Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Keep Calm, and Marath On

The hardest part of working out consistently is not what you do, but if you enjoy what you do.

We've all had those days. Some more-so than others. You know you should get up and get active, but you really just want to sit on the couch for juuuuust five more minutes.....


(photo from Google images)
We've also tried tons of exercise fads. Jazzercise, Zumba, P90X, Intensity Intensifying Body Pump Total Body Workout Training...
I'm by no means saying they don't work. What doesn't work is doing something only a couple times and losing any motivation. What works for some, but maybe not be for you personally.

Why is this?

Because the hardest part of working out consistently is not what you do, but that you enjoy what you do.

If you get excited about going to a certain class, or what you're lifting today, or how far you will run...good things will happen. For instance:

1. You will actually continue with the exercise.
2. You will get better at whatever you love to do and therefore want to keep getting better.
3. You will want to get up and do what you love to do.
4. Your mood will be elevated.
5. Your body might/will change for the better.
6. Which will elevate your mood.
7. And you will want to get up and do what you love to do.

It's a glorious cycle, really :]

The cons? You'll spend more money. On necessary equipment (no treads on the mizunos? need new ones! headphones damaged in the rain? to the walmart!) and on other new clothes for your ever-improving physique. And that is definitely a justifiable expense!

But Devon, what about you? What do YOU do?

I'm glad you asked! 

This is how I came to find what I love to do.

I have always been an athlete. I had a 15-year stint as a competitive cheerleader and gymnast and years of track and pole vaulting in high school. I cheered through college at Elon University, and once I graduated...I was stuck. I didn't have a sport anymore. I didn't have practices, games, a training schedule. But I had to keep moving.
So I went to my gym and I tried different things. I took some classes that I spent more time trying to figure out how I was supposed to do a move than what I was supposed to be working, and left disappointed. 
I ended up back lifting weights (which I also enjoy but that is for another post) and then hitting the ground running. Literally.
And I began to love it. More and more I would look forward to the training. Short runs, medium runs, long runs...they're all wonderful to me. I couldn't wait to get out there and run and was jealous of others I saw trotting along on the road when I could not.

Running to me became a moving meditation.

Gone were the days of tripping during step classes, wiggling during Zumba, and trying SO hard to be good at yoga.
I found my niche and I was thriving in it.

But I needed something more.

I needed a goal--both a physical and a mental goal. A challenge. Something HUGE to work for. So, after years of people telling me I should do so, I registered for my first marathon.


It was crazy. I was nervous even clicking 'send' on my registration. But I did it. And other than my 20-miler (more on that later), that was the hardest part. Actually signing up. Committing. But it was what I needed to do.

I made a  schedule with the help of one of the trainers at my gym for 4 running days each week. I stayed on track about 80% of the time, but life happens and things change so I was always open for altering the schedule a little. This took away the stress of the MARATHON commitment. A little wiggle room lessens the blow.

For me, the hardest part of the whole process was mental. On the longest runs, your mind will start to mess with you and tell you that you can't go on. Thatyou'retiredandyourlegsache andyou'restartingtogetablisterandyou'rethirstyandyou'rebreathingheavierandyoujustneedto stopfor five more minutes....

During my 20, I planned to run down a canal for 10 miles and then turn around and run the 10 back. I got a blister within the first 5 that looked as though I got shot in the heel and hurt even worse. There weren't other people on the canal. There were no turns. There was nothing to show you that you actually were moving forward. By 18 on the way back, I was crying, aching, tripping to keep from was by far the worst mental block I have ever had. But I had to keep going. My car was parked 2 miles up the canal.

I didn't stop during the marathon. I didn't stop at the water stops (I had my own bottle with me). I didn't walk. I didn't slow down. I ran straight through that 18 and 20 mile-marker and scoffed. I finished the race on my exact projected time. I can tell you, I have felt what it is like to be floating on cloud nine. And it is AMAZING. 

and then? I got hooked. NJ Marathon 2013!!!

So whether you skip happily into pilates, can't wait to throw some iron around in the dumbbell section of the gym, dance your little heart out, or swim laps like Nemo, find what you love to do even if it means dapple in every class your gym offers and make yourself laugh the whole time. 
Once you find your niche, you will always be your own inspiration.

The hardest part of working out consistently is not what you do, but if you enjoy what you do. 
So, what do YOU like to do???

Thoughts of the day: 
How do dogs with fur that covers their eyes (old english sheepdogs, komondors, puli dogs...) see where they are going?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Nectar of the Gods, in Chocolate Chip Cookie Form

I began baking--really getting serious about baking--my junior year of college when my two roommates/favorite taste-testers and I had an adorable house right off of campus with a big new kitchen. I also had a football team that was ready to take care of any leftovers of my creations. This kept us from gorging..too too often :]

I began my baking journey with one purpose in mind:  to make my grandma and great-grandma who had passed on a few years before proud of me.

We're Italian. Great-grandma came over to America from Avellino in 1909 when she was 8 years-old with her mother and three sisters to meet her father who had already been here for a while.

She passed away my freshman year of high school, but right up until that point she was the most amazing cook and baker you could imagine. Her basement was COVERED in hangers laden with homemade pasta, cut with a knife, and you were to NEVER touch it. Ever. But I always tried.

My grandma took after her and was a phenomenal cook and baker as well. Best kitchen tag team. I want(ed) to be able to carry on the tradition of their famous edibles.

[There was only one failure that I can recall in all of my great-grandma's kitchen-goddessness. The Christmas before she passed away, she made gingerbread cookies for the family. When we went to eat them, they smelled of gingerbread...and peanut butter...and were solid as a rock. My dad nearly cracked a crown when trying to bite into one. I slammed mine on the table (when she wasn't there)  and it didn't produce any crumbs. Pretty sure she just combined the two recipes...but not sure of how that leads to concrete.]

Of all of the recipes I have and have made throughout the years, this one recipe is my most popular go-to that I can make with my eyes shut. It is not a family recipe, but rather one that I have found and adapted myself...and I am guaranteed absolutely no left-overs when taken anywhere. ....

The Best Fool-proof Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe EVER!

Makes about 2 dozen, really depending on what size scoop you use.
I have done everything from a tablespoon measure to a 2 ounce measure. It all works.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and heat oven to 300*.


1 stick butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon instant coffee or espresso
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 12 ounce package (or 2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips


In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy. 
Add in egg  and espresso/coffee powder and blend. 
In a separate bowl, mix all other dry ingredients (but not the chocolate) with a whisk. 
With mixer on low, slowly add dry mixture into butter mixture until just incorporated.
Add in chocolate chips. Then for good measure, add in a few more.
Blend until combined and no dry ingredients can be seen.

Scoop out cookie dough using a tablespoon measure or a cookie dough scoop and place about an inch and a half apart on the prepared cookie sheet. (the ultimate goal is for uniform shape and size here).
Gently press down on dough with your palm to flatten slightly.

Bake for 20 minutes in the center of the oven.

Let cool one minute and then remove from cookie sheet onto a wire cooling rack.

The key to these extremely chocolaty tasting cookies is not the amount of chocolate you put in, but the instant coffee or espresso powder. You don't taste the coffee, but it really intensifies the chocolate flavor!! Ssshhhh! No one has to know your secret!


Friday, February 1, 2013

Matte Lip Color and Other Things I've Learned

I wanted to do a post all about matte lipstick and why I am not a fan of that trendy look, but it has turned into so much more than that.

I feel that matte lipstick (for those who do not know, 'matte' refers to lack of any sheen or shine or life whatsoever.  tabletops? those have sheen. a cardboard box? matte.)  has the ability to make anyone's face, no matter what color the lipstick, have a more tired/annoyed/angry/unhealthy/dead appearance, as opposed to lip products that give a little gloss and a moisturized happy look. I'm not saying MAJOR shiny lacquer, but a little liveliness. More on this below.
And while I am a HUGE fan of all girlie magazines, I began to wonder which one men preferred. Or...if they even really notice.


            (no shine on lips. image found on google images)                                                           (glossier lips. image also found on google images)

I began my...research? posing the question on Facebook for all of my guy friends to answer--'when you look at girls--any girl--do you prefer glossy lips, matte (absolutely NO shine) or bare?'

I received a few answers that pertained to my original question. Bare, no lipstick, not super glossy, and also one that stuck out at me posted by a girl.

Girls mainly do their makeup for other girls. Fashion, too.

What else I learned #1:

This has to be incredibly true!

Many women read fashion magazines and use these as the foundations for the season's clothing trends. A lot of these looks you will find on the runways are not practical for day-to-day wear, but we tend to adapt the looks to what we can afford/pull off/walk in.

And others are just plain odd, but the fashion world DROOLS over the ingenuity.


(image found on google images)
One never knows when traditional German work garments, religious persecution chic and self-inflicted deformation will be 'in' again.

Guys don't particularly care.

Which, looping back to lipstick, leads me to another thing I learned.

What else I learned #2:                        

Guys only notice a girls' physical features that make her female.

Does she have boobs? Yes. Kind of. Maybe? Yes.
Does she have a butt? Yep. Ooooh. Kind of. Yes.
Oh look, a face. Pretty. Kind of. Yes.
Back to the boobs. And the butt.

I'm assuming that they're not fans of a ton of makeup that can be wiped off on them or anything their face touches. I will ask this question in time...and in a much more detailed manner. Maybe with a poll feature.                 


As for my opinion?

I associate shine and gloss with things that are desirable. Luscious  Juicy. Deeeeelish.
Shiny apple? Dry bruised apple?
Healthy skin flush after a good run? What you look like with the stomach flu?
Nude patent leather peep-toe stiletto pumps? Worn out work shoes that you fill in the toe with sharpie to hide scuffs?

I see the face as a beautiful picture and makeup as the frame surrounding it. The more I get into different looks, the more you too will be able to see my picture frame analogy.

But here's a taste: eyeliner defines the eyes and makes them stand out to those who look upon them, like a highlighter does to words on a page.
Gloss does the same for lips. The shine pops them out. Gives that juicy 'KISS ME!!!' look. 

But there are two extremes. 

Too glossy can 1. get on your teeth and can lead to embarrassment, 2. be unapproachable to potential suitors (or if you already have a suit..or) because there is waaaayyy too much on there and they don't want it to get all over them, and 3. too much product of anything you put on your face has the tendency to travel to places it isn't supposed to go.

(image found on google images)
Too matte can 1. make you look sickly depending on the color, 2. make your lips look chapped (or show off the chapped lips you already have because matte accentuates the flakes) and 3. completely dry out the lips and that can be uncomfortable. and lead to chapping.
I would post a picture of chapped lips, but they're not the most appealing thing to see among all of this glossy goodness.

There will be posts about long-wear makeup to follow. Stay tuned!

At the end of the day, I am not a fan of matte lipstick and the look it gives the face and prefer a glossy and healthy shine, and guys aren't exactly sure what matte or what lipstick is at all. So why should women worry so much about what color or finish to wear on a date? 

(oh come on. we'll still do it anyway)
They're also not focused on if her outfit is from this season, last season, or 34 seasons ago.

As long as she works it.

Thought of the day:

What do the grenade stickers on the backs of cars mean?

and also

What else I learned #3:

The first search that comes up on Google when you type in 'difference between...' IMMEDIATELY goes to 'difference between affect and effect'. We should all study up on our grammar!