Wednesday, November 19, 2008

One down and infinity to go

Today I had to go to a holiday luncheon for one of the court agencies that I work with on a daily basis. Well, I did not have to go but it would have been bad form to not show up. The over abundance of food was staggering and mostly unhealthy. There were some vegetable platters and cooked meat but mostly it was pasta, desert, and queso. I stuck to the beef brisket, cooked vegetables, one dinner roll, and a tablespoon of pasta salad. I still figure it was a 500-600 calorie meal for me even with no desert and only a little bit of white flour and carbs. I expect that most of the other meals were around 1000 calories per meal and most people had seconds. This is the problem with the holiday season, everything involves food and most of it is unhealthy. I have at least two more luncheons that I have to navigate before the holidays are over and probably a couple of parties. I am just really trying to watch what I put in my mouth because otherwise the fact I am working out like crazy will be pretty worthless. I am staying away from sugar and carbs as much as possible for the duration of the holiday season. I don't feel deprived and I know that eating sugar is a slippery slope for me and I don't want to start down it again. So, one party down and many more to go.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Because really don't we all have issues

I could say that I have food issues, but that is the equivalent of saying that elephants are not the smallest animals you might ever meet. In other words, it is an understatement of vast proportions which barely touches on reality. I have issues both with eating too much and not eating enough at other times. I have made peace with the fact I have issues with food, that I have always had issues with food, and that I will always have issues with food. Instead, I focus on managing my relationship with food and limiting the items that will cause me to spin wildly out of control in my eating. I can consume a lot of food even when I am full so I find it hard to determine whether I am truly hungry or not. Everything I have read suggests that this is not uncommon for people who are overweight or obese and contributes to the problems in losing the weight. I have to count calories or else I won't really know if I am eating too much and that can be a mind trip on its own. A lot of times I lean toward eating too little food because that must be better some how. It is not and I fight it by making myself eat enough calories everyday and I almost always succeed in eating a really balanced diet. However, every now and then I don't eat enough food or enough of the right food and it bites me in the rear end. This morning would be a prime example of eating too little the day before a hard workout. On Sunday, I had a regular breakfast (a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of coffee), then I had a mango banana smoothie for lunch, a whole wheat English muffin with a tablespoon of pumpkin butter for a snack, and for dinner I had butternut squash risotto and another small mango smoothie. I can tell by looking at this meal plan what the problem is with it. Three small words, not enough protein. Also, I had a very small serving of the risotto for dinner and so there was not enough food. I aim for between 1400 and 1600 calories every day and I think I only hit around 1300 on Sunday. I do try and eat lightly on Sunday because but I ate far too lightly. I have no idea how people survive on a 1200 calorie diet if they are working out because I just cannot do it and this morning proved that fact. I was starving when I got up and not feeling well at all because I had not eaten enough food the day before. So, I ate a banana which made me feel a lot better and went to the gym. I actually did a hard workout, running for 25 minutes and the elliptical machine for 25 minutes but it was not pleasant. I can chalk it all up to my food issues and today I am trying to eat more food and make sure that tomorrow is not nearly so unpleasant as today.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Never pleasant

The thing about working out is that it is never entirely pleasant. Well, at least not for me. This may be partly due to the early hour at which I chose to work out, and I freely admit to that fact. I do not know anyone who likes getting out of bed at 4:20 in the morning to go to the gym and if such people exist I don't really want to meet them. If I am up much past 9:30 p.m. the night before an early morning workout, I invariably feel really sluggish in the morning. So, hauling myself to the gym is never a pleasant feeling in the morning. However, I go anyway because I know certain facts about myself and about how working out makes me feel in the long run. I know that if I work out in the morning I will have more energy for the rest of the day. I know that if I don't work out in the morning I probably won't work out at all. I know that I need to exercise to prevent myself from getting rundown and sick. I know that the only way I can be sane in the high-stress pressure cooker job that I have is to exercise frequently. So, I go to the gym six days a week and work out for at least 45 minutes at a time. This week has been a good example of working out for stress relief purposes. I have been a crazy person this week with imploding work problems and unexpected personal stuff happening simultaneously. I made it through all of it without eating my weight in chocolate only because of the working out and the energy I could release by running everyday. I don't run fast and I am only running for 20 minutes right now but this week it made a big difference. I still have to workout tomorrow morning and I probably won't run because my legs are really tired but it is the weekend and I don't need to release any more stress energy. This weekend I am going to cook a lot and clean my apartment out and get back to normal life after this hellish week. I am going to organize my pantry and take stock of how I am doing in terms of a balanced diet and then I will be ready to get back in the gym next week and run slightly faster and longer than I did this week.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

All things holiday

I love the holiday season, all the decorations and lights and christmas smells in the air. I especially like baking things which I am avoiding for the most part this year. So, tonight I decided to make something that smelled like the holidays but was not horrible for me to eat. So, I tossed together a batch of pumpkin butter from a recipe I found on the internet. Pumpkin butter has about 40 calories per tablespoon and the benefit of being largely made of pumpkin and apple juice with some sugar. However, there are very few carbs and it is the kind of thing where I can eat one tablespoon and be satisfied. Since peanut butter has around 90 calories per tablespoon (and that is the reduced fat kind), you can see the calorie savings already. So, now my apartment smells like pumpkin and spices and all the good holiday smells and there are no cookies anywhere in sight. Anyway, despite a long stressful week my eating is on track and I have had good workouts all this week ( 4 days of running so far) and tomorrow is at long last friday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

So tired

Today was a long day with lots of work stuff imploding unexpectedly all over the place. Oh, and I unexpectedly had a job interview that I had been told was being postponed until next week. Not prepared for that at all and now my brain is really tired. I came home and lifted weights which usually helps perk me up but not today. I am tired and I am going to go crash in front of the television and go to bed until I have to get up tomorrow morning and work out at 4:30 am. I did manage to run for 20 minutes again this morning so that makes three days in a row which is good news. I am going to try and run tomorrow morning as well and see how my legs feel. Oh, and my eating is on plan although a little low in calories which is what happens when I stress myself out with work stuff. So, all is good just tiring and stressful.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Food Review: Pearl Barley Risotto

Since I was home today, I had time to run to the store (okay Target) and pick up a large saucepan and a bottle of wine to make my pearl barley risotto. It took about an hour and a half to make, well at least 30 minutes of that was spent fighting with the cork in the wine bottle. Still, this is a time consuming recipe and it will take about an hour to make with prep and cooking time. However, I should point out that this is true of any risotto include the very traditional type made with arborio rice. Also, there is a lot of stirring, this is not a dish that one can just walk away from and have it turn out properly. The results are well worth the effort since it is both rich and satisfying either as a side dish or main course. Pearl Barley risotto is chewier than a traditional risotto and you will not mistake it for the original dish but it is nutty and lovely in its own right. The recipe I used is from the cookbook "The Best New Light Recipes" by the editors of Cook's Illustrated and if you are interested in cooking light but full flavored recipes, you should buy this book. I would say that you won't save that many calories on this dish but the fat is lower and the nutritional content a lot higher than a traditional risotto. I am working very hard at moderation in my life and part of that is enjoying good food in small quantities which I have prepared myself so that I know what I am eating. I maybe eat one meal out a week and everything else is food I have made from scratch in my kitchen. It has made a big difference in the last couple of months in my overall health and energy level. So, this is the kind of dish that I will enjoy in small quantities for this entire week. I expect that it will last until I go to the store on Sunday morning and replenish my food supplies.

A little bit crazy

It is probably a sign that you are certifiably insane when you decide to get up at 4:20 am on your day off and workout. Still, that is exactly what I did this morning by rolling out of my nice warm bed and hauling myself over to the gym. The good news is that I was able to run for 20 minutes again this morning without any problems. I did ease up a little on the eliptical machine by picking a slightly easier hill climb workout than normal just to rest my legs. So, by 6 a.m. I had eaten breakfast, showered, and was sitting watching music videos and drinking my cup of coffee for the day. I have to run some errands this morning but none of the places that I need to go to will be open before 10 am. I could have gone back to sleep but I was already pretty wide awake and it seemed pointless. The benefit of an early morning workout is that it is done and I don't have to talk myself into going to the gym on my day off and I know it would not happen later in the day. Besides, my little apartment gym is empty in the early morning and I like working out with no one else around to bother me. Still, it is a crazy thing to do when I could sleep in and rest for the rest of the week which will be long and drawn out.

Monday, November 10, 2008

So running seemed like a good idea

This morning I ran for 20 minutes which seemed like a fine idea. However, my legs are exhausted tonight and I was planning on running tomorrow morning as well. It may also have been the fact I then did 25 minutes on the eliptical machine at Level 16, which might not have been a good plan in combination. Anyway, I have tomorrow off to recover a little bit although I am going to get up at my regular time and workout. I know that seems crazy but I do not like breaking my regular routine even though it is a holiday. I have learned over time that I am the kind of anal person who has to stick to an exact routine or it does not happen. I also tend to eat certain meals over and over again because they are easy and I can stick to them. I always have oatmeal for breakfast and roast chicken for lunch during the week and I drink a lot of blueberry smoothies. I realize I missed my food post yesterday because I was at a friend's house for dinner so here is my plan for the week. Pearl Barley Risotto French Chicken in a Pot (basically a chicken cooked in it's own juices, very tasty) Roast Chicken Carrots Roast Sweet Potatoes White Bean Puree with red roasted peppers Artichoke and Lemon Hummus Blueberry and Mango Smoothies with flax seed Oatmeal with cinnamon, splenda, and light soy milk Bananas Pears I am adding flax seed to my diet and specifically my smoothies because it is high in fiber and has some protein as well. I am trying to find natural things I can add to my diet which will up the fiber content and my protein levels. I am also working on making sure that I have a variety of grains to eat which are more wholesome than white rice and that is why I am trying pearl barley (plus it is easy to find at the grocery store). Hopefully all of these foods will give me that energy push I need to keep increasing the intensity of my workouts. I suppose I will know how it is working when I get up tomorrow morning and try to run.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Fitness improvements

So, I actually managed to get in a 15 minute run this morning. I don't think that I will run tomorrow morning or saturday because my legs are really tired but I am pleased that I managed it today. I think it is a sign that my overall fitness is starting to inch up toward where I want it to be as a general rule. My food is completely on plan (shocking I know) and I have nothing to report in that department. I was supposed to go out to drinks tonight but that fell through and I am going to enjoy a quiet evening at home and get ready for the upcoming weekend. It was a long day at work, nothing specifically work related, just a long day and it is nice to have a quiet evening to recover from today.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes we did!

So excited today, well except for Prop 8 passing in California. I love you California but seriously you just gave farm animals more rights than gay people. Seriously. Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled programing on diet and exercise. I am totally on plan and also I realized today that I eat a lot of orange and red vegetables (i.e. carrots, yams, red peppers, tomatoes). Okay, technically tomatoes are a fruit but you get the point. So, next week I am going to try and branch out with some new colors of veggies based upon what I can find in the store. I am up to running 15 minutes a day now and it is starting to get easier which is good news, today was actually a very easy run. Next week I am going to add another five minutes on to my run and then start raising my speed again until I get up to a 10 or 11 minute mile. One of my goals is to eventually run approximately a 5K distance three times a week but that is a few months off. I am trying really hard to not burn myself out on exercise and that means taking the running pretty slowly for now. Today is a good day.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Enough said

That is all for tonight. Please vote if you have not and the polls are still open in your state.

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Certain Ease

Here is the thing for me about being on plan, I have nothing to say. No drama, no grand deviations, just the same daily routine. If I go off plan, I tend to stay off plan for months and find myself making up a lot of ground in the end. So, I could tell you I am still working out and eating well (which I am) but it is not terribly exciting to read about everyday. It is the truth, for whatever reason I have not been struggling with food very much at all in the last month or exercise for that matter. My goals now are more long term, I am working on making sure this is sustainable for the rest of my life. So, there are no crazy dietary plans to reports because I cannot eat that way in the long run. I have come to the realization that I pretty much have to permanently cut white flour and sugar in all their forms out of my life because I cannot eat them in moderation. I have cut my coffee consumption down to one cup a day because I like to put creamer in it and I have drastically upped my water intake. I eat everything else in moderation and this time around it has not been hard at all. I do not know why but maybe it is because I do not feel deprived even though I avoid certain foods. I do not know, all I know is that I am grateful for the ease of it all right now given all that is going on in my life.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Weekly Menu

So, once again it is Sunday night and I have spent all afternoon cooking food for this week. I know the bonus is that I do not have to cook dinner or lunch for the entire week but it is still a lot of work. Among other things, I made the best turkey burgers ever with a recipe from my favorite cookbook. They have light ricotta cheese in them which imparts the moisture that turkey burgers are usually lacking when you cook them. So, this is what I am eating this week: Oatmeal with cinnamon and splenda Turkey burgers with heirloom tomatoes, lettuce, and onion Roasted Chicken Thighs White Bean and Roasted Red Pepper Puree Roasted Garlic Hummus Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Carrots Baked Sweet Potato Fries Bananas and Pears Mango and Blueberry Smoothies This week I am actually going to eat roasted chicken for lunch and dinner a couple of days because otherwise I always end up with between 3-5 extra wasted pieces of chicken at the end of the week. I am attempting to avoid that this week by having them for two meals. Obviously, I am still really in love with hummus although I measure it carefully because it is a fair amount of calories even though it is good healthy calories and fat. I have already cooked all of this food so all that is left to do is reheat it when I get home at night. Anyway, I am off to finish getting ready for the work week.