These New Feelings

These New Feelings

After coming back from the East Bay last weekend, I felt unusually happy/self-confident/optimistic about life. I say “unusually” only because honestly, it has been a rarity for me to have these feelings hit me on a consistent basis. After years of dealing with depression and an eating disorder, as well as starting my recovery journey and really giving myself time to heal, grow, and learn about myself, I am now starting to feel ready to reach out and challenge myself with new and exciting things. I don’t feel as though I’m 100% recovered, but I feel I have improved SO much even after a little over a year of “real recovery”.

I feel ready to form more friendships and social relationships, to put myself out there and show the world who I really am. This readiness feels so thrilling and exciting, but at the same time I’m not sure what to expect. I’m putting myself in a really vulnerable position, but to be honest I’m not too afraid about that. In fact, I kind of want to challenge myself and shake things up from their current routine.

It’s going to be a slow process, but I think taking things slow is a wise decision for me at this point. If I want these changes to be sustainable and rooted, then I have to go about it carefully. But since it is all so new, it will feel like I have something to look forward to everyday 🙂

I can see I’m being vague about these “new and exciting changes”, but I just wanted to express how I’ve been feeling lately without going into TOO much detail…if things look promising, I’ll be able to disclose more ;)!

Besides embracing these all too-new feelings, I’ve also been embracing some new flavors of some recently tried and reviewed products. Before Vitamin Shoppe ended their BOGO 50% off D’s Naturals products promotion, I got the Raspberry Lava Cake and Salted Caramel Sundae flavors to try over the week. I go through jars of nut butters like nobody’s business so getting two for the week was just standard protocol 😛

D's Naturals Raspberry Lava Cake
D’s Naturals Raspberry Lava Cake

The Raspberry Lava Cake D’s Naturals spread tasted like mild chocolate peanut butter with a hint of fruit . A lot of the oil settled at the top and it was hard to get some to mix well at the bottom, but nevertheless it was a good flavor

The Salted Caramel Sundae had a smooth texture and taste that was easy on the palate. It From the two, I thought I would like RLC more, but I ended up having a stronger preference for SCS due to the fact that it has a smoother texture and flavor, and a mild caramel scent.

Salted Caramel Sundae D's Naturals Spread
Salted Caramel Sundae D’s Naturals Spread

During the same trip to Vitamin Shoppe, I also found the birthday cake flavor of Optimum Nutrition’s cake bites. While I thought the other two flavors were alright, I thought these bites were perfection.

Optimum Nutrition Cake Bites - Birthday Cake
Optimum Nutrition Cake Bites – Birthday Cake

The white chocolate coating had a firm enough texture to allow for it to have some crunch. And the sprinkles…it was like these three little bites were designed to be served as kid-friendly petit fours.

On Saturday, I had to make a trek to the downtown area (haha, I remember when it was pretty much my backyard…). I was starving by the time 2pm hit, and pizza sounded like the best idea ever.

Blaze Pizza near DTLA
Blaze Pizza near DTLA

It was my first time checking out Blaze Pizza, and I knew from the likes of the menu that the Art Lover sounded the most appetizing.

Time to add some toppings.
Time to add some toppings.

After laying out my crust, the woman behind the counter added the essentials: … Yeah, I could have made a completely different pizza that was customized to my design, but I found comfort in the description of the Art Lover.

Cookies!
Cookies!

Ricotta & mozzarella. ’nuff said.

Art Lover - artichokes, mozzarella, ricotta, chopped garlic, red sauce dollops
Art Lover – artichokes, mozzarella, ricotta, chopped garlic, red sauce dollops

I saw people around me feeling too full, having to carry-out half eaten pizzas. I was able to stomach the whole thing and not feel like I was going to burst! I may have had Italian seasoning-breath for the rest of the day, but a good pizza pie is worth it.

Can I have 3 more of these??
Can I have 3 more of these??

What good things have happened to you recently?

Blaze Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

3 Day Weekend!

3 Day Weekend!

When I got home after the 13 miler in Pasadena, I napped, ate dinner, and decided to not do anything for the rest of the day since those abominable hills had wiped me out (apparently our scheduled 18 miler is going to be quite hilly, but I will come to experience that later…). I was in no mood to go out and have dinner on the town that evening, but I was glad that Monday would give me the opportunity to do so, since it was a three day weekend.

My Dad was in town for business, and like the previous times he’s visited, I stayed with him for the few days he was here. Since I had no classes or lab commitments on that Monday, we were able to meet around noon and have a light lunch before he had a meeting. As it approached evening, we headed out for dinner. I wanted to have Ethiopian, and learned that Ibex was the closest to us from the hotel we were staying at.

The restaurant was well-lit from the outside, but the surroundings were quite ‘sketch‘. There was a man standing right against the far wall of the parking lot who looked like he was…um…”using the bathroom” to put it lightly. He disappeared after we decided to park in the lot again, after giving street parking a try.

SAMSUNG

The inside of the restaurant was small, but there were plenty of open tables when we arrived. We stood awkwardly near the entrance for a few minutes before asking one of the servers if it would be okay to seat ourselves. After getting the go-ahead, we sat at a table in the center-right of the restaurant. I was in the perfect position to see two televisions parked in the far corners of the restaurant, while one television behind us played Ethiopian music videos via Youtube.

interior

It’s never an issue figuring out what to order at an Ethiopian restaurant as a vegetarian, but at the same time, your options are limited in that you can order a combo plate and get a sample of everything, or just a decent-sized bowl of one side dish to dip into with a basketful of injera. In the end, ordering a veggie combo plate makes the most sense, especially if it’s being shared with a lot of people. We decided to just order one combo plate first, and ask for another one if we were still hungry.

IBEXethiopianfoodmenu

Even though it wasn’t a busy night for the restaurant, we had to wait forever for our food to arrive. No wonder there were three TVs in the restaurant. It seriously took about forty minutes for our first plate to arrive. In the meantime, my Dad struggled to figure out if they had hot fruit tea. Our server was sweet enough to try and communicate with us about their tea offering—despite English not being her first language—but when we realized that they only had black tea, we stuck to our waters.

When our food did arrive, we did end up ordering a second plate while we feasted on the first:

vegplate

The second plate came out much quicker, and even though it looked to be the same size as the first, it was rolled out on a larger plate:

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As always, the food was nutritious and filling (between the two of us, we made it through 1 1/2 of the platters), but the meal was not as exemplary as the Ethiopian offerings in Oakland

Even though we were stuffed, we ended the night with froyo before heading back to the hotel. At a nearby Yogurtland, I mixed up four flavors and added my usual favorite toppings of poppers, mochi, some type of berry, and yogurt chips. 

gettingyogurtafter

The next morning, I fit in my morning workouts by lifting in the small fitness center at the hotel, and then going out for a 5 mile run. I made it an easy 2.5 mile out-and-back, and had fun “exploring” a new-to-me area. The 2.5 mile mark happened to be at the same mall where the Yogurtland we went to the night before was. After running back to the hotel, I snacked on some Quest bars and headed down to the business center to work on some classwork/lab-related stuff. 

Around 3pm, my Dad picked me up and we made our way to Artesia (not surprising 😉 ) to pick up some groceries, and where I also decided to pick up some groceries for myself—since I slacked on that duty over the weekend!

Once our shopping tasks were complete, I suggested we pay Fitness Grill a visit for dinner. I learned about the restaurant after looking up ‘high protein restaurants in the LA area’  recently (the things I do in my spare time…), and figured I would be better off going there in a car versus public transit, considering it would take about 2+ hours to get there from my apartment…

It still was a long drive due to traffic, but definitely no more than an hour. The location surprised us at first, since Google Maps directed us to a strip mall, but Fitness Grill was at the center of it all, shining bright in the dark. 

fitness grill

There was an outdoor patio area with cushioned seats, and the inside looked just as luxurious. Some of the menu items were pricey, but it was mostly due to the fact the dishes contained some form of meat. There were plenty of veggie options for us, and substitutions were welcome as well.

insidefitnessgrill

But it wasn’t ‘all classed up’ though. There was large screen TV in the high corner of the wall near our booth that at the time was screening the State of the Union.

We were handed menus:

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After reading about the pizzas, I thought it would be interesting to try a pizza crust that included soy protein isolate.

SAMSUNG

Especially if it’s called a Yoga Pizza and has 8 grams of protein per slice!

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Water and soup tied us over in the meantime. I washed my hands in the ladies room, but didn’t leave without snapping a phone pic or two!

 The wall painting in the ladies room // water in a Fitness Grill cup // minestrone soup // no standard women's sign here...just a classic bust!
The wall painting in the ladies room // water in a Fitness Grill cup // minestrone soup // no standard women’s sign here…just a classic bust!

Our food came to the table faster than the previous night’s dinner, and we couldn’t wait to dig into the Yoga pizza!

yogapizaa
This pizza was topped with fresh mozzarella, roma tomatoes, basil, capers, olive oil, and pesto sauce.

The cheese was perfectly soft and gooey, and there was just enough pesto and olive oil glazed over the crust. The only issue I had was making sure the capers stayed in place, since due to the oil, they wanted to slide right off each slice.

After gobbling up the pizza in no time, my Dad and I decided to drive by the Nixon Museum since it was only a couple blocks away. It was too cold to step outside, but I was able to snap a picture of the Army One helicopter (where he flashed the peace sign on the steps, haha) and the front of the museum before driving back to the hotel.

SAMSUNG

SAMSUNG

Of course, dessert was in order so we stopped at Sprouts before really making our way back. I snacked on an Artic Zero in Orange Cream in the car, since it’s such a rare find for me (I’ve only ever seen it in Sprouts…). Once we were at the hotel, I decided to turn in for the night at the early hour of 9pm so that I could squeeze in some lifiting and a 6 miler the next morning before heading off to school…at 8am.

How did you spend your MLK three-day weekend?

Ibex on Urbanspoon Fitness Grill on Urbanspoon

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