Category Archives: Food

Not What I Want To Weigh (or About A Month To Go)

As soon as I knew I’d need liver surgery, the first thing I thought about was wanting to lose weight before surgery. I know that at a lower weight the surgery will be easier and I’ll have a smoother recovery. Needing to be at a lower weight for surgery is why 11 years ago I did the RFO diet at UCLA. It was more important then because I was having joint surgery, but it is just as important now.

When I got sick, I dropped weight super fast. It was almost scary how fast it was going down and for a while I thought that trend would stick. In a matter of a week or so, I was down over 20 pounds. And even when I started to add more normal food into my diet, my weight seemed to be steady. I wasn’t necessarily losing weight, but I wasn’t gaining it either which I was expecting. And for a while, that was how it was and I thought it would be.

With the idea of surgery coming up, I had a number in mind that I wanted to get to in my weight loss. At the rate I had been losing weight, it was going to be a super easy goal. At the weight I was at, if I was losing 1-2 pounds a week it was a very possible goal. So I had no reason to expect that it would be an issue to get to the number I wanted to be at by April.

Now that I’m just over a month away from surgery, I’m not close to that number at all. In fact, I’ve gained a bit of weight back from that big weight loss back in the fall. It’s not a lot of the weight (only about 6 pounds), but it’s still so frustrating. I’m so mad at myself because I know this is my fault and that I have only made things more difficult on me and the surgery. I had no reason why this had to happen, but of course my eating disorder had other things in mind.

At this point, the number I had in mind is pretty much impossible unless I take unhealthy measures to lose weight. I will not do unhealthy things because I know they will backfire on me and I’m not willing to do that to myself. I can only try to do my best to get back on track and to be at the lowest weight I can safely get down to by surgery.

I’m trying to be hopefully that I can get closer to the number I had in mind than I am right now over the next few weeks. Realistically, I think the most I could safely lose would be 15 pounds. But I think that will be a stretch and difficult. I am doing what I can to keep my eating under control, but sometimes it feels like my food is the only thing that I can control in my life. And when I can control it how I want it to be, it’s not always the best choices. I’m trying to keep my health in my mind first over my eating disorder’s desires, but I don’t always win.

I’m lucky that my surgeon did not put pressure on me to lose weight before surgery. I know that I need to do it, but I don’t feel like he is expecting me to do so. Any weight loss I have will be a good thing and there is no feeling that I might be disappointing him with whatever the number will be on the scale when I weigh in before the surgery. I think if I had that pressure on me, I would be resorting more to unhealthy things and would probably still not lose as much as I should before surgery.

I really do want to buckle down and refocus for these next 5 weeks. I know that I can accomplish some really great things with my weight loss even if I do have the occasional setback. I don’t want to keep thinking of new goals to get to by surgery because I know that will be setting myself up to fail. Instead, I just want to make sure that whatever effort I am able to do that I feel good about it and know that I worked really hard to get to where I am.

I’m hopeful that I will probably have a decent weight loss after surgery because I’ll be on a restricted diet for a while. I don’t want to depend on that for weight loss because I know that it can be temporary. But it will be a nice time that I know the scale should be going in the right direction that will allow me to refocus my plan and to hopefully continue the momentum after I start to eat normal food again.

It’s so frustrating when I was doing so great for a while and then something happens that makes me feel like I’ve ruined all of my progress. I know that recognizing that I’m struggling is a sign that things are getting better because I am not allowing myself to ignore the fact that everything isn’t ok. I just wish that things were easier for me because I really do want to not have to worry about food like I am now. I want food thoughts to not dominate my mind. And I want my efforts to show physically instead of being hidden by the occasional destruction of my eating disorder.

Another Disney Day (or Gaston And AP Days)

I was just at Disneyland last week, but of course I wasn’t going to say no to going again this week! This trip had been planned for a bit because my friend Michelle and I wanted to see what they were doing for the AP Days at Disneyland and this seemed to be the only time we could go when the event was happening. But then they also announced all the Beauty and the Beast stuff at Disneyland so we added wanting to go to the pop up restaurant on our list and were very excited to have a fun Disney day!

When we got to the parks, we were pretty shocked about how crowded it was. It wasn’t spring break and there wasn’t a holiday so we didn’t know why everyone was at Disneyland. It wasn’t unbearably crowded, but it did surprise us. And since we knew the Beauty and the Beast pop up restaurant was a limited time thing, we were prepared to have to wait a while to get food when we were ready to eat.

But before eating, we had some stuff to do! We started with Hyperspace Mountain. I’m trying to get in a bunch of roller coasters before surgery since I know I won’t be able to ride them for a while after surgery. I’m planning at least one more Disney trip before surgery and I know I’ll be going on this again. And Michelle and I tried to do the pose from the Hamilton poster for the ride, but I turned a bit too much to the side so my arm got cut off. But Michelle looked awesome!

Our next stop was right next to Hyperspace Mountain at the old arcade building. That is where the AP Days event was being held. There were some art projects for kids, special merchandise that you could purchase, and phone charging stations. But the photo ops were what we decided to take advantage of!

There weren’t a ton of people inside of the event, so we were able to get through the photos pretty quickly. Then we went on a quick ride on Star Tours (another ride that I won’t be able to go on after surgery) before heading over to the Red Rose Tavern.

We had heard about the insane crowds there since everyone wants to experience it before it goes away (but there is no end date yet). We were prepared for the worst, but when we walked up it was pretty empty! And it was so cute inside. They decorated it to look like Gaston’s Tavern from the movie and there was a lot of stained glass all over.

We took a look at the menu when we walked inside, but since there was no line to order we just stood off to the side to look at the options. And once we knew what we wanted we were able to walk right up to place our orders.

Since we weren’t sure if either of us would be able to be back before this pop up ended, so we decided to order a few things and share them. From friends who have been there already, I heard that the chicken sandwich and poutine were really good so we ordered those plus the two desserts (lemon cake and “gray stuff”) that they had to split between us.

And it was all awesome! This was so much better than regular theme park food and we were both saying how we think they need to keep this permanently at Disneyland! It was a lot of food and we were both feeling pretty full after eating. But that was ok because we had a quick stop before going on any more rides that day.

Earlier in the day I saw that one of my Orangetheory coaches, Whitney, was at Disneyland that day too! She and I were texting and finally we were able to coordinate meeting up when we were done eating. We were on our way to the meeting spot, but while we were walking we happened to see the Gaston character walking around. He’s a character you don’t see that often and he wasn’t stopping for photos. So I ran in front of him and did a quick selfie as he was walking.

After that quick photo, we walked over to Indiana Jones where Whitney was waiting for us. We just hung out for a little bit while she was eating and it was a nice catch up!

Whitney was there with her family so she went off with them and Michelle and I went on a few more rides. We went to Indiana Jones (another one that will not be ok to ride after surgery) and Haunted Mansion before doing our last ride in that park.

Michelle and I have a year-long competition going with Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. We have set rules for ourselves, but mainly we have to ride together and we are adding up all the points we get to see who has the most points at the end of the year. I’m winning right now, but that can change so quickly! For some reason, our ride photo left out Michelle’s score, but she got more than double the points I got.

We originally weren’t going to go over to California Adventure, but we ended up wanting to ride on Soarin’ so we headed over there after Buzz Lightyear. But on the way, we did some shopping. We weren’t looking for anything in particular, but I always like to see what is for sale at Disneyland. And about a year ago, I saw a set of dog bow ties that I loved but only came in small dog sizes. But this time, they had them in a large dog size!

I called my mom quickly and she confirmed Tucker’s neck size (these will either just fit perfectly or we will add a little extra velcro to make them fit) so I got them for him! Tucker doesn’t dress up too often, but I figured these could be cute for Halloween for him or just for fun outings.  Plus, I love Disney stuff so I want the dog to have some too!

Our ride on Soarin’ was awesome (as always) and by the time we were done with the ride we were both pretty exhausted. I had a big workout before meeting Michelle and she had been working hard. And even though we were only at Disneyland for about 6 hours, it felt like a full day for us!

I’ve had a couple of back to back weeks with Disneyland days. I have another day planned for the beginning of April and that might be my last trip there before surgery. I’m glad that I’ve been able to go so much lately because I know I will miss it when I can’t be there. But for now, I’m just maximizing each day I have there!

Vegan Fudge (or Another Super Easy Recipe)

I’ve been testing a few new recipes lately since I’m working on meal planning and cooking at home. I usually am trying one new dinner recipe each week or every other week. I’m trying to find simple recipes since I don’t want to have to buy a ton of ingredients that cost a lot of money or something that takes forever to cook. So my searches tend to be for pretty basic stuff. And sometimes, I need something to inspire me to find a new recipe.

A friend of mine had a loss recently and I wanted to do something nice for them. They are vegan so most of my guilty pleasure foods wouldn’t work for them so I did some searching for good vegan treats. So many of them had lots of ingredients that I don’t have or don’t use. It’s not worth it to buy something that will just be used in that one recipe (the problem I’ve had with cooking in the past) so I just kept searching for something easy to make. And finally I came across the perfect recipe!

I found a very basic recipe for vegan peanut butter fudge that pretty much only had ingredients that I already have! It was so easy and fast to make and so good that I know this will be something I will be making for lots of people in the future! And as I have before, whenever I find an awesome recipe I want to share it with you all!

Vegan Peanut Butter Fudge (from Spoon University)

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup natural nut butter (this was the only ingredient I had to buy because the only peanut butter I had in my house had honey which is not vegan)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, softened or melted
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

What to do:

  • Combine all ingredients and stir until combined
  • Pour into a container that is lined with parchment paper
  • Put container in freezer and freeze for 45 minutes
  • Take out of freezer, cut, and enjoy!

That’s it! It’s so simple that I can’t believe that I haven’t made this before! I actually have not been able to get the fudge to my friend yet (so they might be finding out that I made something for them by reading this blog), but I know that they will be a hit!

This isn’t necessarily the healthiest thing to eat, but it’s so much healthier than most desserts that I know how to make. And I’m sure this recipe is easy enough to switch things up so the basic recipe can be used for a bunch of different things. I was thinking that this could be a really good topping to the gluten-free brownies I know how to make. Those brownies are sometimes used as the base for triple layer brownies with brown butter frosting. But I think using this fudge as a frosting could really be amazing! I might have to try it out sometime.

Every time I try a new recipe, I’m so anxious that it’s not going to turn out ok. I had that happen a few weeks ago with a new soup recipe that I tried. I thought it was going to be amazing and I was so excited about it. And then I tried it and it was horrible. I tried to fix it but there was no saving the soup and it had to be thrown out. I felt awful doing that because it is a waste of food and money (and I did try to see if any of my neighbors wanted it), but I knew I couldn’t eat it.

Having a recipe go wrong was a blessing in disguise because it wasn’t the end of the world like I thought it would be. It was unfortunate, but nothing horrible happened because I made something that tasted horrible. I’m not as scared now as I was before that I will do something wrong. And more often than not, the recipes will turn out awesome (like this one did) and it will become something that I will want to keep making!

The trial and error in my kitchen continues each week. But I know that this vegan fudge is going to be something that I make over and over again.

Meal Planning and Learning French (or Monthly Challenge Time)

The start of a new month brings the end to one monthly challenge and the beginning of another! Of course, I’ve kept doing almost all of my monthly challenges beyond the end of that month so it’s really not the end to anything this time. First, a quick recap on my February challenge.

My challenge for February was to work on weekly meal planning. This is something I’ve tried to do multiple times and I was hoping that this time things would finally stick for me. Meal planning is something I know I should do for both my health and budget, but it has never been easy for me. I’ve tried different methods of planning and nothing felt right for me. So this past month, I decided to give myself the month to test out different things and to see what I could come up with.

I started with trying a couple of meal planning apps. I was only trying the free ones because I didn’t want to pay something that I wasn’t sure I would like. I know that some people love the apps, but for me they just didn’t work. I couldn’t see things the way I wanted to and it felt like more work than it was worth. I really wanted an app to work because it seems to be what so many people like and have success with, but I can’t force myself to work with something that doesn’t work for me.

After that, I did various versions of writing down a list for the week. I’m still testing out a couple of options, but I’m finding that having this list system is going ok for me. I can work on the week’s list on Saturday or Sunday (whatever day I can go get groceries), see everything that I have for the week, and make a grocery list based on that. I’m not buying things that I don’t need, so I’m saving money. And I’m finding that if I can cook one night at home, that covers me for 3 meals and I can eat something home cooked most days.

I’m not 100% perfect with following my plan, but I’m doing much better than I expected. If nothing else, this has helped me get into a schedule with my food and I’m not having problems with not having something in the house for lunch or dinner. There is still room for improvement with this, but I would say this challenge is a success!

Moving on to March now. It was a struggle for me to think up a challenge for this month. I ended up doing some searching online for inspiration on what could be a good month-long challenge. There were so many good ideas, but many of them are similar to things I already do so it wouldn’t be enough of a challenge for me. But I kept gravitating toward some of the educational challenges so I decided to look more into those. And I finally found something that seems good to me.

For the month of March, I’m going to work on learning a new language every day. More specifically, I’m going to work on learning French every day. I’ve wanting to learn French before and I’ve tried it a few times (sound familiar?) but it’s never been a habit that I can stick with. But I know that doing something educational every day will be good for me and learning another language will be a tough challenge for me.

I’m planning on using the Duolingo app to do this, which is something I tried before. But now, I have reminders set up for me to work on this every day and I’m connecting it to my social media so I can have friends checking in on me. I’ve liked the app before, I just wasn’t consistent with it. But that was before I got really into my monthly challenges, so I’m hoping that the motivation will be with me this time and I can stick with it.

I don’t expect to be great at French within a month. I know that it will take so much longer than that to be able to learn another language. But in 30 days I can learn some basics and get into the habit of working on this. Maybe by the end of this year I can feel comfortable with how much I know. I don’t have any reason I need to know French right now, but I’ve got some motivation to learn it in the long run.

12 years ago, my mom and I went to France and Italy together. We had a great trip and have said that we wanted to go again. And if we go back, we’ve said that we’d like to go to Disneyland Paris. I know you don’t need to speak French to enjoy Disneyland Paris, but I think knowing it would be helpful and would make that trip even better. My mom and I don’t have any travel plans any time soon, but we know that we want to go back one day. And when that happens, hopefully I will be able to speak a little French and understand it as well.

I’m excited to see how a brainy challenge will go for me because many of the ones I’ve done before aren’t as much about learning new things. But I know I should be doing more things to keep learning every day, and this is a great way to add that to my daily habits!

Cheesecake Dinner (or A Half Birthday Outing)

I’ve written about the traditions that my birthday twin, Joanna, and I have been doing for a while. It’s tradition to go to Truxton’s for our birthday and then we started doing Cheesecake Factory around the holidays. But lately, we’ve changed our Cheesecake Factory dinner to be more of a half birthday thing. And since it was just our half birthday, we made an effort to do our dinner close to the right time.

We ended up going this past Monday after I had my screening. Joanna was actually at the screening the week before at my film festival, so she didn’t have to go to this screening. But the timing worked out really well between us to go to dinner after my screening so I was excited to get to discuss the screening with her. I was so nervous going into the screening and still feeling a little bit anxious after, so it was nice to know I would be able to talk it through with a friend to calm me down.

So many times when we go to Cheesecake Factory, it’s so crowded that we have to wait forever for a table. This time, I got there just before Joanna did and our table was ready a few minutes after she got there. For some reason, we always get seated outside on the patio (thank goodness they have heating lamps), and we were seated out there again!

I knew what I was going to order right away. I always get the same salad because it’s delicious! It also isn’t too massive (like many of the items there are) and the calorie count isn’t too bad since it’s on the skinny menu. But it is so good and a nice balance to getting cheesecake so it’s the perfect thing to order. I know that there are recipes to make this at home, but I like having this as something special that I get when I go to Cheesecake Factory.

Over dinner, Joanna and I did a bit of catching up. I had just seen her the week before so there weren’t a ton of new updates in our lives. We did discuss my surgery and Joanna was telling me about some awesome trips that she’s got coming up this year. And we also started to plan what we wanted to do for our birthday this year. We said we should do a combined birthday party since then we don’t have to worry about having parties at the same time. And we have a couple of ideas for what that party could be.

And of course, because politics and current events are unavoidable right now, we did discuss some of that. We pretty much are on the same side with everything, but there are a few things that we aren’t 100% together on. But we are able to have some really amazing and respectful debates and I know that I learn a lot from those. Most of the time, we do agree on everything. But when we get to play devil’s advocate regarding something we disagree on, it’s always interesting.

But as always in our Cheesecake Factory outings, the highlight for us wasn’t necessarily getting to hang out but getting cheesecake! I love getting to hang out with Joanna, but I know we both are thinking about what types of cheesecake we are going to get as soon as we plan our dinner. I learned recently that you can ask your server to cut the slice in half before bringing it to the table, so that made things so much easier for us. We each had a half slice of the red velvet cheesecake and a half slice of tiramisu cheesecake. It’s a lot of cheesecake, but it’s so good and worth being a big splurge!

Neither of us could finish our slices, but we enjoyed every single bite. It’s a treat for both of us and I know we both look forward to our cheesecake outing each year. It’s a good thing that we only do this once a year because it is such a splurge and we both probably go a bit overboard with the food. But it’s something nice that we do and great way for us to celebrate our half birthday!

6 more months to go before my next tradition with my birthday twin when we go out for our free birthday dinner!

Disneyland Adjacent (or Downtown Disney)

This past weekend was a bit of a weird one for me. I ended up being in a bad mood on Sunday (for reasons I’m not sure about) and was planning on spending most of the day moping around and feeling a bit sorry for myself. But my plans changed when my friend Michelle texted me to see if I wanted to go to Disneyland for a few hours that evening!

I’m always down to go to Disneyland and even if we could only spend a few hours there I knew it would make my day amazing! I got my stuff together and got into the car to drive to Michelle’s house. But on the drive to her house, she called me to let me know that our passes were blacked out because of the holiday weekend (since we both have Mondays off we sometimes forget about 3 day weekends). We thought about going to Universal Studios instead, but we were blacked out there too.

I got to Michelle’s house and we were trying to figure out what to do. We both wanted to go do something and were torn on figuring out what to do. Finally, we decided that we should go to Disneyland anyway but instead of going to the parks we would get some dinner at Downtown Disney and try to watch the fireworks from between the parks (so we don’t have to pay to get in). And since there is 4 hours free parking at Downtown Disney (a long as you get dinner), we wouldn’t have to pay to park!

We headed down and got to Downtown Disney pretty quickly. We headed over to Tortilla Joe’s (which I love!) and put our names on the list. It was going to be over an hour for a table, but we had time to kill before the fireworks and were happy to walk around Downtown Disney do shop. There are so many things that I would love to buy, I just don’t have the money for it. But it’s always fun to look and there are some ideas of things I want to put on my wish list for the future and maybe to put on a list for my birthday.

We were done window shopping and it was finally time for us to get dinner. As much as I want to drink alcohol right now (and my surgeon said I could as long as I didn’t drink too much), I’m trying to be good and not drink. I really wanted a margarita, but I had to settle for a virgin strawberry one.

It wasn’t as good as a real margarita, but it was a nice change from just drinking water and made dinner feel a bit more special. And as always, the food there was awesome. Michelle and I might have eaten too many chips because we were both so hungry for dinner, but the chips were really good! And I had a tostada salad that I’ve had before there and it was the perfect dinner for me.

And besides just having a good dinner, it was so nice to get out of the house. I’m usually such a planner and having a spur of the moment adventure was a great way to get out of a rut. Plus, Michelle and I wanted to work on planning our next Disney day (which will be in a few weeks) so hanging out at dinner was nice.

After we were done with dinner, we walked over to the esplanade between Disneyland and California Adventure so we could watch the fireworks. I’ve watched the fireworks from there before so I knew while it was a slightly obstructed view it would still be fun. It was a bit weird to be at Disneyland but not to be at Disneyland, but it was still nice to feel like we there that night. We thought about taking a funny photo at the gates of the park trying to reach through, but we ended up just doing a selfie by the gates and were very happy with how our photo turned out (not bad for the selfie camera on my iPhone!).

We were waiting around and knew it was about the time that fireworks were going to start, but nothing was happening. We checked the website to see if we got the fireworks time wrong, but then we just thought that maybe they were a bit delayed. Since we weren’t in the park and couldn’t hear the announcements, we weren’t exactly sure what was happening. But about 10 minutes after the fireworks should have started, someone who was just inside the park walked by and said that the fireworks were cancelled that night.

It’s a bit sad when the fireworks were cancelled, but I understand why they have to do it. Sometimes it’s super windy higher up where the fireworks go and they can’t have the show happening with the wind like that. Or the clouds are too low and they know that nobody will be able to see much. I’m glad that someone told us all because we probably would have waited out there a bit longer to see what was going to happen.

So after that, we walked back to the car and made the drive back to LA. Even though we didn’t get to go into the park or see the fireworks, it was still a fun Disney adventure. It was the perfect thing to do when I needed something to boost my mood. I felt so much better being out at Downtown Disney than I would have if I stayed home. I got a nice dinner with an awesome friend, and I got a lot of walking in that I probably wouldn’t have done.

It really helped to make my Sunday a great day and I’m so glad that Michelle texted me to go on yet another adventure with her!

Trusting It Will Be Ok (or Dealing With Stress In A Healthy Way)

Even though a lot of recent events should have added a ton of extra stress in my life, I’ve been doing ok. I’m not letting any of my health issues get me down since I know that having a bad attitude won’t change anything for me. Money issues are still toward the front of my mind, but I’m also trying to not stress about those. I have had some things get better for me financially recently, but I think understanding my financial status by budgeting has been really great at keeping the stress down. But in the past week, things just have taken a crazy turn for me.

First, my weight loss is going a bit haywire. I know I should be losing weight, but it’s not showing up on the scale. In fact, the scale has been going up a lot recently. I don’t know what’s happening or why things aren’t going my way, but I’m trying to figure out what I can do to control the situation. This is stressing me out because I’m worried about trying different things when other things have worked for me in the past. But I also know that I need to get this under control and going the right way again sooner rather than later. But I also know that stressing about it is not going to help (and telling myself to relax just stressed me out more).

I’ve been stressing a lot about time management lately too. I don’t know why my days seem to be going so quickly and that I don’t have time to do everything, but that’s how I feel. I have a huge list of things to get done every day and I’m not making a huge dent on them each day. I’ve been tracking my time and there isn’t a ton of wasted time each day. Maybe I’m just taking on too much, but I feel like it shouldn’t be too tough to get all the things done each day that I set out to do. I know that going on Disney adventures doesn’t help, but those were on days where it seemed like my week was going to be super calm. But as the week goes on, things start piling up. I’m just trying to keep up with my to-do lists and hoping that something clicks soon.

And the thing that is causing me the most stress, especially in the last week, is the film festival that I run. The festival is happening this weekend, and everything was perfectly in place until last week. We discovered that our contact at the venue was no longer working with that venue and there was no record of our festival being scheduled to be there. Fortunately, the owner of that venue has another venue that we are going to use. But it is causing a lot of unknowns with the festival. I’ve never run it at any other location than our old one so I’m worried that things won’t be ok. I went to the venue for a site walk through earlier this week and that helped. But until Sunday is done, I think this will be causing me a ton of stress.

I hate that things are causing me so much stress, but it is also a good thing for me. In the past, I haven’t always had the best coping skills. Having a binge episode was a common way for me to deal. And when I found out about the venue for the film festival not having us scheduled, the first thought into my head was what I wanted to go eat for dinner that night. Even though I had planned out my meals for the week, I wanted to go get something that wasn’t a part of my plan for dinner. I wanted to eat something that would distract me from worrying about things. But I didn’t do that. I drove home and while I didn’t eat exactly how I had planned to do so that day, I didn’t do anything too extreme. I had to deal with my feelings the way a healthy person does and it wasn’t easy. But I did it and I got through it.

I hate feeling so stressed out about so many things, but this is just how my life is right now. I’m trying to trust that things will turn out ok, and in most cases I can see how things can get better. But until they do get better, it isn’t easy for me. All I can do is trying to get through these issues and know that when it is done I will have better coping skills to get through things in the future.

Adding Gadgets To My House (or Tools To Help Me Out)

While I’m trying to cut back on my spending and bringing more things into my house, sometimes you need to break that rule to make things better. It’s a hard balance to figure out because I’m sure I can justify spending for stuff I really don’t need. So I’m trying to be very picky and making sure that it’s something that I really need and not just something that I want. But there were two gadgets that fit into that rule that I ended up buying this week.

The first thing I got was a lamination machine for my house. Usually when I need to laminate stuff, I go to Staples and pay to get it done. I normally only need one thing or one page so it never seemed worth it to me to have my own lamination machine. But my mom has had one for a while and loved it, so when I was thinking about getting stuff laminated this week I looked into buying one for myself.

I did manage to find one that was heavily discounted on Amazon that would arrive that day at my house (thanks Amazon Prime)! And it was perfect because I have been working on my meal planning and wanted to create a nice reusable meal planning guide.

The machine I got is really easy to use and it came with a bunch of the laminating pages so I don’t need to buy any for a little bit. And I have been able to use the meal planning page I created each day (although I’m still trying to figure out how I can write on this without ruining it). And it’s small enough that it fits into a shelf on my desk so it is out of the way when I am not going to be using it.

The other new gadget I got this week also has to do a bit with my challenge to work on meal planning. I’ve thought for a long time that my kitchen was perfectly set up for me to cook, but I’m aware that I set it up based on what most people need and not what I need. I’m a pretty decent cook and my knife skills are ok, but when I have to cut up a bunch of stuff I’m not so great at it. So I have been looking casually at ideas to make chopping stuff easier and decided I needed to invest in a new cooking gadget. So I went out and got the Vidalia Chop Wizard.

I got it yesterday and used it last night to cook dinner. I made meatloaf muffins and this was perfect for chopping the onions and mushrooms I use it in. It was so much easier than chopping things by hand and everything was uniform so I didn’t bit into a huge piece of onion while eating dinner. I know that this can be used for a ton of stuff and I have a feeling that I will be discovering ways to use it on a regular basis.

And besides the new stuff I bought this week, I’ve been rediscovering stuff in my kitchen to help me with my food goals. I’ve been using my slow cooker (and I found my slow cooker liners so I don’t have to do much cleanup) to make easy meals and I’ve found recipes that don’t require browning food or getting another pan dirty to make the meal (my slow cooker pet peeve). And I’ve been using my food processor regularly the last few weeks and have started to think that maybe I need to buy another food processor bowl and blade so it will be easier to use it multiple times a day.

I know that I can do a lot of the work I’ve been using these gadgets for by hand, but why should I? This is making cooking easier and seems like I could be more likely to keep things up in the long run. The only downside is that I do need to go through my kitchen now and figure out what I really want to keep and what I can give to others because my kitchen is super tiny and lacking storage space. I don’t know where to put everything just yet (there are things all over my house that could live in the kitchen if there was space), but that will be something else I need to work on with organizing my house.

But for now, I’m just so glad that I was ok spending a bit of money to try to make things better for me with figuring other things out in my life.

Brunch Time (or Keeping Up With Our Group)

It’s now the 3rd year that my WIF mentoring group has been meeting and I’m so glad that we have been able to continue meeting as a group. Even though the past 2 years have been without our mentors, I still think our group is just as effective as ever. We have bonded so well as a group and the encouragement we get from each other is so important.

We had our first meeting of 2017 this past Sunday (we’ve discovered that brunch meetings seem to work best for us all) and it was nice getting to see almost the entire group together! We did miss 2 people due to scheduling issues, but it’s pretty tough to get everyone to be able to agree on a date with all the crazy schedules we all have. So we try to pick the time that works for most of us and that’s what we go with.

We had a nice brunch at Rush St (where my birthday party was 2 years ago) and even though it was Super Bowl Sunday, we were there early enough that the restaurant was still pretty empty and it was quiet. We all got there within a few minutes of each other and quickly ordered our food so we could get down to the business part of the meeting.

Every time I’m at Rush St for brunch, I have to get something that includes their tater tots. They are so amazing and even though this was a splurge meal for me, it was totally worth it (it was also my main meal for the day).

Once we got our food ordered, we had our traditional meeting with going around the group sharing what we have been up to for the past 2 months and asking for advice with things that we need help with. Everyone wanted me to go first so I updated everyone on my liver situation, the short film, and the Beverly Hills Shorts Festival (which is coming up this Sunday if you want tickets!).

I realized that I didn’t have too much to update everyone on beyond those things since lately my life hasn’t been too focused on my acting career. I didn’t realize how much I had been slacking on things until talking to the group so it was a big wake up call for me to get my butt in gear and start doing more. I know that I am putting things off because of the surgery in 2 months, but there is a lot I can do before surgery and I want to get things in place to be ready for me when I’m fully recovered (which will hopefully take about a month).

When everyone else was sharing, as always I was so inspired by each of them. While we all are at different stages of our careers, I know that we can all learn from each other and that the experience we each have is valuable. I love getting to hear what everyone else has been doing and the progress they’ve been able to make in the last 2 months. Some of the projects that we talk about are things that people have been working on since our very first meeting. It shows how important sticking with it and not giving up really is to having a successful career. As much as we all want to be overnight success stories, so many of those are really 10 years in the making.

Because of all of our busy schedules, we had to keep this brunch pretty quick so we could all get to our various meetings, events, and jobs. It is awards season right now and there are so many things happening around LA. Plus, with the Super Bowl happening that day, the restaurant was starting to fill up and the sound was being turned on the tv so it was getting loud. So we all wrapped up our meeting and headed out to continue our day.

Our next meeting will be in April and it should be before my surgery. I joked that I wanted to hold the next meeting from my hospital room, but I’m glad that we don’t have to do that in case I’m in too much pain. But I think most of the people from the group are going to be visiting me when I am in the hospital. Plus, since so many of them live in my neighborhood, they have offered to help me out if I need it after surgery. I will have my parents here for about a week and a half, but it’s good to know that I have some amazing friends that can be there for me if I need it.

Time For Some Planning (or Trying A Challenge Again This Month)

It’s a new month and time for a new challenge in my Ink+Volt Planner! First, I want to reflect a bit on my January challenge. I set my challenge to be to work on tumor visualization every day. I set an alarm to remember to do this each morning and most of the time I would be able to do this before the alarm went off. Many mornings, I put my tumor visualization in my morning pages for “The Artist’s Way”. And if I didn’t write about it in the morning, I spent some time sitting quietly and thinking about my tumors getting smaller.

I won’t know if this worked until I have my next MRI in March, but I’m going to keep doing this until my surgery and then after surgery I will be doing liver visualization to work on getting my liver to regenerate quickly. I know that in the past, the power of positive thinking has worked really well for me so I’m looking forward to seeing how well it will work for me this time.

I’ll admit that my January challenge wasn’t too challenging for me. It was something I wanted to do, but I didn’t have to work too hard to do it. So since I did something easier last month, I’m doing something that has challenged me multiple times this month. My February challenge is to work on meal planning again.

I’ve attempted meal planning more times than I can count. I’ve tried doing it with bulk cooking, delivery diet meals, meal replacements, and just trying to cook more at home. They have all had moments of success, but none of them have really lasted that long. So this time, I’m attempting another method to see if this time it will be one that sticks. I believe that eventually, a method will be the one that I connect with and I can’t find that out until I try different ones.

I’m doing a pretty basic meal plan set up. I don’t have a specific diet or plan I’m trying to follow. I’m just trying to plan my meals so I don’t have to think too hard about what I’m going to eat that day and to be better and only getting what I need at the grocery store. I found a pretty basic meal plan printable and I started using that this week.

Originally, I typed in what I was planning to eat but because things keep changing I’ve been crossing things out a lot. I’m thinking about printing a blank template, getting it laminated, and using a dry erase pen or post-its to plan so it is easier to switch things around. There is also a grocery list printable that matches this, but I’m used to writing grocery lists on envelopes (if I’m using coupons) or on scratch paper so I don’t feel the need to use a fancy grocery list.

My ultimate goal would be where I could plan things out on Sunday and do my grocery shopping for the week and be done with it. If I don’t have to go to the grocery store to find something for dinner, maybe I won’t be tempted by all the things I shouldn’t be eating. If I plan things out, I can know exactly how many of each thing I need and then I can make better grocery lists. This could potentially save me money too, but that’s not the focus right now.

My main goal with meal planning is to be successful with following the plan for at least 2 meals a day. Breakfast should be pretty easy, but I do struggle with lunch and dinner a bit. But by having a plan, I can look forward to what I will be eating that day and hopefully it will take my mind off of thinking about what I should go to the store and buy after I’m done with work. I’m also hoping that it will help me with eating a better lunch on days that I’m working out. Sometimes, I don’t make the best food choices on workout days and my workouts do suffer because of that.

I’m not expecting a miracle. I know that there will be a lot of challenges with this and that there is potential that I will not be as successful as I like to be with my monthly challenges. But I have to try because I know that I need to make a change in my life to get into recovery and to lose weight. And if nothing else, this will force me to be more aware and a more conscious participant in my food choices and help to limit the lack of mindfulness that I do struggle with.

This won’t be an easy challenge for me to do, but it’s an important one for me. I’m going to do my best to plan and to figure out the best way for me to do the planning, and hopefully in a month I’ll be able to share with you all that this worked really well for me!