Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The hardest part has been keeping myself from doing cardio two days in a row. The funny thing is the day off and the commitment NOT to do high impact cardio two days in a row has kept be on this exercise routine. I will say that on occasion I “cheated.” On my strength training days I will actually do the elliptical for 20 minutes just to loosen up and get warm. But that is pretty low impact.
Where I am most proud is traveling. Going to training in Hawaii didn’t derail me. Going to visit the in-laws during Christmas didn’t derail me. Getting tendonitis in my foot didn’t derail me. I’ve known that the hardest part of keeping healthy living is when you go off the plan. Usually what happens for me is that when I miss a day, I miss two months. The wheels come off. This time things are different. There are some strong negative motivations that keep we from going off the deep end. The thought of injecting myself with insulin. The thought of losing a limb. The thought of going blind. All of those are pretty strong incentives to keep on keeping on.
My training has been gradually increasing in length and intensity.
2 short runs of 4.5 miles
1 long run of 7 miles
Both at 9 ½ mile pace
Increasing reps for weights to two sets of 15 (from one set of 10)
Increasing reps for ab work from 15 to 25.
So where am I now? I have registered for Bay to Breakers, that 12k (7.4 miles) race. My friend June and I are going as Mr. Miyagi and Daniel-San complete with headbands and kimonos. Our cheering section will have t-shirts that say “wax on, wax off.”
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Again, I feeling lucky to have played a sport because I’ve come to learn what feels like good pain and what feels like bad pain. Good pain is pain that is a result of exercise building your muscles. What happens is that your body uses exercise to break down the muscles. Starting out, you will feel pain in the form of soreness, shin splints, and tightness as your muscles rebuild themselves to be stronger, faster, better. When you step up your exercise your muscles respond with soreness. That’s why it’s important to have days off. Those days are where your muscles rebuild themselves. It’s why you may not feel sore immediately after a strenuous workout but the next morning you feel stiff. Bad pain is injury. That is where you really can’t put weight on your particularly muscle and can’t do ordinary things with it. It means that the more you work a muscle in normal ways like walking, the more it hurts. That’s bad pain.
The challenge is to exercise enough to work your muscles and burn fat but not so much you injure yourself. The advice, I’ve gotten on this balance is to exercise enough to sweat but not enough so you are breathless. Like The Biggest Loser tells you, make sure you can still sing when you exercise (although they seem to take a perverse joy in turning exercise into torture for their contestants).
Feeling your body as it tells you how much is enough when it comes to exercise is something I am having to learn when it comes to eating. You should be hungry when you eat. You should wait until you feel hungry. But don’t wait until you are STARVING. Finding that sweet spot of eating when you are hungry versus eating when you are starving is a big challenge. At this point, I tend to eat every three hours – three meals and two snacks. There are times when I will skip a snack because I am not feeling it. Sometimes that’s fine. Sometimes that’s totally bit me in the ass where I’ve been starving and willing to eat anything that’s around. It’s getting better, figure out how hungry feels as opposed to starving. But just as it’s taken a lifetime to know how much is enough for exercise, it will take a while to figure out how much is enough for hunger.
Monday, January 26, 2009
The recipe is super-easy, and where the cookbook called for powdered spices I used the real stuff. 5 plum tomatoes chopped, cooked down on medium with about 1/4 cup of chopped onions and three cloves of fresh garlic chopped. I cooked it down for about 7 minutes on medium heat. Then, transfer everything to a food processor or blender (it took two batches in my mini-chop-chop), and put it back in the pan. Add 2 cups of low sodium V8 and 2 tbsp of RedHot sauce and black pepper to taste. Cook until it boils, then let it cool down and serve. I'm serving it with some garlic bagel crisps and a nice big glass of shiraz. :-)
(The recipe called for onion powder and garlic powder, fyi.)
This is super tasty, and VERY low in calories. There's no fat in it that I can tell, and the only sodium comes from the V8 and the RedHot. Sure, the bagel crisps have their own issues, but you can choose whatever side/starch you want.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
The recipe called for 1 pound of lean ground turkey, 2 slices fat-free cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup shredded ff cheddar, 1/2 cup sweet corn kernels, 1/4 cup chopped green pepper, 1/4 cup chopped onions, 1/2 cup salsa, and 1/2 packet of taco seasoning.
Since I somehow dropped my grocery list out of my pocket on the way to the store this morning, I ended up forgetting the taco seasoning packet. But that worked out okay, cuz that meant I got to experiment and make my own seasoning mix. Here it is -- 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp oregano, and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Pretty, eh?
Here I've sauteed the peppers and onions (I chopped a fresh pepper myself -- rare because I HATE peppers but was willing to give it a chance, and I used my beloved frozen pre-chopped onions) and mixed in the corn. Next into the bowl went the pound of turkey and the seasoning mix.
After blending all the stuff together, I spread out 1/2 the mixture in the pan. The recipe then calls that you put the 2 slices of cheese in the middle. I did it, but I don't really know why it's needed. Any ideas why? Does it help to separate into layers? Anyway, then you spread out the rest and pour the salsa on top. Bake for 30 at 375, then add the shredded cheese on top and bake for another 15.
While it's not the prettiest thing on the plate, this tasted CRAZY good. Like, smack my lips, lick the pan good. And I wish this blog had smell-o-vision, cuz the aroma of that cumin and all the other spices while cooking just made me melt. I loved this, and have plenty of it save in the fridge now to eat sooner or later (I'm guessing sooner).
According to the cookbook, this makes 6 servings (but I'd probably say it's more like 3), with 127 calories per serving, 1 g fat, and 688 mg sodium (from the taco mix I didn't use?).
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
A) No need to freak out over a freak number. Those things don’t really affect your A1C which essentially looks at how much glucose is in your blood over time. As long as that number is fine, I’m fine. In fact, my nutritionist and I talked about possibly lowering my dosage for the glucose medication.
B) My blood pressure is slightly elevated. Rather than prescribe medication, she recommended making my diet more DASH-like. It would entail some minor but profound tweaking. Eating less cheese, which is sad, and upping my vegetable intake even more. I get about six servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Two for breakfast when I have an apple, pear of other piece of fruit along with the berries in my yogurt. Three for lunch when I always have a large salad and whatever vegetables I have with dinner. It could be carrots and cabbage in a stew or kale in a spaghetti sauce. It will definitely be a challenge to get two more servings of fruit. It’s not that I don’t like fruit but having fruit for my carb content means I have to eat even less grains than I already do.
If I do insert more veggies in my diet, here’s a great way how:
Pasta Al Forno
This is a baked pasta with the rich tomato sauce of a regular rigatoni al forno but with less pasta and tons of veggies. This is really just a guideline. Throw in any veggies you want (within reason).
1 large onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups of vegetables
- For me this included a shredded carrot, two shredded zuchinni, about a cup of finely chopped kale, and a cup of chopped shitake mushrooms
½ pound of ground turkey
1/2 jar of marinara sauce
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 cup of red wine
4 cups of cooked short pasta like rigatoni, penne, or cavatappi
½ cup of mozzarella
¼ cup of parmesan
Saute the vegetables in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a little salt and pepper until soft, about 15 minutes. Add the ground turkey and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the marinara, canned tomatoes and red wine. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about 20 minutes uncovered. Add the pasta and throw into an 12 inch by 8 inch baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees and then top with the cheese.
Monday, January 19, 2009
The organic food interest just seems to make sense. It's really become more important to me as our book club has remained committed to educating ourselves about food and sustainability issues by reading things like Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and In Defense of Food, and my own earlier reading of the shock-and-awe Fast Food Nation. Good stuff.
My most recent pursuit of groceries-with-a-good-feeling is that I've really stepped it up in the last few months to have that commitment include purchasing the best quality, lowest-guilty-conscience meat at the market. I now automatically go to the section of the meat department that has the free range, grass fed, antibiotic free (or some combination thereof) stuff for my chicken, pork, and beef purchases.
It's a little bit more expensive, for sure, but I feel better about buying these things both for my own health (oh, the antibiotic thing both creeps me out and makes me mad) and for trying to assuage a bit of my former-vegetarian feelings of guilt. And, you know what? They're usually much better cuts of meat and they taste amazing!
Thursday, January 15, 2009
These are the lifestyle things I'm supposed to stop doing, right????
Blurgh. I'm working for the weekend -- literally, trying to get through a big event Sunday night then through the madness of the Inaugural in DC, then life starts to get to normal on Wednesday.
A time for Change, indeed.
So for you readers (and my co-blogger). How long did it take you to get to this point? How long did it take you to get out of the slog? Was it the numbers on the scale going down again? Did you just find a fun exercise activity?
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
The hard part is the anxiety for the next reading. I'm pinning my hopes that this reading IS an aberration. The fear is that I will need to do something different. I have been trying so fricking hard and I hate having to step it up after stepping it up already.
It stings because I liked being the overacheiver. The success story that kicked diabetes ass. Four months of GREAT numbers and now this. The hard thing is realizing that you don't control things. You can do all the right things and you can do most of the right things and stuff happens.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Here's one way I'm learning to apply that lesson in real life.
I *hate* bringing my lunch to work. Even though every couple of weeks I go on a kick of thinking I'll do it and buying a bunch of entrees or soups or snack-packs to bring in, I really don't like doing it and almost never actually pack that lunch bag. The "lunch food" in my pantry often becomes a weekend lunch instead.
So -- I love to go out in the neighborhood for lunch, either to grab something quick to take back to my desk or to make it a social outing with coworkers. I work in a neighborhood with LOTS of options, from takeout delis to full-on white linen dining. When I'm *not* being particularly mindful about my eating, I have plenty of opportunities to get greasy sandwiches, chips, big burritos, burgers and fries and pizza, oh my!
BUT, there are also places with really healthy and interesting and tasty lunch options. And this week I've made it a point to go to one of those really great places -- Teaism -- and explore the variety of their menu. In 3 different visits, I had 3 totally different things and they were all delicious and fresh and - though they may not all be considered "light" - I know everything was pretty good for me nutritionally. Best of all, these meals were satisfying and because there's so much variety I didn't get bored. I had: grilled beef and veggie kebabs with brown rice with fresh mint and coriander; chicken udon soup; and Vietnamese shrimp spring rolls with miso soup.
Knowing that I have such a great restaurant with so much tasty variety nearby makes it very easy for me to make good choices at lunchtime, and to feel good about supporting a local business at the same time. Sounds like success to me!
To make my co-blogger and every one of you readers feel better about yourself. Here's my list of why we rock harder than tv Ruby.
1. We can cook. This is where Ruby is totally preposterous. She doesn't cook to the point where she doesn't own a cutting board. She doesn't cook to the point where you can hide her scale in the oven and she could never find it. And that's the most important thing about living healthy. The ultimate way you live healthy is to have a complete say in what you put into your body. You can't do that without cooking.
2. We can nourish ourselves. Ruby is hungry. Hungry like all the freaking time. She constantly complains that her Hourglass meals suck. One thing that the Weight Watchers ads gets really right is to address the hunger monster. When I first changed my diet and I had moments of hunger, I seriously could not envision a life where I was hungry all the time. It was torture. You cannot sustain that. If Ruby is feeling this way through her weight loss process, she is destined for failure once the cameras turn off.
3. We don't expect the world and our friends to cater to us. OH. MY. GOD. Almost every freaking episode is a Last Temptation of Ruby situation where her friends go to a fast food joint and Ruby bemoans the fact she can't eat what they are eating. Sorry Ruby, but just because you're on a restricted diet doesn't mean your friends have to. I think all of us, Stef, me all of you can go to a restaurant with our friends without being a big ol' drama queen about it.
4. Our health care professionals do not suck. Oh that evil Dr. Bradley. He's constantly pushing for Ruby to stay on her Hourglass meal plans in direct opposition to her trainers and nutritionist. And guess who owns the Hourglass Meal company? Evil Dr. Bradley.
5. This healthy living stuff is not a punishment. Hey folks? What's the name of this blog? Yep. That's the key to why we do what we do. This is not penance for every fatty decision we've made and once we've served out time it's over. This is how we live. That' chili stef made the other day? Not a punishment in the least. That 5 mile race? Not a punishment. Especially that stretch where I was running to Justin Timberlake's Rock Your Body.
So feel good about yourselves because noone is forcing you to act like an idiot on tv.
You might know exactly what is needed to improve your diet now, yet you don't tell anyone about your realization. Worse yet, you are tempted to do nothing, no matter how desperately the changes are needed. Fortunately, the nurturing Cancer Moon reminds you of the importance of taking care of yourself. Resist the waves of laziness and take the necessary action today to do what must be done.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
½ large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon of pepper
½ teaspoon of nutmeg
½ cup of white wine or chicken broth
½ cup of skim milk
2 tablespoons of parmesan-like cheese (parmigiano reggiano, pecorino, or grana padana)
2 tablespoons of a nice smoked cheese (cheddar or gouda are great)
1 bag of spinach (you’re cooking it so it doesn’t have to be baby spinach)
Saute under a low heat the garlic and onion for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the pepper and nutmeg. Deglaze with the chicken broth/white wine. Add the milk and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cheeses and simmer until it reduces to the point where it coats the back of a spoon. Add the spinach and stir until the spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Here's where I become a big, fat (pun intended) hypocrite. I've let myself care about the weight loss. I've been weighing myself weekly and got hooked on seeing the number go down down down. The problem is, my body is adjusting to the changes. It's been two weeks and my weight has stayed constant. Sadly, this is a source of frustration for me and I've weighed myself daily to see if the scale will move.
I'm writing this as a reality check to back off from the investment in the scale. It's addicting, that number. It's sad that number is our society's primary shorthand for health. There are other measures where I continue to progress - how far and fast I can run, the fact my strength training gets easier, the fact my blood sugar stays in range (in fact I forgot to take my meds one day and when I checked by blood sugar it STILL was in range). And there's the whole host of process achievements that I've rocked on and are now second nature.
So here's another set of goals for 2009:
1. Maintain the healthy habits
2. Get training on proper us of weights
3. Get over my fear of going to the net in tennis
4. Take a yoga class which focuses on lower back and hip flexibility
5. Stop looking at the scale. No seriously. STOP.
1. Run Bay to Breakers with a 10 minute mile pace
2. Make it to the semi-finals of a tennis tournament
3. Keep my blood sugar within range for the year
4. Bring my cholesterol down to 150
5. Bring my A1C down to 4.5
Monday, January 5, 2009
In the last few weeks, I have tried 3 new recipes -- 2 of which are keepers. From the American Heart Association's Quick and Easy Cookbook, I made a mustard-coated chicken breast (not a keeper) and spicy salsa chicken wraps (a keeper once I figure out better serving/portion math cuz it's a recipe for like 8 and I'm 1). Last night, I took a recipe off the Safeway site and made a baked tilapia filet with fresh garlic, lemon juice, lite butter and parsley flakes. It was really tasty -- and I had 2 new experiences: using a garlic press, and seeing for myself that garlic does actually turn blue sometimes. Yowza!
Trying new recipes is fun, and it gets me into new aisles in the grocery store and using different tools or settings in the kitchen. I'm working myself up to taking that cooking class, hopefully at the end of February. Good times.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Everyone has their own variety of chili, and over the years mine has evolved to be both pretty easy and pretty healthy -- low in sodium and very high in fiber. It also used to be one of the cheapest meals I could make, especially cuz it lasts over several meals, but now that I tend to buy organic, low-fat, low-sodium, antibiotic-free stuff it's a little pricier. But worth it!
Here are my ingredients. (I ended up only using the one big can of diced tomatoes, though, cuz my crock pot is pretty small.) That's ground turkey in there, and I season it with black pepper and chili powder before browning it with chopped onions.
From the ingredients above, I used: both cans of beans, drained; the full big can of diced tomatoes with their juice; about 1/3 of the bag of corn; the whole pound of turkey drained of the fat. This batch featured two new changes -- I followed T's advice for upping the nutritional value by adding some carrots and I supplemented the packaged spice mix with some fresh cilantro. These both get the thumbs-up and will probably become a permanent part of my chili recipe.
Mmmm smells good. I cooked it for 3 hours on low, then turned it up to high about an hour before I knew I would be ready to eat.
Here's the first bowl, naked. This batch made 3 huge bowls total and I ate them over the course of 2 1/2 days. Remember, there's a LOT of fiber in any bean chili, so just -- ahem -- keep that in mind when you're planning out when you're going to eat it.
And here's the bowl, dressed. Reduced fat Mexican blend cheese, and a dallop of fat free sour cream to cool it off. Perfection!
Friday, January 2, 2009
After a New Year’s Eve that was all about eating, I spent New Year’s Day running a five mile race. Yes that's my ass poking out at you. New Year’s Eve turned out to be one of the best I’ve ever had. It came together at the last minute with both J and I coming back early this week and West Coast Rebecca coming back Monday. By Wednesday afternoon we finally made plans to go to Maverick for dinner, Marga Gomez for fun, and Bar Bambino, where WCR’s girlfriend is the wine manager. The great part about the evening was everything was within walking distance of each other.
First comes the eating. Maverick had an awesome menu that was totally friendly to the diabetics. The only change I had to ask for was to replace the flourless chocolate cake with a fruit and cheese plate. Even better was that WCR doesn’t eat meat (she eats fish) and they happily accommodated her as well. We started off with a glass of prosecco and an oyster with a potato-leek puree and caviar. I always say I’m not an oyster fan and I eat a great one and love it. I should just admit I like oysters. This was pure decadence and it went well with the prosecco. Our next course was the ubiquitous beet, goat cheese and walnut salad. But you know there’s a reason why this is sweeping the nation, it’s DAMN tasty. The sweetness of the beets marries well with the earthiness of the walnuts and the freshness of the salad. After the salad course came the fish course which was a perfectly cooked piece of Alaska cod and beet ravioli that were tender and delicate. In between the fish course and the meat course came a palate cleanser of citron granite in champagne. The meat course was a completely decadent beef brisket in a red wine reduction and roasted potatoes. The meal ended with a great Portuguese Madera wine and my fruit and cheese plate. The wonderful things about the meal was that it was really great in terms of the carb portions. Along with the wine that was part of the meal J, WCR, and I split a nice Italian white.
In between our dinner and second dinner, we saw Marga Gomez’ New Year’s Eve spectacular. She’s an awesome Cuban, lesbian comic and the highlight of her show was ripping apart Katy Perry’s I Kissed a Girl and saying that Jill Sobule’s version is the one and only. I totally heart Marga Gomez.
After the show, we went to Bar Bambino where we ordered the salumi and cheese platter, a LARGE one. We love Bar Bambino, even if we didn’t know the wine manager. I always forget their portions are spectacular (their crostini should be named GIANT crostini). We had five kinds of meats, three prosciutto and two salumis and five cheese with persimmons, and toasted hazelnuts. J and WCR had some Italian sparkling wine while I stuck to sparkling water (running the next day). For those of you coming to SF, PLEASE go to Bar Bambino. They cure their meats themselves and their cheese procurer gets cheese made from his family’s farm. We had a great time ringing in the New Year with the staff (and Jason, the chef is totally up your alley).
The next morning, I got up early to eat breakfast and prepare for the race. I tasked J with putting together a killer running mix for me as J is awesome at such things. It was a cold but sunny morning and the race was right on the Berkeley marina, which meant we were running right along the water with e view of Alcatraz, Sausilito, and the city. While I was running at a nine and a half minute mile pace on the treadmill, my goal was to run a ten minute mile pace since running outdoors involved hard asphalt, inclines and uneven ground. In the end, I ran 5 miles in 46 minutes and 24 seconds for a 9 minute 28 second pace! Woo hoo! The great thing was that I paced myself well. I gained speed as the race went on and ended up passing five people and not getting passed myself. It was a good gauge of how far I’ve come fitness-wise. Having a long run of 6.5 miles in training meant that I had a lot of energy and after the race felt like I could have run another few miles. This looks good for what I can do in May for the Bay to Breakers.
Here’s one thing I like about exercise – it’s a tangible outcome and process that is completely in your control. If you run regularly, you will run faster and farther. If you lift regularly, you can life more. If you practice a sport more, you will get better. In a world of chaos, this is a great source of control.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
But the article has some great advice, which reminds of the old saying that "the definition of crazy is repeating the same thing over and over again expecting a different result." What works if people want to make a change? Stop trying to do it the same old way, stop using the habits that didn't work for you before.
I like the sound of that, cuz that fits well with the philosophy we're trying to promote on this blog -- that it's not about short-term tricks but rather about making manageable but real changes in order to improve our health.
So, along those lines, I'm NOT going to do what I do every year at this time -- I'm NOT going to make any specific resolutions which will hang over my head. I'm NOT going to post any short-term goals that will just be too easy to cast aside. (Don't get me wrong, I've got them in my head of course, but I'm trying to break that annual cycle o' mine.) Instead, I'm turning the page in the calendar and rededicating myself to the cause of this here blog.
Happy New Year!
One more for good measure: Here's another NYT article about how more people are cooking than dining out these days, as a response to the economy. Cooking class registrantions are on the rise nationwide -- soon a DC school will have one more registrant: Me!