Beaut Beirut

I have to start this post by sincerely apologizing for my leave of absence. I know that I broke one of the biggest rules of blogging, “Be consistent” when I disappeared for over 4 weeks, or has it been 5? But let me just say that I had quite a bit on my mind and I gave myself a BIG, healthy break starting when my mom came to visit me in Pittsburgh and help me pack up the house and continuing through my transition to moving overseas. I have missed blogging, however I did not at one point during the last 5 weeks feel the urge to blog. Quality over quantity, right? I can say that I feel more like myself these days, albeit lacking a bit of my usual routine (working/cooking/working-out balance all a little bit in flux at this point).  Kinda feels like vacation to be here right now and I am going to let myself enjoy that feeling.

This vacation feeling is due to a couple of reasons, one is that my work week is currently a bit more flexible with some extra pockets of free time. The biggest reason that I feel like I am “on holiday” is because every time I step out of my door to go for a run, walk 10 minutes for dinner groceries, or walk a couple blocks to the friendly produce man to get the BEST PRODUCE I have ever had, I get all excited and giddy. I hope to never get over this feeling.

I think that an important piece of information to share with you all is that security is a bit higher here than in the States. For many reasons, but mostly to protect myself and the people that I will be working with, I will not be able to share much, if anything about the work that I am doing here via blog posts. In fact all of my blog posts will be read by my bosses, just to ensure that I am not accidentally including sensitive information that could harm myself or others.  I will however be writing a newsletter of sorts for interested friends and family. I hope to include more about the work that Zach and I are doing in that, but again, I may need to be rather vague at times.

What I will continue to write about is my faith, good food, sound nutrition advice, my fitness and exercise endeavors, and of course, the beautiful country that I live in and the others that I have the chance to visit while I am here. I look forward to sharing these future posts with you all.

So what have I been up to during my first three-ish weeks here? Mostly getting accustomed to my new environment, making our apartment feel like our home, and spending lots of quality time with Zach while we discover all of the beautiful places and great food that Beirut has to offer. Since we got married we have never spent more than 1 night apart from each other (crazy, I know). We were ready to see each other after 5 weeks apartSmile Yes, we were both pathetically crying when we finally got to see each other at the airport. Yes, Zach was waiting all dressed nice and holding flowers..it was perfect!


One of my favorite places so far to visit is the Corniche. Its this stone boardwalk that runs along the Mediterranean sea. Its gets really full on the weekends with people fishing, swimming, running, roller-blading, flying kites, etc. Apparently I am not the only one who loves the Corniche.


Corniche 1Corniche 2Corniche 3

suks 2

Close by the Corniche are a group of very high-end designer stores. It’s a little odd, because these stores are so expensive that literally no middle-class person can afford anything from them and therefore the beautiful area that they are located in, called the Suks, is mostly empty. However, it is still a lot of fun to walk around, look at the French-inspired architecture and go to the close by farmers market and flower stand.

One of my first priorities here was to buy flowers for my balcony. After seeing the flower stand I literally could not rest until we returned for a little selection of petunias and daisies. They are doing quite well in the boxes and pots on my balconySmile Thompson Falls, Montana friends – check out the bag, I use it all the time!


Currently I am studying Arabic and I hope to be able to make some use of this language while I am here, but we will see, it is certainly harder than my college Spanish classes. It is beautiful to write and if that is all I had to do it would be easier, but there are two parts to a language and you must know how to actually pronounce the words (and know what they mean!). Zach is studying it with me and I truly enjoy making fun of his attempts to pronounce some of the harder Arabic letters and words. Recently the class has been getting very hard and I wonder if we will ever figure out how to put a sentence together with all the correct conjugations and such.


I don’t want to get too wordy on you and there is no possible way I can fill you in from my last post, so how about a few pictures to end things for the day?

crazy cat

One of my favorite cat pictures ever! Look at the eyes! I have seen this guy a few times during my journeys around Beirut. There are quite a few stray cats which we love!


Instant coffee (Beirut doesn’t have much else to offer unless you want to pay BIG BUCKS$$) – I thought you would be absolutely disgusting but somehow I don’t mind you at all. But for real, does instant coffee have any caffeine?

good coffee shop_LI

But I do still get excited when we get American coffee, Zach does too!

homemade crepesmanoushe

Homemade crepes with strawberries and nutella (left) and Manoushe (cheesy bread with veggies). Home and out, we are certainly eating amazing foodSmile

Please bear with me while I figure out how often I want to blog. I know it will not be a daily occurrence like I was doing in Pittsburgh but I want to find a good balance that allows me time for all my new life has to offer. It was nice to chat with you all again. I will be back soon with more good food and fitness finds. Have a great weekend all!

~The Optimist


Girls just wanna have fun–type ‘o’ weekend!

Hey there! I did A LOT this weekend! So instead of make you read through the details, here’s the skinny version, enjoy and happy Monday! (ugh)

1 and 2: Friday evening workout and Friday night movie night with kitkat. Leg workout and Fences.  I did my leg workout again. This is the second time. Last time that I did it I was sore for the next 3-4ish days. I decided that I clearly need to work on my leg muscles so I did the same workout again, this time around? I am not as sore and it is Sunday night, so that is great, I think I will do the same one again this week and then switch it up. Fences– not a comforting movie, but a good one none-the-less. Just made me think and hurt for the characters in the movie – I can see why it was critically acclaimed.

Friday night beauty

This was a picture from the beautiful snow that we got on Friday evening. I snapped this pic after coming home from the gym and getting off the bus. In case you were wondering, yes, I take those stairs every day…and for Pittsburgh, that’s not bad at all.

3 and 4 and 5: Saturday morning workout (arms – I am VERY sore from this and to be honest couldn’t even make it through the 2nd round!), cupcakes, and dinner with a visiting friend. Why cupcakes? NoteCuz girls just a wanna have fu-un!Note

cupcakes 3


cupcakes 2

This were mine (minus one that I ate). My friend has taken cake decorating classes before and was trying to teach us the ways…a lot of what we did turned out looking like poo piles Smile

6 and 7 and 8 and 9: Sunday morning breakfast with my (unofficial) RD mentor (she has been meeting with me since the beginning of my college dietetics career=much respect for this wonderful role model), church, and then packing, plus movie night #2. On the Edge of Seventeen….I kinda want something more uplifting.

mentor pancakes

Chocolate almond pancakes…mmmmm

Favorites from this weekend:

  • New blogs I am into following and have mucho respect for: http://andytherd.com/blog/ and http://www.fannetasticfood.com/ There are so many blogs out there so please bear with me while I take small bits at a time!!
  • My goodwill finds! I like the first one because it makes me feel MediterraneanSmile And the second is just a nice warm sweater that I can wear with literally anything. I kept trying to see what was wrong with them at the store but I still can’t find a thing! Love me some GoodFinds @ GoodWill.goodwill 2goodwill1
  • My cute soup in a cup because I forgot to grab a couple of cheap plastic bowls at the store

soup in a cup

  • Kitty using me for a pillow

kitty pillow

  • My miniature pantry that I successfully scaled down

mini pantry

  • Prepping for my mom to come, so excited!



What were some highlights from your weekend?

Family, Uncategorized

My faith and me

Hello there friends! I am happy to say that I survived bachelorette weekend #2! During several conversations with my mom, my sister, and my friends, I am coming to see this time by myself as an experience that is good for me and I am hoping that I will learn a bit more about myself. That is what my mom says at least – I think that maybe the most important thing that I will learn to do is fall asleep by myselfSmile

But more seriously, I know that God is using this time for good, whatever that may be. While I may not know yet  what that good may be– I know it exists…just like I know that he will always take care of me and my family. I move ahead with a blind faith that God is in control and to over-anticipate His plans is time-consuming and fruitless.

First, a couple of weekend highlights:

  • Friday night girls night with some great gals and Tikki drinks that took us to a tropical paradise even though it was around 20 degrees outside:

Hawaiian style old fashioned

  • Saturday packing in the morning (I loooooove to pack!) and a 5 mile treadmill run in the afternoon. I also had a bonus skype date with my hubby.

5 miles

  • Saturday Night: Using my gift-card to Whole Foods for dinner from their hot bar and dessert afterwards. I did a blog post about why I don’t shop at Whole Foods. This was the first time I have been in one of their stores. It was beautiful and I appreciated some of their delicacy items. However my mind remains unchanged. I could probably walk out of their blowing up my grocery budget for the week, even if I went for just a few items.

saturday dinner

  • Saturday night movie night with kit kat. We watched Age of Adeline. I know this has been out a while but it was never something that Zach volunteered to watch with me so it was the perfect sappy love story to watch when you are missing a loved one.
  • Sunday morning meal planning, gym, grocery store.
  • Afternoon errands, baking, and meal prep. I made a couple of types of lemon chia seed muffins. One was a gluten-free variety with a lemon glaze. They were dense but the glaze made them pretty good. Find the recipes here: Flour-less Lemon Chia Muffins and here: Healthy Lemon Chia Muffins. I also made a couple of types of quiche, both crust-less, but one with torn up bread pieces on the bottom. I didn’t use a recipe because quiches are a normal dish in this household. I usually sauté some vegetables, whip up 4 eggs with some milk and spices, and pour this on top of the cooked vegetables and 1 hearty cup of cheese. I bake them for 45 minutes at 375.

gluten free lemon muffinslemon chia seed muffins

chopped vegetables


I am a Christian, which you may have been able to tell from the topic of this blog post. I feel that it is important to say out loud on this blog because I want to incorporate this part of who I am into every part of my life. While I may be Christian, that doesn’t mean I am the best one – not even close in fact, and I know that I will always have room to grow, learn, and change to be a better person in this area of my life.

Something that I have been working on for quite some time is being intentional with this area of my life. I can definitely say that I have allowed myself to get swept up with the busyness, striving, and struggle of the world and I have often put intentionality with God at the bottom of the To-Do list. What have I allowed to get in the way? Let me share with you my list of excuses:

  1. My relationship with my family and friends
  2. My high school and then my college “work-load”
  3. Wedding planning
  4. Moving
  5. Exercising
  6. Housework
  7. Moving again
  8. Studying to become a RD
  9. Media (watching TV, Facebook, Instagram, ……and now blogging) And more..

There have been several times in the past 8 years (I was 16 when I accepted God into my heart) when I have said, enough with it, I need to make time. And there have been several times when I have not been cautious enough and once again have found myself in the same place again, hanging my head and asking God to forgive me for putting literally everything else ahead of Him.

I am very lucky to have a wonderful mom who is a great role model to me in this area of my life. While she may not know this, she is one of the reasons that I continue to fight for an intentional life with God. She prays for me, she encourages me to always seek Him in my life and make time for him, and she also shares with me what she is working on in her relationship with God. I love that I can always count on her prayers when I ask for them, and even when I do not Smile

So where does that leave us at the end of this post? I don’t quite know, but I do want to encourage any of you, wherever you may be in your relationship with God to fight for that relationship. Personally, I think that it is time that I try being intentional in a different way than I ever have before. When I try to be intentional with other things in my life I usually succeed or improve by writing that activity into my week. I plan my meals and my exercise. I think that I also need to plan quiet time with God into my week. If I need to chillax on some of the things that I think are important to be a “good dietitian,” like cooking, exercising, and blogging, then so be it. There are many things in my life that are more important than my career and God is one of them.

Question of the day: What do you do to intentionally make time for your relationship with God?


Fitness, Uncategorized

Lesson learned: Be kind to yourself

First, some favorites for you all:

A skype date with Zach:

Zach skype

Dinner and a Greek Yogurt Bar with Friends:

yasso bar

My morning smoothie and Morning Glory muffin (not pictured because it goes into my mouth right after I microwave it!):

breakfast smoothie

Smoothie ingredients: 1/2 ripe avocado, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 3/4 cup milk, 1 banana, large handful of kale

I am polishing off this post this morning after trying out a morning workout. No wait, I am actually writing this post at 6:25 am in my bed because I did not go to the gym this morning. Am I disappointed with myself? Hmm, maybe a tad. But I kind of had a revelation last night when I set my alarm for 5 am. “Why am I doing this?” Yep, that was pretty much it!

See, I have been comparing myself to other food and fitness bloggers. I have read that some wake up at crazy early hours of the day and go to the gym.  I was going to do the same because I was starting to feel like my efforts were not good enough and that I needed to get really fit, really devoted, really fast. But I want you to all know something, I am currently a fit, happy, and healthy person…and I don’t get up at 4 am every morning and spend 2 hours at the gym. I typically have a range of how many days I workout each week (3-5) and it changes depending on the other important activities in my life. Do I realize the importance of physical activity along with a healthy diet, yes, of course. And ideally I would love to be able to have enough me time to go to the gym 6 days each week. BUT…I also know that we go through different stages in our life when other priorities like your family, your friends, your job, your sleep (yes!!!) all take precedence before dragging your butt to the gym. I also know that many of the people that I read about going to the gym almost every day of the week are in love with their workouts and wouldn’t have it any other way. I know that I could do better, and I am trying, but that doesn’t mean that what I am currently doing is not good enough or noteworthy. Lesson learned: Be kind to yourself, realize that life is full and take a break when you need it. I don’t know who will get the better benefit from reading that, you or meSmile

I did spin class on Monday night and sweated through all of my clothing (per usual). Spin is still my favorite workout, I’m a sucker for someone yelling at me and blasting loud pop music while I ride. If the instructor is good, they choose songs that make me keep pace (I pedal to the beat!) and work really hard. I also love feeling a bit sore the next day.

For this afternoon’s workout, I will be doing free weights and focusing on my arms, back, and abs. Tomorrow I will do legs and cardio. I feel like spin (if you make sure you are pushing yourself during every class) works my legs a bit. I don’t want to make myself too sore that I end up taking unnecessary days off at the gym. While I may add in a few extra movements, here is the plan for this evening:

Awesome Arms.jpg

Arm Exercise How Many
Side fly 12-15 times, 3 sets
Front fly 12-15 times, 3 sets
Hammer curl 12-15 times, 3 sets
Tricep extension 12-15times, 3 sets
Dip 20, 15, 10
Seated dumbbell row 12 times, 3 sets
Assisted pull-up 12 times, 3 sets


Directions: Perform each exercise 1x through and then start over and perform each 2x, then 3x, continue until you do 10x through for each exercise
1 crunch
1 toe touch
1 leg lift
1 Russian twist



The best burger ever and the weekend



Hey guys, I am excited to share my weekend with you all. Before I go any further…check out this burger!

See that white in the middle? That’s the goat cheese, currently my favorite food and a great addition to this turkey burger. I don’t really think of myself as a burger fanatic – but I do appreciate a good craft burger every once in a while. I can tell you that this burger here is the best burger I have ever had. And Zach, he was in heaven. He made me promise to not wait too long until I make them again. He also told me I should open my own burger joint. A girl loves to know that she can make her husband happy with her cooking, I was flattered.

Before the burgers I was able to swing by the gym for a 45 minute workout. I repeated my Wednesday workout (compliments of pbfingers.com) which included a good treadmill workout with some body weight exercises. The treadmill part was even enjoyable because it kept my attention. It went like this.

  1. 5 minute warm-up walk
  2. 0.25 mile run at fast pace (faster than your normal but sustainable)
  3. 0.05 mile walk for recovery
  4. Repeat 2 and 3 until 25 minutes is up (including 5 minute warm-up)

What I also liked about the treadmill is that for the fast run part, the faster that you ran the quicker that section was over. It was a good motivator to try harder for a quicker reward. I usually am just counting the seconds until I will allow myself to get off the treadmill but this was not bad at all.

All of the siblings and spouses together:)
Breakfast casserole, fresh fruit salad, cinnamon swirl French toast, and whipped cream


That was our Friday night. The rest of the weekend we spent with family. It was a great. All Zach’s siblings are wonderful and we all get along really well. Our time together was spent talking, playing games, eating, and touring Pittsburgh . All of the food turned out to be delicious, including the places we ate out. I also got a hair cut from my future sister-in-law who is a great young stylist in Lancaster, PA. Check out Hats Off Salon in East Petersburg if you are ever in the area.

The only bad part of the weekend was that I got a pretty bad cold with all of the worst symptoms on Saturday night. Chills, high fever, body aches, sore throat. It hit me in the middle of having cocktails with my family and hit again (although less severe) on Sunday night. I’m a little mad about it, I usually only get sick once every winter but somehow I have managed to get sick twice. I am blaming the public transportation that I take to work. I really love to take it but I know how many people (and sick people) that puts me in contact with every day.

I had planned on going to spin class this afternoon and getting in five great workouts this week but I think I will take it a little slower than planned, however frustrating that may be for me. Right now I need sleep, I am hoping that I will be able to resume all normal activities tomorrow. In preparation for my workout week I think I will plan ahead what I will be doing at the gym and for this weekend. Zach and I will be going away to Niagara Falls and I really want to try one of the vacation workouts that I found online.

What is your workout plan for this week? Where do you get your workouts from? Share your resources with the blog!



The beginning, sort of

A few years ago I decided that I wanted to blog. I had been reading blogs online like pbfingers.com and fitnessista.com and I enjoyed reading about these women and their lives. I followed their workouts, tried their recipes, and got excited when they went through major life changes like getting new jobs, becoming a parent, and moving to a new city.

So you may wonder why I am not celebrating the third anniversary of my own blog. Well, still in the early stages of deciding whether or not to start a blog, I started to doubt my writing and marketing skills, got busy finishing my degree and studying to become a Registered Dietitian, got married and moved to a new place, twice, and so on. Excuses, right? I also had worries about whether or not my blog would be popular and how much longer blogs would be, “in style.” When would they be replaced by the next popular social media activity?

But, many internal urges are telling me not to listen to those fears and to overcome my excuses. I love being creative, I still love reading blogs, and I am going to do this for myself, not to be the most popular, or win blogging awards, or have free stuff sent to my home because a new cooking company wants me to try and write a blog post about their product. And, its okay that I haven’t had an English class in a long time, but I will try to put my commas in the right places:)

So here we are, day one of my blog. I work full time, so right now this is going to be a part time hobby and if its stay that way, I am okay with that. I’m excited, a little hesitant, but I am going to give this my best try. I will be devoting the next week of posts to tell you about myself and why I chose to be a Registered Dietitian or RD. When that week is over, I hope to write about things like travel, food (healthy and guilty pleasures), and fitness. I will always give you evidence-based information and tell you where I get my information from. And I will do my best to live up to the words:

– Real Nutrition – Real Life – Real Simple –

Welcome to The Optimist RD.