Catching and Eating Up

I kept waiting for something momentous to happen the last two weeks so I could post about it but, there were no tears and no crises. (Okay, let’s be real. There were tears but not many and there were no weight-loss related ones. You try to hold it together when a three-legged dog hobbles by. Or you see a seeing-eye dog struggle to help his person around construction work. Or there’s a missing dog poster on a bus stop. Or there’s just a dog being extra cute. Just try to keep the tears from welling up!) So, I never got around to writing anything. Forgive me for leaving you, dear readers, with absolutely nothing on the internet to capture your attention.

Sarina, friend Heath and Cap'n Benny
Sarina, friend Heath and Cap’n Benny

Christian and I had the pleasure of spending this past weekend with our friends Benny and Sarina (you may remember her from my first 5K), their friend Heath and Sarina’s grandmother in the grandmother’s Michigan lake home. We boated, rode jet skis, talked and ate. I absolutely love weekends like this to excuse my terrible eating habits. I treat special weekend activities as a sort of all-you-can-eat buffet. While I don’t wish to spend my vacation time counting calories and obsessing over how every bite will affect me, I would like to reign it in.

At each meal and snack time, I attack whatever is before me like I’m in one of those TV gameshow booths where they blow $100 bills around and you have to gather up as many as possible before they shut the blowers off. I shovel greedily, as if I’m storing up food for the winter months to come. I want to eat it all. I leave the table feeling tight, swollen and utterly miserable. But at least I won in the imaginary Who Can Inhale the Most CheezIts Contest!

It occurred to me after one such meal this weekend (spicy feta dip with Wheat Thins as a snack, garlic butter shrimp and bread and chips, guacamole and salsa as an appetizer, a glass of wine, more bread with butter and a taco salad full of Doritos) that I’ve never left a party, a weekend trip or a restaurant thinking, “Gee, I sure wish I’d put away more food.” I’ve never lain (laid?) awake at night thinking, “If only I’d eaten more!!” And I’m willing to wager that my final thoughts as I drift off into eternal sleep (looking effortlessly beautiful with my Sleeping Beauty hair arranged just so on my death-bed pillow) will not be, “My life was full and rich and lovely but, I should’ve eaten more family sized bags of Ruffles with giant tubs of French Onion dip!”

Boat babes.

A post shared by Sara Jane Castro (@saryjanecastro) on

So why do I do it? Why this compulsion to eat past the point of comfort? I don’t know. I was hoping you’d tell me.  But it gives me something to think about when I reach for another scoop of casserole or another cookie.  If only I can hear my own thoughts over the sound of the crunching.

Personal triumph update: this dress is a MP meaning Medium, Petite.  Aka almost a small.  Never mind that it’s probably ridiculous vanity sizing.


tl;dr hope there’s pie in heaven


Bitter and Sweet Things – Part 2: Biscuit Dough Arms

Now, for something a little less sweet.  Do you ever have those days or weeks where you’re just so disgusted with yourself that you can’t imagine doing anything other than hiding in your bed and sobbing? I had one of those weeks.  As I mentioned on Monday, I gained a few pounds recently. That, coupled with a shirt with too-tight sleeves, hair that refused to cooperate and a craft supply blunder on Tuesday morning, left me in tears.  I stood in front of the mirror, cursing my stupid, fat body that can’t do anything right and loathing my grotesque canned biscuit dough arms.

The dough in question.
The dough in question.

I changed shirts but still felt like a monster. I boarded the train with my huge bag of craft supplies and headed off to work where I knew I’d manage to fail in my unchallenging job. Just as I was welling up with tears for the thousandth time that morning, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the window.  I’d been actively trying to avoid my visage because I didn’t need to be reminded of my extra chin or the giant bags under my eyes.  But I didn’t see any of that stuff.  What I saw surprised me.  I saw muscle definition in my arms! The same biscuit dough arms I’d cursed moments before had a defined muscle! It’s small, it’s unlikely anybody but me could see it but a defined tricep was there.

The tricep in question.
The tricep in question.

So, I challenged myself to think about all the things my arms could do instead of how they looked.  They can carry this heavy bag of craft supplies that brings joy to people in need. They can do “textbook” push ups and planks. They can hug the ones I love. They can cook and clean and carry groceries home. They can hold onto the train pole so that I don’t fall down. They can type this blog post. They can work. They can work the brakes and handlebars on my bike. They can bake, package and ship a cake to my boyfriend’s mama. They can keep working, striving and not giving up on progress and success. Maybe that arm looks like biscuit dough from time to time but it’s just because the skin is loose from pounds that are no longer there.


fat arms are still arms

Bitter and Sweet Things – Part 1: Cakes

Today is Christian’s mom’s birthday! Since she loves tropical drinks and I love using my Kitchen-Aid, a pina colada pound cake was the perfect fit! I combined the recipes I found here and here to make the perfect cake.

The cake itself is a sour cream pound cake loaded with crushed pineapple, coconut and a splash of rum. After it came out of the oven, I glazed it with more sugar, butter and rum. After that all soaked in, I turned it out and gasped at my own handiwork.


Because I’m impatient, I poured the second glaze on while the cake was hot and it all ran off.  I scooped and poured it back on until it looked juuust right. And then, topped it with some lightly toasted coconut.  Need a little more detail? Here we go:



Now, the hard part is to not make another one for myself!

Paul Anka Cake (pina colada pound cake)

1 c. butter, softened

3 c. sugar

5 eggs, room temperature

2 t. rum, coconut preferred but I used orange because I had it on hand

3 c. flour

¼ t. baking soda

¼ t. baking powder

¼ t. salt

¾ c. sour cream

1 c. crushed pineapple, drained

½ c. shredded coconut

Glaze 1

1 c. sugar

½ c. water

2 T. butter

2 t. rum

Glaze 2

2 c. powdered sugar

2 T. milk

1 T. rum

½ c. toasted coconut

Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour a Bundt pan. Beat butter until creamed.  Add in sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs, one at the time. Stir in rum.  Sift together flour, soda, powder and salt.  Add to butter mixture, alternating with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in pineapple and coconut. Spread evenly into your Bundt and bake for around 1 hour and 10 minutes. Check at 1 hour so that cake does not over bake. In the last few minutes of baking, prepare glaze 1.  Whisk sugar and water together in a saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and allow to boil for one minute.  Turn heat off and stir in butter and rum.  Once done, remove cake from oven and poke holes all over with a long skewer. Pour glaze 1 all over the top of the cake and allow it to soak in the pan for 25-30 minutes. After glaze 1 soaks in, turn the cake out onto a serving platter and allow to cool completely.  While it’s cooling, prepare glaze 2. Whisk together powdered sugar, butter and rum, set aside. Once cake is completely cool, drizzle glaze 2 all over the top and sprinkle with the toasted coconut.  Serve and impress.


can’t stop, won’t stop with the mixer

The Most Delicious Meal


Sunday night, I made Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Cranberry-Chipotle Dressing and Chipotle-Green Onion Turkey Burgers. Holy cow.  What a delicious meal!

The salad was absolutely scrumptious but I did make a few alterations.  The original recipe from Eats Well With Others called for one tsp of adobo sauce, fresh or frozen cranberries and pepitas.  I wanted mine a little spicier so I bumped the adobo sauce up to 3 tsp (or 1 T.) Fresh and frozen cranberries are not sold this time of year, at least not in my grocery store, so I used reduced sugar Craisins instead.  The only pepitas I could find were still in their shells and I was not about to spend an afternoon removing them so I subbed the 1/2 c pepitas for 1/3 c flax seeds. The results were fresh, flavorful and sooo delicious. And it’s hard to find something more delicious than oven roasted sweet potatoes.

Total calories (for my version, 6 servings per batch): 180 calories


The turkey burgers were an original invention. Not exactly the wheel but they tasted great!

Chipotle-Green Onion Turkey Burgers

yield: 4 burgers

1 lb 93% lean ground turkey

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped

1/4 c. green onions, chopped

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 T. coconut oil

4 whole wheat buns (I used Dieter’s Dream. Terrible name, pretty okay bun)

1 Roma tomato, sliced

Romaine lettuce, torn

2 t. dijon mustard

Mix turkey, peppers, onions and garlic powder together and form into 4 patties. Place in the refrigerator until ready to cook.  Wrap your buns in foil and place in a 350 degree oven until ready to serve. Heat 1/2 T. coconut oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat until droplets of water sizzle in the pan.  Place the patties in the skillet and cook until browned on each side and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Place a patty on each bun and top with lettuce, tomato and 1/2 t. dijon mustard. Devour.


Total calories: 277 (includes bun and all the fixins)

Meal grand total: 457

Biggest Loser 5k


I ran the Biggest Loser Run/Walk 5K yesterday and finished in my best time, to date! I felt amazing until about mile 2.5. Then I got super hot and really could’ve used a second water station.  But I pushed through and finished with an average pace of 10:24 and a total time of 31:04.  Best of all? I came in 17th in my age group! (If I hadn’t just turned 30, I would’ve been 20th or higher in the younger group.)


Cute custom shirt by talented big sister Joy “Too Cute Designs” Jones. Visit her shop here.

While it was kind of annoying to have to dodge walkers, (for the love of pancakes, please stay to the right!) this race was encouraging because there were people of all shapes and sizes out there, walking, running, doing their best.  Some even had canes! I never really watched Biggest Loser.  In fact, I think I’ve only seen one episode and I rolled my eyes the entire time at the drama of it all. But I do commend them for inspiring so many people to make positive, healthy changes in their lives.

The Bears are trying to recruit me. I’m trying Soldier Field on for size.

There was certainly a time, not too long ago, when I would’ve balked at the idea of walking a 5k, much less running one, because I didn’t think I was in shape enough to exercise.  Kind of a hilarious thought now. How did I expect to get in shape without exercise? So it was a nice reminder that when my goals seem really far away, the only way to achieve them is to start walking or running towards them.

The most beautiful photo ever taken of me.
The most beautiful photo ever taken of me.

This race was also great because of how much loot they gave away.  I didn’t even take half of the stuff they gave out and walked away with my bag stuffed full of goodies.


In less inspiring news, I started seeing the scale creep back up this week.  I was frustrated and discouraged but it was kind of an inevitability given the fact that I’ve had like 5 birthday meals, enjoyed more than occasional cocktails and milk-based coffee drinks and have given myself too much leeway lately. I also haven’t tracked my calories in weeks, thinking that I’ve got this under control and there’s no way I could gain weight.  Wrong.  Will you help me stay accountable? I want to post my menu here each week (with calorie counts) and be held to it.  Also, if you see me socially or in the office, will you ask me how it’s going? Don’t feel shy! I need the encouragement.

And lastly, I’m including this picture because that little girl looks so mad about waking up early to run a race.  Especially with a gigantic bow on her head. Special thanks to race photographer and handsome boyfriend Christian for most of these pictures.



go big girl, go big girl, go big girl, go