Jess Finds Balance

My journey to finding a healthy balance with eating, exercise, and life in general

S.O.S. October 5, 2010

Filed under: Opinion — jessfindsbalance @ 8:30 pm

I can’t believe it’s only Tuesday. This week has been dragging along so. slowly. My kids have reverted back to 8 year olds (particularly the boys) and have been giving me quite the run for my money. Let’s just say that this long weekend can’t come fast enough!

Add to that a severe case of PMS this month. I’ve been stressed and tired, not to mention experiencing the weirdest appetite changes. I feel like I’ve lost all of the progress I made this summer. I’ve had such a bad week of being out of touch with my hunger and satiety cues, not to mention binges and overeating. Each morning I wake up saying to myself that today is the day I will get back on track, but the afternoons and evenings have been such a struggle for me.

I’m just hoping this blows over in the next couple days and healthy eating in moderation comes back. I know that finding a healthy way to deal with stress, anxiety, anger, etc. is going to be a lifelong journey, and is one on which I have made a lot of progress. Even still, I’m feeling really disheartened right now. But the only option is to keep waking up every day and making the little decisions that help get me back to feeling good about where I am with food.


Body Image Dysmorphia October 3, 2010

Filed under: Opinion — jessfindsbalance @ 6:13 pm

I was recently talking to someone about my middle school years. “I was so chubby!” I exclaimed. I described that even though I regularly practiced tae kwon do and achieved a black belt, I was still fat and unattractive. He was very doubtful and asked that the next time we saw each other, I bring pictures of myself from this time. Believe it or not, I have very few pictures of myself from my middle and high school years. I didn’t like my appearance and therefore have kept few pictures of myself from those years.

I did manage to find a few pictures of myself from that time, including my album from my bat mitzvah. A whole bunch of pictures from me during my most awkward age. I was shocked to see that I really wasn’t all that chubby, I just had more of a woman’s figure than an adolescent girl’s at the time.

My entire life, I spent so much time focusing on the ugly aspects of my body. Wherever I went, I compared my body to other women’s, wondering why God had given me a fat, big, and misshapen body. It was this disgust with myself that brought myself to lose weight and shape up.

Seeing the pictures of myself from when I was 13 made me realize that the way I saw myself was so different than anyone else ever saw me. I wasn’t ugly and I wasn’t fat. I was voluptuous and developed earlier than most girls my age. But those years conditioned me. I had so thoroughly convinced myself that I was fat that I really started to believe it. My own beauty was invisible to me. The image I saw in the mirror wasn’t the one I was seeing deep inside.

I know that I still struggle with some body image dysmorphia, although it is getting better. At the risk of sounding conceited, I can look at myself in the mirror today and like what I see. I like everything that I see. I am able to see how fit and toned I am and have learned to appreciate my curves. There are still moments when I revert back to the girl who only saw and thought ugly and fat. There are still times when I find myself envying the body of another woman. But I’ve come a long way and know that there’s no going back.


The Power of the Positive September 21, 2010

Filed under: Exercise,Food,Opinion — jessfindsbalance @ 8:54 pm
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As I’ve mentioned, I’ve had a hard time adjusting to teaching 8th grade this year and miss my 6th grade buddies terribly. There are a lot of things I’m struggling with, especially since I was just so happy with my job for the last two years. Instead of dwelling on all the things that aren’t going well, though, I’ve been focusing on the things that are going well: I have a great team of kids that I work with every day and there are some really nice teachers in the 8th grade.

Being an optimistic and upbeat person hasn’t always come so naturally to me. Until the end of high school, I was a complainer and always dwelled on what wasn’t going well for me. What brought about the change? Losing weight (the first time) and finding self-confidence. I learned to like myself for who I was, which made me happier overall. Going to college was also really good for me, since I was just in a better place socially, emotionally and intellectually. So it is important to make sure that you’re in tune with your wants and needs and take the steps you need to get where you want to be.

This shift in my outlook didn’t happen overnight, though. Whenever I notice that I’m spending more time thinking about the annoying/frustrating/sad things, I try to guide my thoughts to something that’s good about it. Case in point: my current assignment in school. I also try to spend more time with people that lift me up. One last thing I do is to take time to do the things that make me feel good about myself, like playing piano, exercising, and spending time with friends. What are things you do to help stay positive?

Along those lines, I had to harness my positivity during my run today. It was such a struggle for the first four miles, but I stuck it out, despite the recurring thought to turn around and go home, and finished 6 miles in just over 54 minutes. I kept telling myself that I could make it through, and instead of aiming for “perfection” (i.e. a quick pace and few walking breaks), I decided to slow my pace a bit and walk as often as I needed to until my legs loosened up. I also tried to look around and notice just how nice out it was: about 65 degrees with a light breeze and sunshine! In the end, I finished at a really quick pace: 9:15 minute/mile and ran my last mile at a 8:30 minute/mile pace!

On my way home from school, I knew that I needed some caffeine to help me get into the running mindset. I stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts and bought a small iced 1/2 decaf 1/2 regular coffee with caramel flavoring and skim milk. Ahh…So refreshing!

Dinner tonight was an absolute favorite recipe of mine: Hearty Vegetarian Meatless Chili. I’ve found the recipe on Google Books here. I find a lot of Weight Watchers recipes to be flavorless and not filling enough, but this one is definitely an exception. Whenever I cook this for people, they always rave about how yummy it is!

To make it, you first saute several crushed cloves of garlic, one chopped onion, one chopped green bell pepper, and a minced jalapeno (use more seeds for a spicier dish, fewer for a milder taste) in some olive oil for about 8 minutes, until soft. Next, add 1 chopped eggplant, a bag of soy crumbles, one 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, oregano, 1/2 cup water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 30-40 minutes. Add a can of drained and rinsed red kidney beans and let simmer for another 20 minutes, or until eggplant is soft.

The finished product:

I served it over brown rice and topped it with reduced fat cheddar cheese and plain greek yogurt.

I decided today that I want to get into Glee.


I sang a cappella in college and know that the show will be fun and bring me back to my good old days of singing. I watched a couple episodes at the gym one day, and had a hard time not dancing and singing along while on the elliptical. Who else is watching tonight? Do I need to watch the other seasons to know what’s happening?


The Little Runner that Could September 14, 2010

Filed under: Exercise,Food,Opinion — jessfindsbalance @ 8:44 pm
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With my day off from exercise yesterday, I knew that today would be the perfect opportunity for a long run with my fresh legs. On my way home from work, I picked up a small iced coffee. I find that having some caffeine before my long runs makes them infinitely easier!

I also ate a slice of whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread right before heading out.

Dave came home from work early today (he still has a bad case of the sniffles) and took this picture of me before my run, with all my running gear! Getting ready for a run is quite the process for me. I wear a Camelbak that has a 1.5 liter capacity for hydration, my armband with iPod for motivating music, my Garmin Forerunner 305 and then my knee braces, too! Before heading out, I also take two puffs on my inhaler and rub anti-chafing goo all over my legs.

I think that my sporty Oakleys make me look like a mean army commander.

These are my knee braces.

I bought them both at Walgreens and are similar to one that I bought from a sports therapist years ago, which got old and icky so I threw it away. These are awesome for people with knee problems because they lift up your patella (kneecap) so it doesn’t rub, causing you pain. Of course, please take the advice of a specialist over mine! I can only speak from my personal experience.
My run was pretty awesome, overall. The first four miles were a battle and it felt like my legs were never going to get warmed up. Several points along the way, I considered turning my planned nine mile run into a shorter run, but with a little motivation and peppiness, decided to go for the 9 miles. Luckily, about halfway through, my legs felt much looser and the running became easy. When the end was in sight, I somehow found the energy to run at a 7:45 mile pace for a few minutes! I ended up finishing it all up in 1:25 and ran at an average pace of 9:24.

Still managed to smile after all that!

I spent a good 25 minutes stretching out my legs in my living room while watching an episode of Say Yes to the Dress on DVR.

For dinner, I decided upon a recipe I’ve been thinking about for the last few days. I made it up myself and it turned out to be delicious!
Roasted Squash and Brussels Sprouts with Black Beans in a Honey Mustard Sauce

I started out with a kabocha squash as big as my head.

I cut it in half

and then scooped out the seeds and icky stuff. Afterwards, I sliced them and tossed them in a bit of olive oil and sprinkled some salt and pepper on them. Next, I arranged them on a cookie sheet sprayed with lots of pam (to prevent sticking).

I roasted them in the oven at 425 degrees for 20 minutes on one side, and then 15 minutes on the other. Ta da!

I also roasted some brussels sprouts while the squash was cooking. After washing them, I cut off the ends and quartered them, and then tossed them in olive oil, salt and pepper. I roasted those at 425 for about 30 minutes.

I added a can of drained and rinsed black beans to the bowl. To make the sauce, I mixed dijon mustard and honey (2/3 part mustard, 1/3 part honey), making enough to coat everything lightly and evenly. The ingredients themselves are so flavorful, it didn’t need that much sauce.
All mixed up.

My serving:

For some reason, I lose any appetite after long runs and eating can make me feel sick to my stomach. I managed to eat a few bites of this and then had to stop. I’m learning that it’s better to pay attention to what my tummy tells me. I’m not hungry today, but know that I will be ravenous tomorrow!

I am spending my evening by myself, since Dave’s at class. I have some piano playing and reading on the agenda!


Pictureless Post September 10, 2010

Filed under: Exercise,Food,Opinion — jessfindsbalance @ 3:58 pm
Tags: , , ,

Hi everyone! I’m doing a pictureless post for now. With all the company and the formal lunch we had today, I didn’t feel comfortable whipping out my camera. I can give you a report from the two days, though!

When we arrived in Connecticut on Wednesday night, I got into a huge bag of chocolate covered goodies, like potato chips, oreos pretzels and popcorn. I did exercise some restraint, but I definitely didn’t feel guilty about indulging in one of my favorite foods!

Yesterday started off pretty well with two pieces of whole wheat toast, peanut butter, banana and cinnamon. It held me over for several hours, which was nice since it seems like the second I get to synagogue during the High Holidays, my stomach starts grumbling!

We got home and we snacked on apples (the ones we picked on Monday, actually) and some crackers. Dave’s mom made a great meal. Like Thanksgiving, we have a big mid-day meal around 1 or 2 for Rosh Hashanah. We started out with some very yummy matzah ball soup. For the main meal, I ate grilled veggies, some pasta with buckwheat (a Jewish traditional dish, called kasha varnishkas), stuffing and white meat turkey. I had three servings of stuffing – it was just so good!

Dessert came and Dave and I shared a plate of apple pie, vegan chocolate cake (it was gross at first, but it definitely grew on me as I kept eating!) and fruit.

Having that sugar definitely made me crave more sugar. I’m so glad that I’ve made strides in being satisfied with a bit of sugar, but yesterday was a big challenge and I caved. I ate a ton more chocolate covered goodies and other stuff. I took on the mindset of, “Well, I’ve already blown the day, so what else can I eat while I’m at it?” I did get my act together rather quickly and regained control of myself. Dinner was a couple pieces of veggie pizza from a local place called Vito’s. Pizza is just so good!

Today I knew that I wanted to prove to myself that I can a) eat balanced during a holiday (a historic challenge), eating both healthy foods and indulging in dishes I don’t often get to eat, and b) eat well at Dave’s parents’. Since I’m out of my environment where I can control what foods are available, I have often had a lot of difficulty when staying here. They tend to eat a lot of carbs and meat, which as you know is not what I tend to gravitate towards. Out of frustration and a sense of helplessness, I have often gone on an all-out binge for days on end, which just leaves me feeling dejected and physically ill.

I started today off the same way I began yesterday: a breakfast of whole wheat toast (I brought it from home since they don’t keep whole wheat bread in the house) with peanut butter, banana and cinnamon.

I came home from services a bit early and decided to make use of the couple hours I had to go for a run. Running in this area is a double-edged sword; it is so beautiul with lots of paved roads with big shoulders to run on and lots of tall trees for good shade, but there are so many hills that it seems like you’re either going up or down. I did rock an awesome run today, running exactly 6 miles in 57 minutes, including all those hills! My fastest split was 9:14. I’m a happy camper!

For lunch, I ate a chicken breast, grilled veggies and some stuffing. For dessert, I had a a ton of fresh fruit and a couple bites of Dave’s apple pie and marble cake. It’s so nice to know that I can share with him, since I don’t often need an entire slice (even though I could eat an entire slice of pie and cake!)

We’re just hanging out for the afternoon. I think that we are going to head back home after dinner tonight to sleep in our own bed. Last summer Dave and I bought a very nice king-sized mattress, which is so comfortable that I have a hard time sleeping anywhere else now! I do plan on taking pictures of dinner tonight, so your regular programming will return soon 🙂


I Threw Away the Fat Free Cream Cheese… September 7, 2010

Filed under: Food,Opinion — jessfindsbalance @ 6:25 am
Tags: ,

…and started eating real food. I haven’t eaten this in months and decided that it was time to get rid of it. I did so in a ceremonious fashion:

In the past few months, I’ve really come far in terms of ending dieting and focusing on eating healthy, wholesome foods and listening to what my body wants and needs. Through learning how to eat intuitively, I have become infinitely happier and less worried about food and life in general. I used to be so afraid to eat anything that had more than a few grams of fat in it but have since realized that food tastes better with fat and that I need a lot less food when I include healthy feat in my diet. It’s just so much more satiating. If you are currently fat-phobic, please know that you are not going to gain a ton of weight if you add it back to your diet! I did it and actually weigh less than I did when I was on a very fat-restricted diet.

Anyway, instead of fat free cream cheese on my breakfast sandwich, I used a light Laughing Cow cheese wedge.

I have some leftover lox from last week that I wanted to use up before they went bad.

I went back to a recipe I created last week that has made it to the top of my all-time-favorite-breakfast-food-charts: a whole wheat Arnold’s thin with laughing cow cheese, sliced tomato, sliced red onion, lox and a small egg white omelet.

The first time I made this, it kept my mind off food for over 5 hours! Yay for the power of protein!

I had an small organic orange as a sweet ending to my meal.

Off to start my two day workweek. See you for lunch!


Tums for Dinner September 6, 2010

Filed under: Exercise,Food,Opinion,Reviews — jessfindsbalance @ 7:58 pm
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I love apple picking! I also love the I will be able to do it several times this year. Because the Jewish holidays have been on weekends in recent years, I’ve only been able to go once a season (or not at all!). This year will be different though. I love the entire atmosphere of apple orchards; it just says “autumn” to me!

We went to a farm called Tougas Family Farms, which we went to last year and fell in love with.

We picked the peck, which amounts to about 10 lb. of apples! It’s the perfect time to have a surplus of apples since Thursday is Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and we eat apples and honey (and lots of it!) to signify the sweet new year we anticipate. Anyway, they had several varieties ready for picking, such as Cortlands, Macintosh, Gala, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, Ginger Gold, and Fujis. One thing I love about apple picking is tasting all the different kinds!

We prioritized and decided to go with a couple Gala apples and several Honeycrisp and Ginger Gold. I’d never had a Ginger Gold apple before but it fits my criteria of sweet and crisp.

We found out that Dave’s height (he’s a little over 6’0″) comes in handy for picking the high-up apples!

This was the perfect day to spend a beautiful day outside!

I’m strong, but I’m willing to let him do the heavy lifting (those apples are heavy!)

Once we got home, I was still a bit hungry, although I’d sampled many apples. I’m not sure if it was real stomach hunger, but I decided to eat anyway. At first I had some Kashi Warm Cinnamon Oat cereal mixed with Fiber 1 and some Almond Breeze. Everything tastes better in a mug.

I had a craving for chocolate, too, so I also indulged in a vitamuffin with chocolate pudding, walnuts and 1/2 small sliced banana.

I also danced with danger by eating some Edy’s Cookies ‘n’ Cream light ice cream out of the carton (this should always send up warning signals to me), a whole wheat pop tart, and crackers with guacamole and hummus. I was able to stop myself pretty early before it became an all-out binge. Even still, I felt pretty disheartened and decided to get myself out of the kitchen. We worked on some crossword puzzles outside in the beautiful weather and I practiced the piano. Towards the end of my playing, I decided that I wanted to give running another try for the day. I got all my gear on and headed out for another 6 miler.

This one was a much bigger success! I didn’t try to push myself as hard as I did this morning, but I must say that all the food bouncing around in my stomach didn’t go over well. I was able to make it through, though and was glad that I did! I ended up running 5.85 miles in 57 minutes. So all in all, I ran about 8 miles today!

I am sure that some of you out there are horrified that I ran while my stomach wasn’t at the top of its game, but with the PMS I’ve been experiencing in the last few days (sorry gentlemen readers out there!) I needed my exercise. I’ve felt so moody and snacky and the best medicine for that is exercise. I’m already feeling the benefits 🙂

After arriving home, I decided that I definitely didn’t need any more food, especially after my run made me feel the indigestion. Instead, I took three tums and am calling it a night. Dave had made dinner for us, but I’ve decided to put my serving in a tupperware and eat it for lunch another day.

I have posted the recipe here, though. I am off to pack my bag and get ready for tomorrow. Good night!