Monday, April 30, 2012

What Happens Next

Wow, not having to worry about school or work rocks. Like, seriously rocks.


So far today, I slept in past 6:30 am,

made crepes for breakfast

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(filled with Chobani Strawberry Banana Greek yogurt and topped with blueberries and cinnamon – AMAZING)

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cleaned my kitchen and bathroom

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made this awesome spinning playlist and then went to the gym to test it out – it totally kicked my spinning booty and I loved it

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and then came home and prepared a delicious lunch that I’ve been dreaming about for the last two days (seriously).

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That would be an open faced sandwich with a toasted whole wheat English muffin, ham, spinach, two fried eggs, and avocado.

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It was so good.

With grapes on the side to round out the meal:

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I then proceeded to spend almost three hours watching a Secret Life marathon on ABC Family (for record, I don’t even like that show) because for once in my life, I didn’t have anything better to do Smile.


The first thing that everyone asks me after they find out that I’m graduating is, “So, what happens next?!” Well, just so you all don’t think I’m going to be lounging around watching mindless television for the rest of my life, here’s a little breakdown of what’s to come in the months ahead:

  • The rest of this week – relax, pack up my apartment, enjoy my time off
  • Friday – GRADUATION!!
  • Saturday – My sister’s graduation from our community college in Traverse City
  • Next week – I start work as a “grad intern” at the pharmacy. A grad intern is someone who is in that weird transition period between graduation and actually being licensed. Done with school, but not quite a pharmacist yet.
  • Mid to late June – Take the NAPLEX (pharmacy board exam) and the MPJE (Michigan Pharmacy Law Exam). These are the exams I am required to pass before I can become a licensed pharmacist – in other words, they are the most important exams of my life. The official dates are TBD; I can’t schedule the exams until Ferris submits my graduation papers to the Michigan Department of Community Health.
  • July(ish) – *Hopefully* receive word that I have passed my boards and start working as a pharmacist!

Also thrown into the mix this summer is a trip to Cedar Point with my friend Jenny, a Kappa Psi alumni reunion in Big Rapids, Melissa’s bridal shower and bachelorette party (got a lot of work to do for those!) and Melissa’s wedding. I’ll be living with my parents to start out, but at some point I also need to find a place of my own. Talk about a busy summer!

I’m excited to be done with school, but it doesn’t really look things will be slowing down over here any time soon Winking smile. However, I wouldn’t change it for the world and I can’t wait to share this next chapter of my life with you all <3. Thanks for sticking around!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Weekend in a Nut Shell

Good evening!

I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend – I sure am! Yesterday morning I ran the Calvin College Spring Classic 5K with my friends Aimee and Babs. Babs ran the entire race with me and I really appreciated having her there, even during my walking breaks (there were three short ones). I don’t have a race recap written yet because I left my memory card in my computer when we left for the race (you’d think I would have learned my lesson the first time) and I don’t have the USP cable to connect my camera to my computer and retrieve the pictures that I did take. I’m hoping to get my hands on another cable soon!

I do, however, have pictures of the delicious dinner that Aimee cooked for us on Friday night. She loves to make pasta the night before races (even if it’s just a 5K) and she prepared chicken parmesan this time for us to enjoy.

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Instead of breading the chicken she just coated it in a bit of parmesan cheese. It was good!

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I could pick up some good plating tips from her – doesn’t it look like something right out of a restaurant?!

After cleaning our plates, we drove to the movies and saw The Lucky One, which we both really enjoyed. I always get a little frustrated though when I see movies based off of books that I’ve read because of the inevitable plot changes. I know they have to change certain things for times sake and so that the story makes sense for people who haven’t read the books, but I always find myself thinking things like “oh they changed that..oh they left that part out..oh that wasn’t supposed to happen” the entire time I’m watching. Sometimes it makes me wish I hadn’t read the book first, haha.


Last night was our class bar crawl to celebrate the end of pharmacy school. However, don’t be fooled and think that I waited until Saturday to start drinking – I most definitely had a celebratory margarita on Friday right after rotation.

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I had to limit myself to one because I was racing the next morning, but on Saturday night there were no limits Winking smile. We had huge group of us that just kept growing as the night progressed and I spent my evening sipping on rum and Diet’s (my go-to beverage), hopping from one bar to the next, and enjoying the last big hoorah with all of my classmates. It was a lot of fun!

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(For some reason Aimee and I never got around to ordering shirts but I really don’t think anyone noticed, haha)

 

While yesterday was a blast, today I woke up feeling like garbage (hangovers will do that to ya) and I’ve spent most of my day rehydrating and trying to cram in as many nutrients as possible.

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Greens? Yes please!

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I also went over to Brad, Babs, and Elena’s place and made them chicken enchiladas for dinner. They have finals this week and are super stressed, so I cooked and did the dishes for them and I think they really appreciated the study break.

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I used Gina’s recipe for Skinny Chicken Enchiladas and they turned out great!

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I served them with refried beans and Spanish-style rice.

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The enchiladas were a huge hit and everyone loved them. Between the four of us, we ate seven out of the eight enchiladas that the recipe made (I had one and a half). I’m planning on making these for my family sometime this summer when I’m back home, I think they would love them!

Well, that’s my weekend in a nut shell. I’m planning on spending the rest of my evening relaxing and catching up on emails. Even though I’m pretty tired, there’s no rush to get to bed since I don’t have to get up early in the morning and go to rotation Winking smile.


Ah yes, life is good right now.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Weight Loss Recap: Week Two

Alright, first and foremost, I must take a moment to acknowledge the fact that today is my very LAST DAY OF PHARMACY SCHOOL EVER!!! I am sure you are all completely sick of me talking about this, but I can’t help it. I am so completely freaking excited!!! I still remember my very first day of rotation way back in August.

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I was so nervous and was freaking out the night before about the silliest things, like whether or not I needed to spend $200 on drug information software for my smart phone (totally did not – there are plenty of free ones that are just as reliable). I can’t believe how much I’ve learned over the past nine months and I can’t wait to get out there and apply it to my patients as a pharmacist. One more week until I’m Dr. Berg Winking smile. (<---- now there’s a scary thought!)

 

Weight Loss Recap: Week 2

Okay, moving on to the real reason ya’ll stopped by today – my Week 2 Weight Loss Recap.

Weigh-In
Last week: 185.0
This week: 184.0
Total loss: –4.0 pounds

When I got back from my trip to Madison last weekend, I was more than excited to step on the scale and see that I had actually lost a couple of pounds. Seriously? On vacation?! When I had delicious eggs benedict for breakfast and stayed out two nights in a row drinking copious amounts of wine and other alcoholic beverages?! It sounded too good to be true.

Well, it was.

The next day, my weight shot back up to 185 and stayed there for a couple days before settling at 184 yesterday morning. Guys, I found something else that can make your weight fluctuate: alcohol. I obviously did not lose two pounds while I was in Madison and then regain it in one day when I stayed completely within my calorie range. The reality of the situation is that I was more than likely dehydrated from all of the alcohol that I drank over the weekend and after spending all of Monday downing the H2O and rehydrating myself, my weight returned back to normal. While it would have been nice to have lost some weight over the weekend, I did achieve my goal of maintaining my weight. I certainly did not count calories, but I didn’t go overboard with the food either. I was actually quite proud of myself – normally I eat a ton when I’m gone at these conferences or on little mini vacations and I always regret it when I return home – but this time I kept it under control with the food and still enjoyed myself with my friends.

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Some notes from the week:

  • I have only worked out twice since my last weigh-in. On Friday I did a spin workout before we left for Madison and on Wednesday night I went to a Turbo Kick class. The beginning of the week I was busy working on a school project and yesterday I was just lazy. My lack of exercise this week is more than likely contributing to my very small loss (though one pound is still a loss!).
  • Speaking of lazy, my motivation has already been going downhill this week. I don’t know why this always happens, but every time I try to lose weight I do really well for the first week and then I just slowly start to veer off track. I’ve gone over my calorie limit three out of the five days this week that I’ve been back in town and yesterday this sort of happened at lunch.

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Yeah, that would be pizza (delicious chicken pesto pizza) and a huge bowl of ice cream. Since it’s my last week here at the hospital and blog friend Mindy is nearby, we decided to meet for lunch. Sure, it’s not an excuse to eat all that junk food but man; it was so good.

  • Despite yesterday’s lack of willpower, thinking about the blog and doing these weekly recaps actually helped keep me from completely blowing it this week. There were a lot of temptations that I didn’t give into, which I’m proud of, but I obviously still have a lot of room for improvement.
  • I’m running a race tomorrow! It’s just a 5K, but it’s my first race of the year and I hope it goes well. I haven’t ran in nearly two weeks so I’m kind of nervous – wish me luck!


So this week, I’d like to talk about carbs. Are they good or bad for weight loss? I wouldn’t feel qualified to answer this question even if I did know the answer because I’m not a registered dietician, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about this week so I thought I’d share my take on it and hopefully get your opinions as well.

I’ve always been a carb queen. Bread, pasta, cereal, yogurt, beans, fruit, granola bars, dessert – if it’s nutritional breakdown consists mainly of carbohydrates, then there’s a pretty good chance that it’s one of my favorite foods. With all of the low carb diets out there (I’m looking you, Atkins and South Beach) and all of the amazing success stories that you hear from these programs, it’s no wonder that tons of people have “shunned” this important macronutrient and that it’s frowned upon when trying to lose weight.

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(my favorite Greek yogurt pancakes)

The concept behind low carb diets is that by depleting your body of them, your cells will eventually start to use fat for energy – thus leading to fat loss. This puts your body in a state called ketosis, which means that your body is getting energy from ketones, a product of fat breakdown. However, maintaining a low carb high protein diets long term can pose several health risks, including kidney failure, high cholesterol, and osteoporosis. (Source)

My personal opinion is that yes, low carb diets work, but every diet works when you stick with it. However, most people can’t stick to strict diets long term because they are not realistic, and the second you start eating normal food again the weight piles back on. I think that it is very possible to lose weight while still eating carbs, but at the same time I think that too many carbs and not enough protein can hinder your efforts.

If you’ve been a long time reader of my blog, then you know that I tried to give up carbs once when I was going through a plateau. Well, long story short is that it was a bad idea and not only was I miserable, but I felt like total crap. I didn’t even make it a week, and it reinforced the fact that restrictive diets are just not for me. These days, I try my best to eat a balanced diet and keep my fat, carbohydrate, and protein ratios at about 30%, 40%, and 30% of my calories, respectively. However, most days this ratio ends up being closer to 25%, 50%, and 25%, which is something I’m trying to work on. Usually when I focus on eating more protein (versus eating fewer carbs), the ratio naturally evens out on its own.

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Right now, the most important thing for me is to stick to my calorie budget. When I stay within my target range and exercise regularly, the weight comes off. My goal this week is to stay within my calorie budget five out of seven days. I already went over yesterday with my pizza and ice cream (my weeks go Thurs-Wed) and tomorrow is our class bar crawl to celebrate the end of pharmacy so I’m not going to set myself up for failure by trying to be perfect on that day.


So, what’s your take on carbs? Have you noticed any effect that they have on weight loss? Do you follow (or have you ever followed) a low carb diet?

Like I said, I tried giving up carbs once and I epically failed. I think that playing around with the macronutrient ratios and trying to cut down on carbs isn’t a bad idea when you’re hitting a plateau, but cutting them out completely is just too difficult. Not to mention the fact that I personally don’t think it’s healthy to deprive your body of it’s primary energy source (for reasons mentioned above), but at the same time being obese is not good for your health either. I’d rather see someone temporarily following a low carb diet if it will better their health in the long run.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Old Stomping Grounds

Good morning!

Yesterday I gave the last presentation of my pharmacy school career! It went really well and I am stoked to be done with those forever. My preceptor is actually going to be out of town for the rest of the week so after my presentation she gave me my final exam and final evaluation, which means that it’s smooth sailing for the rest of the week! The only thing that stands between me and graduation is one more assignment and two days of rotation…I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Both of the residency clinics had training in the afternoon so there were no patients scheduled with any of the residents. Since I spend my afternoons with the residents seeing patients, that meant I got to leave at lunch time! I did have that assignment to work on, but before I got started on it I decided to take advantage of my free afternoon to run an errand that’s been on my agenda for a couple of weeks. I’ve been meaning to make a trip up to Big Rapids because there was something at the Kappa Psi house that I needed to pick up for graduation, and yesterday was the perfect opportunity.

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First a quick stop for lunch, which was eaten on the road.

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(The usual sandwich plus baked BBQ chips)

After a 50 minute drive, I was back in my old stomping grounds.

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Ferris’s pharmacy program is set up kind of weird. The first two years take place on the main campus in Big Rapids, but the third year is in Grand Rapids. I am still not entirely why they have all of us move an hour south for a year, but I think it has to do with the fact that we have different faculty who teach our P3 year, and most of them have clinical pharmacist jobs in the Grand Rapids area. Not that I’m complaining – I’ll take Grand Rapids over Big Rapids any day!

Our last year of pharmacy school is our clinical rotations, which are located all over the state. This is why I’ve been moving so much this year – even though we can preference regions, we are not guaranteed those spots and most people end up all over the place. The first semester I had two months in Traverse City, a month in Kalamazoo (which I actually I commuted from Grand Rapids to), and a month in Petoskey. This spring semester though I was lucky enough to have all of my rotations in Grand Rapids, which meant no moving for four months! It’s been glorious Smile.

Anyways, it’s been two years since I’ve gone to class in Big Rapids but that little town always brings back so many memories every time I stop by, especially when I go to the Kappa Psi house.

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I spent most of my time at the house my P1 year and lived there with Aimee and Eric (plus four other people) my P2 year. It was an absolute blast and they were some of the best years of my life.

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We’ve had some good times on that roof Winking smile

I definitely get nostalgic when I look at those pictures and I’m sad that those times in my life are coming to an end, but at the same time I am excited to start a new chapter. Onwards and upwards; that’s how life works, right?


After my little trip down memory lane, I came back to Grand Rapids, took a little snooze (btw, naps rule) and then went to a Turbo Kick class. It was my first workout since last Friday – the past few days have been a little crazy – and it felt great to get moving again.

Post Turbo dinner:

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I know I posted it all over Twitter and Facebook last night, but there really is nothing better than homemade BBQ pulled pork and baked sweet potato fries.

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Alexia sweet potato fries to be exact Smile.


Alright folks, off I go to my last Thursday of rotations ever Winking smile. See ya tomorrow with a Weight Loss Week 2 Recap!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

NutritionFix.com and Muscle Milk Protein Bar Review

Hello!

Today I’m actually going to switch gears a bit and tell you guys about a new online sports nutrition store. I was recently contacted by Lisa from NutritionFix.com who asked if I’d be willing to check out her website and share my thoughts about it. As someone who buys all of my protein powder online (it’s way cheaper and there’s a much larger selection), I was more than willing to browse through her new website.

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NutritionFix.com is a new company that carries over 5,000 fitness-related products. Not only do they sell protein supplements and protein bars, but they also carry vitamins, amino acids, energy drinks, and fitness accessories such as yoga mats. I love the fact that they carry such a variety of products because I know a lot of people who are not really into protein supplements but would really like some of other items that I came across while browsing. Check out this yoga kit that is officially on my wish list:

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The entire kit, which comes with a mat, two foam blocks, a woven cotton belt, and a tote bag is only $21.08! I’m pretty sure that I paid close to $25.00 for my yoga mat alone, so this Valeo Yoga Kit is a steal in my opinion.

Not only are the prices great on NutritionFix.com, but they appear to provide really high quality products as well. Lisa told me that they strive to provide a number of supplements and bars that are not only natural, but are also organic, vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, and are available in eco-friendly packaging. For example, they have a huge selection of Clif products, including Clif bars, Luna Bars, Clif Mojo bars, Clif energy gels and shot bloks, and Clif ZBars. I’ve always been a huge fan of Clif bars because their products are natural and organic, and many are vegan as well. NutritionFix.com stocks every flavor of Clif bar imaginable and because they ship them in bulk, the prices are much cheaper than what you would pay in a retail store.

Lisa was kind enough to send me one of their protein bars to review, but since I’ve already tried most of the Clif bars I requested that she send a different bar. She recommended Muscle Milk Chocolate Peanut Caramel bars, since they are one of the website’s top sellers.

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The package arrived within a few days of being shipped and contained eight protein bars.

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The bars were higher in calories (300) than I typically go for in a protein bar, but they were easily cut in half. I prefer to eat protein bars as snacks and therefore favor the bars that contain around 200 calories, so a bar in its entirety was closer to a meal replacement bar to me. However, that’s only my personal opinion – I brought three of them for Eric this past weekend while we were in Madison and he ate two of them as snacks while we were there! 

I was actually not a huge fan of the taste of the bars, but a few of my friends sampled them and had quite the opposite opinion. Two of my friends said that they tasted more like a candy bar than any other protein bar they had ever tried and they would definitely buy them again. Different strokes for different folks I guess!

While these particular protein bars were not my favorite, I did see a lot bars on the website that I do enjoy, including Pure bars and Supreme Protein Carb Conscious bars.

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Here are some other things I like about the website:

  • Free shipping on orders over $100. This is a really great deal – another popular sports nutrition website that I’ve purchased products from in the past has a similar shipping discount but it’s only for orders over $200. I’ve never even come close to spending that much money on supplements! 
  • There are different fitness and product review videos featured on the homepage that include information about various protein powders, vitamins, and supplements. I think this is a nice addition to the website and informative as well.
  • The website is easy to navigate and is not overly crowded with advertisements like many of the other online supplement stores that I’ve visited. Pop-ups and pages covered with ads are a huge turn off for me, not to mention annoying.
  • They accept PayPal. I’ve recently started using PayPal to make a lot of my online purchases, so I really appreciate the fact that NutritionFix.com accepts this form of payment.

A couple of cons:

  • They don’t carry my favorite brand of protein powder that I’m currently using (Dymatize ISO-100), as well as a couple that I’ve used in the past. However, the website is still relatively new and expanding so I wouldn’t be surprised if I see it pop up in the future.
  • The prices are good, but are very comparable to other online sports nutrition stores that I’ve used. In other words, price alone would probably not drive me to the website but all of the reasons I listed above definitely would.


Overall, I think that NutritionFix.com is a great online nutrition store with a big potential to grow even larger as they expand their customer base. They have a great selection of products and I think there is something for everyone on the website. It’s definitely worth taking a look around!


Disclosure: I was compensated for writing this post and was provided the protein bars free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Resisting Temptation at Marie Catrib’s

Happy Tuesday, friends!

These past couple days have been pretty busy. I have a topic presentation to give tomorrow morning – which also happens to be the LAST presentation I will ever give in pharmacy school (!!) – and I’m still trying to catch up on sleep from my fun weekend in Madison. I probably got about 7 hours total between Friday night and Saturday night (don’t get me wrong, it was totally worth it), but I can’t seem to get back in the swing of things this week. I’ve gotten 8+ hours of sleep on both Sunday night and last night but I’m still so exhausted. Hopefully I’ll be feeling good by tomorrow morning when I have to give my presentation!

I did take a little break from working yesterday to meet up with Melissa for dinner at Marie Catrib's. It’s one of my favorite places to eat in Grand Rapids – local and organic food with tons of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options – but for some reason I haven’t managed to make it over there yet this semester. I immediately suggested it when Melissa asked if I had time to grab a bite to eat.

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Marie Catrib’s makes delicious bread that’s thick and doughy, so you can imagine how delicious their sandwiches are. In fact, my favorite menu items are the Sweet Potato Quinoa Burger and the Chicken Cranberry, but last night I went with a lighter option in lieu of my recent weight loss efforts.

I started off with a cup of the tomato quinoa soup:

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(It was good, but not as good as Melissa’s lamb and chickpea soup!)

And for my main meal I ordered the Spinach and Strawberry salad and added chicken to it.

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The salad was phenomenal and came with goat cheese and onion (which I picked off – I hate raw onion) in addition to the strawberries. I’m really glad that I not only stuck with my plan, but that I branched out and tried a new dish. I didn’t even miss the sandwiches!

Another major feat of the night? I stared at their epic dessert display the entire time (our evil waitress seated us right in front of it Winking smile) and didn’t order a single thing.

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Win!


Today, I spent most of the morning working on my presentation for tomorrow

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while enjoying a tall non-fat Caramel Macchiato.

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I’ve never been a coffee drinker, but for some reason I’ve been completely obsessed with this beverage lately. This was my fourth one in the last two weeks! They’re tasty and a fun treat, but they also use up 140 of my daily calories, which can add up quickly. Luckily, I only have less than a week left on this rotation so I will not longer be tempted with Starbucks that’s only a short walk away Smile.

 

Alright, lunch is over and it’s time to get back to work. Have a wonderful afternoon!

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