An American in Paris: Day 5

Lizzie does Paris

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

Travel Journal Continued…

“Before coming to Paris, I was starting to feel, or rather have felt for a while, like I lost my adaptability, my spontaneity. Things are so routine at home for me most days. And sometimes often times, I’ve found myself stuck in my ways. And I greatly dislike that feeling. I also think…that’s not the real me!!

Life is what comes at you. And what you make of each moment. I’ve felt like I haven’t made very much of what I’ve been given. I’ve taken a lot for granted. Maybe I’ve rolled with the punches, but I’ve whined about being punched in the first place.

But along comes Paris and ‘Hello, old girl!’Lizzie does Paris - travel blogI got lost on my first day. I found myself wandering in circles around the Paris Opera House and all of a sudden where I was going didn’t matter, cause look where I was! And hey, I saw more of the city that way, then I did from knowing exactly where I was going and making it there in one piece. Sure my pinkie toes are still busted from New Year’s Eve, but along comes over the counter Paris Advil and we’re back in business.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. And I guess what I’m trying to say is, my will is stronger over here, in a place I’ve never been, in a country where I don’t speak the language, when I’m on my own and lost, than it is when I’m comfortable and settled and home. Over here adaptability is my middle name. Over here I am Nomad, I am Wanderer, I am giving directions to lost Canadian tourists.

Hello, familiar feeling of being capable as H-E-Double Hockey Sticks!! I am much more capable than I give myself credit for in my every day life.

But…this is the challenge. To bring this spirit home with me. I need to find this version of me in my own backyard. I need to keep all this in my mind’s eye and in my heart’s memory and recall it every single day. I need to draw on this strength of character. And I don’t have to wonder if it’s there…I KNOW IT IS!

I know that the every day life needs to be tended to. Bills need to be paid, routines upheld, commitments fulfilled. But, oh yeah…Life is a grand adventure. I was starting to forget that or maybe I even made it all the way to ‘forgot.’

At the same time that I know I have a life back home worth living…I also know that I could be happy living life on the run.”

Lizzie does Paris - Versailles

Interjection: All this existential life searching happened while I waited in a 3 hour line to get into the Palace of Versailles. It was cold and rainy and the line was discouraging at first. But then I put my headphones in, listened to The Greatest Showman and started writing and all of a sudden I was walking through the doors of the Palace!

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“WOW! Versailles is the epitome of French to me. Walking through these palatial hall, I can’t imagine anyone, even a King, living here. One could get lost simply trying to find the closet.

Lizzie does Paris - Palace of Versailles

Lizzie does Paris - Palace of Versailles

Lizzie does Paris - Palace of Versailles

What I can imagine, are the kinds of royal parties that must have been held here and in the gardens outside.

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This was worth every freezing cold minute I spent standing in line this morning. I would love to come back and see these gardens in the Spring (I’ve added that to my to do list for when I return, and I will return!)

Lizzie does Paris - Palace of Versailles

I opted not to have the audio guides as I walked through the Palace today. I’m sure they are illuminating. I’m sure they add a lot to the history and understanding of this place. But I have enjoyed using my own imagination and thoughts as I’ve wandered through these rooms.

Lizzie does Paris - Palace of Versailles

Another banner day! Will Paris ever cease to amaze me? Probably not!!

I ended my Versailles day with dinner AND dessert crepes. Can you have too many crepes…the answer is no! Trust me! And a side of Rosé Cider.

Bon Appétit…Literally!!

One year ago, almost to the day, I gave up weighing myself. It was as much a gift to my mind as it was to my body. Contrary to what you might think, the devil does not live in the details. He lives in the numbers! Especially when it comes to a woman’s weight.

Lizzie does Paris - travel blog

And as vigilant as I try to be on a daily basis, when I was in Paris I said “Screw it!” This trip was about enjoyment and about celebration. Joy has no patience for calorie counting in a foreign country and a modern day fairytale of my own making.

So weights and scales and eating “right” was not on my radar at all. Imagine my surprise, when I weighed myself on a whim at my parent’s house, after returning from Paris and finding out I’d lost 5 pounds. How could this be? I ate foods that were heavy in cream and cheese. I ate a plentiful amount of bread every single day. And dessert? I had that after every single meal, not to mention a generous amount of wine to go with it.

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The way I ate in France was not indicative of someone who had lost weight. Sure, I’d averaged about 20,000 steps a day in Paris and that had to account for some of it. But believe me when I say, I ATE while I was over there. I assumed it would all even out. I never thought it would leave me with a pleasant amount of lost weight.

But here’s the secret…bon appétit, in French, means “enjoy your meal.” And that’s just what the French people do. Other European countries like Spain and Italy subscribe to this notion of enjoyment as well! Food is not something to be scarfed down as we run from thing to thing, never stopping to savor. It is literally meant to be enjoyed to the fullest.

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As I sat in a little cafe for dinner, my first night in Paris, I looked around and noticed people taking their time with their meals. Bills weren’t brought to rush people out. Waiters gave each table the space needed to truly savor the moments in between bites. And I absorbed this tempo immediately upon my arrival. I indulged in 3 course meals and stayed an extra 30, 40, 50 minutes sometimes. I read my book while I ate and I wrote in my journal. Every waiter knew at least 3 things about my life by the time my meal had ended and we parted ways better for having shared a little company.

I wish I could say this would continue in me forever! I know that it won’t. Because I do move from thing to thing with the frantic nature of an American dreamer. But…from now on, when I sit down to a true meal, I will truly strive to inject the French spirit of “bon appétit” into dinner time and breakfast and the occasional lunch (that happens to be the meal I most often rush through in order to get things done.)

I think that food eaten out of pure enjoyment and true contentment gets digested very differently than food consumed out of utter necessity or carelessness. I’m no scientist, I only know what my body tells me. And it told me quite a story when I returned home from Paris, down 5 pounds and feeling happier and lighter than I have in years.

Some things are meant to be felt with our hearts, to the tips of our fingers and our crafty, analytical little minds only manage to get in the way. Trust your body. Trust your instincts! And pick one meal this week and add an extra 30 minutes onto the time you spend with it. Eat out of pure joy and see if it makes a difference! Take a little France into your mealtimes…I brought some back just for you!

Lizzie does Paris - Lunch time

Bon Appétit!

Thrift Store Cosplay Day 17

Thrift Store Cosplay Day 17 Dorothy from Wizard of Oz fashion blog post

Thrift Store Cosplay fashion blogger nerd post Instagram challenge

Day 17: Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz

Aside from being the 17th day in my Thrift Store Cosplay series, it also happens to be National Thrift Store Day. And I didn’t even plan it that way! August was clearly the month that this series was meant to be in!

To celebrate this occasion, I had a couple adventures today.

Stop #1: First up, a tour of my local Goodwill. At BlogHer 17 back in June, I happened upon a Goodwill table at the conference and met Dominik, who is Goodwill Central Florida’s Volunteer Director. Dominik invited me to one of their WOW Tours and also to an Inspiration Breakfast they’re having in September (which I will share with you when it happens!) And today was tour day! I don’t know if they planned it to be on National Thrift Store Day, but it was quite fortuitous!

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about Goodwill. And rather than give in to the chatter or let that influence me, I thought the best way to find out more information is to go directly to the source and learn about the company from within. I’ll be bringing you a lot more blog posts on what I’ve learned and am learning, but I want to say this…I used to shop fast fashion brands and I could no longer feel good about that decision given the waste, potential for human trafficking elements in production and general knowledge of shady practices in a lot of main stream fast fashion companies (if you want names…I can give you names!) Goodwill is a company that is doing great things in Central Florida and I can and do feel great about supporting them and I will continue to do so as I learn more about the company!! You can check out my Instagram story today and see the whole thread of my day!!

Stop #2: After my fun morning at Goodwill I stopped at OMG Thrift because they made me their Selfie Star of the Week and I won a free $10 gift card. So I went to pick it up. And will probably use that pretty soon, as free money doesn’t stay in my wallet very long and I love shopping there!! Expect to see more about it in my Instagram story.

Stop #3: This morning, I hastily ransacked my closet for items to donate to Goodwill this morning, on National Thrift Store Day. Sadly I could only scrounge together 1 bag, because a couple weeks ago I donated 8 bags of stuff, so my closet was slim pickin’s. Not only that, I totally forgot to give it to the OBT Goodwill that I was touring this morning. So I had to add a 3rd stop to my Thrift Store tour today. I stopped at the Salvation Army to donate my measly bag of items. The Salvation Army is exactly 2 minutes from my work, so it was incredibly convenient to donate there. I usually try to divide my donations up and give them to Goodwill, Salvation Army and also my local Boys and Girls Club thrift store. You can’t go wrong with any of those options!!

With all that information for ya, it’s back to the cosplay. Here’s my Dorothy:

Thrift Store Cosplay Day 17 Dorothy from Wizard of Oz

Shirt from Goodwill

Skirt from The Whirl and Twirl Square Dance Club’s Annual Skirt Sale

Shoes from Plato’s Closet

Thrift Store Cosplay Day 17 Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz fashion blog post

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#PrincessBootCamp – Elsa Meal Plan

Disney Princess Boot Camp Elsa Week nerd blog post fitness

Princess Boot Camp Elsa Week Nerd Disney Fitness Blog

Let’s first discuss that Elsa is no Princess…she is the Queen! Now that we got that out of the way…

This week we are off to Arendelle for our fitspiration. Home of mystical powers that only Queen Elsa has and only those rock trolls know anything about. Home of some seriously dead Disney parents. And home of Elsa and Anna, two sisters that just can’t seem to talk things out until it gets really, really bad.

After the death of Anna and Elsa’s parents, (and possibly leading to the birth of their brother Tarzan, fan theory…Google it!) the sisters become distanced by a secret that Elsa has been keeping since she was a little girl. She has ice powers. Where did she get them? We don’t know. Why was it the best idea to keep them a secret and make her feel like the villain in her own story? Oh, it wasn’t! But here is where we find ourselves.

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Photo by Cristina Fowler @thelittlestfowler

Years of not building snowmen together has left these sisters on opposite sides of the castle door and on Elsa’s coronation day, they are finally opening that door to the people of their kingdom, as well as to the surrounding kingdoms. Well, if you’re guessing that no good can come from this…you are right. No good does come from it. Anna meets Prince Hans…the seemingly perfect other half of her sandwich. The kingdom is subjected to the Duke of Weselton and the truth finally comes about about Elsa’s powers and the kingdom is plunged into a Frozen tundra.

Which brings me to our shopping list this week. I based this week’s food selection on a Nordic diet and shopped in the Frozen food aisle as much as I could. Here’s what you’ll need this week…

-whole grains (barley, rye, oats)

-frozen berries (strawberries, rasperries, blueberries, blackberries)

-root vegetables (carrots and potatoes)

-cabbage

-frozen vegetables (peas and broccoli)

-fish (salmon, mackrel, herring)

-pork

-beans

-eggs

Lots of health benefits to a Nordic Diet. I really liked the food this week and the little nod to the frozen food section is just for continuity. You can feel free to eat the fresh versions of fruits and vegetables. Though I love to have frozen berries for dessert! Great substitute for other frozen desserts that might tempt you.

Game of Thrones Fitness Challenge (Guest Post)

Game of Thrones fitness challenge season premiere HBO guest blog post
Photo from wall.alphacoders.com

by: Johnson Reis

With the upcoming seventh season set to premiere this weekend, I’m not here to just prepare you for what’s about to go down as the most exciting time in television history, but also in terms of your training routine. Counting down seven kingdoms, three dragons, and a plethora of characters, tuning in to this globally popular HBO show will put your stamina and stress levels to the test while having plenty of fun in the process!

While it’s true that we’re living in a digital age, finding motivation from fictional and real life characters we see on-screen isn’t a quite as new of a trend as you may think.

While some look at inspirational individuals, others look to television shows and/or films for characters they can relate and/or aspire to. We watch movies such as 300 or X-Men, which instantly sparks an interest in us to achieve that Leonidas or Logan physique. When it comes to TV shows, there are the likes of Game of Thrones, in which characters do not only embody mental but also physical strength.

For me, watching a single episode of Game of Thrones (GoT) is like doing three sets of ten burpees. Due to the unpredictable nature of the show, it gets our heart rate up, leaving us on the edge of our seats in the process. In more ways than one, these are essential factors that come in handy in our home workout.

If you also happen to be a diehard GoT fanatic, I’m sharing with you a Game of Thrones-inspired workout ideal to get ready for the impending season premiere.

It integrates an array of exercises into the show, coming up with a viable training regimen you can easily do at home. Think of it this way: you’ll no longer be pegged as a “couch potato”, as you get a decent adrenaline-inducing session even while watching your favorite television show. Ready? Here we go!

– If a character gets speared, stabbed, or generally killed – do 10 burpee tuck jumps. This exercise is a sure-fire calorie burner that strengthens and tones your lower body, making your kicks and movements more explosive. It also has fantastic cardiovascular benefits. 

– If a character says “Your Grace” – do 10 pop push ups. This exercise is great for building upper body strength. In addition, it reinforces your pectoral muscles and arms.

– If you see a dragon or a dragon’s egg – do 10 isolated alternating towel slide lunges. This exercise may seem like a simple movement for the legs and buttocks, but in actuality, it has plenty of benefits. Aside from improving your balance and your core, lunges develop hip flexibility.

– If Tyrion Lannister drinks or has a drink in hand – do 10 chair dips. This movement is perfect since watching TV normally entails sitting on a chair or a couch. When done right, it activates your triceps.

– If ‘Cersei Lannister’ does something bad – do 20 core crunches. Naturally, when it comes to home workouts, we can’t forget about engaging the center of it all, the most important muscle group. By developing your core strength, you improve power, speed, and precision. 

Core Crunches. Video credit: Ruben Garcia YouTube Account

Author’s bio:

Johnson Reis

Aside from being a dedicated Muay Thai practitioner, Johnson is a huge pop culture fanatic. One of his wildest dreams is to visit the Game of Thrones set and maybe meet some of the actors. Johnson is also a contributor at BookMartialArts.com.

Find Book Martial Arts on Instagram: @yogaretreats

Find Book Martial Arts on Twitter: @BookMartialArts

#PrincessBootCamp – Rapunzel Meal Plan

Princess Boot Camp Rapunzel Week Disney Fitness Blog
Created with Canva

Rapunzel is a young girl who was taken from her family as a baby and raised by an evil woman in a tower. She is a hopeful dreamer who thinks that there must be something beyond the borders of her little tower. She is a trusting, happy soul who never once stops to question why she has to stay in the tower in the first place.

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This week, we are focusing on Rapunzel as represented by Disney Studios in Tangled. If you are unfamiliar with the original, more gruesome version…look it up. That is not the one we are focusing on, but it’s interesting to read the original fairytales and wonder, how in the world Disney saw the happy, romance in such cautionary tales? I pose that question to you.

But aside from that, we are talking Rapunzel. She of the impossibly long and enchanted hair. For our meal plan this week, we’re getting creative. This is probably a province of England, though no one has accents…so choosing a menu based on region proves a little more difficult this week. Instead we are focusing on foods that are inspired by the movie Tangled and foods particularly helpful in promoting healthy hair growth.

Here’s our shopping list this week:

-angel hair pasta (get it!)

-flaxseed (great addition to smoothies and yogurts)

-Fruits (blackberries, apples, strawberries, etc.)

-Spinach and/or Kale

-Brussel Sprouts and Green Beans

-grilled Chicken, pork and/or beef

-Hazelnut Soup (Rapunzel’s favorite)

-beans and nuts (for extra sources of protein)

Like I said, this shopping list is a little more whimsical than the other princesses. I hope you enjoy it!

#PrincessBootCamp – Ariel Week Fitness Plan

Disney Princess Boot Camp The Little Mermaid Ariel fitness nerd post

One of my first orders of business last week (Cinderella Week) was to clean my parent’s pool and deck to get it ready for Ariel Week. One Princess helping another one out! With Cinderella’s hard work behind me, I was ready to dive in and get my swim on.

Princess Boot Camp Ariel Week Disney Fitness Blog

As a native Floridian, I’m no stranger to swimming. I love swimming, but I’ve never done it as a workout before and boy did it kick my ass!

This week, as I was eating fish and channeling my inner mermaid spirit, you could find me in my parent’s pool in the mornings. And let me tell you, Ariel week was in January…so that pool was frigid. Instead of being off putting, I found it strangely invigorating.

Disney Princess Boot Camp The Little Mermaid Ariel fitness nerd post

Since swimming is the only activity I chose to do for Ariel Week, I had to find ways to create variety in a single activity. I did some research on the different kinds of strokes and styles that swimmers do and tried to a little bit of each stroke every day I was working out (4 days a week.)

Here are the strokes I did:

-Breast stroke

-Back stroke

-Doggy paddle

-Butterfly stroke

-Front Crawl

-Mermaid Stroke (I made this one up)

Each day I swam, I did as many laps as I could of one style till my body started to get sluggish and my pace started to slow, then I’d switch to another stroke or style and on and on till I’d hit around 60 minutes of swimming.

It was slow going at first, but by day 4 I really started to feel stronger. I could go longer with each style and my rhythm and breathing improved. On the weekend, I added a bonus day at the beach so I could try some of the strokes and styles out in the ocean itself (home of all mermaids.) It was much more difficult to do in the freezing January ocean waves, but it was a fun challenge that I had spent the week preparing for and was able to handle.

Swimming is an activity that I decided would make an appearance in future workout schedules because I enjoyed it so much and saw quick results with consistency and that was just one week. Imagine what a month of swimming could accomplish.

#PrincessBootCamp – Ariel Week Meal Plan

Princess Boot Camp Ariel Week Disney Fitness Blog

I made it through Cinderella Week, ready and energized to head into Week 2. If you missed all that Week 1 had to offer CLICK HERE.

Week 2 I looked Under the Sea to Ariel:

Princess Boot Camp Ariel Week Disney Fitness Blog

Now, to be honest with you, while I have loved the movie, The Little Mermaid, since I was a little girl, as a grown woman I’ve got problems up and down with Ariel as a Disney Princess and role model heroine.

The Little Mermaid is the story of a mermaid princess who is unhappy in her royal circumstance. She wants to see what is beyond the borders of the ocean into the world of men. But guess what…she doesn’t have legs or the ability to be on land for extended periods of time. It doesn’t help that she saves a hunky sailor, Prince Eric, from certain death and falls instantly in love with him.

After making a deal with an evil octopedal sea witch, she is given mere days to make the handsome Prince fall in love with her or else doom herself to returning to the sea (where she lives, grew up and has a loving family.) The catch is…she must head to land with no voice to aid in her quest. That doesn’t stop Prince Eric from finding her on the beach, taking her into his home, almost kissing her and starting to fall in love with her. So many issues. And yet so many fun songs and memorable moments that have stayed with me from childhood.

Who among us doesn’t want to live the #mermaidlife? That’s not to say Ariel doesn’t have redeeming qualities. She has bravery and purpose driven ambition to see beyond her borders. These days we call that wanderlust. The whole ocean is her palace and yet she dreams of dancing and walking and strolling down the street. These things we humans take for granted. (That’s really stretching to give her redemption as a character, but hey, I tried!) Here’s a funny Buzzfeed post poking fun at this beloved Disney Classic (there is language in this post.)

Princess Boot Camp Ariel Week Disney Fitness Blog
Photo by Cristina Fowler @thelittlestfowler

Obviously for a Ariel Week Meal Plan, we’re gonna be looking to the sea. Here is week 2’s shopping list:

-fresh fish (tilapia, salmon, sea bass, grouper, etc)

-scallops

-shrimp

-lobster

-crab

-sushi is an option this week

-fruits (I stuck with more tropical fruits like starfruit, pineapple and mango)

-veggies (seaweed, lettuce, spinach, cabbage)

-coconut oil (for cooking)

-coconut and seaweed snacks

-fruit infused water

There are extensive debates about a typical mermaid diet. Would Ariel have eaten fish and lobster given that her two best friends were a fish (Flounder) and a lobster (Sebastian)? You can decide for yourself if you want to go ocean vegan or not. I didn’t. Lobster best friend…look away!!

Whether you go vegan or not, may I specifically recommend these delicious vegan snacks as options this week: Go Raw Coconut Crisps & Sea Gift’s Roasted Sea Weed Snacks. I tried to stay as natural as I could, but sometimes throughout the day you just need a crunchy snack. These 2 products are delicious and won’t ruin any progress you’re making.

#PrincessBootCamp – Cinderella Week Wrap Up

Princess Boot Camp Disney Inspiration Fitness Plan Blog Series

Cinderella Week Princess Boot Camp Fitness Blog Disney

One week can’t change your whole body. One week isn’t enough time to meet aggressive goals, like the ones I’d created for myself. But one week can start you down a better path. One week can wake you up to a better life. I don’t like to call this a diet…it’s not one. It’s a lifestyle. Now, am I going to live like this for the rest of my life? No. Will this work for everyone? No. Did I find success doing it? Yes. And the point is to share that success with you!

Because when I created it, I had no idea what would happen. But I learned that my success came from diving in with both feet and taking this challenge seriously. Success came from constantly staying in a Cinderella state of mind through my Food Plan, Fitness Plan, Movies and Music, and Fashion choices.

As I mentioned in my introduction, I gave up weighing myself for the whole of this 8 weeks. So, I can’t tell you how much weight I lost after the first week, but I know my arms felt stronger from cleaning and weeding and lifting. My legs were pleasantly sore from stairs and dancing. Sugar had no hold on me after this week and while I continued to take each day as they came, I started to believe that I could meet the goals I’d set for myself. It felt like I’d really created something that ensured a successful outcome for me. As a major league Disnerd, a fitness series based on Disney Princesses is right up my alley!

Next Post: Ariel Week Begins