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.

601696_4802709596850_890413412_n

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.

944563_4816469660843_558656878_n

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.

photo (3)

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.

image (5)

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.

image (7)

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!

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:

photo (1)

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?!

The Family that Eats Together

“I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”

– written by J.R.R. Tolkien, said by Bilbo Baggins, The Fellowship of the Ring

This past Saturday, I spent the first spring-like day of this never ending East Coast winter in Williamsburg, Virginia, with family from my dad’s side that I haven’t seen in almost 10 years.  We ended up meeting up with my cousin, Mark, his wife, Lauren, and their 4 awesome kids ranging in ages 5-15.  They were visiting Williamsburg on spring break.  We joke that we only see each other whenever someone gets married, which is partially true; the last time I saw them was at a HuYoung wedding.  Doesn’t it end up happening that way?  Weddings and funerals always brings family closest together…anyways I digress!

644385_4607972408542_2003233799_n

My Cousin’s Kids – they are half Chinese like me!

Life does get busy, and with family spread all over the country, it’s hard to get everyone together.  But when we are able to see each other, albeit 10 years later, it’s always a good time.  I also really enjoyed the opportunity to show my family around my alma mater and Williamsburg.  With it being spring break, a Saturday, and the first nice day of spring, the historic area was absolutely swamped with people.  I wanted to try out the new DOG Street Pub and their extensive beer menu, which I got the opportunity to try last summer, but it was over an hour wait.  Absolutely crazy!

We were able to get a table for our party of 9 at Blue Talon, which was perfectly fine with me.  We had a 15 minute wait, but the kids went to the Peanut Shop and sampled all the yummy peanuts and chocolate covered nuts (I may have sampled a few too) while we waited.  I love free samples!  Anyways, Blue Talon is so yummy!  All of their dishes are French-inspired.  I ended up getting the Chicken and Mushroom Crepe, which was delicious.  It’s a creamy chicken/mushroom (bechamel sauce – I think) combo, wrapped in a crepe, then topped with Parmesan cheese and baked.  I also got a side of their fries – I never eat fries, but Blue Talon fries are so good!  And I got a Champagne Julep, which my cousin said tasted like spearmint gum; it was very refreshing!

523985_4608017249663_1492291816_n

Chicken & Mushroom Crepes

537329_4608016689649_541870445_n

Champagne Julep! Minty!

After lunch, we went in a few of the Merchants Square stores –  Ocean Palm to look at all the pretty Lilly dresses I can’t afford, the Christmas ornament store, the toy store, which all the kids liked…and there was a live band in Merchants Square that day too!

530251_4607971568521_453720701_n

Why are little kids so cute?!

I then suggested we go to the Wythe Candy Store.  All the kids wanted candy, and my dad ended up buying them each a treat…you can’t take a kid in a candy store and not let them get a treat…that’s just torture!  However, they were so well behaved, and didn’t beg for anything at all!  There was a little “can we get this?” but no whining!  They were very well behaved!  The adults got chocolate truffles at $2.50 a pop, which we cut into fourth’s and enjoyed later in the evening with a bottle of Col Solare wine – yum!

64732_4607972648548_2067113093_n

Is there really anything better on this earth?

We still had about two hours until dinner, so we walked over to “old campus” and I tried to convince my cousin’s eldest and only son, who is 15, that he should consider William & Mary for college! 🙂 Then we ended up going to Aroma’s, a W&M staple, for some wine (for the adults) and tea/soda for the kids.

408114_4608004129335_1854394668_n

The gang minus a few at Aroma’s

Dinner was at Peter Chang, which is like this cult Szechuan Chinese restaurant that originally opened in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Many of the items are very spicy, and all their food is authentic.  Seriously, check out the link and go, it’s delicious.  There’s also a location in Glen Allen, Virginia, in a strip mall next to the Wal-Mart in Short Pump.  Peter Chang, so they say, doesn’t want the fame and fortune that comes with an amazing culinary establishment.  Apparently, he hates the interviews, and just wants to cook…so much, that the Charlottesville location, after much acclaim, closed.  The Glen Allen location, on a weekend, fills all its tables around 6 pm and has people waiting.  The Williamsburg, Virginia, location was busy, but did have empty tables.  We got so. much. food.  My family loves to eat.

392887_4608000649248_868791975_n

Family Style Chinese!

733954_4607971928530_223482571_n

SO.MUCH.FOOD.

It was so great to see my family after all these years, and I really hope it isn’t another ten years (or me getting married) before I see them all again!  Life does get busy, and I’m famous for saying “life gets in the way”, but it’s really important to maintain the relationships we have with people that are important in our lives!  This weekend definitely reinforced that belief for me.  Even if people don’t make an effort to reach out to you, you have to be persistent because if not, they will slowly fade out of your life, and maybe reappear five years later, and you’ll sit there, with your glass of wine, being like “Why didn’t we do more to maintain our friendship? etc.”

Now that I don’t really have any commitments (i.e. I’m not married, don’t have a demanding job, not in school, etc.), I feel like it’s a really great time and maybe even should be a goal for me to visit family and friends that I don’t get to see very often.  In the long run, family and friends are the most important things in life.  I’m guilty of spending an entire weekend vegging, doing nothing, when I could spent it getting to know people I don’t see very often!

Quick update!  I was misinformed and there actually is a Peter Chang restaurant in Charlottesville.  They just closed for a while to move to another location.  You can find it here! 2162 Barracks Rd.  Charlottesville, VA 22903

INSANE Observations & Rewards

Week 1 of INSANITY is done!  And I made it!  So here are my observations about it so far:

1) It makes you question your level of fitness.  Okay, I know I’m in shape.  I know what not being in shape is like (i.e. The Paula of yesteryear who almost passed out from running a mile) and I know what in shape is (i.e. The Paula who worked out multiple times a week, once with a trainer who told her she was more fit than 99% of her clients).  INSANITY probably isn’t for you if you’ve never worked out before, just saying.  And I’m not saying it isn’t doable for a fitness newbie, but the moves are fast and put a lot of stress on your body.  You must have proper form, or you risk injury, so this is why I’m hesitant to recommend it to you are just starting a fitness regime.  Major modifications should be made if you aren’t already somewhat in shape, or maybe another Beachbody program is more appropriate!

2) Knees, knees, knees!  Protect your knees!  Land softly and with knees bent.

3) Legal Highs.  Best endorphin high of my life.  More than you get when running.  Let’s just say that after “Pure Cardio” I may have blasted Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” danced around the room, and sang at the top of my lungs.  This was after having an absolutely horrible day where I had to push myself to not take a nap after work and get my workout in.  I then went into the kitchen, saw my housemate and told him how much I LOVE INSANITY.

4) Shaun T. is really hot, positive and understanding.  He’s hot because he’s Shaun T. and he has a great smile!   He’s positive because he tells you to keep going and says he is “right there with you”.  He’s understanding because he makes sure you “know your limits” and to take breaks if you need them.  I actually have some not so nice opinions of DVD workout instructors, but I’m a big fan of Shaun T.  (especially when he takes his shirt off!)

5) Holy Abs!  So I’m not sure how to feel about the fact that my abs are actually becoming firm, muscular and more defined because as this happens, I’m seeing them grow outwards.  Let’s note that I’ve always been pretty skinny (thanks for the good genes!) but I’ve never actually had serious abdominal muscles.  I do my exercises right and always pull my belly button inward, but still see my stomach actually getting bigger where muscle is growing.  It doesn’t look bad, but I’m just not 100% used to it.

In other news, I bought some protein shakes that were on sale at Target.  I always feel like I should refuel after a workout, but never know what exactly to drink/eat/etc.  They basically taste like flavored milk, yum I guess?

I’m also training for the Monument Avenue 10K in Richmond, VA, on April 13th.  Last year, I ran it in 58:10 and would like to PR again this year!  I’m running in the seeded 58 minute wave, which is huge for me because four years ago I couldn’t run two miles without stopping!  To be in a seeded wave is really exciting for me – it means I’m an actual runner! But I’m trying to keep up with the INSANITY workouts and run too and it’s pretty stressful on my knees.  I’m wondering, does anyone have any recommendations to fit running in with INSANITY?  If you do, feel free to share!

As for now, I’m starting Week 2!  I only really want to upload progress photos every two weeks, but here’s me at the week mark!

Photo on 2-9-13 at 5.52 PM #6

Sweaty in Pink!

Also, because people like to see pictures on these blog things, I’m leaving you with the reason I work out – FOOD.

I love food and use it to reward myself!  I try and eat healthy, but I don’t think it’s wrong to indulge every now and then, especially if your workouts make you want to weep on the floor like a small child when you are done.

IMG_1864

Spread of tapas I had all to myself in Barcelona

IMG_1659

Vietnamese Coffee Cupcakes (made from scratch)

Happy Sweating!

DC Eats – Unum in Georgetown

For the New Year, my parents, who are way cooler than me, always try to do something fun.  This year, my mom “surprised” my dad with a trip to DC and a stay at Hotel Palomar, which is part of Kimpton properties, one of their favorite boutique hotel chains.  Being the thrifty people we are, my mom got a great deal on their room through a budget travel website.  Kimpton properties are awesome, but really expensive.  Why are Kimpton properties awesome?  Because everyday from like 5-7 pm they have a happy hour for guests – unlimited wine, food, and even hot toddys!  Also, all the rooms are awesomely decorated, as in, if I ever have a place of my own one day, I want my room to look like one of the Kimpton rooms.

While I didn’t ring in 2013 with the parents, I did meet up with them in Georgetown for dinner one day before New Years’ Eve.  We originally planned to go to an Italian restaurant, but it was closed for a private function.  We ended up going to Unum, which I found on Yelp (read the Yelp reviews!).  This place was delicious and uses really fresh ingredients.  It’s listed as New American Cuisine.  The restaurant is pretty small so we ended up eating at the bar since we didn’t have reservations.

We started with some cheese and charcuterie – ended up getting a mild cow’s milk cheese called “Grayson” and an American prosciutto from Iowa.  The cheese was delicious, and the prosciutto was yummy, but not as good as the kind I recently had in Italy.  We also started with an oyster appetizer which had six oysters done three ways.  For $12, it was a little expensive, but it was an interesting take on the traditional oyster preparations.  I was so hungry I sadly didn’t take pictures of the apps.

Our meals were excellent.  I ended up going with the small plate of the Boneless Short-Rib Pasta.

2012-12-30 19.52.48

Short-Rib Pasta

The small plate was $10 and was plenty for me!  It was so yummy and flavorful – a very hearty dish, and the braised short-ribs melt in your mouth.  I also ordered two sides, Creamy Truffle Mac and Cheese and Tuscan Kale with Pomegranate Seeds, which were $6 each.  I have to note that the kale with the pom seeds was a great idea – a little sweetness to counter the semi-bitter taste of kale.

2012-12-30 19.53.10

Creamy Truffle Mac & Cheese

2012-12-30 19.52.58

Tuscan Kale & Pom Seeds (and the pesto bread dip that I demolished)

The parents both got the Rockfish – it came with oysters, but I’m not really sure what kind of sauce this was.  I’m guilty of stealing some fish from their plates – it was really light, but extremely flavorful.  Also, a huge hunk of fish!  This was $24.

2012-12-30 19.52.25

Rockfish

I’m really glad we found this place, and I really liked the ambiance and vibe they had there.  It would be such a cute date-night restaurant, even though I don’t go on dates.  Haha.  I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking to eat out in Georgetown, but make reservations.

A lot of changes have come to Georgetown, for example the Georgetown Park Mall has been closed (temporarily?), and according to the dcist, there are some rumors that the developer might make it into a bowling alley.  Weird!  There are some new shops, but I really think the fact that it isn’t metro accessible has hurt business here!  Just my personal opinion.  There also are not a lot of restaurants here to chose from – you would think there would be more of a selection.

We also walked by Washington Harbour and saw some pretty Christmas lights and an ice skating rink!

2012-12-30 18.30.07

Washington Harbour Ice Rink in panoramic

2012-12-30 22.14.46

Dad & Mom

Glad I got to spend some time with the parents and enjoy great food while in the city 🙂

Happy Eating!