So as most of you are aware, I recently started a new job in our glorious nation’s capital. This means, however, that I have to somehow get from Point A (Falls Church) to Point B (DC) and back every day. Both of my other post-college jobs were roughly 4.5 miles down a single road from where I live (coincidentally down the street from each other.) And while my new work location is actually only 10 miles away now, it’s 10 miles into the CITY. BUM BUM BUM.

As if this is any great surprise, I don’t like driving in DC. Well actually, I don’t really like to drive PERIOD, but I especially don’t like driving in DC. It’s scary. The traffic signals are on the sides of the road. I’m not good at it. Enter: Metro. My house is a good mile and a half from the nearest metro station, which is definitely walkable but not enjoyable. My parents live half a mile closer, so for the past few days I’ve been driving to their house and walking from there. Naturally I thought I would absolutely dread it, but it actually hasn’t been that bad! While I’m a little sweatier than I’d like to be by the time I get to the station, it’s kind of invigorating. I’m sure I’ll be singing a VASTLY different tune the first time it rains or snows, but for now I think I’m adjusting well.

Plus, check out what I stumbled upon on the walk home yesterday:


Or should I say, stumbled into me. I was attacked by mutant butterflies on the sidewalk as I was strolling home! These were the biggest butterflies I have ever seen outside of an arboretum or museum. They were enormous! And totally unphased as I spent like 16 minutes taking pictures of them. Not bad for an iPhone pic, eh?

Mutant Butterfly.

Another thing that I’m adjusting to is the whole actually-working-in-the-city thing. I’m kinda digging it! I mean, for one thing, we certainly didn’t have food trucks in Tysons:


Am I the only person that didn’t know that my beloved Sweetgreen has a food truck? I was ecstatic! I foresee many more lunchtime froyo excursions to come.



I will admit that the one other downside of working in the city is simply that I get home later. I know it’s really not that bad, but when you’re used to it taking 20 minutes door-to-door and you suddenly have to factor in trains and planes walking and automobiles, the whole package becomes a whoooole lot longer. Which, of course, means less precious time with these goofballs:



Yes, I’m one of those dog owners (which we already knew) but c’mon: who wouldn’t want to spend more time with this face?

Puppy Dog Eyes.

Yesterday’s home arrival was even later than usual, since I went, er, “grocery shopping” at the store that is my parents’ fridge. I came home with a bag bursting with produce that would have gone south reeeeeal quickly if I hadn’t stolen it stepped in. You’re welcome, parents.

Some of it was already going bad! So as soon as I stepped in my own front door I set to work to use up a squishy-around-the-edges eggplant of theirs, as well as a tiny CSA eggplant my sister gave me last week. Not really knowing what to do with two eggplants, I did what any other sensible person would: smothered it in cheese and baked it for an hour.

There's eggplant in there?

There really is eggplant under there, I swear!


The size difference between the conventional eggplant from the ‘rents and the CSA eggplant from the sis (honestly, who actually BUYS groceries?) was kinda ridic. Both were equally delicious though!


On the side (using the term “side” loosely since I had to use an entirely separate plate) was a salad with lettuce, red onion and mandarin orange wedges, an apple (drizzled with lemon juice to keep from browning!), and a slice of crusty seven-grain bread from a local vendor — with a smear of Earth Balance and strawberry jam, DUH.


Tasty and HEALTHY. I really need to make sure that with my new schedule I get my eating back on track. Especially since I tend to justify ANY added activity in my schedule (like walking to/from the metro each day) as an excuse to eat whatever I want. Yesterday was good though. In retrospect, I realized I even had a totally meatless day. Go me!

What’s your commute to work like? If you have a lengthy commute, or work long hours, do you find it’s harder to motivate yourself to eat healthy?

PS: Don’t forget that you only have until tomorrow night to enter my Adora chocolate giveaway!


  1. I love a good walk, although I rarely walk somewhere I *have* to be. It sounds like you are transitioning really well–bully for you! πŸ™‚

  2. Long(er) commutes suck. When I lived in Charlotte mine was an hour then went down to 10 minutes once I moved closer to the city. Now I am in FL doing temp work which is only about a 15 minute drive from my parents so not bad at all. Luckily, I dont have to take I95 or any other highway to get here. But when my commute was an hour each way on the bus, I would dread it since there always seemed to be an issue with the bus which meant longer commute and less time with my pup ;( I feel your pain.

    • Yeah, I think that the amount of time it takes is going to become especially apparent as the days get shorter too. Walking home in the dark doesn’t seem like very much fun!

  3. suzisays:

    my commute is a half hour from home, driving, each way. I totally blame it on my needing to eat on the way home (which is both expensive and not as healthy.) Unlike you (wow!) I have very little kitchen skills. And in the summer, my apartment is generally an oven, except for the one room that is always a/c’d. (Wow, I’m grumpy.) And I work late two nights, which often means stopping at the convenience store for a snack.

    And learning about food allergies? Blargh. Although I have the go-ahead to go back onto Claritin, yay. (Discovered all my food allergies after allergist said, why are you taking Claritin every day, stop that!)

    I know I am going to LURVE (well, I mean I do already) your blog. Plus, hello, butterflies? my mother would be so proud!


    • I was totally thinking of your mom and the butterfly ceremony at the wedding when I came across them! πŸ™‚

  4. Jen Robinsonsays:

    I’m proud of you for your increased walking and i know how easy it is to turn any little bit of extra movement into an excuse to eat more but try to resist! just keep on your old regular eating schedule/habits and figure that the extra walking will just help melt the pounds off quicker! ps that eggplant looks delish! i have two tiny eggplants left that i need to do something with!

    • I don’t think I know how to make anything other than variations on eggplant parm or spicy garlic eggplant. What else do you do with it?

      • Jen Robinsonsays:

        Grill it? I saw a recipe also for an “eggplant bruschetta” that involved grilling the eggplant til soft (6 minutes or so) then topping with mixed diced tomatoes and a vinaigrette. sounded yummy!

  5. I’m going through this in a week and a half! I’m starting downtown and will have to change train colors and ride for about 35 minutes each way, then take a bus back to my apartment. I am not looking forward to it at all! What do you read on the train?

  6. My husband and I moved a couple months back to shorten our work commutes! We already don’t get off work till 6:00 so it really helped out. I went from a 35min drive to an 8min drive. The hubs really lucked up by going from a 45+min drive to a 15min drive.It is so nice to be a hop, skip, & a jump away. We can now go for walks and eat dinner at a reasonable time. So I would say a shorter commute has definitely helped us lead a healthier lifestyle! Not to mention more snuggle time with our furry babies!

  7. I have a 45min commute each way and it’s awful! The city I live in has a really horrible public transportation system so I don’t really have an option for getting to work any other way. I’ve been dealing with this commute for 7 years now, so I’m used to it, but it is definitely hard to make a schedule work. We usually don’t get home until after 6 or 630pm (I carpool with my husband) and by the time I get a workout in, it’s after 8. Definitely makes for some late dinners. Good for you for getting in the walks to the metro!

  8. I used to live, literally, across the street from my job. It was awesome. Unfortunately, the job sort of sucked balls. Then, I worked 1 hour from work each way on my next job…bummer. BUT, now I work from home 3x/week. Yay!

    Ps: Those butterflies…so scary.

  9. I would rather drive anywhere than metro. I’m just suburban in nature like that I suppose! Your dinner looks DELISH – though I don’t like eggplant! <3 Sweetgreen! xo

  10. My commute is roughly 1 hour each way for only a little over 4 miles. Talk about torture! I’ve considered riding my bike, but with little to no bike-friendly streets I’m too nervous. Walking to the bus, waiting for (an unreliable) bus and then walking home from the bus stop takes up a lot more time than I would like. Some nights I’m not in the mood to cook at all because I’m so fed up. I’ve done the commute for over a year and decided this year that I would start driving. It cuts down my commute to only 15 minutes! That’s a whole 1.5 more hours of my day!

    not all cities are this bad, and at least the DC metro is clean? (at least of what i’ve seen).

    Good luck! Keep your chin up – there will be crappy days, sure, but just think of all the walking you’re doing – it always helps me get through those crummy days πŸ˜‰

  11. My commute isn’t too long. Thankfully I’m a 10 minute walk from the metro and a 15 minute metro ride to work. I still felt bad about leaving my pup at home all day though, so now he has a dog walker.He loves her so much.

  12. Your photos are just amazing, especially the puppies! I work from home but when I was home on Maui I would walk to work in the same little beach town. It was wonderful!

  13. I’ve only lived in the DC area for 5 years and I’ve never known a commute less than 40 minutes door to door. I actually hate living here for this reason. The first 4 years I spent commuting downtown, which, as you pointed, has its ups and downs (mostly downs in my opinion). The thing about working downtown is that you can go outside and walk around when you need a break (which my office was very flexible about). Also, I like the hustle/bustle of it all. My office is close to the White House & Mall and that was sometimes fun, esp during non-peak tourist season. Plus, for the random food trucks – another bonus!

    However, getting there and getting home is a different story, especially on the dreadful Orange line, which when I used it, seemed to chronically break down and was ALWAYS packed – especially during the summer months. My worst commute was when I lived in Waldorf, MD – a door to door commute of 1 hr 15 min in the morning, and 1 hr 40 at night. BLOWER. AND during that year I gained so much weight – so I guess that answers your question! I hate to be such a negative Nancy for you Gretchen – esp because this all just started for you. It’s my single most hated characteristic of the Washington area – the commutes SUCK. However, it is what you make of it. The upside to train riding is, if you enjoy reading, you can blow through a lot of books that way that I know I would not normally do if I had a 20 min or less commute. Also, if you’re commuting to a job that you love, then the commute will not be that bad. Ya know?

    P.S. I was about to be like – “damn, she even carries her DSLR to/from work everyday?! This girl is such a photography inspiration!!”.. but the iphone pics were pretty sweet too πŸ™‚

    • Haha! Well today is the first day I brought my DSLR with me to work actually! Not sure it is worth the extra bazillion pounds in my bag though… Guess we’ll see? Can I chalk it up to even more exercise lugging this thing around? Haha.

  14. You should move into the city!! πŸ™‚ I live about 4-5 mi north of my job (I live near Wrigley Field and work in downtown Chicago), and there are express buses than run every day. So I just have to walk three blocks to my bus stop, which is coincidentally right on Lake Michigan) and it takes about 25 min door to door. Bonus points for getting to stare at the lake and beach for half the ride!). Not too shabby πŸ˜€ City public transport FTW!

  15. I have an hour+ commute each way on public transportation. Been doing it for 7 years now…which is somewhat horrifying, actually! But I find it harder to motivate myself to exercise than eat healthy. I have a dog too, and she’s cooped up for close to 12 hours a day. When I get home, the last thing I want to do is ditch her again!

    • Guff! That’s a long time to be doing such a long commute. I’m lucky that between my brother and my roommates the pups are barely left alone at home; it’d be really hard for me, I’m sure!

  16. My commute is about a 30 min drive. I would love to be able to walk to work or take some kind of public transportation, but I’m lucky that I don’t work in the city. Me and traffic do NOT get along.

    • Yeah it’s not even the traffic for me so much (although I hear the horror stories.) It’s just the DRIVING. Blech.

  17. My commute is a dream, 24 minutes one way. It’s a reverse commute so no bumper to bumper traffic. No anxiety, it’s great. I must admit I hated riding the metro when I worked in the city so I drove mostly, but it was insane because parking was $20 a day. My job now has FREE parking. Congrats on the new job! Can you post the recipe for the eggplant lasagna? See you tonight at happy hour. I am super excited about HLS! What day are you going up?

    • I’m going up Friday, should get in about noon. I’m so excited! I didn’t do a very good job documenting my eggplant dish so I’ll just write it out here:

      1 large or 2 small eggplants, sliced crosswise (into circular discs)
      1 jar pasta sauce/homemade sauce
      1/2 bag TJ’s low-fat mozzarella, or your favorite brand.

      Grease casserole dish with EVOO, then lay roughly 1-inch thick slices of eggplant along the bottom. Drizzle with more EVOO on top, and season with S&P (and red pepper flakes if you like a little heat like me.) Top with your favorite pasta sauce, or homemade with chunky vegetables like me, then smother in mozzarella and a few shakes of parmesan if you have any. Bake at 400* for 45 minutes to an hour, until the cheese is bubbly and the eggplant is cooked through. Super easy — it took me like 3 and a half minutes to prep!

  18. Yeah I live like a mile away too and I certainly don’t walk. Thanks husband! But I should, I know this. I keep telling myself that when it cools down, I’ll start walking more. If that happens, only time will tell.

    but eggplant weirds me out, you can read that on my site, haha! I want to like it, I really do, but it just doesn’t work!

  19. Danisays:

    I have an hour+ commute each way, I work for 8 hours building scenery, then I have a two hour break and then I run a Broadway show at night. So I need to pack lunch AND dinner everyday. As well as find some sort of exercise for myself. Not in love. But it won’t last forever! πŸ™‚

  20. I used to get up at 4am to catch my bus and trains to get to my work. There was tons of walking between my apartment, the bus stop, and the train stations. I think that kept me healthy, because as soon as I stopped walking and start to drive everywhere, I gained lots of weight! Now I make an effort to run everyday before & after work, and I enjoy walking all over the place with my puppy. Your pups are so adorable!

  21. Several years ago I used to commute from DC to Tysons, and believe me, there is no such thing as a ‘reverse’ commute, I sat in traffic no matter what! So, I feel your pain about a long commute. I work in DC now though so – don’t hate me – my commute is 20 minutes each way. I have friends that live in Falls Church so I know how nice it is, but hey, we have the food trucks πŸ™‚

  22. I spent the first four years out of school metroing to various jobs, and the past three driving to various locations. Honestly, the pros and cons of each are pretty much a wash. There are some days when I really miss being able to zone out or do a crossword puzzle on the metro, but driving is generally faster… and more expensive… etc. etc.

  23. I have about a 20 minute drive to work. It’s not bad at all. And by Atlanta standards, it’s nothing.

  24. If I were working in DC I’d take the metro too! I remember being there for my sister’s wedding a few years back and the highways are a nightmare.
    Right now I can wake up and be at work within half an hour, but unfortunately that ends next week and I have to start timing how long my new location takes me, cause it’s gonna be longer!

  25. Ive had the opposite issue. I live in NY and always loved my commute into the city because I could walk to work after getting off the subway.
    I was laid off in June and now ive been doing some consulting work from home, so my morning and evening walks dont exist anymore. πŸ™

  26. My commute now is less that 10 minutes. Easy peasy.
    BUT, my first job, on a good day, was 45 minutes. On a traffic-y day? It could take 90 minutes one way. I hated it. It totally drained me and I was done with that job after only 10 months.

  27. I live 1.1mi away from work and I usually ride my bike there (takes me 7 mins to work, and 10 mins back as it’s partially uphill going back home). In the winter, I walk to work as I don’t want to risk having an accident if there is snow or ice on the street. Takes me about 20-25 minutes. The downside is that I live in a tiny town because I decided to move to the town I work in which makes having a social life really hard. (Well, it’s basically non-existent when I am not in my hometown every other weekend.)

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