Saturday, May 18, 2013

Yoga: Why you should think about doing it

In my quest for health (which, if you have been a consistent follower, you will know from my commentary last summer I began taking my health and fitness seriously and *pat on the back* I've kept it up) I've recently stumbled upon yoga. My routine last summer was pretty consistent: running 5-6 days a week. Once the cold kicked in, however, I had to get more creative. I have reactive airways (my lungs act up like an asthmatic under certain conditions) and the cold is just not my friend. I kept up my running until the end of October after my second 5K and then it was time for a bit of recovery. I took approximately two months off from running busying my time with a few weight exercises and Kenpo X here and there.

{Kenpo X is a disc from the famed P90X series... up until recently it was the only disc I would indulge in - 45 minutes of cardio in the form of mixed martial arts, primarily boxing/kick-boxing like exercises}

Shortly after the massacre in Newtown, I learned of a 5K at the end of March to support the victims families and immediately signed up. This meant I had to jump back into running. I joined a gym in January and resumed my running with more vigorous weight training than I had previously been doing. I ran my 5K and then fell into a bit of a slump. With my new career it was very difficult for me to work out with the frequency I had previously been used to since I work an odd schedule, and now that I wasn't tied to an upcoming event I lost my motivation to run.

As if it was a sign from the heavens, my mom called me one day and said "I signed up for yoga!" My whole family was shocked since we had all been ragging on her for years that she needed to get involved in some kind of physical activity because her body wasn't going to get any younger or stronger without it. She told me about it and insisted that I would probably enjoy it too. I knew P90X had a yoga disc, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I decided to stray from my Kenpo X to attempt Yoga X.

The "X" I discovered really does in fact mean "intense". Of course I knew Kenpo would be intense since it is a full body cardio work-out, but I still felt the X was a silly name attached to all the discs for the sake of the series. However, Yoga X is freakin' hard, people!! The first time I tried it, I could barely make it through the first 20 minutes of the work-out... which is a whopping hour and 45 minutes long. However, I really felt like my inner core was strengthened by even that measly 20 minutes. So I continued to attempt, and re-attempt the Yoga X. While I still can't do the entire disc at once, I've significantly improved and I really feel like it has enhanced my strength and endurance. And while the P90X instructor really doesn't focus on the mental health aspect that yoga claims to also enhance, it really does help clear the mind if you focus on the breathing while timing the stretches with the breathing as instructed. It brings your mental awareness to yourself, your body, your breathing, and brings you to the present moment.

Basically, it all boils down to the following reasons why I advocate for this form of exercise: 1. It's challenging and gives you a real work-out, 2. It builds your core strength and flexibility - which will enhance your overall athletic ability, 3. It can serve as a fabulous form of "you time" to workout your body and mind. So if you are looking for an alternative work-out to add to your routine, seriously consider adding yoga! Ohmm.

As an extra tidbit, if you are curious about yoga, I recommend you purchase a $10 video on amazon before you decide whether or not its something you really want to commit to at a studio. Studio yoga classes are ridiculously expensive and you can get a well guided workout from a video.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Thoughts for food

I actually had every intention of sharing a recipe with you in this next post. I then forgot to take pictures of said recipe so I decided I would wait until the next day and share a different recipe. Alas, my work week started and so I became even more forgetful during my evenings and have no pictures. So you will all have to wait until I make something worth sharing again to get an actual recipe post.

Instead, let's talk about cooking. Let's talk about the joy and peace of mind that comes from designing a recipe, committing to it, and perfecting it. Even taking a dish that was passed down, or a recipe found online and tweaking it to meet your own tastes lends a certain satisfaction to an "everyday-chef" that is sometimes hard to find in the fast paced lives we lead. Its a mental release - the way reading is for some and music is for others. While effort is required, it is certainly worth the reward.

Learning to cook well demands a certain passion for food in general. Personally, it took me a long time to get to this point. I was an extremely picky eater as a child. I didn't start gaining an interest in food until college, which my friends started pushing me to try new and different things. My world expanded, and it was good.

Getting older and wiser has only allowed my interest in food to change and grow. Learning to create the type of cuisine you grew up with is one thing. But being able to expand and experiment with new styles of cooking is even more exciting.

Not only does creating a new meal provide a therapeutic escape into creativity, it actually poses a challenge to eat better, more well rounded meals. Or, rather, it dares you to eat better. Putting effort into making something productive drives you to make something you can feel good about in the end. Making a meal that tastes good is only enhanced when it also happens to be good for you. I feel significantly better about myself when I make a good meal, both inside and out. Any anyone who knows me knows a happy belly equals a happy Jessie (same way a Snickers makes Joe Pesci turn into a party bro). 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

With 95 days to go....

... I still have a bunch to do! Getting married is a LOT of work. Let me fill you in from where a left off as a sort of sequel to my last post about getting up to speed.

Here is what's happened since where we left off:

The Save-the-Dates:
This caused some mama-drama with guest lists and who needed to receive save-the-dates. I'll spare you the details but we designed them ourselves and printed them through They were very inexpensive and we chose to send them as postcards. We ended up sending them primarily to family and the extras went to friends who lived away and were not part of our everyday conversations. I highly recommend this website for this detail since, lets be honest, who wants to break the bank on save-the-dates? If you are money conscious, this is a great way to go.

The Dress:
I knew I wanted to get my dress at a local boutique. My mom had a budget established for how much she was willing to pay, so we called around the neighborhood and found a few shops throughout Westchester County that had dresses in our range. I had perused several magazines and websites looking for styles I was interested, but being the indecisive (though I prefer to say open-minded) person that I am, I wasn't sold on anything particular other than the fact that I did NOT want strapless. I did not want to have to even think about being worried about having to pull my dress up all night. Of course at each store I visited, the sales ladies found a way to attempt to put me in a strapless dress, and each time the dress was beautiful, but not worth the worry. After two separate outings I found it! I wasn't sure it was the one at first, so I left it behind. But I couldn't get it out of my head for the following 2 days so I went back to try it on again and was still attached, but still nervous. There was one detail about it that I didn't love. After some discussion with the owner of the boutique, we inquired with the designer whether we'd be able to change the detail I wasn't fond of. It was possible, though it would push the cost from being under budget to slightly over budget, my mother agreed to it and we put the money down! After a long wait (since September!) it should be arriving by the end of the month.

The Bridal Party: 
This was challenging for me. I dragged my feet and waited until the last possible second to select the individuals I wanted to be in the bridal party. I have about 10-15 close close girlfriends and that's it. I'm not the type that has expansive groups of friends from here and there and everywhere. With that, I knew that I felt 10-15 bridesmaids would be far too overwhelming for me, so to pick and choose gave me quite an emotional roller coaster. My advise: give yourself time, breathe, and follow your heart. If you are choosing people for the right reasons, your friends will understand.

The Bridesmaid Dresses: 
We did this primarily online, we wanted to find something that would be comfortable, cocktail length, styled well on girls with different body types, and would be easy to coordinate purchase with some of the girls living out of state. We hunted online for a designer we liked, looked what stores the designer was sold in, and went from there. When all was said and done, we ended up ordering the dresses from the same boutique where I got my dress and it was a fairly painless process.

The Menu: 
This was super easy because everything is being done by our venue - we did not need an outside caterer. We scheduled a day, taste tested the menu, and decided. Done. A word to the wise: While you may find a venue that you LOVE for its space and aesthetic, please please please seriously evaluate if you can find something just as gorgeous that has their own caterer. If you need bring in your own caterer it will load on an excessive amount of research, budgeting, and time you will have to devote to finding a caterer in addition to finding all the other things you need. In short: pick a place that does it all! 

The Cake:
We have not finalized the cake itself, but we did go on our tasting trip already. We went to two bakeries and they were INCREDIBLY different. Thank goodness we made the effort to take the trip and see multiple people. It matters - just do it. Of note, I'm sure this sounds like a "Duh" suggestion, but keep in mind we are planning our wedding from away, so every in-person meeting for us is a big effort. I'm sure we would have tasted more bakeries if we lived closer to the venue.

The Registry:
FUN FUN FUN!! This was my favorite part. It took me approximately 4-6 weeks to put it all together because of my obsessiveness with finding exactly what I want. I registered at two common places, no Pottery Barn or Crate & Barrel for us. However, I am extremely excited about the items we selected. Give yourself time to indulge in this - look online, go to the store, plan to do it in multiple stages. At first it can seem incredibly overwhelming with the multitude of options you can choose from and the number of things you may or may not need.

The Invitations:
I am IN LOVE with my invitations. We got them from a shop recommended to us by a friend. My mom and I went through several huge invitations books in one sitting and narrowed it down to two. We went home to sleep on it, and I dragged Howie out a week later to make a final decision. We picked the invite and then selected the fonts. We got our proofs within a week and the final delivery within two. It was super easy and I would recommend this shop to anyone... so if you live in the great NYC area and are interested, let me know!

That just about covers where we are up to now. Stay tuned for more wedding adventures as we begin to tie up all the loose ends! 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Let's get up to speed

Its been a while. I admit I miss writing. I also miss sleep and structure. I've been working as an internal medicine PA now for 5 months; its gone by amazingly fast and I still feel as brand new as the day they let me off my training leash. My job is hard. Harder than I could have anticipated - and for that I love it. I am being challenged, truly challenged, and in the long run it will make me so much better. However, for now it makes me incredibly lazy on my days off and with Howie being on a completely different schedule its hard for me to stay strict with my own needs. The temptation of staying up with him to watch TV and sleeping until 11:00am on days off is too much for me to say "no" to. And since I no longer have homework and studying hanging over my head, I become a slave to my couch. Clean the kitchen? Eh, it can wait. Go shopping? I have a computer. Socialization is the only thing I can motivate myself to do, but even that is hard with my friends being on such different schedules. 

I've been telling myself its time for a change for a couple months now, and I've been mildly successful. I've devoted more time to wedding planning. I exercise 3 times a week ... though I miss having the motivation to work out 6 times a week... I send myself articles that I sometimes read. All in all, this is not where I want to be. I want to be productive and frankly I feel unproductive. So I have to find a way to hold myself accountable. I started this blog last spring. My goal: To revive my drive, to resume regular posts, to increase my work-outs, to read more medicine, to cook more meals at home, and complete wedding plans in a more timely/organized fashion. Once I do that, I have more goals to add, but I wouldn't want to bite off more than I could possibly chew so soon. Let's start small people! Here's to ambition and, hopefully, achievement!