Monday, January 2, 2023

Weekly Round Up: The Last Day Off


A weekly round up: eats, workouts, watches, and reads.  Today is the last day of the holiday before we all head back to work and school, so we're chilling out and enjoying it.  Here's what's been going down in our world, food related and otherwise.

Content warning: towards the end of this post I get into weight/diet talk so if that's not your scene feel free to bail at the "New Year New Goals" header or just skip this post altogether.

Let's Start with Some Genius Links

Here are three blog posts that have stuck with me recently:

A Story Worth Sharing from The Lady Okie.   I can't tell you how many blog posts that I've started and scrapped because I felt that the content was too mundane to be worth sharing.

Between The Years from The Inbetween is Mine.  The German language is a gold mine of phrases and concepts that the rest of the world doesn't know that we need until we see posts like this.  The correct descriptor for the time between Christmas and New Year's is zwischen den Jahren - between the years.  It's a between time.

Someone is Staring at You in "Personal Growth" from Girl is a Boyhouse.  Nicole (HI NICOLE) takes zwichen den Jahren one step further - December is the yin and January is the yang.

The reason why the last two posts resonate with me so much is that the time between Thanksgiving and New Year tends to be a low energy time for me but there's something about January that's very high energy.  I can't exactly explain it other than that thing called seasonal depression.  I think that by the end of November the lack of daylight starts to get to me but once the pattern starts reversing, mentally something kicks in and says "cool, we're over the hump so let's get stuff done while we're stuck inside and waiting for winter to clear out".

Also, I had grand plans to blog more after NaBloPo, and I've figured out why I went back to business as usual.  Yes, work got crazy for a bit but there's more to it than that.  NaBloPo was a "big for me" thing and it's natural that I went back to "normal for me" output, the same as when I used to run half marathons - afterwards I needed recovery time.  Combine that with the normal seasonal slump and it makes sense.

And Now Let's Have Something to Eat

I've been on a bowl craze lately for lunches.  The only trouble with bowl meals and is that the pictures aren't quite worth a thousand words.  You pretty much need thousand word descriptions to make sense of the pictures.

Exhibit A: sofritas bowls

I wanted something "taco-ish" and the 4-pack of tofu that I got from Costco is nearing its expiration date so that was the dual inspiration behind the sofritas bowls.  The original concept comes from Pinch of Yum's Spicy Sofritas Tofu, but honestly I've simplified the recipe so much that you'd never know it.  My version is: take two blocks of tofu, slice lengthwise into a few strips, dab on a coating of oil and seasoned salt and air fry at 360 for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile blend a few chipotles and a cup or so of salsa in a blender.  Rip the now cooked tofu into small pieces and mix in the sauce.  

The final bowl is a base of refried beans and the tofu, iceberg lettuce, tomato, salsa, quickie guac (mashed avocado with salt and onion powder), and  a few tortilla chips to help scoop it up.  I ate this for a few days and then portioned up the rest of the tofu and beans into tortillas to make burritos and parked them in the freezer ready and waiting for the next time that I have a "taco-ish" craving.

Exhibit B: sushi bowls

My primary inspo was this Cheap Lazy Vegan "what I ate in a day" video.  I googled tofu sushi recipes and used what Google showed me to come up with the idea of slicing tofu into thin strips and running it through the air fryer (same method as above, a spray of oil, seasoned salt, 360 for 20 minutes).  Meanwhile I cooked up a cup of sushi rice via Cheap Lazy Vegan.  The bowl is a base of the rice with a splash of Teriyaki sauce, topped with the tofu, frozen edamame beans, carrot, cucumber, and there would also have been avocado except that it wasn't ripe yet so it's on tap for the leftovers.  The toppings are Trader Joe's furkake and some chili lemongrass sauce that I got from the Asian store that doesn't exactly fit the flavor profile but is delicious and anyway My Bowl My Rules.

Served with seaweed snacks on the side so that I could alternate eating it with a fork and wrapping it into sushi bites.


As promised, I started Caroline Girvan's Epic III and based on the first week, this just might be my favorite one yet.  I'll keep you posted for the next 9 weeks.

I got in a few more sessions of the Peak Fitness workout (the one where you sprint for a total of 4 minutes out of 20 minutes) as my cardio finisher, but the first leg workout in Epic III put that on hold!  I have been (re)humbled.


For the first time in years, we had an empty nest for New Year's weekend.  We celebrated by going on a Big Fat Quiz of the Year bender (a close cousin of 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown - just drop those titles into YouTube and you'll get a good idea of how we spend our free time) and going to bed at 11:30 because we had nothing to prove by staying up.

Most of my TV watching other than that is random YouTube videos in the background while I work on my primary hobby this time of year.


Look, it was kind of a given that whatever book I picked up after Station Eleven was going to be a flop since that's one heck of a tough act to follow.  Not only was the next book not Station Eleven, but it was a bad case of Deja Vu Book Syndrome.

Deja Vu Book Syndrome is when two books have elements that are eyebrow-raisingly similar.  I don't mean plagiarism, I just mean that there are plot or character elements that are similar to another book. A previous example is that I felt that the main character in The Maid was cut too close to the cloth of the main character in Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.  Both are excellent books, but I enjoyed The Maid a bit less because of the similarity.

The current example from this week is a book called Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson.  I heard about this from an old episode of the Sarah's Bookshelves podcast so I knew going in that the premise sounded very similar to Stay Awake - the main character has the kind of amnesia where she forgets everything when she goes to sleep and has to figure it out all over again when she wakes up.  The problem is that it was exactly the same premise but way less well done.

I wonder if I would have fared better with Before I Go to Sleep if I had read it first, but as it was the discrepancy between it and Stay Awake was jumping out at me on every page and I just couldn't even.  I feel bad since Before I Go to Sleep was written long before Stay Awake so it's the OG, but Stay Awake is the GOAT for amnesia books.

[P.S. I struggle with trash talking books a bit.  If I make a recipe that doesn't work out, I just say that I made a recipe that didn't work out, I don't link to it and say "this sucks".  Books are different because sometimes it can take a few weeks for me to get through one, so I may love something dearly when I start it and then have it not work out for me a few weeks later.  Also I figure that if someone has what it takes to get a book published, they probably have a thick skin and don't care/don't know that some rando blogger isn't a fan so I'm not hurting them.  I'm going to start talking more about my DNF's since I value seeing what isn't working for everyone else==>my intention is to paint a fuller picture, not to be a troll.  The final point on this is that it takes two to tango - the book and the reader so when a book doesn't work out it may be more about where my head is than the book itself.]

Currently reading: I figured I'd check out the book that everyone else is raving about right now and the early signs point to everyone else being right.  Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister.

New Year New Stuff

I kinda do and I kinda don't do resolutions.  It just depends on what's going on in the moment.  The last time that I had a written down list of stuff to tackle was 2018.

I've debated saying or not saying anything about this for a while and I'm finally ready to come out and say it: my goal for the natural high energy period that I get at the beginning of the year is to either finally lose the weight that I gained last year or STFU and accept it.  I've been in an unproductive inbetween spiral for a while now.  ICYMI, the #1 item on my 2018 list was to lose weight, which I did, but then I got into distance running and regained five pounds.  For the longest time my weight was stuck at 140# (I'm 5'5" for context), which is about 10# more than I like but (1) it wasn't worth getting bothered about and (2) as long as I was running the idea of maintaining any kind of a calorie deficit was laughable.

Last year I gained 10 pounds from the combo of work stress, blinding following a high volume low intensity running program, and the well-intentioned but ultimately bad idea of working with a sports dietitian, and this year I gained another 5 pounds just 'cuz.  And let's nip this one in the bud - yes it's normal to gain weight when you start strength training but when you gain weight AND your pants get tighter, it's not because of muscle.  I don't look terrible but I'm also not thrilled with my physical appearance.  Don't worry, you won't be seeing any more skin that this, but here's what I'm taking about (2020 photo from this post)

Reasons to lose weight:

  • I've put a lot of work into my hunger cues which were pretty much blown out from running.  I've got a better sense of when I'm truly hungry and when I'm just frustrated with life.
  • Now that I'm not running, I don't have 24/7 Runger driving me into the kitchen at all hours.
  • Emotionally I think I'm ready to tackle this.
  • I'd feel better at a lower weight, both physically and from a confidence/feeling comfortable in my own skin perspective.
  • Related, I will be taking 2 one week long vacations this summer (one by myself, one with the fam) and it is a lot more fun to be in a bathing suit at a lower weight.
  • I deserve to have the body that I want.
  • Unsure if my weight will stay here or if it will go up.  Speaking as someone who was overweight as a teenager, it's a lot easier to take on a 10-20# loss than it is to take on something larger.
  • It's not all or nothing.  I'd take a phased approach and start by getting my weight under 150, then target 145, etc. If I could even lose one pound a month I'd be a lot happier with things at this time next year.

Reasons to stay where I am:

  • Dude, there are better ways to spend my time and energy.  I've tried and failed to get my weight down so many times in recent years. 
  • There is nothing inherently wrong with my weight apart from the fact that I don't like it.  People come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and most of us are a variety of shapes and sizes at different points in our life.
  • My past weight loss/maintenance has been more from activity than from diet.  I gained most of the weight while running 30 miles a week, so there isn't an increase in activity that I can do over that.
  • My doctor is cool with my weight and all of my labs are good.
  • Maybe this is where my body wants to be.  My weight gain role model is the Insta account Georgia Beth Fitness and this very insightful post.

My plan of attack is the wildly unsexy method of a slight calorie deficit with a goal toward getting my intake under but not much under 2,000 calories a day for the month of January and seeing where my weight is then. I've been tracking my intake for the last three months and my average is 2,400 cals a day - that's a mix of some days of eating what I wanna eat, some days of trying to cut back, all of our family parties, and those times when I get frustrated and take it to the kitchen.  On paper I just need less "eating what I wanna eat" and less "frustrated and take it to the kitchen".

Yes it's very simple but also I haven't been able to achieve it since back in 2018 so that's where the "do it or STFU and accept it" part comes in.  If I can't get my average cals down or if I do and my weight/size doesn't go down by the end of the month then I just need to be good with the fact that there's more of me to love.

Related goal: also by the end of the month I'm getting rid of all of the clothes that I own that don't fit.  Even if I do lose weight, my wardrobe is pretty old and in need of a refresh.  And let's be more honest, I have a stash of stuff that never fit to start with and a stash of stuff that fits that I don't like, so this is a loss that is very achievable.

I'll circle back on both topics sometime in early February.

Happy New Year Everyone!!!


  1. Love this post, partly because of the DELICIOUS bowls but partly because you are reading Wrong Place Wrong Time and partly because of this mind-blowing sentence: "I deserve to have the body that I want." I need to... think on that. Sheesh, why is there SO MUCH GUILT around a) having too much weight and b) wanting to lose weight and c) not feeling good about whatever weight you are?????

    1. I don't have the answers, I'm just a work in progress. Wrong Place, Wrong Time RIGHT BOOK. I mean, I knew it would be good with everyone raving about it but I was unprepared for HOW GOOD it is.

  2. I think you have a very good attitude with your weight loss goals, and a good plan to get you where you want to be...which seems (to me, at least) ultimately happy and accepting of yourself. I also think your plan of tossing all the ill-fitting clothing pieces is a great move. Heck, it's something all of us should be doing, right?

    1. Correct! I need to either get where I want to be or be happy with where I am. I'm hoping to start on the Great Closet purge tomorrow. It won't take long, I just need to start...

  3. HI BIRCHY! Thanks for the shoutout! I'm glad you liked that post.
    First of all, I have to say that I think you look fabulous; very strong and healthy, but at the same time, I know what it is to want to feel better in your body and clothes. So I understand, while at the same time I think you look great. To that end, I will be cheering you on, to whatever end. I think your approach sounds very sensible and healthy.
    I also hear you on your closet refresh. I read Curating Your Closet last year and loved it, and decided I had no room in my life for clothes that I didn't LOVE. I am due to do this again, to really cull things that I don't feel great in for one reason or another. It's very freeing to do this, and to know that when you open your closet you will like everything in it. I look forward to the update!

    1. YES!!! Weight and body stuff is complicated, doing a closet refresh is easy.

  4. Ah... so much here. It's frustrating to do things you think are going to help, like take up long distance running and working with a dietician, and not get the results you want. It also can be hard to say you're not happy with your body, when a lot of people would love to have the body you have. But like you said, you deserve to have the body you want, and feel comfortable in your clothes. It sounds like your plan is good. And I like how you're focusing on your workouts. Now I'm VERY interested in that Epic III workout- I'm going to look at it. My legs and butt are sore today from the Tempo Week workout I did yesterday!
    I'll be interested to hear how this month goes for you! Oh, and both those bowls sound delicious. i make a tofu sofrita, but I like your recipe. Except I don't have an air fryer, sigh. Good luck with everything!

    1. Oh man, if you have the counter space for it, I'd really recommend an air fryer. Once you've had air fryer tofu, tempeh, and soy curls there's no other way.

  5. Your method with the slight calorie deficit will work: 1. You've done it before and 2. you are very disciplined.
    Looking forward to the update, Birchie!

  6. I'd like to skip the weight talk (so FRAUGHT) and talk about books. When I finish a great book, I'm much more likely to be friendly to the next book I read because I'm still riding my book high. But woe to the book I start after a DNF - that book has a steep hill to climb because I am grumpy about the last book. My husband claims that whether a book is good is an independent event of previous reads, but I think that's only true if I weren't a human being. So, this is a lot of words to say that I think it's interesting that you went into the next book after reading a great book sort of assuming it wouldn't live up to expectations. It's interesting that we have different takes on it!

    1. Yes, when I get a book that's so good that it makes the earth stand still I always have a bit of a let down afterwards and I'm tougher on the next book. And then sometimes I get into a downward spirial of DNFs where nothing works...and then I come across another great book and so the cycle continues....

  7. Yay! I'm on my work computer so I can comment on your post. I can't do that on my iPad, which is frustrating.

    Your bowl dishes look delicious.
    I loved Eleanor Oliphant, and wonder if enough time has passed that I could read 'The Maid', or if it would just remind me of how much I loved Eleanor.
    I like your idea of getting over losing weight if your calorie plan doesn't work for you. I sometimes think women could take over the world if we put 1/2 of the energy into ANYTHING productive instead of hating our bodies. I suspect your calorie plan WILL work for you, but that it may be a slow weight loss. That has been my experience. If I cut my calories in a maintainable way, I can lose maybe a pound or two a month. If I cut more, I can lose a little faster, but I gain it back. Speaking of weight, HA! I'm looking at the picture I have with my Google ID. I'm 27 in that picture, on my honeymoon in Paris, and I weigh about 110. Now I'm 57 and weigh closer to 150. Sigh. Time spent thinking about it...time wasted?

    1. I'd vote to take a chance on The Maid. I read Eleanor several years before and hadn't thought about it for a while, but as soon as I picked The Maid up, I got the vibes right away. It did detract from my enjoyment of The Maid a bit, but it was still a good book. And it motivated me to read Eleanor again so I got to enjoy it twice! Not a bad thing.

      I'll take on World Domination as my plan B if the diet thing doesn't work out. But seriously...there is serious truth in what you say.

  8. I have yet to read one of Gillian's books, but I "know" her back from the Vlogging Days and need to pick up one of her books.

    Thanks so much for mentioning my blog post. I do agree that the German languages does have some very descriptive phrases and concepts that are just "spot on" :)

    Good luck with your weight loss. While I don't think you look terrible, I definitely know what it feels like to not be "comfortable" in your own skin (and isn't that what this is all about).... I think your strategies are good. Slow and steady is usually the way to go. It's not like you have a significant amount to lose fast.

    1. I'm very interested to check out her other books, though at the same time in no hurry to be done with Wrong Time, Wrong Place.

      Thanks for the support!

  9. Your meals look delicious! Yum! I thought it was parsnips in the photo before I realized it was tofu haha. I also totally get you on the weight thing - I don't think I need to lose weight for being at the wrong weight or because things will be better if I am at a different weight - I want to lose weight this year becuase I know the weight I'm at for me isn't idea and I have made a series of unhealthy choices in the last year to add 5 pounds. If I gain 5 pounds in a year from doing sports or training then I'm fine with it. If I gain 5 pounds by not sleeping enough and drinking too much then I think I'm OK to try and lose it. I am really interesting in reading more about intuitive eating - do you have any book recommendations on that? Good luck with your not-resultions :-)

    1. A lot of people rave about the book Intuitive Eating, but it was kind of a snoozer for me so no I don't have any recommendations. But you've started me thinking. My gut reaction when I hear "intuitive eating" is to get snarky and snap "yes it's the most pleasant and healthy way that I know to eat 3,000 calories a day", but actually I go more by "what do I actually want to eat" instead of "what am I supposed to eat" in planning what I eat from day to day. Maybe I have a label after all. An "intuitive eater who doesn't have great hunger/fullness cues so I have to track what I eat to make sure that I'm kind of in normal range without over or under doing it" is a bit wordy so I'll have to work on that part.

  10. I like your approach to all of this, to be honest. You seem to have a realistic assessment of the What and the Why, and that (in my [ignorant] opinion) matters. Also, AWESOME bowls - thanks for sharing! I am, of course, clipping your adaptations as I think they'd be my preference, too. :)