Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This Ain't No Disco

Pause for thought: Who decided the apostrophe in ain't should be in that location? That makes sense in what world?

Moving on. Just a word to those who read my last post. Don't do too much too fast lest you look like me. I'm currently hobbling. Yes, I look like I must be hugely pregnant but minus the belly and glow. On Sunday, that's a whole two days ago, I squatted my body weight plus 10 pounds about 15 times.

At least it doesn't hurt to sit still anymore.

I Take Requests

This weekend I received guilt from my fiance for not blogging enough. So, for the 4 of you who read this, you should know he is looking out for you. Also, I was asked by a friend (who regularly rocks my world) to write about how to get into working out. So, by request, here are my ideas:

Consider EVERYTHING exercise. I've written about this in the past but walking to work, doing house work, playing with your child and anything else that involves bending and lifting or general movement is work. Even if you aren't sweating and wearing spandex at least you're not sitting on your couch eating bonbons. (This is why I try not to watch too much TV. Less TV = more effort doing other things.)

Join a gym you actually like. I have worked at 4 different gyms. They range from your average community center in the suburbs to the dirty gross churn-out-the-members to the fancy shmancy towels-that-smell-good place. Of all four I have enjoyed one, only one, and it lies somewhere in the middle. Its not the kind of place where someone is employed to wipe your brow but they have things like squash courts and Pilates reformers. Some people like a little snobbery in their work out experience. Going somewhere you actually enjoy being is totally worth the money.

Don't join a gym at all. Confused yet? Here's the thing: some people will get their money's worth at a gym they actually like. Some people will try every gym in a five mile radius and hate them all and waste money because the real problem is they hate gyms. This does not limit you from working out. Run outside. Buy a jump rope. Hell, find a jungle gym in your neighborhood. Whatever it takes, do work you like.

Don't get sucked into the hype. If you like this hype thats one thing. But don't go out and buy a Wii just so you can work out with Jillian Michaels. Your Wii will quickly become a bookend on your shelves. If Wii works for you, great, if not, don't beat yourself up.

Invent your own hype. Try a new exercise every other day or walk a different route or buy a new active game. When I create my own home workouts I make sure to write down what I want to do while I'm in the mood. So, when you're sitting at your desk/in your car/in church and you're feeling like you'd like to workout when you get home, write it down right then. Put it in your calendar, write it in your journal, put it on a post-it and put that note somewhere you'll see it. I find that if I write it down when I'm feeling like I want to workout I'm more likely to actually do that when I get home and I'd rather eat the previously mentioned bonbons. I generally write down the things I want to do in my workout but just writing down a to do list that says 'workout' works too.

To end this list, here is what it comes down to for me:

Have a heart-to-heart with yourself. Maybe you've read some of my past blog entries where I talk to myself. Yes, it makes me sound a bit nuts but you can bet your ass it makes me realize what I really want. I don't journal because its super duper fun with cherries on top. I don't spend extra pennies at the farmer's market because I hate all that money in my stupid bank account. Nope, I do it because it helps me know that while I'd love to go out and eat nachos and drink sangria every night after work that kind of thing makes me feel like death on toast. The weirdest part is that when I engaged in that kind of behavior at the ripe age of 22 I didn't realize how crappy I felt. I didn't understand how eating too much meat made me feel weird (I had a roommate who used to say it made her face smell like steak) or how preservatives make me woozy and unable to form thoughts or how eating peanuts and caffeine made my boobs hurt (TMI? Sorry, kind of. I actually think this condition is not discussed enough and am pleased to share it with you.) The point is I didn't just figure this stuff out. I actually thought critically about myself and my life and realized that while I might enjoy sitting on the couch watching 5 hours of MTV after work I'd feel better and be happier if I went to the gym or took a walk or cleaned my apartment. Ask yourself what you want, know what you want out of your day and know that you are the most important thing to yourself. MTV isn't likely to make you happier or feel better or more productive tomorrow.

Feel free to comment with your suggestions and don't forget to tip your server!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Boo! Scared You!

This article scares the hell out of me.

For instance, the scariest sentence:

"There’s more money in amputating the limbs of diabetics than in counseling them on diet and exercise."

Big business is pleased to make more money by cutting of your hands and feet. Its better for their bottom line. For a people who really like to think they're smart and able to outsmart corporations, Americans are being really stupid.

To share my contribution to the epidemic/poor choices by Americans: last night for dinner I ate nachos, a glass of wine and two glasses of sangria. For the love of God, please remind me never to consume anything with triple sec again.

For the record, I'm feeling fine this morning, just horribly dehydrated. A co-worker even likened me to a raisin this morning. This? This is why I pay attention to my habits. So not worth it. I mean, clearly I should have stuck to wine.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Things That Make Me Want to Go Over My Daily Calorie Alotment

Being underutilized at work.

People who seem to be entirely mentally healthy but completely confused by reality. I'm not talking about people who's reality differs from mine - everyone has their world view - but the people who refuse to accept that anyone else's world view is different from their own.

Wanting dessert but not wanting dessert but not needing dessert. Gah.

The lack of time I get in an average day to spend with the most important people in life including but not limited to one very adorable but overworked fiance.

Being underutilized at work while living with someone who is so overworked.

Working really hard so all signs point to yes but still having said signs point to no when I get to the proverbial finish line.

Calories in wine. Not fair.

Health insurance. Pretty much anything about it. Its cost, its inability to be useful...the list goes on.

Sports injuries from high school which were obtained by listening to a really moronic coach and will not quit despite being older and wiser. Older and wiser can make heels heal no?

Television that is so clearly bad for everyone involved.

People who exhibit a ridiculous lack of professionalism.

The cost of an iPhone. Also, the cost of technology in general.

People who judge mothers and generally perpetuate the mommy wars. Seriously? Leave these women alone about their life choices already. (Kathie Lee is what is wrong with the world. If you are following in her crappy foot steps, beware.)

People who totally link to every popular blog. GOD.

Having a hard time finding my writing 'voice'. There was another part to that sentence but I forgot what it was supposed to say.

Somehow being confused about how the 'save now' button works and losing this rant more than once. Oh the irony.

So, people, what burns you up? Gimme some comments!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why My Natural Laziness and (Former) TV Habit Are Bad News

I have a certain friend who is really good at promoting healthy habits in her life. Sometimes when we walk down the street she'll notice someone who is unhealthy looking and say 'How can you let that happen to yourself?'.

Um, hi, that was me until I was about 20. And then again until I was 21 (gained it back and lost it again). And then again until I was 24 (and hopefully never again). I'll tell you exactly how I did it. I love food. I'll also tell you this: it had zero to do with my level of activity.

I've never been able to sit still for a long time (I'm currently doing two other things while I write this, explains all them typps and spulling mistackes). For instance, I have always prefered to walk if my destination wasn't all that far. I can tell you from experience that weight gain and weight loss have almost nothing to do with exercise. Weight loss and weight gain are almost entirely about nutrition choices. Exercise has amazing benefits and is clearly part of a healthy life.

But its so easy to feel overwhelmed both in life and at the gym. People constantly say 'there is no excuse'. Um, I have a list a mile long of things that might excuse me from exercise. These things include but are not limited to: cake, cake and sleep. Oh and cupcakes. Even those freaking olympians are out there making me feel all guilty and lame on a regular basis. I mean good god woman, I can't even swim a mile now and I'm like half your age (okay maybe not half, shut up).

Negative, negative, negative. Argg. I've done it before (gained it back), I hope never to do it again (short of pregnancy), but damn is it hard to be positive and keep it going!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Shiny Things are Distracting and Other Observations

Life changing events and habits always come in groups. I've experienced this kind of thing enough to be sure, at the ripe old age of 26, that in fact, you can NOT change only one thing. For instance, you graduate from college and your lack of class at 8 am is not the only thing that stops. You also suddenly lack freedom and while you were so happy to be rid of that 8 am class you soon discover you have to get up even earlier in order to get to work and not look like you forget this wasn't your 8 am psych lecture.

Bear with me, I'm going somewhere with this.

For me the world has been full of changes in the recent past. I got engaged in March for instance. I'm not just wearing a ring on my left hand but I'm also changing the way I spend money for the greater good of our family-to-be. I'm 26 and I have an allowance again and - get this - I actually like it. The changes started way before March. I actually think the thing that changed my life most was my weight loss in 2006. Not only did I lose 40 pounds but I gained confidence I never had. I was suddenly a whole new person. In December of that year I met my fiance and boy did the changes snowball.

So fast forward a whole bunch and now I'm doing things like not watching tv very often. My parents find this completely baffling. They spent the greater part of my youth doing what my father called 'unplugging me'. He was forever asking if I had done my homework BEFORE I had started up that 12th game of Mario Kart. I hated to read (learning disability) and never really understood what the point of homework was. (Got good grades and went to college and graduate school some how.) So, um, now I read the paper everyday and am a total nerd (my fiance would be happy to tell you all about this and enjoys calling me 'his little nerdlet' regularly).

I'm old, yo. Old enough to be so out of touch that I recently found out there was someone named Miley Cyrus. Then I discovered there is some person named Hannah Montana. Then I found out they are the same person. Apparently there is some show where this Hannah Montana acts like a normal girl at school and then wears a wig on stage when she is a pop super star. Seriously? In my day all a pop star had to do was appear pure, then appear impure on Rolling Stone and then have babies at a young-ish age and occasionally shave their head/smash SUVs with umbrellas. The only part of this whole Miley/Hannah story, told to me by a friend with a sister half her age, that made sense was that Miley Cyrus is Billy Ray's kid. Also, Kanye West recently introduced me to Taylor Swift. I still have no idea what songs any of these people sing except for Billy Ray and Kanye. Really, the only way I connect with pop culture is through these here interwebs while trapped at work. If I had a different job, one without regular computer use, I'd be so lost. I'm hanging onto my NPR and Washington Post though, thanks.

For me, I've grown a lot in the last few years. The best part is that I empowered myself enough to take care of myself and my body (there is some vanity involved, yes). Even better I'm ridiculously productive (you'd be amazed at how clean your apartment can be when you aren't distracted by Real World Season four million bajillion). Although, now that fall TV has started again I appreciate DVR more than ever. What? I didn't say I never watch TV.

So this is all to say: change = crazy! Also, change = awesome!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Math is Hard Y'All

Britney Spears aside, math is HARD. Also, calorie counting is hard. Combine the two and you have giant headaches. Luckily, them there fancy scientists have solved this problem for us. They have all these cool things called calculations and tests to find out if their assumptions (insert joke about ASS here) are right or not.

I've been asked: how do you know you need 1400 calories per day? So here's what the fancy science-people (Hi, Mom!) told me when I researched this:

To start I'm a lady so my basal metabolic need is 655 (the science people told me so). For a dude this would be 66. I weigh 145 pounds (and damn proud of it). I'm 5 feet 5.5 inches tall (I like that last .5 inch) and I am 26 years old (ignoring the 11 months for now). The thing about the fancy science people is they like the metric system so...

Step 1. Divide weight in pounds, for me this is 145, by 2.2 to find my weight in kilograms. This equals 65.9(ish).

Step 2. Multiply height in inches, for me this is 65.5 (5 feet times 12 is 56 plus 5.5), by 2.54 to find height in centimeters. This equals 166.37.

Step3. Figure out your age in years. For me this is 26. This will be the easiest part, I hope.

(I know what you're thinking, you've clearly burned enough brain calories at this point that the whole thing is moot. I promise to make it easier at the end with some handy links.)

SO! Lets make it more complicated. Now you have to multiply each of these steps by a somewhat arbitrary (read: science-y) number.

Step 4. Multiply step 1 by 9.6 for a woman and 13.7 for a man.

Step 5. Multiply step 2 by 1.8 for a woman and 5 for a man.

Step 6. Multiply step 3 by 4.7. for a woman and 6.8 for a man.

THEN! After you've put the heating pad on your brain to rest your fattiest body part because, man this is harder than it seems like it should be (I recently learned your brain is like, solid fat. I bet you Britney didn't know.)

So THEN! Basal rate + step 4 + step 5 - step 6.

Again, for me. 655 (basal rate) + 9.6 times 65.9 (kilos) + 1.8 times 166.37 (centimeters) - 122.2 (age times 4.7) = 1466.91.

I know, the brain, it hurts. Do this when you have time and patience.

So anyway. Why do I eat 1400 calories everyday when it says 1466.91? Well, I don't really. Yea, I know your way confused. But I have logic for this part! 1466.91 is what my body needs everyday to function healthfully and boy do I love to help it do that. But some days I go over 1400. Some days I'm not that hungry and weirdly end up going to bed before I've even hit 1000. Rare, yes, but it happens.

I also have a habit of taking nibbles of food around me and either not writing it down or thinking its too tiny to bother. Those things add up so I build them in by rounding down a bit.

This also means that on the occasional Saturday night where I have more wine than my liver cares for and maybe an extra cookie or five, its no big deal because most days during the week I hit my basal rate and the weekend indulgence isn't going to send me into a crazy downward spiral where I end up throwing the scale from our 6th floor apartment.

That said, this plan works for me. It might not work for you. But the kind science-folks at SparkPeople laid it all out for me here: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/calorie_calculation101.asp so I tried it and I'm happy. I know some people who journal all their calories and change their caloric in-take every single day. Personally, I'd go crazy working hard to get to 2000 calories today and working hard to get under 1200 the following day. For you, it might be a fun game.

The moral of this story is: math is hard and you gotta find what works for you!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Newspapers Are Still Awesome

While most people in DC, and around the country actually, are talking about how newspapers are dead, I regularly enjoy mine. In fact, since I have a new hate for television, I almost always finish the entire Washington Post everyday. The best sections are always the food and the health section. I know you're shocked to hear that I like to read about food and fitness. You can read them online, too.

This week was full of great articles too. These go straight to the heart of why I take so much care in what I eat. Honestly, its not because I'm a superior yuppy who thinks organics are super duper. The reason I make the effort to eat things that are of high quality is because it makes me feel better and saves me money in the long run.

Lets start with the feeling part. Everybody likes to eat a giant piece of cake/bowl of ice cream/tasty treat/Big Mac but no one enjoys the after math - the food coma. Now, personally, my body has never tolerated preservatives very well. I was able to ignore it for years but after a while it became a waste of time to eat what was easy when I could make just a little more effort and feel way more awesome-r (What? I'm not a doctor, yo.)

You're thinking, huzzah, I have no trouble with preservatives so whatever, you crazy farmer's market lady! Well, actually, you probably don't have trouble with them but they are still doing awful things to your body and are a waste of calories. The food coma feeling may not be noticeable when you eat a Lean Cuisine but the reason you get the food coma from the Big Mac also applies to said Lean Cuisine albeit in smaller doses. So, while I'm no Doctor, reasons why junk food, and even normal food bought at the grocery store and cooked at home can be bad:

"When you give antibiotics to animals meant to become food . . . you're ensuring that antibiotics end up in the food in low but constant doses. That means bacteria are getting more accustomed to the antibiotics. There's good reason to think that this background exposure to antibiotics is contributing to the startling rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria." (from here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/15/AR2009091500736.html)

So basically, you buy an otherwise normal steak at the grocery store and while its not dusted with penicillin its technically full of it. In fact:

"Food animal production accounts for 70 percent . . . of the antibiotics used in the United States. That doesn't even include the antibiotics used for animals that actually get sick. That figure is for "non-therapeutic use" such as growth promotion and disease prevention." (from here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/15/AR2009091500736.html)

So you can spend dollars getting a quality steak at the farmer's market, where you can talk to the farmer to find out what is really tasty this week OR you can spend dollars at the regular grocery store buying cheap steak from who-knows-where plus the remaining money on your health care costs because the antibiotic resistant bacteria is now taking hold in your lower intestine:

"A 2003 World Health Organization study put it pretty starkly: "There is clear evidence of the human health consequences [from agricultural use of antibiotics, including] infections that would not have otherwise occurred, increased frequency of treatment failures (in some cases death) and increased severity of infections." " (from here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/15/AR2009091500736.html)

So buy quality meat and veggies at the farmer's market versus buy antibiotic filled crap at the grocery store on top of paying the doctor and pharmacy. So the research speaks for itself but just to add anecdotal evidence: I used to get sick exactly four times per year when the seasons changed. In the last year or so since I've made the effort to eat quality calories I have been sick exactly, um, NEVER. And I live with a teacher who gets slobbered on for a living, y'all.

As for the money thing: I'm youngish and don't have a giant income (contrary to what a lady at a wedding last weekend told me about how everyone who lives in DC must be hugely wealthy as evidenced by her visit to our nation's capitol last year - I could tell she made a point to visit Shaw). So basically, my fiance and I have a serious budget. Also, we workout a lot. He plays rugby and I even workout for a living. So calories are precious. Honestly, calories = dollars when push comes to shove. So, like this mom, I get tired of spending money on food that is wastefully priced. Yes, she bought her items at the regular store. Yes, she was trying to make replicas of fast food. But the point applies - homemade food is generally cheaper and better for you. Locally grown food (not even organic, the stuff I buy at the farmer's market isn't always organic and I rarely worry if it is or not) tastes better and has more nutrients than food that has been shipped a long distance. Its certainly better than food that has been modified to SURVIVE travels better.

So here is my message for the day: cooking quality food with quality ingredients is affordable and better for you.

(And its not just for superior yuppies.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bring It

Okay, no, take it back. Why is it that everything always happens in groupings? No, its not a crisis that last Thursday evening through Sunday was kind of a caloric mess. I did my best, I'm cool with it. Particularly since I've been all awesome and journal-y since then. Monday through Thursday (at lunch time) is so easy!

Today, Tuesday, I even planned to work out at home after work. But slllllooooooooooowwwwwwwwllllly. Slow, like molasses, my body has suddenly decided to cramp in a million places and I could barely muster the energy to go get my snack from the office fridge. Uterus, I hate you (let me know anytime if I'm sharing too much, really).

This is another way of saying: I had a date with the erg tonight but it might change into a date with my couch. Rarrrr.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Linner and Dinner (and Many Snacks)

I was all set to post pictures of our home gym and since those never got taken I, um, can't post them. Soon though!

So its a good thing I didn't post about Thursday's dinner because boy did that story get longer. Disclaimer to those of you who have emailed me to say that my eating habits have inspired you, a warning: this will not be inspirational in that way.

When journaling, it is good to be willing to go with the flow. Do your best to write everything down, try always to write your calories down and occasionally take a best guess/shot in the dark for how many calories the salad at the office lunch had in it, particularly since you only ate 60% of it (okay and also 33% of the cookie you convinced your co-worker to share). Since Thursday my life has been an exercise in going with the flow journaling-wise.

I left work a bit later than usual on Thursday as I had to finish up travel documents for a trip I'm sending our organization's President on, as well as having to do someone else's job, which is always super fun. I had about ten minutes to eat some watermelon, unpack the five tupperware containers from my giant work bag and get my tush out the door. I was on my way to a Sunday school teacher's meeting which was to start at 7 p.m. What possessed me to think that suddenly Greek people would be on time, I have no idea. But I had never been to an event or even a small gathering where food was not offered at this church. I have been attending this church since I was born, so that's quite a track record. Thus, I didn't even try to eat dinner or any semblance of dinner while at home for that hot minute. When my fiance asked if I planned to eat anything more for dinner my answer was something like 'Can't wait to eat the tasty Greek lady church food. See ya sucker!'

Half way to this meeting, I'm gloriously on time (in America but HUGELY early in what my father and I call Tiempo Greco) and my stomach starts talking. FEED ME. I was prompt according to the clocks (and about a queen's age early according to the rest of the meeting's attendants), when, as a good friend in college aptly described, my stomach started to eat itself. If you have ever been so hungry you thought you might pass out and barf at the same time, you know this feeling. So of course I look around and there is... BANANA BREAD. Don't get me wrong, I love banana bread. But people, this is not the sustenance I had myself so excited about - trying not to think about my hunger for the following 2.5 hours was torturous. By the end of the night I had eaten: 1.5 pieces of banana bread (at church), 1 piece of homemade whole wheat toast with almond butter and honey, 1 glass of whole milk, 3 bowls of watermelon and 2 peaches. By the time I had gotten home and consumed these things I was so tired from the regular rigmarole that I just gave up the ghost and went to bed.

One evening of ridiculous eating tacked onto a day of good choices - not a big deal! But, lo, you have not heard about Friday through Sunday. Oh my friends, it gets better.

Friday my fiance and I were planning to have dinner with my mother and grandmother. The plan to was to fulfill my need for the Greek food I was so harshly denied the night before. All day I made good choices - balanced proteins with whole grains and even treated myself to a small chai after lunch. And then, at the end of the day, I'm trying to finish my work plus another person's work and my fiance calls to offer me a ride home. Yes please! Then I get in the car and he suggests we go to happy hour. Also, yes please! And then we both realize we're STARVING and our stomachs have moved on from eating themselves and started snacking on our livers. So we ate the carrots and hummus in my purse. So you say, that's not so bad! No, its not, but then we got to the bar and ate the tastiest nachos I have ever encountered. I made sure to have just enough to be less starving but have room for real dinner. Go me!

And then dinner came. Now keep in mind that I was craving these things and a lady's cravings know no bounds. There was roasted octopus (tastier than you know), wine and um, we shared the combination entree. NOM Nom nom nomnommmm. Pastitsio, how I love thee.

So we got home, complained about our fullness, and then I resolved to work out extra hard on Saturday. Yea, no. That didn't happen. See, so often the things that fall into place to make a healthy day have nothing to do with food. Instead they're all about the random crap that gets in your way when you're using every ounce of your strength and judgement to reach that extra vegetable in favor of that cookie. And for me, that thing that got in my way was our mattress. We bought ourselves a very nice piece of furniture, a bed with a headboard and no foot board (my fiance is over 6 feet tall). The nice people came and assembled it, placed our mattress on it and kindly took our box spring (which was dying) to the trash area of our building. You see, this nice new bed is a platform style bed, no need for silly things like box springs.

Except when one of the people who sleeps on this bed has a back that might as well be made of the knots you see sailors tie. Oh the pain! So this means between Friday and Saturday night I got 4.5 hours of sleep. By Sunday morning I had slept about 25% of the amount of hours I usually need. I went to the first day of Sunday school prepared to make children cry, if only so that someone else would feel my pain (not really, I'm quite nice to the children, except those damn high school kids who talk through the ENTIRE service). On Saturday I ate acceptably. I couldn't, for the life of me, tell you how many calories were in my dinner because we were at a rugby banquet for my fiance's team. I did, however, manage to leave food on my plate at each of the four courses and not eat a single thing I wasn't hungry for. After the D for dinner on my Saturday journal entry are the following: steak, wine, shrimp, salad ???.

And now for the I'm ridiculous and oh haha so funny part: we were out of most of my favorite breakfast items on Sunday. No eggs, no bread, oh the horror. So I had two pieces of fruit, some yogurt, milk and slapped some almond butter on something or other. When I returned home my fiance was trying to get his Sunday morning act together and we both started writhing on the floor in starvation. You'd think that since we're human, we've been alive for a combined total of 54 years (had a hard time adding that one up) and were born with the ability to chew, we'd have figured out that whole - eat, be satisfied and exist thing. But, apparently, no, we get hungry and FREAK OUT. We then decided to go through all the menus in the house and have something delivered since there is nothing more torturous than cooking when you're about to start dry heaving out of starvation. We settled on some sort of Asian food to be delivered. Only, no! Apparently, in Washington D.C. no one delivers on Sundays before 3:30 pm. The good places don't deliver until 5! So, after some more writhing and moaning. We got our act together and walked to Buca di Bepo at three in the afternoon. No, really, we ate family style in the middle of the day because we're ridiculous. Now, for the record we took a lot of it home and ate it for dinner, but yes, we're completely useless. Can you imagine, our poor future children...how long do you think it'll take them to figure out that writhing on the floor means Mommy is hungry?

Friday, September 11, 2009


I meant to write an elaborate post about my dinner last night and how it was SO NOT a dinner but its after five pm and I need to go eat TONIGHT'S dinner soon.

Suffice to say - last night I had the following for dinner: 1.5 pieces of banana bread, 2 peaches, 1 piece of toast with almond butter and honey, 1 cup of whole milk.

By saying this I'm just trying to communicate that, crap, sometimes your meal plan goes to hell and it is so not your fault. Arggggg. Man, am I hungry. Happy weekend!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Exercise Shmexercise

That is a technical term, thanks.

You see I write down what I eat, some of what that food is and that I'm a lover of exercise. You have now stopped reading. I know, its totally annoying. Everyone hates exercise.

Except, no, you don't.

Do you like walking in your neighborhood? Do you enjoy playing with your kid? Or even pointing and flexing your feet while on the phone at work? If you can say yes to any of these things you don't hate exercise.

There is nothing that makes me more crazy than crazy exercise people who claim you must burn thousands of calories per week to be fit. First of all everyone is different and everyone has different priorities. Yea, the American Heart Association wants you to exercise for 30 minutes per day 5 days per week but its your exercise, you define it. No one is telling you to spend half an hour on a treadmill Monday through Friday. You don't need to go to the gym for three hours a day, in fact you don't even need the gym. It can be as easy as getting off the couch and taking a walk. No, really. You might ultimately define exercise by your heart rate, but it is a waste of time to intimidate yourself by starting out with these concerns. Just stand up, strap on the sneaks and MOVE.

"But, but, but", you're thinking, "YOU go to the gym all the time, YOU work there part time". Well, yea but I'm me and you're you. AND I work out at home* all the time! One of the best pieces of equipment I own - wait for it - is a jump rope. Get yourself a quality jump rope. The one I have was ten dollars online. Its the Buddy Lee brand and it rocks. Anyone can stand in their den/living room/basement and jump rope for one minute, do 5 push ups, 10 squats and 15 sit ups for as many rounds as your able. Mix it up. Take the jump rope outside. Walk for 10 minutes then jump rope for a 100 turns. There are even systems out there that are designed to be scalable to everyone and some even allow you to workout without equipment.

Hate jump ropes? Remind you of the horrible pain of elementary school? Screw 'em - walk for 10 minutes then do the push up, squat, sit up routine. Google the word burpee (this is a workout, not a bodily function). There are tons of exercises you can do.

Now that you've googled burpee are you totally freaked out? Well lets take it down a notch. Do you like handstands? Those require effort. Try doing a handstand push-up if you want to. Or even do you have stairs in your office building? Or even at home?

The point is, not only is exercise easy to find, it can be free and you probably actually like it. You just might not define some things as exercise.

*As soon as I can successfully retrieve the digital camera from my fiance's clutches I'm going to take a picture of our wonderful home gym. Trust me, you'll want to see this. It includes an erg. Go ahead, google, I'll wait.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Now For The Play By Play

So now that you understand a bit more about what I write in my journal the natural question is of course - what are you eating? Well, lets delve into my Tuesday night for a great example of this.

Last night I had a free evening with nothing planned so it was time to cook up all the food in the fridge. If you hate cooking this might sound like the worst thing ever, but it really wasn't hard and the results were totally worth it. No cooking again for probably a week and tasty food that is easy to find and costs me pennies in comparison to the packaged versions!

I made:
homemade tomato sauce
stuffed peppers
stewed okra
homemade whole wheat bread
spicy chicken and corn chowder

You might notice that a lot of the ingredients overlap. This is what makes this even easier. And what made it even easier-er (that is SO a word) is that I own a stick blender, a slow cooker and a bread maker! Now you're thinking - she spent the evening in the kitchen and she has invested in all these appliances. No way are you, my fair reader, doing this. Well, let me just say, that my fiance, a connoisseur of calories, believes that bread maker changed our lives. In fact, it is the only thing that has him eating bread at all - he hadn't eaten bread for 2 years prior. So you just go and belittle my appliances while I sit over here and eat tasty food (which doesn't contain a lot of crap, you can keep your methylcellulose and high fructose corn syrup, thanks).

First, a side note, I chopped up big red tasty farmer's market tomatoes in the morning and tossed them in the slow cooker with about 4 cups of water, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of basil and 2 tablespoons of parsley. If you do this, make sure you remove all the tomato seeds and clear goo around the seeds. Putting them in will make your sauce really bitter. Also, you can make the tomato pieces as big as you want so long as you can blend them later.

So last nights play by play:

5 pm Arrive home.

5:10 pm Consume bowl of watermelon while reading the newspaper.*

5:12 pm Turn off slow cooker. Attack tomatoes with stick blender. You could probably put the entire thing in your regular blender if you wanted but the stick blender gets out some pretty great aggression from the work day!

5:15 pm Discover that 4 cups of water was WAY too much. Put sauce in a wide pan with about 4 inch deep sides. BOIL THE CRAP OUT OF IT. If you ever deal with this excess water problem be sure to cover the pan when you boil it and keep it at high heat until it looks like actual sauce. If you don't cover it you'll have a nice terra cotta colored wall behind your stove!

5:20 pm Eat 4 crackers with almond butter on top while reading the paper.*

5:30 pm Complain to fiance about an apartment maintenance problem. Make him call the building people.*

5:45 pm Place chicken bones from last week's roasted, organic, CAFOs-free chickens into a giant stock pot. Cover with water.

6 pm Cut corn off the cob (doesn't need to be cooked, although it can). Chop okra. Cut peppers in half and get rid of the gross inedibles.

6:20 pm Pour the chicken bones through a strainer and into another pot. Sort through the bits, saving the meat and tossing the bones. Put corn in the pot. Put the pot in the fridge, top on.

7 pm Clean various dishes so the pile of bowls in the drying rack doesn't get taller than me.

7:30 pm Watch Jeopardy.*

8 pm Get my act together and go to Harris Teeter (turn off all your burners) for milk, eggs and paper towels - the essentials. Run into former roommate and her boyfriend looking like crap (Why does this always happen?!).*

8:10 pm Stand awkwardly, for what seems like a lifetime, waiting for someone in the store to find a gallon of organic whole milk. Yes, I drink organic and yes I drink whole. Also, yes, I'll tell you about that decision another time.*

8:30 pm Finally return from HT (What? Its next door to my apartment building and I believe trips there should never take more than 6 minutes.).* Place bread maker on counter. Put the following in it, in this order: 1.25 cups of water, 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, 1.5 cups of all purpose flour, 2 cups of whole wheat flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, one packet of dry yeast. Yep, that is it. Please, go find your loaf of bread in your house. I'll wait. I guarantee yours has at LEAST twice as many as ingredients, doesn't stay fresh as long and isn't as tasty.

8:32 pm Walk away from bread maker.

8:33 pm Stir together leftover brown rice and leftover ground beef and pork (yes, also organic and CAFOs-free) with some of my now less watery tomato sauce. Place green pepper halves in pan. Place spoonfuls of beef, rice and sauce mixture in them. Place the rest of the sauce on top. Leave to simmer for about 10 minutes with the top on.

8:40 pm Place some of the okra and some of the leftover sauce (I have no ratios for you on this one, I eyeballed it) in a small pot. Simmer for 15 minutes until the okra is soft but not mushy. Put it in a tupperware container to be mixed later with leftover ground meat and some pasta - is my thinking ahead making you nauseous yet?

9:00 pm Clean random things in the house. Collect fiances shoes strewn about. Shower. Try to find something on television and quickly give up.*

9:20 pm Plate two stuffed peppers. Grate fresh gruyere on top.

9:21 pm CONSUME. (While reading the paper of course.)

9:35 pm Lick my lips.*

9:40 pm Clean up the last bits. (From the kitchen, not my face.)


Really, not hard. Also, I kind of took my sweet time with this. You could probably do this in much less time if you weren't traipsing about and complaining about the lack of organic whole milk in your grocery store.

So now you want to know what I did with the soup in my fridge. Well, this morning I put it on to simmer in my stove while I got dressed and ate breakfast. I put the rest of the okra in it along with some cayenne pepper and curry powder. When I say some I mean I put way too much so don't trust me on eyeballing spices, I'm not always good at it. I let it simmer for about a half hour. It is currently resting in two tupperware containers - one in the fridge and one in the freezer - for easy consumption!

*You don't have to do these to get tasty results but you're smart and probably figured that out.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Woman! Control Yourself!

Like most girls in high school I had a first row seat in the show that was Eating Disorder-rama. This show has since updated itself. Disordered eating can be defined in a million ways. You don't have to be anorexic or bulemic to have a disorder. Binging without purging is just as much of a disorder. Add a new act to the show folks. A disorder called orthorexia has been identified. One of my new favorite books discusses this at least a bit. An orthorexic is someone who is obssessed with healthy eating.

Now, if you know anything about disorders or even mental health, you know that really, almost all of this has to do with control. Those who struggle with eating disorders, obssessive complusions or even your average anal rentative are really struggling with control in their lives. You may be reading this thinking, gosh, people are so messed up, I am not like that at ALL. Um, this is me bursting your bubble, cause, POP. Yea, you are, we all are. Everyone needs to control something in their lives. Some people fold their shirts a certain way (ahem, I live with this person), some people organize their car a certain way and some people count calories.

I am to be counted in the last group. Now, I'd like to seperate myself from the orthorexics and the control freaks. And often, I think my beahviors are mostly healthy though not obsessiv and not only because the things I had for dinner last night include but are not limited to beer, chicken kabobs, phyllo and cheese pie and chips and salsa (What? It was Labor Day.). I'm willing to admit that at least some of my journaling habits have to do with control. You could argue that because I was overwieght and worked to overcome those poor habits, I have replaced them with these new habits. Psychoanalyze me all you want, no really, I wanted to be a psychologist in high school, I find it fascinating.

To further explain what my journaling looks like, I give you another entry from my journal:

I typed this out in an excel chart but actually write it in a moleskin journal. A bit of a code key for you: B= breakfast, S= snack, L= lunch, D= dinner, WO = work out, p= protein, fv= fruits and vegetables, wg= whole grain and extras are um, extra things that don't fit into my other columns.

The goal is to try to fit my calories into the protein, fruits and vegetables or whole grain categories. You'll see on this day I worked out and even ended up in the negative. This is not a big deal. Shocking! I know, shocking! Calorie obsessor goes in the negative? Well this has to do with my equation for calories per day, which I'll tell you about another time. But basically, here is today's lesson: I found myself some habits, because human nature means I have habits and so I might as well pick good ones. These habits include counting calories and trying to fit those calories into quality categories. Orthorexic? Eh, who knows. Doing my best? Why, yes!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Journaling, Arggh

So here is the thing with journaling: it requires incredible patience. This weekend we were on the road for a majority of both days. We packed up sandwiches made of homemade bread, veggies and hummus, fruit, nuts and raisins. Packing up all this food was so much cheaper than eating all our meals at gas stations and rest stops.

But the best reason for all this was eating well. While I didn't eat much fried food, I definitely didn't do well with journaling and eating consciously. In fact, I didn't journal a single calorie on Sunday. This doesn't happen too often and I try to never let it happen. But, sometimes, you're in a car for six hours and there are tasty meals served at a wedding!

It is incredibly easy to beat myself up about this. So, months ago, I resolved not to beat myself up about it. In fact, I refuse to feel guilty about past caloric mistakes. Nothing I can do but improve in the future. One of the most useful things I learned in Weight Watchers was from a leader who would remind us that 'if you drop one egg on the floor, its not like you go and toss the whole dozen'. If you eat a cheeseburger on Sunday night, there is no point in eating a dozen cheeseburgers. Okay so that is kind of an exaggeration, but not really. So, while I didn't journal yesterday. Today I resolve to write down everything I eat, only eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm not longer hungry. Arggh no longer!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Commitment! Dun-dun-DUN!

An excerpt from my journal, page one:

Dear Christina,

This journal is a testament to my commitment to you. It will include all the food and calories you consume and workouts as well.

The point is to care for yourself, feel good and be positive about your body image.

I promise to write down anything that passes my lips and try my best to make good choices. This does not deny me fun but simply allows me to make the best overall decision for what is best for body and soul!



So, if you're still reading and haven't run screaming in the other direction while telling your coworkers about the insane girl who writes letters to herself on the internet allow me to expound on the letter above.

First, lets journey back to that birthday I mentioned just before I fell off the face off the (blog) Earth. I was starting to get tired of being so hungry all the time. The italics don't even do the hunger justice. I had started teaching spinning classes regularly, was trying to lift three times a week and generally tried to burn calories in a healthful way. I will say, my workout habits are probably not 'normal' or 'average'. I know most people go on runs every once in a blue moon or join a gym they occasionally visit. Thats just not my style. Endorphins are my drug of choice, thanks. I can honestly tell you I have never tried pot, nope, never, and clearly don't need it. Endorphins anytime please! Besides, I'm crazy enough without help...wait, where was I goi...right birthday.

Right around my birthday I decided Weight Watchers wasn't working for me anymore. In the recent past my eating has totally changed. I've gone from what my fiance calls 'eating all my Weight Watchers points in cookies' to being one half of a couple that buys everything - even meat and eggs at the farmer's market. I swear to you, in the last two weeks, the only thing I've purchased at Harris Teeter is milk and almond butter. If the farmer's market sold these things, I would purchase them there. So now you're sitting there at your desk thinking, ugh, waking up during the weekend to purchase food at a special location sounds like eating a fuzzy lollipop. Not long ago I was SO WITH YOU.

However! My commitment to myself has given me the ability to understand the value of putting certain things in my mouth and not others. Lets revist those endorphins. Working out makes me feel good! Its like eating your favorite food or watching your favorite crap reality tv show. In other words, its all about me. I work out because I like the way I feel, I eat quality food because I like the way it makes me feel (and not feel). This is not to say I don't eat the occasional cheeto. But the reason I make the effort to go to the gym (besides now working there part time) and go to the farmer's market and eat well isn't because I wish to lord it over those who don't. Its because I am all about me! I love me! And my letter is a testament to that. When I want the whole super size bag of cheetos, all I have to do is reread my letter and I remember that, actually, cheetos, while a few are tasty, aren't going to make me feel good after the first 5 or 10.

It'll take me a while to fully explain how my journaling works, why it works for me, how its still sort of a work in progress but here is the gist - to feel good, to be happy, to be productive the way I want to be - my eating habits are all about ME!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Echooo echo echooo

Um, hello? Internets? Are you there? Oh, hi. Um, so sorry about that eleven month hiatus. I, uh, hope we can make amends? Moving on?

So after eleven months I realized that on occasion I'd be walking down the street, driving, cooking or doing anything relatively normal and find I had something in my brain about health and fitness that I really wanted to put in writing. This is not to say that I want to put something down on paper so others can read it. Its more that I wished to formalize my thinking. So if only the wild blue yonder reads this I'm cool with that.

Lets see, to update: quit Weight Watchers, got engaged, chopped my hair off...there is probably more but those are the highlights. Wait! Come back! You're thinking, oh god, girl got fat again and now we're going to have to hear about how the second journey back to health is so ccchhhhhallennnnging whine whine whine. Well, yea, I might whine. But, no! Did not get back to Chubs McGee!

Despite quitting Weight Watchers and coming up with my own personal 'plan' for health I managed to make all this busy-ness work without eating my face off. Yes, my plan involves loving myself and even writing myself a letter. More to come!