Nashville: Day 1

I’ll start with out flight since naturally that’s where a trip begins, right?! Well Maggie set us UP for success because she had TSA pre check, which automatically got me TSA pre and I am never going back. To top it off she also planned out our alcohol drinking which meant buying some nips of gin to mix with lime seltzer that we could get in the terminal. $6 double gin seltzers? You know it.

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Our flight got delayed from 8:30 pm until about 10:30 pm for a variety of reasons. We sat on the tarmac for about 45 minutes trying to find the best route given some rough weather so naturally that made me a bit anxious. I was tired and feeling a bit relaxed from the alcohol so I did my best to try to fall asleep and actually stayed pretty calm during takeoff. At one point we hit some turbulence and Maggie and I both opened our eyes and looked at each other and grabbed hands. I’d say she’s a great flying companion. 

We went to bed around 1 am central time (2 am our time) and woke up at 6 am to start our day since we had to drive Maggie’s mom to the airport. First stop, DONUTS! This place is known for inventing the cronut or a croissant donut. We each got one and walked across the street to Frothy Monkey for coffee. There, I took my first bite and...woah. It’s a whole new world of donuts. You know I like them dense and these fit the bill!! I ate half before deciding to let that sugar sit before going into hyperglycemia shock. 

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We drove to Belle Meade next for their 9:30 am mansion tour. Before it began Maggie walked me along the grounds teaching me some of the history since, fun fact, John Harding is her ancestor on her mom’s side! A lot of the plantation has changed and much of the building have been moved closer to the main house for touring purposes including the slaves quarters. There are also new bourbon and wine making buildings to help generate more of a profit. 

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I couldn’t take any pictures inside of the house but it’s quite impressive with its 12 foot high ceilings. It was owned by the Jackson Harding family from 1807 to 1906 and grew tremendously before its downfall. It was a thoroughbred stud farm and originated with Bonnie Scotland. Only a few winners of the Kentucky Derby cannot be tied back to his lineage. Then it was known for Iroquois who was the first American horse to win the English Derby!

Many of the slaves who worked on the farm eventually became contracted employers after the Civil War. Bonnie Scotland’s trainer was so appreciated that when he died his obituary was quoted in every newspaper in the state despite segregation.

Unfortunately the family ended up in debt in the early 1900s and the mansion and it’s furnishings were auctioned off to pay the debt. Later on in the 1900s the mansion was purchased to be restored as a museum and due to the impeccable records about 60% of the artifacts have been recovered to put on display. The interior of the house is gorgeous and my favorite room was the dining room with old cigar boxes and a butler’s closet! Upstairs were some bedrooms and a spot where I saw that women kept the hair from their brushes to eventually create fuller updos! Wild. I also learned that everything with gold was covered in the summer because it was furnished with animal fat that would smell and attract mosquitos. Ew.

After the tour Maggie and I did the free wine tasting at 10:30am and got a glass to drink on the grounds. We were also hypoglycemic after the donuts so we got some cheese and salami for a snack since we are classy. We sat in the sun by the barn and carriage house while chatting before driving near Vanderbilt.

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We walked to Centennial Park which is where the Centennial celebration for the state of Tennessee was held around the time of the World Fair! How cool is that?! In the park is a life size replica of the Parthenon! Maggie and I made sure to walk a mile through the park and chug some water while enjoying the scenery.

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Next stop, food. We got lunch at Pinewood Social which is part restaurant, part bowling alley, part work space. We each got something healthy (avocado toast for her and grain bowl for me) with a side of French fries to replenish our salt stores. 

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Maggie’s family lives East of Nashville so we drove back tot farm to change and wait for her dad to go to the Wilson County Fair. It’s the largest fair in the state and very popular as you an imagine. We ate some snacks (I finished my lunch and ate the largest peach of my life) while sipping on some local beers on the front porch. County life is the best life. 

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At the fair we saw the largest watermelon known to man kind, saw a sheep get sheered, supported some local artisans, got lost finding the car, saw the old train station, and ate a corn dog and fried Oreos! This was all before the opening parade and a burger and fries and a Diet Coke. In all honesty Maggie and I were feeling dehydrated drunk and once we ate salty food felt so much better! Tomorrow we will bring a salt shaker!

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Such a great first day!

Notable food: Cronuts, local beer, corn dogs, and fried Oreos.

Notable exercise: walking 17,000 steps and 6.6 miles

PSA: Calorie Counting

For the month of July I decided to track my calories. It started with wanting to be aware of what and how much I was eating while on vacation. It ended with wanting to get some data to see where I can improve overall. So what did I notice?

Most days I eat about the same amount of calories whether I try to or not. Breakfast is always the same, lunch is pretty standard and dinner depends on my Hello Fresh delivery. When I’m aware of what I’m eating I’m far less to have a post dinner beer or glass of wine or chocolate “just because.” But if I truly want it, I let myself have it.

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I found that I really enjoy Hello Fresh because it makes the prep and the thought process of cooking so much easier but I am at a loss on weekends and don’t know what to eat or cook so a lot of the time I ate more yogurt or cereal which isn’t the healthiest. My goal for August is to buy a few staples each week even if it’s Banza Mac and cheese and chicken sausage to keep on hand for those days.

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I can go out to eat or for drinks and it balances out. Sure some days I stayed within my calorie goal (which is an estimate) when eating out, but I rarely want to do that since I love food and am a social butterfly. Instead I was aware of which foods I truly wanted when out. Do I need dessert if I’m already stuffed? No? Then don’t have it. Yes? Okay! But most of the time I enjoyed myself and while I ate twice as many calories as my routine day the world still went on! I may not have hit the 80/20 but 70/30 isn’t bad!

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If I don’t drink enough water I eat more. Whenever I drank less than 1.5-2 liters of water at work I found myself unsatisfied with my afternoon snack or dinner leading me to eat more in search of that satisfaction. A lot of times that meant having a snack when I wasn’t hungry or having chocolate after dinner. It’s not a terrible thing to do if I truly wanted the food but I usually wasn’t hungry for it just thirsty.

Exercise doesn’t burn as many calories as you think it does. One of my dietitian preceptors always told her clients to think of food and exercise separately if you’re trying to lose weight. It’s so easy to exercise and think you can splurge but in reality it’s so much easier to eat calories than to burn them off.

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It can get addicting. Calorie counting is not for everyone. Sometimes I found myself limiting what I ate to hit that goal number and then I would back off knowing my history with restriction. This is why it’s important to consult a dietitian for help especially if you have a history of disordered eating, an eating disorder, or just aren’t sure. While calorie counting can be harmful to some it can be helpful to others with chronic diseases such as diabetes or kidney disease.

Calorie counting works for me to bring my attention to where I’m using my calorie “budget” as my friend likes to say. I’ve noticed over the past month that I eat the most when I’m out with friends socially eating or drinking and that’s when I would want to not be strict. The other times are when I don’t drink enough water so you better believe that’s my goal for August!

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This is 28

I can’t say I was very excited about turning 28 even though I didn’t have any reason not to be. It’s honestly just one day closer to 30 in my eyes. But then my very best friend gave me this card and put all of my feelings and emotions into a few sentences.

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She knows me better than I know myself.

Despite not being excited for my birthday, it turned out to be a truly great few days. The day of I was surprised with an impromptu trip to my favorite coffee place and Whole Foods. When I got back to work with Maggie, I was greeted with so many thoughtful cards and gifts. I felt so much happiness! I ate brownies for lunch and went out for pizza and beer for dinner. Can’t get much better than that!

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The next few days I continued to feel the high of my birthday and feeling so loved by my friends and family. On Friday Maggie and I tried out a new rowing class which was so challenging but so much fun! Hoping to keep staying active and fit in this 28th year!

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Saturday was my informal party. Basically a gathering at one of my favorite beer gardens with some truly wonderful people. We drank and snacked on chips, pico de gallo and guacamole, and laughed our butts off. It was beautiful weather despite a quick rain storm but otherwise perfect with views of the USS Constitution.

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After drinks we walked into the North End to find a rooftop bar for more drinks and pizza. Catching a theme? We switched to gin and tonic (I think) with cucumber. I’d do anything for a drink with cucumber. Before long we went to another beer garden called The Patios near Government Center. This girl was getting tired and slipped on water at the point…and it wasn’t even 10pm.

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While I didn’t quite rally through the night, I could not have had a greater day. Friends from high school, college and work all came together for me. I couldn’t ask for better people in my life who are selfless and kind hearted and who love beer and pizza just as much as I do!

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If this birthday is any indication of what the next year will be like it’s going to be a good one.

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Birthdays

Happy birthday to me. Today I turn 28.

I was asked if I was excited for my birthday, but truthfully not really. I used to get excited for the party and the cake (okay, and the presents). Then I grew up and was excited for a vacation or time with family. Nowadays it’s different and while it could be because I work, I think it’s because I’m a twin.

I don’t mind working on my birthday because I work with a lot of my favorite people and I adore my patients. I truly love my job and for that I’m grateful. We also usually get dinner or drinks after work because we love any excuse to celebrate. Pizza and beer for me, please!

I don’t mind turning a year older. Honestly, I’ve been accidentally telling people I’m 28 this last year so it’s no surprise to me that now I’m actually 28. Also, I think my confidence and comfort in the world and in my body only gets better and more profound each year that passes. I’d rather be who I am now than any previous version of me! I’ll have that cake and eat it too, please.

I mind being away from my sister. Sure I just saw her a few weekends ago, but she’s my twin. If there’s anyone I want to spend this day with it’s her. In a perfect world it would me my mom, my dad, my sister and I all together but that’s a rare occurrence.

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While I know it’s okay to be sad that I can’t spend the day with Julie, I’m also happy that we each have our own lives that make us happy. I’m grateful for my health, for my family, for my friends and coworkers, and for my job. Right now I’m happy and there isn’t much that I’d wish for for myself so I’m hoping it’s okay to use my wishes for some other people.

Happy birthday to me. And thank you to everyone who makes my life as great as it is.

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My Birthday Week

Man does 28 feel old…it’s definitely the latter end of my 20’s and I’m not sure I’m ready for that. BUT I do love a reason to celebrate, and especially a reason to eat some delicious food. My dad is the type of guy who eats the same dessert every year, Boston Cream Pie. My mom too! She lives for her pumpkin pie. This girl switches it up. One year I had key lime pie, another carrot cake. Last year was a peanut butter pizookie that could have come out better. And the time before that was blueberry pie x two!! Basically, I like all desserts, but I’m still working on finding my ideal dessert. The special thing I have on my birthday. Peanut butter pie is working it’s way up there.

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I distinctly remember one birthday. We were going out to dinner (I can’t remember where), but I had been restricting myself all day. So much so that I ate so many crackers among other things that I felt physically ill. I cried to my mom about how I ruined my birthday dinner by trying so hard to be hungry only to completely swing the opposite way. To be so full I thought I might throw up. It was not my finest moment.

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I’ve grown so much in 27 years (or is it 28…how do you count this). I can enjoy indulgent food, but also truly look forward to fruits and vegetables. Food doesn’t scare me and I acknowledge that some days I’ll be very full and other days I may not feel satisfied. So it goes in the world of food. Sure it was tough to learn these lessons, but it’s why I write here. I want to share with others the lessons that I’ve learned about food and about how to enjoy life. Especially if it’s your birthday. You will be eating more calories than your typical day, but that’s because you may be going out for a meal or relishing in that cake that your momma made you. And that’s fun! And delicious! It would be worse if you restricted yourself and couldn’t enjoy those moments or that cake. Take it from a girl who knows from experience.

Birthdays also don’t have to just be about food. I look at my birthday week as a time to do things that I love to do. Or a time to treat myself to things that I may have been putting off for a while. This weekend I went bra shopping. I legitimately hate bra shopping. You never know your size or how a specific kind of bra will fit. And you ALWAYS have to go to the dressing room multiple times. It’s also not an item of clothing that you typically get advice on from strangers. Like, oh does this bra accentuate my breasts? No. Nobody does that to strangers. It’s so hard to commit to bras in my opinion. So I jumped in head first and went to Aerie where I ended up with 3 new incredibly soft bras and some underwear. I am going to be feeling damn fine and strutting along those Charlestown streets. Treat for me, check!

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I also replaced the screen protector on my phone. Of course I had dropped it one night getting out of an uber and it had been cracked ever since. Simply replacing the screen protector makes me feel like I have a brand new phone when it’s actually a year and a half old and has some issues, but don’t we all. Checking things off my to do list feels so good.

Lastly, I went for a bike ride. While it was to run errands in Harvard Square I turned it into the best bike ride and rode leisurely along the Charles River. Sure the people annoyed the hell out of me because nobody moves over for bikers, but also a biker almost hit me because he was texting. Like, no. Just put your phone away. It was the perfect temperature and a great day to ride about 12 miles to and from my errands. Nothing like being outside and getting some exercise when you didn’t plan on it or mean to.

This is the beginning of my birthday week. I’m planning on wearing my new bras and underwear all week and enjoying any treats that come my way. That includes the chocolate chunk almond butter banana bread that I made myself for snacks this week. While I may indulge more than usual I also plan to get outside and stick to my workouts. I’m not going to work out extra to burn off said calories, but rather accept that this is all part of the ebb and flow of life. And here I am about to live my 28th year, that’s pretty amazing.

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