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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Help a Grad Student Out - Take My Survey!

As many of you know, I'm getting a couple of Masters Degrees. Along with homework, tests, and mind-numbing reading, no Master's Degree is complete without a handful of research papers! Unfortunately for me, I'm working on one right now for my God Awful, er- I mean, Global Economics class. 

I need to collect at least 40 responses to a survey for my paper. It's not limited to 40, and the more respondents the better! If you could spare a few minutes, please take this brief, anonymous survey. Thank you very much! Consider this small piece of grad student charity to be your good deed for the day!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Items I Probably Should Never Wear...

I'm a tall, pear-shaped, not-too-skinny woman. When looking at all the great styles on the Pinterest Fashion boards, I tend to feel discouraged. Due to my size and shape of my body (especially my lower body), there are so many cute things that I should probably avoid. Here is a boo-hoo parade of all the fashions I should avoid:

The first is shiny skinny jeans (or jeggings), and leather is included in this category. All my thighs need is a little extra compression and sheen... No way.

This one is a shame, because I think peplum can be so stylish! But if you've got child-bearing hips (like myself), you may not want to tack a ruffle around that area.

As cute as these super high heels and wedges look on some women, but I'm 5'10''... I'd be channeling Franken-Hooker in these shoes.

Try as I may, I have never been able to look stylish and effortless in any kind of hat. Between that and the skinny jeans, I'd never make a good hipster.

Doesn't that model look good in that comfy jumpsuit? Of course she does... The day I look like a supermodel will be the day I rock a jumpsuit.

Are there any items you'd love to wear, but just don't think you could pull it off?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tough Mudder: Torturing Myself for a Cause

Oh, goodness. The time is almost here! It's less than two weeks until I participate in my second Tough Mudder. In 2011, I was conned into doing the Mudder by Mr. Duh (read about it here) and after vowing I would never do it again... I was peer pressured into signing up again, after having one too many beers. I'm such a sucker.

You may or may not know that the Tough Mudder raises money for the Wounded Warrior Project. Here is some information about the organization.

Wounded Warrior Project™ (WWP) serves military service members who incurred service-connected wounds, injuries, or illnesses on or after September 11, 2001 and their families. On that date, America watched in horror as approximately 3,000 people died including hundreds of firefighters and rescue workers. Many warriors note a sense of duty to volunteer for the military following these tragic events.

Sept. 11 also served as a stimulus for Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and New Dawn. Operation Iraqi Freedom refers to military operations in Iraq that began March 19, 2003 and officially ended August 31, 2010. Operation Enduring Freedom refers to combat operations in Afghanistan and other regions in support of the Global War on Terror.
With advancements in battlefield medicine and body armor, an unprecedented percentage of service members are surviving severe wounds or injuries. For every US soldier killed in World Wars I and II, there were 1.7 soldiers wounded. In Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, for every US soldier killed, seven are wounded. Combined, over 48,000 servicemen and women have been physically injured in the recent military conflicts.

In addition to the physical wounds, it is estimated as many as 400,000 service members live with the invisible wounds of war including combat-related stress, major depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Another 320,000 are believed to have experienced a traumatic brain injury while on deployment.

With the mission to honor and empower Wounded Warriors, WWP is the hand extended to encourage warriors as they adjust to their new normal and achieve new triumphs. Offering a variety of programs and services, WWP is equipped to serve warriors with every type of injury – from the physical to the invisible wounds of war.

I am so proud to participate in an event that supports such a wonderful organization. Combat-related injuries and PTSD are something that military wives live in fear of (and deal with) on a daily basis. I am also the daughter to two veterans who have battled PTSD after serving in Vietnam and Desert Storm, so this is a cause that is very dear to my heart. 

Aside from the fees Mudders pay to register for the event, we also have the opportunity to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project on our own. If you would like to make a small donation to the Wounded Warrior Project, click on this link and enter your information:

Thank you for reading this and wish me luck on my second hellish Mudder! How did I ever get talking into this again?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Misadventures in Paleo - Three Week Update

I'm a little over three weeks into my Paleo/Primal experience, and it's still so far so good! Here's my update after almost a month of eating like a cavewoman!

Progress: Weight loss has been halted at 8-9 pounds for the last two weeks, and I'm okay with that...for now. I only wanted to lose 15 pounds total, so it's not a big deal. Hopefully, I can make more progress over the next few weeks. I wasn't planning to lose all my weight right away. I just have to keep reminding myself that this is a marathon, and not a sprint.

Sticking to it: I must say, I've been proud of myself. I haven't put a single grain-related item in my mouth in almost a month. I've also avoided soda, chips and almost all kinds of highly processed and refined foods. I'm still staying within my 1550 calories/day limit most days and keeping my carbs under 100g/day.

Cheats: The one thing I can't seem to ditch is the creamer I put in my coffee every morning. I use a Coffeemate sweetened creamer... and I hate not putting creamer in my coffee. I did stumble upon a vanilla flavored coconut milk coffee creamer... it's much more Paleo friendly, so I'll be giving that a try next week. Aside from that, the only cheat I have had is ranch dressing... I haven't yet had a grain-filled cheat meal.

Favorite Recipes: 

-My favorite thus far is still the Mustard Glazed Chicken Thighs from Practical Paleo, but I also tried the bacon-wrapped chicken thighs... and they were tasty too!
-My favorite quick recipe is Salmon Cakes (from Practical Paleo; it uses canned salmon, so it only takes a few minutes to make).
-For lunch, I almost always eat a big salad with some form of meat and home made dressing. I absolutely love this balsamic vinaigrette recipe (the site has a number of other dressing recipes)... I use the dressing almost every day.

-I also stumbled across a healthy dessert the other day for Strawberry Paleo Ice Cream and it hit the spot when my sweet tooth started acting up!

What a Typical Day Looks Like
Breakfast - Two  fried eggs and three slices of Nitrate-Free bacon
Lunch - Salad with home made salad dressing (usually balsamic).
Dinner - Meat with a veggie side
Snacks - Handful of raspberries and a couple squares of 72% Cacao dark chocolate, macadamia nuts, nitrate free lunch meat and mustard, or a homemade Paleo dessert.

 My first attempt at Kale Chips... not very successful.

The Hardest Part: Well, I'm fully over the carb flu and My energy is back... but I have been frustrated that I haven't lost even a pound in the last two weeks, in spite of being strictly away from the carbs and processed foods. I will need to keep watching the metrics of my eating and see if anything needs to be tweaked. I've also had a major sweet tooth lately, which is pretty unnatural for me.

Three Week Overall Rating: Still holding at an 8 out of 10! In spite of the lack of movement on the scale, I feel better and know I'm doing something good for my body.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Another Day, Another Year Older...

Now, isn't that the truth? Last week, I delved a little deeper into the world of "thirty-something". I'm still getting used to this whole business of my thirties, but I had a great birthday!

Instead of the typical dinner-and-drinks celebration, Mr. Duh and I decided to have a gathering here at Casa de Duh. I quickly realized that having a birthday party for myself at my house actually required a lot of work on my part. Now that I'm older, I can't have people over without providing food for them, so I got some food together. I also made a massive amount of Jell-o shots, because I hate getting drunk alone.

Then, there was the house... Mr. Duh and I rarely have people over. I'm not sure why that is, because we are fairly social people. We have friends that we have known for years who have never been to our house. Since this was the first time some people were going to see my home, I had to clean the hell out of it. This ended up being a good thing, because my house was filthy. I should have people over more often, so I can be inspired to clean the entire house on a more regular basis. Mr. Duh bought a bunch of birthday decor and decorated a cake for me, which I enjoyed! I haven't had that kind of a birthday party since I was a kid!

Some of my favorite San Antonio peeps came by for the party, and I was given a lot of amazing gifts! I don't think I've gotten that many birthday presents since... well, not since I became an adult. I'm so thankful to everyone that showed up and for all the great presents! I kicked off this year feeling very loved.

Here are some fun pics from the little soiree:

All ready to party!

Some of my fave ladies!

Someone took my Paleo diet very seriously... Bacon Flavored Vodka!

My favorite present: Obama Coin!

This was taken about 15 minutes before I had to go pass out... I'm getting to old for marathon birthday drinking!

Ah good times... Until next year!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"And Every Day After Was September 12th..."

I was listening to an interview with Condoleeza Rice once, and she said that after that tragic day, "Every day was September 12th." I believe that is a very accurate statement. For those of us who are old enough to remember, there are two kinds of Americas... America before 9/11/01, and the Post 9/11 America we live in now.

I turned 20 years-old just a couple days before the tragedy. I spent the weekend drinking and partying with friends... not a care in the world. I was just getting my adult life started. I had just moved into my first apartment and started my first full-time job a couple months before. 

I was running late for work that Tuesday (I wasn't a very good employee). I woke up, turned on The Today show, and ran for the shower. I noticed a building on fire, and did a double take when I noticed it was the World Trade Center on fire. I was blow drying my hair when the second plane hit, and screamed out loud. As I was driving to work, they reported about the Pentagon. While listening to a clock radio at my desk, I heard about the plane in Pennsylvania and the towers collapsing.

Along with a friend of mine, I walked across the street to a bar. I wasn't 21 yet, but we begged the bartender to let us inside to see the TV. He nodded, and let me sit down at a table. I watched the towers crumble and saw the new New York skyline for the first time. I'll never forget how I felt that day. Everything was so crazy, so scary... and so very sad. We knew that America was changed forever, but none of us could have known how much.

After work, I went to my then-boyfriend's house. We all sat around the TV, listening to the tragic stories of the day. The people jumping from the burning building, the phone messages left by people trapped on the upper floors of the buildings, the 911 calls... Eleven years later, I still remember these stories. I remember the talks of revenge and war, the effects this would have on the economy, and where we were all supposed to go from here. I went to bed that night and thought about how all of these things were going to affect my life. "I'm an adult now, and I will actually have to deal with all of this." The world felt like it was spinning out of control.

Just like everyone else in America, I didn't know how much effect this day was about to have. My family's business was hit hard by the post 9/11 recession. Half of the employees were laid off a few months after the tragedy. Numerous times, we almost shut the doors for good.

I also had no idea that I was going to become a military spouse, and those of us in military families are still fighting those battles that were ignited on September 11th, 2001. The War in Afghanistan, the War in Iraq, and deployment, after deployment, after deployment... So many lives lost in these last eleven years, and so many lives changed by injury and PTSD. It's overwhelming to think about. And it all came from this one day.

The events of September 11th, 2001 are forever seared into my memory. I will never forget the lives lost, those left behind, and those still fighting the battles that started on that beautiful Tuesday morning...

Where were you that morning?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wednesday Walkabout Blog Hop!

This is a great new Blog Hop that is hosted by some of my fave bloggers!  Head on over to Taingamala, Scattered Seashells, Handling With Grace, or GI Joe's Wife to link up! This is an awesome way to see and be seen! 

Check it out!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Misadventures in Paleo - Diet Update

I have been doing the Paleo-thing for nine days now, and wanted to give a little update. So far, it has been a successful venture! When I started the diet, I decided to try it for 21 days. At the end of the 21 days, I will decide if this whole "Caveman" lifestyle is something I want to adopt permanently. So, here is my update:

Progress: As of this morning, I am down 8 pounds. Not bad for only 9 days! I haven't measured myself, but I feel and look better. According to Mr. Duh and some other friends, you can see a difference in my middle and my face. 

Sticking to It: I've done a good job of sticking to the Paleo/Primal guidelines. Mark Sisson (of The Primal Blueprint) recommends between 50-100g of carbs per day to be in the weight loss "sweet spot". I track my meals on My Fitness Pal, and have not gone over 75g of carbs per day. My fat and protein intake has increased. I'm also able to stay within my 1550 calorie/day limit. 

Cheats: My main cheat is probably the small amount of dairy I eat every day. The Primal Blueprint does allow for some dairy, as long as you aren't intolerant. I put a little creamer in my morning coffee, and I sometimes have one small Babybel cheese in the afternoon. Luckily, I don't have any digestive issues with dairy.

Saturday was my official "cheat" time. I went to the Alamo Drafthouse to see a movie on Saturday, and I was a little bit of a bad girl. I ate buffalo wings (not breaded, so no completely Paleo unfriendly), and dipped them in delicious ranch dressing (not-so-paleo). I also had a glass of 1% Milk that day... but those were my only serious cheats! I'm proud of myself, because I didn't go nuts on bread, pasta or potatoes... I was able to avoid them, even when I cheated. 

Favorite Recipes: I have been able to make some amazing food!! My favorites so far are the Mustard Glazed Chicken Thighs, Cauliflower Rice, and Salmon Cakes (like crab cakes). My main go to for recipes is a my Practical Paleo cookbook, but there are lots of good recipes online.

What a Typical Day Looks Like
Breakfast - Two Eggs and three slices of Nitrate-Free bacon
Lunch - Salad with home made salad dressing (usually balsamic)
Snack - Babybel cheese and some pistachios.
Dinner - Meat with a veggie side
Snack - Handful of raspberries and a couple squares of 72% Cacao dark chocolate

The Hardest Part: So far, I've notices two difficult things about this diet. First, it's an expensive diet if you are going to follow the guidelines strictly. They recommend all organic (locally grown, if possible) produce and meat. Before, I was spending $100.00 week on groceries; now I'm spending closer to $160.00. The organic meat is the real killer! I'm going to start researching what conventionally grown things I can get away with. I am eating out way less, though... so the cost might even out.

Second, I miss the convenience of the SAD (Standard American Diet). Before, if I was hungry, I could just heat up a Lean Pocket or grab some tortilla chips out of the cupboard. Now, almost everything I eat requires some kind of prep. I spend a lot of time washing, chopping, and cooking... and don't even get me started on the amount of dishes I'm doing every day!

I would have thought giving up carbs would have been the hardest, but it really hasn't been so bad. I still get to eat yummy food and I'm not starving at all!

Overall Rating: Nine days in, I give the Paleo/Primal diet an 8 out of 10. It's easier than I expected, the food is delicious, and I'm losing weight! Did I mention that Mr. Duh is loving it? He has enjoyed all of the meat, bacon and butter that has been brought back into to his world!