dollar cones, warm New York City nights and college graduation parties – it’s over. Another summer for the books, another chapter over with.

With another week or so of 80 degree plus days ahead of us – I’ll put the hoodie I bought from Old Navy back into the closet (It was a steal – $12 – and I was killing time before work) and take out my bikini for one last hoorah.

What better way to kick off the last week of true summer glory than a six mile run in the valley with my best friend? Catch ya later!

What’s been your favorite summer memory? And what are you looking forward to most about fall?

“The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking places” [Author unknown]

I’m exhausted. The day so far in numbers:

4 The number of miles I’ve run today (It’s 8 a.m. for those following along at home)

6 Hours of sleep I got last night

13 Number of people standing in front of me at Starbucks as I sit here writing this

310 Songs on my “Just chillin'” playlist. Breathe in, Exhale: Namaste.

What better way to kill time between my early morning workout and the office than with a grande sugar-free caramel iced coffee and some quality time with my Macbook Pro.

This morning, I have some comparisons for you. I’m going to throw this out there – catch it if you’re interested.

In today’s economy – the job hunt is a lot like hitting a weight loss plateau.

FirstThere’s a lot of effort. Every day, I wake up – search my three main job websites, and go from there. Like a fitness aspiration, there is always that one main goal. Whether it be losing 20 pounds, starting to see definition in your calves or running more than a mile without huffing and puffing – all of the aforementioned take focus, concentration and determination. At the beginning of each week, I wake up – attempt putting my best foot forward and say to myself: “I will get an interview this week.” Since every position is unique – cover letters are constantly changing, the standard resume needs tweaking and of course: once you land the interview – you’ll need a brand new outfit, to reprint your resume and do a fair share of research.

Second: It’s frustrating. When you hit a plateau, you feel like you’ve stopped making progress. Often, individuals gauge their efforts by the numbers on the scale. Big. Mistake. The truth is, when your body is going through a huge change, like dropping pounds, there are other ways to manage success. Perhaps one week, you’ve put on some muscle, and lost an inch in your waistline. The numbers on the scale won’t reflect this change, because muscle weighs more than the fat it’s replacing.

Third: You’re not alone. In terms of the job hunt, everyone is looking right now. I keep telling myself that this will get better, that it’s going to work out and what is supposed to happen, will. With weight loss, it is so SO important to realize that SO many others are struggling with many of the same scenarios as you. Plateauing is part of the whole process. It is your job to accept it, set goals to help you work through the angst and focus on small wins.

Do not to give up. Yes, I understand this concept. Is it easy? Of course not. The truth is this: Whether or not you’re immediately successful in either realm, appreciate what you’ve got. I may be frustrated, but I’m learning a lot: How to interact with editors, what’s appropriate to wear to an interview, how to perfect a cover letter, not to put on my heels until I’m strolling up to the office (Blisters? No thanks), what stylistic tone fits different types of media outlets and so much more.

… one day at a time. That’s what I keep telling myself.

What’s the best thing to pull you out of a rut? A fiesta of course!

I cooked chicken and shrimp fajitas for both of my parents Monday night – and they were absolutely delicious! After doing a bit of research, I decided to cook onions, green and red peppers in the oven instead of on the stovetop.

The ingredient list:

  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 1/2 sliced onions
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt, pepper and cayenne pepper

I put my concoction into the oven at 450 for around 15 minutes, stirring up the veggies twice throughout the cooking process. On the stove, I took chicken strips (marinated in taco seasoning), sauteed them, added some frozen thawed shrimp ($8.99 at my local Stop&Shop) and seasoned to taste.

After taking the veggies out of the oven, I combined them in the pan with the proteins – and they got along pretty well, if I do say so myself. With Pandora’s John Mayer Trio channel (personal favorite track: “Good Love Is On The Way”) playing, I was reading to set the table.

The fajita mixture, fresh guacamole, salsa, black beans, sour cream and mexican rice (from a box, I’ll admit it). Oh – and some white wine. As for the whole wheat tortillas, I simply brushed them with a little bit of olive oil, sprinkled (literally, less than a quarter cup for all three wraps) them with some 2 percent reduced-fat cheddar cheese and popped them into the 450 degree oven for about six minutes, or until the edges were golden brown. Mmmm, the perfect added crunch to our dinner-time fiesta.

I have to confess: I actually had a ton of fun making this meal. Eeeeek, I’ve gotta run – Just peaked at the time and I’m pretty sure my parking meter is about to expire.  What’s your favorite meal to cook for family and friends? Are you a fan of early morning workouts? Have you ever felt like you were in a rut?

“Appreciate me now, and avoid the rush” [Ashleigh Brilliant]

This morning I’m tackling the concept of healthy lifestyle suggestions for gals on the go. Since May – I’ve been traveling to and from my freelance job at The Hartford Courant, about 55 minutes away – every Tuesday to go in and log some hours doing online production work. It’s not always easy to think ahead – and in the whirlwind that is my Tuesday mornings, I’m generally frazzled trying to squeeze in a workout, shower, find something to wear and get out the door just in time to make it up to Hartford.  The result? I don’t bring any food with me, and I’m scrounging for food as soon as I leave the place.

There are two way to tackle this scenario.

The first: Grabbing something to eat nearby

One of my favorite spots for healthy, satisfying lunch suggestions is the Fitness Magazine Twitter page. Daily, the mag posts a suggestion for a fast food lunch, like this one:

Before you hit the drive thru – make sure you’re well-educated. Items like cheese, mayonnaise, sauces and frying add generally add more calories – so be cautious. And, just because you’re ordering a grilled item, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. Your best bet: go to company websites, and pick seven to ten lunches that are under in the “safe zone.” Keep a stash of fruit by your desk, like apples, oranges and bananas – and stick with just a sandwich instead of fries or other fatty sides.

The second: Planning ahead

What better way to learn – then by example. So today: I’m planning ahead.

The first step: buying the right ingredients. Make sure you buy things that will make this easy, instead of a hassle. A salad chef? Buy your favorite veggies, slice them over the weekend and simply combine them right before heading into the office for the perfect workday salad. Hesitant to make sandwiches because of the calories in the roll? Well, Arnold’s has a solution.

At 100 calories per “sub” – these bread thins are the perfect solution for a large appetite on a small calorie budget. Today’s sub: Boar’s Head buffalo chicken, half a slice of Alpine Lace swiss, romaine lettuce and Hellmann’s Light Mayo.

And I didn’t stop there. Are you a muncher? I am. Bring healthy options to keep your chompers occupied during the workday without feeling guilty as you step into the car. Veggies like green peppers, carrots and celery are perfect for mindless munching. Looking for something a bit more filling? Go with a granola bar (my favorite: Fiber One Oats & Peanut Butter).

That’s all for now folks. If I don’t hop into the shower and get my booty out the door – I’m going to be late! Do you have any other questions about healthy eating on the go? What’s your favorite grab and go snack?

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it” [Oprah Winfrey]

Warning: Sporadic entry ahead.

I feel as if I’ve been running everywhere lately, literally. Per usual, I’ve been a girl on the go. After a long weekend (Wednesday to Saturday) celebrating a few birthdays with the gals, it’s good to be home for a solid amount of time – and back in the gym. Training for my third half marathon is officially in play (signing up tomorrow night) and the fundraising e-mail is being drafted. Throughout the training, I’ll be posting my running log and a “Tip Of The Day” for aspiring first-timers.

My weekend consisted of a lot of this:

Photos galore - I'll restrain from posting sorority style group pics. New wardrobe additions: check.

A solid amount sunshine, sand between my toes, suntan lotion and QT at the beach. Favorite thing about Long Island: beaches with real waves along the Atlantic Ocean. Oh Milford - how your Long Island Sound shores are oh so subpar.

Smart dining choices. Shown here: a fresh fruit cup - the perfect addition to Thursday morning's brunch.

Driving. Snapped a shot of the NYC skyline while sitting in some serious traffic.

Oh … and this:

The chilly, rainy weather demanded an appropriate lunch. Maybe not the most beautiful picture – but butternut squash soup was the perfect, delicious touch to a gloomy afternoon.

Sidenote: I was just channel surfing and stumbled upon the 2003 treasure “What a Girl Wants.” “You Get Me” by Michelle Branch is playing. Yes, I’m having nostalgia. Yes, I’ve been following her on Twitter. And I may or may not have taken a break from blogging to check out what songs of hers I have on iTunes, reminiscing of my awkward Abercrombie & Fitch filled middle school days.

Hard to believe August is almost over. It’s already time back-to-school (or for many of us: a harsh reality check) and soon enough – it’ll be wedding season, marathon time and my boy will be back in the United States. For now, I’m going to enjoy the rest of the corniness of Amanda Bynes in her peak.

Oh! And before I forget – I’ve been getting a bunch of questions via e-mail, and I definitely want to take the time to address some of them this week! Lookout for upcoming entries talking about:

  1. Healthy lifetstyle suggestions for gals on the go
  2. Talking to friends about making healthier choices
  3. How to make positive changes when you feel like there’s no hope

What’s your favorite meal for a rainy day? Anyone else training for an October/ November race?

Today’s workout song: “Freedom 90″ by The Cat’s Meow

“There are no mistakes or failures, only lessons” [Denis Waitley]

I’ve been learning a lot lately.

Lesson #1: It’s OK to indulge every once in a while

It’s no secret that I lost all my poundage through WW over the past few years. The foundations of the WW plan include being able to eat what you want – when you want – in moderation. Throughout the last week, I’ve been on assignment for my freelance job to take photos of ice cream throughout Connecticut. And as you can imagine, I’ve seen some yummy things.

… Like this:

Sunny Daes: Fairfield, Conn.

Or this:

Scoopy Doos: Milford, Conn.

With an assignment so delicious, it’s hard to stay on track. But, I’ve done well. I’ve tried everything that I’ve taken a picture of – and didn’t feel guilty. Throughout the past week I’ve kept my ice cream adventures in mind, and eaten salads instead of sandwiches, grilled veggies instead of french fries.

Romaine salad with sliced chicken, tomato, hot sauce and a little bit of fresh mozz (couldn’t ditch the craving post-Italian festival), then topped with fat-free ranch post-photo.

Grilled chicken sausage (a summertime favorite of mine) with green peppers and onions, two tablespoons of Island Soyaki for flavor. Yum!

Summer is a time for fruity beverages, frosty treats and good home-grilling. Allow yourself to enjoy these times with friends and family by scaling down other meals to compensate! Looking forward to a backyard barbecue at your grandmother’s tomorrow night? Squeeze in a three-mile run, hit a zumba class and be mindful of your meals leading up to the event! It’s OK to have fun, and it sure as hell is OK to enjoy a margarita every once in a while!

Lesson #2: Not everything is as it seems

… I’ll resist the temptation to go into a full analysis of The Hills/ Laguna Beach over the past few years. However – I will say: what was with the finale?! Sure, a few years ago I heard that a friend of a friend’s uncle or second-cousin twice removed helped write the script for the show. But – that never really mattered when I was sitting sipping green tea or white wine with my friends debating LC or Kristen’s next move. The end of an era? I feel like when SATC ended. What’s next … a movie? We’ll see.

Rant ended. I’ve done two days of marathon prep so far, with three miles on Monday and four miles this morning (a special thanks to the rain gods who must have heard my prayers, allowing me to huff and puff through the humidity, down the beach and back through my front door without a drop). My right knee has been bothering me, and I’ve been a bit worried about what this means for training. But then, I took a closer look at my sneakers.

On the surface: a pair of New Balance 1225 sneakers that literally saved my stride last October. A little back story: I bought these beauties after a minor setback on Wednesday, September 30, 2009. My last half marathon brought a few challenges:

  • A fundraising debacle: After a friend of mine passed away last October, and I decided that for my second half marathon, I would raise money for a scholarship fund in his name. However, after some shady organization on fundable.org, I had to cancel my “auction” before the end date and lost all the money raised by my contributors.
  • A foot complication: With 12 days to go before the race I experienced some serious foot pain and I knew that there was no wasting time. I went to a personal trainer who told me that it was my old sneakers (Under Armour) that were the culprit to my foot problem. After buying my current sneaks, I was able to walk and run again within days – and complete the marathon 32 minutes faster than my time in 2008.

Anyway – I took a closer look at my sneakers yesterday – and saw this:

They are officially worn down. With holes in the back of both heels, I think I’ve found the culprit of my knee problems.

… anyone have sneaker suggestions for me? I’m a flat-footed lady who needs moderate stability.

Lesson learned though, don’t go running to the doctor (literally) before taking a closer look the possible causes for pain. Looks like I’ll investing a few dollars in my feet. What’s your biggest fitness investment? I know my girl Hill splurges on the unmentionables. Do you look for style, comfort or price?

    “Don’t wait for answers, just take your chances” [Billy Joel]

    There are different personality types. Me – I’m an organized, get ‘ir done kind of gal. I like days where I have a plan, and am often hesitant to be spontaneous on a whim. I’m bad with surprises, but always crave them. I’m money conscious, to say the least. I take serious convincing to take more than $40 out of an ATM at one swipe.

    I love to laugh. My perfect days are spent on the coast with a good friend talking about the weekends past as grains of sand stick between my toes. I’m a windows down, loud music on a hot day, condensation on my fingertips after sipping a chilled diet coke in my cup holder – fan.

    I’ve been more spontaneous over the last month then I have been throughout the last year … and with spontaneity comes an irregular diet. Some of the DIY versions of my favorite foods from the past few days:

    Baked sweet potatoe with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray and a pinch of brown sugar. A take off of the succulent sweet potato fries I enjoyed Thursday night at a restaurant for dinner with friends in Stamford during Alive @ 5.

    A strawberry, romaine, tomato and cucumber salad sprinkled with feta cheese and a balsamic drizzle. A take off of Panera’s strawberry poppyseed creation!

    … however, there are some things you just can’t recreate.

    Enter the zeppoli.

    Zeppoli (n): A light deep-fried dough ball originating from Italian cuisine. Generally topped with powdered sugar – the consistancy of this decadency is light, puffy and naturally delicious.

    Yesterday – I was here:

    The Giglio Feast 2010 at Our lady Of Mount Carmel Church in Brooklyn. My dad’s side of the family is pretty Italian. Family gatherings, including Thanksgiving, always include pasta and some dish I cannot pronounce (examples: Gnocchi di semolino, struffoli, ossobuco) and yesterday – was no exception. After heading to the festival for some zeppolis and a $20 souvenir T-shirts (I miss summer camp and the opportunities to wear them acceptibly in public) – we enjoyed a family lunch at a nearby restaurant.

    Long carrides always encourage a lot of thinking. And well, I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. Last week, I committed to getting back on track. This week, I have another announcement:

    I’m going to start training for a full marathon.

    I know. It’s serious, and possibly crazy. After running two half marathons, I think I may be up to the challenge. With the goal set on the October Hartford ING … I’m going to be flexible. The training itself is rigorous – I’ve done some research and looked at my options. Whether or not, come marathon sign up – I decide to go for the full or the half, I want to start running more often, and prove to myself that if not this year, that one day – I will do it.

    … I guess this is me being pretty spontaneous, isn’t it? What’s the biggest decision you’ve made lately? Have any of you ever run a full marathon? Do you have any training tips or good tunes?