February 21, 2010

New Orleans

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:08 am by savorencyclopedia

I will be traveling to New Orleans later this week!  Woohoo!  As much as I am looking forward to the vacation, I also fear that I will use this as an excuse to throw away all of my hard work.  If I have learned one thing from my past experiences struggling with healthy eating, it is that if I take a few days off it is difficult for me to get back on the wagon.

And I fully intend to take some time off while I am in New Orleans!  I have been dreaming of beingets, authentic French cuisine, and genuine Creole & Cajun cooking! I am not depriving myself of these flavors!  And who can forget about the luscious drinks that will be awaiting me.  I mean I will be able to finally fulfill one of my life long goals:  legally drinking in the streets! But I do know that the second I return home, I need to revert to focusing on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and the like.

I intend to do a lot of walking in the French Quarter, but I am realistic. I know that I will not continue my training for a 5K while I am away.  I think I have come up with a plan that I think will work for me, though!  I am going to repeat Week 4 this week (although I will only get 2 of the 3 runs in before I leave.)  I have been struggling with the last five minute run this week anyway, so I think the extra days will be good for me.  Hopefully the rest days while I am in New Orleans will give me some fresh legs when I return, ready for Week 5!

I will not use this trip as an excuse to quit!  I will use it as motivation.  Maybe I will have to plan another trip as a reward if (I mean when) I reach my health goals!

My New Favorite Fruit

Posted in Healthy Eating at 1:41 am by savorencyclopedia

Apples!  It turns out that I harbored a lot of misconceptions in my youth.  I thought I hated running.  Wrong!  Turns out, I just never attempted to run in a manageable fashion.  I am absolutely enjoying my runs each week (especially the shrinking waistline!)  I thought I hated apples.  Wrong!  As an adult, I found a variety of apples that I salivate when thinking about, Honeycrisp.  Even after stumbling upon this delicious variation, I continued to believe I didn’t like apples (Honeycrisp was the exception to the rule, in my mind.)

Recently I discovered that I do, in fact, like apples.  In my attempt to eat more healthful, whole foods I have been purchasing more produce than ever before.  Bananas were always my go to fruit.  The problem for me with bananas is the fact that I am very picky.  I like them at a very specific stage, a lovely shade of yellow with a hint of green.  When the brown spots start appearing, they are useless to me.  I was only able to buy three bananas at a time, knowing full well that I would never get through more than that before they started getting too ripe for my tastes.  Sometimes I didn’t even make it through those three before they past their prime.

Another favorite fruit of mine is pineapple, but they are decidedly more expensive than most fruit I buy and unfortunately I am not good at choosing the ripest fruits.  More than once I have shelled out $5 for a whole pineapple only to discover it was quite tart when I began eating it.  There’s nothing more disappointing than expensive food that just doesn’t taste right.

So, in my quest to find the perfect fruit for my lunch each day, I began to buy whatever fresh fruit was on sale in the weekly flier.  This winter has brought me only subpar fruit week after week.  Stubbornly, I chose apples as a last resort one week.  I was convinced I would hate eating them, but the health benefits would outweigh my displeasure.  Maybe I would even come to the realization that if I wasn’t hungry enough for an apple as a snack, I wasn’t really hungry.  It would be a litmus test for me.

Except I enjoyed them.  And they were delightfully easy to choose.  And keep fresh.  And cheap. The last few weeks they have been a staple in my diet.  My new go to fruit.  Sure, bananas are still my first choice if the perfect ripeness awaits me on the counter in the morning, but apples are my fail safe.  Either I am becoming more mature and open-minded in my journey to becoming healthy or I was not quite as intelligent as I thought during my childhood.

February 20, 2010

Childhood Obesity

Posted in Goals, Healthy Eating, Running at 5:59 am by savorencyclopedia

I don’t understand all of the controversy surrounding the First Lady’s attempt at combating childhood obesity.  I certainly wish that I had been more educated at a young age about the dangers of living an unhealthy lifestyle.

I wish someone would have shown me how much fun high energy, cardio activity can be.  I was always mediocre at sports like softball, where your cardiovascular health is not a major factor in your ability to play well. Although only average in my abilities, I loved the sport and considered myself to be athletic because I played well enough not to embarrass myself.  I adamantly steered clear of physically intense sports, such as track.  Maybe I would have learned to enjoy running at a young age if someone would have presented it in a non-threatening manner.

I wish someone had taught me the basics about nutrition at a young age.  Sure, I learned about the major food groups, but never how to use that information in a real life setting. There was certainly no rigor and relevance to the lessons I learned about nutrition as an adolescent.  I would have thrived had someone showed me how to properly prepare healthy, flavorful dishes.  Instead, I learned to rely on (and come to love) sugary, starchy, fatty foods.  That is one mean habit to break, let me tell you!  I know that I will struggle with it my whole life.  As much as I enjoy healthy food when I eat it, I always long for rich, decadent tastes.  I don’t foresee that changing, no matter what changes I make in my lifestyle.

I whole-heartedly agree with anyone who suggests that parents hold the main responsibility for educating their children about their health.  The sad truth is that many parents don’t, for whatever reason.  Any efforts that are made to level the playing field for those kids who are not exposed to this education at a young age is commendable in my opinion.

Message Boards

Posted in Goals, Healthy Eating, Running at 5:36 am by savorencyclopedia

I have found a wealth of knowledge online through different message boards.

I regularly lurk and occasionally post on the 20 Year Olds and 50+ To Lose boards on Weight Watchers.  I have found more information and support on those boards than you can imagine.  Many of the people that post do not pull any punches, and that is what I love about the boards.  The information you receive may not necessarily be what you want to hear, but it will always be genuine and honest.  I am able to ask questions anonymously and without any reservations, knowing that I will receive an abundance of real life answers from people who have experienced similar situations.  I have not found any other message boards that are more relevant to my life.

Another message board that I just began to frequent is on Active.  There are many forums that discuss different aspects of the running process.  As a novice, I have many questions.  Thankfully, people ask and answer questions that I didn’t even know I had, such as the proper etiquette to use during a race.  Who knew you don’t typically wear the t-shirt of the event you are currently running?  I totally would have made that newbie mistake.  Common sense would tell most people that at the water stations on a race, you shouldn’t stop right where you receive the water to prevent large crowds.  Would I have actually thought of that?  I like to think so, but honestly I’m not sure.

I hope that I continue to find more message boards and forums that allow me to educate myself as much as possible on this process of becoming healthy.

Podcasts

Posted in Running at 5:18 am by savorencyclopedia

It is no exaggeration to say that the music can make or break you when running!  I was lucky enough to have someone on the Weight Watchers message boards recommend a website with downloadable Hip Hop Podcasts.  These podcasts have been invaluable to my running experience.   There were literally times during my first few weeks of running that I wanted to start dancing on my treadmill, throwing my hands in the air and singing along.

I can’t imagine making the experience any more enjoyable that that.  The problem was, I actually care what the people around me at the gym think, so my creative energy was stifled.  I continued to blandly run along on the treadmill.  But that high energy music gave me the stamina to run much longer than I ever expected. I still have not experienced “the zone” so many runners talk about, but I know that with this music, it is possible.

The Library

Posted in Healthy Eating at 4:45 am by savorencyclopedia

The library is always a wealth of knowledge for any topic and health is no exception!  A few weeks ago I checked out multiple copies of diabetic cookbooks to take to my grandparents.  I also checked out a few cookbooks for myself.  Most of them were focused on simple, low calorie (or less guilty) options of common meals.  One cookbook in particular, by the author of the website Hungry Girl, caught my eye.  It is full of simple, highly processed meals that fit my current tastes.

The more I educate myself, the more I am torn about this type of cooking.  I am inherently drawn to the simplicity and similarity to my typical meals.  But if I’m honest with myself, I know that the only real way to get truly healthy is to focus on whole, clean foods.

The intrinsic debate I am having in my head is when do I wean myself from all the processed food.  Currently I eat a Lean Cuisine, Smart One, or Progresso Soup on a regular basis for lunch at work.  It is quick and easy, while at the same time being relatively low calorie.  I also rely heavily on Fiber One and Fiber Plus bars for breakfast.  Mini bags of popcorn can be found at my desk for a quick and easy snack.  Dark chocolate hides in my top drawer.  I do not know if I can survive without binging if I do not have these low point cushions readily available.

Right now, I am contemplating how I want to address this issue.  I am leaning toward letting myself use these comfort foods at work, as it aids my weight loss success.  I will make myself eat only whole, clean foods at night and prepare meals full of fresh produce.  Breakfast can continue to be fruit, yogurt, or fiber/granola bars.  Lunch can continue to be sodium laden, processed foods.

Until summer.  At that point I should have no reason (or let’s be honest, excuse!) for eating such convenience foods.  Loads of fresh produce will be readily available.  I will have much more time to prepare every meal that passes my lips.  Will I be ready for the change?

I am ready and willing to make the changes as of now.  I am motivated to make a trip to my local library this weekend to check out a new batch of cookbooks.  I would like to start investing in more cookbooks and cooking utensils that I would actually use.  There are a few websites full of healthful recipes that I have already bookmarked.   I will post any good finds that I have so that when my mind escapes me and I am unable to remember these recipes, they will only be a click away!

Putting it out there…

Posted in Running at 4:13 am by savorencyclopedia

Shout it from the rooftops!  Some days that is what I feel like I am doing in regards to my current running program.  Is everyone getting sick of hearing about my minor accomplishments? I wonder.  If they are, no one is telling me; so I will continue my eager and enthusiastic conversations about simple things like running for five minutes straight!!  Really, that is big for me.

Today I read confirmation about my incessant blabbing on a Glamour blog post.  The author gives the advice that telling other people about your running goals holds you more accountable.  I have certainly been using this strategy!  Every one of my co-workers is aware of my newfound interest in running (whether or not they care to… sorry!)  I am keeping in contact with one of my high school friends via e-mail and Facebook to discuss our running each week.  We are currently on the same week of the C25K program, although I think that may change in the near future.  My brother has heard many embarrassing stories from the gym.  I knew bloopers would follow me there. Many friends are in on my dirty little secret. Some are even fully involved in the rewards program I have set up for myself. If I start to slip, I fully expect someone to call me out!  That is why I have poured all of the details out on a regular basis.

That is also why I started this blog.  I am crossing my fingers that this strategy will work for me.

Rest Day

Posted in Healthy Eating, Running at 12:04 am by savorencyclopedia

Rest day.  I love those two words!  As much as I am actually enjoying my workouts lately, I have to admit that a good rest day is amazing.  A little light walking to stretch out the leg muscles, but nothing more.  My legs felt like jello yesterday afternoon after completing Week 4 Day 2 of the C25K.  I stopped at the grocery store for the sole purpose of buying bananas to hopefully prevent cramping in my legs.  $60 later I was blissfully eating a banana while driving home and loaded up on fresh produce.  My efforts were a success; no leg cramping to speak of.

Tonight I put the lovely produce I purchased last night to good use.  I sauteed zucchini, yellow summer squash, and asparagus in extra virgin oil oil and garlic. Tossed in some whole wheat penne pasta, basil, salt, and pepper. Delicious!

I assumed it would seem like a lot of work to prepare for one person, but in all honesty it was quite simple and very satisfying.  I will definitely be preparing this meal a few more times this week to use up the rest of these fresh veggies.  I was hesitant to buy them, considering they are not peak this time of year, but the flavor was still wonderful.  Maybe it is because I have not eaten asparagus or zucchini in ages; no matter what the reasoning, I was pleasantly surprised!

February 19, 2010

Goals

Posted in Goals, Healthy Eating, Running at 3:45 am by savorencyclopedia

Healthy in 2010 is dedicated to keeping me accountable in my quest to become as healthy as possible this year!  This goal is multifaceted; I want to focus on my physical, emotional, and spiritual health.  At the top of my list is becoming physically healthy.

There are many factors that have contributed to my desire to be healthier this year, not the least of which was seeing the deteriorating health of my grandparents.  I am lucky enough to be a 29 year old woman with four living grandparents.  I am well aware of how truly blessed I am, especially considering they are all amazing, down to earth individuals.

In the past year my maternal grandparents have both undergone knee surgery and intense physical therapy. I witnessed firsthand their determination to return to their active lifestyle. Sitting around the house was never their style and it was quite difficult for them to lose some mobility in the process. Currently they are exercising regularly by walking outdoors at their sunny, winter vacation home. Regular card games, cocktail hours and social activities with their neighbors are back in full swing!

This past month, my paternal grandfather suffered from a stroke. He is well on his way to recovery, but it was quite a traumatic experience for everyone involved. He was very lucky in the respect that his speech was not affected much and his mind (and sense of humor) are fully intact. Currently his speech is back to normal and he is working on his large and fine motor skills to be released back home.  I fully intend to challenge him to many games of Euchre, Dominoes and Blokus to continue working his mind and fine motor skills! My paternal grandmother is experiencing back problems, which we hope will not hinder her ability to help Grandpa with his recovery. I also hope that she is cognizant of her limitations and does not push herself beyond her abilities.  She has not spent a night away from my grandpa yet and I imagine she will take her caretaking abilities to the nth degree. Both my paternal grandparents are continually showing the family how much strength and willpower they possess.

Both of my grandfathers are plagued with Type 2 Diabetes.  This has caused me pause before, knowing full well that being overweight was a precursor for this disease.  It is time for me to take my health into my own hands.  I need to take ownership of every aspect of getting healthy.

My first step in focusing on my physical health included signing up for Weight Watchers at the beginning of this year.  This is not the first time I have used WW to aid my weight loss battle, but I certainly hope it is the last.  Weight Watchers does an excellent job of motivating me to focus on manageable goals and continuing to make small, sustainable changes in my diet that yield results in the form of weight loss.  I am currently down 5.13% of my body weight since starting in January.

I am well aware that although I am currently losing weight, I am far from being a healthy eater!  Today I finished reading the book “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan.  I hope to eventually incorporate mostly whole foods into every aspect of my diet, but I am slowly working to that point.  I am grateful to have such socially and health conscious students; one of whom allowed me to borrow his copy of this book when I expressed an interest during a reading conversation!

Exercise is certainly an integral part of becoming healthy.  One goal I have set for the year is to incorporate running into my fitness routine.  I have found a wonderful program called the Couch to 5K that allows me to use a phrase I never imagined crossing my lips, “I enjoy running!”  Tonight I finished Week 4 Day 2 of the program.  I will be detailing my successes and failures with this program in the weeks to come.

There are many runs that I would love to complete in 2010.  2 mile in March (if I am in town that particular weekend!) 4 mile in June.  7  mile in July. 1/2 marathon in October. I have made a tentative running/strength training schedule until October to help myself reach this goal, but I am a realist.  There is a good possibility I will end up hating running as much as I used to or my body will revolt against such rigorous training. In which case, aerobics, cardio machines and strength training will have to take over on the fitness front. Cartwheels and party hats may enter the picture if the ultimate success of running a half marathon in October is realized!

This entry sums up the basics of my health goals at this point.  Unfortunately, the success rate of this highly personalized program is yet unknown.

Previous page