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Simpler Times

15 Sep

If you have watched me change my diet and lifestyle as much as I have over the last year, you may wonder if I am happy with my decision all of the time.

  • Do I ever miss the simplicity of being willing to eat anywhere without thought of the ingredients and their effect on my body?
  • Do I ever miss the days when I did not exercise unless I wanted to? (which meant I never exercised)

Yes.

There are days I miss the effortlessness of picking up Chick-fil-A for a quick meal when in a hurry. I do sometimes miss my mom’s sweet tea on a hot summer day. There are times when I just want to eat what I want to eat without being conscious of the repercussions. There are moments when I feel like the “bad guy” when people want me to choose the restaurant and I know they won’t like what I pick.

But never do I miss being obese. Never do I miss feeling tired all of the time. Never do I miss feeling insecure about my size.

I make a lot of sacrifices to eat well and stay active.

There are things I do not get to do that I do like (watch TV, see movies, read novels, spend hours in the kitchen cooking).

But, we are all sacrificing something.

I sacrifice time and energy to meal plan and exercise. Others may be sacrificing their health and well being, in order to spend their hours doing what they want to do.

In a way, I have merely released what has been accepted as simplicity, which is actually just convenience, and adopted a new form of simplicity.

Eat real food and move a lot.

So, yes, I miss the convenience, but I appreciate deeply the simplicity I have found and the effect it has had on my life.

Let’s be simple together.

What are you sacrificing today?
Are you getting the results that you want?

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The Effect of Reading Blogs

6 Sep

I have to wonder if there could be a direct correlation between the blogs I read and the food that I choose to make and eat, as well as, the amount I choose to eat.

I began reading food blogs almost a year ago, while still living in Nebraska.  At first I read one or two, then 5, and now I read the ones that I can, when I have time.

I choose to read some blogs because I have an actual relationship with the writer, such as Clare, who recently moved to Dallas.

I read other blogs for their impressive style and design, such as Roost.  This blog emits peace from every photo and every line of text.  It is lovely.

Some for their simple, yet profound approach to life, such as Heather. (It has been beautiful to see her adjustment into motherhood.)

Jason inspires me to train hard and work hard, while keeping my food standards high.

Anne is becoming a dietician, and sets an incredible example of eating healthy and living active.  I consider her a role model, even though she has never met me. She also inspired me to create my own perch at work.

Other blogs make a me laugh…. Monica and Sarah.

Kath exemplifies portion control and a sense of moderation. (2 of my greatest struggles!!!)

And, of course, one blog has become my own personal breakfast guru.  (What would I do if Ashley had not invented the Buckwheat Bake?  Truth be told, I had never heard of buckwheat at all!)

Still others remind me of where I want to go. 3,2,1 Delish is written by two friends who compete in triathalons, which I am working toward.

Beth has lost major weight and understands the ups and downs of weight loss, maintenance, and learning to be a runner.  I like her honesty.

There are others too that add humor, beauty, creativity, and inspiration to my life.

But, I still have to wonder…

  • What is the effect of reading recipes for delicious food (some I would make, others I would not) day after day?
  • What is the effect of seeing beautifully photographed meals that look as though they were made in the very kitchen of heaven?
  • How does their content impact my hunger cues and cravings?
  • How do their pictures effect my food choices and portion sizes?

In no way am I implying that reading or writing a food blog is unhealthy… lest I condemn my own self.

I am saying that I am considering the effect of this practice on my life and on yours too.

Monica joked today in her post that “reading blogs makes you hungry”, but I dare say it is true.  It is the exact same principle that food advertisers use. When you see pictures of their product, and all of a sudden you feel hunger.

The influence that they healthy living blog community has had on my life has been a very positive one.  In no way am I blaming MY actions or choices on any one else.

It is important to me to live my life in a manner that I can account for my actions and be confident that I did my best to do the right thing.

I hope that each and every day I am able to help you have the tools, resources, knowledge, motivation, and inspiration to live your life in a manner that instills health and wellness into your life and body and relationships.

I take my role seriously, in that I am not naive to think that what I eat, do, and say does not impact others around me. I realize that, just as others have influenced me, I have influence as well.

With that in mind, the wheels of my mind are turning… reading blogs is not bad.  Cooking new recipes, not bad.  BUT…

Maybe there is a limit to how many I should read or when I should read them.

There is a time for most things, but what you do not master will soon master you.

(Oh geez, did I just talk everyone out of reading my blog?It’s been fun while it lasted.)

Just wondering…

Do you read many blog?  How many a day?

What influence do you think that have on your choices?

The Other Cost of Over-Eating

1 Sep

I am doing my best to live on a budget these days.  Which is why I should remember that classes with labs require lab manuals and classes online may require a course guide in addition to the book.  Consequently I shelled out an additional $150 for books this week that I was not planning on spending.  It hurt.

In these hard economic times, many of us have had to learn to cut back.  Many can not afford the luxuries they once took for granted enjoyed. We are learning to spend less and more wisely.

Which led to my revelation while in the pantry the other day.

I was making a decision between something leftover in the fridge and some cereal.  I thought to myself about the cost of the two items.  I thought about the shelf-life of the two items.  I thought about the nutrients offered and what I needed.

The wheels in my head began turning about the cost of over-eating.

I am quick to consider the cost of over-eating when it pertains to weight gain, chronic disease, obesity, health care etc.  But, rarely do I consider the ACTUAL instant out of pocket expense of over-eating.

I began to think…

If I eat one more serving of fruit every day than I need, then I will eat 7 extra fruits a week.

If I eat more than the necessary portion at a restaurant, and do not have leftovers to take home, what could have been 2-3 meals, just became one expensive meal.

If I take extra bites or spoonfuls of foods, I am slowly impacting what remains.

Quality food is not cheap to buy, and I am having to buy more of it than I need when I choose to eat more than my body needs.

The long term cost of over-eating is astronomical, when you consider the toll is takes on your body and over all health, compounding over the years to lead to doctor’s visits and medications.  But, I must also consider that when I eat more than I need to fuel my body I am ingesting more than just calories, I am ingesting hard earned money as well.

Now that is food for thought.

Would you rather buy less food of a greater quality or more food of a lesser quality?

Do you consider the cost of your food by serving or portion?

(In no way am I insisting that anyone should stop eating or eat too little to save money.  I am talking about eating more than one needs to maintain a healthy weight and active lifestyle. 

Just What I Needed

24 Aug

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This salad was not exactly what I WANTED after work today. What I wanted was cold, preferably venti with soy and ice, in a plastic cup with a mermaid on the side… Gee, did I want an iced coffee.

This salad was really good though. This was my last minute fix right before bed last night. About 2/3 c quinoa, lettuce, tomatoes, 1/2 c garbanzo beans, half an avocado, and some left over lemon tahini dressing. I was actually very surprised at how tasty this thoughtless meal was! And no one can say I did not get my protein… I got a double punch from the quinoa and garbanzos. Healthy fat from the avocado and tahini. Lycopene from the tomatoes. Fiber from the beans and quinoa, and the lettuce of course.

You know what else I needed today… a compliment.

We all need them. Mine came today from FitKnitChick in the form of a comment.

I know a lot of bloggers face critical or negative comments regularly. I do not get a lot of comments period (so please feel free to comment away 🙂 I love to converse.) Consequently I do have to face negative interaction often.

I generally have beautiful people who encourage me, like FitKnitChick who simply said, “I love your attitude.”

Now why would that mean so much to me?

Well, I used to be (and can be at moments) an extremely negative person. I was rude. I was unkind. I was thoughtless. While so of this has changed because of age, and even more because of Jesus. Some is also the result of choice. I’ve chosen to change.

I choose to filter my words. I choose to filter my comments when I write on other blogs or write emails. I choose to keep my opinion to myself at times.

Now I am not tooting my own horn here. I’m simply giddy that not one, but two readers have appreciated my attitude. I’m having one of those, “Wow, I’ve actually made progress moments.”

We all have things we wish would be complimented. For example, I have dark brown eyes and I wear glasses. I have forever. So my eyes are pretty unnoticed. But, every once in a while someone will notice my eyelashes, and I know in that moment that they looked beyond the obvious. They saw past the immediate. They were paying attention. That feels incredible.

So, here is my challenge for both you and I… Let’s look past the obvious, take a moment to see others, and give them why they need….

A word of kind, genuine, encouragement.

Cutting Back

22 Aug

I am working on a little daunting post that has been in the works for far too long, about why and how I went from a processed food loving, meat eating, sugar addicted gal who thought, “What is one more calorie?” to a plant based eater that sees food as fuel.

See what I mean by daunting? I want to compile some of the statistics and revelations that really hit home with me.  I am not trying to argue or convince you of anything.  I am also not going to justify myself.  I am, however, going to explain myself, my motivation, my intent.  It should be a good exercise for us both.

In the mean time, I thought I would share some of my thoughts about food and exercise for the week.

Do you plan your meals a week at a time, because I sure don’t.

I do however try to plan staples.

Saturday night I soaked black beans, and Sunday they cooked in the crock pot on low all day. Total time invested, about 5 minutes.

I also cooked some quinoa.  I did have to be somewhat present for this cooking, but it only takes about 20 minutes, start to finish. Ashley over at Edible Perspective has a recipe for fool proof quinoa.  I did not use her recipe, as I found it after my quinoa was already cooking.

What is quinoa?  Good question.

Quinoa is a protein rich seed, which contains all 9 essential amino acids (essential amino acids being the ones we must get from food because our body does not make them).  It has a fluffy, almost creamy texture when cooked.  It is a relative of leafy greens, such as spincah and swiss chard.  It is rich with lysine (needed for tissure repair), as well as manganese, iron, copperm and phosporous. In only 1/4 c quinoa thee is 5.5g of protein and 2.5 g fiber, with about 159 calories.

Quinoa is a wonderful addition to a summer salad, a dip, a soup, or een a casserole.

This week I will be using quinoa in salads, to replace rice in stir fry, and in (today’s lunch) Quinoa Egg and Veggie Bake. (Hey, wait, you don’t eat eggs.  Well, on occassion.  The chickens in our petting zoo at work live a charmed life, so I am ok with their little eggs.)

You can read more about Quinoa here.

After Saturday’s perfect run… oh, I know I did not seem all that excited on Saturday but I had just run 7.5 miles.

I was/am excited about it.  I ran more than half of the 1/2 marathon distance, and I lived to tell about it. Mind you, I was on a treadmill, which meant that I did not have to contend with the heat or humidity.

This week I am focusing on seeing food as fuel.  That is what it is after all.

God created a beautiful garden, then he created people.  Then he told Adam and Eve that they could eat from the garden, and eventually he told them they could eat the animals too. The purpse of the food was to sustain them.

We need to eat, but we do not need to eat as much as we want or what we want. Sometimes we need to eat only what we need to eat.  That means eating foods of many colors.  That means leaving out the sugar and butter.  That means focusing on eating from all of the food groups.

So this week I am focusing on eating well, but eating less.  My idea of portion size and calorie content is often exaggerated.  My concept of the number of calories that I need is definitely flawed at times.  I do not have the time, patience, or desire to count calories or weigh every ounce of food.  So, my plan is to just eat what I would normally eat for the most part, minus 1/3-1/2.

For example, instead of eating a whole banana in my oatmeal this morning I only used 1/2.  Instead of using 1/3 c rolled oats, I used 1/4.

For some reason I have it in my head that I need to eat the moment I feel hunger.  I know that I should not get too hungry, and I must have a plan for when I do get hungry.  But, a little hunger is not going to kill me.  ESPECIALLY, when I sit in an office.

So, here is my challenge to you…

1. When choosing what to eat this week, choose to eat something you NEED and to not eat something your body does not need.

2. Eat less. You have to eat, but most of us are eating too much.  So, put some of it back.  Cut your portion by 1/3.  (Unless of course you need to gain weight. )

So, I’ll be keeping my fingers out of the peanut butter jar this week… which for me is not as easy as it sounds.

Breathing Through It

25 May

We have had some crazy weather the last two days in North Texas.

It is just MY theory that every region of the U.S. uses the same, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes”.

There are tornadoes in various places around the area, and I praying that everyone is safe and sound when it is all over.

This morning I could not figure out what I wanted for breakfast. I did not want to run… I knew that. Why do I fight it?

I landed on a half recipe of smoothie and a piece of toast.

The smoothie was 1/2 frozen banana, 1/2 c frozen cherries, 3/4 T unsweetened cocoa powder, a bit of chocolate protein powder, and 1/2 c unsweetened almond milk. By the time I got around to eating it, it was getting all melty.  Luckily, that does not change the yumtastic flavor… light, fresh.

A slice of Ezekial Sprouted Grain bread, toasted with the thinnest smear of peanut butter, a dab of local raw honey, and half of a banana.  I find it amusing that all of the slices have the same core shape.

Yesterday, when I was running about in the rain, I was determined to buy the book Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst.  I read about half of it today, and I can not wait to share with you some of what I am learning from it. Much of Lysa’s testimony about weight-loss is similar to my own.

I start school soon (again, and for real this time)!  Chemistry I… eek!

Textbooks are so expensive! So, I have been rooting around on the internet for the books I need.

Lunch came and went… half an oven roasted sweet potato and a salad with Avocado Bean Dip on top for dipping with cheezy crackers.

I determined that running was not going to happen before work, but made a plan for after work.

So, I packed a PowerBar (free from Ironman Texas) and my running clothes.

View to the east when I came out of work.

But, when the weather got all shady I decided to run at home.

View to the north

By the time I got on the treadmill, the sky was completely black.

I was supposed to do the same speed work as the last 2 weeks. The best thing about having someone determining my training is that I know that I am capable of what is on the schedule.  Iron-Jesse uses data from my running and that determines what he tells me to do. So, I have no excuses!

*.5 warm up

*.5 @ 5.5

*.25 recovery

(repeat 4 times)

*.5 cool down

AND I DID!

It was not easy, but it was easier than last week… and that, my friends, is the point of speed work!

I did get side cramps again, but earlier than the last time.  But, I did some reading about side cramps.  I read that if you are not breathing deep enough, that the shallowness of breath can cause cramps. So, I started to breath deeper, intentionally, and it worked!  The cramps stopped!

I thought about only doing half of it… since my whole family hunkering down. But, I knew my mom would drag me downstairs if it was really bad. Then I thought about stopping after the third bit, but then I thought I might as well finish.

So, I finished it all, but not by myself. I legitimately prayed multiple times for the Lord’s help, and He helped. I was so relieved!

After sweating running my little heart out, I joined my family downstairs to watch the end of Dancing with the Stars. My mom was happy with the winner, I wasn’t.  I laid a towel on the ground, and crunched my heart out, before stretching. I do love stretching.  Running is hard, but stretching isn’t.

Now I am all kinds of sweaty, but I am getting cold and need to take a shower.

Then I am headed to bed… well, I may watch some of About A Boy, too.  Such a good movie, in a weird British way.

Do you like British movies? I have a very love/hate relationship with British films, tv, comedy, etc.

My Reaction to Ironman Texas

23 May

(I wrote this only an hour after leaving Houston, while still in the car.  It is my initial response to an amazing day.)

Ironman Texas…

I always love being in the presence of athletes.  They let me know what the human body is capable of.  Being an athlete is not just about health or fitness.  It goes beyond health, to performance.  It asks the questions, “How far?” and “How fast?”

While I am yet a newbie runner and an even newer cyclist, I stand amazed at the men and women who push their bodies beyond the boundaries of what 99.9% of the population would consider sane by competing in Ironman competitions.

Take into consideration that it is not a show up on race day and do 12 hours of hard work.  These people put in hours and hours of training every week – hours of swimming – hours of cycling – hours of running – hours of stretching – hours of foam rolling – hours of analyzing data – hours of sweating.  They lay it down week after week in training, all building up to a race where they give their all, all day long.

I would imagine that the Ironman journey begins in the mind. It probably starts with the question, “Could I do that?, or with the declaration, “I bet I could do that!” And every day, that same question or declaration is likely revisited.

I am only training to run 13.1 miles and I already face a mental battle.  There are some days I think, “I can run 13 miles.” Other days, I think, “There is no way that I am going to be able to do this.”

The more I read about triathletes and see them perform, the more their insanity makes sense to me and the more respect I have for them.

The true competitors (whether competing with themselves or an actual pro) are driven peope.  They set foals and live their daily lives in an effort to achieve those goals. Their sport requires dedication to now one, but three sports.

Maybe they are insane.  But it seems to me, that it may be the best kind of insanity.  The kind that refuses the ordinary and embraces possibility.  The kind that does not stop at, “Who am I?” and goes beyond to, “Who can I be?”

Yes. they spend their time and money in ways that many of us could not understand, but we all choose how to spend our time and money in line with our own priorities.

In reality we are all masters of something.  There is something that we are pouring hours of time and effort into. None of us has the luxury of only focusing on one aspect of life. We all have to juggle more than one “sport”.

Life without goals is aimless. You’ll get no where quickly.

It is not one of my goals to do an Ironman. But, my response to volunteering at this weekend’s race was that I set some goals.  I took out a pad of paper and wrote down a list of 5 fitness goals that I have for the next year of my life.

Do you have goals written down?

When was the last time you felt amazed by the strength of persistence and discipline?

There is a good chance that it has been way too long.

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