Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Diet Plan I Do Not Recommend You Follow

It's the "I'm So Upset I Can't Eat" diet. It pairs nicely with the "All I Want to Do is Whine on the Phone and Pace around the House" exercise plan. I don't recommend it, but I'm pretty sure it's working. At least it's working better than the "My Job is Making Me Fat" plan I was on previously.

See, I found out yesterday that I'm losing my job. I work about three more weeks, and then our office is closing down. Which sucks.

I mean, it always sucks to be fired. Or "let go" as they are calling it. I know it's no fault of my own. I'm being repeatedly told that. The state budgets were cut. Our funder's budget was cut. And they, in turn, cut our program. As in, cut it off completely.

This is the first job I've ever had that I truly liked. And I've been there over six years, which is the longest I've ever had the same job. I know I complain about it, especially here lately, but honestly, I've loved it. At least I did until maybe a year ago.

Things have kind of gone downhill the last few months. And the last few weeks, with budget cuts looming, have been excruciating. Everyone has been stressed and looking out for themselves. And the uncertainty has been very hard to live with. At least now I know.

Anyhow, I went to yoga tonight, and promptly burst into tears and spilled my guts to my yoga instructor. She's a doll, and she calmly listened, was appropriately horrified, and gave me a big hug.

I truly did feel much better by the time class was over. So, maybe I can turn this new found free time into more health and fitness success. We'll see.


Sunday, June 27, 2010


So, as promised I've been trying to get my 8 glasses of water a day.

This lead to questions from my son about how much water HE should be drinking each day- which of course lead to google - and there I learned that 8 glasses of water a day is the generic answer.

The REAL answer is to take your weight. Divide it by 2. Drink that many ounces of water per day. So 8 might NOT be your real answer either.

I've read many times that we get a good amount of water from our food. So I'm still going with 8 glasses. It is at least a starting point.

So here's what I did to try to hit 8 a day.

1. Wide mouth, PBA free 16 ounce water bottle . Wide mouth because that makes it easier to clean. PBA free because I worry about that kind of thing. 16 ounces because that is about what we consider a "serving" - and it gives me credit for 2 glasses with only one fill - and it is easy math. I kept this bottle at my desk. I try to fill it up every day or anytime before I leave my desk area so that when I come back I can quickly grab this very cold beverage without much thinking.

2. I still used some flavor packets. But I drank plain water between each flavor. For plain water - I really need it to be ice cold. This involves either ICE or it needs to be pre-chilled. No water fountain has yet to deliver the temperature that I require. I have access to ice in the main kitchen - but my backup plan is to take a ziplock bag and put some in my own fridge in my work area.

3. This was much more successful on workdays than weekends. I was able to pace myself - by noon I should be about half done. By the time I leave I should have 8 glasses down. It is not likely that I will not drink anymore all afternoon / evening. But really, I simply can not predict how much beverage will be at my disposal - and it varies greatly based on our schedule for the day. That being said, there are days with odd schedules or back-to-back meetings. These were more challenging to stay on track.

4. This doesn't seem to happen by accident. It requires some focus. It requires some attention to make sure you are on pace and that you are trying to get some percentage of these drinks as pure water.

5. Even with my flavor packets - I'm slightly frustrated. Many have calories. (Look closely - they will say 5 calories per serving - but there are 2 servings per pack.) Many others have artificial sweeteners - I'd rather avoid these - call me boring, but I'm trying to ensure my food is actually "food". And almost all are from artificial flavors- again, I'd prefer real. But I guess real doesn't often come in powder form. In an effort to find something more "real" but still convenient to use - I'm hoping to try out a product called True Lime, True Lemon, and True Orange. I'll let you know what I think about it - calorie free, all natural - price very similar to other flavorings.

Overall, all my drinking did help me feel satisfied longer. Did it kill my ice cream cravings? No. But any little bit helps!

What about you? Did you up your water intake? Do you have any strategies that help you succeed?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Songs to Help Me through a Rough Time

I started this post to be one of my Most Awesome Song I Heard While Working Out posts, but I kept hearing another good one, and another good one, and then another. These aren't really "pump you up" type songs, and ummm...well, most of them are Olivia songs (I can't help it, half the songs on my Ipod are Olivia) but each one contains a message I desperately needed to hear right now.

If you read my other blog, you've read my detailed horrors from our recent stay at The Heartland Inn (Sorry, but I'm telling everyone I know, don't stay there, EVER), and about my current job situation being a bit iffy. All this leads to stress eating, stress insomnia, stress....just stress.

I've been trying to walk as much as I can, more for my sanity than for weight loss. So, some of those slow songs I might have skipped over previously made it into my ears today. Here are some you might enjoy, and might not be familiar with (unless you're an Olivia freak like me and EG).

Under The Skin by Olivia Newton-John
Great song about realizing we are beautiful, inside and out. My favorite line is, "You only see what's changed, but to me you're still the same. There's no one quite like you." Listening to Olivia makes me feel like I'm still a seven-year-old girl wanting nothing more than to BE Sandy in Grease, and believing she CAN.

Wonder, by Natalie Merchant

I've decided this is my new theme song. Anybody out there who used to watch Ally McBeal? And remember her therapist telling her she needed a theme song? She chose "Ooh Child," which is another good song for picking yourself up in rough times.

Let Go Let God by Olivia Newton-John
I'm not a religious person, but I needed to hear this message right now. "Let the signs remind you, we are passengers. Let the signs remind you, to surrender."

And the last awesome song I heard...Love is Letting Go of Fear by Olivia Newton-John

"Love is letting go the chains that tie your spirit down."

I've had a lot of chains trying to tie my spirit down lately. I'm looking forward to two weeks vacation starting Monday, and I hope to use that time to get my spirit back on track, in many ways.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Move Over Chef Boyardee

We finally ate our last meal from the Self Magazine article, Cook Once, Eat Healthy All Week. This was the one I was least excited about trying, Vegetable and Chickpea Ragout.

I had to look up "ragout" and find out what it even means. Turns out it means "a main dish stew" and it's pronounced "ra-goo" just like Ragu pasta sauce. So there, you learned something new. Unless you already knew that. I didn't.

This is a very healthy vegetarian meal (15 grams of fiber, 14 grams of protein, 380 calories), which I liked. I do eat meat, but not a lot. I'd love to say I eat none, but I'm not there yet.

We left the olives out, because I don't like olives. Also, our "fresh basil" was long ago not fresh anymore, so that didn't make it into our final plates. The only other change I made to the recipe is, it calls for "1/2 cup whole wheat penne pasta, cooked." This confused me greatly. Does it mean 1/2 DRY pasta, cooked? Or 1/2 cup of the already cooked? And either way, seriously?! 1/2 cup of pasta?? Who cooks a 1/2 cup of pasta?? And this is supposed to serve TWO?!

I cooked more like two cups of pasta. So, I'm sure the calorie count went up there, but it was whole wheat at least. I mean, I had a total of probably six cups of the veggie/chickpea mixture. Was I really supposed to stir in 1/2 cup of pasta??? Also, I should say, this ended up making us more like three or four servings, so I think we're good.

As for taste, it wasn't bad. It was just kind of bland. I actually added salt, pepper, and garlic powder to the final product, which helped a lot. R said he liked it, "except it has these weird crunchy dry beans in it?" I guess he's not a chickpea fan. But he ate two helpings, and he took the leftovers to work for lunch the next day.

Now that we've eaten all five of our meals, my final evaluation is that the one meal I would definitely cook again is the Sweet Potato Shepherd's pie. That one was majorly tasty, and we both agreed.

And I do like the idea of having basics on hand (and sometimes frozen) to make quick, healthy meals. We've used the leftover onion/garlic mixture three times in various dishes, and we used the leftover broccoli/red pepper mixture to make a quick and healthy stir-fry. So, I may look more into "cook ahead and freeze" type plans and try more recipes.

I'll keep you posted on anything good I find!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Answer is WATER

What is the best dietary supplement for weight loss?

What diet -friendly drink should you consume to ensure you will add many steps to your day? (think potty breaks)

What is the most natural cleansing / body detoxifying item on the planet?

What substance (when there isn't enough) is one of the 4 most common causes of a headache?

What is one of the easiest ways to reduce your "eat out" bill?

What are you probably not drinking enough of?

What does your brain need a lot of in order to properly function?

What kind of weight do unhealthy diets help you shed?

What should you go grab a tall glass of right now?

Clearly, I'm on a water kick. Because I consider myself to be a pretty heavy drinker (of liquid - not alcohol). And while I've been paying attention...I have noticed that while I do drink a lot - not very much comes in a "pure" state. I have water flavors added in, I drink lots of iced tea, but I'm not doing so good at giving my body it's 8-8ounces of water per day...and I am CERTAINLY not getting a good portion of that without something mixed into it.

So this week - and on upcoming weeks. I challenge myself (and you) to count your fluid intake. Meet the minimum of 8-8 ounce servings and make sure at least half of those are"pure"...plain water (though fruit or fresh herbs mixed into them is still "pure" in my book).

In a week, we'll do a check in and see how it's you met the challenge, if you met the challenge, and strategies to help others...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Let Them Eat Cake

I must credit Katherine with this post, because I searched for this video after her comment on my earlier post about cake.

I found the video quite amusing, and sadly, quite true, so I thought I'd share.

I'm going to another cake event this weekend, a wedding. I'm going to a wedding that's five hours away. It's a long way to travel for cake.

I hope it's good cake.

Friday, June 4, 2010

What Was I Thinking?

As I shared about a week ago - I was going to try some Special K Regina-ized two week long diet.

Then the holiday weekend happened.

And baseball season.

And work meetings.

And this is the problem with diets that don't really include "real / normal food".

It only took me about 3 minutes when reviewing the Special K diet online to realize that their suggestions were filled with HFCS, lots of sugar, not lots of fiber (even when they said it was a high fiber item), and little to no veggies / fruits. And even a little sprinkling of "insignificant" amounts of trans fats!

I guess if you were consuming fast food in super sized quantities every single day - this would be a good change. But even then, it wouldn't be long lasting and it is DEFINITELY NOT the road to a healthier YOU!

I thought this would be a good idea for me because in this season - I often don't want to eat at all. Or I want to eat something cold. (And while ice cream for dinner can happen on occasion - I would not suggest you try it for weeks on end.)

In the Regina-version of this Special K diet. I did eat a good amount of cereal. I do not own a single bowl that makes the box suggestion of a "serving" an easy thing to measure out (and by the way, it varies by flavor of Special K that you are eating)...but isn't this the problem with everyday food intake? The box says 5 crackers - and 10 crackers aren't enough to seem like a snack? Must learn portion control.

Also, you would think I would know better...several years ago I had a gum graft ( a midevil procedure where they take skin from the roof of your mouth and add it to the gum line - yeouch!) and since then the top of my mouth has been very sensitive. I don't like soggy cereal. So this means that meal after meal of crunchy flakes= my mouth feeling very assaulted.

I will continue to replace a meal here and there with cereal - it's not the easiest thing to pack for my desk. And sometimes a girl just needs real food - you know?

What I should have done instead - is branch out even further from the Special K diet. I should have done the Baked Oatmeal diet - high fiber, low sugar, fresh fruit. Serve it warm or cold! I am still considering this - as I simply do not get tired of this food item. And if I wanted cereal - who's to say that a higher fiber cereal wouldn't work just as well as a meal replacement?

Needless to say - with the decreased fiber, the holiday, the concession stand at baseball games...the numbers are not moving in the right direction. So 1 week in and I'm already sick of the plan!

How many times must we be doomed to re-learn the basics? Fruits and veggies first. Moderation everywhere. Smaller serving sizes. More calorie free drinks. And a healthy - moving lifestyle.

Can you say "duh"?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Is Food My Drug of Choice?

I've had a couple moments this week where I totally had an understanding of why people do drugs. Never fear, I'm not heading toward my nearest crack dealer. But a couple days this week I truly felt like I wanted to just pop some pill or drink some drink that would just make the bad feelings STOP.

And I got to thinking about food being something I use in those situations. Somehow what's been happening lately isn't anything that ice cream can cure. Trust me, I've tried. But I know I do it all the time.

Bad feeling? Ack! Must eat chocolate! Make it stop!

I spent a couple years in a haze of various anti-depressants, and I truly do not want to go back there. I truly do not believe that I need something all the time anyway. I've narrowed it down to my feeling bad generally in the week or so before my period (okay, sometimes two weeks) and feeling bad generally when I have to go to work.

Which sadly, happens about five times a week. For eight hours at a time.

But the rest of the time? I'm fine!

Anyway, my latest potential solution has been going to the drug store and stocking up on every supplement and herb that is supposedly helpful with mood, stress management, or PMS.

I'm taking a multi-vitamin, B6, Calcium and Magnesium, Fish Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, and St. John's wort. I'll keep you posted on how this goes. I've started slowly, just taking one of each per day. Some of these things say on the instructions to take two pills three times a day! Ugh.

Anybody have any good advice on which supplements have helped you stabilize your mood? Not counting chocolate, I mean.