Monthly Archives: November 2014

A Barefoot Run Through Chicago Streets

My husband and I have been married for four years! To celebrate our anniversary, we took a short overnight trip to Chicago. We had traveled to the Windy City for one reason—to eat a fabulous, multi-course meal at Alinea. We’ve been dreaming of eating at this restaurant since we met, and we’d finally convinced ourselves to spend money on a reservation.

Not only are reservation at Alinea expensive, but they are pre-paid. The confirmation specifically says that you may not be seated if you arrive more then 30 minutes after your reservation time. So, while we were sitting in gridlock traffic in the cab on Friday night, watching the minutes tick by, we got a little nervous. We had 5:30 reservations, and the cab dropped us off at about 5:38.

We didn’t see the restaurant when he dropped us off, but I didn’t worry about that. I’d read (admittedly, years ago), that the restaurant was extremely understated and a bit hard to find. But quickly, we realized something was wrong. There were no restaurants here. There really wasn’t anything around us. I was so confused. I called the restaurant, but could only get their answering service.

We asked a guy at a bus stop where the restaurant was, and he pointed us to the south. We started walking, and I got more and more nervous. We were in a dark, fairly unlit area. I was wearing a black cocktail dress and bright read HIGH heels. Aaron was in a full suit. It was 5:45. We paid a guy in a pedi cab to take us a few blocks. We still saw nothing. Aaron pulled out his phone and realized I had made a gigantic mistake. When putting the address into my phone (I had organized everything with TripIt), I’d dropped a 1. We were at 723 N. Halsted. Alinea was at 1723 N. Halsted. It was now 5:50. Fuck (pardon my language, but that was my state of mind).

The slightly crazy guy driving our pedi cab couldn’t get anywhere because cars were in the bike lanes. We decided that we would run towards the restaurant, 1.2 miles away, until we found a cab. I put my shoes in one hand and my phone in the other (in case the restaurant called), and took off, barefoot, towards the restaurant. Did I mention it was about 25 degrees outside?

I ran, keeping my eyes on the ground because I was acutely aware that glass or some other unsafe objects could be in the street. Aaron wanted to run ahead (he’s a much faster runner than me), but I informed him that no reservation was worth enough to leave his wife on a strange Chicago street, barefoot. We ran some more, passed by several cabs that were unavailable. I tried to get a stranger to open his car window so I could offer him $20 to drive us half a mile. He wouldn’t even roll down the window. More running.

The neighborhood transitioned, and I told Aaron I was comfortable with him running ahead. He took off, and I kept running at my penguin pace. Now, in the street with traffic, because the sidewalk was under construction. After a few more blocks, I had to stop because I could feel a rock digging into my foot. I looked at  the bottom of my foot and realized that I had torn multiple holes in my nylons, and if I kept going they’d be ripped/running up to my knees. I looked up, and saw Aaron coming my way. I put my shoes on and took a deep breath, not wanting to hear the bad news.

Aaron had made it to the restaurant around 6:06. It would have been perfectly appropriate for the staff, knowing their rules, to turn them away. After they got over the shock of a man in a suit sprinting into the restaurant, they assured him that they would honor the reservation. I had about two blocks of walking to catch my breath, and we walked into the restaurant and were promptly seated. We of course told our host that we’d literally run to the restaurant because of a cab mistake. He seemed pretty impressed 🙂

Then, we settled into a 15-course meal. Literally, the best meal of my life. And infinitely more memorable because of what it took to get us there. I most definitely earned this dessert, which was presented to us by Grant Achatz, the chef and founder of Alinea.

Dessert at Alinea

And, in case you’re curious what running a mile down the street in nylons will do to your feet…

Dessert at Alinea

Fall Food: Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili

Yesterday was day one back on the wagon. I’m focusing on getting my eating under control for the next few weeks. Having quite Weight Watchers (I still stand by that decision), I’ve estimated my TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) and created a daily deficit that should allow me to lose about .5 pounds per week—a rate that I feel is achievable and sustainable. My daily calorie goals is 1,590 calories. I’m also paying attention to my macro nutrients, and aiming for 30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% carbohydrates.

I’m happy to report that yesterday I came in just at my calorie goal and came very close to my target macro ratio. You’ll notice I had two portions of butternut squash black bean chili. This is one of the better vegetarian chili recipes I’ve made, and the serving you get (2 generous cups) is super filling for only containing 217 calories. Mom calculated the Weight Watcher Points Plus and said it was only 5. I highly recommend giving this one a try. If you buy frozen cubed butternut squash at the grocery store, it would come together really quickly. Warning…there is half a can of black beans in each serving. You may get a little gassy.

Here’s how my day shaped up:

Breakfast: 1 cup plain fat free yogurt (sweetened with Splenda, vanilla, lemon juice), 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 1/4 cup granola [323 calories]

Snack: 2/3 oz plain almonds, 1 light string cheese [148 calories]

Lunch: 2 cups butternut squash black bean chili topped with half an avocado, 1 cup skim milk [408 calories]

Snack: Think Thin Brownie Crunch protein bar [230 calories]

Dinner: 2 cups butternut squash black bean chili topped with 1/4 cup fat free plain greek yogurt and 1/4 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese, 1.5 cups skim milk [475 calories]

Totals: 1,584 calories, 235 g carbs (47%), 59 g fat  26%), 131 g protein (27%)

I also drank a ton of tea and spent a few hours in the garden getting the garlic planted, leeks harvested, and covering everything with mulch before it potentially snows this week. One day down, many more to go.

So Much For Maintenance

I’ve fallen off the wagon. Actually, I think the wagon might be in West Virginia, where I was the last time I was on it. While searching for the wagon, I’ve managed to find five pounds. Ugh.

The plan was to take a break from calorie restrictions, while working weight lifting into my fitness routine. But, I only completed the first week of weight workouts and then proceeded to do nothing in terms of fitness for a month. I followed my 2,000 calorie diet about 80% of the time for approximately two weeks, and then for some reason I started eating like crap. I was eating crap I hadn’t had in any significant quantity in months … grilled cheese, hot dogs, pizza, crab rangoons, fried rice (I know how to make healthy choices at the Chinese restaurant, dammit!). Ben and Jerry’s came into the house twice in a month.

I thought today was completely lost, but according to My Fitness Pal, it’s not. I had a good breakfast, a terrible lunch, terrible snacks, but can salvage it with a healthy dinner (that will actually taste good).

I’ve gotta get back on track. I believe the fatal flaw here was twofold – my mindset (I was thinking “Yay, I’m free!” rather than “Let’s move forward cautiously”) and my commitment (I very often chose to sit on my ass rather than engaging in any type of fitness).

All is not lost. This is a minor setback that can be corrected before the New Year. But, I’m disappointed in myself. My second Stitch Fix came today and my stylist nailed it, but half of the pieces are just a bit too tight. I love them, and I’m tempted to buy them all just so I have a tangible goal to reach.

So, it’s back to planning for a daily 300 calorie deficit, tracking (EVERYTHING), and—most importantly—consciously thinking about why I’m doing this. To live a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life. To wear clothes I can buy off the rack (or have shipped to my door). To participate in adventurous travel experiences. And to treat my body the way it deserves to be treated.

My “break” from weight loss did not go as expected. But I can learn from this, and move forward. Starting now, as I walk into the kitchen and assemble my pre-tracked meal that fits within my daily calories. And then I’ll plan the next week of meals, and by golly, I’ll eat them. Because I deserve it.