eat, move, think, feel

Rocco Rocks the Comfort Food February 28, 2011

I was excited to win a (signed) copy of Rocco Dispirito’s brand-new cookbook Now Eat This! (150 of America’s Favorite Comfort Foods Under 350 Calories) from Ryan over at NoMoreBacon. I’ve loved watching Rocco on the Biggest Loser as well as on Top Chef, and one of his special skills has been “lightening up” normally calorie-heavy dishes. And I am a person who certainly enjoys comfort food. In fact, Comfort Food is practically my middle name. When I got the book in the mail, Juniorette flipped through it and put a Post-It note on the page of every recipe she wanted me to make. Fried chicken! Mac and cheese! Brownies! All under 350 calories? For real?!?

Tonight I decided to make Rocco’s Tortilla Soup with Avocado and Cilantro. (<— sorry, we do not like cilantro in our house) It was awesome. Delicious. Fast. And EASY.  I cannot even begin to describe how easy. That, my friends, is a combo that cannot be beat. And under 350 calories per serving? Yow. We are going to be dipping into this book OFTEN.

I have to admit I fiddled with the recipe a teeny bit. I took out the cilantro. I added some black beans (fiber can’t hurt, right?). It was YUMMY. The whole family gave it a giant thumbs up.

Thanks, Ryan! Thanks, Rocco! TOTAL WINNER.


Ideas Are Brewing…. February 23, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Susan @ 1:52 pm

image by elizabethp via Flickr

I’ve been busy thinking of some very exciting ideas lately. One of them is an online writing class with the focus on (guess what?) food, body, health, fitness… you know the topics! I’ve been teaching writing online and in person since 1994 and I love teaching writing. This has fallen onto the back burner for a while now and I am excited to get back into it. I’ve taught many classes on Writing Short Fiction from Life Experience, the Literature of Parenthood and other special topics, and now I’m in the planning stages of teaching a writing class on these topics that are near and dear to my heart. So, inquiring minds want to know– is this something that might interest YOU? It would probably be 8-10 weeks long and start in late summer. It will start with a lot of freewriting but then dip into various writing genres like short fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and maybe more. (solo performance?) What do you think?


What Size Am I? Ummm….

Filed under: clothes — Susan @ 1:05 am
Tags: , , , ,

Image from Flickr: doyoubleedlikeme

This has been one of my pet peeves forever! The answer is: I have clothes that are size 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, Large, Medium and Small… and they ALL FIT. At once. Isn’t that crazy? I saw someone posting on Twitter recently that they were “between sizes” and it made me laugh. “Just try a different brand!” is what I have to say about that. To prove my point:(all these pics were taken within a few minutes of each other)

Here I am in my size 10 pants and my size 6 shirt.

Size 10 Coldwater Creek pants, Size 6 Fleuret top

Here’s my size 8 pants and my size 14 jacket and size Medium Tshirt.

Ann Taylor size 8 pants, size 14P jacket

Here are my size 6 pants and my size XL cami!

Tommy Bahama size 6 pants, size XL cami

And finally… my size 4 jeans (yeah what?) and my size XL American Apparel shirt.

Size 4 Gap "boyfriend" jeans, size XL Tshirt

So there. So am I a size 4? A size 14? I guess I’m all of those. Which make clothing sizes just… plain… ridiculous!!

Speaking of clothing, I recently discovered this awesome site called the Great Clothing Exchange. It’s a wonderful place to share (and to find!) clothes. If you’ve got clothes that are too big, send them to the GCE! and if you’re looking for new stuff in your new size, ditto. I just donated my infamous “Before” shirt. That shirt to me has become iconic with my Before self. I’m not going back, so I’m ready to pass it on. Go check it out!


Confessional: Weigh-In February 21, 2011

Filed under: emotions,weight,Weight Watchers — Susan @ 7:57 pm

image from Flickr: Wade Kelly

Something happened a week or so ago that was a first. And not a happy first either, like “My first half marathon!” Woo hoo! It was the first time that I had a weigh-in as a WW staff/Lifetime member where the notice popped up that I had to pay. Which meant I was over my range for Lifetime membership. This was the first time this has happened since I made Lifetime status in July 2009.

I was “only” over by 1.8 lbs. Which on one hand is “not a lot.” But on the other hand… if that happened every month for a year? There goes almost 24 pounds, just a little bit at a time. And that’s how it happens, isn’t it?

I wasn’t completely shocked. January was a total bust for me as far as activity. I was sick about 70% of the month and probably only exercised 2-3 times. When I weighed in during the first week of February, it had had its effect.

I have been wrestling with this blog post ever since. It’s so much fun to post fantastic, celebratory, Woo-Hoo! I DID IT! sorts of blog posts. This kind is not so much fun. But I do think it’s just as important. It’s one of those moments of honesty that I think are absolutely crucial to this blog, and my whole process here.

So here I am. I weighed in at 1.8 lbs over Lifetime range. I am here to tell you that this is not going to happen two months in a row. When I weigh in again in the first week of March, I will be FREE again. I love that: “Free Lifetime.” Not only is it free in that you don’t have to pay, there’s a Freedom to knowing you are in range. I have been free since July 2009 and I am not about to put those chains on again. I worked hard to get there. I am going to get myself back there.

This is something that has happened to most WW staffers that I know, as well as many many Lifetime members. At some point, something slips for one reason or another, and then you’re up. Just a little. And then the little kind of snowballs into more and more until it’s… oh my god. Right?

Wrong. That’s not going to happen here. This is one of the HUGEST reasons that being a WW leader has helped me. I am not going to stand up there week after week if I’m not walking the walk. Or running the run. Or tracking the points.

This is my vow to myself, and to anyone reading this. I’m saying it again. I’m going to see that “FREE” pop up on the computer in March. And that’s that. It was interesting to have this, um, Learning Experience here, but what I learned is that I don’t want to repeat it. Got that?


Food Fitness Fabio FUN! February 16, 2011

Filed under: cooking,exercise,Food Blogs: Yum Yum,good things,running — Susan @ 2:25 am

I had a very Foodie McBody weekend this last weekend. Mr. McBody and I took my mom down to LA to visit friends and relatives and to visit the awesome Japanese American Museum. The weather was absolutely amazing.

It was really interesting being in LA for so many reasons. From the minute we got to the airport, I was struck by the incredible number of (by my estimate) size zero-to-2 women around. I mean, I rarely see women this stick-thin where I live. But it felt like they were everywhere. Plus, incessant ads for 1-800-Get-Thin on the radio, on billboards, EVERYwhere. And cosmetic surgery. It was such a “Toto, you’re not in Kansas anymore” realization.

On the other hand, there was such a visible overall commitment to fitness as well. AND massive foodie-ness everywhere. So… double edged sword, I guess. Triple edged sword.

The McBody part: I went for an almost five mile run along the Palisades and the beach on Saturday. It was absolutely gorgeous.

I had plenty of time, and I just told myself I was going to go as far as I wanted. I started out slow but after mile 2 (my magic moment) it started feeling really, really good. One of the great things was that I kept passing these “pods” of around 20-25 people, each running with a couple of coaches. LA Roadrunners, you guys are AWESOME! I must have seen a total of (no kidding) 500 people out there running that morning. At first, I saw lots of really fast teams but toward the end of my run, I saw this group out there that looked… like me! They were running like penguins. I got so excited because I could see their feet and they were moving at the same pace as mine. They were coming toward me and as they passed me, I turned around and ran behind them for a while. It was really fun, and a great aha! moment to think, there are training groups that go at my pace! I loved it.

On Sunday, I took a nice long walk along the same route. Beautiful.

But the HIGHLIGHT of my Sunday was a cooking class at Firenze Osteria, the restaurant of Top Chef‘s Fabio Viviani! Woo! I am such a HUGE fan of Top Chef and Fabio is one of the friendliest, Tweetiest chefs there is. And funny. AND an amazing chef. I was so excited to discover that he was going to be offering this class the same weekend that I was going to be in LA. YIPPEEE! I invited my young cousin-in-law’s fourteen year old son, who loves to cook, to come with me.

The “class” was actually a live demonstration in front of a restaurant full of highly amused people. Fabio is a great entertainer, warm and funny. He also really knows his stuff! He’s been cooking since he was a toddler. He’s been in restaurants his whole life. He told lots of affectionate stories about his grandmother and her handmade, old-country ways.

So the class was about how to make pasta in five minutes, which Fabio stretched out to about 45. But really it was shockingly simple. He quizzed us over and over: HOW many eggs if you are cooking for four people? “FOUR!” I was actually amazed at how easy he made it look. Then we got to taste it. Wow. It was so, so, so delicious. With this crazy delicious Bolognese sauce. Immediately people started clamoring for a “sauce class!” Which Fabio put into his iPhone immediately and promised to offer next month. Yahoo! (if only I could return…)

After the pasta, he demonstrated gnocchi. “The potato needs to be grinded, not mashed!”  I was a little bummed to see that gnocchi involves (ideally) a stand mixer. Which is not the same as investing $40 in a pasta presser. I have wanted a stand mixer, like, FOREVER, but it always has seemed like too much of an extravagance. Let’s just say it’s on my permanent wish list.

The class was awesome. It was like going to a performance and a great meal and invited into a friend’s kitchen all at once. Y’all, if you are near LA and want a fantastic experience, I really recommend checking out Fabio’s cooking classes.  Follow him on Twitter or watch his blog for announcements. I’m posting a lot of my photos in a slideshow below. You’ll see that his hands are often completely blurred, because they were never still. Total Italian!

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Love your body. February 15, 2011

Filed under: body image,friendship,good things — Susan @ 4:15 am

I made this image at a linoleum carving workshop I took last weekend. It makes me happy to look at it. Love to all, and to all your bodies. oxxoxo


Running Does Not = StairClimbing! February 8, 2011

note: this is NOT MY BUTT. No resemblance whatsoever.

Wow did I have  wakeup call today. It was really illuminating, my first unofficial “training” for the Stair Climb event in March.

I work in a building that is 18 stories (ie 36 flights) high. I thought it would be interesting to climb the entire height of it after work, just to get a sense of what it would feel like.

WELL. It was … interesting.

First, it felt like pain. Like after the 2nd story. My thighs were screaming out, like, WTH are you DOING TO ME?!!?!? in chorus. Secondly, I was definitely “fighting for air” and not in the metaphorical sense. In the real sense. Pant! Pant!

But the weirdest thing was how fast it went. I mean, I went up to the 21st story (ie roof) so actually climbed 20 stories (40 flights) in about six minutes, or two songs’ worth on my iPod. That was just… weird. I guess I just expected it to take me at least half an hour. But a flight of steps, although STRAIGHT UP, is not that much actual distance. So. That was just a strange thing to wrap my head around.

So I guess I’m gonna have to roughly do my building times 3. All at once. Hmph. I was really not sprinting, I was pretty much walking steady. It was hard. It hurt. But it went… FAST! Which is I guess the very good thing about this activity.

Speaking of the Stair Climb, have you put in your donation yet? So you can win a pretty quilt? Please please do!