24 06 2010

In my current quest, the idea of a super low calorie or restrictive diet hasn’t entered my mind. I’ve tried diets of (almost) eliminating fat, (almost) eliminating carbs, high protein, meal-replacement shakes, none really worked. At least not long term.  They aren’t meant to! And anytime I’ve tried drastically cutting back on anything, I just end up craving it more and ultimately self sabotaging.  I’ve done it so many times, in fact, that I’m pretty sure my metabolism is effed.  (some recent studies say this doesn’t actually happen, but there are lots that say it does.)

A good friend of mine wrote a meal plan for me several months ago, which I actually followed (well, like 70% of the time) for the first couple weeks.  Even more challenging, he gave to me on December 21st (now 70% seems pretty good, right?).  That’s right, I made it through the holidays and LOST a couple pounds. But…. then I stopped following it.  Eating 5-6 times a day is not easy when working.  It was apparently too much effort to plan all the meals for the day and have them be something that may not require refrigeration. So I kept the plan in mind, but hardly (20-50%)  followed it ever since then.

Evidenced by my 5 pound loss (I’m still proud, despite the size), I AM eating better.  I’ve been reading a lot, met with the nautropath a couple times, and been talking to friends about food in the past few months. My current diet starts with all natural yogurt (have I got a good story about that! maybe some other time…) and a sliced banana, a handful of kashi mixed in for breakfast.  (Use to have soy milk with the cereal until I did some (research, research, research and  research among others) and…. no more soy for me.  Or a lot less, anyway). Then I have 2-3 more meals that vary, but tend to be a pre-cooked dish like ground turkey and brown rice or quinoa.  Or chicken and wheat pasta.  When I pre-make the meals, I try to follow the 25 grams protein/25 grams carbs suggested by my friend above in the diet from December. Or I’ll have a turkey sandwich made with this coolness.  Or eggs/egg whites and black beans.  Often for the last meal/snack of the day is a salad*.  In my research, I couldn’t ignore all the evidence supporting lots of green vegetables.  And eating it as the last meal, it’s not full of calories, so it doesn’t sit in my stomach late at night when I don’t need the energy. Win win!

All this said, I clearly don’t eat just this, or I’d be losing more.  I’m not immune to dinners out with friends, a glass of wine (or 3), food served to a group (chips and salsa, brownies, pizza, etc.). Also, as my energy level is low (with the whole unemployed business) I’m not hungry all that much.  So when I am, I feel like I can gorge a bit since I’ve eaten so little the rest of the day.  It doesn’t really work that way, but tell that to my hand holding the fork full of tamale on the way to my mouth.

*(salad for me = 2+ cups of raw lettuce, possibly a sprinkle of feta (< 1T) a little dressing (spices, vinegar and 1-2 T olive oil) maybe some leftover cut up veggies from a recipe like peppers or tomatoes and my favorite part (because it adds the desired crunch w/o calories and carbs of croutons) (and I got a big ol’ jar at costco for like, 3 bucks)


Overcoming My Sedentary Life Fantasy

21 06 2010

Move more.  Sounds simple, but it’s not.  Not in today’s culture of working 8ish hours a day, sitting in a car another hour (at least) and another hour (or way more) of watching tv, internet-ing, etc. The industrial revolution in the past 150 or so years has drastically changed our lifestyles to be more sedentary.  Prior to this, lots, LOTS of people were farming daily.  Even if you didn’t have a farm, you used lots more energy preparing food, washing clothes, walking to the market, all the tasks we take for granted as being easy and quick.  Our bodies were made for physical work and we don’t do much of it anymore.  It’s no wonder that given modern conveniences and the food industrialization, creating cheap and crappy food that appeals to mass markets,  has driven the national BMI catastrophically high.  People have found many ways to overcome this, a popular one is adding “workouts” to our daily lives that somewhat make up the physical activity our bodies aren’t getting while we sit in our offices.  This works pretty well, once you figure out how to schedule it in.  And provided you are burning enough calories in those hours. Another idea (which I’ve always found interesting) is treadmill desks.  Walking, slowly, for several hours instead of sitting.  Genius! It also appeals to me because you’re getting exercise while completing other tasks and you don’t have to find more time in your day to get it done.

Walking is easy.  It’s low impact, doesn’t make you overly sweaty in case you have a meeting or social event afterwards, and can be done anywhere.  You don’t even really need special shoes or clothes. In the past week (as I’ve been unemployed and find myself with hours of free time) I’ve been walking a lot.  I like it! I’m lucky, I can take 2 hours to walk to and from the pharmacy to get a prescription refill instead of 15 minutes driving.  This is not the case when I’m working 40+ hours each week. I’ve been fantasizing about how I can continue this when I’m working again, using up prime daylight hours in an office.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I want a treadmill.  This is not a new idea, nor is it feasible (given the no-job-equals-no-money situation).  It’s a FANTASY. But not a new one – I’ve often thought a treadmill in front of the TV was a good idea.  I babysit for a family who has a fancy treadmill in the garage – it’s got a tv screen right on it! I walked/ran for an hour, barely realizing the passage of time while the babies napped.  It was great.  And although I’ve been walking a lot the past several days, I’ve also been sent back inside due to weather. (Don’t get me wrong, a little rain is fine, but when I can’t walk without my shoes becoming a soggy mess, then it just sucks.) So my fantasy persists.

I realize, as fantasies go, that this is probably better in theory than realization.  Chances are, I’d get the thing and use it for a week or few months if I was lucky, and then it would just gather dust.  But I’ll never know if that’s true… so my fantasy remains unchanged. ha!

One Step Away From Sweatpants

17 06 2010

I’ve been learning a lot about myself the last few months.  I realized sometime around February that I hadn’t really been taking any pride in my appearance.  Not only had I let myself gain 15 pounds in the last year, 30 or so since college, 50 or 60 since high school, I was barely making an effort to look better than as though I’d just gotten out of bed.

I’m not a particularly vain person (well, aren’t all humans vain? with the whole original sin business?) but I do like to look nice.  I’ve always enjoyed fixing my hair, makeup, choosing accessories to complement me and my clothes.  I realized one day getting ready to go celebrate a friends’ birthday that I hadn’t put more than minimal effort into this process since… I couldn’t remember the last time. I was describing this realization to someone (whom I love and loves me, so I didn’t take this the wrong way) “like you’re one step away from living in sweatpants, huh?”  Holy shit, that was true.

About a month later, I found myself at Target shopping for what I’d recently read to be called the “fat uniform:” stretchy, nondescript black clothes.  Ugh. So these thoughts had been swirling in my head: I wanted to make a change, it felt like such a big change I was scared and didn’t know where to start, all that kind of stuff. I wanted to take care of myself, but didn’t know where to start.

So I started with small changes (even though I read this) and figured I needed to learn how to live differently, and that had to be done one step at a time.  Jumping in without looking would likely lead me to failure and self-destruction (I know this from my history).  An easy thing to do was change what food I bought: if I don’t have it at home, it’s much harder to eat.  This continues to be a struggle, I find myself wandering in the kitchen (probably bored, not actually hungry) and not finding anything to eat that didn’t require prep or had the amount of sugar, fat or salt in it I was craving. The grocery store is only a few blocks away (which is nice! I walk there most of the time now!) but… it’s also only a few blocks away. Piles and piles of bad-for-me food is so close.  I even figured out that I could start pre-heating my oven, walk the the store and back, in the just right amount of time to heat up frozen taquitos. NOT a good thing to discover.

I’ve started walking more in general.  Now that I finally live in the city, within walking distance of so much, it seems silly to drive the one mile (one way) to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription, especially when I don’t have plans for the rest of the day. (This unemployment thing helps, too.  I have ALL DAY to accomplish tasks.) And the gym is less than a mile and a half – I can walk or ride my bike. Easy.

But at some point I need to make bigger changes, right? or not? I’m slowly losing, it can’t all be coincidence and luck. I was able to shrink my stomach – something I’ve done before. Just eat smaller meals long enough, and your stomach stops stretching so far.  Then when you eat a bigger meal, you feel full sooner. The trick is to keep it that way. It’s even easier to stretch it out again. I know from experience.

There’s more, I’m sure. But this is the start of me organizing and sharing how I’m changing my life.

Stupid job (is ending)

14 06 2010

I’m being fired from my job. Maybe laid off. Not sure yet – the final meeting is tomorrow. I’m hoping “laid off” will be the language, because it is the most appropriate.  Regardless of what happens, I’ve been living a special kind of hell for the past two weeks, and really for the past month as I’ve been trying to “meet the minimum requirements” of my job description, despite the lack of work present for me to meet those requirements. Whatever the outcome, whatever the amount of work I’ve put into it, I’m depressed, which makes the process of losing weight, quite difficult (if not impossible).

I thought I was handling things ok until I realized I’d slept more hours than I’d been awake in the previous days.  That pattern (mixed with anxiety-fueled sleepless nights), although not entirely consistent (mix in some days of denial/anger/apathy), has persevered the past two weeks. My activity level has been low.  My desire to work out or take an active role in my health is low.  I feel like doing nothing.  I feel nothing, really. I think I’m actively trying not to be upset or angry, so I’m just feeling NOTHING. This may be a benefit in some regards, but overall it’s not helping.  I either need to GET MAD and do something, or just get over it.

Luckily (for someone trying to loose weight), my appetite is low as well.  This could be due to several factors (my actions to shrink stomach size, depression (though an opposite symptom for me), lack of activity = lack of need for calories) but I’ve lost a couple more pounds! I’ve worked out a little, but not enough to make a difference (I think). When I’m stressed, I tend to somatocize (word?) my feelings with digestive disruption. For several years, I’ve been able to link digestion problems with stress.  I’ve even been able to detect unknown stress by digestive distress.  This has certainly been present, thus leading to lack of desire to eat (because my tummy hurts) and possibly lack of digestion of the calories I DO eat (because my system isn’t absorbing anything).  Whatever the cause, I’ve been tracking calories, and according to that, the scale should be staying the same.  I guess we’ll see what happens over the next few days before really declaring a poundage loss.

I’ve certainly got more feelings and thoughts regarding this issue… so… more to come. (Probably.)

… update

8 06 2010

Found out last week that I’m about to be fired/let go from my job.
Thought I was dealing with it pretty well, but realized yesterday that I’ve slept more then I’ve been awake in the last 4 days. So that’s not so good. Not sure what my feelings are, but am sure that being fired from a job ranks in the top five of things that make losing weight difficult.  My activity level leaves something to be desired right now, clearly.

Today was ok, even taking into account that I should be consuming 1/4 less calories.  But I’m sure there are other things not being taken into consideration.

Today, I went to the gym for a yoga class. Well, tried to. There weren’t any parking spots.  In the past, I’ve remedied this by riding my bike to the gym on busy days/times, but today I didn’t have a choice.   Instead, I came home and did a yoga dvd instead.  Probably better than nothing, but when it got hard, I stopped.  When I’m in a class, I rarely stop, because there are people who can see me giving up.  Not so in my living room.  But I’m feeling optimistic nonetheless, I could have chosen to do nothing.  So I’m marking today as “good” anyway.

Not the same as the last few days, but anyone deserves a few days of slack time when they loose a job, right?

Right? (or am I making excuses….)

Spinach Souffle

7 06 2010

yummy, yummy spinach souffle! (boy, the pic is blurry. sorry.)

This is one of my favorite treats. It’s fairly easy to make (does take about 20 mins prep, but I’ve got is mastered) and offers some great nutrition. I’ve never eaten this in less than 4 servings, but one “serving” for me has 236 calories, 16 grams of fat, 12.5 grams of carbs, and 11 grams of protein. (the recipe is by Miss Betty Crocker).

Today I used soy milk which was a first. Cow’s milk makes my tummy unhappy, so I don’t keep it in the fridge. (Although a quart was only $1.39, I knew I would be wasting most of it and didn’t want to buy it.) I also used real butter, because experimenting with alternative ingredients should probably only be one one at a time. (Next up is margarine or some kind of reduced butter type product. That will cut WAY down on the fat content!)  The souffle turned out a bit… not together? When I tried to take a piece, it fell apart. It’s been a while since I’ve made this, but I seem to remember it ‘sticking together’ better, more like a piece of pie.  There are many factors, however that could cause this.  Soy milk the most likely, but also using a different oven and my kitchen was kinda warm while preparing.  Probably could’ve let it cool another minute before serving.  (Still tastes good, though!)

This pic is included because a) I thought there should be more pictures in the post besides the final product and most of the steps to making the souffle are not interesting, but b) I love how the spinach and flour/butter/milk mixture look in my mixing bowls! They were rescued from the goodwill pile when my grandma moved from her home into a small assisted living apartment. (so… no idea how old they are, prob circa 1970, but I just love the idea that my grandma used them for years to prepare food as well.)

Something I learned today was… one of the reasons I love this dish so much – the fat content! Of course, eggs and spinach I like plenty on their own, but it’s no secret that fat makes everything better. (well, fat and salt.)  And it’s ok in moderation.  Luckily, my food intake earlier in the day was picture perfect, so a little extra fat here is ok.  I certainly don’t eat this everyday! It’s more satisfying than fast food (because yours truly made it and the eggs and spinach are GREAT for me) and I’m sure that the 16 grams of fat here are less than a small order of fries. So there!

Workout sin

6 06 2010

I commited a major workout no-no today.

My shoe came untied while I was running on the treadmill.  I know you aren’t suppose to drop your  head below your heart when your heart rate is high, because you can faint (I think).  So in a millisecond, I had to decide which was worse: the probability of fainting, or the probability of my shoelace getting stuck and falling, most likely hurting myself. What would YOU do?

I jumped to the side rails (is that what they’re called?) and bent down to tie it.  I didn’t faint! but it HURT. A LOT. Not sure what happened physiologically, but it felt like blood rushed to the top of my lungs and overfilled the space right below my collar bone.  And it stayed there. It made it hard to take a full breath, which is kind necessary when you’re running.  I slowed down to a walk and it took more than a couple minutes to feel ok again.

So – moral of the story – there’s more than one reason to keep your head above your heart when exercising! and double knot your shoelaces!