Monday, September 16, 2013

Groupon Salvation?

I woke up yesterday to the ping of my phone as another e-mail hit my inbox. I decided that this happens a bit too frequently and perhaps the fifteen or so e-mails I get every morning are perhaps less than helpful when I'm trying to sleep. Being as distractible as I am, I ended up poring through the endless list of groupons and living social deals available. And then I stumbled across one of those micro-gyms that does cross fit and boot camps. 

I don't know about you but I think of these gyms as torture chambers for already skinny people who want to up their already rigorous exercise regimen. But something clicked in my head when I was reading over one of them. I could do this. I could be one of those people. 

I think I'm willing to accept that I like food. I am also willing to accept that I don't want to keep records of what's in my food. So if I am going to remain unsatisfied with how my body looks and feels, I'm going to have to make up for my eating somehow. And I'm going to have to do it with exercise. Considering what I like to eat, I'm going to have to do a lot of exercise. 

The particular groupon costs $29 for 16 days of classes that are geared for weight loss. I'm picturing the biggest loser. Crying, vomiting, whining and protesting. But I am also picturing later on when the soreness starts to feel good, my body starts to look like I'm doing something with it, and I have the energy I had when I was a teenager. I could do this. 

Anyone else in?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Medical Grade Dieting

I've been kind of up and down lately with the dieting thing. I've been thinking about how long I've been at this whole trek to reach a goal weight and how I'm still in the same place I've been for years and years. So the time has come where I need to either accept that this is how much I'm going to weight and this is how I'm going to feel both in my body and about my body, or I'm going to fix it. 

One of my neighbors lost 80 pounds on medifast. She's a really cool lady, very inspirational. And her story really inspires. She was around 200 pounds - like me - and had pretty much given up on herself. She agreed to follow the plan for one month and 7 months later she'd reached her goal weight and hasn't looked back. 

This sounded so familiar and awfully appealing so I decided to do some research. I so badly want to find the easy and real solution to my weight problem and I was so hoping that perhaps all the apprehension I"d felt about the whole medifast diet wasn't founded in anything.

What I found was not so good. Once I started steering away from the official site and even a newsweek article it started to look grim. Particularly the consumer reports having dealt with everything from horrible customer service on returns and exchanges to gallbladder and liver failure. 

Then I stumbled across this blog:
http://goodbyefungus.blogspot.com/2011/12/medifast-diet-planis-quick-weight-loss.html


It's an excellent and very thorough account of what's in the foods you eat on medifast. (It's kind of a bad-ass blog in general! I read a bunch of different great and well-researched stuff.) Reading this was a deal-breaker. Everything in the medifast foods is counter to everything I have learned about good nutrition.

This diet is doctor recommended?! This further diminishes my views on the quality of westernized medicine. *sigh*

Feeling a bit deflated from such a let-down I ended up feeling better after meeting my new doctor yesterday. I'm one of those weirdos that believes in preventative care. This doctor had a waiting list so I figured he must be good and if I got in to see him now it would be better than having to find someone  I didn't trust in an emergency situation.
Anyway, I told him I was tired of carrying the extra weight and I really needed to just break down and get it off. I knew I was going to like him as soon as he admitted he hadn't ever needed to lose a lot of weight (he's a twig) and that he's tried cutting sugar before and it's hard! I appreciated his honesty. It makes me mad when doctors assume they know what their patients go through when they've never dealt with an issue personally. He also validated several things that I have come to know to be true as I have attempted to lose this weight.

First he said that I'm not going to be successful unless I am in the mindset where I decide to be successful. (He actually said this. I wanted to show him my blog!) Once you start negotiating with your rules it's all downhill. So we agreed my rules are whole foods and no sugar. NO SUGAR!

Whole foods means things as close to their original state as possible. Instead of apple juice, an apple. Instead of wheat flour, whole wheat berries. This is pretty much how I was trying to eat after my juice cleanse anyway. 

Next he said I should eat pretty often, every couple of hours. This is another thing I've noticed. If I eat enough to be satisfied - not full and only eat when I feel hungry and water isn't cutting it, I end up eating every couple of hours naturally. (Another homage to my juice cleanse!)

Last he said I should have very very special occasions and allow myself to eat outside my limits. I know this isn't really conducive to the first thing, but I think that specifying what "special occasion" means will help. Going out to dinner = not a special occasion. Going out to dinner to celebrate something especially significant (birthday/anniversary/new job...) = okay have something special. 

So I'm set to task. I think that if I can force myself to get in the right mindset even though it doesn't feel "right" I can make the difference. This is really where I've continued to fail so many times before. I'm going to do this. This is going to be my life. No excuses.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Water Power

It's been three weeks since my juice cleanse and I'm still feeling successful. I'm down about 8 pounds. It's been going so well and I've been contemplating some of the things that are making the difference this time.

So far I've talked about being gluten free. I think that cutting out gluten has been a good move for me. I keep flubbing and having it accidentally (apparently rice crackers still have wheat in them sometimes and french fries come battered) so I'm not really sure if I've abstained enough to notice a difference. What has been good is all of the foods I avoid because they have gluten. Yesterday we ended our camping trip at Mo's in Lincoln City. There were maybe three things on the menu that weren't battered and fried. I had hoped to have a cup of clam chowder and even that had flour in it. All that was left was salads or fish tacos. These also happened to be the healthiest things on the menu. But enough about the gluten free stuff!

The other significant change I've made is drinking lots of water. I have at least four 16 ounce bottles of water a day, but most days I have more than that. I usually start my day by filling my empty juice bottles and taking them with me everywhere I go. Sometimes I also fill up my camelbak water bottle or my starbucks cold cup (these actually hold more water). Having it available is the first step to making sure I have enough.

The next step is knowing when to drink it. The juice cleanse was good training for this. They had me drink a bottle of water between every juice. I got used to alternating water with "meals" and have been doing the same thing since I finished my cleanse. I think this initial conditioning to drink lots of water is the hard part. It's got to turn into a habit.

One of the biggest changes I've noticed is my cravings and my satisfaction with what I've eaten. Typically in the evenings I will start wanting sweets. I've found that if I let myself have a bite or two of something sweet and then chug water I don't usually want to finish what I've started to eat. It's enough to have the flavor on my palate. I've also noticed that I naturally just drink more when we go out to eat and that I'm more mindful of the things that I eat and drink that are more dehydrating like alcohol and caffeine. 

I was curious about some of the research on drinking water and weight loss so I google searched and came up with some really great articles. 

Here's a cnn article about the subject. The study found that people who drank two 8 oz. servings of water before meals lost more weight on average than those eating the same diets without drinking water. The same study was also discussed in an article on webmd.

Go forth and drink water friends!




Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Gluten Free Day 12

First I want to say thank you to my readers who still follow this blog. I've been keeping it for a little over three years now, and while it does go neglected at times, I'm making an effort to be more diligent about posting again. 

Next I must reel from my previous post. After all of my whining I weighed myself this morning and found myself 6 pounds down from when I weighed myself Saturday morning. This is a different story than what I had been so frustrated about.

This does not let me off the hook however. Just because the scale is down doesn't mean my work is done. A contraire! Glancing through the onslaught of recent facebook pictures does me no favors. I want to look hot in a bathing suit before I die. I have many more pounds to go.  

Now onward!

I've been having some deep philosophical thoughts about this whole gluten free thing since I started. One of the things I've noticed is that I file away the things I will eat when I've decided not to stay gluten free. I realize this thinking is probably not setting me up for the most success. The point of going gluten free is to determine if it is best to STAY gluten free. Realizing this also has me contemplating life without so many foods. While food has come a long way in terms of being friendlier towards allergies and health needs, there is still no substitute for a fresh hot baguette or the wonderful chewiness of nicely cooked pasta. I feel like I need to hold a funeral for all of the foods I may not ever eat again. It's a serious loss!

Another thing I've noticed is the distinction between having an allergy and having an intolerance. If I mention I'm gluten free at a restaurant I end up with food that is extremely cautious (i.e. the instance at red robin that had me so frustrated). I decided to try a gluten free pizza from Godfathers (the price was enough to limit pizza to a very infrequent indulgence) and the delivery guy had it in it's own warming bag and the box was sealed with a sticker that warned about cross contamination. If I had celiacs I would greatly appreciate this. Since I don't I kind of feel like some of this is a bit overkill and perhaps it's not always necessary to mention that I'm trying to be gluten free. If spores of wheat grace whatever food I might be eating I think I'll be okay. 

The pros of maintaining the gluten free diet seem to be the numbers of calories I'm avoiding and that avoiding said calories has been very helpful in curbing my cravings for more carbs and sugar. Here's what I ate today:
Amaranth, berries, honey and butter
a lamb sausage, heirloom tomato salad with onions, fresh mozzarella and olive oil
peanuts in the shell, a piece of chocolate, a gf chocolate brownie bite, soy sauce rice crackers
gluten free pizza, salad, and watermelon

 While I'm not exactly staying within my 1200 calories as prescribe by my livestrong app, I'm definitely staying under 2000 a day, I'm eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and I'm in no way feeling deprived. Another part of my satisfaction, I'm sure, can be credited to the amount of water I'm managing to drink every day.   

I feel like I'm on the right track and that food is not so complicated as it sometimes can feel. If I can get my exercise to catch up to my eating habits by the end of the summer, I think I'll be in good shape to reach my goal weight as the school year starts and things get busy again.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Gluten Free Day 10

It's been 10 days since I started my juice cleanse and have been gluten free. Thursday I drove with Charlotte out to the beach for my delightful friend Bri's birthday beach weekend. I nearly cried for having to leave earlier than I wanted to for work. I managed to eat pretty healthy and I avoided gluten too until Friday morning. My friend Caitlin made the most amazing strata for breakfast. Faced with the choice between strata and.... well nothing, I chose to have a small piece. It was pretty worth it...until I saw pictures of my my wide butt running down the beach in stretch pants, rolls of my belly protruding under my tank top between the elastic bands of my belt and my sports bra. Images that had me nearly sick with disgust at my own appearance. I don't blame the strata. The strata was not the culprit. So what is?

When I got home and weighed myself I wasn't surprised to see that the scale was moving up instead of down. I figured I'd gain some back from what I lost on my cleanse, but I didn't expect to see it continue to move up. 

Tonight was frustrating. After the market I went to meet my family at Red Robin for dinner to celebrate my nephew's birthday (I had to miss his party because of the market). On the drive there I contemplated what I should eat and narrowed it down to two possible choices. I looked over their gluten free menu offerings when I got there and chose to get the bruschetta chicken sandwich just without the bun. 

While we were waiting for food I decided to download the livestrong app to see if I couldn't get a better idea of why I'm not losing any weight. I feel like I've really cut down on my portion sizes and considering the number of calories I've refused in avoiding wheat and gluten I thought there had to be something I'm missing. I put in my food for the day into the app and discovered that according to their calculations I've been eating far more calories than I should for weight loss. No wonder. Red robin fries and honey mustard dressing didn't help.

It was about then that my meal came: a sad greyish piece of chicken patty with fake grill marks covered in melted cheese next to a pile of wilting lettuce. In the middle of the plate was a heaping plastic cup of "garlic aoli" which is a fancy way of saying mayonnaise. I took one look at the plate and gave it back to the waiter saying I wasn't hungry anyway. This was the item suggested in their gluten free menu. I expected at least a tomato or something. So I sat guzzling water while everyone else enjoyed their meal. Even though I really wasn't hungry it was still frustrating to sit on the verge of tears not participating in the act of eating, and more frustrating that I felt like I had gotten a handle on my diet and wasn't even close.

I've hit my wall. I'm tired of being this size, I'm tired of being tired. If I have to eat nothing but carrot sticks and kale to get my fat ass to look good in a pair of jeans I will do it. I will run, I will sweat, I will not eat. End of story. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Post Cleanse Day 3

I made it through the weekend post juice cleanse and I think I've learned a few things. For the farmers markets I took a bunch of fresh cut veggies to snack on all day, some raw nuts, and a couple other snacks as well as several bottles of water. I also bought a few more juices to kind of help maintain some of the nutrition I was getting.

I'm finding that one of the biggest things after the cleanse is that meals are kind of obsolete. I don't really feel hungry and and I don't really feel full if I just eat good/fresh/raw food pretty much constantly and drink lots of water. This seems to be enough for most of the day.

Saturday I started the day with the hazelnut milk, date and cinnamon juice I had saved from the day before. I had some goat cheese with my cucumbers and it didn't seem to bother my stomach at all. So goat dairy is cleared for consumption! For dinner we went to Por Que No where I knew I'd be okay because you actually have to try to eat gluten there and all of their food is very fresh and good quality. I ended up feeling overly full from my three tacos - I should have stopped at two. I decided to have a margarita and was going to get a small one but Paul brought me back a pretty huge one. I was relieved to find that it didn't bother me either.

Sunday I packed the same food for the market. I drank a juice for breakfast and ate veggies and nuts all day. About halfway through the day I started to get pretty hungry. I probably should have drunk the last juice I had brought with me but I decided to try to eat a sausage. I had it on a bed of arugula with some different sauces from feastworks. It ended up being a mistake, my stomach was upset and I had a hard time digesting it the rest of the day. I don't know what was in the sausage, it's possible that it had gluten in it. For dinner we went to sushi and I was happy to find that I was far more interested in eating the sashimi and the edamame than in the rolls that typically have lots of mayo mixed in with crab substitute. I had an avocado roll, and salmon, red snapper, and ahi sashimi.

So far I think things have gone pretty well. I think the key to staying on the trajectory I've started is planning ahead. If I always have something healthy to snack on wherever I am I'm far less likely to end up eating something I wish I hadn't. I've managed to stay gluten free for five days so far and I think I'm going to do my best to keep it up. I have a feeling all the bread in the world isn't worth the upset stomach I get from eating it.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Juice Cleanse Day 3

Got up this morning and waited awhile to drink my first replacement juice. Switching was a good decision! Also, I wasn't hungry. Weighed myself. I'm down 5 lbs from the first day.

At my voice lesson I felt a sense of technical consistency and skill I haven't felt for a long time. I'm guessing its because I'm hydrated, but also because I started learning some basic French with duolingo. Even my voice teacher noticed the difference.

I felt pretty good through the afternoon. I knew I was going to be out and about so I packed a cooler with all but one of my juices for the day and a couple of bottles with water in case I couldn't refill them somewhere. 

After taking the cats to the vet I went to my parents to spend time with Charlotte. I ate a couple of strawberries. I feel like strawberries are always disappointing because I always think of the hoods I get at the farmers market or from u-pick places. Then we headed to five guys for dinner. I did pretty well. I ate probably about 10 peanuts (I felt guilty about how much salt I must have had) and maybe five french fries. I think considering the temptation I did pretty well. 

After dinner my sister-in-law, my mom, Charlotte and I went to Trader Joes. I stocked up on lots of fresh veggies and gluten free food alternatives. In the checkout line the checker told me she'd had a test done by her naturopath to check for food intolerances. She thought she might have a gluten intolerance but it turned out to be that she had an aversion to almonds of all things. I'm going to a new chiropractor on Monday and there is a naturopath that works in the same practice that also happens to be covered by my insurance (I think...insurance is complicated). I think I may look into this. 

Now that I've reached the end of my cleanse I feel really good. It wasn't even really hard today. Honestly, it's kind of easy to already know what you will eat all day and to not have to think about food. I will definitely do this cleanse again - probably after the holidays.

Portland Juice Press was extremely helpful in making it a positive experience for me and I highly recommend them if you're considering doing any kinds of cleanse or detox. It's not particularly cheap but you're buying a ton of fruits and vegetables in a three day cleanse and they use the kind of stuff you'd buy at a farmers market or new seasons. You're really getting top quality. There's a coupon in the Chinook Book. If you go buy a $20 Chinook Book just to use the coupon, you'll probably save a little more than what you spent on the book and you'll have other coupons. Just sayin'.

Here's my game plan now:

  1. Eat nothing but raw foods the next two days. This shouldn't be hard at the Farmers Market. 
  2. Use all my empty juice bottles to drink at least 5 bottles of water a day.
  3. Gradually introduce some whole grains and proteins back into my eating starting on Monday. 
  4. Go gluten free for at least 2 weeks, 4 if I can manage it. 

I'm seriously contemplating getting a weekly juice subscription so I can have one of the juices for breakfast every morning. There's a chinook book coupon for that too! 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Juice Cleanse Day 2 Part 2

I read on the website and confirmed with the ladies at the shop that it's okay to eat some raw foods during the cleanse. I've been popping raw almonds all day and had a couple slices of apple with Charlotte around lunch. So far I have yet to feel hungry. However I do keep feeling compulsions to eat. I got a container of pasta salad for Paul and Charlotte to eat while I'm doing my cleanse and I would be lying if I said I didn't have a couple bites. This does not bode well for my future plans to be gluten free...

Right now I'm working on my water after having finished my third juice of the day. I'm kind of impressed with how much water I drink without much problem. When I've done weight watchers before I found myself feeling sick at the thought of having to drink so much water every day. This seems to be okay though.

So far I'm learning some very key things about my eating habits.

First, McLoughlin Blvd. needs to be off limits unless there's someplace I'm going to specifically. There are so many fast food chains and restaurants between home and downtown that I'm practically drooling by the time I get where I'm headed. I think that by taking roads that don't go by so many eateries I'll be far less likely to stop and eat something awful. It's not that I eat a lot of fast food, I just really feel the temptation from it.

Second, I eat compulsively. A lot. I'm not hungry and I want to eat pasta salad and steak and anything else that pops in my head and sounds good. This tells me my sense of hunger and thirst are off. My habits want me to eat, not my hunger.

Third, I realized in my contemplating that this juice cleanse is completely vegan and I'm not hungry. The foods I can eat seem so much more accessible for some reason - fresh fruits and veggies. I'm realizing how much of the foods I like would be better for me to eat anyway - like the gazpacho I made recently or my mango salsa which are both all raw fresh foods accepting the salt.

Last, in feeding Charlotte separate from my juices I realize how much crap she eats. I got her a little thing of mac and cheese yesterday from the deli at zupans and it was completely gross. Her entire dinner last night was pasta salad and breakfast tends to be cereal. Right now she's feasting on fresh apple slices and fresh mango. I realize we need to do better at giving her more balanced nutrition.

This is the jump start I think I needed. I feel a whole lot better today than I felt yesterday, I think I'm starting to retrain my body to crave better foods and I'm down a couple pounds. Hopefully I'll still feel this way by the time I finish my cleanse tomorrow!


Juice Cleanse Day 2 Part 1

I called Portland juice press this morning after I attempted to choke down my bottle of cilantro juice. Actually It has several things in it but that's all I could taste. They were super nice and said I could trade it and a couple others for new juice. I tried to get juices that still had some good vegetables in them. I think this will make the next day and a half go much more smoothly. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Juice Cleanse Day 1 Part 2

2:20pm. Finished second juice and second water. Driving by a honey baked ham. Nothing sounds more amazing than ham.

3:00 caved and ate a white nectarine. I figure fresh fruit can't hurt too much

7:00 drink the second to last juice of the day. Think I'm going to vomit so I eat a bunch of raw almonds. It seems to work. Paul rubs my neck to help with the caffeine withdrawal headache.

9:20 Can tell the detox is starting to take effect. Have to pee as often as I did when I was pregnant! Going to bed.

Juice Cleanse Day 1 Part 1

A few weeks ago at the Nike campus market my booth happened to be next to the Portland Juice Press booth. They were super nice and let me take home some of their leftover juice. I also got to sample several flavors. Lemon ginger honey is my favorite.
Today I start my 3 day juice cleanse. They have a set of six juices that they suggest doing in a certain order. You drink six a day and a bottle of water between each one. Lemon ginger honey isn't part of the cleanse :(

Here are some reasons I decided to go for this:

  1. I watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead probably over a year ago and I've been intending to buy a juicer so I could do a juice cleanse at home. Since I fail at buying a juicer, this seemed easier. 
  2. Instead of getting closer to my pre-pregnancy weight I'm actually starting to gain weight. This should put a big giant halt to that!
  3. I had a chinook book coupon that got me 3 days for the price of 2. They also threw in an industry discount (I think..?) because it ended up being way cheaper than a juicer!
  4. I just want to feel better. 

I've decided this is a rare enough occurrence for me that it would be worth blogging about in more detail, so I shall likely write a couple posts a day. This is what the experience has been so far today:

I picked up my box this morning and headed over to the pool for Charlotte's swimming lesson. I drank the Romaine, Collard Green, Cilantro, Cucumber, Lemon, Ginger. I'm pretty good at convincing myself to like things when it comes to food. This took some extra mental conditioning. I chalk it up to the fact that I'm completely addicted to sugar and this has none. I drank half before the class and half after.
On my way home from class I kept thinking of all of the places I could stop to grab some food on my way home and found myself craving beans. My next juice is the Apple, Beet, Carrot. I put all of the bottles in order in my fridge so it would be easy to keep track. Now I have to go teach a voice lesson at the high school with Charlotte. It should be interesting to see how the rest of the day goes without any solid food. I'm not hungry but I feel compulsion to eat.

Drinking water between juices.

My box of juice

Stocked fridge. They gave Charlotte a lavender ginger lemon honey
one for free.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Farmer's Market Bounty


Last weekend I started a new job working for Briar Rose Creamery in their farmers market booth. I really enjoyed being outside, mingling with people and selling goat cheese!

One of the concerns many people had about chèvre was that it was high in fat and calories. I remembered when I did weight watchers I was able to eat goat cheese pretty often without much guilt. So I thought I'd look up the nutrition information. Goat Cheese Nutrition Information This link has nutrition information for 1oz. of fresh goat cheese. The containers we sell have 4 oz of cheese in them. So an entire container of cheese has roughly 400 calories and 24g of protein. I think that's pretty awesome!

After the weekend I went home with a bunch of fresh goat cheese and all sorts of green things. Markets offer lots of great veggies and artisan foods, but sometimes it can be daunting trying to figure out how to cook it in tastey ways. This being my first week with a fridge full of goat cheese I wanted to try cooking with the goat cheese as many ways as I could so I'd have lots of ideas for the market again.

So here are all the things I made.

Fresh beet salad - I julienned about 5 raw small beets and half a red onion with a mandolin slicer. I put a bit of annie's pomegranate dressing over this and then crumbled some plain goat cheese on top. So good!

Steak & Rosemary Peppercorn Chèvre - basically we just grilled some steaks from our New Seasons meat pack. The steaks were still frozen and we didn't season them first so they didn't turn out as well as they could have, but it was still pretty good.

Sautéed Greens - I sautéed some diced red onions and garlic in butter, added the beet greens, chopped up red and yellow swiss chard and threw it in the pan with some olive oil. The greens really took on the garlic flavor. It was quite good. I sprinkled some original chèvre over this too. I got lots of great ideas like this one from friends on Facebook. Thanks friends!



In my lunches I just threw in some lemon dill chèvre and ate it with whole wheat honey pretzel sticks from Trader Joe's one day and with some Delphina's baguette another day.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms - In a food processor I put rosemary peppercorn chèvre, beet greens, bread crumbs, red onion, lemon juice, parmesan and a bit of salt. I put these in some mushrooms, sprinkled a bit more bread crumbs and olive oil over the top and baked it at 450 for about 15 minutes. I will definitely make these again! (I had a dried out baguette so I grated it with a cheese grater to make the bread crumbs)


I sprinkled some classic chèvre over the power food salad from Costco. My students were jealous of my pretty salad!

Spinach Chèvre Eggs - I sautéed some chèvre and red onion and poured scrambled eggs over the wilted greens. Then I crumbled the goat cheese into the eggs. Once I did garlic herb and then another time I did chipotle chèvre. Both were really nice!

At the moment Charlotte has happily devoured scrambled eggs with beet greens, garlic herb chèvre, and red onions. She cleaned her plate and demanded more. Now she's working on her second round!


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Power Muffins

Breakfast is a tricky meal, at least for me. I get up in the morning and manage to limit most of my routine to the upstairs. When I finally make it downstairs I usually have about 10 minutes left before I need to dash out the door. It seems the options for a fast healthy breakfast are pretty limited even without a 10 minute time limit.

One of the things I've been doing is to eat yogurt. I'm really weird about yogurt though. I eat it in phases and when I'm not in a phase I feel like I have to force-feed myself what's left. I'm also kind of picky. My favorite yogurt is the Brown Cow Maple or Blueberry greek yogurt. It has lots of protein and it's really creamy and rich.

Another thing I do is to make non-instant oatmeal. I'm not a fan of the texture and the chemical flavor of the sludge that comes in the little brown paper packets. My doctor told me the chunkier the oatmeal grain the better the benefits. I had been eating steel-cut oats, but they take at least half an hour to cook. So I started doing thick cut oatmeal from Bob's Red Mill.

I'd put it in a glass bowl mixed with chia seeds, flax meal, honey and sliced almonds or walnuts and add boiling water. Covered with a lid it was pretty much cooked by the time I got to school. The problem is the mad dash to actually consume it before I had to teach. I ended up finding myself eating my oatmeal for lunch more than once.

Now I know what to do with this canister!

And then there's the muffins. Muffins are compact, easy to transport, and require no extra work once they're done. They only take about 10 minutes to prep and 20 minutes in the oven which means for 30 minutes of work I have breakfast for a week. Here's the link to the blog with the original recipe.

It is also a compact way to get lots of power foods. I adjusted the recipe to include more of them and I've been very pleased with the results. Chia seeds are high in protein and fatty acids not to mention an awesome chewy texture like poppy seeds, flax seeds are high in omega 3 fatty acids, coconut oil helps metabolism and lowers cholesterol, amaranth is high in protein and thick cut oats help me feel full longer. I want to try to experiment with honey instead of sugar because of the health benefits of eating local raw honey.

(I hope you check out all the links. They all contain information about each ingredient and why they're so good for you!)

I've made these muffins twice now and they're so good I felt the need to share my version of the recipe!

Apple Cinnamon Nut Muffins

Here's my version:

1/2 C Amaranth Flour
3/4 C Hard White Wheat Flour (All-Purpose or Whole Grain works too)
1 1/4 C Oats

1/4 C Chia Seeds
2 Tbsp Flax Meal

1/2 C Sugar in the Raw
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 C Coconut Oil (I melt it in the microwave, but I know this breaks down some of its nutrients)
1 Egg
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/2 C Buttermilk
1/2 C Milk (I've used whole milk and almond milk before)

Add-Ins:
Small apple chunks
Cinnamon
Cardamom
Nutmeg
Ground coffee or brewed coffee (omit the milk if using liquid)
Blueberries (I have used frozen that I thawed by rinsing them with warm water)
Nuts: Almonds, Walnuts, Pecans, Cashews, Pistachios, Hazelnuts, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds etc...
Raspberries, Blackberries, Boysenberries, Marionberries
Peaches chopped
Chocolate Chips
Raisins or other dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, cherries, gogi, etc..)
1/2 C cooked and pureed Pumpkin, Squash, or Sweet Potato
Bananas mashed or chopped
Honey (drizzle on top)


Preheat the oven to 357F. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray or grease with coconut oil.
If you're using a mixer, use the paddle attachment. In a bowl combine the dry ingredients (in bold). Stir in the melted oil, egg, and vanilla. Stir in the buttermilk and the milk. Stir in the add-ins of your choice.

Spoon batter into greased muffin tin. Bake 18-20 minutes. Let cool before removing from muffin tin.

Makes a dozen muffins.


So far I've made them with blueberries, sliced almonds and chopped walnuts and then I made them with chopped apples, cinnamon, sliced almonds, chopped walnuts and pecans. I'm looking forward to making different versions like pumpkin in the fall and with fresh berries this summer!

I hope you try them and like them as much as I have!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Why Yes I'd Like Fries With That

Charlotte will be 2 in June. This means that I have been trying for almost 2 years to shed the 40 pounds I gained in pregnancy. I'm halfway there, but these last 20 pounds are a bitch to lose.

So far I've adjusted my diet toward more whole grain and power types of foods like chia seeds, local honey, fruits and vegetables, and healthy oils like coconut and safflower oil. My kitchen pantry is like a showcase of Trader Joes, New Seasons and Bob's Red Mill. I've also been pretty good about going to yoga once a week. But this is obviously inadequate.

I know this isn't particularly profound but I've been realizing that your body is the physical appearance of what you do to take care of it. Exercise tones and shapes it. Healthy foods make it glow. Stress wears it out. Trans-fats make it flubby. Throw in a late-night visit to McDonalds and more than a few trips to starbucks (why would I want it nonfat and sugar free? I don't want to taste the coffee!), a not-so-recent pregnancy and a lack of regular exercise and you'll get something similar to what I see in the mirror every day. Although I must say that all the coconut oil has made my skin really nice!'

The point is, for as much as I've managed to do, I'm still not back to where I was. So I thought perhaps I should take a walk down memory lane.

Before I got pregnant I was on week 3 of couch to 5k (perhaps I had been working on it for more than a week but who cares?!). I was also going to dragon boat practice for 4 hours a week. I ate salads for lunch most of the time and my portions were under control when I didn't eat salad. This was enough to keep me at about 170 pounds. I'd like to be more like 150 so I'd have to increase my exercise from this level.

This brings me to now. What should I do now? Well, I have been feeling the running itch. It's a love hate relationship though so perhaps walking will suffice or even doing the elliptical 3-4 days a week. I just need to do something. Every day. Yoga is good because I feel like it's really helping me improve my core strength and my posture. I also discovered yesterday that Clackamas County has its own softball league. I'm going to look into it for both Paul and I to try to participate this summer.

The next step is eating. Sure I eat food that appears to be amazingly healthy. It's beautiful really. Trouble is this beautiful food only happens when I'm home - something that's getting to be more and more rare with my insane schedule - and it's so beautiful I just have to eat large amounts of it. At least twice of what a normal portion ought to be of course.

I need to adjust my portion sizes and get back on track with a mostly veggie diet that avoids the drive-thru window. I've been thinking about going on a juice fast or doing smoothies for dinner or something just so I'm limited in portion by virtue of the size of my glass. I feel this idea has potential. I refuse to count points/calories/fat grams etc... so I need to figure out something for my eating that is sustainable.

I think that so far I've made some small steps in the right direction with my good quality food and my yoga, but it's a matter of keeping it up so that I don't suddenly find myself with an empty french fry container in my hand at 11pm wondering where my self control disappeared to and how the 5 pounds I just lost came back!


Friday, March 22, 2013

Highs and Lows

I was debating about writing about todays yoga experience, first because I know at some point this is going to sound like the same thing over and over again, and second because I had a bad yoga day and I've been so positive about yoga I kind of wanted to just pretend it didn't happen and move on with life. But I've decided to go ahead and talk about it because this path to outer skinniness is about being honest about the journey. Being fat is hard. Getting skinny is hard. Staying skinny, also hard.

I think there's this barrier that we create mentally towards each other. Fat people assume skinny people don't know how hard it is to get to be like them. We assume skinny people couldn't possibly have the same insecurities and body issues we have. Skinny people assume fat people are lazy or just not trying hard enough. I'm making rather broad generalities, but you know what I mean.

The truth is we all have a lot more in common than we have differences and if I didn't talk about when things are hard or unenjoyable it wouldn't be real now would it?

So let's just be candid about it.

I actually had a pretty good day. My middle school class didn't make me want to throw things, I lost and found my wallet and ended up getting some stuff done because of it. It was sunny and rainy all day and I managed not to get caught in the rain. Good things! So I went into yoga class feeling pretty good. But then people started to flood into the room and mats went down and I got stuck in the front of the room with nothing between me and the mirror. Not only that, there was a very strong looking fit male right behind me and several more fit ladies. As much as I tried not to beg the comparison and as much as I tried to focus on the things in my appearance that I felt were improving and appealing, I just couldn't shut the voices off and I kept seeing how wide I was. Even with nice looking poses I still looked wide.

Then the foot pain started to kick in. Then the headache. After that, frustration with the limitations of my body and my skill level followed by the lump in my throat and the mental dialogue about whether I should stay or leave the class.

I decided to stop putting so much pressure on myself. My feet hurt to the point where one was cramping and I didn't know it was cramping until I changed positions. I sat on my knees for a few minutes just trying to breath and let my foot relax. I could feel my temples starting to throb. Once I'd gotten past the urge to cry I went to my bag and took some ibuprofen. And then I kept going, making adjustments for when I just didn't feel like I could do something but still feeling frustrated with how not even close I got to some of the poses.

The last five minutes of class was spent in corpse pose just breathing. The mental battle kept raging in my head and then a song came on her playlist that just made me feel happy. It's one by a band from the Netherlands that I really love. One that hardly anyone has ever heard of. I smiled and started to feel the frustration subside.

After class I complimented the instructor for her music and asked her for help on the foot pain. She offered me some really helpful suggestions for what I could do. One thing she told me was to engage my big and pinkie toe into the ground and to almost try to lift the toes in between. I tried it and it took quite a bit of pressure off my flat arches. I am looking forward to trying this in my next class to see if I can't get much further with some of the progressions now that I might actually be able to stand on one foot for more than 3 seconds!

As much as this helped me feel better I still was fighting the urge to cry all the way out to my car. I met up with Paul and Charlotte for dinner and it wasn't until I was wolfing down my salad that I realized, my headache and lack of energy, and the cramping were probably all due to the fact that I hadn't eaten all day. No wonder I had such a bad class!

Okay, so there are two poses that I feel like I just don't get, and I want to write about them, research them and then come up with answers in case anyone else feels the same way!

Child's Pose. I'm renaming this "I Give Up"
First is child's pose. This is supposed to be a relax breathing thing I think, but the problem is, my thighs and belly are so plump that I can't actually sit on my feet in this pose. I feel like my butt's up in the air if I want my head to be down or my head is too high up if I put my butt down. I think they're suppose to both be down. It just feels awkward. Sometimes being chubby makes these poses feel like I'm doing them wrong.

Same goes for whatever this one is. It's a lunge with a spine twist, but I'm not sure what the name is. My challenge here is that my belly ends up resting on my thigh before I get very far and I feel like I'm cheating. If I try to draw my stomach in to keep from resting on my thigh, I can't breathe very low. Throw in the twisting and I just feel like there are too many body parts trying to occupy the same space at the same time. Awkward.

pawanmuktasana
There's another pose that you start with in order to transition to several different things that you do while lying on your back. The instructor always tells us to hug our knees to our chest. As far as I can see, no one is actually capable of accomplishing exactly this. (Okay, maybe a bunch of internet pictures prove this is possible) I'm lucky if my knees get even a little close to my belly button. And then they throw in the instruction to wrap your arms around your knees and grab your elbows as if to hug yourself into a tiny ball. I can barely hold on to my shins in this pose let alone reach my elbows! It's another issue with too many chubby parts trying to occupy the same space. Stomach, meet thighs. I'm sure there have to be modifications for fat people, and if there aren't, I'm going to make them and they will not sound nearly as pretty as downward facing dog.

I also had the thought as I was getting in my car after class that I should compose a choral piece that uses the indian phrases they use in yoga. Then maybe I'd actually remember what they're all called and I bet I could make a really cool piece of music with it!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Warrior 3 FTW

This yoga stuff is starting to really grow on me. Tonight I made it to my third class with the same instructor at 24 hour. I decided to put my mat about halfway back the room right next to the window. There was a little patch of mirror so I could see myself but not the whole time.

I was really surprised at how much I've progressed in such a short time. I think I'm starting to understand the flow of the movement which really helps. I also know where I'm supposed to end up when she calls out a pose like warrior 1, 2, or 3, or low versus high lunge. I was able to actually go into a full warrior 3 pose with my right leg as a base! I held it for probably a good 10 seconds before I started to lose my balance and had to catch myself but I was pretty proud of myself for getting my leg in a straight line behind me.
Warrior 3 

Then she had us try standing split pose. I'll take my victory with warrior 3 thank you very much!
Standing Split Pose


I still haven't lost any weight, but I am really feeling good about myself. I can feel and see my body change for the better and I am starting to honestly not care about my number on the scale. I wore a black dress with turquoise tights and black heels today. The dress cuts off above the knee. I caught a glimpse of myself in the windows walking into my school building and was surprised at how nice my legs looked. I keep thinking that my reflection is making me look better than I actually do, but perhaps I should just believe what I see. Even in the mirror in yoga class I felt like my hips didn't look as wide as I imagine they do.

Things are going well.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New Experiences

Last night I had planned to go to yoga at 24 hour fitness at 5:30. Since I had a bit of time between teaching and my class I decided to drive to the high school to catch up on some work. By the time I was satisfied with what I'd accomplished it was 5:30 already. In other words, I was going to miss my yoga class.

I figured I could just go to Zumba at 6:30 instead but it occurred to me that I didn't have my tennis shoes. I need a gym bag for my car that I keep all of these things in. *noted* So I decided to use the power of smart phones and find another drop in yoga class.

I must say, there are far more yoga studios than I expected in Portland. They aren't quite as frequent as Starbucks, but there's at least 3 in every neighborhood. Anyway, I found a drop in class that was reasonably priced so I made my way to the studio.

I took this picture outside the yoga center. I liked how
the flowers on the tree were the same color as the rusty wall
of the building.
I ended up going to The Bhaktishop Yoga Center on 26th and Division. When I first got there, the door was locked, but I could tell there were people because there were shoes and bags everywhere. I went back to my car to chill for a bit and then went back. I was pleasantly greeted by a very nice lady that could be the twin of a friend from high school.

The teacher for the class was a recent graduate from their yoga school. They have donation classes throughout the week taught by new teachers. It was a much slower paced yoga and I was really grateful to have things well explained. I know how to breathe for yoga now!

After the class she was really happy to show me modifications for some of the poses that I have a really hard time doing like plank and low lunge. I asked her about what sorts of things I could do for post-pregnancy as well and she had some ideas, but was really intrigued by my questions and said she'd ask some of her instructors for more ideas.

I think I will try to work both the donation or $5 classes at Bhaktishop and the classes at 24-hour fitness into my yoga practice. They really seem to compliment each other. Bhaktishop is more about perfecting the practice and learning to do yoga well where 24-hour is much more about getting a good workout and I feel sore every week.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Yoga and Nature

Apparently I need to earn 4.5 graduate level credits to renew my teaching license. This could have been done to some staggered expense if I'd thought about this about two years ago. But now it's due in May. Lucky (?) for me there is an entire program through PSU for continuing education that offers these credits for $55 each. The only catch is the course fee. These are typically in the $300-500 range. Bummer. I skimmed through the course catalog and stumbled across a class that was only $150. This I can figure out. 

So now I'm registered for a class called "Psychological Elements of Global Citizenship". The last time I took an online class it was for my cluster courses that were my alternative to general education classes. I took gender studies. It was basically an exercise in arguing with people who all agree with each other to be more liberal. Just because someone "identifies" as "male" doesn't mean he has an anger problem. It was pointless and I learned nothing I didn't know already. There are stereotypical gender roles that are projected onto us as a result of our individual, community, and global cultures. Not everyone is defined by these stereotypes. There are always exceptions. Blah blah blah. 

I consider myself pretty open minded. But I signed up for my Global Citizenship class with the expectation that I would be contemplating dirt and "opening my mind". Perhaps I would start a drum circle and hope for a cameo on Portlandia too. Jaded much? 

I started to do the reading and I could feel my barriers start to weaken. I was asked to write a sort of biographical introduction for class about my life as it connects to nature. In the process I realized that I really do have a deeper bond with natural things than I typically care to acknowledge, specifically trees. 

Something I've come to learn in this class is that nature can seem chaotic in moments but it is always reasonable and purposeful. Charlotte and I learned from Dinosaur Train this morning that forest fires may seem to destroy, but they clear out the dead plants to create an environment that is conducive to new growth. It's cyclical. Humans are natural beings and as crazy as I feel like I sound saying this sometimes the universe brings us to things that we need. We feel natural attractions. For instance, there's this guy in my yoga and zumba class that just seems incredibly fun. I want to say hi and find out who he is. But I suppress my natural attraction (this word is so sexualized isn't it? I mean it in that I find him interesting or I just want to find out more about him) to him because I don't want to be the weirdo that says "Hi you're neat! Wanna be my friend?" So instead I get to be the weirdo that he catches staring at him unintentionally. Don't lie, you so do this too!

I have lately been feeling a natural attraction towards yoga. Something about it draws me to it and has for a long time. This is my opportunity to trust my instincts and to follow them where they will take me. 

There is this big open window that overlooks the Willamette near Ross Island at the 24 Hour where I go to yoga. My first class I remember noticing the gray clouds over the West Hills and the rain on the windows thinking "When I see images like this from Japan I consider them beautiful and mysterious, but when I see this at home they feel depressing and mundane" Yesterday I decided to practice closer to the windows so I could enjoy the scenery more.

You may be wondering what all this granola has to do with fitness? I'm getting to that. 

 I'm so judgmental of myself when it comes to athletic things because I never follow through with anything and my body is a physical manifestation of my own weakness. I'm an incredibly efficient self-loather. So I typically don't notice the things that I do really well because I'm so hard on myself for what I could and should be doing better. This started to change for me yesterday.

downward facing dog
I found my yoga practice yesterday to be far less about fitness and far more about breathing and feeling my movements. Downward facing dog is a pose that we return to through each sequence. As we go through the pose sequences I'm mentally dreading when we have to go back to downward facing dog. The first two classes I felt like I was going to die. I sucked at downward facing dog. I felt like a jackass with my butt up in the air. Yesterday I didn't. Yesterday it felt comfortable and inviting. I think it helped that our instructor directed us to spread out our fingers and allow our entire hand to be grounded. This really helped me. I also started to really feel my strength and grace in the movements from one pose to another. I had to modify several of the planks because I'm just not strong enough to hold them, but I didn't feel down on myself for not being strong enough. I was actually able to be nice to myself. Like really. 


I think I'm on the verge of something very good.



Friday, February 22, 2013

Yo Yo Exercising

Everyone, I'm sure, has different things that they give up at one point or another - an instrument, a sport, hobbies and activities - expecting that they'll get around to doing it again someday. At some point we face reality and decide that we'll probably never do said thing again but it was nice to have done it and boy don't we wish we had the time/skill/energy to get back into it? Then there's the things you try, aren't much good at and even hate, and then you throw in the towel fully expecting never to do it again.

For me these are running and yoga. I've always had a very strange love/hate relationship with running. I'd love to be able to run.  But running hates me and my joints/lungs/feet. (I promise not to use any more slashes now). I've taken up running - specifically running, not running as a result of doing another sport - probably about three times now. I've decided to quit and not try again all three times. I'm sure it will surface again and I'll decide, "This time it's different and I'll keep it up!"

Yoga, on the other hand, has been a much more complex experience for me. Yoga doesn't hate my body. Yoga is nice to my body. But my personal issues hate yoga. My feelings of limitation, the difficulty I experience in being focused mentally, the coordination and strength required for something that doesn't appear to be nearly so difficult, these things make yoga my nemesis.

The first time I tried yoga I was at Pacific. We had to have a phys ed credit to graduate so I took yoga thinking it would be good for my singing. I hated it. I was in a class of athletes who were taking it as part of their physical therapy program or as training for their sport. I was terrible at it. And I hate being terrible at things. I really hate being terrible at things. I got an "A" for the class but I had to really bite my tongue and survive through it.

My second encounter with yoga was a couple years ago (as chronicled in this blog). Bikram was way more challenging than the class I took and there was a much more diverse group of people in the class. I decided to tackle it head-on at first going as often as I could to classes. It kicked my ass. If you've never done hot yoga, I highly recommend trying it at least once in life. I loved it at first but it started to turn sour pretty quickly for me.

Yoga is rooted in a very long history. It isn't just exercise, it's mental conditioning. You have to be extremely patient to do yoga regularly. This is why they call it a practice. You never reach perfection. It's not about the destination, it's about the journey. Really. There are no winners. Yoga is not a competitive sport. Except if you are in terrible shape and your weight is a result of your feelings and you feel validated by comparing yourself to other people, yoga pretty much calls you on your shit. You're in a situation that demands you be present in your body and doesn't allow you to talk to anyone Those voices in your head get pretty damn loud and it's your job to learn how to quiet them.Oh yeah, and in the meantime you're just trying your best to get that thigh around your belly fat so you can finally get your weight off your throbbing feet and get yourself into the appropriate pretzel. In tight clothes. Yoga is a complex and very specific practice for these reasons.

So I'd like to think that this time around yoga will stick. I am in serious need of some balance. And it's not just my life. My life will always be stressful and hard. Because I am a stressable person that has a hard time processing my feelings well and yet I still love me an impossible challenge. The more difficult and impossible the better. Except whenever I'm in the throes of one of these challenges I tend to lose my head. Point in case poor Aaron (the band teacher at Lincoln)  had to mop up the mess of my tears yesterday as I was freaking out over not having enough credit hours to renew my teaching license. I really have to stop going ballistic at every rough patch.

The logical thinker in me (what little there is) looks at yoga and says, "This is the answer!" If I can learn mental discipline - something I'm notoriously bad at if you ask my teachers, mentors, family and husband - my love of insane challenges becomes less insane right?

This is my third attempt at going to yoga. This time I'm going to normal classes at 24-hour. No hot yoga. No power yoga. No "so you want to go to the olympics?" yoga. I went to a class on Tuesday followed by an hour of Zumba. My feet hated me. My body hated me the next day. I stopped when I needed to and I jumped back in as soon as I was ready again. I pushed myself without over-doing it. Something I'm trying to learn to do better. It sure felt nice to be sore in all the right places. I'm going again tonight to hopefully work out some of those sore spots.

I want to leave one last thing. April posted this picture on Pinterest and I just keep thinking about it because it's really inspiring.

193lbs; 5’7 size 14 usa, "my weight doesn’t and will not prevent me from doing what i love the most."


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sugar Detox

I have run into the great big wall of illness. I'm pretty impressed with myself though. I've managed to teach in not one, but three public schools without getting sick yet. I'm doing the best I can to kick what has already started though. Emergen-C and sleep!

So far I've been doing okay with trying to eat more healthfully. I bought a meat pack from New Seasons. It's all meat that's been raised in ethical and sustainable ways and the best part is that the big packs end up being rather affordable if you can buy all your meat for the month at once. I think it worked out to around $3 a pound for 20 pounds of different meats. Monday I made beef and pork sausage meatballs with pasta and then I used the extra meatballs tonight to make my Oma's recipe for meatball soup. The meatballs were really good in the soup.

In terms of the ethical eating I feel like I've been doing just okay. I'm not doing as well as I could be though. Obviously if I'm buying meat packs the whole vegan thing is off. I was thinking though that the majority of my meals should still be vegetarian at the very least and that my dairy should be much more limited than it has been. Grass-fed hormone and antibiotic free dairy is good and all, but that doesn't mean I can eat an unlimited supply of it. It also doesn't mean I can eat this instead of fruits and vegetables. These have taken a nosedive lately.

This weekend poses a meal problem. Probably starting tomorrow until Sunday most of my meals will have to be eaten on the go. I just need to stay focused on what it is that I'm doing and opt for vegetarian options and then to vote with my dollars. I've found that for fast food, I like to vote for Burgerville and Chipotle. They both have great vegetarian options and if I do decide to have meat they both have really good quality. I'm sure I'll get some argument from someone as to why I'm wrong. But only have two quick food options that are fewer and further between than say, oh, McDonalds is a little challenging when most of my day is in the city. So I'll just have to do the best I can and prepare myself with some healthy options.

Another thing that I've realized about my daily routine lately is that I consume an exorbitant amount of sugar and salt. In the morning I either have coffee with flavored creamer (organic and hormone free of course, but still sugared) or I have tea with a whole bunch of honey and cream added. I might have oatmeal with chia seeds and flax seed with a whole bunch of honey on it too. Lunch is usually leftovers although salty snacks tend to be involved. Dinner is probably the least sugary meal of the day but it's not lacking in sodium. Although, my frozen Trader Joe's chicken staples (okay, perhaps these are a little less ethical) consists either of orange chicken (mm orange sugar) or general tso's (only 8 grams per cup, surprising!). I usually don't go a day without a treat. Chocolate, cookies, muffins, pastries, I crave sweets on a daily basis and over-indulge usually more than once a day. Tonight was leftover soft-serve from Mike's. I was full after eating my bacon cheeseburger and fries you see, so I only had room for the cookie and had to save my soft serve. Sad right?

Okay so things in food land are not so good as I'd like to believe. But that doesn't mean I can't get back on track. In fact I fully intend to. Typically when things are unusually difficult (i.e. teaching choir in a school that has a track record of killing choir programs) is when I like to rise to the occasion. No one should ever accuse me of not liking a challenge! Perhaps this is a character flaw? So starting tomorrow and going for one whole week I am going on a sugar detox. No flavored creamer. No late-night sweet treats. Sugars naturally found in things like fruit or agave are alright within reason (in other words, no spoonfuls of agave to help my medicine go down). I am also going to try to lower my sodium intake. I've done low-sodium before and it's just a sad way to live. So instead I'm going to try to cut back on tortilla chips, fast food fries, and the salt I add to my food. I've got a long few weeks ahead of me and I think this is something that will help me be closer to my best. If anyone wants to join me, I would love some partners in sugarless crime!


PS I found a website that shows pictures of how much sugar is in things using sugar cubes. It's pretty interesting! sugarstacks.com

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sorry for Being Crunchy

I went to New Seasons today to get some butter oil and fermented cod liver oil supplements to perhaps try to heal the cavities that have started forming on Charlotte's teeth. I was talking to the lady that works in the section and I found myself making all sorts of excuses for myself and apologizing. I caught myself apologizing again yesterday to the guy working at Lush when I started to explain how I wash my face and hair. He was trying to sell me skin products. I just wanted a mask made of fresh ingredients since I didn't have the fortitude to go make one myself.

I find that with this whole "enlightened" way of living, I feel the need to excuse myself from mainstream ways of doing things. I've been washing my hair with baking soda and unfiltered apple cider vinegar since last summer. People think it's weird. My hair has never felt so naturally healthy. Now with this diet stuff I'm starting to be one of those people that Portlandia makes fun of. Literally.

I went to Gustavs last week for a small happy hour dinner and found myself asking the waiter if the dairy came from grass fed cows. He started laughing and said he felt like he was in an episode of Portlandia. Then he wanted to know too. So we did some research and discovered that the dairy that Gustavs uses for its recipes comes from a supplier that sources products from several different local farms. The good news is that it was local and thus contributing to our local economy as well as using fewer fossil fuels to transport it. The bad news was that there was no real way to ascertain whether the cows were grass fed, which farms were supplying the products, or how much processing the products underwent. Because it was a supplier the cost of the product was being split between farms and the middle men. I got the spätzle alfredo anyway.

I've been reading the Omnivore's Dilemma on my kindle and the more I read the more strongly I feel about what I eat. I have decided that I don't want to be a vegan. I don't really think I have the strength. I am a conscientious consumer of foods. And being such casts an entirely different perception on me than being a vegetarian or vegan would. It could just be me, but I get the impression that vegetarians and vegans have sort of forged a name for themselves. When they object to eating something simply stating that they are veggie is enough to satisfy the curiosity of those who would judge them for being "picky". But if I reject meat or I want to know where my food comes from and I'm just a regular normal polyvore, I must have a superiority complex.

The long and short of it is that I do. I want to be superior. But not over other people. I want to be superior for myself and my family.

Being someone who is rather immersed in the various facets of Portland "culture" I know first-hand what this kind of superiority looks like. At my birth center potlucks most of the food is a spread of grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits. It seems pretentious. But these are not pretentious people. And yet they are because they want better for themselves.

It's a hard line to walk. I don't want to always be apologizing for caring about what I put in my body and in my baby's body and I don't want to be preachy, but I also don't want to be a pushover that just goes with the status quo. The truth is that it matters. But the reality is that people really just don't know what they're eating and they don't care because it's so easy not to care.

I'm not going to be an evangelist for whole food living, but I will do my best to live better. I don't have a solution for how to deal with the skeptical looks I get when I feel the need to "come clean" about how I wash my hair. I'm sure I will come to some conclusion though. In the meantime, this vein of eating has been paying off. I'm down a couple pounds in the last few weeks. The bad news is that my knee has decided I shouldn't start exercising again and has been requiring the occasional ice pack to keep from being swollen and sore. More on this later though.

Go forth and educate yourself about your food. You'll hate me because you'll know how I feel, but you'll thank me too!


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Adventures in Vegan

Something about the movies I mentioned in my last post (Hungry for Change, Vegucated) is just really sticking with me. Every time I eat a meal I have images in my head from those movies and I feel like my choice to eat certain things is my choice to help or hurt myself and the planet. When you put that kind of weight on your diet, it definitely helps to make more responsible choices.

If you're interested in reading about it here are some links about animal based food production that might have you thinking a bit more about whether meat is really so necessary:


NY Times Article About Environmental Costs of Meat Production

Portland Mercury Article about Mark Bittman

A Vegan Website with Information on Animal Agriculture Costs

A Scientific Journal Article About Animal Agriculture Issues

Links for Sustainable Eating Resources (I shall be pondering these myself)

I just googled "environmental impact of animal agriculture" and got a whole bunch of legitimate hits with information. This is a real issue, and as much as I'm a liberal hippy that likes to be told I'm right, this isn't about being right, it's about doing the right thing.

My grocery shopping since we've moved into our new house has been pretty concentrated between Trader Joe's and New Seasons. I try to buy the bulk of my food at TJ's since it's cheaper. I'll be honest, I am tired of driving to five different stores to buy groceries to save money. I figure the few cents I save per item is lost on gas anyway. (don't call me out couponers, I know this is probably bad logic!) I managed to find several animal free food options to get us through until I get paid so I can buy more food. I must say, vegan is a lot cheaper. I bet if I did an actual cost analysis of the ratio of meat and dairy to vegetables and dry goods animal products probably account for more than a third of my grocery bill.

One of the products I thought I would give the old college try was a bag of vegan shredded mozzarella. For dinner tonight I made roasted eggplant with marinara and melted "cheese". It smelled like feet. I figured this was normal since most cheese smells like feet. It tasted worse than feet. It tasted like melted feet. I couldn't even try to figure out a flavor or texture that I could compare it to so that it would be a little more appealing. I scraped it off of all the eggplant, threw on some real shredded mozzarella and put it in the oven to melt. It still had traces of feet but it was worlds better. At least my dinner was vegetarian and I had a nice salad with it too.

I can definitely see the benefits of being completely vegan and I'm sure I would probably not miss cheese after awhile, but I just don't think it's something I can really give myself over to. Kudos to you vegans who hold fast to your convictions! Seriously!

This leaves me to do the next best thing, which is to be veg-curious who tries to keep my diet as vegan and responsible as I can. This means I still eat dairy but I try to buy eggs that are produced by chicken farms that don't torture their animals. I still eat meat but maybe only once a week and I try the best I can to buy only meat that is local. As far as all the fish I eat, I'm sure it's probably fish that was caught in a way that is destroying the ocean, but I'm only willing to fight one battle at a time here and I'm more likely to buy something that is more sustainable if it's available. I found myself filleting a whole salmon for New Years because I bought it from a farmers market vendor that had line caught it in the Columbia the day before. It was cheaper than the grocery store too!



The result so far of this makeshift diet adjustment has been positive I think. I find myself eating way more vegetables and whole grains. I have even discovered some of my most beloved meals are in fact vegan or at least vegetarian. For example, my absolute favorite dish at Baan Thai near PSU is the Thai Jungle - steamed broccoli, carrots, and cabbage with tofu over riced and drowned in an amazingly good sea of peanut sauce - all animal free. I was over the moon about the peanut sauce being dairy free. I begged for the recipe but they wouldn't give it to me. Today my lunch was garbanzo beans cooked in a curry sauce with flatbread (all bought at TJ's). Breakfast was oatmeal (Bob's Red Mill) made with local honey (farmers market), sliced almonds (Bob's), and some added chia and flax seeds (Bob's again!). Then again I ate about 6 pieces of licorice today too - a remnant of the holidays. Perhaps the sugar isn't so good. But at least my meals are generally very healthy.

I just started reading the Omnivore's Dilemma on my Kindle. I have Kitchen Confidential sitting in my reading list too. So far it's pretty interesting, the first chapter is all about the history of corn farming and the reasons for why processed versions of corn and soy have worked their way into such a huge amount of our food. The premise of the book is that it used to be that most of the food people ate they either grew themselves or bought from someone who grew it directly. In this day and age we tend to have very little idea of where our food comes from, especially processed foods. The book attempts to give us some idea of where all those 32 letter ingredient names originated from. I also want to read Food Matters by Mark Bittman. I linked to a couple of articles, one written by him and one about him.

On a final note, I was thinking about having a Vegucated screening. Their website has a link for "host a screening" but I don't think it has to be that complex. If anyone's interested in coming over and watching it, or maybe even having it be more book club style where you watch it yourself and want to meet up to talk about it sometime I think it would be really fun!