Dave is a do-er. He is the kind of person who wakes up thinking about the list of things that need to get taken care of, and then knocks them off one by one that same day. He’s the guy who gets home from working late, calls the phone company to take care of a bill discrepancy, and then unloads the dishwasher. He had all of his boxes unpacked the first day we got them. He’s currently hanging a picture on our balcony, after painting the living room wall. His twitter name is even “whatdavedoes,” (he does everything).

I, on the other hand, am the exact opposite kind of person. I’m simply not a do-er.

Before we moved in together, I was certain this was going to drive Dave crazy. I’m a “take-care-of-the-really-critical-things-only” kind of person, an “if-it’s-not-really-affecting-my life-I-won’t-think-about-it” kind of person. I’m a small task procrastinator. I’d rather pay the extra five dollars on my phone bill then spend time calling to clear it up. My twitter name is “melruns-awayfromdoingthings”. Heh.

Dave calls me “melventually,” because eventuallyin time… I’ll do it.

Now that we’ve been living together for a month though, I’ve been putting my best effort in: making the bed, going furniture shopping with him every weekend until we had every last thing we needed (who really needs a dresser that badly? Oh..), going to target to get things like an ironing board and a hamper, and buying a duvet cover that we BOTH like, instead of insisting that we use my pink blanket because it works just fine. Why did we have to do everything so quickly?

But the good news (for me) is that the tasks are finally slowing down. We have all of our furniture, our electronics are hooked up, and our things are put away. Our bedroom is looking kind of nice, too. He’s making a good impression on me. It would have taken me months to pull it all together.

I even have my clothes put away in my dresser. A feat that was accomplished within two days. Miraculous.

But wait, what are those?

Oh that’s right.


Those are the boxes I just haven’t been able to bring myself to unpack; the boxes that have been staring Dave in the face every morning for two weeks. There are just some things that will never change, no matter how much Dave influences me.

But hey, at least I’ve been changing our sheets.

Are you a do-er? Or an “if-it’s-not-really-affecting-my life-I-won’t-think-about-it” kind of person?

There’s No Such Thing As Upper and Lower Abs

This past Thursday marked my second day attending the PFTA school. Wahoo! The teacher, Mark, got right down to business, jumping into the “Green section” which is all about program design for clients. I was ready to learn how to take someone from couch potato to Arnold! But when Mark started using the proper names for muscles (rectus abdominis? Huh? Dominos? We get pizza in this class?), I knew I had a lot to learn.

No! Focus!

I was never the girl in the gym who spent an hour and a half walking from machine to machine, or doing free weights while standing in front of the mirror grunting (were you?). I was the girl who walked in, jumped on the dreadmill for thirty minutes (like that? dreadmill?) and maybe, on a good day, did some crunches afterward. I know three or four machines, and when I say I know them, I mean I know how to make them work, not necessarily which muscles they are working–two very different things. But that’s okay. That’s why I’m taking these classes: to learn my biceps from my triceps, and my head from my toes.

One of the first things I’m responsible for knowing is just that–the proper names and locations of different muscles and muscle groups, and how to engage them. The first big eye opener for me? There’s no such thing as upper and lower abs! Gah! A myth debunked. Your six pack, the rectus abdominis (not Dominos pizza, bummer) is one long muscle. This means that on my good days after the dreadmill, I wasn’t working my lower abs by doing crunches with my legs lifted off the floor. I was engaging the whole shebang. The whole party. The No Ab Left Behind Act. It turns out there’s actually no way to target just one part of a muscle. Interesting, right?

When I was working my lower abs, I also working supporting muscles that I never even thought about–the hip flexors; a group of three muscles right in the pelvis area. Things like scissor kicks and leg raises are focusing on those muscles.

hip flexorsIf I play my cards right, one day I’ll be walking on the beach (I almost never walk on the beach) and hear “Dude, sweet hip flexors, man,” and I’ll say, “Thanks dude, I workout.” Heh. Didn’t you always want to say that?


“Healthy Lunch at Quiznos” or “Sponges, Snot and Chocolate”

One of the things I miss most about living in New York City is twenty-four hour delis. Any time of day, anywhere I was, I was guaranteed access to a freshly made turkey sandwich, with an apple and a Diet Peach Snapple–my go to choice when all I have is ten minutes. This is genuinely fast food done my way (I sound like Burger King)–consistently healthy, yummy, and filling.

Back at my NYC office, I went to the same deli everyday, lovingly knicknamed “the dirty deli”, for breakfast and lunch. They knew me by name, and invited me to their family Christmas parties and children’s birthdays. One might call me a deli addict, one might call me boring. I say I’m just low maintenance (right Dave?). I digress…

Today, after a killer bootcamp workout at personal trainer school, I was starving but only had twenty minutes to find a place to eat lunch. I pulled out my GPS and typed in “dirty deli”…. but nothing came up. So I looked up “local food destinations” instead, and tears were shed as I drove myself to a nearby Quiznos, pondering what I could get off their menu.

When I got there, the smell of salty meat and pickles immediately ovewhlemed me (I know you know that Subway smell I’m talking about) as I scanned the menu for a healthy option. I ended up choosing the Mediterranean Chicken salad, swapped the cheese out for pumpkin seeds, and got a side of fat free balsamic vinagrette. I paid, stared longingly at the chocolate chip cookies for a minute, and headed to the outdoor seating to eat.

quiznos salad

All of the ingredients were good except two, which isn’t bad! Except that the two were kind of main items: the chicken and the salad dressing. The one thing that really gets me with meat from these fast food chains is the spongey texture. Gah, what was in this chicken?

Ingredients: water, salt, spongebob squarepants, artificial chicken flavor, pepper, matzoh balls”.*

That’s what it tasted like. I wish they added more matzoh balls. I’d also like to note that the salad dressing was super gloppy. Every time I dipped my fork in (yes, I eat salad that way) a big blob would come up, but then get sucked back down. Some nice balsamic snot for my salad. Mmm yeah.

quiznos salad dressing

But really, the pumpkin seeds and olives were right on :).

After kind of finishing the meal, I promptly went into the Starbucks next door and grabbed a package of heaven dark chocolate covered graham crackers which I immediately devoured. So in my attempt to grab a healthy lunch, I ended up eating sponges, snot, and chocolate cookies. #Winning?

Hey, I’m doin’ the best with what I’ve got.

*Those are not the actual ingredients in Quiznos chicken. But I still say they should add more matzoh balls.

Gourdoughs in Austin: A Doughnut Like No Other

Seeing as I just started to study personal training, it seems only fit that after my first day of class I ate the biggest heart-attack-on-a-plate that I’ve ever seen. I’m talking fried food, topped with fried food, topped with icing. And I have no regrets.


Last night Dave and I went to the movies, and on our way out back in the parking lot decided to go for a walk rather than just get in the car and go home (because home is boring). We started wandering down South Lamar Blvd around nine thirty, and came across a food truck alcove up the block. It was very unassuming and quaint: three trailer sized trucks, centered around wooden picnic tables with party lights strung over them, on a gravel lot by the side of the road.

food trucks in Austin

This is something that is truly an Austin find. Food trucks are big in NYC, yes, but they don’t really huddle together reliably–you have to follow them on twitter to get their location and pray that you get to the right street corner in time to grab an order. My coworkers and I once chased around a frozen yogurt truck for thirty minutes.

Because Dave and I happened upon these food trucks so randomly, it felt like a spontaneous moment that was worth taking part in. One of the trucks in the lot was called Gourdough’s, and it had a menu full of doughnuts with off-the-wall toppings. All doughnuts, all the time.

Gourdough MenuI’m actually not a fan of doughnuts. It’s one of those foods that I really wish I liked, because they seem to be so delcious to so many people.. but I just can’t get with it. I’ve even tried warm Krispy Kreme doughnuts. No dice. Just give me a brownie and send me on my way, thank you.

To combat the lack of doughnut love, we went balls to the wall and got the “Flying Pig: bacon with maple syrup icing.” I was picturing we’d get a little round doughnut with two strips of bacon and a squiggly line of icing on top. …Oh no, not the case. We got a fast food tray piled to the brim with bacon, dripping in warm icing, on top of a giant freshly fried doughnut. With fork and knife included. And a side of obesity.

gourdoughs bacon

Looks gross, doesn’t it. IT WAS AMAZING. I wanted to hate it, I really did. I kept cutting off tiny bites saying “okay, last one, last one,” while Dave moaned “wow… wow…” It was tough. We fought our way through three quarters of it, put our napkins on top, and then stared longingly at it for five minutes.

  • “Should we finish it?”
  • “Nah..”
  • “But it’s so good…”
  • “But it’s so bad…”
  • “But that icing…”
  • “Let’s leave before face dive back in.”
  • “RUN!!”

If we know what’s good for us, we’re never going back. OR we’re going back all the time. I can’t decide yet.

First Day of my Personal Trainer School Adventure

I did it! I signed up for the PFTA personal trainer school today (read my first post about the school here). I’m so freakin’ excited. I’ve been thinking about doing something actionable with my fitness passion for such a long time, that it feels really good to finally be in the moment.

I brought my camera with me but felt rude taking pictures in the middle of class, so unfortunately I have none to share. But no worries, I’ll tell you all about it and put in pics that give you the idea.

Here is a very blurry picture of my teacher Mark, which I stole from a PFTA youtube video.

Mark Jackson

Today he set expectations of what the program will entail over the next ten weeks, and gave everyone their supplies. Next we learned about body fat percentage, how to approach new clients when we have to measure them (get comfortable, don’t look nervous and let your hands shake.. you’ll make them lose confidence in you), and we actually took our own body composition measurements as well. We used two methods:

A) Skin calipers

skin caliperAh!

and B) a BIA machine

BEA machineMuch better

BEA stands for bio-electrical impedence analysis. When you hold on to the handles of it, it sends an electrical current through your body (not enough to hurt you, obv) and based on the premis that fat blocks the current and muscle conducts it better, it gives you a readout.

With skin calipers, you’re basically pinching areas of skin to measure for fat. The whole class had to get up and measure each other with a caliper to get a baseline for where we’re starting. Not scary… no. There are three key areas for women:

  1. Triceps (mid-upper arm)
  2. Suprailiac (the what? it’s right above your hip bone in the front of your stomach on an angle. That spot where dudes have cuts right above their pants line. mmhmm.)
  3. Quads (middle of the front)

The skin calipers gave me a body fat percentage of 17, while the BEA said 20. I’m going to meet in the middle and say I’m at 18.5, which is “average” according to the American Council on Exercise (pshhh… who you callin’ average). Because there are workouts after each class, hopefully I’ll see some progress. I don’t have any specific goals yet, but gaining muscle is always welcome. The more push ups I can do means the more I can kick Dave’s ass :).

I had to skip out on the bootcamp workout today because I showed up in jeans and sandals like an idiot, but I’ll definitely hit it up on Thursday (class is Tuesdays and Thursdays). It looks like I’ll eventually have to put together a bootcamp routine of my own, too.

New adventure is GO.

Coffee Brands: Sure or Unsure

My second big grocery shop for all of life’s necessities in Austin took place at the original Whole Foods market in the heart of downtown. Great idea if my kitchen staples include items like jicama and organic sea salt, not a great idea if my kitchen supplies include rice and coffee–because these basic items cost way more than at a traditional grocery store (twenty bucks for a bag of coffee? ah!). So, I went home coffee-less, rice-less, and oatmeal-less… planning on grabbing some the next time I hit a regular supermarket (but I did gt the jicama).

two bags of coffee

The next time I went shopping, I found myself at Marshall’s with Dave, down their bonus aisle of random assorted food items like jalapeno olive oil, cookies, hot chocolate mixes, etc., when I came across Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Coffee. Because this little aisle in Marchall’s always enchants me, I fell for believing that the coffee was a special little find (at a store that buys defect products in bulk and resells them at cheaper prices… ahem..) and I grabbed it for $6.

The next morning, I brewed it, took a sip, and a saccharine taste washed over my tongue with a hint of caramel. Ugh. Not my kind of coffee.

Next up: a stop at HEB (for my New Yawkahs–it’s a big supermarket chain in Austin). This time I wanted to make sure I got something decent. After scanning the coffee aisle trying to balance quality and price, I ended up with a bag of Eight O’Clock French Roast. Instead of going for the bag of undeniably strong Starbucks, I convinced myself that while this other brand was old school, and the packaging looked fairly generic…. maybe it was a hidden awesome coffee gem of olden days. And French Roast is always pretty good, right?


You would think after all my posts exclaiming my love for coffee, I would be able to pick right from wrong, quality from crap, sure from unsure.

Did you know that French Roast is actually the type of roast used on beans that are of a mediocre quality? It is a technique that roasts the beans longer than average, making them very dark and masking the flavor of their country of origin (or of their staleness, if they were old). Do not be fooled by the beret wearing flavor name, that was probably just a [very smart] marketer’s ploy. Check out this little blog post here for the full details.

I’ve been doing a scoop of each brand in the mornings to mix the badness away and just finish them so I can buy another bag. Or, if you can spare some brand advice, I’m all ears. Just try not to go over $15 a bag–or do I have no choice?

Easy Thai Stir Fry

Last night we finally hunkered down (hunkered is such a funny word. I feel like you have to be a lumberjack to “hunker”) and spent the night taking it easy at our place. After a very productive day being out from 10:30am straight through 4pm on a Saturday, all we could dream of was the couch, and our newly connected cable and internet (wahoo!).

This called for a home cooked meal too, which has been all too elusive as I have issues managing my hunger around 6pm. Generally speaking, I get hungry every two hours–which is very annoying. I constantly have to interrupt whatever I’m doing (probably staring at this blog) to find something to calm the beast that is my stomach. I try to ignore that hunger starting at 4:30pm so that I don’t ruin my appetite for dinner, but this means that by 6pm… I’ve transformed into the Incredible Mulk, and can’t wait a minute longer to eat or else Dave’s life is in danger.

Fortunately, last night I was able to calm the beast and cook a nice healthy dinner :). This recipe is something I used to make myself in college because it’s really simple and quick–two characteristics I need my meals to have because when hunger strikes, there is no telling what will happen. I used soba noodles last night because Dave loves noodles, and I like pasta in moderation. By focusing on tons of veggies and mixing in a serving of pasta, you get the best of both.

Easy Thai Stir Fry – 15 minutes

Here’s what you need.

thai stir fry ingredients

Easy sauce ingredients:

  • 1 part honey (when cooking for two, I used a two tablespoons of everything)
  • 1 part peanut butter
  • 1 part soy sauce
  • 1 part water (or more, until it’s silky)
    • Bonus ingredients: splash of fish sauce for an authentic Asian taste, siracha (or whatever hot sauce you like) for a little heat

Easy Stir Fry ingredients:

  • whatever bite sized vegetables you have on hand (broccoli florets rock because they soak up the sauce)
  • frozen shrimp (I used 20 for two people–Dave got 12, I got 8. I was precise with that. You don’t have to be.)
  • soba noodles–or whatever carbohydrate you want. Brown rice would be great, too.
    • Bonus ingredients: 1 clove of garlic and some chopped onion to saute before you throw the vegetables and sauce in the pan. Adds an extra layer of flavor and makes your boyfriend say “wow, that smells good!” right when you start cooking.

Give me food fast method of cooking:

  • Put shrimp in a bowl of water to thaw and forget about it as you do the rest
  • Prepare carb of choice by following directions on back of box. If you want a super fast meal–use 10 minute rice 🙂
  • Put all sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir together until smooth. May look a little piecey, but that’s fine
  • Throw vegetables in a microwavable bowl with a sprinkle of water. Microwave for three minutes to steam them soft (fancier people would blanch them in boiling water, but I don’t want to wait for the water to boil).
  • Put vegetables and sauce together in a hot pan on medium-ish heat, and stir for four minutes (no idea how long I actually stirred for, most likely until the sauce was bubbling a little)
  • Throw in thawed shrimp. Mine were already cooked, so I just waited until they heated up, about five minutes.
  • Put carb on two plates. Pour everything in pan on top of each evenly.
    • Bonus ingredients: Squirt with lime and sprinkle on cilantro at the end (huge bonus factor that will make your food taste like you’re the grand master thai ninja)

Using the micro to make dinner might be a chefly sin, but I really don’t care. The sooner I can eat it, the better. And this was awesome. We both immediately devoured it with an oktoberfest beer (great complimentary bev), and made plans to open our own Thai restaurant in Austin. But then realized a one item menu wouldn’t fly. On to other plans…