Happy National Popcorn Day!

When someone asks me the “If you got stranded on a dessert island…” question, one of the foods in my top three foods I’d like to be stuck with is POPCORN. Besides being delicious, it would be kind of a useful thing; I mean, think about it, you could plant the seeds, use them as tiny bullets for a slingshot, and have something to do because you’d eternally be picking hulls out of your teeth. Win win win. Today is National Popcorn Day, and I wanted to celebrate this fine day by sharing a few of my favorite popcorny things.

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First of all, I’m a popcorn purist, meaning no microwave crap here unless I’m in a time crunch. (Heh, crunch. Get it?) I like to make my popcorn the unhealthy way; with one tablespoon of olive oil (or avocado oil if I’m feeling ritzy) in a sauce pan on high, with Orville Redenbacher seeds. I’ve tried so many gizmos and gadgets to make popcorn including air poppers, a borosilicate glass beaker thing, microwaveable bowls, and I keep going back to the old school method. It works for a reason. I find that air poppers make your popcorn have a stale sort of crunch to it, and I want that delicious, squeaky stryofoamy feeling that my teeth sink into.

Here are my favorite popcorn related things!

1) Morton’s Popcorn Salt.

It’s like .99 and super fine salt, ideal for making your own popcorn. The link goes to a big size which explains the $5.99 price tag, but this stuff is the ideal in popcornology.

2) THIS recipe for copycat Garret’s style popcorn. I had a wicked popcorn craving when I was pregnant, and you can only get this stuff in Chicago. Thankfully for me the kind lady at A Spicy Perspective had this recipe waiting.  (Side note: I purchased the cheese powder, and while real foodies among you might go “Cheese POWDER?!”, fear not, it’s actually real Wisconsin cheddar that’s been dehydrated and pulverized. This stuff is delicious for other recipes, like mac n’ cheese, cheesey broccoli, or anything else that would benefit from cheese. That’s most things in life.)

3) As for ready made popcorn, I’m a big fan of the Trader Joe’s Herb Popcorn and Gaslamp’s Cinnamon Caramel Popcorn. Gaslamp sent me a few bags to try, and I had some major problems keeping my hands out of the bag. I served it when some guests were over and we all agreed it had the perfect crunchiness, and the sweetness wasn’t overly cloying. I really liked it and now will be hunting it down. PS – It’s made in California and you can tell it comes to you FRESH. Holla! Give this popcorn a try when you’re in the mood for something sweet. Their white cheddar was also phenomenal! (Keep reading for a chance to try it yourself!)

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I also tried some Boom Chicka Pop Dark Chocolate Caramel Popcorn over Christmas, and man oh man, I can’t have that in the house. That just makes it like crack. As long as I don’t douse popcorn in tons of butter, I don’t feel too guilty having a reasonable serving size of it. (Cough… I mean, I would NEVER eat just a massive bowl of popcorn for dinner. I’m an ADULT! Cough)

Tell me how you feel about popcorn – one of my friends says it smells like feet to him! I almost stopped being his friend. Do you love, like, or loathe the miraculous corny goodness of popcorn? Want to win a three pack from my friends at Gaslamp? Comment with the type of their popcorn you’d like to try most! If you want extra entries, “Like” them on Facebook or Follow them on twitter. Be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry. Giveaway ends 1/26 at 10:00 p.m. 18+ and USA Only. Good luck!

 

 

An update from Alyssa and April: A fresh start in 2016!

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Well hey there! How are ya? Lots has happened  in the past year… mainly that I had a baby! Holly was born on 11.09.15 and is an amazing, sweet, happy little baby. My life has changed dramatically in just two months, and as I suspected, I’m finding that my attitude towards my body and weight loss is changing. The desire to get healthy is even stronger than ever now because it’s no longer just about me – being a healthy Alyssa is being a healthy mom for my daughter. April and I decided over Christmas this year that we wanted to come back to the Double Chin Diary.

Managing a full-time job, marriage, baby, and writing on my blog is going to be a bit difficult, so this year I’m not giving myself any “goals”. It’s simply trying to move to a frame of mind for feeling good. Pregnancy and the post-partum time period does a doozy on the body, so for now, I’m ready to get started with a few simple things; 1) Getting back to gentle exercise, like walking, yoga, and riding my bike, 2) Moving away from sugar, and 3) focusing on self-care like sleep, gardening, and eating nutritious things. That’s all. No goals of “I must lose this much weight by so and so,” because that stuff has never worked for me. I just need to try to do and be better.

A blogger friend of mine has been experiencing some health issues, and she posted this on her Facebook: “To all of you youngsters on my friend list who are carrying extra weight, PLEASE heed my warning and lose the weight … sooner rather than later! We only get one shot at this life, so please don’t waste/throw away years of it being overweight like I’ve done.”

It really resonated with me, and as I approach the ripe old age of 31, no day or time is ever promised. Why wouldn’t I want to spend it feeling great? I’m thrilled that so far mommyhood has been wonderful; I feel happy mentally, and now it’s time to start feeling better physically. My back in particular has been aching a lot since late pregnancy and labor (more details about that later: the chiropractor is my new best friend), so I’m ready to shed some weight to see if that helps.

Feels good to be back… I’ll check in soon with more details about my body during pregnancy and after.  2016: let’s do this! (PS: You can also find me on my other blog, LaLaLyssa.com sharing more lifestyle related things like tales from motherhood, random posts about cats, and other stuff.)

XOXO

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The Double Chin Diary Divider

From April:

It has been a year since I stopped writing on the Double Chin Diary. This past year went by quickly as I didn’t have much time to rest with my usual chaotic schedule. I spent 2015 working an assortment of positions at a local humane society, babysitting, and being a full time student. I am proud to say that I’m just one class away from completing an advanced certificate in Environmental Resource Management and Pollution Prevention!

Even though my life was on the constant move, I managed to gain 45 pounds. I know why I gained the weight. I ate for convenience and not health. My idea of exercise was walking from the farthest parking spot in the lot at work. I stopped hiking, playing tennis, and going for walks around the town. I hit my ultimate level of exhaustion and my body took the impact of it.

This year I can’t continue to act the same way. My body just can’t handle any more weight. My legs get all twitchy when I’m tired, just like they used to do 8 years ago before I had lost 50 pounds. I eat Tums like they are the only thing that keeps me alive. I spend my weekends sleeping and cleaning because I’m too tired from the week to do anything productive after work. I need to start making the changes necessary for me to lose weight and regain my health. Plus, with my niece Holly around now, I have even more motivation to get fit.

Alyssa and I have been talking how we need to start writing again on the Double Chin Diary. I never had an extraordinary amount of weight loss while writing here but a major benefit I found was the accountability for myself to do well. I felt like I wanted to have positive things to write about so I was motivated to try harder.

Now that it is a new year and my crazy schedule should be calming down, it is time to start again. I plan to write at least once a week about my adventures of being back at the gym, eating well, and regaining my health. I’ll be using Myfitnesspal.com to track my weight and maybe my food and exercise, if I can be disciplined enough. I need to start COMPLETELY avoiding the foods I’m allergic to (wheat, rice, oats, apples, oranges, and bananas) as I do think my denial of my food allergies over the past four months definitely attributes to my weight gain.

Like so many at the beginning of the year, I am full of great intentions. I hope I can actually fulfill them this year.

Happy 2016 everyone!

Cheers,
AprilSignatur

The F Word

You thought I meant the four letter one, huh? Or the three letter one? Nope! I mean the word FEMINIST.

Most of the time, I love being a woman. In high school, my best friend and I would pore over the book Making Faces, spending hours crafting various looks from tubes of concealer and blushes and eyeshadows. We delighted in the feminine pursuit of shopping and finding clothes that flattered our bodies, made us feel confident, and brought a swing to our step. Even dating was in some ways an exercise in self-acceptance, as we quickly grew to realize what boys really did appreciate the fact that we loved aggressive girl-punk-rock, and which ones actually thought we were just silly girls.

I’ve always had a feminist edge, and I’m not ashamed to say I’m a feminist. I’m still shocked by something that happened to me in college: I was working on my Bachelor’s degree in 2008 at Cal State Northridge, and we had a “women and men in the media” class. My teacher asked everyone in the class who was a feminist to raise their hands. Out of 32 students, one person raised their hand. That person was me. I couldn’t quite understand why being a feminist was seen as such a bad thing. In fact, one of my first boyfriends dumped me because I was a “feminazi” because I told him that females could be DJs just like men, and he felt that DJs should only be male. My definition of feminist is somebody who values, respects, and appreciates that women should have the exact same rights as men. I’m not standing on street corners burning my bra or refusing to shave my legs (though quite frankly, if women want to do that, go for it. (And shaving your legs totally sucks, so I can see the appeal in that,). I once saw a quote that said that all people born from women should be feminists… and I agree.

As I near the end of my pregnancy, I’ve had some time to reflect on body image and beauty standards for women. When other people see you are pregnant, they feel they have a free pass to comment on your appearance as it now pertains to two people: you and a baby. I’m used to rude comments on my appearance as a woman of size, and thankfully while I don’t experience it often (apparently I “carry it well”, another thing I hear a lot), I’ve noticed that as I have just under 4.5 weeks to go, the comments about the size of my body, appearance, and bump are picking up. I also heard comments about my food choices in my early pregnancy, but anyone who dares comment on my dietary choices now might receive a swift kick to the head. I don’t want my daughter to be walking through the mall hearing teenage boys make “oink” sounds behind her back. If she chooses to become pregnant one day, I also don’t want her to have to hear “Wow, you still have four weeks to go? You look ready now!”. I don’t want her to hear about the size of her breasts, how she has such a pretty face, or how things would be better “if only” she lost a little weight. However, I’ve accepted the sad reality that because she is female, she will hear these things. In Amy’s Schumer’s movie, Train Wreck, the main character’s sister shares that she found out her unborn baby is a girl. Amy shares her excitement and says something to the extent of “That’s wonderful!”. Her sister immediately says “No, it’s not! She’s totally screwed!” and Amy says, “Yeah, you’re right, she’s screwed.” The actual dialogue in the movie is much more succinct, but basically the gist of the scene is, yeah, she’s  a female, she’s already got a few challenges stacked against her just because of her gender. While I am thrilled to be having a baby girl, I admit I have some of the same hesitations. I’ve lived an amazing life thus far, but have I experienced sexism or problems because I’m female? You betcha. We all have… and I’m sure even men have experienced things that suck because they’re guys.

Jennifer Weiner wrote this letter to her daughters, and it made me sniffle because it sums up so eloquently what I want my daughter to know. As we’re just weeks away from meeting her, I want her to know it’s ok to be a girl. It’s ok to love the color pink, and it’s also okay to hate wearing a bra. It’s ok to be a feminist. It’s ok to question the status quo, to be angry that she may be reduced to her appearance rather than the sum of her parts. I haven’t even seen her yet and I know that she is beautiful, not because of what she looks like, but because of who she is. She will be courageous, and strong, and intelligent. She will be creative in her own ways, independent in her own ways, opinionated in her own ways. And she will grow up with a mom and dad that encourage her to be herself, and to raise her hand when a teacher asks if she is a feminist. And with any luck, hopefully she won’t be the only person in the room to raise her hand.

Bumpin’ while Bikin': Third Trimester with my Pedego

Stuff the FTC makes me say: Pedego provided me a complementary bicycle in exchange for my coverage on the Double Chin Diary and social media as part of being a Pedego Electric Bike Ambassador. All opinions are my own.

Hello! I’m now officially in my third trimester (WOOHOO!), and I’m excited to check in today because I’ve been feeling a little bit better the last week. My stomach is still dicey and I’m still exhausted, but I’ve managed to take Cora the Pedego out for a few spins this week as we’re also finally get out of the 100 degree weather (today was a chilly 90. ha!). I had my first third trimester ultrasound today, and the doctor spent some time going over exercise and nutrition with me… and let me know that my active habits and food choices have paid off, because I have yet to gain a single pound this pregnancy! (Yes, for someone starting their pregnancy at my weight, this is 100% healthy and baby is growing right on track.)

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I can definitely thank Pedego for that, because it’s been a simple way for me to get a little bit of activity when even feeling like taking a shower feels like a big event. In fact, today I rode the bike to my local CVS, and I was having so much fun using the throttle going down the street that I had to remind myself that ya know, I can still pedal and get some exercise. Haha! Just being honest. It was cool at CVS too, because a woman stopped me to ask about my bike and why it had “that big thing in the back”. It was neat to explain to her how it was electric, and she ended up writing down the name of the bikes in her phone, so you never know. As a marketing nerd, I think those real life opportunities to connect with people about something you really like is so cool. (And yes, as the disclosure states, I am an ambassador for Pedego, but that doesn’t mean I am forced to say it’s great or anything like that. Sorry, but who wouldn’t like a beachy bike that zips around?!)

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This week also marked a new occasion because my bike had a “guest star”. Matt wanted to grab a burrito from the local taco truck one night, so he took my bike. I can tell he was having fun because of all the selfies I got. What did he think about his late night spin? “It’s fun to ride a bike, but it’s a completely different experience being able to hit the throttle,” he said. Oh yeah. I know what he means! There’s that word again… fun. Pedego’s tagline is even “Hello Fun!”.

The above picture Matt took and it’s hard to see because it’s at night, but it’s him and his reflection in the rear view mirror on the handle bars. I liked it, pretty avante garde!

In other biking news, if you’re in LA County, check out these free bike safety classes. You even get a free helmet for attending. I’m bummed because of course the weekends it’s in my hometown, I’m out of town, but hopefully someone else can benefit. Big thanks to Linda at Pedego 101 for letting me know about this!

I’m hoping to get out and ride more the next few weeks, which will be interesting as the bump doubles in size the next few weeks. Bumpin’ while bikin’… a whole new experience. I hope you have a beautiful day!

Pedego A Go Go: Why an e-bike is great when you’re not feelin’ 100%

Stuff the FTC makes me say: Pedego provided me a complementary bicycle in exchange for my coverage on the Double Chin Diary and social media as part of being a Pedego Electric Bike Ambassador. All opinions are my own.

Pregnancy is a gift, but when you’re spending significant parts of your days nauseous and gagging, it can get a little overwhelming. I haven’t written in a few weeks because I’m one of those unlucky people who got second trimester morning sickness instead of first, and the last few weeks have been kickin’ my booty! This has unfortunately sapped my energy and I haven’t been able to ride my Pedego as much as I’ve wanted (that, coupled with crazy 95 degree plus heat…). I even was advised to stay home from a work trip I was really looking forward to, so that shows you how much my booty has been gettin’ kicked. Wah! Today, I was craving a baked potato with dinner, so I decided to get on my Pedego. Even though it’s been a bad nausea day and I’m tired, I used the Pedal Assist mode and was instantly relieved and refreshed how it made my bike ride so simple!

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I realized this is the beauty of the e-bike. For people who aren’t feeling good, who have pain issues, are preggers, or are just starting an exercise program, no wonder e-bikes could be the ticket to getting you back on track with fitness. A 2 mile ride where I’d normally be huffin’ and puffin’ with my 10 pound sack of potatoes in the bike basket (they were only 99c for the whole bag!) was suddenly manageable again.

Why yes, that is a 10 pound sack of potatoes in my bike basket.

Why yes, that is a 10 pound sack of potatoes in my bike basket.

I also have to give a shout out to the step-through design and style of the bike… now that the bump has arrived, thank goodness I don’t have to hoist myself up onto the seat like I’m trying to get on a horse. Makes me want to rebrand my bike, Pregoago instead of Pedego. Ha! Maybe there’s a market there… 😉

I was watching some videos on Pedego’s site, and this story about Beth Turner resonated with me. She used to ride her bike to work but some knee pain was making it difficult: until she got a Pedego. Voila! Solutions on two wheels, right there.

I’d like to figure out a way to show you guys the difference between the pedal assist and the throttle soon, because I know I’ve had a few questions about how it’s different, so stay tuned as I figure that out. As a side note: I passed out two brochures about this bike while being out and about on it. THAT was cool. It’s certainly an eye-catching bike.

So tell me – when you’re not feeling good, how do you keep active? What light activity do you do to keep your body in motion without overdoing it?