This time of year I always become very reflective of the past.  For some reason, the holiday season is when I have made the biggest changes in my life.  My big changes began four years ago today, on Saturday, December 26, 2009, when I broke up with my boyfriend of two and a half years.  To this day, that is the longest relationship I have been in.  Since then, I dated without anything turning serious (I tended to halt things before they hit a second or third date).  Realizing that my ex was no good for me and doing something to benefit myself was a really big deal at the time.  I have always been about everyone else (and to a point, I still am).  Breaking up with him was the first thing I ever did for myself during the time we dated.  Shortly after the break up conversation (it was in person and it was ugly), I met my girl friend S. at the local Dunkin Donuts.  I told her the whole story and everything that led up to it over iced coffee.  I did not, and still have not, shed a single tear over it.  Instead, as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I felt a huge weight come off my shoulders.  

A few hours of talking about the past later, S. and I decided it was time to talk about the present and the future.  After two and a half years of being all about my ex, what was I going to do that was all about me?  I wanted to do something that made me feel good about myself and build up my self-esteem.  I wanted to feel pretty and sexy, two compliments my ex never paid me.  We talked about belly-dancing classes and other similar types of classes that we thought would be fun and would help me reach my desired goal.  We looked out the window of Dunkin and saw New York Sports Club two blocks down.  We looked at each other and agreed to walk in.  Our plan was to inquire about classes and possibly a membership, which we would do together.  We spoke with the membership coordinator about classes (they didn’t have belly-dancing but they had Zumba…yuck!), memberships, training, and everything the gym could possibly offer.  Needless to say, S. didn’t join with me, but four days later I walked back in and signed the membership papers.  My first training session was with C. on January 2nd.  I began working with her just once a week, rapidly building it up to twice.  I also added in Spinning classes because she said I needed to do something for cardio and I told her I refused to run.

Fast forward six months.  C. left NYSC and suggested I work out with J. instead.  Three and a half years later, J. is my CrossFit coach along with that Spinning instructor who taught the first class I took.

Holiday season 2010.  Back story first: My parents have been divorced for six years and my father has been happily remarried to my stepmom, whom I adore, for five.  My mother and I always had a rocky relationship.  In high school, her jealousy of the relationship I had with my father hit an all-time peak when she said something to me that no parent should ever tell his/her child: “Don’t you see?  You’re the apple of your father’s eye and I’m the shit of it.”  I made the decision that when I was able to be fully independent, I would end any type of relationship with her.  I did not need her negativity nor her jealousy.

To the present.  It’s the first night of Chanukah 2010.  My parents (dad and stepmom) did not know where their Chanukiah was.  As a result, we made a plan that I would host the first night and pick up takeout from a local restaurant for dinner.  We would light candles in my apartment and exchange presents there (I got them a new Chanukiah so they would have one to light for the rest of the holiday).  As I parked my car that was loaded down with the food, my work bag and laptop, my lunch bag, and a box of soap I ordered from Bath and Body Works, I saw a woman in a hooded winter coat walking along the sidewalk.  I did not think anything of it as I lived within walking distance to the train station and people were always walking to and from it.  I knew something was fishy when the woman stopped walking and waited for me to get out of the car.  As soon as she stopped, I realized she was my mother.  She said she was just coming over to ring my buzzer (mind you, I hadn’t seen her or spoken to her in a number of years) as she wanted just ten minutes of my time.  I told her I was busy that night and did not have the time to talk.  She asked if I could spare the time the next night.  I told her no as I was supposed to be tutoring.  She said, “I just want to be part of your life.”  I looked her right in the eye and replied, “I don’t want you in my life.  If I wanted you to be part of it, you would be, and I don’t.”  She walked away and I have not seen her nor spoken to her since.

Holiday season 2011 was when I found my house.  I had been renting a one bedroom apartment for two years when I opted to buy a house.  I moved in March 2012.

Holiday season 2012.  Christmas Eve Day.  Cousin E. sent me this picture on Facebook from Double Dog Rescue’s page.  It was my first Finn sighting.

I looked at the picture, read the caption, “Snuggle Bunny Alert!!! Finn, a mini-pin, has been so patient in waiting for her forever home! She has been in our rescue for several months now, through no fault of her own. Her foster describes her as an extremely smart, people pleasing, cuddle bug! What more could anyone ask for? To learn more about her check out her Petfinder profile at If you or someone you know may be interested in adopting her contact Ellen. Don’t delay!!” and quickly closed out of it.  Five minutes later, I was looking at her picture and profile again.  Then I closed it.  I went back and forth like this for about an hour before saying “F it!” and e-mailed Ellen.  She sent back the adoption application the same day.  That Thursday, I had a phone interview with Ellen then with Finn’s foster mom.  Three days later, on Sunday, December 30 Cousin E. and I drove up to the foster mom’s house in Connecticut and brought Finn home.  You know the rest of the story.  She’s currently sleeping in a ball on the couch next to me.

Bringing Finn home was a big deal.  She would be a big responsibility, one I had never had before.   The one thing she taught me more than anything else is the feeling of being loved unconditionally.  I may crate her when I’m at work all day and I may be gone sometimes for nine hours.  But every single time I open the door to her crate, I get jumped on and hugged and kissed like never before.  She’s my shadow wherever I go.  And at night her favorite place to sleep is curled up as close as she can get, typically in between my legs.  The next week, I transitioned from personal training with J. to CrossFit Foundations.

Holiday season 2013.  My biggest change this year has been my growth, personally, professionally and socially.  This change happened gradually as my self-esteem, my comfort in my body, and my confidence at work grew.  It was not a conscientious decision but one that I am reaping the rewards of over and over again.

As I wrote this post, I debated whether or not I should post it because of how personal it is.  You know how the debate ended.  Fitters, tell me, do you become reflective and pensive during the holiday season?  When do your biggest changes usually happen?  I’d love to hear from you.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season.

Paleo Apple Pie

I know it’s been a while.  I have been so busy at my day job that by the time I get home, the last thing I want to do is look at a computer screen.  I hope that everyone is enjoying their holiday seasons, that their Thanksgiving turkey (if you eat one) was moist and company delightful.  That if you celebrated Chanukah, Chanukah Harry was good to you.  That if you have Christmas coming up, you are on Santa’s nice list.

About 2 months ago at some point during the Paleo Challenge, I stumbled on a recipe for a paleo apple pie that sounded simple and delicious.  Sure enough, it was as simple and delicious as it sounded.  I asked my stepmom if we could make the apple pie for Thanksgiving so I would be able to have dessert with the rest of my family.  She agreed under the one condition I come over a few weeks before to make a test pie.  If we liked it, she’d make it for Thanksgiving.

So, she helped me make the pie in order to speed up the preparation process (if you follow me on Pinterest, the recipe was posted on my Paleo Challenge board).  I thought the pie was as good as anything you could get from a bakery or farm stand.  My father hated it (something about the coconut oil being too coconut-y) and my stepmom said “it tastes healthy” (a bad thing in her mind compared to the amazing non-paleo apple cake she makes).  Her friend loved it and asked for the recipe.  When I asked if we could make it for Thanksgiving, my stepmom said only if I come over early enough to help her make it.

A paleo friend asked for a good paleo dessert recipe he can make for a Christmas dinner he is attending.  Paleo friend…drum roll please…May I present to you the recipe for the Paleo Apple Pie we served for Thanksgiving.

First things first, preheat your oven to 300 F.

To make the crust you need (any type of electric mixer will make this process easier):

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 egg

Mix the almond flour and sea salt together first.  Add the coconut oil and egg and blend until the mixture turns into a doughy ball.

Press the dough into a nonstick pie tin.  Bake for approximately 10 minutes (longer or shorter depending on your oven) until your crust is a golden brown, not a crispy brown.  Pull the crust out of the oven and leave the oven at 300.

To make the filling you need:

  • About 5 – 8 peeled apples (the bigger your apples, the fewer you need.  I used 6 in the picture below.)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Ground cloves (for taste and flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey (I used honey)
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Dice half of your apples and put in a saucepan with the water and cloves.  When your apples are soft, pour them into a food processor (or leave in the pot if the sides are high enough or pour into a deep bowl and use an immersion blender).  Add the maple syrup or honey and cinnamon and blend into a puree.  You will basically have apple sauce.

Take the puree and layer it on top of your crust.

Slice the remainder of the apples and place them on top of the crust and puree.  (As my stepmom is big on presentation, I had help with this part to make apples look pretty.)

Melt the coconut oil in a frying pan and squeeze the lemon into the oil (or juice over a lemon juicer and pour the juice into the oil).  Pour the melted oil and lemon juice over the top of the pie, covering all of the apples as best as you can.

If you like cinnamon, sprinkle it over the top of the whole pie.

Place the pie in the 300-degree oven and bake 10-15 minutes until the apples are cooked through (this took about 30 minutes in my parents’ oven).

Happy eating!


(As I always like to give credit where credit is due, this recipe comes from here.)