Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Die Another Day

Another image of weirdness from the solstice festival.

It was back to crossfit this morning after a nearly two week break due to all of the chaos surrounding the end of school, houseguests, etc. Crossfit.com posts the workout of the day (WOD) the night before and I was dreading an early death due to today's prescription of lots and lots of running. But alas, I did not realize my local affiliate is on a week delay so as to plan the whole week's workouts ahead, so my running torture day will be delayed until next Tuesday.

Instead, today after a good fifteen minutes of "warm-up" that pre-crossfit would have been my entire workout (pushups, pull-ups, 400m run, squats and then tons of abs) we focused on front squats today. Front squats are exactly as they sound-- you hold a barbell in front, with your palms up, weight resting on your shoulders, while you try and keep your back straight by keeping your elbows up. Failing to do this puts a lot of strain on your lower back. As I am sitting here typing I am quite sure I did a poor job of keeping my back straight because my lower back is hurting. I felt kind of relieved to have gotten off with a squat workout when I thought I was going to have to do much worse! Tomorrow I'm going to hit hot yoga and see how it goes alternating yoga with crossfit. If that makes me too tired than I probably will just swim or something similar on alternate days.

This morning I also finally made it out of bed early enough to go to the 7am class-- I have been staying up later and later at night, enjoying the quiet of the house and the time to myself. Instead I'm going to try and get my workout done in the morning before it gets too hot, and get closer to Marc's early to bed, early to rise schedule.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Happy Housewife

Today I played housewife. For all intents and purposes, I suppose that is what I am this summer. I have a part-time job that allows me to work mostly from home, but I'm not making any meaningful income, while my poor husband works 50+ hours a week. So today I strapped on my rubber gloves, pulled the mop out of retirement, and set to work cleaning my house, which somehow went from guest-ready to looking like a tornado hit it in a single week with my parents here (even though they weren't the ones who made the mess!)

I vacuumed, scrubbed counters, found homes for random odds and ends, and did 5 loads of laundry. I picked fresh herbs from my garden for my roast chicken dinner, made sun tea, and served both with salad and watermelon which we ate outside when Marc got home, and then I did all the dishes from dinner while Marc went to bed early.

I don't anticipate giving up my internship or my career plans for a life of scrubbing and cooking, but I admit there is a certain satisfaction in completing housework. It always seems that when we are over stressed and over scheduled, the first thing to go is keeping house, but I really feel a sense of accomplishment today after my hours of cleaning-- and I don't think my husband minded coming home to a clean house and dinner on the table either.

To make sun tea:

My mom has made sun tea in the summer time for as long as I can remember. To make, fill a gallon jar with water and 8 tea bags (she uses Celestial Seasonings Red Berry Zinger, any herbal tea will do-- regular tea might get bitter). Leave the jar in the sun for two hours and then remove the tea bags-- serve over ice.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Best Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER

I have made a lot of cookies in my life. My mom says I was helping her at age 2 and doing it myself (except for the oven part) by age 6. I probably made cookies on a weekly basis in junior high and high school-- usually some version of chocolate chip. I do not need a recipe as the basic Tollhouse recipe is burned into my permanent memory. When I went off dairy it was a pretty easy transition, as Earth Balance Margerine, while not a whole food, does stand in nicely for butter. Giving up gluten, however, stumped me. No matter which combination of flours I tried they turned out too crumbly and kind of one-note. Last Fall I made dozens and dozens of cookies, inspired by a project in food science where we had to try two different variations on cookies and compare what happened. I used the left-over ingredients to make probably five or six more batches, but I never succeeded in doing what I wanted and was so sick of cookies I hadn't made any since then, until last night. The following recipe was something I literally invented as I went along, and when I tasted the first one I had to run back to the kitchen and stare at the ingredients to try and remember what I did. For the first time they came out soft and chewy and sweet. As with all great-gluten free recipes, the combination of flours is extensive and weird, but you will not get the same results if you substitute other flours. Enjoy!


3/4 cup quinoa flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 cup Earth balance margarine
3/4 cup evaporated cane juice (aka Florida crystals)
3/4 cup rapadura
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon molasses
10 oz dark chocolate chips (I used the Whole Foods store brand chocolate chunks)
1 cup chopped walnuts

Mix flours, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl with a fork. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl cream margarine and sugars together. Add eggs, molasses and vanilla and continue mixing. Slowly add flour mixture, incorporating small amounts at a time until all of it is incorporated. Add chocolate chips and walnuts and mix well.

Put large spoonfuls of dough on a cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 9 minutes-- do NOT over bake-- these are best when they are slightly undercooked.

Makes 2 1/2-3 dozen cookies.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Nutritional Profiling

A lovely colorful couple at the co-op during the Solstice Festival. I love Seattle!

One of my many part-time jobs is doing food demonstrations and or handing out samples of certain food products I believe in. I spent four days this week giving out samples of whole food energy bars, first at the Fremont Solstice Festival and again at the Health Fair associated with the Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon. It amazes me the differences in politeness amongst the public. We had six different flavors available for people to sample-- they were allowed to take two samples total. The company I work for provides very generous samples-- not simply a taste, but a bar that is 60% of the size of the retail bar. Some people would come up and assume they could only have one sample and be delighted to receive two, while others were irritated when I would not allow them to take as many as they wanted. A few people came through and took handfuls from each basket, even has I repeated two samples per person (I swear I'm going to be saying "two samples per person!" in my sleep-- I must have said it thousands of times). I'll tell you a secret-- if you are nice to me and ask if you can have another couple samples or we have a chat I'm happily going to give you more samples. If you just reach and grab while avoiding eyecontact I'm going to be mad.

We have a whole spiel to tell people about our product-- gluten, dairy, soy, and wheat free, no added sugar etc. I admit that some people I could tell simply did not care about that message, and I found myself nutritionally "profiling" people. I was guessing the people who came up whose children were eating lollipops that no added sugar was not a concern. Likewise, the people taking granola bars from the table next to ours from a company which is affiliated with ours but whose products contain gluten and dairy, probably did not care about the anti-allergen potential of our product. But many people surprised me with their questions and concerns.

I love to talk to people, but I admit working 16 hours over two days, standing on concrete and saying the same thing over and over is incredibly exhausting. Marc and I are finally having a quiet day where we sit on the couch and watch mindless television in between naps. It is much needed rest.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Perfect Food Day

Today I had one of the most surprisingly perfect food days in a long time. I started out with breakfast of farm-fresh eggs my mom brought me from her neighbor in Oregon and local strawberries. For lunch, I attended high-tea at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle with six of my girlfriends to celebrate a friend's wedding (in lieu of a shower). When the friend that organized the event called the hotel asking if gluten-free was available she got a vague answer that they could substitute fruit-- so I pictured having nothing but tea and fruit for lunch, but I was going for the experience and the company. Little did I know that the Fairmont knows how to do gluten-free and do it well. In fact, for the first time I personally was more excited about the gluten-free option than the standard! The picture above is what the bottom two tiers of my lunch looked like (the top tier was a mixture of fruits which I already had eaten before I decided to take a picture).

Here is the breakdown:

tier one: mine: fruit, standard: scones with cream and jam
Tier two: mine: asparagus wrapped in smoked salmon, cucumber stuffed with something delicious (I'm not sure what it was) and cherry tomatoes stuffed with chicken salad. standard: tiny open faced sandwiches (not sure of flavors since I didn't eat that!)
Tier three: mine: the most delicious macaroon I have ever had in my life, a wonderful strawberry dipped in both white and dark chocolate, some kind of non-chocolate truffle (I only ate a bite) and a little white chocolate bowl filled with berries (and I discovered later) whipped cream-- I also only ate a bite of the last one, partly because i was full and also because I didn't want to push my luck with the dairy. I did okay with the couple bites of dairy I had-- what got me into trouble was the three or four cups of black tea since I normally never have more caffeine than a single mug of green tea. I was very shaky between the sugar and the caffeine when I left but it was a wonderful afternoon and well worth it.

This evening I went to a BBQ hosted by some of Marc's friends from school. I arrived starving and feared the worst, picturing a sea of chips and hotdogs. Instead, his friend who is an excellent cook, grilled salmon, herb rubbed steak, and corn on the cobb and another friend made a purple potato salad that was amazing (but which had ranch dressing in it which nearly always has dairy, so I tried to only eat a couple bites).

All of the food today I had was wonderful-- I enjoyed it completely and did not overeat-- all of it was accompanied by fantastic conversation. Every day should be as mindful and special as today.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Graduation Day

Today marked the second of the two most important ceremonies of my life. The first (my wedding in 2000) has in every way defined my personal life for the past eight years. Today, my graduation from graduate school defines my professional life. For five years I have been working toward this goal of a Master's Degree in Nutrition. Five years ago it seemed so far away that it was nearly unattainable.

This morning I took a bus to Benaroya Hall early for the graduation rehearsal. I had a strange flashback to my life prior to Bastyr, when I took the bus to downtown Seattle every morning on my way to work. There was something poignant about walking the familiar streets downtown having accomplished so much since I last regularly rode that bus.

We were required to arrive ridiculously early and stood around for hours in our regalia, looking ever so much like extras escaped from the latest Harry Potter movie. We snuck snacks, cameras and water bottles into our strange long closed sleeves to sustain us through the three hour ceremony. As a group we vacillated between elation that the day had arrived, and annoyance at the micromanaging staff directing us around.

I did feel slightly bridal today, as I had something special with me from many of the people in my life-- I wore my grandmother's pearl and diamond ring, the last gift my grandfather gave her before he died, and which she gave to me for Christmas last year. I wore the pearl earrings my oldest and dearest friend gave to me for my birthday a couple years ago, and in case of tears, I carried one of my husband's handkerchiefs in my pocket. My parents and Marc were there to support me and patiently endured long speeches and 267 names of graduates so that they could see me walk across that stage and hear my name. As I waited on the edge of the stage, watching some of my best friends receive their degrees, I teared up, and had to take a few deep breaths so as not to cry my way through my commencement. We cheered for each other's names, and when the last Master's degree was announced and the University President, Dr. Church, declared us all degreed, we all hugged each other fiercely, as if no matter how tight we held on to each other it could never portray the exact level of excitement and pride we had for ourselves and each other.

I had to say goodbye today to a couple of very special people whom I will greatly miss having in my daily life. It was almost too much to take in. But the ceremony helped bring closure to this chapter of my life, and I am looking forward to a summer of finding rest and peace before the next adventure begins.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The path of most resistance

Today on my very last day of graduate school I find myself reflecting on the incredible journey I have been on to get to this point. If you had told me eight years ago I would be getting a Master's degree in Science of all things, I would have laughed at you.

In 2002 I was an undergraduate at UCLA trying to switch to the drama major with dreams of being an actress. The problem was, I hated living in Los Angeles, I wasn't that good of an actor, and the pressure to fit into the standards set by the industry were pushing me down the road of an eating disorder. Around this time out of a quest to lose weight I read "Enter the Zone" the first in the Zone diet books, which Dr. Sears had written more for medical professionals than the general public. (I picked this book because I had read in a magazine that Jennifer Anniston was a devoted fan and who wouldn't want to look like her?) That book was a fairly technical look at biochemistry of food-- at least for a diet book. (Barry Sears being a biochemist). For the first time in my life I was FASCINATED by science, specifically the science of how food effects the body. Keep in mind to this point I had gone out of my way to avoid science classes in college-- I took Astronomy and Biology for non-majors. But something clicked for me in reading that mass-marketed diet book. The longer I lived in LA the more I realized I would be miserable pursuing the acting dream and the chance of success was one in a million. I began considering alternate career paths, and eventually I walked away from the theater department to finish my degree in Philosophy-- mainly because I could graduate two quarters sooner. Marc and I moved back to Seattle in 2003 and after a year of re-establishing Washington state residency I began considering my options.

I really wanted to study nutrition, but the volume of chemistry prerequisites was daunting. I looked into nursing and started taking prerequisites for a Master's in Nursing to become a Nurse Practitioner. Two courses in I began doing some job shadowing of nurses and realized my heart still lay in nutrition, and even though it would take me over a year of chemistry classes, that was really what I wanted. And so I began the first of my five quarters of chemistry, working full-time and taking chem classes at night. It was hellish. I spent every free moment studying and found that science did not come easily to me-- it was a constant struggle. I remember one especially terrible Organic Chem final where I walked out of the exam and burst into tears-- it was like that nightmare where you get to a test and realize you don't know anything on it. By some miracle I passed even that course and was able to apply to Bastyr.

The past two years have been the most academically challenging, frustrating, exhausting, fun, and amazing time of my life. There were some classes I hated every second of, and others that I loved. The internship drama was definitely a blow to my self-confidence. But most of all I have loved dearly the wonderful friends I have made at Bastyr. For the first time in years I found a group of people where I felt I really belonged. As we finished our last exam today we lingered in the hallway together, not quite ready to part. Many people were rejoicing-- I am not yet to that place. I am very relieved not to have to memorize formulas for tube feeding or write fictional grant proposals anymore, but I can't help but be a little sad that I will no longer see my friends every day. Many of them are leaving within the week, scattering across the country to their new lives and new adventures. Graduation is often bittersweet, and certainly I feel that today.

Tomorrow I will welcome my classmates to my house as we celebrate our tremendous accomplishment and I promise by then I'll be in a party mood.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Friendly vs. Friends

Last week I heard the author of this article on NPR, and then read this article on Seattle's "social disease" and it got me thinking about my own Seattle girl standoffishness. When I went away to college I discovered I did not know how to make friends. I had for the most part had the same group of friends since at least junior high, some of them I had known since the first grade. I moved to Southern California, which might as well have been another galaxy given the huge culture shock I experienced. I spent a fairly lonely five years there, being friendly with my co-workers and classmates but not really having many real friends aside from Marc. When I moved back to Seattle in 2003, I found myself entirely reliant on the same friends I have known since the age of six. I despaired meeting anyone I could really “click with” beyond my childhood friend group. Moving to the suburbs in 2005 just increased my isolation. In fact, Marc and I even posted an ad on Craigslist a few years ago looking for other professional couples our age in our area to be friends with (apparently they don’t exist—we were unsuccessful). It wasn't until I started graduate school at Bastyr that I made new, real friends-- a group almost entirely composed of people who came from someplace other than Seattle. Though graduate school has been incredibly difficult at times, it is these people that have in many ways made the past two years some of the best of my adult life.

It hit me as I was driving home thinking about writing this post today that I STILL do not know how to make friends. At this point my friends are reading this thinking I'm crazy-- I was, after all, President of the Student Nutrition Association, co-founder of the Nutrition Networking Society and planned 90% of the social events last year. All true, but I'm going to tell you a secret-- I made exactly two friends at Bastyr on my own: one of whom sat next to me at orientation on the first day and introduced herself to me, and whom I immediately connected with. The second, I was partners with in counseling class for the majority of the quarter and we bonded over forced intimacy (you both know who you are). Every subsequent friend I made at Bastyr was through these two, who were better at making friends than I and they allowed me to tag along. Now, I'm not saying I'm socially incompetent-- I can chat with just about anybody. But I have that inborn Seattle disease of discomfort with taking acquaintance to the friendship stage. As the article I posted above says, "Seattleites are often seen as having this veneer of pleasantness but being hard to come to know." It also seems that we Seattleites are more comfortable with forging friendships when there is a communal goal or existing bond (such as a group of people all brought together with similar interests like joining a team, or going to a natural-health focused university for a degree in nutrition).

I did not realize this about myself until last week. Coincidentally I was talking to a co-worker at one of my part-time jobs, and she was saying that she, as a non-native Seattleite has found Seattle a very hard place to make friends (which is what many people I meet that move here from elsewhere say). This woman is a lovely person and we get on quite well. So I wrote down my email and handed it to her saying we should get together and that she should bring her daughter over to meet my chickens. Then, I kid you not, I felt vaguely uncomfortable for a good 48 hours afterward. When I saw her again today and we chatted more about the insanity of my boss, this feeling dissipated. I went outside of my comfort zone and I literally felt my boundaries stretch. I think I have the Seattle fear of intimacy disease. I truly did not realize this about myself until this week, and it is something I really want to overcome. I have some friends (also Seattle natives) who are very good at making friends everywhere they go and I have always admired this ability. It is a skill I want to cultivate in this next phase of my life.

I recently started writing for the National Examiner Seattle edition and since this Seattle friendliness issue has been on my mind, I chose for my first article to write about resources for meeting people and making friends in Seattle. Maybe I should take my own advice!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


When it gets hot outside and/or you have been exercising a lot or you just tend toward low blood pressure like I do (which can make you dizzy, especially when standing up suddenly) sometimes extra electrolytes, which can be lost during sweating, can help. One option is to drink a sports drink like gatorade or powerade, but those are full of sugar and calories that, unless you are doing serious cardio training, you probably don't need.

From my favorite resource, Wikipedia:
Both muscle tissue and neurons are considered electric tissues of the body. Muscles and neurons are activated by electrolyte activity between the extracellular fluid or interstitial fluid, and intracellular fluid. Electrolytes may enter or leave the cell membrane through specialized protein structures embedded in the plasma membrane called ion channels. For example, muscle contraction is dependent upon the presence of calcium (Ca2+), sodium (Na+), and potassium (K+). Without sufficient levels of these key electrolytes, muscle weakness or severe muscle contractions may occur.

My favorite way to get electrolytes, plus vitamin C (an excellent antioxidant) is by using EmergenC. One day before a hot yoga class I threw a couple packets of EmergenC into my ice water and it was quite delicious-- it also helped prevent the dizzy spells I am prone to during 100+ degree bikram yoga. Thus my recipe for "Electrolade" was born:

2 packets of "lite" EmergenC (contains less sugar than the regular variety-- if you prefer the regular stuff that's fine, but I've never tried this with another kind)
2-3 drops of Stevia extract
16 oz water
4-5 ice cubes

Mix the EmergenC, stevia and water, then add the ice. It only tastes good if it is really cold-- if you started with cold water it would probably be even better!

Friday, June 12, 2009

First Harvest

The unseasonably warm weather we have been enjoying this month has brought my small strawberry patch to life. It's only a matter of time before my chickens (whom I allow to free range when I'm home to supervise) discover the treats growing right at their eye level! In another month my raspberries will be ripe too. July is one of my favorite months because Marc and I will come home and spend all evening picking raspberries, half of which make it in the bowl and the rest straight into our mouths!

I am busy wrapping up my Master's degree, putting finishing touches on papers and frantically getting as many work-study hours as I can fit in before my funding runs out. In the frantic hustle I almost forget that my time at Bastyr grows short. While I'm ready to move on, I am sad that many of my new friends are moving on to do their internships elsewhere-- it is something I have not yet fully processed....

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Choosing Time

As I sit awake past my bedtime due to my usual end of quarter insomnia, kept company by the soft little chirps of Roxie and Flea, I find myself contemplating a choice. Last summer, in my attempt to both make some money and more importantly, get as many nutrition related hours as possible in a (failed) attempt to be impressive to the Bastyr internship director, I worked 50-60 hours a week between three jobs, while also doing a summer clinic shift. The only memory I have that summer occurred at all was the memory of walking down First Hill in the sunshine after my 10 hour shifts at Harborview as a diet clerk and being very hot in my uniform. The rest of the summer was spent divided between the hospital basement, hauling around patient trays, the Bastyr teaching kitchen where I carefully maintained inventory and cleanliness between classes, the nutrition practice where I am an administrative assistant, the Bastyr clinic, the bus and my car. I stayed as white as a ghost and was completely exhausted by summer's end.

This summer is likely my last as a student with the "summer off" that only students and teachers enjoy. It is my hope that next summer I will be able to find a job relatively quickly after my internship ends, since those student loans wait for no woman. Body, mind and soul I am exhausted after five years of scientific academia: three years of working full-time and taking chemistry prerequisites at night, followed by an intense two years of Master's degree coursework and three part-time jobs.

So far I am planning on working this summer 15 or so hours a week for the dietitian I have assisted all year, with a few weekends of handing out samples of Larabars at health fairs. I have also been offered a part-time position assisting a cooking class for kids at the local co-op. I'm sure the job would be fun, and in uncertain financial times it is difficult to say no to a paying job. Nevertheless, I'm leaning toward turning it down. I want to focus on the things that have gotten left behind in the past five years. I want to dust off my poor neglected flute and see if my fingers remember how to play. I want to sing something other than karaoke. I want to enjoy my friends, lay in the sunshine and read trashy novels. I want to cook something that takes longer than twenty minutes, weed my garden properly and play with my chickens. I want to start writing the novel that has been in my head for three years, and start working on pitch letters for writing nutrition articles. I want to be able to spend an entire day in my pajamas watching girly movies. I want a house that is clean for longer than two days in a row, and closets that are organized and free of clothes that haven't fit since the start of the millennium. I want to exercise every day and walk around Greenlake in the middle of the week when there is actually parking available. I need some time to restore, repair and breathe before the next round of insanity that is my life begins. And so for the first time in many years, I'm saying no to the more practical option of working more and doing more, and saying yes to time and space and me.


Occasionally, I bribe my husband with cookies. Like many men, Marc hates shopping of all kinds except for the hardware store. He will tolerate trips to the grocery store if I am efficient and brief, but he really can not stand shopping for clothes. Unfortunately, he went so long without buying new clothes that his work wardrobe was all old and sad, and despite a marathon shopping session in the snow over Christmas break, we had to go back to the mall yesterday in search of collar shirts and running shoes. I think it is the combination of having to spend money and having to make decisions on something he doesn't want to have to care about that cause my love to have anxiety. He called me, on his way home from school overwhelmed by himself in a department store. Men's shirts these days are mainly designed for the average American male, which means significantly shorter and wider than my tall lanky husband. He needs a shirt that says "fitted" which automatically eliminates 2/3 of the choices. I often sit on our bed looking at his closet and wonder why everything he owns is either blue or white and then we go shopping and I realize it's because everything else out there is disturbingly ugly. There are some nice greens out there, but Marc doesn't like anything he deems "bright," which not only eliminates the green shirts I would have deemed acceptable, but also some truly loud purples, pinks, oranges and teals. Dark and bright seem to be in for menswear this Spring. Thus, I drove to join him and save him from his shopping hell.

But back to the cookies. Marc tends to get anxious and frustrated while shopping which usually means he gets mad and gives up. I discovered on our last shopping trip that if I put cookies in my purse and dole them out whenever he starts getting frustrated it is enough of a distraction to keep us merrily wandering the isles. (The other trick is shopping on a weeknight like last night when the mall is uncrowded-- last time we went on a Tuesday in the middle of a snow storm).

Now I realize I am treating my husband like many people treat their four year olds, and in fact I would probably just leave a tantrumy child at home or leave the store than resort to bribing with sugar, but sometimes you have to do what is necessary to get the job done.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Nickname People

I was named after an Audrey Hepburn movie. For the most part I have always liked my name (other than the day in third grade when some fifth graders decided to call me submarine). There are people in the world who like to use nicknames, and those who don't. I come from nickname people-- from my family it is so rare for me to hear my full name that I tend to associate it with being in trouble. My dad calls me all of the nicknames that dads tend to call little girls-- Dolly and Princess and a hundred other names. My whole family mostly calls me Brie, and in fact my brother called me Sabrina a few years ago and it the sound was so jarring it was like he had slapped me because I have so rarely heard him say it. Likewise, in our nearly twelve years together, my husband only has called me Sabrina when referring to me to someone else. The nicknames between us have changed over the years. Among other things, he usually will call be Brini or B, or some ridiculous variation such as Breezle, or else he makes up strange names for me on the spot, often based on animal names (Kitty, Bunny etc.) I called him Marcky for a long time until my mom started calling him that too, but over the years he's been Ducky and Mo and Reggie (long story). Childhood friends mostly call me Brina. I once had a high school teacher call me Sab-ri which I hated, and a youth group leader call me Saby which I wasn't wild about either. I have a long name-- I get that shortening it is easier.

What I don't get is this: Not one person whom I have met after the age of 18 has called me by a nickname. Even when I tell people that lots of people call me Brie or Brina, or they hear Marc call me Brini, still people near and dear to me call me Sabrina and nothing else. Perhaps the adult version of myself suits my entire name? Or else there is something formal about myself that prevents people from calling me by a nickname?

Meanwhile, I continue to shorten names of those around me-- Laura being Lu, my brother Darren being D, Megan is Megs, and even the already ridiculous names for my chickens get shortened to nicknames, Miss Kitty and I are on a first name basis now and she is simply Kitty, while Muffin is Muffy and Liz Lemon is simply Lizzie.

Perhaps I can be like the artist formerly known as Prince and change my name to the nutritionist formerly known as Sabrina and just instead be a symbol-- perhaps a picture of asparagus?

Asparagus junkie

I have been eating asparagus for dinner-- and breakfast-- all weekend long. Normally this time of year I'll blanch or steam some asparagus with dinner a couple nights a week until it's out of season, once in a great while attempting to throw it on the BBQ when we have it going. I went over twenty years avoiding asparagus, and I think I am attempting to make up for lost time. When I was four or five my mom had a rule that we had to take at least one bite of everything on our plate before we could have dessert. It is well known that young children often fear green vegetables as devices of torture, and asparagus in particular resembles some sort of medieval lancing device. I was no exception. My anxiety about the impending bite of asparagus was so high, my dramatic toddler tantrum so fully engaged, that by the time I took my one bite of the pointy green vegetable, I gagged on it and nearly threw it back up. I would not go near asparagus again until my early twenties, when a friend who is an excellent cook, made it as part of dinner he and his wife cooked for Marc and me. I ate it to be polite, and found it to be actually quite delicious. And so, the love affair began.

My love was taken to new heights this week when my friend Jenna wrote a blog about broiled asparagus and I decided to give it a try. On Saturday night I was home alone, studying frantically for my impending exit exam while Marc was away doing good deeds in service of his 92 year old grandma. It got to be 8pm and I still hadn't had dinner, and I decided I would start with some hard boiled eggs that needed to be eaten, and would add broiled asparagus to go along side. How did I not know how amazing this could be? Broiled asparagus is Angelina Jolie sexy, to blanched asparagus' wholesome Jennifer Aniston simplicity. The outer skins become slightly crisp while the insides tender and juicy. Eggs and asparagus became the new go-to meal-- I ate it again for breakfast the next morning, and yet again today. I find myself eating beyond capacity because between the asparagus and the local strawberries I final found at the farmer's market, I can't stop eating.

As asparagus season draws to a close, I am working hard at trying to get tired of it, so that the time between now and next season won't seem so long-- but so far I am not succeeding.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Times article on Crossfit

There was a good article on Crossfit in the Seattle Times today-- written by a woman no less...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Night Terrors

Imagine for a moment that your significant other was prone to sleep-walking, sleep-crying, or even screaming in their sleep. I would expect you would grow wary of having to share a bed with someone prone to such nocturnal circus antics, but alas, my husband, a prince among men, is a very patient man.

Once a month or so, I will have a nightmare that causes me to jump out of bed in a panic while still asleep. Sometimes I just stand next to the bed crying in my sleep, other times I make it as far as the closet before Marc wakes up and tells me gently to go back to bed. Usually launching myself out of bed half-wakes me up, but not always. I rarely remember my dreams. Other nights I will sit bolt upright with a gasp, and when Marc tells me it's okay and to go back to sleep I always do-- but rarely do I remember what happened the next morning.

Twice the worst of the scenarios has occurred: one summer night in 2003 I screamed a deep death-scream for 10 minutes straight, never once waking. Poor Marc woke up on the alert thinking someone was killing his wife, and then had to try and get me to stop. (The really scary thing is I lived in an apartment at the time and not one person called the police-- what if someone really WAS trying to kill me?) The next morning I woke up with a very sore throat, but absolutely no memory of what happened.

In Fall of 2007, I was very stressed trying to study for mid-terms and it happened again. I screamed and screamed in my sleep, though eventually this time I woke up to Marc telling me it was okay, and as I went back to sleep I had a vague thought that I might have done it again. (Incidentally, I lived in an apartment at this time too, and no one called the police-- that scares me!) After both times I was afraid to go to sleep for weeks afterward, afraid it would happen again.

I asked a naturopath about these incidents and she said it was likely due to my suppressing emotions during the day that come out at night. Apparently I've been doing this most of my life-- I remember being a teenager and my Dad asking me the next day why I was up in the middle of the night. He said I went downstairs, turned on all of the lights, used the downstairs bathroom and then went back to bed. I had no memory of any of it.

Incidents like this make me really scared of sleeping in situations where there are people other than Marc there. This year I went to conferences two weekends in a row, both times sharing a room with other women, and lay awake for at least an hour worrying about if I was going to have an episode in the night (thankfully, the worst that happened was I was talking in my sleep.)

As I go off to live without my husband during the week next year I'm again reminded that my night safety is partly due to his kind reassurances, and I fear for myself and my potential roommates at what might come of these events without him there as a mediator.

Let the Crossfit resume!

I did not make it to Crossfit Thursday or Friday between a 7:30am dentist appointment, 90 degree weather and my inability to sleep due to stress and said weather. So this morning at 8am I was ready to get back into the groove of things. Unlike Tuesday where I was in a class of one, I found myself one of seven. The demographic of this class could not have been more varied. There were three young men whom I guessed to be in their 30s near Marc's age who were in AMAZING shape. (Lets just say when the it got hot and shirts came off, no one complained!) There were three other women besides myself-- one was a rather overweight woman in probably her early 30s, and two ladies who were in their late 50s or so, whom I had seen there once before named Ann and Janice. Ann and Janice are amazing ladies-- they are old enough to be my mother, and both completely kicked my ass.

Our workout went like this: in pairs we took turns throwing a rather large (12 pound) medicine ball while running after it for 1/2 of a mile (I'm sure the cars driving by thought we were completely crazy). After that fun little warm-up, we began our actual workout. Deadlifts, where in you start bent over, and end with a little hop and the weight near your ears (the hop is to help you get under the weight). I had the lightest weights of anyone, at 12 pounds (times two since I had a dumbbell in each hand). It wasn't very heavy as far as my legs were concerned but we had to repeat these 15 times and it was exhausting! Once we did 15 of the deadlifts, we moved on to pull-ups, of which we did 21. Jumping pull-ups (i.e. jumping up to get yourself over the bar) are as much a cardio workout as they are an upper body workout. My stamina is nil these days after several years of sporadic at best workouts, so lots of heavy breathing and breaks to get through those.

I was in awe of Ann, who did kipping pull-ups, where you hang from the bar and swing your legs to get momentum to pull yourself up. This woman is amazing! She definitely is stronger than 29 year old me! So the 15 deadlifts and 21 pullups circuit was supposed to be repeated 5 times, but Abi our trainer let me do 4 sets (I thought I was going to die after 3). I would have been the slowest and most out of shape by far, except the other woman there was really struggling-- she may have been having blood pressure difficulties because she got dizzy and had to sit down. I give her credit though-- Crossfit is not easy for ME and I have some baseline of fitness as well as less weight to try and haul around-- no doubt it was crazy hard for her.

After my workout I stopped by the store to get more almond milk for my smoothie and lettuce for my salad today. Fred Meyer is the closest store to my gym and I spent a gleeful half hour in the garden department picking out organic herbs and two tomato plants. I started a number of tomatoes from seed back in February, but I'm scared they aren't going to make it-- a lot of our plants got pretty beat up in the early heat we had this week. So just in case, I bought two larger ones because I'm pretty much obsessed with fresh tomatoes in summer. I could tell from the funny looks I got while I was there that my face was still bright purple, as is what happens when I work out really hard.

While I am working out, I will not lie-- it is not very fun. I keep reminding myself that if it were easy then it wouldn't be effective. After I workout hard I feel amazing! I'm so cheerful and glad to be alive-- those endorphins are actually better than chocolate, if you can believe that!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tuesday Talkers—My first Crossfit class

After last Saturday’s ass-kicking, I could barely walk Sunday and leaned heavily into the wall or a table every time I sat down. I couldn’t imagine working out again Monday, so I rested and felt just very sore—a step up from incapacitation!

Tuesday morning was my first official cross-fit class, although I was the only one in it! Apparently since Seattle has decided to pretend it is summer in early June, with temperatures hitting the upper 80s gym attendance is down. So at 7am that morning I was the only person working out with the instructor whose name was Abi. I was a little apprehensive but by a half hour into our workout we were chatting like old friends. Later Abi had to leave and her replacement, another female trainer named Monica took over. We ladies chatted so long my workout, which could have been finished in 45 minutes went on for an hour and a half. This was partly due to the fact that today’s workout was doing front squats at max weight to failure. In other words—find out how much weight you can squat and then lift over your head without compromising form. The answer for me? 70 pounds. There was a lot of standing around chatting between attempts.

I did not have time to go to the gym yesterday as I spent 13 hours at school, starting the day with a presentation and ending it with helping cater a fancy dinner as part of our Food Service Management class' project. I spent hours cooking in a kitchen that was probably 100 degrees, given that outside it was in the 90s, a rarity for Seattle in June. This morning was filled with trips to the dentist and the eye doctor, so tomorrow will resume my cross-fit adventures. Right now? I need a nap!