Jess Finds Balance

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

No Better Way To Wake Up… October 4, 2010

Filed under: Food — jessfindsbalance @ 6:28 am
Tags: ,

…than with breakfast waiting for me and the smell of oatmeal in the air! I never eat hot oatmeal for breakfast on school days (or ever, really) because of the time it takes to make it. I had come across some crockpot recipes for steel cut oats and knew that this was for me. Last night, I whipped out my crockpot

and put the following in my handy dandy crockpot:

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 1/2 overripe bananas
  • pinch of salt
  • cinnamon
  • vanilla



This morning, I added a scoop of canned pumpkin, a scoop of cottage cheese, chia seeds, and walnuts. I then topped it with a peanut butter sauce and some pumpkin butter. Mmmm…

This was so rich and I didn’t have much of an appetite, so I barely finished half of this and put it away for breakfast another day.

Off to school. I can’t believe that this weekend is Columbus Day weekend already!


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.


Wiped Out

Filed under: Exercise,Food — jessfindsbalance @ 4:43 pm

Hi everyone! How is your Sunday going? I’ve had a lovely day. It started off with spinning, lots of stretching and body pump at the gym. My legs are definitely sore from yesterday’s run, so I took it a bit easy during my workout. Even still, I find that to feel my best after a hard workout, I need to move my body. Otherwise, I get stiff and sore.

I picked my sister up from the subway after the gym and we ate lunch at my place. I dug into two different kinds of vegetarian stews that I had leftover: Indian spiced lentils with eggplant and spinach and squash, lentil and chickpea stew.

Then we were off to apple picking! We went to the same place Dave and I went last month. We got tons of Empire, Mutsu and Jonagold apples. I’m excited for applesauce, apple crisp and just plain ole apples!

I’m so beat from my day full of activities and yesterday’s run, so I’m hanging out on the couch watching South Pacific. I had seen it when I was in elementary school and when my Mom went to see it on Broadway, I knew that I wanted to see it again. I hope that you’re enjoying your Sunday afternoon!


Stressed, Tired and Struggling October 2, 2010

Filed under: Exercise,Food — jessfindsbalance @ 1:48 pm
Tags: , , ,

Hi everyone! Sorry for no post yesterday. After Thursday night’s epic day (I left home at 6:30 AM and didn’t come back until 9:15) I was pretty beat last night and just needed to decompress. It was a very long week and I was tired! I never did recover from the poor night’s sleep I had on Tuesday, when I was sick in the middle of the night. Not to worry, though: I slept for 11 1/2 hours last night! I swear, I have reverted back to my adolescent years.

The last two days have not been exemplary ones for me. I had a good day of eats on Thursday (the day of open house at school) until I got home, when I ate a whole bunch for no reason. Well, I guess there was a reason, since every action we take seeks to benefit us in some way. The same thing happened yesterday, during which I was doing great until I came home after the gym and ate way too much again. I have started to notice a trend that the week before Auntie Flow arrives, I am more prone to stress and therefore more prone to overeating. I will definitely be vigilant for the next few days and next month at the same time, reminding myself that when I want to binge, it’s an attempt to escape whatever feelings are overwhelming to me and that there are better ways for me to deal with it.

In an attempt to get back on track, I decided to go for a long run this morning. The weather is absolutely beautiful today: a high of 63 and not a cloud in the sky. I also realized that only 6 weeks + 1 day stand between me and my half-marathon on Sunday, November 14 and it has been about 2 1/2 weeks since I did a long run. I figured out that if I want to run 13 miles before the race, with a taper week beforehand, I have to run 9 miles this week, 10 miles next week, etc. so that I get to 13 miles with no more than 1 1/2 weeks before the race.

After waking up at 9:45 this morning, I ate my typical pre-run breakfast of two pieces of toast, nut butter, sliced banana and cinnamon. I also took a couple excedrine (it has caffeine in it) to get rid of my sleepy-head headache and for a little bit of a boost.

My legs felt great for the first 6 miles or so of my run and I was doing great for time. I’ve decided that I am going to let the timer run during my walking breaks so that I have a realistic idea of how long it will really take me to finish the race. Here are my splits (including walking breaks):

  • 1st mile: 9:29 minute/mile
  • 2nd mile: 9:21 minute/mile
  • 3rd mile: 10:20 minute/mile
  • 4th mile: 9:57 minute/mile
  • 5th mile: 9:30 minute/mile (a few really big hills)
  • 6th mile: 9:50 minute/mile
  • 7th mile: 10:24 minute/mile (starting to feel really tired here)
  • 8th mile: 9:57 minute/mile (I found a second wind!)
  • 9th mile: 9:55 minute/mile

Total: 9.05 miles  1:29:17

So I think that my goal for the race is to keep at or below a 10:00 minute/mile pace and finish in less than 2 hours and 15 minutes.

With a long run behind me for today, I’m confident that today is going to be the first of several back on track. I have been doing a pretty good job with intuitive eating, although the last few days have definitely been anomalies. I’m committed to getting back on the wagon, though!

My plans for the rest of the day include grocery shopping and then going out to dinner with Dave and lots of his friends at a Chinese restaurant. Hopefully I have an appetite again by then! Hope you’re enjoying this beautiful Saturday 🙂


Recycled Leftovers September 30, 2010

Filed under: Food — jessfindsbalance @ 6:30 am
Tags: ,

I made my first baked autumn fruit of the season on Tuesday night and had visions of using it as a pancake topper. Considering that today is hell day (open house – I won’t get home until 9:15!), I wanted to treat myself to a special breakfast.

I made the pancake batter last night:

  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 1 egg
  • honey
  • ~1 tsp. baking powder
  • ~1 tsp. baking soda
  • vanilla
  • cinnamon
  • ~1 tbsp. applesauce
  • ~1 tbsp. ground flax seed (gotta have those Omega-3s!)

Whisked well, and then cooked on a well-greased pan over medium-high heat.

Topped with some plain greek yogurt, mixed with honey, baked autumn fruit, and walnuts.

Oh yeah. This tasted just as good as it looks!

Wish me luck for my epic day…


Southerner for the Day September 29, 2010

Filed under: Exercise,Food — jessfindsbalance @ 9:05 pm
Tags: , ,

Hi everyone! I’m relaxing with Dave on the couch, in preparation for hell day tomorrow: open house. What it means is that I will be at school for over 12 hours. I will be taking a break from school and heading to the gym for a bit after school. I tried staying at school until open house at 6:30 my first year, and it was possibly the worst day of my life. I am kind of looking forward to having some extra time at school so that I can get lots of grading done!

Some good news is that I’m 99% better! Aside from some iffiness from my stomach this morning, I’ve been totally fine. I’m hoping that tomorrow I can have my morning coffee. I missed it today! I ran with the cross country team this afternoon while they did interval training, and I managed to run my .25 mile sprints at a 7:15 minute/mile pace! When I got to the gym a little later, I did a couple more intervals and felt great. I think my legs are finally loose. It only took a week and a half…After my speedwork, I did body pump and as always, felt like a total rockstar. I’m even contemplating getting certified to teach body pump! Maybe in the winter or fall. In the meantime, I’m going to focus on getting through the cross country season with my students and my half marathon on November 14.

For dinner tonight, we channeled our inner southernness. We made a favorite recipe from Cooking Light for shrimp and grits. I didn’t get home until 7:00, so Dave was in charge of dinner. Here’s the finished product, fresh out of the oven:

My serving, in a small bowl.


I’m realizing more and more that I really don’t need that much food to feel satisfied. I normally would serve myself probably 50% more, but this was just perfect!

I finished off my dinner with some light ice cream, a few bites of my baked autumn fruit and a couple chocolate-covered cocoa nibs. Good night!


Autumn First September 28, 2010

Filed under: Food — jessfindsbalance @ 7:29 pm
Tags: , ,

It’s been absolutely gross here in the Boston area this week, with temps in the 70s and lots of rain. Tomorrow we’re supposed to see some sun, though! Looks more like summer weather than fall, though.

Today Wed, Sep 29 Thu, Sep 30 Fri, Oct 1 Sat, Oct 2 Sun, Oct 3 Mon, Oct 4 Tue, Oct 5 Wed, Oct 6 Thu, Oct 7
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I found this recipe for squash, lentil and chickpea stew on Eating Well a couple weeks ago and have been dying to make it. Tuesday is the day that I have dinner on my own while Dave is at his class, so I decided that today would be the day to test it out.

This is a slow cooker recipe, which is so convenient for weeknights. It does require planning, though, so if you’re a fly by the seats of your pants for dinner kinda person, you could opt to make it on the stovetop that night instead. I must say that slow cooking is awesome because it melds the flavors so well and everything gets nice and soft 🙂 Whenever I make slow cooker recipes, I always prepare everything the night before, and then put it on to cook in the morning.

To make it, I first soaked 3/4 cup dried chickpeas in water, leaving about 2 inches of water on top of the chickpeas so that they have room to expand. I let them soak overnight.

Last night, I chopped 1 medium butternut squash, peeled (you can peel it yourself or buy it in the store already peeled), 2 large carrots and one white onion and put it in my slow cooker.

Then I added 4 cups of chicken broth,

2 tbsp. tomato paste,

lime juice, lots of ginger (fresh is best, otherwise dried is fine), cumin, garlic powder, a pinch of saffron, a bit of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.

Did you know that saffron is the world’s most expensive spice? I made sure to conserve and only used a pinch!

I also added one cup of red lentils and the drained, soaked chickpeas.

All ready to go:

I cooked it in the slow cooker on low heat for about 7 1/2 hours. Then I mixed everything well to mash up the squash and carrots. Here’s the finished product:

I decided to just have it on its own, although you could serve it over brown rice, bulgur or whole wheat couscous. It’d also be nice with some fresh chopped cilantro, crushed peanuts or plain greek yogurt.

Another thing I love about stews? Leftovers! This left me with enough for five other meals!

I like to bring a whole bunch to work and leave them in the freezer there. I take them out a few days before I know I am going to use them. Our freezer at home is so crowded, so it helps to make room for everything else in there and means that I don’t have to carry as much to school every day.

For dessert, I made my first baked autumn fruit of the season. This is one of my favorite recipes to make in the fall and is so easy. I started out with one gigantic Jonagold apple, one bosq pear, and one bartlett pear.

I chopped them up into one-inch cubes, then tossed them with some lemon juice (~3-4 tbsp.), apple pie spice, cinnamon and splenda. You could also use honey, agave nectar or maple syrup. Baked in the oven at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes.



I had a few bites for dessert, in addition to some Moose Tracks light ice cream. I know, I shouldn’t be eating dairy with my stomach in its precarious state!

I’m taking it easy tonight, reading my book and watching Glee in T-32 minutes. I actually had to come home early from work today because my stomach was so upset. I felt so bad leaving my kids, especially since they have a test tomorrow, but they did receive a study guide on Thursday of last week! Let’s keep our fingers crossed that they studied sufficiently!