Day 21: A Habit is Formed

Yesterday, my class was canceled due to the evacuation of Times Square, so today, I worked extra hard to keep my program on track. After all, today is day 21, and experts (whoever they are!) say a habit is formed after 21 days!

While a new habit may have been formed with exercise and eating habits, I wanted to break an old habit with the decoration of my bedroom. I’ve had my Ikea bedframe for 10 years and it kept collapsing on us, much to the dismay of our neighbors below, so we took it as a sign to get something new. Although we didn’t get the painting done as planned, we moved our old furniture into the new locations for the new furniture, as a dry run. We also ordered our new furniture, which will come in a couple of weeks.  We’ll see if we like the new arrangement. Pictured above is the bedroom before we moved the furniture-admire the blue walls (ha, ha!) The bed looks wider than it is because I used a wide angle lens, but it is just a queen sized bed, although I lust for a king one day! As soon as it is all done, I’ll have before and after photos up!

Breakfast: Sausage Omlet with Potatoes.  I put a little spicy Sambal Olek on it–life is dull without it!

Lunch: Turkey and Cheese Sandwich.

Dinner: Chinese-Style Salmon Rolls with Rice and Veggies.


This evening, I spent some time looking at paint colors.  We just resigned our lease and I think it’s time to change the color of our bedroom. I’m thinking of a chocolate color.  I’m also into grays, slate colors and minty greens.  It’s a hard decision! All I know is that it’s going to be a HUGE pain to repaint a dark blue color into anything else.  Right now, I have a baby boy blue in the room and I’m going to have to prime it and prime it and prime it again. What was I thinking with that color?  A fun Saturday ahead of me…if it gets done tomorrow!  I’ll attempt to take before and after pics and post them in a few weeks, when all my work is done! This weekend is looking quite filled with tons of errands and I’m ready to get paint all over me!

I wanted to post a couple of pics of a movie that was filming in the neighborhood. There’s always something being filmed in this city and this time I walked past The Smurfs Movie,” although a bunch of people were trying to mislead everyone by saying it was law and order. Since I’ve done Law and Order in the past and have several friends that are professional actors, I know that L  & O has a small budget and they don’t go around with 2 huge costume trucks. Besides that, I looked it up on Twitter and found that it was definitely The Smurfs Movie that was being filmed!

I loved this guy, sitting around, waiting for work on set.

Breakfast: Banana Pancakes. My father informed me that bananas are around 100 calories, so I only had a few extra slices.

Lunch: Sloppy Joes on a Multigrain Bread. Delish. Hard to stop at one.

Dinner: Tilapia and Veggies. Ray decided to place my birdie pepper container in my vase to be cute, so I decided to leave it.

Art at the Consulate

I love the Polish Consulate.  The Consulate in New York is located in this beautiful mansion on the corner of Madison Avenue and 37th Street.  The ceilings are high, there is red velvet on the stairs and banisters and they always have really interesting events, with interesting people in attendance.

Tonight, I watched a famous jazz trumpeter, Tomasz Stanko, play several mesmerizing songs.  His music was appropriate to the theme of the night, an exibition of work by photographer Andrzej Tyszko, famous for his jazz album covers.  I loved the use of shadow and light on the photographs.  It gives me ideas for portrait shots.  I haven’t done a lot of those, so it might be fun to play around a bit.  It’s always great to be inspired by other photographers.

Breakfast: Crepes and Spinach.

Lunch: Turkey Sandwich with Carrots. Warmed in the oven on a 100 calorie multigrain bread.

Dinner: Chicken Pesto, Vegetable Medley and Home Fries. A satiating experience for only 300 calories!

Measuring Day

Today was hectic, I barely made it to class on time and I was still feeling a little down; however, Marina played my favorite song in class (“Today I Believe!” If you want to hear it, click on this highlighted post!) and I got enough energy to get me moving  and smiling throughout the class. Watching her be cute and energetic on the [redacted] also makes you want to jump around!

After class, we did weigh-ins and measurements.  From the 153, I’m down to 145.4, so that’s progress. I also lost an inch around my waist. I think I’ve slowed down a bit due to my slow moving thyroid, but that’s ok, I’m going to keep pushing and not let that stop me like it has in the past.  The key is that I’m stronger, my thighs are smaller and I’m feeling healthier.

Breakfast: Blueberry Pancakes and Low-cal Syrup.

Lunch: Salmon Sammy and Carrots.

Dinner:  Turkey stuffed with Spinach, with Zuchinni and Sweet Potatoes. Nothing like colorful veggies that make you happy to eat them.

One of Those Days...

Today was one of those days….you know those days.  One of those really hectic days where you feel like you’ll never get it all done and wonder if you will actually get some sleep on this night. It was a day where all I wanted was a big hug from one of my parents.  I’m very close to my family.  I talk to my brother every day, my dad at least once a day and my mom about four times a day, if only for 30 seconds.  The only time I’m radio silent with them is when I’m traveling!  Although this is a great city, it was SO difficult to move here from Chicago.  Most of my family still resides in Poland and we’ve had to sort of create this patchwork family in the years we’ve lived in the U.S, so as you can imagine, leaving my family and living 800 miles away can wear on a girl!

Last year, I only got to visit my family one time all year. And it’s looking like one of those years again, which is hard to take.  It killed me to look at my schedule and not see a time when I can visit my fam until September. Because I was so upset with this and had one of those days...I broke down, ate a sandwich from a street vendor, probably 500 calories and then went to Trader Joe’s and ate a icecream cookie, which was around 420 calories.

I guess we all have breaking points where we falter with our diets. But, this is day 17 and I’ve got my whole life ahead of me to stay on track. Time to just get back on the wagon. On my way home, I passed this crazy van. It’s not a wagon, but it will have to do! I made it all these wild colors to make it look like I feel today!  Time to get back on the wild colored van-wagon!

My friend, Monia, accompanied me to a Women in Microfinance meeting this evening to give me a bit of the Polish culture that I miss from Chicago and made me feel a bit better today. She distracted me with her stories of her huge romance and made me laugh a lot. We had fun meeting several people and learning more about volunteer opportunities in microfinance in Ghana and Peru. For those that aren’t familiar with microfinance, it’s a movement to lend money to projects or people in developing countries where bank loans or credit is not easily available. I remember becoming interested in this topic a while ago.  My friend, Tony Senese, got me involved with Kiva.  I had heard of Kiva, but had never participated until Tony and his beautiful wife, Keri, got Ray and me a gift certificate to this fantastic organization. Forever grateful!

It’s incredible how many countries exist where credit markets are not established–I guess it’s no surprise, even my parents grew up in a system without credit. My father was telling me today that he first saw a check book when we moved to the US in the mid-80’s.  He had to learn what a mortgage was, how to balance a checkbook and what interest rates were, just a few years ago. It was only in recent years that credit has become prevalent in Poland and even now, the interest rates are so high, the incentive is low to get credit.

Breakfast: Blueberry Granola and Skim Milk.

Lunch: Tofu and Sweet Potatoes.

Dinner: Badness that is not pictured, since I was falling off the wagon and not thinking about staging and photography!

Harajuku Girl on the Street

Mondays are always busier than the rest of the week.  It’s the day to play catch up and I was swamped until my evening workout, so I told myself that tonight I would just get some extra walking in to get myself out on this beautiful day.  I was doing that and then in the evening got to walk around for a few hours after my workout.  I ended up doing a total of about 8 miles.

I had time to walk back from class with my good friend, Donnell, and then walked on by myself when she ran to an appointment. The song featured in the video above was created and performed by MARINA. It’s called “The Glory of Your Life.” That’s her playing the violin here and it’s perfect for a good walk around the city at 128 beats per minute.

I missed all the rain, so was able to walk with my umbrella tucked away and took some random shots with my point and shoot Canon G10 as I walked. New York always has some bizarre random things and you’re sure to get something interesting snapped up daily!

Above is a photo of a girl dressed in a Harajuku-style dress. She shouted out, “I don’t always dress like this, I just came from a photo shoot.”

Breakfast: Oatmeal with Raisins and Cinnamon. Aesthetics and presentation are important to me when I’m dining, so it makes a big difference when I put my oatmeal in a pretty dish.

Lunch:  Chicken, Rice and Asparagus, covered with some chili sauce. Anything tastes better when it’s spicy!

Dinner:  Beef with Tomatoes and Sugar Snap Peas.

Dinner and Theatre

Breakfast: Oatmeal with Cinnamon and Raisins and Tea. After a little bit of sleeping in, I grabbed a scrumptious and filling breakfast.  About an hour later, I went to noon Mass where a phenomenal singer, Donnell Adler, displayed her talent and Fr. Patrick Curley gave a fantastic homily on kindness and love.  I guess the theme of this weekend is love!

Lunch: Turkey Burger with Brocolli, Lima Beans, Green Peas, Carrots and Cauliflower. After running some errands and buying beautiful lilacs that make the apartment smell heavenly, I ate a quick lunch.

Dinner: Turkey Breast with Sugar Snap Peas, Cauliflower, Goat Cheese and Pecans. Tonight, I went to dinner with some friends, so I wanted to eat the proper portions before I went out.  We went to Don Giovanni’s, where the portions are extra large. I know that in a place like that, I have very little will power, so it’s good to go there on a full stomach.  I ordered tea with lemon, so that I could socialize with others and made it clear that it did not offend me or make me feel hungry when I was sitting there with others, while they were eating. It was the truth!  I felt fine and even happy that I wasn’t getting off track, but still able to be with friends on a beautiful Sunday evening.

Theatre: I saw C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters for a second time this evening (the first time was a few days ago with my mom).  If you’re not familiar with C.S. Lewis, he is most famous for The Chronicles of Narnia, which was recently turned into a popular series of movies.  He’s a brilliant writer and the play was very interesting. It’s about a correspondence between two demons and their ideas on making their “patient,” a man, turn away from God.  Each letter presents a regular aspect of a person’s life and how easy it is to be tempted or falter, or how easy it is to stray from a good relationship and be distracted from the things that really matter in life.

The play was originally set to run only for three weeks, but it was so popular and has been selling out that it was extended to 11 weeks.  There are 10 of us that decided to go together, so we got a great group discount.  I definitely recommend the play.

Walk: After the show, the remaining group walked through Times Square and to the subway station. Something was definitely going on as there were at least 15 fire trucks in Times Square. Perhaps precautions were being taken after the scare early this morning?

We took the subway to 23rd and 5th and started walking along.  One friend in the group, an architect named Hans Roegele, had a key to Gramercy Park, so we were able to go in and walk around.  Gramercy Park is one of two private parks in New York City and you must have a key to enter the park and leave the park.  A membership can cost around 400 dollars a year and you can only get a key if you live in a building adjacent to the park.  We stayed there for about an hour, chatting and enjoying the beautiful evening.  What a perfect end to a perfect night.

Balancing Health and Spirituality

Tonight is the first Saturday of the month.  As many of you know, I reschedule everything to be able to attend Catholic Underground, which is a vespers meditation with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church on the Upper East Side.  Around 600-700 young adults come there to meditate on a Saturday night. My Catholic faith is an extremely important part of my life.  It is here where I find my center and I find answers.

“Man always travels along precipices. His truest obligation is to keep his balance.”

-Pope John Paul II

As I travel through my 90 days of weight loss, I need to also take time and focus on my prayer life in addition to balancing my career, health and marriage and friendships.  I am the first to say that it is not easy to find a balance (and I definitely fail at it often), but it’s important to try to do it.

Today was the perfect day to focus on all these major aspects of life and try to find a balance. Ray and I took time for ourselves and slept in to catch up on sleep from the crazy week.  We had a lovely breakfast together, then we told each other that we would keep our phones tucked away and on silent until at least 5PM to have time for ourselves. We had a lovely time walking through the city and running our errands and then sitting and drinking coffee out in this beautiful day.  We took time to take care of bills and other obligations and figured out our calendars for the coming week.  Then we went to pray at Catholic Underground.

I really enjoyed Catholic Underground tonight.  The meditation tonight was on love. The Franciscan brother mentioned that love is not just a feeling, but it is a decision. Sometimes, even the most religious people don’t feel love, but they make a conscious effort to keep loving.  The Brother mentioned a man in a concentration camp that was found dead and in his pocket was a note.  The note said, “I believe in the sun, even when it does not shine.  I believe in God’s Love, even when I do not feel it.”

It is so important to keep loving, even when it is difficult, even when we do not feel it being reciprocated, even in the darkest of moments. I really thought tonight was incredibly powerful.  It was nice to be reminded of God’s love.

Breakfast:  Cheese Crepe with Blueberries and Strawberries.  Tetley Tea with Lemon

Snack: An Orange and Blueberries

Lunch:  Greek Salad (Spinach Leaves, Tomato, Feta and Onions) and Pita.

Snack: Iced Coffee with Skim Milk.

Dinner:  Baked Potato with Broccoli and Cheddar. I went out with my friends to catch up after the meditation and had a diet coke and a baked potato.  It was delicious and stayed within my calorie range.

Afterward, we took the 6 train home and Ray snapped a shot of my good friend, Alice Stock (a beautiful dancer) and me riding along.  Ray and I then walked home, enjoying the nice, warm spring weather.

Take Time to Yawn

Today, a lovely woman named Jenna, who showed us some amazing arm movements, said something that struck me.  She asked us an important question, “Does anyone take time to yawn?” We are all so busy that we don’t even have time to take a nice deep breath, stretch out and take time for ourselves.

Especially, as women, we are always multitasking and taking care of many things.  When we’re done with our days, we wonder where the time has gone and we flop into the bed, filled with worry and wonder about all the other tasks we have to complete.  We have careers to balance, housework, errands, extracurriculars and we rarely take time to take good care of ourselves.

Tonight, after my workout, I walked home with my dear friend, Donnell Adler, and then waited in Madison Square Park for Ray to meet me.  We sat on a bench for a while and took the photo above in the Park.  We decided to do a little impromtu date night and ended up at our favorite diner, Lyric.  Then we took a little stroll around the city and talked for a while.  It was nice to take a little time from our hectic schedules just to enjoy ourselves without any outside distractions.

Breakfast: Cheese Crepe with Apples and Cinnamon.

Lunch:  Turkey and Cheddar Muffin, melted in the oven, of course!

Dinner: Spinach Greek Salad with Grilled Chicken and Feta Cheese. Tonight, I had a challenge with eating when I ate away from home. I dined out with Ray, but I’m happy to say that I only ate a 1/3 of the salad.  Even though it was VERY difficult to leave this delicious salad mostly uneaten, I managed to pull together the will power to do it.  It was so great to have a night out with the hubby and a good, long conversation.

Perfecting Form

I love my class.  Above, you can see most of the people in our 90 day program.  They all have interesting backgrounds and are here triggered by various experiences, but here for one reason and that reason is to change their lifestyles and get in shape.

One of the most important aspects when working out is having good form.  I have to say, it is awesome to be taking a class where the class leader not only knows your name, but genuinely cares about you. Our class leader wants us all to have good form and do each move really well.  She’s constantly reminding us to lower our shoulders, take wider stances, hold our elbows in, etc.

Today, Marina took time out of her busy schedule creating her high energy music and helping people all over the country lose weight to show me a few things about my form.

So, if you are on the quest for the perfect pushup (I am, because I need to do a bunch for the FBI physical fitness test!) and good form and other maneuvers that make you feel amazing, follow along!

First, place your arms shoulder with apart.  You can be on your knees or on your feet, depending on the modification needed according to your level of fitness.  Your resting position is called a plank position.

Second, from your plank position, lower your body to the ground until your elbows form a 90 degree angle.

Third, breath in as you lower yourself and breath out as you raise your body.

Fourth, keep your rear lowered.  We have a tendency to lift our tush up, but then you are not creating the perfect push-up form (eh, hem…as you can see, I do that!)

Fifth, after you do a few of these, (Marina likes to do three sets of 8-10), make sure to stretch your arms, chest and back. Our fitness guru places a lot of importance on proper stretching and likes to do techniques that elongate and stretch those muscles out.  As you can see in the above photos, I have a long way to go, but Marina never gives up on me.

Many thanks to Roy Kamen (Marina’s awesome hubby) for taking all the above shots!!

Breakfast:  Today was my final breakfast with my beautiful mom.  We had scrambled eggs and wild blueberry jam with tea.

Lunch: A Lonely Salami and Cheese Hoagie (warmed in the oven of course!)

Dinner: Grilled Chicken Salad with Sugar Snap Peas and Red Peppers.

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