GINAV2's SparkPeople Blog GINAV2's Blog on SparkPeople, home of free diet plans and a healthy living community A brief update I'm still here, still Sparking, and making real progress towards getting back down to a healthy weight. <BR> <BR> These days my food is mostly paleo plus beans, some dairy, and the occasional dessert or alcoholic drink. I am 100% gluten free, and try to keep grains and sugar to a minimum. I'm aiming for 1600 calories a day, with the expectation of maintaining about a 1 pound per week weight loss. <BR> <BR> On the exercise front I wear my Fitbit Charge HR religiously, beat my goal of 10,000... Tue, 24 May 2016 10:07:20 EST My kitchens: a retrospective (with pictures!) I finally got around to taking some pictures of my latest apartment. There's something about resetting the clocks at the end of Daylight Savings Time that makes me nostalgic each year, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to have a little walk down memory lane. So here is My Life and Weight Loss Journey, Kitchen Edition. Enjoy! <BR> <BR> I'll skip over my parents kitchen or the gross kitchens in the dorms in college, because my love affair with food really began when I moved to Connecticut... Mon, 4 Nov 2013 09:35:12 EST Snoopy and jogging We've all had days like this... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> Mon, 26 Aug 2013 22:30:52 EST And lo, I said: LET THERE BE PICKLES! Signing up for a CSA half-share was a fantastic decision, but I am currently drowning in cucumbers, which I don't particularly care for. So this evening I took another step in the world of DIY culinary adventure. Fingers crossed, in a couple of days there will be PICKLES! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> This is either going to be totally awesome or complete disaster. Expect a follow up sometime this weekend or early next week! <BR> <B... Wed, 24 Jul 2013 19:10:56 EST Thank you! Thank you so, so much to everyone who left comments on my last blog! I am a bit overwhelmed by the number of positive responses, kind words of encouragement, and sympathetic "me too!"s that you all shared. It just goes to show that this community is truly one of a kind in the best possible way. <BR> <BR> I'm happy to be back on the bandwagon for healthy living and feeling more supported than ever. It's not about falling down, it's about getting back up and trucking along. Thank you all for r... Wed, 19 Jun 2013 10:08:12 EST Essentially starting over. Phooey / phew! Well, I've been avoiding Spark like the plague recently because I'm a bit embarrassed by how far I have fallen. There's something about the type of insidious, persistent stress of university life that makes me pack on pounds; my weight is nearly back up where it was when I discovered Spark People. I haven't logged it in ages because I've inflated so rapidly that I feel like a balloon, but I need to turn it around so I guess it's time to get back to obsessively tracking every step I take and e... Sun, 16 Jun 2013 13:50:11 EST First CSA share! In case anyone was curious, this is what the first CSA half-share of the season looked like: <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Red leaf lettuce, beet greens, mixed greens, English peas, sugar snap peas, shallots, garlic scape, asparagus, and a dozen amazing eggs. Seems to be just the right amount of veggies to get one veggie-loving single gal through most of a week; just enough that I won't have to fret if I eat meals that I don't cook m... Tue, 11 Jun 2013 22:46:42 EST Fitbit - eeep! My poor Fitbit just jumped right off the top of my yoga pants and - plunk! - into the toilet! <BR> <BR> <em>40</em> <BR> <BR> I fished it out and gave it a good long rinse, and it seems to be working so far, but keep your fingers crossed for my favorite fitness tool! Don't know what I'd do if it didn't make it. <BR> <BR> Mondays. Oy. <em>198</em> Mon, 25 Feb 2013 09:15:05 EST Another farmer's market post... Ok, you know how some women can't go into a shoe/purse/clothing/jewelry/makeup store without dropping tons of cash on items they hadn't planned on buying? THAT'S ME WITH FARMER'S MARKETS! <BR> <BR> Only, I can't feel too guilty about it because it's all sooooo good and healthy and fresh and wonderful! <BR> <BR> But. All I wanted to get today was a dozen eggs, a butternut squash, and maybe some raw butter. I ended up swapping the butter for raw cream, which was fine, but then I somehow ende... Fri, 21 Sep 2012 14:25:41 EST Three words: Amish Farmer's Market Is it possible to have a crush on a farmer's market? Because I TOTALLY DO! Oh my goodness, you guys! I was very fond of the farmers' markets that I went to in Massachusetts, but they don't hold a candle to what we've got here in central Pennsylvania! <BR> <BR> I've never seen such a bounty of fresh foods. Table after table of every veggie you could imagine, from lush local staples (including brussels sprouts, beets, corn, tomatoes, all kinds of stuff!) to exotic squashes. There was a whole b... Fri, 31 Aug 2012 18:02:48 EST Life changes are bad for the waistline! ...aka, getting back on track. <BR> <BR> So, as many of you know, in the past month I've quit my job, packed up my apartment, relocated 400+ miles away to a town where I don't know a single person, moved in with roommates for the first time in six years, and gave up my cushy salary to start a new chapter in my life as an underpaid grad student. <BR> <BR> Needless to say, it has been a stressful month. <em>40</em> <BR> <BR> Also perhaps needless to say, my eating habits have not been at ... Sun, 26 Aug 2012 10:14:44 EST Gina, version 3.0! It's really happening, you guys! I have officially begun writing a new chapter in my life. I've left my job in corporate America, moved four-hundred odd miles away, and am one and a half weeks away from beginning my new stint as a grad student! There's so much to do and unpack, and I am determined to make this the best chapter yet. I'm making less money but this is my chance to embrace my dream job, do awesome Mad Science, meet lots of wonderful new people, and (most relevantly) firm up those... Sun, 12 Aug 2012 22:12:04 EST Some food pics To get back on a more positive track, here are some yummy-nummy food pictures that I just pulled off my camera. (Warning - DEFINITELY not conventional-wisdom healthy, lol) <BR> <BR> First...chicken breast wrapped in bacon: <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> (And it's "heart healthy", get it? <em>211</em> ) <BR> <BR> A pina colada that is thick enough to stand on its own, has no artificial ingredients, and packs almost a whole day's worth of ... Wed, 8 Aug 2012 13:16:45 EST Big changes ahead! It's official - I am no longer employed by corporate America! Grad school, here I come! <BR> <BR> I said all my goodbyes yesterday, went out for lunch with my lab group, and then went out for margaritas with a bunch of people after work. Everyone was so sweet, and I really wasn't expecting it. A couple of coworkers gave me going away presents (including a set of lottery scratch offs, so I could "win big" and supplement my grad student stipend, lol), and a whole group of them chipped in for a... Sat, 4 Aug 2012 14:22:49 EST Happy Tuesday! I woke up this morning with a healthy touch of DOMS, a sunny disposition, and this song stuck in my head: <link> </link> <BR> <BR> I'm done stressing out about quitting my job to go back to school and I'm back to being excited about moving forward and leveling up my life. Have a great day, everyone! <BR> <BR> <em>67</em> <em>334</em> <em>67</em> Tue, 17 Jul 2012 07:01:28 EST My morning Well, my day is off to an amusing start! <BR> <BR> Wake up. "Meh. Too lazy to make breakfast. I'm a'go buy a Frappuccino." <BR> <BR> Too hot for real clothes. Put on comfy workout clothes instead. <BR> <BR> Too lazy for real shoes. Put on Vibrams. <BR> <BR> Realize the day isn't going to get any cooler, so decide to go for a walk down to the pond before buying said Frappuccino. <BR> <BR> Since I'm already out and walking, decide to start running. <BR> <BR> Head back towards home, and de... Sun, 1 Jul 2012 08:50:46 EST Doggone it... Drat, I went out for a quick happy hour after work yesterday and my lowered inhibitions led to a bingey-binge. I've spent most of today craving stupid amounts of simple carbs and feeling all blah because of it. Two solid weeks of healthy eating and exercise...poof, goodbye. Now I gotta get my "grrr" back on and start the streak all over again. Phoey. <BR> <BR> On top of it, I've worked myself up this afternoon having (probably normal) doubts about grad school. Is this really what I want to d... Sat, 30 Jun 2012 17:01:57 EST Vibrams! Vibrams getting the xkcd treatment! <BR> <BR> <link> </link> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> Hovertext: "I *do* hear they're the most comfortable thing to wear on your feet since sliced bread." <BR> <BR> I don't care how goofy they are...I heart my Vibrams. :D Wed, 6 Jun 2012 07:14:50 EST ...And then there was coconut! I keep hearing all these wonderful things about the health benefits of coconuts, and since I just adore the taste and smell of mature coconut meat and coconut oil I've been itching to try some coconut water. I didn't want to go with one of those cans of doctored up stuff you find at the grocery store, though, so I've been patiently hitting up different stores until finally, yesterday, in the produce section of the ethnic grocer near my office, I found young coconuts! <BR> <BR> After this mor... Sat, 26 May 2012 11:10:28 EST When did cookies stop being worth it? So, I spent yesterday afternoon baking spiced "Mayan Chocolate Cookies" to bring to a Cinco de Mayo party. As I mentioned yesterday this was the first time I had baked cookies in at least a year and half. The actual process of mixing ingredients to make cookies was just as soothing as I remembered, and the cookies were a huge hit. Gone before I had finished mixing my first margarita of the evening! There was just one problem (anti-problem?) - I have lost my love of cookies! <BR> <BR> I had ... Sun, 6 May 2012 23:08:55 EST Mmm, sleep... No wonder I've been so happy and energetic today! After a solid week + of tossing and turning and barely sleeping through the night, I finally got a GREAT night's sleep! And thanks to my little FitBit, I can prove it with visual evidence. <em>30</em> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Wa-bam! 9 hours and 13 minutes of pure, restful sleep. My internal clock even woke me up for a minute at 7:30, only to realize it was Saturday and hit the... Sat, 28 Apr 2012 22:17:32 EST Nommy noms dinner This all came out soooooo tasty! I don't know if the picture will do it justice, but here you go: <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Sirloin steak from my CSA, about a third of a head of roasted broccoli, and collard greens sautéed with bacon. The bacon flavor kind of disappeared into the greens, but in a good way. Deee-licious! <BR> <BR> Ah, paleo happy. <em>4</em> Sun, 22 Apr 2012 18:52:54 EST No more seasonal allergies! This is so cool, you guys! I spent all day outdoors today, from late morning through dinnertime, out in the woods and hanging around marshland. The pollen count was way up - 11 out of 12 according to, and the predominant pollens were the trees that I'm most allergic to. We're getting into that time of year when everyone looks like they're driving a green car from all the pollen that gets blown around. It was a great day, wandering around outdoors taking pictures of cute animals (mu... Sat, 14 Apr 2012 18:12:20 EST Sugar free is HARD! As you may recall, I set myself a three day challenge to keep added sweeteners of all forms out of my diet. No sugar, no honey, no artificial sweeteners. Nada. I'm in the middle of my three days and I'm having at it with gusto, but I'm finding that avoiding sugar entirely is nigh impossible. And it's not that it's difficult because I'm aching for a sweet treat, oh no; the problem is that sugar is so amazingly ubiquitous! <BR> <BR> Take yesterday, for example. I had tuna and spinach with a c... Sat, 14 Apr 2012 09:07:16 EST Today's nummy eats I don't entirely know what jump started this most recent primal streak. One day I was totally addicted to ice cream, and then three days later I was all "oh, hey, I'm eating healthy again. Let's make it a streak!" Well whatever the reason, I'm glad I'm back to eating healthy and exercising! The trees have started blooming and so far I'm allergy free so I'm totally committeed to staying grain and sugar free to help keep it that way. Plus, look at some of the tasty treats I've enjoyed today: <B... Mon, 12 Mar 2012 19:30:31 EST I love lazy Sundays! Ahhhh. The weather is warming up, the sun is shining, a breeze is blowing, I had a good run this afternoon, there's a salmon fillet and lots of veggies lined up for dinner, and my legs are so sore from last night's workout that I can barely stand up from a seated position. <BR> <BR> Life is good! <BR> <BR> <em>67</em> <em>334</em> <em>67</em> <em>334</em> <em>67</em> Sun, 11 Mar 2012 16:16:14 EST A Very Brief Update A) I went on my first grad school visit this weekend, and I really dug what I saw. Plus it's a big state school with an Ag program in the middle of rolling farmland, so I was bombarded with good quality grassfed meat that is apparently dirt cheap to buy raw. Soooo excited, for so many reasons! <BR> <BR> and B) I'm visiting my folks in NJ en route to Boston so we were driving from the train station in Newark yesterday...and I totally saw Oprah Winfrey! She was on the sidewalk, I guess coming ... Sun, 19 Feb 2012 08:26:41 EST A pre-agricultural temple? This has little to do with food or exercise, but I know that a lot of you have an interest in Paleo living so I wanted to share this. <BR> <BR> I was watching one of those trashy Ancient Aliens shows on the History channel and they mentioned this pre-agricultural temple thing. I looked it up, and the Smithsonian magazine website actually corroborates the claim! <BR> <BR> So for those of you who might be interested in the idea that hunter-gatherers could have created civilization and built m... Sat, 14 Jan 2012 20:11:37 EST BEST DAY EVER! I woke up in a bit of a lingering funk, which I dissipated with this: <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Spinach, chicken, eggs, red peppers, olives, feta...nom nom nom. <BR> <BR> Then, I packed this absurdly delicious salad for lunch: <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> There are pineapple chunks, parmesan cheese, and bits of red bell pepper in with the lettuce, and the white stuff o... Wed, 11 Jan 2012 18:59:04 EST Meat CSA!!! I finally have a reason to turn my frown upside down - today was the first pick up of my local meat CSA share! <BR> <BR> Here's what 10 pounds of humanely raised, 100% pastured chicken, pork, and beef look like: <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> I've got two big packages of chicken thighs (I think? They're not labeled but they look too small to be turkey), two packages of ground beef, two packages of pork chops, a package of sweet itali... Tue, 20 Dec 2011 18:34:57 EST Honk if you've got Hashimotos! I finally made it in to see an endocrinologist today, following many months of back and forth and rescheduling after my doctor saw abnormal thyroid levels in my bloodwork during a physical last spring. This was not a good day. <BR> <BR> The good(ish) news: it's definitely Hashimotos. I'm not overly thrilled about my body creating antibodies to attack my own internal organs, but with the known link between gluten intolerance and this particular thyroid problem (see <link>http://jcem.endojour... Tue, 8 Nov 2011 22:17:12 EST Something has changed (in a good way!) I don't know if it was flirting with the high end of the "normal weight" category that did it, or if it was all the time I've spent thinking about food and fitness while I transition away from the standard low fat / whole grains mentality into a paleo-inspired lifestyle, but I've come to realize that my goals and motivations for sticking with these lifestyle improvements have changed radically these past few weeks. <BR> <BR> When I started Sparking last year I had many good reasons for doing... Sat, 5 Nov 2011 20:23:02 EST Inspiration I was watching some BSG earlier tonight (if you somehow haven't seen it - YOU NEED TO TRACK IT DOWN!) and, well, I think Katee Sackhoff is my "Fitspo": <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> That is all. <BR> <BR> Well, aside from this completely gratuitous picture of Jamie Bamber: <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> (You're welcome, ladies!) Wed, 2 Nov 2011 23:02:46 EST Midweek update So far, so good on hitting all three goals (the past two days anyway, lol). I'm cooking up a storm so staying gluten free is easy; I've gotten seven hours of sleep each of the past two nights; and I'm on a major EA Sports Active 2 kick so exercise is well taken care of. <BR> <BR> Speaking of EA Sports Active 2, that "game" is even more of an amazing resource than I had realized! The fantastic little evil trainer guy leads you through half an hour-ish of circuit training that always includes ... Thu, 27 Oct 2011 07:22:38 EST Have you thanked your gut flora today? Every now and then I read something that reminds me just how much we owe to the bacteria that live in, on, and around us. Since much of what we absorb from the foods we eat is actually bacterial byproducts I always wonder if eating "healthy" actually means supporting a healthier set of gut bacteria, rather than providing specific nutrients that our own cells need. I have a feeling this topic is going to play a much larger roll in obesity research in the future. <BR> <BR> But for now, you can... Sun, 16 Oct 2011 13:16:06 EST Back on board All righty, I'm finally back to a food day I can be proud of! Many vegetables, shrimps, eggs, etc. and NO JUNK FOOD! Yay! <BR> <BR> My plan to stock my freezer full of grass fed farmer's market meat was unsuccessful, though, because it's the second to last market of the season and everyone else apparently had the same idea. Like, they were completely out of ground beef! And chicken. And the woman in front of me bought the last three steaks (what a witch! ;P). I did land some baby back ribs a... Wed, 12 Oct 2011 19:47:59 EST Harvest Pumpkin Soup ZOMG you guys! Have you ever had the Harvest Pumpkin soup at Au Bon Pain? (Does ABP even exist as a chain outside of the northeast?) It's just about the tastiest soup ever but they make it with starch or flour or preservatives or something that makes me, well, gassy. Sorry, no polite way to put it. :) <BR> <BR> Fortunately the internet has provided a recipe that replicates the FANTABULOUS flavor of my favorite soup with none of the junk. SO TASTY! Enjoy: <BR> <BR> <link>ketchuptochutney.w... Mon, 10 Oct 2011 13:13:13 EST 30 day kickoff: the pork post (and more! with pics) As I said in an earlier blog entry, October is a new month and a new opportunity to try to go 30 days in a row of full primal (paleo + dairy) food and exercise. <BR> <BR> I have officially started the month on a high note. <em>218</em> <BR> <BR> Step 1: 8 hours of sleep. SUCCESS! <BR> <BR> Step 2: Hearty paleo breakfast. SUCCESS! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> Season pan with olive oil <BR> Scramble: <BR> -1/8 cup diced oni... Sun, 2 Oct 2011 00:47:41 EST 30 before 30 These lists seem to be making the rounds,'s mine. In no particular order: <BR> <BR> 1. Get a dog <BR> 2. Learn to snowboard <BR> 3. Be in a serious relationship (it's been too darn long!) <BR> 4. Kiss a handsome stranger (sometime before #3, obviously) <BR> 5. Ride a horse <BR> <BR> 6. Learn to sail <BR> 7. Hit my goal weight of 125 pounds <BR> 8. Run a 5k <BR> 9. Rock a bikini in public <BR> 10. Travel to another continent <BR> <BR> 11. Go skinny dipping <BR> 12. Sing karaoke so... Tue, 27 Sep 2011 22:11:25 EST Primal day 13: Funny conversation Apparently, even though I eat lunch at my desk most days, my food habits are outside-of-normal enough to warrant notice. I had a funny (funny weird, not funny haha) conversation with a coworker today while I was heating up my lunch: <BR> <BR> Me: (fiddling with microwave) <BR> Coworker: So what fancy thing is for lunch today? <BR> Me: Err...leftover coconut curry. <BR> Coworker: So are you a vegetarian or something? <BR> Me: !!! No no no, not at all. Ha, I actually just joined a meat CSA. Wh... Wed, 21 Sep 2011 20:36:27 EST Primal day 10: Frakking hormones :P At the times of my life when I've had a boyfriend, I've positively lived for lazy Sundays. Sleep in, have a big brunch, get some stuff done around the house, and maybe curl up on the couch together for a good movie. And I usually enjoy these types of lazy Sunday afternoons as a single gal, too, but sometimes - usually when my hormones are all whacky because FLO is about to stop by - spending a lazy Sunday getting things done alone SUCKS. <BR> <BR> Today was one of those days. <BR> <BR> I m... Sun, 18 Sep 2011 18:50:19 EST Primal day 5: meat CSA I got some great news today! The small farm/ranch that I've been buying my meat from at the farmer's market each week had an opening for their meat CSA from December - June and I got in off of the wait list! Yay! I thought I was going to have to drive for many miles to find high quality chemical free, pastured, grass finished meat and free range chickens when the farmer's markets packed up for the season, but instead I'll just have to walk across the street and pick up my cooler full of froze... Tue, 13 Sep 2011 20:11:08 EST 30 days of paleo: Day 1 Thanks for all the support earlier today, guys! <BR> <BR> This paleo + dairy reboot is off to a solid start. After a protein rich breakfast and a slightly-starchier-than-my-recent-normal lunch (mmm, plantains and sweet potatoes...) I feel surprisingly great for having survived a very full work day on three hours of sleep with a touch of a hangover! I'm taking it easy on the exercising today - got in my 10,000 steps and I'm going to dust off the Wii Fit as soon as I finish writing this, but t... Fri, 9 Sep 2011 19:59:20 EST Sweet potato pancakes (well, latkes) I had a recipe request, so here it is. (Modified from <link><BR>atkes/detail.aspx </link> , which has served me deliciously well in the past) <BR> <BR> Ingredients: <BR> 1 large sweet potato <BR> 1 tbsp finely chopped onion <BR> 1 large egg <BR> Large sprinkle of salt <BR> Bit of black pepper <BR> Dash of ground cayenne pepper <BR> Dash of cinnamon <BR> Dash of nutmeg <BR> <BR> *(Apologies for the lack of actual measurements; I spend all week being pre... Sun, 14 Aug 2011 22:17:08 EST Making it happen! All righty, it's on! I'm purging the fridge and stocking up on veggies, meat, fish, fruits, eggs, and nuts. It's strictly paleo + dairy from now til the cruise, then five days of "doing the best I can considering I plan on drinking sweet mixed drinks and indulging in the chocolate lava cake." Follow that up with a couple days of getting back into the swing of things, and then it's strictly paleo (with a minimal amount of cheese) for the month of September. And I'm staying on top of both C25K ... Wed, 10 Aug 2011 22:05:25 EST Going paleo Ok, I'm convinced. After reading through all of "Good Calories, Bad Calories" (which I still plan to blog about, but I want to read it a second time to really do it justice. It's not every day that you read something that completely changes the way you view the world!) I decided to pick up a copy of "The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet", and...ok. I give up! I'm convinced! Between the very convincing descriptions of the ways that grains and sugars stimulate insulin which stimulates al... Mon, 8 Aug 2011 20:34:21 EST Winning! I rolled out of bed this morning, had a quick double espresso and a few strawberries, and then got outside to attack Week 6 Day 2 for a second time. I made it a full mile during the first 10 minute run! Alas, my W6D2 attempt was again unsuccessful - I fizzled about halfway through the second interval...humidity is NOT my friend, and I'm careful not to let my heart rate stay above 165 for long since I have a gimpy pulmonary heart valve- but it was still one hell of a workout! <BR> <BR> AND wh... Sat, 6 Aug 2011 10:40:49 EST Making with the quickness I attacked C25K W6D2 (two 10 minute runs with a 3 minute walk between) with a vengeance today. First ten minutes - BAM! - 0.9 miles, according to Google maps. Awww, yeah. That's averaging an 11 minute mile!!! I can't wait for the day when I can sustain that speed for a full 5k! <BR> <BR> But then my run took a turn for the :( as I got a monstrous gas cramp pain thing about a minute into the second interval. I had to walk for a good five minutes before it finally broke up, so I just walked th... Fri, 5 Aug 2011 20:19:17 EST It's my Sparkiversary! It's official: exactly one year ago today I stumbled across this amazing weight loss, nutrition, and fitness website tucked away in a free corner of the internet and I made the decision to start taking control of my body. On August 1 I made an account, on August 2 I started following the FastBreak plan, and one year later here I am still going strong! <BR> <BR> <em>503</em> <BR> <BR> Naturally, there have been setbacks. I set two main goals when I signed up - I wanted to get down to 125 p... Mon, 1 Aug 2011 20:25:40 EST Back to running! We had a heatwave that cut my C25K efforts off right after I completed the first long Week 5 Day 3 run. I've been focusing on strength training in the meantime but it's just not the same as getting outside and working myself to the point of exhaustion. I finally got back to it today and felt sooooooooo good! It wasn't a particularly successful run, since I had to take two extra short walking breaks during my 8 minute and last 5 minute run, but considering I basically had a two week break, and... Wed, 27 Jul 2011 21:16:16 EST