Monday, November 30, 2009

Um, Ew.

Just after I posted I came across a list of the top 10 most disturbing junk foods. Its no wonder I'm all about the CAFOs free meat and whole foods. Just about every food I find gross is on this list. My food hates include but are not limited to: anything jiggly (jello), fake cheese (velveeta), marshmallows (peeps - I kind of think this comes from girl scouts and one too many s'mores).

Enjoy the gross!

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

I'm a big ol' liar. I said I would blog the hell out of Thanksgiving, and while I actually wanted to, I also totally wasn't interested once the time came. Did you know a lack of internet access and television can be totally awesome? Perhaps my newest health plan will be: step 1. become hermit, step 2. the end.

Okay, maybe not. So here are things I learned/revelations I had from the holidays:

1. Vegetable side dishes are so worth it and awesome. Fiance and I made apple squash puree and roasted parsnips. They were fantastic and helped me fill my plate with things that wouldn't make me feel gross later like say the gravy that sister-in-law and I made which pretty much coagulated right after we took it off the stove. Although, thats better than the gravy we made last year which seperated when we took it off the stove. There were other things made by other people, fear not.

2. There can be good leftover recipes. Fiance made a post Thanksgiving salad. (I did not partake because I went to a great restaurant with local ingredients with a friend and her husband. It was most tasty. Warning: when they say spiced nuts, they are not kidding.)

3. Airports, like ball games, will make you hungry. Well, they make me hungry. I was sure to eat a good breakfast, even at 6 am, before departing on Wednesday morning. Two hours later in the terminal, with two hours of waiting to go, I was starving. The muffin and banana were not worth it. The burrito for lunch later that day was so worth it.

4. Running in the cold with high winds will make you feel like death. Don't bother trying even if its the only exercise you'll get the entire time you're traveling for the holidays. Three times around the track (two of them walking) are not worth the ear pain that results. It felt distinctly like the ear infections I had as a kid. Since I am quite sure I never want to experience that again, I stopped. Thank God, cause ouch.

5. Going to the gym when you return home is so worth it even if you're tired and even if it means leaving a very adorable man napping on your couch. Its particularly wonderful if he has made a tasty dinner when you return. Note: we added diced cheddar to this and it was awesome. For lunch today I put it on a bed of arugula which was also awesome. And another awesome: toasted walnuts, nomnom nom.

6. When it comes to following one's own advice I am the chief of the suck in this department. Anything is exercise? Uh huh. You can do it anywhere? Whatever. Bring a jump rope? Yea, right. In my defense, there wasn't much time. I had to do things like shop and drink beer. No, I have not weighed myself since returning, thankyouvermuch.

7. Going straight to the farmer's market on your way home from the airport is totally worth it. Having food you enjoy in your home when you get back, instead of having to go out one more time or order something full of sodium made our return home, is so much more enjoyable. It also made it easier for us to do things like finish the laundry and go to the gym.

In other news, a new camera was purchased in our house. I love early Christmas presents. The pictures around here about to get pretty awesome. Fiance requested that I post his beef stir fry from last week and title it 'Ready to Wok?'.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Step, Ouch, Step, Ouch, Step, Ouch

This was the soundtrack of my weekend. I started lifting heavy again and did a pyramid of sprints on Saturday. My lats, obliques and hamstrings would like to remove themselves from their torturer (read: me [and also a little bit fiance]). Fiance 'designed' my lifting program. He did some reading and came up with a fancy plan that has something to do with science. Basically one day a week I deadlift and bench press and another I'll squat and overhead press.

I lifted on Friday and then again on Sunday. On Saturday we went to a nearby high school track and ran a sprint pyramid that went like this:

30 second sprint
30 second recovery walk or jog
1 minute sprint
1 minute recovery walk or jog
1:30 minute sprint
1:30 minute recovery walk or jog
and back down to 30 seconds

Then we did 'starts'. Starts are where you lie on the ground and explode into a run. You can start one of four ways: on your back facing away from your direction, on your front facing away from your direction, on your back facing towards your direction and on your front facing towards your direction. We realized after we were done that we should have used starts as a warm up.

On the one hand, after all this activity, I felt pretty awesome. I wont speak for him but fiance said he did too. On the other hand, I felt like I wanted to remove my muscles. I like being sore to a point. Sometimes it goes beyond that point and lying still hurts. I'm hoping its just because I started lifting again.

In food news, we also vowed to eat at home until we leave for Thanksgiving on Wednesday morning. I'm pretty sure that eating quality calories had a lot to do with the awesome. I even accidentally missed hitting my minimum calorie mark yesterday. Usually Sundays are what my father calls a caloric disaster. This particular Sunday was pretty great. I even made meatballs. What I have to say about meatballs is this: nom nomnom.

I adapted my meatball recipe from a Cooking Light recipe for meatloaf that I can't seem to find online. Suffice it to say the key is what would seem like a ridiculous amount of parmesan and parsley for only 2 pounds of beef - like a quarter cup of each. Yes, nom nomnom.

Speaking of food I'm going to try to blog the hell out of Thanksgiving. So keep it here folks because I plan to help you commiserate about holiday food and working as hard as possible to button your favorite jeans.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Told You My Answers Were Stupid

My co-worker made it onto the Good Morning America Show! This was the interview I mentioned a few days ago on our way to get an after noon snack. Shes the pretty one who says, "That's disgusting."

Also, the lady in the piece is right, the 36 strips of bacon look pretty good.

My Confessionals Are Sadly Unlike The Real World on MTV

I have a confession. This is one that you probably knew already and when I put it out on the interwebs you'll think it's the dumbest one ever.

I like cooking.

I know, so lame. The reason this is a confession is because of the way I feel about cooking. My issue with liking cooking is that I'm a working woman. Not the kind on the street corner but the kind that has an actual career and a direction with an advanced degree to back it up. You may not know it from all the grammar and spelling mistakes I've made here but I is smahrt.

So my issue with liking cooking can be enumerated in the following ways:

1. I hate standing in the kitchen. It makes my knees hurt and makes me tired. I also really despise the kitchen I have right now and so it really feels more like a hot jail when I try to cook in there.

2. I hate being all alone in there. The kitchen we have is so closed off from the rest of the apartment. If I ever make enough off this here career I will be Madame Open Floor Plan, thankyouverymuch.

3. I hate that being in the hot jail all by myself implies something about my gender. This is where my feelings make heads spin and pea soup come out. I just think that it's still a sociologically expected that because I was born a chick I'm supposed to know how to cook stuff and feed people. (For me this is probably more to do with my ethnicity since Greek people get hives from hungry guests.)

I realize that this is all mostly to do with myself and far less to do with cooking (or health and fitness which I claim to write about here) but I suppose I'm just having a hard time with being a post modernist today. I realize that the theory is that I can be in the kitchen because I choose to be and not because I'm stuck there but consargn it ladies some choices are hot and lonely!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mmmmm, Fatty Death.

A coworker and I were innocently walking out of our office building yesterday in search of our afternoon snack when a woman with a camera man and a boom operator approached us. She asked if we'd be willing to answer a few questions and we hesitantly said yes (I hadn't brushed my hair or put on lipstick in hours, this is TV people). She then asked both of us, one at a time how many grams of fat we thought were in movie theater popcorn. My coworker's answer was so perfect, "Since its delicious I bet its a lot." My answer was something stupid about how I hate popcorn and blech yuck, I'm way intelligent, ya'll.

Delicious = fatty death is a really good point, however. My post yesterday is a good example of this. Nachos and lasagna for lunch were awesome. The feeling after was awful. Loads of young-ish people tell me (either with words or funny looks) that they don't really concern themselves with their eating habits. To each his own. I have to say I personally love the feeling that goes with eating well and working out. I'm not saying I'm an asceticist or anything and I certainly go out to eat, cook well and enjoy full fat cheese but I prefer to reduce the feeling of death on toast. There are also plenty of other benefits (no thanks, cancer, you stay over there).

The larger, more important point is that you can eat deliciousness without the fatty death part. The obvious answer is portion control. Yea it might be fun to eat the entire cake but I actually like being able to have one slice per day and enjoy it over time. It takes a load of patience and the habit is not for everyone, I'll admit. The other answer is cooking more healthfully. I'm not saying you should invest in that idiotic cooking spray crap, the price of which is so jacked up its like Tickle Me Elmo at Christmas. I also don't purchase low fat cheese, cause, um, yuck. Have you ever seen that crap melt? It looks like you put Tupperware on your burger. I'm not advocating that you buy lower forms of what you like to eat. I'm just saying - steaming and roasting rather than frying.

Now the final issue here is fitness. Fitness is great. A million things are fitness. Walk for goodness sake, I dunno, pick a habit. The thing is, fitness is a very small part of all this. Apparently you can't just eat all you want and work it off. The culprit for the love handles that you're hating on? Diet. The reason your pants are tight after a weekend of fun? Diet. Why your couch squeals when you sit down? Diet.

Bring it on gratins, cheeseburgers and cookies! I will eat you and not frighten my couch.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Blame Healthy Habits for This One

I have a confession to make: I didn't eat dinner last night.

I have another confession to make: I ate my weight in carbs and cheese for lunch yesterday.

These confessions go together nicely. The results of these choices have been less than appreciated. Lets go to the video:

Monday's breakfast: Came in two parts, one before fiance got up and I was starving and one after when I made eggs for both of us.

Monday's lunch: Came in a GIANT PILE OF CHIPS AND CHEESE AND PASTA AND JUNK yummy nomonomnom. Also, came at about 2 pm, hence a strategically larger-than-normal breakfast.

Monday afternoon: CRASH! NAP! ZZZZ!

Monday evening: Teach a cycle class while half awake and still very full.

Monday dinner: Apple, yogurt, ohgodnomoreblehhhh.

Tuesday breakfast: Normal - toast, bacon, a usual 300ish calories.

Tuesday lunch: Occurred at 11 am because, I think, I was so starving after the ohgodnomoreblehhhh thing.

Tuesday dinner: Just occurred at 4 pm in the form of curry from a tasty Asian restaurant near my office.

Now, I would have waited to have dinner at home if I weren't planning to go straight to the gym from work in about an hour. Clearly, the gym is at fault here.

Stay tuned to find out if I ever get back on a normal eating schedule. For the love of God, someone help.

Friday, November 13, 2009

If the Cereal Jumped Off a Bridge Would You Do It Too?!?

One of the things I find incredibly hard about nutrition and health is label reading. First, there are a million 'rules' out there about what you should pay attention to: no more than 25% of calories from fat; fat calories don't matter as long as the protein grams are high; nothing with HFCS or hydrogenated oils; only things with a certain percentage of Vitamins A, C or E. For God's sake can someone come up with the hard and fast rule?

Except, I don't want anyone to come up with a hard and fast rule. What? I like to read my cake label and eat it too.

My primary goal (read: NOT A RULE) is to eat things that don't even have labels. You could go into the canned fruit aisle and concern yourself with sugar added, no sugar added, pears in syrup, peaches in water, the list goes on until you have a head ache. Or you could go buy a pear. This is the better choice because eating a food without a label implies that it is a whole food. Your body is better able to break down whole foods, whole foods have more nutrients blah blah blah.

We all eat food with labels though so lets be honest and break it down. What in the hell are we supposed to do when presented with these long ass labels? Well first, decide what you care about. My body hates me when I eat preservatives. Yellow 5, HFCS, MSG, they all equal head pain and drama for me. I avoid them as best I can but I prefer not to go nuts about it. Occasionally I might eat a potato chip or 20 and I realize its not going to kill me.

Second, decide if you trust it. If you're watching for calories, be aware that the corporation that is selling you the product is legally required to disclose the nutritional information and put it on the label. There has been some evidence recently that labels aren't as truthful as you'd like to believe. This is particularly concerning for diabetics or those allergic to things like peanuts or items found in trace amounts. For example, I'm trying to reduce my soy intake. I just found out my multivitamin has soy in it. I'll live, I'm not thrilled about it but at least I'm aware.

Finally, be aware of the claims on the front of the box. Just because the Toasted Oat Cereal tells you its a good source of calcium doesn't mean you should believe them. In fact, screw the front of the box. The front is designed to get you to pick up the box. It is not designed to tell you the contents. Turn the box over, look at the list of ingredients and the calorie and fat content, if you care. The front of the box is why our foods have well known commercial mascots. Don't let a colorful rabbit or a flying stinging bug tell you what to feed yourself or your family. Instead, let the numbers tell you what to eat.

Or, ignore the whole damn thing and eat what you please. Buy something with a colorful bunny and if you like it eat it again. Figure out your own personal rules and do what makes you happy. I'm just going to be over here in this corner grumbling about big Ag.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

All Your Behavior Are Belong to Us

At the gym/in fitness/in nutrition there are inevitables. These are things you just can not avoid. The universe doesn't care if you don't want or need them and here are a list of my favorites.

- No matter how many squats you do, how often or if you practice them your ass and/or hips will always hurt the next day. You could do 50 per day for a month and your butt will still scream when you get up out of bed in the morning. Squats are the most effective way to make yourself limp around your office, same goes for planks on your elbows.

- You will decide to give up soy/dairy/insert food here. Within 24 hours you will be presented with what must be the tastiest food you have ever seen made entirely of the thing you gave up.

- No matter how much you avoid group exercise or how much you wear your ear phones the entire time you're at the gym you will have a gym buddy/creepy stalker. You will see this person regularly, there will be no logic to the fact that they seem to be there every time you are and they will give you funny looks. Some day, down the road you will discover they probably think the same thing of you.

- You will get dressed in the morning and discover that all your pants are too tight. There will be no explanation for this. You will freak out and be preoccupied about it all day. You wont change your eating habits (much) and the next day it will all be normal again. You will ignore this and forget about it and be pleased to do so. This same type of scenario will occur when you have a chest cramp at the gym. You will spend 5 minutes sure that you are having one of those healthy people heart attacks. At minute 6 you will start to think about what to have for dinner.

- You will embarrass yourself. You will fall off your treadmill/step/bike/the ground and try your best to save face by standing up as quickly as possible. The effort you make to 'catch' yourself will only injure you further.

- When you finally return to the gym after a 3 month hiatus after falling on your ass, someone will mention that they haven't seen you in ages and you will be even more embarrassed.

- You will accidentally eat an extra 800 calories the morning of the same day you plan to go out and have a huge dinner. This accident generally comes in the form of an office muffin. You will innocently look up the calories online at your desk. You will still go out dinner. But you will also feel like the biggest tub of lard the next day.

And not care.

- Someone you know and thought was totally sane will decide to pick up a crazy habit to lose weight/build muscle/be less of a lard ass. You will ignore this because, duh, they are crazy. Their crazy will pay off and you will hate them.

- If you do lose weight and feel healthy someone will mention that they think you are anorexic/don't eat enough/must have a stomach worm. You will ignore them and only feel better about yourself. You will then google stomach worms.

- Your mother/grandmother/cousin/great aunt twice removed will reminisce about your childhood and mention how you were such a skinny little kid back then. You will spend the following holiday sure she trying to pork you up.

- You will become addicted to a 'normal' food like applesauce, toast, hummus. You will realize that this box a day of wheat thins/100 calorie pack/raisin obsession is probably what is making your pants tighter. You will continue consuming this 'normal' item until you actually must by all new pants. You wont buy new pants.

I'm sure I'm missing some, help me out!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Welcome to My Sandbox

I have seen some truly amazing behavior in the gym. I guess that since I spend a fair amount of time there it isn't all that surprising that I might experience humanity's worst. I've seen members berate employees for almost no reason. I've seen attendees in classes yell at instructors for schedule changes they knew full well weren't the choice of the instructor. I've seen the usual not cleaning up after yourself.

That last one is the most common. I spend about five minutes after every class that I teach reorganizing because a grown adult can't seem to roll their bike closer to the wall or put their mat in the pile. I find it incredibly frustrating. First, working at the gym is my hobby which means I love it. It does not mean that I am your personal maid. The problem is not only limited to gym members either. The cycle room that I teach in twice a week is often used for boxing training. The trainers have a few standing punching bags along with some that are hanging from the ceiling. Without fail, at least once a week and sometimes twice, they will leave these monstrous standing punching bags in the middle of the room. These suckers are a pain to move. They are filled with water in order to withstand the punching. In order to move them you have to roll them at an angle. It isn't as if I can ignore them either. There is one that looks like a person and I once left it a few feet further from the wall than normal. I nearly squealed when I saw it out of the corner of my eye. This is the kind of behavior that makes me want to put up the kind of signs you see in Dilbert. "Your mother doesn't work here and I'm not your maid."

The cleaning up after yourself issue is annoying but far worse is people who behave as if the class they are attending is all about them. Why do some people refuse to understand that the world doesn't revolve around them? Who raised these idiots? I bet their related to the people who turn left after the light turns red. Last night at the gym I experienced a perfect example of horrible gym behavior. I was teaching a cycle class and a gentleman came late. Not five or ten minutes but half an hour late. This man came in half way through my class. That alone doesn't bother me. (Aside from the fact that he clearly didn't warm up which makes him an idiot unless he had done it outside my field of vision.) The worst behavior came ten minutes before class ended when he leaps from his bike and walked up to me while I was teaching. I'm in the middle of cuing and he asks if he can move the fans around. Of course I say no. I have at least ten regulars who attend both of my classes every week and they are very particular about where the fans are. I offer to put one particular fan right on him. I get to a stopping point in what I'm saying to the greater class, hop off my bike and go to move the fan. As soon as I get back to my bike he leaves. Now I was probably short with him and he might have been offended or maybe my solution wasn't enough. But if he'd come on time and done this it would be no big deal. Just don't walk into a room late, not knowing the situation from the start and cause drama. This follows the same theory that you don't walk into a room speaking loudly in case someone inside is having a conversation.

Manners are required in the gym, in the locker room, at work and hopefully at home. I suppose it would be improper of me to post a sign in my class that says, "Google the sandbox rule."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Got Whole Milk? Why, Yes!

A while back I mentioned that I drink whole milk. I know almost everyone drinks skim. For about 26.5 years of my life I did too. I love milk. Love it like I love organized closets that I don't personally have to organize. And that would be . . . a lot. One thing I don't like is blindly listening to the collective consciousness (I was born almost an entire month late, I like to buck trends) and just drink skim because some doctor on TV said so.

The reason nutritionists and your pediatrician suggest skim milk for everyone after age two is that skim lacks fat. Americans, if you didn't notice, are big fat blobs. Cutting things like fat and carbohydrates are a great false promise. Basically, cut down on something and you're bound to cut your calories and thus be a less fat American. Which means you'll take up less space but still mock Asian tourists.

In fact, you'll see organizations like the National Dairy Council saying that school lunch should contain low-fat dairy to fight obesity and disease in children. Their argument is basically that you have to feed the kids something so it should contain some nutrients and since our kids are big and fat make it low-fat. Notice that what they are not saying is that low-fat dairy makes you healthier. The American Heart Association tells you that you need two to three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products per day, and while they fail to explain why, its likely because of the recommended intake of things like calcium.

It's no secret that for the most part dairy is good for you. (Although some argue that we weren't meant to drink milk past breast milk and we're fighting evolution but if you're not lactose intolerant, whatever.) Milk contains fat soluble vitamins like A, D, K and E although these are stripped when skim milk is created and put back in through fortification. It also contains calcium and provides you with protein. So milk = good.

Now, as for your choice of milk. Skim milk is whole milk put in a centrifuge. Skim milk, no matter what you're picky cousin says, is not whole milk with water. Whole milk is not all fat either, its just the whole form of milk. The basic contents of the two types are the same except that whole contains more calories. Well there are a few differences in that skim is far more processed (and I've been clear on my feelings on that, ahem, anti). In a study done on rats both the skim milk and whole milk groups showed the least weight gain in comparison to the group drinking water. So, again milk = good but regardless of the type of dairy they both promote a health weight.

The number one complaint physicians have about whole dairy is cholesterol. First, the cholesterol you consume, which is called dietary cholesterol (duh) and the kind you have in your actual blood don't always affect each other. Sometimes they do. If you're consuming an obscene amount of the stuff then your bad blood cholesterol (the kind your body produces) is going to be higher. Oh, and you'll also be overweight and perhaps have diabetes and show signs of heart disease. These things are all signs that a person is obese. So the theory that consuming cholesterol and producing too much cholesterol in the body is not such a simple theory. In reality, a person eats too much, they get fat (Americans mentioned above) and they experience all sorts of health problems from obesity to diabetes and, of course, high cholesterol. So basically if you're watching your calorie intake you should drink as much god damn whole milk as you please. If you're fat like I was, cut the calories.

I really haven't explained why I drink whole milk as much as I've explained how I defend the choice. The reason I drink it is basically I need the calories. When I work out and burn a crap load of calories I try to replace them with protein. I'm also usually starving and thus whole milk saves the day. As long as I keep my calories within a normal range it is no problem. Also, in truth, its not as if I have a glass of milk everyday. I also don't think you can defend drinking just any milk either.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stuff I Read and Feel Like Sharing

Oh, vitamin D, how our bodies love you. So I took an online certification test through one of my gym certifying organizations on vitamin D. Basically what I paid $25 to learn is that D isn't actually a vitamin its a hormone mimicking compound. Basically it turns on 200 genes in the body. Which sounds scary until you read the research about how taking it has almost never, ever shown negative effects. Also, you have to work your ass off to overdose on it. The average pill sold at your local drug store contains anywhere from 400 to 2200 IUs of the stuff. Studies in toxicity showed that people who took 1.6 million IUs per day for 6 months just barely reached toxic levels and there are few examples of death from vitamin D overdose. So basically, that's a damn lot of vitamin D. I'm no Doctor but I'm prescribing myself some serious D. The Mayo Clinic thinks you should get between 800 and 1,000 IUs per day.

I don't know this Canadian but I sure think shes smart (I want her job). Although she calls herself a Doctor she isn't an MD. Love me some intervals, don't know what ORAC is but I seem to follow it by accident minus the lentils. I'm not sure I can really trust someone who says their biggest weakness is organic popcorn though.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Nope, Not Gonna Do It, Wouldn't Be Prudent

Running has never been my thing. I can be on a bike for ages. I can roller blade (not that I've done that in ages) for miles. I can run intervals for fifteen minutes on a treadmill where I sprint for a minute and walk for a minute. But marathons scare the hell out of me. They are the kind of thing I would need a million dollar reward to run. Mostly because I think I would sooner die. I would definitely die if I had to do it up stairs the entire way.

There are those who think that's okay because long distance running is bad for the human body. They could be right. I'm certainly not jumping on the marathon bandwagon. But apparently new studies disagree. Apparently distance running played a big part in our evolution. A bajillion years ago we chased our prey by exhausting it. Clearly I would have starved back then. Or eaten the questionable berries.

Even our feet have all sorts of implications. The tribe mentioned in the article even runs tens of miles on thin soled shoes. Please google five finger shoes and then be sufficiently freaked out. I can't even handle it when people walk around the city barefoot while holding their clearly painful shoes.