Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Breathing Room

I'm finally back from tour, Turandot has ended and now I can concentrate on Martha, Die Fledermaus, The Telephone, and Rigoletto...whew. Believe it or not, I feel that I have a little more time now that I'm not at the theatre every night...or at least not that particular theatre...lol...now I just have to be at the Liederkranz for rehearsals, and it's nice not to have to split my time.

The tour for Turandot was a bit hectic, the cast bus broke down on the way to the first venue, and we had new hair and make-up people thrown in at the last minute, so I was helping with that plus heading-up the wardrobe department...it was a crazy and exhausting experience...I'm still feeling it today. Also, the horrid thing about being on the road and traveling at night is the lack of food choices...you've got McDonalds or McDonalds, oh and there's also McDonalds...if I see another McDonalds, I'm going to jab my eyes out with their golden arches and pour salt in the wounds! I ate way to much crap on this trip and couldn't wait to get back home and start eating like a healthy adult again. So here I am, back on the happy and sane eating again and I'm also contemplating adding back in my work-outs. I believe I'll try for a few days of shredding and some lunchtime walks. After I accomplish that for the next couple of weeks, I believe I'll join a gym and make that my lunchtime routine again. That's the plan and I look forward to my cute winter wardrobe. Last winter all my clothes where hanging on me, and so far this year, they're back to fitting, which means that the 10 lbs. I've gained are not just a number on the scale, they're inches around too. The only positive note is that since I've not been doing the hardcore work-outs, my knees have gotten about 80% better and I can go up and down the subway stairs with considerably less pain. I've got to really concentrate on micro-bending my knees and doing low impact cardio...the littlest misstep and I'm back in bad-knee-land. So I have to remember to ease my way back into the exercise and activities and to take my eating choices one moment at a time. I'm ready to get back to a healthier lifestyle and start taking back control. No time like the present :)

Have a great day!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Having a Fat Day

Yeah, I'm having one of those PMSy Fat Days today...totally feeling like a big ol' cow...moooo, but I know it's just hormones, water weight and the neurotic / paranoid feelings that come with that bastard TOM.

Currently I'm over tired and just trying to survive the next two weeks...if I make it through the 27th of this month, I should be able to find some breathing room to get a little more rest. This weekend is packed full of back to back events...starting with last night's Turandot Show, followed by work today followed by building a wig after work, followed by my bf's off-broadway play tonight...then I have to be up at 7am tomorrow morning to be at the theatre by 9am to do hair, make-up and wardrobe for the student performances of Turnadot, then I'll get a 3 hour break and then back to the Theatre for the evening performance of Turandot, then up again Sunday morning at 7 to do the student performance again followed by Martha Rehearsal at the Liederkranz...then I get to start the work week all over again on Monday morning *cry*. I'm really tired and want a day off :( Unfortunately I'm trying to save that for the day after we go on tour the following weekend, because I KNOW I'll be exhausted after working a touring show all next weekend...that's why I just have to make it through the 27th, because Turnadot will be over then and I can concentrate on my rehearsals for Martha and my other music studies which entail learning Adele for Dec/Jan.'s Die Fledermaus with Opera Manhattan and Gilda in Rigoletto to prepare for upcoming auditions...in fact, I really need to get the two new arias I just learned from those operas memorized on top of memorizing the Martha score (it goes up in mid-November).

On a lucky and positive note, I won an assorted case of OATMEGA 3 Wellness Bars from the lovely give away on MizFit's blog. These beauties should be here within the week or so and I can at least have a yummy and nutritious snack for when I'm running around like a chicken these next few months...lol. That will definitely help me from caving in and grabbing a slice of pizza or something.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.
Have a great day!


Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

In the spirit of the upcoming holidays and the arrival of fall, I thought I'd share some of my favorite treats that won't swell the waist line and may actually give you a happy protein / omega 3 boost. These are recipes I found and tried from Kalyns Kitchen, you'll see the link on the left side under blog rolls. :)

First are my favorite gluten-free Almond/Flax Cookies...these little gems are divine and I love having it with a glass of cold milk (% left to your discretion) I know these are a repeat from a previous blog of mine, but they're worth repeating AND pay attention kids, we're going to use the cookie batter as crust in the next recipe!

Sugar-Free and Gluten-Free Cookies with Almond and Flaxseed Meal
(Makes about 15 cookies)

1/2 cup trans-fat free margarine (be sure not to choose a margarine that has water for the first ingredient)
1 1/2 cups almond meal (I use Bob's Red Mill brand or Trader Joe's)
2 T flaxseed meal (I use Bob's Red Mill brand)
1 cup granular Splenda
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla (I use Mexican vanilla)
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Put on a plate for rolling cookies:
2 T Splenda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
In large mixing bowl, beat margarine with electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add half the almond meal, Splenda, flaxseed meal, egg, vanilla, baking soda, and cream of tartar and blend well with mixer until thoroughly combined. Beat in the rest of the almond meal. Cover bowl and chill several hours, or as long as overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine 2 T Splenda and ground cinnamon on plate. Use a tablespoon to scoop out dough, then roll into a small ball and roll in Splenda/cinnamon mixture. Place on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. (I used a fork to smash the cookies down, which is optional.)

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until cookies are slightly firm and starting to brown. (I got distracted and baked them a few minutes too long, but they still tasted great.) Cookies will get more firm as they cool. These cookies are a bit more crumbly than regular cookies, but I thought the crisp texture was really nice. Cookies will keep for a few days, or can be frozen for a few months.

South Beach Suggestions:
Made with trans-fat free margarine, cookies like this would be approved for any phase of the South Beach Diet. They aren't low in fat, even with margarine, so this would probably be a "once-in-a-while-treat" for South Beach Dieters.

FYI I usually QUADRUPLE the recipe, these cookies keep for weeks (yay nutty goodness)!

The next little favorite recipe of mine is for a low-fat, low-carb, sugar-free, Pumpkin Cheesecake...and is this ever delicious! I also use the cookie recipe above to make a much better crust, just nuts on the bottom is a bit bland and doesn't allow the cream cheese to spread very easily.

No-Sugar Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake
(8 servings, but it's better to double the recipe for a thicker / hardier Cheesecake)

2 packages (8 oz. each) light cream cheese (not fat free!)
1/2 cup Splenda
1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract (I used a bit more)
2 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling which contains sugar)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. apple pie spice (recipe called for pinch each of nutmeg and cloves, but I didn't have any cloves)
non-stick spray for baking dish (use very sparingly or it makes it hard to spread the cheesecake)
whipped cream (optional, I didn't think it needed it)

Preheat oven to 325 F. In large bowl combine softened cream cheese, Splenda, and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer until smooth. Blend in eggs, one at a time. Remove one cup of batter and spread into bottom of glass or crockery baking dish which has been sprayed very lightly with non-stick spray. (I sprayed my dish too much and had a hard time getting the first layer to spread evenly. Next time I would put a thin layer of the cookie recipe and only spray the sides with the nonstick spray.)

Add pumpkin and spices to remaining batter and stir until blended. Carefully spread pumpkin layer over first layer. Bake in preheated oven 35-45 minutes, or until center is almost set. Allow to cool, then chill several hours or overnight. Serve with whipped cream if desired and wait for compliments.

I used a 10" by 8" glass baking dish to cook this. Next time I think I would double the recipe and only increase to a 9" by 13" baking dish to make a thicker cheese cake. This would show off the layers better. Some cinnamon dusted on the top would have been a nice touch.

I also like cutting these into little bite sized cubes and freeze them for a later frozen treat when I'm craving things like ice cream. It sure hits the spot.

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I have and please let me know what you think...Have a great day!


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Not Dead Yet.

Ok...so we're currently in "Hell Week" at Dicapo, I'm there as their Wardrobe Head Mistress for Turandot...hey I'm somebody's mistress...lol. (Turandot is an amazing show by the way, very impressive how a scaled down version can still be so powerful...the leads are amazing and the sound that the chorus is making is awesome. I definately reccomend seeing it if you have the chance, not to mention that it's a visually gorgeous show!)

Anywho, you know my schedule, up before 6am...work from 7:30am-4:30pm and then go to the theatre from 5pm-11pm or Midnight...on my "off" nights I go to my rehearsals for "Martha" an operetta being done at The Liederkranz. Surprisingly I'm surviving...tired? yes, but doing alright considering. I am eating really well now and taking my vitamins, which makes me proud, because usually under such stress I cave to stress-triggered eating. When I'm extremely tired and stressed I usually lose my appetite, but want to eat junk food as a comfort (drug of choice) to the situation, not to mention it's quick and easy with such a schedule as mine. This time however, I'm making a concentrated effort to eat well and avoid the junk, which has kept me energized and kept me from catching everyone else's colds I believe. I'm going for walks at lunch time and enjoying the fall weather up here and eventually, once things calm down a bit I'll join a gym. I'm starting to want to work-out again...I miss the strength it gives me, especially in my core...nothing like having a strong core, you feel almost invincible.

Within the last two weeks, I've lost 5 1/2 lbs. just from sensible eating and running around like a chicken. And the extra $$$ I'm earning at Dicapo has afforded me the extra means in which to eat better and more often...sad but true...it's expensive to eat in this city and with the schedule I keep it's almost impossible to cook at home currently.

My home life is another matter, that's where the neglect really shows. I'm lucky I have alot of clothes, because the laundry is piling up and my kitties are being very vocal with me! Thankfully, my cousin Philip helps with feeding them when Carmine and I can't make it home in time from late rehearsals...and Carmine even offered to drop off & pick-up my dry-cleaning, shoe repairs, and laundry...I've just got to be home long enough to gather it up in order to take him up on such a kind offer. He's such a sweetheart and really gets my crazy life as his is just about as crazy...however he's fortunate enough to make his living primarily in the arts and doesn't have to hold down a day job like me. He's been such a positive influence in my life: Not only is he a great friend, but he's a great vocal coach, a wonderful Italian language teacher, an all-around awesome person, and my kitties LOVE him...I really lucked out when he came into my life :) His mom even commented on how good my Italian is getting when she came to see our performance of Don Giovanni...hehe.

So as you can see, I'm not dead yet and I think I'm gonna be ok. I'm also really excited about this weekend's upcoming events. Friday night is the opening night of Turnadot at Dicapo Opera, and I've even been invited to attend the Opening Night Gala at the Asian Society. I believe I'll where my cute little green Chinese silk dress that I bought in Beijing a couple of years ago. I'm also excited by the prospect of a 3 day weekend...yep, we're off for Columbus Day at my company, God Bless the Italians! This means I'm actually gonna get some much needed rest, and maybe even some much need fall cleaning around the house.

There's the update for the week thus far. Have a great day!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

BFL Day 2

Generally people do well the first few days of a program because they're so gung-ho about the plan, but I've decided to take the "babystep", "ease into it" approach. I'm generally ingesting something every 2-3 hours (I won't say actually eat) anyways and it's pretty much on the higher protein side, so now to ease back into the work-outs...somehow!

I went to my voice lesson directly after work yesterday and then I was supposed to meet up with my friend to go to her apartment to work-out and take our "before" photos (ugh). However, I got to my voice lesson, exhausted as usual, and my teacher gave me a lengthy lecture on how I need to be taking better care of myself. She knows that I watch what I eat, and that I try to exercise, but her concern is my constant fatigue. She said, "there's tired, and I have many students that hold full-time day jobs and pursue a singing career, and then there's you...always exhausted beyond tired..." She then made me promise to go for a check-up with my doctor to make sure I'm not "sick" with something and if that's not it, then to drop one of the many things I'm doing. I personally just think I need more sleep...I can't ever get enough, and sadly it looks as if I'm measuring about 6 hours tops per night. I know I'm not a teenager anymore and that this is a common complaint in my blog, but how does one find time to get more sleep when they go to work at 6:30am in the morning and don't get home until 11ish every night after rehearsals, performances, and events? I would love to drop instantly off to sleep after I get home, but first I must feed the cats, wash my face, and get prepared for the next day (which is better, because it allows me to unwind and sleep a few more minutes in the morning)...by then it's midnight and I know that I'll only be getting another 6 hours and then start the cycle all over again. And where do I fit in the work-outs? I used to go at lunch, but my gym membership has expired and due to my job transitioning I haven't renewed it...the problem there is that I don't know where I'm going to be in the next few weeks, but once that's settled I can remedy that. However, I don't know if the new employer will let me take lunch...I know it's "law" but alot of them frown on you actually taking a lunch hour and I usually run over in time with my work-outs and the clean-up afterwards. If I stay here at my current job, I'll have more freedom, but alot less money, and I'm currently drowning financially...so I have to find a better paying job. I took the long way around to say that I didn't go to my friend's place last night and work-out...instead I went home, took a shower and went to bed by 10pm...thus I got about 8 hours last night, and I feel a bit better. Still tired, and for some reason I'm achy like I did work-out but at least I got more sleep. Perhaps my body's coming down with something, everyone around me has a cold currently. So I'll keep popping my vitamins, washing my hands, and try to continue to get more sleep, but again where do I get my work-outs in? I've got rehearsal tonight, so I won't be home until 11ish again (another reason I went home and crashed last night)...I don't know if I have the strength anyways, stairs get harder and harder everyday...I'm serious about feeling like I've been working-out (sore and fatigued) without doing the work. Perhaps its the stress of the new job hunt (especially since the one I got fell through) However my teacher says that I've been exhausted for the past 4 months...I told her that I feel fine, just a bit tired, but she thinks I'm just getting used to feeling crappy all the time...lol. Honestly I feel fine...I feel strong and energetic, just a bit tired and groggy in the mornings and after work. And she does see me directly after work every week!

So the plan:

Continue to eat healthy and take my vitamins, do my best to get more sleep, go for a check-up with my doctor, settle the new job hunt within the next month and try to get in lunch time work-outs even if it's a quick walk through the East Village.

Food Blog for today: (very bad so far)

8am: 16oz. Decaf Coffee w/sweet & low + 1/2 & 1/2

10am: 16oz. Decaf Coffee w/sweet & low + 1/2 & 1/2
(no this is not a typo, I did have the same thing twice)

12pm: Grilled chicken parm w/steamed green mixed veggies

3pm: Chai Latte w/skim milk, splenda & cinnamon

5pm: Bison burger patty w/steamed string beans

8pm: Bacon Cheddar Omelet w/mixed green salad & balsamic vinagrette + decaf coffee w/sweet & low and 1/2 & 1/2

Sorry about the previous ramble above, but I feel a little better and a bit more focused.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Body for Life

I'm starting a new challenge with a friend of mine. She seemed so lost and desperate for help, so I agreed to do the Body-for-Life challenge with her. For the next 3 months I'm accountable to her and myself to eat 5-6 healthy meals/snacks a day and work-out 6 days a week, while drinking ample amounts of water and taking my vitamins & supplements. Heh...I'm already tired just typing it up. The good thing is that this was the first program I ever did (10 years ago) that got me on my weight loss way, and I know that it's sound and that it works. I lost the first 30 lbs. on this program years ago, so maybe I'll lose my last 20-30 on it as well. I do have fond memories of it too...in fact it was because of the BFL program that I learned how to work-out, use weights and eat right...it was actually just what I needed at that point in my life, and maybe it is again. Funny how things pop up at just the right moment when we need them the most.

To keep my progress on the straight and narrow, I'll be blogging it here:

Day 1 Wk 1 BFL Challenge

8am: 16oz. Decaf coffee w/sweet & low + 1/2 & 1/2
10am: 20 Raw almonds w/10oz Diet Dr. Pepper
12pm: Bowl of black beans & 2 Turkey Sausage links & 1/2 a pickle
3pm: Only managed to drink 1/2 a Diet Pepsi
5pm: Cold chicken breast & a pickle
9pm: Handful of cashew nuts (unsalted)

Not the best so far, but not terrible...and I did take my vitamins with lunch. I've got to go grocery shopping to really get some good foods into my meals.

As for exercise, my friend and I have made plans to meet after work and take our before pics and then work-out together. I'm game for anything, I just need to get my butt moving! By New Years, we'll be in tip top form...assuming we can keep it going...wish us luck.

Have a great day!