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Weight loss

2014 April 22
by Laura

I’ve lost 15 pounds since January 1st.

Nursing school wasn’t kind to my body, and neither was I. I never made time for working out or exercising and the stress of it all made me eat and eat and eat. Additionally, the lifestyle of a student is pretty sedentary: sit in class, sit in lecture, sit and study. Sit sit sit. No wonder my butt got so big! It needed extra padding for all that sitting!

At my heaviest point at the start of the new year, I knew I needed to make a change. It started with using MyFitnessPal, and has continued with the more active nursing job (walking 5 miles per shift!), additional crazy amounts of stress, and making the time in my schedule to Zumba and Body Pump it up.

The last time I stepped on the scale, I was 15 pounds lighter than I was before, and I feel AWESOME. Clothes fit me again, I no longer hate wearing everything in my closet, and I feel like a spry little thing. I am stronger and healthier. It’s easier to lift patients and run around at work. I sleep better when I’m exhausted physically and mentally, and although I am still controlling portion sizes and the quality of the food I am eating, I can have a piece of chocolate cake without feeling terrible about myself later.

woof

woof

(Nursing school graduation, above, at my heaviest. EEK.)

But now here I am!

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Looking and feeling MUCH better.

I don’t think I will ever be the kind of person who doesn’t have to watch what I eat and how often I work out. It will always be work. But it’s comforting to know that I can do it, even at an age where losing weight is significantly harder than it once was.

Birthdays, Easter

2014 April 22
by Laura

Rounding out the two holidays I had yet to share with Someone in the calendar year since we met (hint: the big one-year anniversary is rapidly approaching!) were his birthday and Easter.

Up to Annapolis we went to spend time with Someone’s family and bask in the sunshine and spring-ness of the weekend. We walked around the adorable little shops (Someone was appeased since we went into many a bookstore and nary a jewelry store), sat on the dock for a bit, and grabbed cocktails in a garden before eating dinner at a “small plates lounge” and heading back to his parents’ for cake.

Although it was the first Easter I spent not with my own parents, it was exciting and different to start new traditions as a couple. I made us a ham on Easter evening, and we sang good old Methodist hymns together in a pew at church. I facetimed with the PA fam (poor substitute), and went to bed full and happy.

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Hope your Easter was lovely and simple, too!

My job

2014 April 22
by Laura

Emergency nursing in a nutshell:

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Oatmeal Blender Pancakes

2014 April 22
by Laura

Some mornings, I wake up ravenously hungry at the crack of dawn; others, I have to force-feed something to hold me over until I can run into the break room for 45 seconds around 9 a.m. and scarf down a hard-boiled egg or baked oatmeal to go.

Eating on 12+ hour shifts is difficult. The worst is the 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. shift: every meal is ruined. You eat breakfast when you wake up at 8ish, then try to eat again around 10:45 right before going onto the floor. Inevitably, I am starving at 2 p.m. and don’t get a break for dinner until 7 p.m. It just doesn’t work for this girl who loves her food so much!

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One thing making it easier is this recipe for banana oatmeal blender pancakes from Mountain Mama. My roommate found the recipe online the other day and made up a batch — we then discovered how easily this recipe stores in the fridge, too. Heating up 2-3 of these babies saves me precious time in the morning and is a guilt-free and delicious start to the day. It’s naturally gluten- and dairy-free, too!

The best part might actually be the blender: pouring directly from the pitcher into the pan is such a genius idea that it makes you wonder why all pancakes aren’t done this way, too!

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Head on over to Mountain Mama Cooks to grab the recipe, and enjoy!

Big Buns

2014 April 13
by Laura

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Big Buns in Ballston is such a well-kept secret that I’m afraid it might someday secretly go out of business and then I would be so, so sad. Therefore, I am posting to remind DC folk that it’s over there in Arlington and to publicly thank a little private establishment for being awesome, gluten-free friendly, and delicious.

From the french fries (which are done in a separate fryer and are therefore GF) to the gluten-free buns (which are absolutely delicious and not store-bought but bakery-made) to the gluten-free beer (Omission) to wash it down, I was so happy we went back to Big Buns last week. My previous go-to burger place had been Red Robin (which still gets kudos for being an American chain that is GF friendly), but after returning to Big Buns and discovering the wealth of options for me, I won’t go back to Red Robin for a while. Plus, Big Buns has the chipotle aioli which is pretty darn life changing.

Thanks to Big Buns for proving that GF food can be tasty, affordable, and accessible.

Riggins

2014 April 13
by Laura

Just cuz you haven’t seen his face lately:

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Sweet spring.

2014 April 13
by Laura

spring

I am so rejuvenated after a weekend with my peeps. It’s been more than two long months since I’ve seen my parents, and how I’ve missed them. These are people whose zip code I just have to live in eventually again — life is too hard and sad without them in it more frequently.

We spent a lovely 24 hours galavanting around the cherry blossoms. And by galavanting, I mean dodging crowds the likes of which I have never before seen in this town (and I’ve been here through 2 inaugurations!). The first really truly beautiful weekend after a winter like the one we’ve just experienced had people coming out of the woodwork to see the peak blossoms. And what a sight they were.

No matter how bitter I get about this town or its inhabitants or the government, there is something pretty magical about the cherry blossoms that forces even the most jaded people to admit “God, those are beautiful.” They just are. They are worth the strollers and dogs and heat and sweaty metro trains to see. Do it once in your life, you won’t be sorry.

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We ate at Central, but I have to admit we were not impressed. I’ve had way better food in my life and in this town, and at those prices, good lord it had better be the best tasting dish I’ve ever met in my life! We were a bit disappointed. (Brunch at Founding Farmers, however, had a happier ending, even though you cannot get served alcohol in DC on Sundays before 10:00 a.m. Who knew?!?! [I've never been up early enough before to be denied!])

So after I felt the sunshine on my face and tons of love in my heart, I leave you with this sweet e.e.cummings poem about spring. Hope you had a beautiful weekend!

—————————————

sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovetime
and viva sweet love

(all the merry little birds are
flying in the floating in the
very spirits singing in
are winging in the blossoming)

lovers go and lovers come
awandering awondering
but any two are perfectly
alone there’s nobody else alive

(such a sky and such a sun
i never knew and neither did you
and everybody never breathed
quite so many kinds of yes)

not a tree can count his leaves
each herself by opening
but shining who by thousands mean
only one amazing thing

(secretly adoring shyly
tiny winging darting floating
merry in the blossoming
always joyful selves are singing)

sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovetime
and viva sweet love

The best gluten free pasta, pizza crusts, and bread

2014 April 3
by Laura

I’ve been waiting for this. I’ve been gluten-free for more than three years now (can it be?!) and as I said back in February of 2011, “it’s going to get easier — more things are going to be gluten free in the future.” That future is starting to become today!

More and more name brands are getting on board with this whole gluten-free thing, and more and more people know what gluten is and what it means to live without it. Restaurants are getting better at menu markings, chefs are getting more careful about cross-contamination, and food stores such as Wegmans and Safeway are making their own store-brand gluten-free food.

Hooray!

Today I share with you a new-ish product that is really one of the best gluten-free things I’ve had: Barilla’s Gluten Free pasta.

If you can even find this in your grocery store (usually the entire shelf is sold out anywhere I go), stock up—especially if you can pick up a manufacturer’s coupon to help you get the price to something more reasonable than $2.69 a box. This is indistinguishable from gluteny white pasta. I was so nervous the first time I ate it that I actually checked the box to clarify that I was indeed eating something without wheat. It’s that good! My parents love it so much they eat it exclusively now, too!

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Next up: The best in gluten-free pizza crusts to make at home.

Gluten free pizzas are taking off, and now Freschetta, Udi’s and Glutino frozen pizzas can be found in most freezer aisles. But if you want to try something new and unique, make your own pizza at home. Here are two easy products to help you do just that:

1. Pillsbury’s Refrigerated Thin Crust Pizza Dough: I made pizzas on this last week—very good, not too cardboardy or soggy. Enjoyed the flavor and was easy to handle and roll out into pizza dough.

gluten-free-thin-crust-pizza-dough2. Cup 4 Cup’s Pizza Dough Mix. I’ve had Cup 4 Cup’s pancake mix and I use Cup 4 Cup flour exclusively in my kitchen, so I can only imagine that this mix (to which you add yeast and eggs) will be incredible. But that is for another weekend.

download*Tip: Buy Cup 4 Cup at Wegmans, not Williams-Sonoma to save tons of money.

The last product/company I wanted to share with you under the heading “Gluten Free Companies Doing Amazing Things without Wheat” is Canyon Bakehouse. Magically, the Safeway nearby carries one Canyon Bakehouse product: a rosemary and thyme foccacia bread. I bought this the other day, warmed it up in the oven, and can say officially that it’s the best foccacia I’ve ever had in my life, gluten-free or not. Someone and Roommate agreed, HOLYCRAPTHATISGOODBREADAREYOUSUREITISGF.

You can order their products online or search to see if they’re available in a grocery store near you.

How about you guys — anyone try any delicious GF products lately you wanna share?

Disclaimer: I am not paid for any of my comments or reviews of gluten-free products by any companies, even though I totally should be.

 

 

2 days off in a row!

2014 March 30
by Laura

Two days off…and on a weekend! WHAT?!

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This weekend was spent mostly in PJs and mostly in the arms of Someone, but I did take some time out from my busy schedule of doing nothing to make this pizza with this pizza crust, to watch several more episodes of the beloved Veronica MarsĀ (thank you, Prime instant streaming!), and to see intelligent, wonderfully amusingĀ The Grand Budapest Hotel. Other than the snow today, it was a fantastic weekend.

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Work has been kicking my butt from here to Texas, but I’ve slowly been getting used to the hours and the way my body feels after a 12.5 hour shift. My brain is still working 1000 miles a minute, and waking up at 5 will never be “easy,” but I’m going to harness the power of positive thinking and tell myself that it will get easier and I’ll get the hang of it soon. I have to.

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Additionally, this weekend we found the world’s largest coffee mug, and Someone’s life will never be the same.

I’m ready for April. I’m ready for a change in seasons, to see daffodils outside NOT covered in snow, and to feel warm sunshine on my face. I’m ready to stop wearing sweaters and boots and fleece. All I wear is fleece.

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It will help when it’s light out when I go to work and light out when I come home (unless, of course, I’m working the dreaded 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m. shift, which…horrors). I’m ready for the smell of grass and sand under my toes and chicken on the grill and wine on the patio late into the evening. Dock time. Beach time. Summer time.

Where is the lamb I was promised after the roaring lion that was March?

 

Adjustments.

2014 March 17
by Laura
no. just no.

no. just no. march 17th snow.

“Orientation” is really kicking my ass.

The past few weeks have been difficult for a number of reasons, the primary one being that I have very little clue what I am doing and there’s high pressure to get it right, do it right, and do it quickly. However, I have very supportive coaches on the floor who are helping me adjust to the actual work itself, and who don’t even blink when I miss an IV insertion, ask something stupid, or go utterly loopy for the 10-minute period between hours 10 and 11.

Here’s what I knew: Working 12.5 hours in a row is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting.
What I didn’t know: It’s completely debilitating.

What I knew: I would have to work weekends.
What I didn’t know: Working on weekends sucks way, way more than you think it will.

What I knew: Standing on your feet for hours on end is painful.
What I didn’t know: The day after a shift I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.

What I knew: Waking up at 5 a.m. is really hard.
What I didn’t know: Waking up at 5 a.m. three days in a row is harder.

What I knew: You can catch things from your patients in the ER.
What I didn’t know: That I would catch some of the worst pink eye the urgent care NP has ever seen in week 3. (The photo below doesn’t do it justice, that was about 1 hour in. You should have seen me the next day.)

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What I knew: Free time with Someone would significantly decrease.
What I didn’t know: It would kill me a little bit to miss him this much.

What I knew: Life is hard.
What I didn’t know: It’s harder in the ER.

In the past month I’ve had nights where anxiety has kept me up til 2 a.m. and nights when I have slept so hard and so soundly that I woke up in the same position I fell asleep in. I’ve had nightmares of dying patients and medication errors, and I’ve high-fived colleagues when I get something right. I’ve cried in my car because a patient really touched me with their story and I’ve cried in bed when I’ve felt inadequate. I’ve nearly fallen asleep during lectures and I’ve gone a shockingly long time without needing to pee. I’ve laughed with nurses and patients and left work so high on my new job that I nearly skip out to my car — even almost 13 hours after I parked it.

It’s everything I wanted and the hardest I’ve ever worked in my entire life. I have learned more in the past three weeks than I did in half of nursing school. I will be on orientation until sometime in June, at which time I’ll be cut loose, feeling completely unprepared and scared of hurting or killing someone everyday. I’m adjusting, slowly, but surely. I’ll get there.