Slimy, Yet Satisfying!

Standard

Let’s talk about slimy food.  I am generally not a fan.  I’m a very textural eater, and things that are too gooey turn me off.  But slimy foods are good for you.  Look up the health benefits of eating okra, noori (seaweed), spirulina (algae), nopales (cactus petals), and chia seeds, and you’ll see.  There’s a ton of hydration potential, vitamins and essential nutrients involved in that slime!

Chia seed pudding

Chia seed pudding

By far my favorite slime option is chia seeds.  They don’t have a lot of flavor, which makes chia seeds incredibly versatile.  You can find tons of ideas online, from breakfast, to dessert to baked goods.  The basic method is 4 parts liquid to 1 part chia seeds, soaked at least 2 hours.  This allows the chia seeds to swell, creating a thickened “pudding”.

Chia seeds, cinnamon stick, raw honey, vanilla, and cashew milk

Chia seeds, cinnamon stick, raw honey, vanilla, and cashew milk

So yesterday I finally opened a little bag of chia seeds and whipped up this breakfast pudding.  It’s simple to make, and other than the chia seeds, you probably have everything you need.

Chia Pudding

1/4 c. chia seeds

1 c. milk or milk substitute (I used cashew milk.)

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. vanilla

1 Tbsp. raw honey

tiny pinch of salt

1 Tbsp. protein powder (I used hemp), optional

Mix the honey, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and protein powder, if using, until smooth.  Mix in the milk , then gently stir in the chia seeds.  Set aside, and stir about every 5 minutes for about half an hour.  It will start to thicken as it sits.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, overnight is better.

Run recovery pudding

Run recovery pudding: Basic pudding with protein powder plus a sliced banana and a few nut clusters.

After my run this morning, I added a sliced banana and some crushed nut clusters.

Chia Lemon Water

Chia Lemon Water: 1 Tbsp. soaked chia seeds, stirred into water with a few slices of lemon.

Can’t Versus Won’t

Standard

For the most part, I purposely add good things into my diet instead of taking bad things out, and this challenge is no different.  The way our brains work, diets are extra hard because we feel deprived when we “can’t” have things.  And this causes all kinds of reactions in our bodies that make it even harder to fight cravings for the food we’re avoiding.  (Do a web search on dieting and deprivation or “can’t vs. won’t” if you don’t believe me.)

Healthy fixin's

Healthy fixin’s

When I was on Weight Watchers a few years ago, what eventually helped me lose significant weight was adding in several servings of vegetables instead of trying to avoid all the things I shouldn’t have.  I routinely ate a huge salad or multiple servings of vegetables before eating anything else.  It wasn’t that I couldn’t have the other things, just that I knew I needed to load up on the good stuff first.  This approach made it a lot easier to eat a small portion of whatever contraband happened to be available instead of making a meal of it.  And I wasn’t hungry or feeling deprived.

A better choice than candy!

A better choice than candy!

Occasionally, I go a step further than won’t by saying only.  I only eat green m&m’s (because they taste better than the rest).  I only eat at a restaurant when there’s a reasonable chance the food is better than I can make at home (which is not true, but should be).  I only eat beef if I think I’m anemic (mostly true, though plenty of other foods would help more than beef…  Sometimes you just want a steak!).  This way of thinking doesn’t always work, but it’s another way to trick my brain out of feeling deprived.  What it comes down to is mind over matter.  But that’s not an easy thing to master.  For me routine helps.  If it’s my routine to avoid certain foods, they don’t creep up on me, so I’m prepared when temptation strikes.

Nothing wrong with a beignet... In the French Quarter!

Nothing wrong with a beignet… In the French Quarter!

I don’t advocate thinking of foods as good or bad, but I think it is a good idea to know what the things we put in our bodies do.  Do you know how your body processes whole fruit versus juice?  Or what foods naturally help clean toxins from your blood?  Or the difference between how your body uses butter and margarine?  Since diet is the basis for health, we probably should know what’s happening between the dinner plate and the restroom.

I watch a lot of food-related documentaries.  Here are a few I find helpful:

  • Food Matters:  http://www.foodmatters.tv/food-matters-film
  • The Perfect Human Diet:  http://www.perfecthumandiet.us/
  • Hungry for Change:  http://www.perfecthumandiet.us/

 

Where did that candy bar come from?

Standard

I’m not a big candy bar fan.  Sure I occasionally buy one when on a road trip or on a particularly bad day, but I’m usually able to talk myself out of it.  They never taste as good as I think they’re going to.  They’re full of stuff I don’t want to put in my body.  They get stuck in my teeth.  They’re too sweet.  But for no reason I can figure out, I bought two last week.  I ate one that same day, the chocolate-coconut-almonds one.  Then promptly forgot about the chocolate-crispy peanut buttery one.  Until yesterday.  Day one of my no-sugar month.

And there it sat on my counter yesterday at noon when I couldn’t find anything I wanted to eat in the house that didn’t have sugar in it.

And there it still was when I came home late from work, hungry enough to gnaw my arm off.

This no sugar thing is no joke.  It’s hard.  Only one day in, it’s really hard.

There is sugar in nearly everything in my house.  I’m a pretty label-conscious consumer, but I’ve never thought much beyond High Fructose Corn Syrup or artificial sweetener, which I avoid.  When I went to the grocery store earlier this week, with the intention of stocking up on belly-fat-reducing foodstuffs, I didn’t buy much, thinking I had a number of healthy options in my kitchen.  But nearly everything I thought to grab for lunch yesterday was either pre-packaged, restaurant leftovers, or contained disturbing amounts of refined sugar.

I even realized the soup I made last week had sugar in it.  Sugar I added.  To soup that already had a taco seasoning packet in it that also had sugar in it.

It’s like trying to quit smoking.  Maybe harder.  Sugar shows up in unexpected places.  It tastes good.  People don’t look at you cross-wise when you eat it.  There’s an emotional attachment from my child hood.   And it causes happy chemical responses in the brain.  At least cigarettes smell bad!

Check out these articles about sugar and it’s effects on the body:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/373943-does-sugar-make-the-belly-fat/

http://lifehacker.com/5809331/what-sugar-actually-does-to-your-brain-and-body

Healthy Belly Challenge

Standard

 

In January this year I joined a group for a weight loss challenge, but had a really hard time fitting exercise in when it was so cold outside.  I ended up focusing more on eating healthier.  I lost a few pounds, and though I didn’t win the contest, participating in the group motivated me to make some changes.  I started running again, and doing some research on nutrition.  I’ve lost about 15 pounds since the beginning of the year.  But even running 8 miles a week and walking at least 30 minutes a day, I’m not seeing the loss of “spare tire” I was hoping for.  Instead of getting discouraged, though, I rallied my troops for some positive reinforcement.

July 2014 Color Vibe 5K

July 2014 Color Vibe 5K

Starting today, and for the month of October, I’m working on establishing habits that will, in the long run, help me reduce visceral (belly) fat and strengthen my core.  Since I know it’s something a lot of people struggle with,  I enlisted the help of some friends to keep me accountable and encouraged, and we’re ready to jump in to a challenge.  In the interest of keeping things simple, so we don’t get discouraged, I chose a few specific points to focus on.

Here are the basics of our Healthy Belly  Challenge:

  1. Eliminate refined sugars and artificial sweeteners.  Honey is okay, but use sparingly.
  2. Eat REAL food, no restaurant or prepared food. Eat at home, food you made – Cook like your great grandma!
  3. Add at least 1 serving of raw fruit or vegetables every day. Juice doesn’t count, even if you make it yourself.
  4. Do five plank reps, holding as long as possible; repeat three times a day.  Or choose your own plank challenge, but stick to it!
  5. Drink enough water to equal half your body weight in ounces every day (For example:  200 pounds = 100 ounces daily). It is okay to replace 8 oz. of water with juice, or milk, and any amount of water with green tea, everything else does not count toward total ounces.

That’s it.  In the next few days, I’ll explain why these are the five things I chose to focus on.  I have lots of additional tips, research, nutrition information, and recipes to share, too.  And I plan to post here every day in October.

September 2014

September 2014

Please note that I am not a doctor or nutrition professional.  Talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program or drastically changing your diet.  The point of this challenge is to establish good lifetime habits, not to lose lots of weight really fast.  Feel free to participate in some or all of the challenge, but whatever parts you choose to do, I encourage you to commit to do it for the whole month.

10 Things I’ve Learned About Myself

Standard
New cut!  Slightly asymmetrical.  I might go a little shorter next time.

New cut! Slightly asymmetrical. I might go a little shorter next time.

1.  I have a lot more self-confidence when I have a great haircut.  Even growing up, the only thing I could ever point to that I loved about myself was my hair.  I don’t remember getting compliments about my other features, but, “You have such pretty hair,” was a constant refrain.  So my self-worth is strongly tied to my hair looking good.  So yesterday I found a new salon and stylist, and got a little update.  Thanks to Sarah at Bellezza in Peoria Heights for yesterday’s cut.  P.S.  I still love Maria at M.D. Waling Salon in Remington, but it’s a long drive, and I’ve been looking for a new stylist in Peoria for 3 years.

It's hard to get motivated when it's so cold!

It’s hard to get motivated when it’s so cold!

2.  When I’m working to lose weight, I need to be able to talk about it.  It’s why Weight Watchers worked for me five years ago; I went to meetings and got to share what I was doing, give advice and talk about what wasn’t working.  It’s why Crossfit works for my best friend; she constantly posts on Facebook about her workouts, and we spend a lot of time discussing what she’s doing during our phone convos.  And it’s why the weight loss competition I’m participating in now is going to work; we all share our struggles and accomplishments.  It’s validating to know other people are taking your effort seriously.

Or a beignet!

Beignets in the French Quarter!

3.  I don’t do well with deprivation.  If I’m craving chocolate cake, I should really just go buy a piece (not make a whole cake), and eat it, because I’ll just spend the whole day eating everything else trying to stop the craving.  A few bites of cake or a cookie when I first realize that’s what I want is usually enough to get my mind on something else.  Candy bars do not fall into this category.  I should remind myself that I don’t really like candy, and eat a carrot instead.

IMG_5101

4.    When I spend money on good quality food like organic produce, quality meat, good Scotch, I’m much more likely to savor and make it last.  That means if I spend $5 on a pint of Belgian chocolate gelato, it will last two weeks, but if I buy a quart of $3 ice cream, it’s gone in a few days.  Also, if I spend some quality time in the kitchen with good ingredients, I’m much more satisfied than eating a fatty meal at a restaurant.  And if I shop with cash instead of a debit card, I’m more thoughtful about the whole process.

Most of the successful dinners I make start with this.

Most of the successful dinners I make start with this.

5.  When my husband tells me that dinner tastes good, I want to clean the kitchen and make dinner all over again.  But when he isn’t excited about it, I don’t want to go in the kitchen again for days.  Last night I made tadka dal, which I’ll be posting about again soon, and it was delicious.  “That was really good, honey,” has stuck with me all day.

Thanksgiving 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

6.  If I’m planning a menu for an event, large or small, I shop more conscientiously, and plan more healthful and frugal meals for us at home.  There aren’t a lot of things I think I’m really good at, but I’m a good caterer.   I like to plan and get the numbers just right, find and test new recipe ideas and explore the grocery store.  But I’ve learned that I need to be in charge in the kitchen or have no responsibility at all, because I don’t have a happy medium where cooking is concerned.  I can’t help feeling responsible for how things go, and when I’m not in charge, it’s a very stressful situation for me.

IMG_5095

7.  I don’t need to have kids.  I’m a complete person all by myself.  I have a great husband who loves me, and we’re happy just having a fur-baby.  That said, it’s not okay throw my childlessness in my face.  We all make choices about how to spend our time, money, etc.  If you have kids and choose to spend your resources on those kids, that’s your call, and I won’t judge you.  I expect the same.

Still unpacking!

Still unpacking!

8.  I like being a housewife.  I like cleaning my house (don’t tell my husband), even doing dishes.  I take pride in our home, and it makes me want to make an effort.  I want Naren to come home and relax, not worry about all the stuff he needs to get done.  It’s exceptionally frustrating to clean at work then go home and not have the energy to clean my house.

Naren showing Gavin how to fish.

Naren showing Gavin how to fish.

9.  My 5-year-old self was really in touch with what I want.  I wrote an “essay” about what I wanted to be when I grew up that said “I want to be a babysitter.”  Clearly, I’ve been running away from that for 30 years, but it’s true.  I like being a nanny, even on the rough days.  I’m thinking about starting my own business in my home.

Fresh and dried curry leaves.

Fresh and dried curry leaves.

10.  I do not have enough things going on in my life to justify multiple blog posts every week.  So I’m adjusting my commitment to write 3 times a week.  Instead, I’m going to write at least one post about a recipe I’ve made, and if I can come up with something else to write about, I’ll do that too.  Look for a recipe post later this week.

IMG_1574

The mirror may not lie, but it doesn’t have to keep being right.

Standard

I’ve spent the past few days writing and discarding a post about what I hate about being fat. But what it comes down to is that I don’t like having a reason to dislike myself. I don’t like talking negatively about my body, which I’ve been doing for decades. The problem is that no matter how much I practice positive self-talk, when the button on my jeans is biting into my stomach, it’s hard to say, “I’m beautiful.”

Forget that society has a prejudice against the un-airbrushed body. Pretend I don’t hear disparaging comments on an almost daily basis. Ignore that I can’t even buy work out clothes at Target. If I can’t say nice things about myself, I’m failing at the kind of life I want.

I want to be healthy, the kind of person who walks because it’s close enough, rather than drives because walking will take longer. I’ve been there before, and I let it slip away. I ate and lazed away every pound I’ve put on, and I’m not okay with it anymore.

I am not defined only by how I look or the number on a scale, but feeling unhealthy leaves me feeling self-conscious. Instead of feeling like a failure, I’m going to work hard to make positive changes. It’s not going to be easy. I’m going to have bad days, but I will get past them. Starting today, I’m going to reach for the life I want, and grab it.

Roxie (or Why I Took a Break from the Blog)

Standard
Coming home!

Coming home!

WE GOT A DOG!!!!!!!!!!!  I don’t know how to tell you just how excited I am, although the bevy of exclamation points may help.  So I decided to forget about all my responsibilities, including doing the dishes (but that’s mainly because the drain was clogged) and writing blog posts, just so I could snuggle with my girl.

 

Roxie thought she was more important than my writing.  She was right!

Roxie thought she was more important than my writing. She was right!

 

0113141248

She fell asleep this way, and was snoring in my ear.

According to the vet, who was awesome (Prospect Animal Clinic, Peoria Heights), Roxie is 5 months old, Beagle/Brittany Spaniel/Shepherd mix, and pretty healthy considering she came from a rescue shelter (TAPS in Pekin is doing great work).  She’s a cutie, as you can see, and we’re both completely in love with her.

Naren had a helper.

Naren had a helper.

Today was the first day since we got her that I didn’t spend the whole day with Roxie, and I missed her so much!  I don’t know how I could love her so much already.  It’s probably a good thing we don’t have kids, or neither of us would leave the house!  So here’s a completely unnecessary photo over-share!

IMG_4991011314145601121415070111142038a0112140658IMG_49870112141056IMG_4984