Sunday, March 29, 2009

Crock Pot Cooking

I love my crock pot. I often say it was the best $12.99 I ever spent - I bought it maybe 10 years ago and have used it often to make my own soups and stews. I highly recommend anyone who's new to cooking start with a crock pot, it makes life easy and will help give you lots of options.

Anyway - tonight I tried a new recipe from a great web site I've found, Low Sodium Cooking. It's a crockpot chicken curry. I mostly stuck to the recipe - although I don't have cloves so I doubled up on the cinnamon. I have been realizing lately that I over-rely on pasta (and to a lesser degree rice) to fill out a dish, so since this curry had so much potato in it I decided to skip the added starch and didn't make rice. I just served this like a curry stew instead. And, this was my first time using a cornstarch slurry to thicken a sauce - I didn't do it very well, mixing the water and cornstarch poorly so it got really thick. In the end, I think the juices of this dish would've been just fine without it - I could taste the starchiness of the slurry. I'd skip that next time.

I took pictures, but they really don't do the dish justice... just trust me when I say smell-o-vision would be the best way to share with you how great this was. The smell of all those spices!!! I cooked the dish for about 6 hours on high, and took a nap during part of that time. Waking up to the smell of my own homemade curry was really delightful. :-)


This morning I ran the Presidio 10K - 6.4 miles. This was like the BEST. RACE. EVER. You are running right along the water until you run up a hill and then run across the Golden Gate Bridge. The start and finish line were right on the Presidio with a full view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausilito. It was beautiful and almost relaxing to run with a view of the ocean and the rocky Northern CA coastline.

My goal was to run under a 10 minute mile pace which meant finishing in 64 minutes. This would be easier said than done because the first two and a half miles were pure uphill running. You start right along the ocean and then have to climb a huge hill. Once on the Golden Gate Bridge you still have a slight incline until you reach the middle of the bridge. With almost three miles of continuous uphill running, I was really tempted to start walking. speed increase myEven with all the uphill running, I was running at exactly a ten minute mile pace. Luckily, what comes up does come down and once I hit the middle of the bridge, I got to go downhill. And that's when I picked up the pace. Almost the entire last two miles were downhill and I was really running at a fast clip.

My finish time was 58:27, well under my goal time (close to a 9 1/2 minute mile pace). What amazed me about the race was how similar it felt to my regular running on a treadmill. I really try and run the first mile at a ten minute mile pace and also put in an incline in the first half. In my train runs on the treadmill, I definitely pick up the speed in the second half. I am really proud of is that my speed kept picking up the longer I ran. Not only that, I had a wicked kick at the end and passed four people who were running ahead of me for the entire race.

I am looking forward to running this again. I was pushed for sure but ran well within myself. The added plus is that they had a ton of food for racers and post race massages. SCORE!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Family Recipe

I really appreciate that so many people are cheering me on in my cooking adventures and sharing their recipes. Tonight I tried a brand new-to-me recipe that my Dad - who's the big cook of the family - sent me. It's so cute, Dad almost never emails, so it means a lot that he sat down to type this all out!

Here's his recipe with the final results to follow:

for 4----3 pounds of chicken thighs, 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper, 2-3 tablespoons of flour, 2 bell peppers cut into strips(red or yellow have more flavor than green), 1 onion diced, 3 cloves of garlic minced, 1 can of crushed tomatoes, 1 quarter teaspoon of dried oregano, 1 half teaspoon of dried basil, 8 ounces of sliced portobello or button mushrooms(optional), 1 cup of red wine or chicken stock.(if making your own sauce)

Directions: preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet add 2 -3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper the chicken and then dredge in the flour, cook the chicken on all sides to golden brown, remove chicken to a roasting pan in a single layer that has a lid. Now saute the onion in skillet till translucent( about 5 minutes) , add garlic, cook 30 seconds, add 1 tablespoon of flour,cook 1 minute, add chicken stock, crushed tomatoes. basil and oregano, bring mixture to a boil--it will thicken some-add mushrooms and peppers-mix it and then pour over the chicken. Place in oven at 350 covered for 30 minutes-check if sauce too thin leave lid off till desired thickness-serve over rice or pasta--

If you don't want to make your own sauce could use classico"s tomato and basil instead--the procedure would be-brown chicken-add classico tomato and basil, mushrooms, and peppers-cook in oven 45-60 minutes and serve-but that wouldn't be any fun at all! Love Dad

I went all in and made the full version of the recipe, just skipping the added salt. Note, this is a big undertaking -- with prep time and cooking, this took me almost 2 hours tonight. It's definitely not a weeknight meal.

This was the first time I've used chicken thighs. I know chicken cacciatore tends to be made with dark meat for better flavor. I've learned my lesson, though, to not just buy a pre-wrapped package of thighs. They were VERY fatty, and I probably spent 20 minutes trimming and still didn't do a great job. If I buy thighs again, I will ask a butcher to trim them. (The point of all this lifestyle stuff is to avoid fatty thighs, right?!? ;-)

I did get the chance to use one of my cooking class skills again, dredging the chicken in flour before putting it in the skillet to cook. That's another first for me cooking at home.

Here's the dish after 30 minutes at 350. I don't have lids for my roasting pans, so used foil. I did stick it back in to thicken up for about another 8 minutes while I was cooking the pasta.

The finished product, over whole grain rotini.

This made a HUGE amount overall, and I have 3 big containers of it stowed in the fridge for lunches this week. It was tasty, and it made me VERY full and satisfied. I'm still learning to like green peppers, and this has a very peppery taste. In the future, I may add more of the spices in the beginning and/or a cup of marsala wine instead of the chicken broth to enhance the flavor. But, this recipe can definitely be called a success - and I'll be eating it all week!

Checking In

It's day 5 now of life post-nutritionist, and things are going pretty well. I've been following her advice and making all my meals, changing my kinds of snacks, and writing everything down. Today is the last day that I have to fax to her (though I don't know if my building has a fax in our business center so I may not do that until Monday), and then she's going to call to give me her feedback on how I'm doing so far.

I have quickly realized that, with all this cooking and bringing leftovers for lunch, I'm going to get sick of my usual meals VERY soon. So I've been trolling for new healthy recipes and asking friends for their (easy to make) faves. I've gotten a lot of great new ideas, and I think my new plan will be to try to do major cooking of at least 2 big dishes every weekend that can serve as my lunches during the week. That way, I can make new dinners on weeknights and not worry about having to eat the same thing for lunch every day that I'd just had for dinner the night before. I like leftovers, but it can't always be an exact repeat of the previous meal.

A few other updates:

  • On my nutritionist's advice, I tried that super-healthy plain Greek yogurt. FAIL. That stuff is disgusting!
  • I did go out and buy a whole bunch of new pans, more cutting boards and some utensils (including a better garlic press with the little nubbins like Scotte recommended). So between the nutritionist's fee itself and the new kitchen stuff, I'm making quite a financial investment here.
  • I did sneak a peek at the scale this morning. It appears this low-sodium, less-refined-sugar plan may be having a very positive effect...
  • I've had no caffeine since Monday! None! (She didn't rule out sodas, but I didn't make any Coke Zero runs during the day this week anyway. That'll probably change next week.)
  • I've really cut down on refined sugar, with the exception of a birthday cupcake on Thursday afternoon. I can feel a difference - my afternoon hunger is still there, but the lightheadedness and crash feeling have been noticeably absent.
  • While I have been making big changes to what I'm eating, and cutting down on portion sizes especially at dinner, I don't feel like I'm depriving myself like on a usual "diet." Yes, I'm feeling hungry at times but that feels normal and natural, not like the insane starving feelings of being on a 1200 or 1500-calorie-a-day WW plan. So, after years of not really using it anyway, I actually just cancelled my online WW account. I can still access the recipes and exercise info on the site, and I'll save myself the $17 bucks a month since I haven't been using the online journal anyone. My trusty little spiral notebook seems to be doing just fine as a replacement.
  • The acidophilus continues to do its trick!
That's all for now - stay tuned for cooking adventures!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Wish me Luck!

This Sunday at 8:00 am, I will be running the Presidio 10K. My goal is to run under a 10 minute mile pace which would mean I would finish in 74 minutes. Full report to come Sunday night after a long hot bath.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A little housekeeping

I'm just doing some tidying up on the blog layout, and I've added links to the 2 lifestyle blogs of 2 friends who are really helping me along this journey. I'll hope you'll check out their blogs and support their efforts, too. And I hope my co-blogger will feel free to add any other good blogs about people facing the same challenges and enjoying the same successes as we are!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pantry Cooking II - Electric Boogaloo

Whew Stef, it's been a pretty intense month for you health wise. One of the healthiest (both for your body and your wallet) changes you can make I to do home cooked meals. You get to control the fat, salt and carb content. You get to portion things out. It’s great. Like Stef said, the hard part is making sure your pantry has the staples to make healthy food.

Here’s what’s in my pantry:

Starches (bread like starch is made with whole wheat flour):
Almond flour
Brown Rice
Hamburger Buns
Hot Dog Buns

Proteins (fast):
Egg beaters
Egg whites
Trader Joe’s Salmon Patties
Turkey Burgers (pre made and frozen)
Chicken sausages (defrosts great)

Proteins (remember to defrost in the fridge that morning):
Salmon fillets
Pork chops
Chicken breasts (even better if you have a chance to pound them flatter with a rolling pin)


Green onions
Collard greens
Salad greens
Red bell peppers
Cherry tomatoes

Low fat feta
Balsamic vinegar
Lowfat coconut milk
Say sauce
Fish sauce
Sambal chili sauce
Uncle Brutha’s
Thai curry paste
Dijon Mustard
Chili powder
White wine

Here are some sample menus

Turkey Burger night
Turkey burger with bun, caramelized onions and mustard
Feta and tomato salad

Breakfast for dinner
Almond meal pancakes with sugar free syrup (or even baked apples with cinnamon)
Chicken sausage
Plain lowfat yogurt (sweetened with Splenda) with berries

Comfort Food
Egg white frittata with sautéed greens, red peppers and cheddar cheese
Cauliflower mash

Tofu Curry with carrots and red peppers
Brown rice

Elegant dinner
Pan seared pork chops with a dijon/white wine pan sauce
Salad with a balsamic vinaigrette
Roasted carrots

Monday, March 23, 2009

Assignments & Accountability

I had my appointment with the nutritionist tonight... wow. This is a much bigger deal than I thought going in, but it's all good. I had really just planned to ask her how to get past my IBS problems to be able to eat more fruits and veggies as part of my overall approach... turns out she really takes a holistic view and instead is advising me on improving my entire diet and nutrition. It makes sense, and I need it, but this is going to be a much bigger effort and investment than I first intended.

We went over my usual daily routine combined with my own medical issues, and then she talked me through all the changes she'd like me to make. This is the first step, which we both hope will work - she said she waits to see how clients do on his before moving to a more structured approach (which would be similar to the old, old, old WW approach of different carb, protein, grain, etc. exchanges at each meal).

Some of her recommendations? NO STARBUCKS. At least nothing other than herbal teas. And I pretty much need to cut out all the processed, packaged food I have remaining - and I'd already cut out a lot. I need to start bringing my lunch, cuz that's really my downfall. Even when I think I'm buying a healthier lunch, it's still loaded with sodium. I need better snacks (fruit, raisins, unsalted nuts, yogurt, lowfat cheese sticks) and I need a bigger breakfast so I can keep up a better energy/blood sugar level in the morning and not be starving by lunchtime. I've already cut out table salt, but I need to go a step further and stop getting salty snacks and salty restaurant or deli meals.

All of this is very common sense stuff, which I'd done some of during the WW days, but the switch to really trying to cook almost everything is going to be a major change. She reminded me that this is all about planning - which makes me think of Scotte and his AWESOME spreadsheet - and buying and cooking for several meals at a time.

After our appointment, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a whole lot of produce, some of those healthy snacks, and an imitation spray butter for my toast in the morning. She also recommended I get an air popper, cuz air-popped popcorn is a great snack. Thank you,

My assignment? Start making these changes and keep a daily food journal. For the next 5 days, I have to keep the journal on specific sheets and fax them to her, then she'll call to go over it all. Since I mentioned visiting my parents in a few weeks will be full of all kinds of food pitfalls, I'm faxing her those days, too. Then I go back again in a month to see how I did. And she says I should definitely stick with the acidophilus to help me with my IBS.

Here's the thing that I'm hoping makes this work: for once, I am now accountable to someone other than myself. I'm accountable to someone I'm paying a large amount of money to (!!!!) and who can pretty easily see through my crap rationalizations. I usually have no problem justifying things to myself, but now I have a very friendly and supportive drill sergeant watching over me and evaluating what I do. Ouch. This is a totally different approach than anything I've tried before, but I hope that's the trick right there.

Tomorrow morning I start those journals and fax them in to her in 5 days, then I see her again in 3 weeks. I'll need support and encouragement to get over my own tummy and verbal grumblings over these changes. For all of her talk, as well, about how this is a lifestyle and not a diet, it's sure gonna feel like a diet. Wish me luck!!!


It took FOUR WEEKS for the stupid radiology office to send my results back to my doctor, and I kept calling and calling... but good news! My thyroid sonogram was NORMAL.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pantry Cooking

One of the things I have long admired about my co-blogger and his hubby, and Scotte and so many others of my cooking friends, is their ability to whip together good meals from just a few random ingredients they happen to have on hand. On a night when you don't have something specific planned, you could choose my former route and go for takeout, or you can think creatively about the different staples you have and what you can put together that would work well. Guess which way is healthier? :-)

Of course, to get to that point, you need to have a well-stocked pantry with healthy ingredients. With my great new kitchen and a good grocery store 2 blocks away, I think I'm finally at that point! For example, the other night I made a very tasty and very economical Mexican-style chicken dish just from stuff I had in the kitchen.

Here I took a package of chicken tenders (organic / free range / whatever the good label said), cut them into cubes, seasoned them with black pepper and cumin, and sauteed them with a whole bunch of my chopped frozen onions in some olive oil. Then I added a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles, about 1/3 bag of frozen corn, some chopped fresh cilantro, more black pepper, and some dried parsley. After cooking it down, I served it with some shredded fat-free Mexican cheese blend. It was delicious!

And this was all stuff I just had in the fridge, freezer, or cupboard. I like that I'm learning more about what things work together and can just buy them whenever they're on sale or when I've got room in my shopping basket, to keep around for nights just like this. Good stuff!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

DC's Newest Local Food Source

More good news from Michelle Obama!

Dining & Wine
Obamas Prepare to Plant White House Vegetable Garden
Published: March 19, 2009
On Friday, Michelle Obama will begin digging up a patch of White House lawn to plant a vegetable garden, the first since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden in World War II.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


So I just checked my BMI and it's 26.3. Which means it's smack dab in the middle of overweight (between 25 and 29). I've never given BMI a second thought and never calculated that in my life. And I find that to be complete and utter horseshit. Admittedly, if my BMI was saying I was average than I'd probably be singing a different song but seriously the whole BMI thing is ridiculous. For one thing the terminology is completely whack. Overweight? Over WHOSE weight? And obese? Supposedly that means you are in serious risk of health problems. But none of those numbers take into account the host of over numbers that make up health and truly reflect how healthy you are. Stef, has some damn great cholesterol numbers. Mine are squarely in the "normal" range of things. Looking at my heart rate, I'm amazingly healthy. Where both of us a challenged is the blood pressure. But does a BMI look at that mosaic of health indicators to assess health? Nope.

Health is such a weird term to begin with. It's so weird how we as a society associate health with how you look. On top of that, we associate both looks and health with virtue. If you look good you obviously must be doing something right. You must be HEALTHY. I got diagnosed with diabetes around the same time I found that Christina Applegate had breast cancer. I remember thinking, "Christina Applegate? Why her? She looks so healthy!" I had to deconstruct that to realize I was really thinking, "she looks so thin and pretty." As much as there are contributing factors to health, we aren't better people because we are healthier.
Healthy doesn't mean we treat our co-workers with respect and stay in touch with out of town friends.

Healthy means that your body works. Unhealthy means something in your body broke down. BMI says very little about how well you body is working. Only what it looks like.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Not Counting My Chickens...Yet

So, blog friends, there's one major factor affecting my lifestyle that I haven't really written about much yet, cuz it ain't pretty. But something may - may -be happening that makes me think it may be about time to talk about it. (Long post below- be forewarned!)

After years of trying to diagnose it, I finally figured out a while back that I have IBS. It's that elusive syndrome that is pretty much the "well, you don't have anything else serious, but you've got all kinds of problems so it must be this..." diagnosis. I have a history of GI problems, starting with an early appearance of Dad's hereditary diverticulosis that mostly I've learned how to curb. (Fiber, fiber, and more fiber, mostly in pill form every single day.) But after the worry of that little tic went away, and after the full battery of embarrassing, painful, and uncomfortable medical tests, I still have had chronic "tummy problems" - that's as descriptive as I'll get, but I'm sure you get the idea - for years. Sometimes my tummy probs are strong enough that I've had to miss work, cancel plans with friends, and pretty much wallow in self-pity while being stuck housebound for a day or so.

Don't get me wrong, I've never had the kind of IBS that I read about on message boards where people have lost days, weeks, months of their lives to severe attacks... I feel for them, but thankfully haven't known that kind of suffering from it.

For me, I've just known for years that there are certain trigger scenarios - stress, of course - and trigger foods that set off my pain and probs. Unfortunately, the trigger foods include almost all good, healthy, fiber-rific fruits and veggies. So the more that I try to eat healthy meals and snacks, the more my tummy rebels.

This is the main motivation behind my upcoming appointment with a nutritionist - I want to ask her advice on how to combine a healthy, produce-rich diet with ongoing management of IBS.

BUT.... here's the "not counting chickens yet" part... I may have stumbled upon something. And, of course, it all starts with some offhand advice from my Mom. Cuz Mothers Always Know Best. (It's true!)

I was complaining to her last week during this 3-week cold of mine (that finally seems to be mostly gone) that I couldn't take some of the good cold medicine, especially Mucinex, for more than a day or so in a row cuz it has really bad side effects with my tummy. So she recommended I pick up a supplement at CVS that helps promote intestinal health... something I'd never heard of before... acidophilus. Since Mom always knows, I followed her advice.

Here's the thing. I started taking this supplement as directed about 5 days ago, and it did instantly counteract the bad side effects of the cold medicine. But here's what is surprising me. Ever since I started taking it, I haven't had ANY of my usual tummy problems. This has become really apparent to me this weekend, as I've been eating lots and lots of veggies, beans - the kind of stuff I usually save for weekends just in case I have bad reactions to it. Instead of my usual bad reactions -- I feel fine. Like, normal. Things have been very, very normal -- which started to stick out to me cuz my normal is usually so abnormal. Holy cow! What does this mean?

So I've been doing lots of reading on the Interwebs. And it turns out acidophilus is a very common natural treatment for people with IBS! Acidophilus is a probiotic, the kind of "good bacteria" that helps balance out the flora/fauna in your intestinal tract (I know, it's always so gross to think of it that way!). And IBS symptoms are often a result of an imbalance of the bacteria, for whatever reason. So the bad bacteria react to things to make you sick. But these little supplement pills (which are filled with live cultures just like yogurt) help balance things out and may indeed prevent some of those bad reactions.

Huh.... I'm gonna keep taking this supplement, and I'm gonna talk to my nutritionist about it next week. I don't want to get TOO excited yet, thinking that this might actually be an honest-to-God magic pill that solves my tummy problems. But for the first time in a long time, I actually have some hope that I might be able to have better control over my GI system and actually be able to eat the healthy foods that are good for me and that I actually like! Stay tuned...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Reducing and dealing with injuries

This past week I hurt my knee. I didn't hurt it working out. I banged it against a table and it swelled up and got red. After a day of that nonsense, I called the advice nurse who kind of freaked out on me and was worried about having cellulitis. No, cellulitis isn't cellulite, it's actually an infection of your connective tissue. It's a particular concern to use diabetics since infections and raise your blood sugar. Like computer and car problems, when I finally went to see the professional about it, the problem was fixing itself. This injury sidelined me this week. Which meant no working out. That's kind of scary considering I have to run 6.2 miles in two weeks. The plus side is that I am looking forward to running this afternoon and will take it easy (just a 3 mile run and 2 miles on the bike).

Aside from a bout of tedonitis in my foot, I've been remarkably injury free considering I run 17 miles a week. Here's some tips I have for staying injury free:

1. Do no do high impact aerobic activity two days in a row. Seriously that's the most important. In the past when I've gotten into working out, I work out too much, get injured and then stop working out for a month.

2. Make sure to stretch after exercising. Hold the stretches at least 20 seconds.

3. Youtube is your friend. You will have parts of your body that get sore and stiff. Mine is my lower back. I've found some great stretches on youtube and address my lower back. Do a youtube search on (body part) and stretch will yield a lot.

4. Hot baths are an even better friend.

5. When you a starting out, start slowly. Don't push yourself too hard. If you can't sing while you are working out, you're working out too hard.

The Obamas Lead the Way?

Great article here about how Michelle Obama is providing a great example for healthy lifestyle choices, especially looking for locally grown, fresh produce:

Dining & Wine
Michelle Obama’s Agenda Includes Healthful Eating
Published: March 11, 2009
In her first weeks in the White House, Michelle Obama has emerged as a champion of healthful food and living.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Souper Sunday

So many weekends, so many recipes to try... today I decided to give an actual Weight Watchers recipe a try. Here's my version of their Spicy Black Bean Soup.

The only real variations I did to the original recipe was that I used frozen corn kernels instead of canned, and frozen chopped onion instead of a whole. I eyeballed the amounts of both of those, and it seemed to work just fine. Here are all the fixin's, minus the onion that I forgot to get out of the freezer at first:

I did use my handy new SlapChop to mince those cloves of garlic. :-)

Per the recipe, I did a lot of transferring from the pot to my little mini-chop and back. Just a word of warning: This recipe is messy. And black bean mess is not pretty - that weird purple-brown color gets everywhere.

Anyway here are all the ingredients mixed into the pot. That purple color gets deeper and darker as it cooks. Note: there was a LOT of liquid here, and I had to spoon some out in order to cook it in my big pot. Next time, I would drain out some of the liquid from the beans.

And here's my finished product. I added 2 things to the recipe: some reduced fat shredded "Mexican blend" cheese and a big spoonful of fat-free sour cream. Both worked really well, and upped the points value but also added some dairy. This was VERY tasty, definitely a keeper. I ended up with 2 big plastic containers of it that are now chillin' in the freezer. Next time, I think I'll add even more cumin and red pepper flakes just to add more zippy, smoky flavor.

Side note: I was asked once why I take pictures of what I'm cooking. I got the idea from Scotte, of course, but I've found it's really helpful for me to read posts like his... I'm such a visual learner, and just reading a recipe alone often doesn't give me enough info to be able to confidently plunge ahead and start cooking. Seeing pictures of a recipe in its various stages REALLY helps me know that I'm doing the right thing, so that's why I take the pictures and post them here myself in the hopes it will help someone else.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Making America Skinny

One slap at a time!

And now a brief commercial endorsement:

Look what I got! Yes, indeedy, Vince Offer has won my over and for the first time even I bought something off an infomercial. After starting my cooking adventures over the past year, I've learned that I'm just not a pro with my knife skills. And I need to eat more veggies and I want to cook with more herbs and fresh ingredients. That means lots of chopping. So, when I saw the SlapChop, I knew it would be a great shortcut for me.

And it really does work! It's much bigger than I expected (That's what she said). And it's not exactly like it is on the commercial you need to "slap" it more than just a few times to get a good chop. But still, it works and it does open up and clean very easily.

Here you can see about 6 cloves of garlic after roughly 15 "slaps" or pump of the SlapChop. It would've been a lot harder for me to use my knife and try to get this small a dice of my garlic. I can imagine myself using this A LOT.

So the SlapChop now has a home on my counter, and I'm going to experiment with Graty after I buy some cheese over the weekend. Fun gadget fun!

Body Image

Since being diagnosed and as a result I am watching what I am eating and exercising life a mofo, I've lost some weight. People notice and are quite complimentary of it. What's definitely different about it for me than for other people is that while I appreciate the compliments, I don't think I'm any more or less attractive than I started out in. There are things I like about my body that I didn't like before. I like the fact it runs better (literally!). I like the fact that it can get to a tennis ball easier. I like the fact, I am not getting the afternoon blahs. But the looks part don't particularly affect me one way or another.

I know piece of it is because I'm a man and carry a significant amount of privilege when it comes to what I do with my body. When Kiera Knightley and Scarlett Johansson pose naked for Vanity Fair, it's something every starlet needs to do. They get airbrushed and have to starve themselves to make sure they are presentable. When Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, and that guy from How I Met Your Mother pose for Vanity Fair, they get bodysuits, they don't have to go on a diet, and get to be in movies with women much thinner as their love interests. While people judge my body plenty because I'm fat, it's not commodified they way a woman's body is.

The other piece to my difference to weight as a measure of my attractiveness is connected to the fact that I'm an ASIAN man and lack a lot of privilege. Western perceptions of Asians being passive, delicate, and feminine make Asian women quite he commodity (as if being a commodity is ever good). But for us Asian men, we're rendered invisible. I would say before, Lost, when did we regularly see a buffed-out sexual Asian man on tv? The challenge with this invisibility has been to divorce ourselves from thinking we're attractive. We're not low on the totem pole, we're not on the totem pole. For me, attractive was never about weight. It was about race. I was either unattractive because I was an Asian guy or I was attractive because I was an Asian guy (and therefore a fetish).

Being gay has peversely helped when it comes to the whole body image thing. For us gays, there are scenes based on who you're attracted to. There's JRs for the guys whole are into the preppies. There's Windows for the guys into the Daddies. There's HRC's intern program for the guys into the twinks (Hee!). And of course there's the bear scene. There's bears and otters and wolves and muskrats and beavers, well not beavers. Anyway there's a furry animal for almost any body type. And where that has worked in my favor is that I've tended not to personalize rejection. Someone not being attracted to me has always meant, I'm not their type. I never had any hopes that if I did anything different I would land the perfect guy. (I landed the perfect guy by getting my shit together and being emotionally honest.) If someone wasn't attracted to me it was clearly because I wasn't their type.

And quite frankly, there isn't a scene in DC for men who are into fat Asians. In the Bay Area it's a different story. When J and I were having dim sum, we saw an interracial couple who looked and dressed exactly like us, right down to the glasses and cargo shorts. We were like matching salt and pepper shakers. But really, there wasn't a 150+ pound chapter for Asians and Friends.

That leads us to today where I am now getting complimented on my body. Compliments are nice but the only change is that I'm getting smaller. I'm just as bald as I've ever been. I still dress like a slob.

So I have to thank you oppressive society and looks obsessed gay men. I never knew how much of a gift being invisible can be. I've never beaten myself up for being fat. And now I'm not equating losing weight with being a HOTAY. I've lost weight, not my mind.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Eating Habits

When I first got diagnosed, I totally changed how I ate. Taking that crazy ass diabetes class, I took a hard line those first two months about eating. As I have taken control of my health, I've gained some mad skillz in the eating department, especially in restaurants. The obvious things like sugar, white flour, and things made with those two ingredients were off the table. Other things like Vietnamese food, Thai food and sushi were also off the table. The scary thing about that was seeing stuff as gateway drugs. If I had a taste of something I would want lots and lots of it. Somehow, my stomach adjusted to where I self regulate automatically. I make sure I order a large serving of vegetables and lean protein that I eat first. With my stomach sated, I can eat ONE piece of bread or a single serving of rice, or a few pieces of sushi.

Case in point, I've been traveling to Minnesota and ordered a nice piece of walleye fish with a corn and sweet potato hash. I had a huge salad with it and ate the whole salad and all of the fish. Stomach filled with protein and vegetables, I really couldn't eat more than a serving of the hash.

So Vietnamese, Thai, sushi, and even bread are back in the list. Desserts made with sugar are still of the list. It's great to know I've developed some diabetic friendly eating habits because it is as much about the inside as the outside.

And speaking of inside, Stef, you are totally kicking my ass when it comes to the cholesterol. My HDL is 40 and my total cholesterol is 199. I am totally jealous of your numbers.

A Quick Inventory

Yes, finally today I decided to take stock of my "home gym," so to speak. No, I'm not talking about the actual gym in my basement - that has all the big cardio machines and weight conditioning stuff. I mean what I actually have -in my house and could/SHOULD make use of on a regular basis rather than spending endless hours on the couch.

So, here's what I have:

- a set of 10 lb hand weights - keeping a corner of the carpet down in the living room. I need to pick these up again.
a set of 3 lb hand weights - stored right next to the television, and I do sometimes pick those up and play around with bicep/tricep stuff just while watching tv
- an old cheap "ab roller" kind of wheel thing that doesn't seem to work well
- a jump rope - fun! but not really safe for indoors, and I'm never outdoors, so it sits in a cabinet
- a yoga mat - I think it's in my basement storage unit, though, I couldn't find it in my closets after the move
- a yoga strap - which I made use of today! see below
- an exercise band - which seems goofy and though my brother swears by them I never really use mine

I also have 4 DVDs, which I just dug out of the back of the cabinet and have now put out on the other side of the tv, taunting me at all times with their easy access to remind me to use them.

Gaiam's Yoga Conditioning for Weight Loss - This features about a 45-minute workout, with warm-up, standing poses, and cool down. I just did this one again this morning! It's not my favorite yoga workout, and it's totally in the "cheesy poses out on a desert plateau with tinkly flute music" camp, but it did have me sweating and in fact, it's been so long since I've done any yoga that I had to take a break during the standing poses because of foot cramps! This is setup for people at all levels, and in fact has 4 people on the screen each doing a different level of intensity of poses. They give you options throughout about which poses you should be doing based on your own fitness level, so you have a consistent person to follow all along. Overall, I'll do this again and hopefully fairly often - though it will take a while for me to get the routine down so I don't have to stop in the middle of poses to look at the screen and see what they're doing. Way to break a pose! But even in just doing the basics today I could really feel my right shoulder stretching, so I hope it helps that pain in my neck.

Belly Dance for Beginners - Basic Moves & Fat Burning - Featuring the bellydancing identical twins, Neena and Veena! I really like this DVD, cuz it's a lot of fun, and Neena and Veena are good at explaining the moves. They break down a pretty simple dance routine into teaching it as a series of moves that really do provide good arm, shoulder, and mid-section workouts, then at the end they put it all together and - lo and behold! - you've learned a little big of actual belly dance. This one always *feels good* while I'm doing it, which is important, and I can usually feel it in my abs the next day, as well. This one's a keeper, and I'm looking forward to working it back into my usual routine. This one is worth getting up off the couch, just cuz it feels so satisfying and doing the moves usually makes me laugh. :-)

I Want That Body! with Tamilee - This touts "The Science of Fitness" as Tamilee Webb does indeed spend a part of the DVD talking about how she went to a lab and worked with doctors to determine which moves really do burn the most energy and build muscle. I believe her! The DVD includes 3 different workouts: I Want Those Abs!, Arms!, and Buns! I've mostly done the arms workout, and it's a good one. Tamilee is the "Buns of Steel" queen, and this newer round of workouts keeps up her intense but perky tone. I need to do more of the other 2 workouts, and I can see this DVD still being good for me cuz I like Tamilee's dorky cheerful style and it's very easily explained and easy to follow. And I really can feel that burn! Plus, with arm workouts, the benefit is so easily seen - it doesn't take very long to actually start seeing a difference in your muscle tone, and that's positive motivation right there.

Discover Tai Chi for Beginners - This is a DVD with Scott Cole, who's pretty cheesy. I got this cuz I wanted to learn some tai chi poses and thought this could help with overall stress relief. The few times I did it, I did enjoy the poses and learning what they were based on, even while watching Scott posing on a mountaintop shirtless in his puffy pants (teehee!). I should pick this one up again just to relearn those poses that I did enjoy, and since so many of them are about relaxing and moving the upper body it might help more with my neck.

I also used to have a Denise Austin yoga tape and Leslie Sansone's Walking Off the Pounds, but those were all on VHS and I no longer have a VCR. I liked them both enough but so far haven't replaced them.

I do like having DVDs at home so I can workout without any of the stress of being in front of other people at a gym. Does anyone have any suggestions for other good, easy to follow, less than painfully annoying DVD workouts? I still need to find things that work well in a narrow apartment - not a lot of jumping or space required. Hopefully I can start doing these more regularly and starting to see their benefits soon!