I gained weight.

One thing I’m struggling with right now is the fact that I am gaining weight.

About 8 pounds.  I know…you’re thinking 8 pounds…hmmm.  That’s not a lot.  But for someone who started this fitness journey at 100 pounds, this weight gain is really freaking me out.  I guess it’s because most people measure their fitness achievements in weight loss.  Maybe I didn’t have anything to lose?

I know that I have been eating really healthy, have cut out alcohol-ish (except on special occasions), and have kept my daily caloric intake between 1300-1700 calories.  I also workout about five times a week, and this isn’t the typical “get on the elliptical and sweat a little” workout; if I’m not doing Les Mills BodyPump, BodyAttack or CXWorks, then I’m running at least a 5k or lifting on my own.

I’m not 100 percent sure, but I’m pretty sure that this weight gain can can only be attributed to muscle growth.  And maybe because I’m working outside for a few hours everyday in the heat – I’m drinking more water and I feel like my body is swelling…can a person’s body swell from warm/hot temperatures?

Anyways, aside from trying to eat healthier and in a way that will fuel my activity level, my workouts have intensified in the past year.  I know I’m gaining muscle; the way my body is cut is very different than it was last summer.  I actually have abdominal muscles now, which protrude a bit on my tiny stomach.  This is new.  When you go from being skinny and having no stomach to having muscles grow where they have never been, it’s a little weird and I’m not exactly sure how to feel about it.

My body has changed (and is changing) into what I can only describe as an “athletic build”.  I was never “cut” before, and now I can really make out the definition in certain areas without flexing.  During BodyPump, I look at myself in the mirror and ask, “Is this the girl who used to despise fitness?”  She is now obsessed.  She now has definition.  What happened to this girl who was afraid to sweat?

I’m also so much stronger and faster.  I never thought I would be capable of doing some of the things I do in the gym or on runs.  And to be quite honest, I didn’t even know this level of fitness existed.  Now, I’m really getting intense in my workouts and pushing myself to the max.  And I love the way it makes me feel.  I love being fast.  I love lifting challenging weight in BodyPump or not taking a break and going all out during Attack.  The pool of sweat on the floor is proof that I’m working hard.  It’s like I’m proving that I can do what once wasn’t possible.

But I’m still adjusting to the changes I see in my body.

If I showed you a before and after photo, you might even think, “Hey she looks BIGGER after“.  So I have this dilemma because I don’t feel like I’m being a good fitness example.  Sure, I’m strong and my endurance is great, but I feel like there’s nothing to show in terms of weight loss.  I’m also not eating like a rabbit, because I am a foodie, and I workout to be able to enjoy good food (yes, like pork belly and fried things).  This means that I’m not all muscle because my dietary habits aren’t all carrots and celery.  You get what I’m saying?

So that’s my dilemma.

Question: Are there any tiny people out there who have put on weight and muscle since working out?  Did it bother you?  Was it visible?  Did you change your routine at all?

On a more positive note, at least I could probably reach the required weight to give blood now – 110 pounds!

My Idea of a Goodwill Time

A question to my fellow thrifty bloggers out there: “Do you ever go into a thrift store with the intention to spend about 20 minutes, but end up spending two hours?”

Well I do.

And I usually don’t leave until a) I’ve looked through all the racks, b) I have to be somewhere, or c) I have to pee.  Usually it’s C.

I recently spent about two hours at the Goodwill located at 701 East Broad Street in Richmond, Virginia.  I was in a really good mood; just had an awesome workout and a great pho lunch at Pho 79 (see picture) and my proximity to the Goodwill meant I just had to stop by since I hadn’t visited this one in over a year.

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Pho with all the yummy bits like tripe and tendon. No filter. Who wouldn’t want to go shopping after this goodness?

This particular Goodwill does an awesome job at sorting everything by type and color.  And the sales associate could not be friendlier.  Seriously.  She made positive comments on everything I bought.  It made my day.  I actually felt like…validated that I am good at this little hobby of mine.

Anyways, those two hours were very productive, clothing-wise!  And I probably would have spent more than two hours, had I not had to use the restroom.  Ah that’s life, I guess!

This summer, I’ve been on the hunt for long, flowing skirts.  I get on “item of clothing” kicks, and it’s recently been skirts.  I also love the bohemian look that you can really pull off with long skirts, plus they are so comfortable.  Like honestly, would you rather wear crotch digging shorts and have your legs stick to everything you sit on in this humid Virginia heat, or would you want a nice long skirt that is made of light fabric and is super airy and cool.  Is that even a question?

My first outfit du jour is made up of a turquoise printed peasant skirt I got for $4.99 from this Goodwill trip.  Yes, $4.99 is a little steep for second-hand prices, but I loved the print and colors, and it looked like it had barely been worn.

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Turquoise Peasant Skirt $4.99, White J.Crew Lace Top $1.98

The fabric was so light and airy, and I’m really going for that right now.  The skirt was one of those Target brands, so I probably paid close to what it sold for on sale at Target, but I really liked it, so it was a bit of a splurge.  Oh just fyi, all the skirts at this particular Goodwill were $4.99.  The white lace 3/4 sleeve top I’ve paired with it is originally from J.Crew, which I scored for $1.98 at another Goodwill located in Northern Virginia.

I also got this lovely French Connection floral printed, A-line skirt.  %100 cotton.

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FC Floral Skirt – $2.50 and Lafayette 148 Silk Cream Top – $1.99

It was rocking the 50 percent off tag, so I scored it for $2.50.  $2.50 for French Connection.  Yep, awesome.  It’s a size 4 (I’m usually a 1), however, it has loops for a belt, so I can actually put a waist belt in and it fits really well as a high-wasted skirt without too much bunching around the waist, or it can be worn on the hips.  I may get it altered at a later point…haven’t decided yet.

I found the white/cream colored top I’ve paired it with at Goodwill for $1.99.  Can I mention this is a Lafayette 148 silk top?  I looked up similar tops by this designer and they go for $200 at retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue.  Oh my word.  At the time, I only thought they retailed for like $60; so I decided to not get another Lafayette 148 top on the rack because it was a size 2 and way too big, but I should have bought it for my mom or a friend, or somebody…thrifter fail.

This awesome, elegant, couture purple skirt was bought for $2.50.

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Purple Long Skirt – $2.50…I feel so elegant!

It was probably handmade as there were no tags, however, handmade = couture.  Yes, don’t argue with me, it is.  It fits my waist perfecto-ly!

And there is so much love for this $4.99 white pencil skirt when paired with the black lace Banana Republic top also worn above that I got on final sale at BR for $12.  And a borrowed gold belt from the mother.  This love is just too, too much.

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White Pencil Skirt – $4.99. Oh look at me trying to primp…

It was a great trip that my mom gave me a little grief for after learning I spent two hours there.  Her nagging – “Paula, are you a hoarder?!” was on repeat when I got home.  This was until I presented her with a very like-new Banana Republic salmon colored silk dress that I bought her for $6.99.

No complaints after that.

 Happy Thrifting!

Thrifty Fashionista

Being a conservative thrifter is one of my goals right now.  That’s basically my pretty sounding language for trying to not be a hoarder.  Thrifting = good! Hoarding = not good.  I watch those hoarding shows and those people just do the thrift store thing all wrong.  Don’t be like them.

So it’s not that I absolutely need more clothes, but when you can get a cute skirt for $2…not a hoarder. Not a hoarder.

I’d like to think of myself as a thrifty fashionista.  That is, I look at current trends and try to replicate them with what I can find in a thrift store.  It’s kind of insane how styles come back to life after a few years.  After we’ve given “clothing item X” away, the fashion magazines come out with celebrities wearing “clothing item X” that costs lots.  I know I’ll soon be on the hunt for some high-wasted jeans I can make into shorts, since those are popping up everywhere!

Anyways, I know, and the fashion gods seem to agree, that long, flowing skirts – the maxi skirt – are perfect for this summer!  Whether they are solid or printed, you can dress them up with a nice top and fancy jewelry for a special evening, or throw on a tank top and some flats for a casual day.

I’ve seen maxi skirts selling for a lot of dollars (as in like $80 – that’s just way to much money for this post-grad) at stores like Zara.  Click on the link to see a picture of said skirt that I can find a (and you can too!) practically identical version of at a thrift store.  I’d show you a picture, but I don’t know how all that copyright stuff goes/it’s easier to link it/I’m a little lazy today.

Or long floral skirts at American Apparel for $45.  Is it just me, or have I seen this skirt in many thrift stores before?  And maybe this is my personal opinion, but this skirt ain’t that cute/I’d maybe pay $2 for it.  Definitely not $45.  That is positivo.

What do you think of the long maxi skirt summer trend?  I love it because a) it’s comfy and cool and b) you don’t have to worry about shaving your legs every single freaking day during the summer.  Double score.

Recently, I got this awesome borderline vintage beige with black floral accents maxi skirt from the Salvation Army Thrift store in Richmond, Virginia for around $3.75.  It was originally $7.49, but the tag color noted it was 50 percent off that day!  Score.

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Beige Skirt with Black Floral Accents $3.75, Banana Republic Shirt $1.98, Purple Gem Necklace – borrowed from Mom’s costume jewelry

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Floral on the skirt, floral on the walls…

I also found a super cute red printed high wasted skirt.  It’s got a bunch of horizontal line patterns of a variety of colors.  Kind of tribal looking, which I know is in style right now. And %100 cotton.  Love me some natural fabrics.  The waste-line was really tiny, which is hard to find at second-hand stores.  The best part, it was $2.49, also 50 percent off!  So I got this skirt for $1.25.

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Red Vintage Print High-wasted Skirt $1.25, Banana Republic Shirt $1.98, Gold Waist Belt – borrowed, but also thrifted, Vintage Purple Gem Necklace – borrowed

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I should also mention that I found the top, which is a fitted, stretchy top with gold glittery specs (it’s hard to see in the picture) at a Goodwill store in Arlington, Virginia.  It was Banana Republic and this particular store had all their short sleeve non-print shirts at $1.98.

I also got this cute blue top, which is Gap, I believe, for $2.25 at Diversity Thrift in Richmond.  The orange sweater, that I wear a lot, wasn’t from a thrift store, but it was from a J.Crew warehouse sale, so that’s kind of being thrifty!

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Blue Tie Top $2.25, Orange J.Crew Sweater – gift, but purchased at J.Crew warehouse sale

What neat summer fashion trends have you discovered thrifting?  Is there anything I should be on the lookout for that’s coming back in style?  I would love to know 🙂

Happy Thrifting!

Free Bread

Free bread is a true indicator of a restaurant’s greatness.

I mean, like, let’s be real here, who really finds a hardened loaf of pre-sliced white “Italian” bread appealing?  Why even bring it out to the table in the first place.  It says one thing about your food establishment: cheap.  Maybe lazy, but definitely cheap.

There’s my rant on table bread.

But really, let’s talk about free bread.

Recently, I went to Zorba’s Greek restaurant, one of my family’s go-to places for a nice meal when we can’t think of any place else to go.  Which is silly because Richmond has a gazillion restaurants.  But it’s like writer’s block…foodie’s block, I guess.  Eh.  We also like it because it’s close to my parent’s house.  Yes, I’m crazy about this Greek place located in a little strip mall in suburbia.  Maybe it’s because of their free bread.  Hot, yeasty honey glazed rolls right out of the oven.  These rolls, which I will have to describe in great detail since I failed to get a picture, are puffy circles of dough that bake up to be the size of your forehead.  They are, and only are, served warm.  And they are probably 400 calories each…but I digress.  I care, but you know, life is short, and sometimes I don’t really care.

Zorba’s was also voted #3 best Greek restaurant in Richmond Magazine’s Best of 2012.  I personally think it should have at least been #2.  But that’s just me.  I’m also kind of obsessed with restaurants where the owner is ever-present and remembers your name even if you only visit every few months.  It’s just good patron care and goes a long way.

Oh, side note alert!  In 2011, Zorba’s caught on fire, and the entire restaurant was closed for a while.  Now that it is open again, it is completely renovated and really pretty!  Definitely a date night place.  Of course, It’d be great to have someone to go to date night with…yeah, I’m digressing again.

Anyways, cutting to the good stuff.  This is what we ate:

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From upper right and clockwise…
Pastichio (the thing that looks like lasagna): Ziti noodles, bechamel, ground beef layered pie topped with meat sauce and parmesan cheese
Medallions of Lamb Tenderloin: Tereyaki demiglaze and garlic mashed potatoes
Pasta A La Greek: Baked with feta and mozerella cheese (choice of sauce)
Veal (something): Spinach and cheese ravioli, mozzarella cheese and prosciutto

It was all really, really yummy (so descriptive, I know).  More descriptive: The different flavors in each dish really stand out but come together perfectly.  More importantly: The Pasta A La Greek will last you about 5 meals.  Their garlic mashed potatoes are my favorite anywhere.  Is this sounding like an overly thought out Yelp! review yet?  Okay.  I’ll stop.  Just, if you live in the RVA area, go, try it!  And report back what you think.  Cause I’m sure in love.

If you’re interested in trying Zorba’s Greek, here are the details:

9068 W. Broad St., Richmond, VA 23294 – (804) 270-6026

http://www.richmondzorbas.com/

P.S.  There’s this awesome homemade gelato shop in the shopping center across the street.  Gelati Celeste.  Like they make this heavenly goodness in the back of the shop.  There are zero calories in this ice cream!  I…promise ;). It too, has been around forever, and is absolutely amazing.  We’ve been going since I was a little girl.  I love the banana gelato.  They just recently started taking credit card; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted this deliciousness and didn’t have cash on me.

You must go here.  Trust me.

8906 W. Broad St., Richmond, VA 23294 – (804) 346-0038

http://www.gelatiicecream.com/

Happy Eating! And where have you had good free bread?!

58:10 (x 2)

I’m not very fast.  In fact, my running pace is just enough to be considered “running”.

But running isn’t about beating the person next to you; it’s about accomplishing something for yourself.  It’s about improving your personal speed by five seconds every week.  It’s about running just .5 mile more without stopping than you did yesterday.

Our bodies are all different, and no matter how great of shape you’re in, sometimes you just aren’t able to run a 7 minute mile.  Even if you’re at a 10 minute (or more)/mile pace, you’re still running.  And that’s amazing.

Two weekends ago, on April 13th, I got to run in the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k, which is one of my favorite races.  When I first ran this race in Spring 2011, I fell in love.  It was (and still has been) one of my longest races at 6.2 miles.  The first year I ran, it was pretty chilly, and then last year, it was drizzly and cool (my favorite running weather), but this year, it was a beautiful, sunny 60 degree day.

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Qualified to run in a seeded wave this year!

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Starting line

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One of America’s Premier Races!

The Monument Avenue 10k is such a friendly race, and I believe it is in the top 10 of America’s most popular races.  There were 32,000 runners to complete the race this year!  It’s also incredibly organized with like 30 something start-time waves, a lot of water stops, a post-race party and meeting area, shuttles to the race, and even a bike valet!  It is run down and back one of America’s only historically recognized streets, Monument Avenue, which is absolutely beautiful and dotted with a handful of monuments recognizing great American leaders.  Part of it is run on cobblestones, which makes for a more challenging course, but it is relatively flat.  It is a wonderful “first” race, if you are looking for something longer than a 5k or have been running for a while, and trust me, if you’ve never done a race before, you will be addicted to running afterwards.  There are also walker waves – it’s a family friendly race!

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Happy Runner?

The community support along the route is amazing.  People standing on the sidewalk, cheering, clapping…clowns, cheerleaders, dancers, great signs like “I’d run, but who would hold this sign!” and “Free beer for quitters” (people are partying on their front decks and balconies along the course).  I see red solo cups and I run faster, if you know what I mean.  Bands line the street, bubbles are in the air.  It’s so much fun.  I am also really proud of my hometown for putting together an organized, exciting race every year that thousands come to participate in.  Great job RVA!  And props to SportsBackers, the non-profit that organizes many of the region’s races!

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Sweaty Asian Runner?

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American Gothic runners? These two won first place in the “Dress Up and Run” contest…and they ran the 10k holding the frame just like this!

Okay, to be honest, about mile 4, you might feel like you’re dying and want to quit.  But it’s still fun.

I really hadn’t set a “goal” time this year because I didn’t have a lot of time to train.  Of course, as a runner, we all like to do better than our previous PR (Personal Record).  And I ended up being decently happy with my time which was…

58 minutes, 10 seconds.  The exact same time as last year.  To the second.  Well, at least I can say I’m consistent.  However, my 5k split was faster, which bodes well for future 5k races!

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Yay! Finished!

Mom and Dad drove me to the race and watched this year.  Also, they probably saw me at my worst, at like mile 5.5 when I was kind of dying a little.  Still, it was great to have their support!

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Mom, the non-runner.

And then, I rode a runner’s high for the rest of the afternoon before the soreness hit the next day.  Runner’s high = Best feeling in the entire world.  I drove back to the DC area on Monday, but since I’ve been back, I’ve been nursing some weird stomach issue and haven’t felt like running, but I feel like I’m finally getting back to normal.  I’m excited to lace up my shoes for my next run though.  Maybe the next race will be a half-marathon? Maybe? Who knows!

Happy running!

We run to overcome.

My heart absolutely breaks for the runners, volunteers and spectators in Boston yesterday.  As a runner myself, and having just finished the Monument Avenue 10k in Richmond that over 32,000 people completed, I was in disbelief that someone could be filled with such evil and selfishness to destroy a day that is supposed to be filled with happiness and celebration.

While I share, along with the rest of the world, the disbelief and sadness of these events,  I wanted to take a different route in the words I’ve decided to put here.  Instead of writing about the bad, I wanted to write about the event that this evil affected.  I want to write about the power of running.

Why do we run? 

We run to clear our heads when life gets stressful.

We run to prove to ourselves that we are capable of doing what we thought we could not.

We run to show ourselves that we can overcome.

Running takes dedication and commitment.  We lace up our shoes before the sun rises, or hit the pavement after a long day of work.  We trudge up hills and feel the sweat dripping down our faces.  It teaches us transformation through dedication.  Generally, in life, we don’t get to where we want to be overnight or without frustration, maybe even failure at first.  To experience both physical and mental transformation, a lot of diligence, persistence and patience come into play.  Success doesn’t come overnight.  Running teaches us that.

To me, running has always been a metaphor for life.  Things get tough.  We face adversity.  Last year, a few weeks before I ran the 2012 Monument Avenue 10k, I had my heart broken.  I was devastated because I had made a life with this person, and I didn’t know what direction my life was going to take without him.  But I was set on running this amazing race that over 40,000 people from all over the country and world come to participate in – a wonderful mass of humanity.  I knew that the spectators and the positive encouragement along the course would be one of the best cures for sadness.  And on mile 4, when I started to get my runner’s high, I remember telling myself that I was capable of anything.  In that moment, I could fly if I wanted to.  I didn’t need another person to make me feel some sense of worth.

Running helped, and still helps me when things get difficult.

Running teaches us resilience.  There are times we want to stop and give up.  Our minds tell us we’re through, we’re done, we’re going to pass out from fatigue.  That we are defeated.  There are days where we have sub-par runs, but we must get up tomorrow.  The sun rises and it’s a chance to begin again.  A new day; a new run.  One thing runners learn very early on is that we must be resilient, as our bodies are strong enough to keep pushing forward.  In running, and in life, we are stronger than we thought.

We can get through this.

We can get through the events of Boston, Aurora, Sandy Hook, and Virgina Tech.  We’re resilient, but we never forget.  Our lives move forward, and if anything, they move forward in a fashion where we hold the people close to us dear, where we remember to say “I love you”, where we don’t let the trivial things get to us as much.  We enjoy life.  We smile more.  We take time out to help and be there for others.  We realize, life is precious.  And simultaneously, when humanity bands together in times of turmoil, we discover, we are loved.

We also see that race events, whether it be a 5k, 10k, half-marathon, or the full 26.2 bring out the absolute best in people.

I posted this as my Facebook status yesterday, and I’ll close this post with the same thoughts:

“The thing I love most about races is the feeling of “oneness” between total strangers.  There’s so much love and support for people we don’t even know; people cheering you on with words of encouragement, giving free high fives and countless smiles that keep you pushing forward when you want to stop, when things get tough.  Running races reminds me there’s still good in the world.  There are still people on your side.  Thoughts and prayers to all the people at the Boston Marathon today.”