Flashback Friday – The Fiestada….

“I followed my heart and it led me to the Fiestada” ~ Me

Does anyone else out there remember the Fiestada?

If you were a kid in the late 80’s and early 90’s, I’m talking to you.

Fiestata

The Fiestada was an octagon shaped, little slice of pizza-like heaven.

It had a thin, cardboard crust and was topped with tomato paste? and tiny pieces of hamburger? and yellow cheese? that kind of all melted/congealed/slightly burned together to form a  crispy, but mushy, kind of special goodness.

Had my subsidized school lunch program allowed it, I would have stockpiled my ration all week and blown it all on Fiestada day.

I day-dreamed about how I might score a second helping.  I wished the school would announce a contest for which the grand prize would be a lifetime supply of Fiestada’s.

In the lunch room, I scarfed mine down and then circled the cafeteria like a vulture, hoping a classmate might be willing to share.

Are you going to eat that?  Are you going to eat the whole thing?  What!?  How do you not like Fiestada’s!?  Could typically be heard coming from my salivating, Fiestada juice stained, grubby little mouth.

I loved them so much, that I once asked the lunch lady for the recipe….and she pointed to a long, white, nondescript box with plain black lettering that said, “Fiestada” and then I just assumed they had been made in Mexico, because they were far too exotic to be American fare.

“I’ll go there someday.  I’ll go there and eat my weight in Fiestada’s”  I told myself, because I was not a kid without goals.

Some people have cherished memories of home cooked meals, served round a table full of happy family members in a warmly lit dining room….a fire crackling in the background.

I have cherished memories of linoleum flooring, fluorescent lighting and the heart burn inducing, probably ADD causing, artery clogging, early on-set heart disease producing, special little octagonal round of awesome that was….the Fiestada.

To this day, I am so obsessed with recapturing that precious moment, that I have scoured the internet in the hopes of tracking down my beloved.

I’ve found recipes on Pinterest that claim to be an exact replica of the original, but there was nothing “homemade” about what I ate in those days.

I want the original.

The one that sat in the industrial sized freezer of an elementary school cafeteria, safely wrapped in BPA leaden plastic.

But I don’t think it’s meant to be.  The best I could find was this thing….made with Whole Grains.

And I literally can’t even….

IMG_5331.png

The Gazelle….

“Running is fun!” ~Psychopaths

About three years ago, I joined a women’s only fitness studio and truly, it changed my life.  I have always enjoyed physical activity, but in the past, I had a habit of joining big gyms, for like five minutes.

Then, I would get super bored, because I didn’t know what I was doing, and then I would quit….four years later….because canceling a gym membership is the tenth circle of hell.

But after I had my son and completed my cancer treatments, my body felt like it had been run over by a truck.  In addition, my anxiety, which had been a minor issue for me all of my life, suddenly started to attack more often and more viciously than it ever had before.

quote-anxietyI talked about it with my doctors and also a therapist I had been seeing for a while.  It was normal and typical for cancer survivors to experience symptoms of PTSD and anxiety.  Medication was an option, but I didn’t feel like it was a good option for me.

I just needed some way to release that energy from my body.  I began to recognize its build up.  I could feel that it was trapped, but I didn’t know how to go about getting it out and it made me feel manic.

On the advice of my Oncologist and my Cardiologist, I decided to start working out again.  Their suggestion was based more on the physical benefits I would get from regular exercise, but I thought maybe it might be a good way to exorcise some crazy while I was at it.

Jane-Fonda

At first, I bought the book, Fitness for Dummies, thinking it would help me understand how to properly use the equipment at the gym and create a worthwhile routine for myself.  And yes, I could have just asked someone, but no I could not.  (See post, I’m Known as the Death of the Party).

Anyway, I quickly realized that I was just on my way to falling into the same old failed routine I had gotten myself into so many times before.  So, instead, I turned to my community Facebook page for local moms….because if you want to know anything from where to get a good bikini wax, to what that noise was over on Main Street at 4:37am, that’s where you go….and I posted something like the following:

“Hey ladies.  I’m looking to join a new gym.  Somewhere with maybe small group classes and trainers who tell me what to do.  And if they are mean, even better.  I need someone to shout my ass back into shape.  Thanks!”

Within minutes, I began to receive a flood of responses. Eventually, I chose a new, women’s only fitness studio that had been open for just a few months.  I chose them, because I loved their body positive message.

90b12d1877081479b2fe0d34a38dd4f0

After my first class, I knew this time would be different.  Exercise has been a game changer for me, both physically and mentally and it’s a literal lifeline I can’t do without. And it was thanks to joining my gym, that I came to know my friend Gazelle.  (I call her this, because she has the body of Gisele, minus the height, and she runs like some kind of prancing, dainty, woodland creature).

Gazelle doesn’t teach at my studio. I know her through a game of six degrees of separation that includes both a personal and exercise related connection.  It was through that combination that I came to attend a cardio-kickboxing class she was hosting to raise money for charity.

The class kicked my ass.  In a good way.   So I began following her around to other gyms, where I take her class as a drop-in whenever possible.  She’s amazing.

Fitness is her full time job.  She has a degree in Exercise Physiology, but instead of working in a clinical setting, she likes to teach.  She gets up most mornings around 4:00am to begin her day, which includes a variety of classes taught at several different gyms.  I’ve seen here around noon-time when she’s already five classes into her day and you’d never know it.

In addition to her workload, she’s an avid runner and she’s constantly trying to get me to take it up.

“Hey, want to go for a run today?  It’s going to be so nice out!”  she texts.

“No.  Running is dangerous.”  I say.

“Running isn’t dangerous! What are you talking about?” 

“Um, have you never seen Dateline?  Or 48 Hours Investigates? There’s like a 90% chance I’ll be murdered.”  I tell her.

“We’ll be together though.”  She says.

“No, we won’t. I’ll quit after three minutes and tell you I’ll catch up. And by the time I’m attacked, you’ll be too far away for me to trip you as a sacrifice to save myself.”  


“Want to go for a run?  The foliage is beautiful!”  She tries again.

“Imagine how much better I’ll be able to see it while walking.”  I say.


“Let’s go for a run today!  Just a short one!”  She begs.

“I’d love to but I can’t.  Oh wait.  No, I wouldn’t love to.”


“Ok, I know you’ll probably say no, but how about you give running a chance today?”

“No.”


“Run?”

“I can’t, I hate it.”  

“Have you ever tried it?  Like REALLY tried it?”  

“Yes, that’s how I know that with every stride, a part of my soul dies.”

“You are so dramatic.”

“I know.”  


“Hey friend, great day for a run!”

“Evolution.”

“What?”

“If God wanted us to run, he would not have killed off the Dinosaurs.”

“That makes zero sense.”

“It makes perfect sense.  Think about it while you’re running today.  Alone.”


I’m just not a runner.

There have been many times I’ve gone out and invested in expensive, top of the line running shoes, devised a training plan and envisioned myself crossing the finish line of the Boston marathon.  But then, I just end up gardening in my expensive, top of the line running shoes and watching the marathon from a bar on Beacon Street.

And I can always tell who the real runners are vs. the people like me who go out thinking, I’m going to pound out some miles and then end up walking three minutes in, because running is stupid.

Real runners seem to glide, their strides steady and light, their facial expressions stoic, their breathing, steady.

When I run, I look like a sack full of rocks being dragged across a bumpy road as I desperately suck wind.  My facial expression says, “This sucks, I’m bored, I hate every minute of this and it’s only been half a block.”

Es4UpW4.gif

I will hike for dozens/hundreds of miles carrying a 20 pound backpack up and down mountains for days and I won’t complain, even once.  I will bike ride for hours.  I will Spin and Barre and Booty Build and Muscle Pump and Namaste every day of the week….but I cannot bring myself to jog a lap, let alone a mile.

So I will keep on telling my friend no.  And she will continue to ask.

I will offer to drive alongside her in my car, while she runs.  Promising to shout out inspirational quotes, throw paper cups of water at her and play Eye of the Tiger at the highest volume setting for as long as her little legs will go.

And she will attempt to trick me into running by using words like “fun run” and promising a “yummy lunch” afterward.  And I will tell her that her idea of “yummy” includes a plate of twigs and crab grass and my idea of “yummy” includes cheesecake.

3Ps

Though it probably doesn’t sound like it, I do appreciate her persistence.  I know that it comes from a good place.  She’s rooting me on, because she thinks I can do it.  She has faith in me and my abilities.  Running is a passion of hers and she wants to share it with me.  Motivation is part of her job and she is really good at it.

It’s just that in my case, there is no will to find the way.  But her constant nagging has encouraged me.  I work out harder, because of her.  I push myself every workout and when I think I’m at my max, I push just a little bit more.

But if you ever see me running, you should probably start running too….because chances are, a zombie, or a serial killer is gaining on me.
19577131e64c312d3141fc8746d243c4.gif

Flashback Friday….That Time I Tried Atkins

“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” ~ Kate Moss

Personally, I think her bony ass is full of shit….but, it took me awhile to figure that out.

Throughout my twenties, I did my fair share of fad dieting.  The South Beach Diet, the Cleveland Clinic Diet, Slim Fast and the Hydroxycut and Coffee diet I invented myself.  Which was kind of my take on the Super Model diet (champagne and cocaine), but since I couldn’t afford cocaine, or champagne, I doubled down on the uppers and I’ll be honest, how I didn’t die of a massive heart attack, I’ll never know.

If I could go back in time, I’d just smack the post closing time Taco Bell, taco supreme out of my hand and suggest fewer buttery nipple shooters, in lieu of torturing myself during day time hours.  But, wisdom comes with age, or so they say.

I began my journey of unsustainable dieting after gaining a few pounds at my first office job post college.  I didn’t make a lot of money and so my food options were pretty limited.

Most of the time, I lived off Ramen Noodles, or Spaghetti noodles with butter.  When I had a little extra cash, I bought a few Banquet TV dinners and ninety-nine cent frozen pizza’s.  I ate whatever was cheapest, which meant I mostly ate crap.

The office was relatively small and the owner of the business liked to take us out for lunch a few times a week.  I quickly learned that if I ordered intelligently, I could squeeze several meals out of the leftovers.

This meant, I almost always ordered a hearty pasta dish, since the servings are typically larger compared to that of a salad or sandwich.  I also learned I could steal other people’s leftovers.

vintage_victorian_woman_eating_ribs_postcard-r147d2d2d363b45ccbb00e28dff78794d_vgbaq_8byvr_540.jpg

Every Friday, the office supplied bagels from a fancy bagel shop, along with a selection of gourmet cream cheeses.  I took my morning bagel and then casually returned to the kitchenette to snatch up the extra’s for home; hiding them behind piles of paper I had clutched to my chest and in my purse while trying to make it look like I was just on my way to/from the bathroom.

Once, I pulled a container of cream cheese, with approximately one tablespoon of Pumpkin Spice remaining in it, out of the trash….because that’s wasteful and I had no shame.

And then there were the birthday celebrations and the grocery store sheet cakes that came along with them.

After the “party,” I liked to volunteer to clean-up the break room, not because I liked to be helpful, but because I could wrap up the rest of the sheet cake and take it home with me.

marie-antoinette.jpg

So yeah, it didn’t take long before the one pair of Jaclyn Smith black work pants I owned, started crying at the seams.

One of my co-workers, Ned, a middle aged guy with horribly bad breath, suggested I give Atkins a try.  The fact that a middle-aged man I worked with commented on my expanding waistline, is a whole other thing.

Anyway, he’d been an Atkins devotee for most of his adult life….long before the diet peaked in popularity.

I was immediately lured in by the idea that I could go to McDonald’s, order a whole bunch of cheeseburgers, and all I would have to sacrifice would be the bun.

So….what you’re saying is that I can fry up a package of discount hamburger from Aldi’s, smother it in cheese and eat the whole thing in one sitting?  

I could eat an ENTIRE carton of eggs?

ALL the bacon?

It sounded so easy and I was all about easy.

I never made it to ketosis.

bca4351a98cc88939470b250cefcdd11.png

Shortly after I started the induction phase, Ned was hospitalized with a serious illness that had something to do with his butt-hole falling out.  Apparently, he wasn’t properly supplementing his fiber intake all those years on Atkins and the result was, Butt-Hole Fall-Outis.

I’m sure there was an actual medical term for whatever was happening and I’m sure there was more to the story, but all I heard was “Its like his butt-hole is falling out.”

Even though I didn’t really give much thought to my own butt-hole on a regular basis, it seemed the kind of body part a person would like to keep and so that was enough for me to hop off the Atkins bandwagon….immediately.

On my way home from work, I stopped in at the grocery store for a family sized can of  Beefaroni and a bunch of banana’s, that I began to devour the second I got into my car,  while clenching my butt cheeks together.

But still, it took years of fad dieting and failure, before I discovered that weight loss/maintaining a healthy weight did not have to include suffering and/or the elimination of food groups.

Eventually, I discovered simple calorie counting and for me, it’s made all the difference.  Setting a reasonable and HEALTHY, per day caloric intake….along with exercise….has been key in helping me to maintain a healthy weight.  It’s also significantly improved my overall energy level.

Knowing  that I can essentially eat whatever I want….so long as I stick to my daily goal….helps me make better choices throughout the day (most of the time) and it allows me some slack when I want to indulge….all without sabotaging my efforts and throwing my bodily functions off track.

I’ve also learned a lot about food in recent years….the differences between calories, carbohydrates and cholesterol….and the best way to give my body the fuel it needs to properly function.

But let me be clear….ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, I have written here should be considered, or taken as advice.  I don’t know anything.

I’m a cancer survivor and one of the benefits of that, includes a team of doctors and nutritionists who have given me new insights and instructions regarding my overall health these last six years.  I do what they tell me, because cancer sucked.  And whatever I have to do to prevent getting it again, I’ll do.

But, if you are on the look-out for great recipes that are healthy and don’t taste like cardboard, I am a huge fan of this lady:  Skinnytaste.

I don’t personally know the author at Skinnytaste.  No funds, or food, or favors of any kind have been exchanged for my referencing here here….I just really love her recipes and when I get compliments on her meals, I take all the credit, which is easier to do when you don’t actually know the other person.

Bon apetit!

97475b9a69b778a4009ed4ba1fd0a851--funny-vintage-photos-weird-vintage.jpg

Last Night, I Ate an Old Cadbury Cream Egg For Dinner & Nope….I Don’t Feel Guilty….I Don’t Feel Guilty At All

“People who love to eat are always the best people.” ~Julia Child

About a month ago, I got an email from Meetup.com letting me know about a new book club for women that was forming in my area.

If you’ve never heard of it, Meetup.com is a networking site that allows users to create and join interest groups in their local communities.  There are thousands of groups to choose from.  Everything from outdoor sports groups, to book clubs, parenting groups, exercise, volunteering, artists, dating, business related groups and so on.

I created an account about ten years ago when I moved to the Boston area from a small town in the mid-west.  It seemed like a good resource for making a few friends in my new home state.

Only….I’m a complicated person.  I think my personality falls somewhere between hermit-like and introverted.  I am also very socially awkward.  I don’t know if I have some form of social anxiety, or, chronic verbal diarrhea, or what.  All I know is that I’m more of a wall-flower than a social butterfly.

images.png

I’m the kind of friend who will almost always return your call with a text message without having:

1. listened to your voicemail; they give me anxiety and so I delete them immediately

2. sent the text before you’ve even finished leaving your voicemail

I will decline every invitation to a Pampered Chef, or Scentsy party.  Because I will always have plans to do something like, make my own laundry detergent, or de-pill my sweaters while listening to NPR or Relaxation Radio on Pandora. But, I will absolutely buy something if I can do so via a link that doesn’t require any human interaction.

d73d18108023ea1722247dc7b89721c1.jpg

I will call you 47 times in a row, not because it’s an emergency, or because I’m trying to be a creep.  But because I can’t leave a proper voicemail message and so I will hang-up and try again, many, many, many times….before eventually giving up and sending a text instead.

So yeah, it’s not easy being my friend.  Which is probably why I have so few of them.  But, for all my faults, I’m a ride or die chick.  The women I count among my besties, I love so much, that I would 100% help them hide a body and my only question would be, “How deep do you think we need to dig this grave?”

6eda67b72bd5aa6f15480a295bf20870.jpg

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

Way back when I first signed up for Meet-up, I joined a book club for women.  They were a lovely group of ladies, but it just didn’t work out.  It wasn’t them, it was me, so I did what I always do and just stopped attending.

They were concerned for a while.  Was I sick?  Was I dead?  Eventually they realized I was just an asshole and they unfriended me on Facebook and we all went our separate ways.

But, it’s been 10 years now, so when I got the notice of a new book club Meet-up, I thought….maybe I might suddenly be the type of gal who enjoys socializing with a large group of women I don’t know….this, by the way, after declining an invitation to a family members Sprinkle.  Actually, I haven’t officially declined yet.  I’m just going to wait until the last minute and then say I’m sick.

I know, I suck.

838-02488150en_Masterfile.jpg

The details for the Meet-up said the inaugural gathering would be held at a local Mexican restaurant.  I’ve eaten there on a number of occasions and they have some seriously good street taco’s….and I’ll pretty much do anything for a street taco.  And I mean, anything.  So, you could probably argue that a taco was the reason I signed up and confirmed my attendance.

When I arrived at the restaurant, I found the groups organizer, introduced myself, made some comment about the weather, because that’s my go to small talk tactic and then I found a seat where I awkwardly smiled and said, to all I met, “Can you believe this weather?” even though there was nothing remarkable about the weather.

When it came time to order, I picked one of the street taco selections, obviously, while the rest of the ladies ordered some kind of salad with a “hold all the good shit and can you put everything but the lettuce on the side?”

When our food arrived, I wasted no time digging in.  As I was hoisting one of the taco’s to my mouth, one of the women said, “I wish I could eat like that.  You’re so brave.”

 

Um….brave?  I’m taking down a taco, not a terrorist.

I took an enormous bite, using the side of my hand to shovel in the parts that were trying to escape and looked up.  My eyes clearly said, “Bitch, please,” as I slowly chewed, before swallowing and then saying, “Street taco.”

tenor.gif

Which, to anyone with an ounce of sense, would have been a reasonable explanation, correct?

But she kept going….“I do, I envy you.  I would feel so guilty.”

Me:  I guess I just prefer to eat my calories, rather than drink them.  (I’d seen how many margaritas she’d taken down and I can be a passive aggressive douche canoe too).

Her eyes said, “Bitch, I will have you black-balled from this book club.” 

But I wasn’t scared.  One of the benefits of having been raised in a largely dysfunctional and abusive household, is that I don’t really have any feelings.

And because I love nothing more than a super awkward silence, I decided not to say anything else and instead, I just sat there and exaggeratedly ate the shit out of every last taco.

No way was I going to be shamed out of the pleasure of perfectly seasoned steak, tucked into a double layer of soft, warm, corn taco shells, because Karen wanted to do that whole “Oh, I ate 150 calories today, I’m going to have to work extra hard at Globo Gym tomorrow morning,” dance that some women seem to enjoy.

Because, I feel guilty about a lot of things….

The time I filled my 6th grade math teacher’s water cup in the toilet.  In my defense, she was really mean to me though and I was basically raised by wolves.

The time in elementary school when a friend dared me to call the number on a poster about a lost dog to tell the family I’d found him.  And when the woman answered and I told her I had her dog at the public pool, she immediately began screaming and crying with joy and then I hung-up.   Side note:  I feel like maybe this was the reason God gave me cancer and I can’t say I blame him.

All the times I said my grandma died, because I wanted to take advantage of my employers bereavement leave policy.

That time in high school when I hit my friend Patrick with my mom’s minivan….and while he clung to the hood, I accelerated and then quickly hit the break, sending him flying through the air and into a concussion.

All the times I use the handicap stall in a public restroom, because I like the extra space.

All those times in my twenties I left a first date, in the middle of the first date, without saying goodbye.

But food?  Eating?  No.

I love food.  All the food.  I’m just as happy tucking into a boiled hot dog at a baseball game….with a soft pretzel covered in so much salt that I instantly swell up and don’t pee for a week….as I am a gourmet meal, at a fancy restaurant, with fancy drinks with my BFF Marie, while we catch up on life.

images.jpeg

I grew-up believing there were only three food groups:  Chef Boyardee, Betty Crocker Meal-in-a-Box and Hamburger Helper, so when I discovered the world was a literal oyster, I made it my mission to enjoy every bite.  For me, food is fun.  It’s a simple pleasure that is meant to be enjoyed.

Never will I ever buy into that line of thinking that a woman should only eat a thimble full of food in public.

If you want to eat lettuce and air, that’s your business, but I’m ordering something I can’t buy in a bag from the grocery store….and my own desert (I don’t like to share)….also, I’ll totally take your leftovers if you don’t want them.

Needless to say, I’m dropping out of book club.  I don’t think I can mesh with the type of women who lure you into a club with the prospect of street taco’s, only to make you wonder why they didn’t just hold the meeting around the salad bar at Whole Foods.

Oh well, there’s always next decade.