“There’s a Japanese word, kaizen, which means making a big change by making one small change every day, doing one little thing differently.”

Since 2006, I made small changes every single day that ended up being one huge change in the end. I lost 100 pounds. I ran Hood to Coast. I biked 55 miles. I swim 1.5 miles in 50 minutes. Who would have thought 5 years ago that I would be 100+ pounds lighter and buying a bikini? It seems like a trivial thing to even care about, right?

But I’ve never owned one. Not even as a teenager that wasn’t overweight. It just wasn’t me, or something I ever thought I wanted. I was always shy, self-conscious about my body. I thought I was “Fat” even when I wasn’t–just a little chubby “baby fat.” It wasn’t until I did get fat, and then lose the weight, that I became more comfortable with my body.

Now at 144 pounds I’m fit and proud of my accomplishments. I’m still self-conscious about my body parts though. I am working hard to change that. After years of feeling every flaw, it’s a hard habit to break.  I do get stuck in that “Fat Talk” Loop in my head on occasion.

Which is funny because I am okay with my body (like I said yesterday) EXCEPT for this one part: my stomach. My arms and legs are super muscular, I’m toned in every part of my body but this one area. And unfortunately, for someone who lost a significant amount, it’s probably only remedied by plastic surgery (not an option right now).

Over the weekend I bought a bikini. It’s the first one I’ve ever owned. I have no tropical vacations planned in my future and I honestly don’t know that I will EVER wear it in public, but I bought it anyways.

I figured at the very least, I could wear it in our backyard this summer when we’re working in our garden. Our backyard is very private and I wouldn’t have to worry about feeling uncomfortable or self-conscious about my body. I can just enjoy that my hard work has paid off and I’m sure Michael will like the bikini, too. 🙂

But now I have one. I felt empowered when I wore it last weekend. Sure I was self-conscious of my stomach but at the same time I felt confident and happy that I could finally own something like this.

QUESTION: What’s one small thing you can do today to make a change?


I hadn’t planned on eating out two nights in a row but it sort of happened that way. My cousin Anna had some big news to share with me so I made the exception.


We met at one of my favorite Portland Restaurants: The Sapphire Lounge on SE Hawthorne. It was originally a “turn of the century seedy hotel in Portland Oregon inhabited by sailors, travelers and ladies of the night.” It’s a dark, romantic, eclectic restaurant now with amazing food and even yummier martinis. An old friend joined us as well.

Anna and I arrived just before Happy Hour ended so we ordered a few things right away to get the discount.

I got a glass of the house red and the Sapphire Salad: Citrus vinaigrette, candied walnuts and shredded Parmesan.

(Yum! Candy on a salad? Yes please!) For dinner I got my FAVORITE dish! Butternut Squash Enchiladas: baked in a jalapeño Emmentaler sauce that’s both sweet and spicy.

I’d intended on eating half the entree and taking the rest for lunch but it was smaller than I remembered (and Anna had a few bites too) so I ate all of it.

I don’t think there’s actually tortillas in the dish. It’s just oozing with cheesy,  spicy goodness and a crispy topping. I love this dish. And I’ve never had one that compares to it (although I’d love to try and make this!).

It was a good night and it was nice to go out with the girls. It felt just like old times.

QUESTION: Have you ever reached a goal and rewarded yourself with something you’d never had before? Like a bikini?

Shaking Off The Mold

Arizona Vacation – Day One

On the first part of the journey
I was looking at all the life
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
There was sand and hills and rings
The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz
And the sky with no clouds
The heat was hot and the ground was dry
But the air was full of sound

I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain
La, la …

Let me preface all of these posts by re-iterating that I am an Irish girl born and raised in the Pacific Northwest with pasty white skin. All of my vacation photos will be blinding. I apologize in advance. 😉

Catalina Park

Michael and I flew from the moldy, rainy, gray Pacific NW into Phoenix where my parents picked us up and drove to Oro Valley. This photos was Michael and I grabbing a beer in the Portland airport before our flight (at Gustav’s Restaurant).


My dad retired this year and decided to rent a house from a friend for 2 months. Escaping the Seattle drizzle. Wise move, Dad, wise move. I have to say that this vacation was by far one of the funnest I’ve been on–ranking right up there with London and Chicago. On Wednesday morning I awoke in the warm desert (far from the bone-chill) ready to get THIS VACATION STARTED! Woot!

That photo was the backyard of the house my dad rented: 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms with a pool and hot tub. The pool wasn’t big enough for me to swim my laps in but I imagine it’s a refreshing thing to have when the temperatures reach 100 degrees!

The four of us ate scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast before we headed down the road to Catalina State Park for the first hike of the vacation. It was the middle of the week so it wasn’t very crowded. I wasn’t sure how my body would hold up. There were a lot of factors: my IT Band, my recent chest costochondritis BS…the elevation (2600 feet compared to Sea Level where I spend all my time). But everything held up.

Catalina Park

We hiked for about an hour and a half and did about 3 miles. It was a nice hike through the washes, up some hills (nothing compared to the NW) and it was a pretty easy hike.

It was cool seeing all the cacti up close. I don’t know why but I really think cacti are beautiful. I love how green, stark and romantic they are. I took hundreds of photos of the different cacti but I will spare my dear readers the monotony of those. 🙂

Catalina Park

Lots of Critters!!

After our hike we went back to the house for lunch and then headed into Tucson. Oro Valley is about a 12 mile drive from Tucson. That first day the temperatures in Tucson reached 93 degrees. It wasn’t miserable though. Which surprised me because anything over 80 in Portland is uncomfortable. Humidity I guess….?

We drove around downtown Tucson a bit, did a walking tour around downtown to see the courthouse and other city landmarks.


Then we saw the San Xavier Mission.

San Xavier

As a recovering Catholic who shuns all formalized religion for my own brand of hippie-worship, I can’t say that I was excited to see a church. In my teen rebel years I would have been defiant about visiting but I have to say that the Mission was an amazing, impressive piece of art. Take the religion out of it and it’s a beautiful specimen of architecture.

San Xavier

The Mission is on Indian land. There were Native Americans with stands set up selling Indian Fry Bread. I’ve had Fry Bread a few times before and this was by far the best I’ve tried. We all shared the fry bread with honey and it was decadent.

The Mission itself is gorgeous. Inside it’s rustic and takes you back to a simpler time. It was quite the enjoyable experience.

The Mission

Despite the 90+ degree weather, I wasn’t uncomfortable. In fact, we were having a great time. I was diligent about sunscreen and making sure I was constantly drinking water.


Since we were downtown and it was reaching dinner time, a quick Google search with my iPhone brought us to the Old Pueblo Grille.


My mission for this vacation was to eat “authentic food.” I love eating whatever the local cuisine is. I wanted REAL Mexican food and REAL Southwestern food. The Old Pueblo Grill was delicious Southwestern food.

Michael and I both ordered the local brew and I enjoyed it a lot too. I ordered the Copperhead Pale Ale and liked it a lot.

They brought these spicy cornbread muffins to the table as an appetizer. Delicious.


I got the Pollo Asada dish that came with half a chicken and the fixings to make tacos with it — plus spicy Mac n’ cheese. Oh. My. God.

The chicken was tender and not dry, with a heaven-sent smokey flavor that you can’t replicate on a BBQ. I don’t know what they did to it but it was by far the best food of the trip.

Michael and I were exhausted by the time we got back to the house. Good food, stuffed belly, full day of activities = crash into instant sleep.

QUESTION: Have you ever been to Arizona? What did you think of it? What was your favorite thing to see?