Fabulous Healthy Dinners

I don’t have to cook much so I can’t take credit for these amazing dishes.  Follow my instagram @Dawn_Melissa for more healthy dishes.

Salmon, Pak choy, Kale, avocado
grilled chicken
Grilled chicken & roasted veggies
stir fry
Steak stir fry
Mackerel, Sweet potatoes, Kale

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring.  I recently had a delicious homemade brunch of toast, beans, avocado, scrambled egg whites and – get this- meatfree sausage.  I didn’t get to take any pics but trust me it was delicious.  So yum.  Sooooo yum!!!

I think I’m starting to love food again.

Waking Up Grumpy | Work It Out

You’d think with a name like ‘Dawn’ I’d be a morning person.


Actually, I’m a night owl.  And I’m a total grumpster when I wake up.    I used to be pretty good about at least being cordial to my roommates or boyfriends or family (whomever I happen to be living with at whatever point in time) but lately, as I creep into my 30s (at a snail’s pace, ya’ll.  At a snail’s pace) I’m having a harder time just saying “Good morning” without snarling.


It’s not until I splash water on my face and take that first sip of coffee that I can even carry on a halfway decent conversation.

Today was no exception.  I woke up early, made a kale-apple-pineapple smoothie, watched the news, made my fusion waters (lemon,mint,cucumber and lemon,mint,cucumber and ginger) and after doing all that was still super grumpy.

Fusion Water (Cucumber/Lemon/Mint) and Pineapple/Kale/Apple Smoothie

I finally decided to go to the gym.

There’s something about putting on my workout clothes and picking up my Ipod that flips a switch in mind.  I can plan to workout, I can look at my dumbbells or watch a Blogilates video and tell myself, “I’m going to work out today” but it’s not until I actually put on those clothes and lace up those sneakers (Dear God I need new sneakers!!!) that I suddenly turn into this super motivated Amazon woman who thinks she’s going to run a marathon.

There’s nothing wrong with Delusions of Grandeur.

Can I just say I had a really good workout today.  I chose a treadmill next to two people (a fit Black woman and a cute boy) and used them as my motivation (“competition) and I ran 5 miles.  Then I did another half hour of pilates.  I was sweating and gasping and I felt like crying at end (as usual) but I burned off over 600 calories today.


And you know what?  When I was finished I was no longer grumpy.  I felt exhilarated actually.  I felt really friggin’ amazing.

On the drive home I blasted Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” and Thirty Seconds to Mars’s “City of Angels” (I Love You, Jared Leto!) and I sang at the top of my lungs.

It didn’t bother me that other drivers were staring at me.  It didn’t bother me when some entitled driver leaned on his horn after I cut him off – yeah, I cut you off sucka because I was merging and you saw me and you sped up like a jerk so go for it, lean on your horn I’m still singing!!!

The second you start to feel joy the vultures will pounce.  But you can’t let them steal your day, your moment, your happiness.

Point of this post is – when you’re feeling grumpy or blue or anxious – go workout.  It really helps.  And I know it feels impossible to go from zero energy to suddenly running 5 miles but take baby steps.  Push yourself to do the thing that flips the switch in your brain.  For me, it’s putting on my gym clothes, lacing up those sneakers (old as dirt sneakers, I seriously need to go shopping) and grabbing my Ipod.

Once I do that I’m good to go.

I’m going to post pics soon – my body is toning up.  I’m starting to see some definition again and I’ve lost 10lbs since May.  I’m very happy.  I still have a long way to go but I’m doing this No Soda/Candy/Fast Food Challenge with Healthy Hair Journey and even though there’s suddenly CANDY EVERYWHERE I’m still going strong.  I’m also blogging about my fitness journey (plus Movie Reviews) over at Trials N Tresses!  Check ’em out!

Now I get to celebrate with coffee.


Post Workout Sweat (And Tears)

wpid-img_20140521_123354.jpgI’m slowly getting back into working out regularly and eating right.  My ongoing weight-loss journey continues…

I know I’m always starting my weight-loss blog entries with “I’m getting back into this.”  It’s a bummer that I keep letting myself down when I fall off the wagon but at least I do get back on that horse and I try again, right?  (I know I’m combining different analogies here but you get what I’m saying) 

I did four Cassey Ho Blogilates videos in lieu of running at the gym.  I worked on my abs, legs, arms & back and butt (tee hee) and it hurt the entire time.

A funny thing happens when you’re pushing yourself through a tough workout.  Your thoughts start to wander, you sweat profusely and, if you’re a sensitive little thing like me, you may start to cry.

To be clear, when I say “cry” I don’t mean break down into hysterical tears in the middle of my workout like a crazy person.  I mean, cry like in that way you do when you’re pushing through something and no matter what you’re going to get through it.  Like childbirth.  Or a hotdog eating contest.  Or life, in general.  I wasn’t in tremendous pain – I could definitely feel the burn but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle physically.  I just needed to cry my way through it a little bit.  And you know what?  I got through the damn workout.

Oh it’s such a simple metaphor for life.  I may have some tough, tear-filled nights that I’ll have to continue to sweat through but come hell or high water I will get through them.  (Yay! Breakthrough!)

(In my defense, I really must say that Cassey Ho’s workouts are ridiculously hard so I’m sure a lot of people have cried through them.  Confess your tears in the comments below!)


Hitting My Stride

Last night I ran 5 miles at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

I was only going to run 4 miles but then something happened at around mile 2 – I hit my stride.

And I just kept running.

It was a nice feeling.  Running in between pockets of light and shadow.  Kanye West’s “Power” blasting in my ears.  The cool night air on my face.

I think I’m starting to prefer outdoor night runs to running on the treadmills first thing in the morning.  Maybe I’m just feeling good about myself because I got through those five miles.  Maybe I’m just in the mood to change things up a bit while I continue on this fitness journey.  Whose to say.

Anyway, it’s a little less than a month before my birthday.  I’m trying to reach a specific goal and come May 14th I will let you know if I reached it.  Right now I’m excited because I’m starting a 10 Day Gluten Free Challenge.  Today is officially Day 1.  If all goes well I may extend it to 30 Days.  Which means no beer for 30 Days…Eep!

But I’m excited.  I had fun today shopping for gluten free food products.  I tried Gluten Free pasta tonight for the first time and I really liked it.  So..yeah…let’s see how this goes.

Fingers Crossed.

I Could Be That Girl

“Head down…as I watch my feet take turns hitting the ground…”

Beyonce’s “Smash Into You” is playing on my Ipod and I’m 1 mile into the three I plan to run on the treadmill.  Earlier this week I’d run the three miles in 34 minutes – 6 minutes faster than last week and I wanted to beat that time on this night.  Incline at 2.0 – I’m panting and sweating and my sides are burning and I’m thinking somewhere in another dimension there is a version of me who could do 3 miles in 30 minutes in her sleep.

This other version of me has been healthy all her life.  No freshman 15 (or 20) to slow her down.  Her 20s were not a clusterf*ck of scrambling to write screenplay after screenplay — jumping from random job to random horrible job just to pay the bills (and barely doing that).  She was not disorganized or lazy and she didn’t suddenly decide to go to musical theater school and waste 2 years only to find that musical theater was not her passion.

This other version of me feels so far away.  So far ahead of where I am in life.  She’s probably engaged or married and ready to start a family.  She’s probably a homeowner and spends her weekends gardening.  This other version of me has probably been to London dozens of times.  She already has her Master’s Degree.  She doesn’t waste her time writing a bucket list or overthinking important life decisions so much she doesn’t get anything done.

I run faster and pant harder and sweat even more as I think about this other version of me.  If I could just push myself a little more….almost at the 2 mile mark….maybe I could reach her.

Maybe I could catch up to her.

Because two weeks ago it took me 45 minutes to run 3 miles.  And last Thursday I ran it in 40 minutes.  And earlier this week I ran it in 34 minutes.  I could run three miles in 30 minutes on this night.  Maybe I couldn’t do it in my sleep or without breaking a sweat but I could do it.  And if I could do that…I could catch up to this other version of Dawn Melissa…maybe even surpass her.

I didn’t do everything right – even though I imagined I would.  I made mistakes, got lost, took the wrong jobs and passed on the right ones.  I made the wrong friends and let the right ones go.  I didn’t become a famous writer…but it doesn’t mean I’m not the Dawn Melissa I was meant to be.  And this other version out there somewhere….she’s just fine.  I could be that girl.

But I’m OK with being me.

2 weeks into my training…I’ve lost 3.5 pounds and my best time running 3 miles….is 30 minutes.

And yay…today is my rest day.  I get to rest.

(Official) Bucket List

Is everyone calling these lists the bucket list?  I feel like there might be another name for it.

Anyway, I was reticent to post my bucket list because I was afraid that if I put it out there and I never accomplished some of these things that I would look like a jackass.

But I’ve decided that’s silly.

So here’s my Bucket List (or whatever you want to call it).  A (growing) list of things I’ve always wanted to do and things that I have a new found interest in doing.

1. Go to London

– March 2013, done!  I went for a month and even got a BONUS trip to Paris out of it.  Best trip of my life.  I cannot wait to go back!  Hopefully for a much longer stay.

2. Get a Tattoo

– April 2013, done!  I posted a picture of it- check out the post: “Tatted…Finally!”

3. Get down to 140lbs (Bonus if I get down to 130 lbs)

4. Shoot another short film (and get it into a bunch of film festivals!)

5. Get (at least) 100,000 youtube subscribers (Hey…you never know!)

6. Backpack through Europe (or some variation of that.  I don’t necessarily have to backpack)

7. Drive across the U.S. (or let someone else drive or take turns driving)

8. Learn to cook (like for real, not just a couple of recipes for learn to cool for real)

9. Learn Italian (or Spanish…or both)

10. Master RP (I will have an authentic sounding English accent!)

11. Win a (major) writing competition! (i.e. Nicholls Fellowship or Fox etc)

12. Land My Dream Job (whatever that may be, a job that makes me happy and I can look forward to go to everyday)

13. Try Bikram Yoga and/or run a marathon

14. Finish My Book (Check out my blog – Cabernet in the Dark, (Mostly) True Tales of a Side Kick Girl)

15. Make a new friend (I know, right?  Cue the violins)

16. Make a great first impression (People don’t usually warm up to me until about the 3rd or 4th meeting)

17. Make an impression on someone else (Inspire, enlighten, encourage, uplift!  How can I make you smile today?)

18. Get My Master’s Degree

19. Develop a new skill (Would you believe I’m not really that great with using Excel or Photoshop?  Shhhhh, don’t tell anybody.)

20. Find a new hobby or craft (other than cooking).

I may add more to the list but for now this what I’m looking forward to doing.  My vlog (youtube.com/DawnMelissaVlogs) is mostly about doing everything on this list so check back in with me every once in awhile!

Accompanying video coming soon!

Encouraging Words from a Stranger

I’m so hard on myself.

At the gym, sweating like a pig, I run at 5.5 speed, my treadmill inclined at 2%.  I run 3 miles- slowing down twice, at 15 minutes and 25 minutes.  At the end of the run I do a cool down, walking at 3.0 speed, my Ipod blasting a sad Sara Bareilles song in my ears as I shake my head in disappointment.

Sara Bareilles – Stay

I am not happy with the day’s run.

Part of me knows I pushed myself harder on this day than ever before.  Part of me knows that when the treadmill indicates I’d burned off over 400 calories that’s a good thing.  But the other part of me is frustrated that I haven’t shed the 40 lbs I’ve been trying to get rid of for four years now.  The other part of me screams in frustration at the fact that I had to slow down twice during the run.  That same part of me criticizes the fact that I didn’t do 4 miles instead of 3.  I’m feeling defeated and more exhausted than necessary because of this negative side of me telling me repeatedly that I’m not good enough – I didn’t work hard enough.


I slow to a stop and do a quick stretch, glancing at the other people working out in the gym.  Some with trainers, some on their own.  They all vary in shape and size as they grunt, huff and puff away on their weight machines or resistance training exercises.

I envy them.

Mostly because they’re still working out while I’m nearly done.  Also, because they don’t seem to be quitting in the middle of their workout.  I wipe the sweat from my face and hop off the treadmill, making my way to the ladies’ locker room.  I tell myself that tomorrow I will do better bite my lower lip to keep from crying.

In the locker room I change next to a woman I’d seen sweating it out with her trainer.  I ask her how that trainer was.  She liked him.  Then she says she’d been admiring me while I was running.  She says she was impressed and hopes to get there soon.  I’m surprised by her compliment.  I had not expected it nor did I think I deserved it.  But it made me feel good to hear it.  Like I could go a little easier on myself for not doing the 4 miles.  Like I could stop kicking myself for not having dropped (and successfully kept off) the 40 extra pounds.

I felt a little lighter just standing there talking to this stranger who had bothered to look up from her own workout to notice me.

Sometimes that’s all you need.