Mar 28, 2011

A Weekend of Good Decisions

This weekend we met the family for a weekend excursion to a cabin at Oglebay. We get a cabin there about twice a year, and have ever since I was a little kid. The place holds great memories for all of us, and we relish our chances to meet up there.

I had asked my sisters and mom last week if they wanted to do a Girls Free Spa Morning while we were there, which pretty much meant going to the indoor pool / hot tub / sauna / fitness center very early in the morning, before husbands and kids would know or care that we had gone. My youngest sister Annie and I decided on 7am as the official time, and I figured I’d be lucky if even she alone accompanied me, let alone my two other sisters and Mom.

Friday night we were up soo late, and even had trouble sleeping once we went to bed. With kids asleep on an air mattress at our feet, Bryan, me, Annie, and her husband Paul talked till after 2am like kids at a sleepover. It was so fun, but I knew my 6:30 alarm would come early! I slept restlessly, pretty much waiting for the alarm to go off, and finally it did.

Annie and I got up wordlessly, grabbed our stuff and exited the room in the dark. I got dressed, left the bathroom, and was pretty surprised to see that my sister Sara and even my mom were up too! Only Beth decided sleep was too pressing an engagement, and who could blame her.

It was cold and dark, so we decided to drive up to the lodge to get our spa on. When we got there, Sara really wanted to use the gym, but it was practically full of people. One elliptical trainer opened up, however, and I coaxed her into trying it while I did some weights. She did it, and it was her first time ever on one! I was so proud of her. Didn’t tell her that I probably wouldn’t have had the ovaries to do it the first time with other exercisers all around.

After the gym, we all ended up in the pool, then the sauna, and the hot tub. Went back to the gym with Annie while Sara and Mom showered up. It was great. I was so happy we all did that together.

Bryan and I drove home late Saturday night, and it was a lovely drive. Dark, empty roads, kids worn out asleep in the back… and we had all day yesterday to chill and get ready for our week. Made an awesome pot of chili for dinner, and we’re set up to have chicken Caesar salads tonight… with homemade croutons!

This morning was awesome, because Sara and I decided to initiate a new 3-day-a-week ritual of meeting early in the morning to walk our dogs together. We walked about 2 miles, and it was great. A great start to what will be a very healthy and rewarding Summer of Exercise.  

Mar 25, 2011

The Things People Say

People say some strange things to other people who are losing weight. I have learned that we all have our own way of dealing with others changing around us, and most commenters genuinely mean well. And while no remark is "wrong," per se, some do come off nicer than others. Some just don't make much sense at all. Here are a few of my favorites:

First, my true favorite: anything along the lines of "You're looking good!" That's a great thing to say to anyone, whether they've lost weight or not. This comment just makes you feel great about yourself. I wholly endorse saying this to anyone who strikes you this way, because they will almost certainly be appreciative. 

Some comments leave very little room for response, like "Look at you, Skinny Minny!" Okay… well should I say "Thank you" or maybe "Look at me, indeed!" Again, I know everybody has their own way, but this one tends to seem more accusatory than anything else. I know that I'm a lot smaller than I used to be, but there truly are people out there who would warrant the "Skinny Minny" handle, and I am not one of them. Incidentally, anyone who would be in that category probably has self-image issues of their own, and wouldn't like it any more than a two-year-ago version of myself would've liked being called "Fatty Mattie." 

Another one that comes out slightly accusatory is "What size is that shirt?!" If my shirt was a size Double X instead of Medium, would it be okay to ask me this question? 

Some are meant as a joke, but when taken literally make no sense at all. Here is an example: "You keep up with your diet, and you're gonna disappear!" Another one similar to this is "You're wasting away!" Right. I'm wearing size 16 jeans, and they are not too big for me. Sixteen is not an arbitrary number, by the way; they actually make size 0 jeans. Even though I am currently very happy with my weight, and plan to lose only a little more, my BMI says that I am still technically "obese." I'm not in danger of disappearing. But you're right; if I kept up this 3.15 lb/month weightloss for 4.94 years, I would indeed poof out of existence. 

My seriously all-time favorite comment ever came from a scientist at work, which I mention only because special accommodations must be made for their systematic thinking coupled with and tendency to be socially inept. We were walking out of the office together that day, and the scientist said "Have you intended to be losing weight?" I couldn't help it, it struck me so funny I laughed right out loud. I replied that yes, indeed I had been trying. I further said that I understood the concern, because if I had been losing weight due to having cancer, for instance, it wouldn't be very nice to compliment me for it. It reminded me of Mitch Hedburg saying not to wave at people, because "What if they don't have a hand?" 

When it comes down to it, losing weight is an adjustment for everyone, not just the person who's losing it. I'm not only a brand new person for me to get used to, but for everyone else as well. When things change, people comment on the change. I take them all as compliments, no matter what the words that come out actually are. 

Mar 4, 2011

Comparing the Paleolithic Diet to My Diet

My family has been emailing back and forth about the Paleolithic Diet, and I thought I'd write a post about what I think of this concept, and about eating a healthy diet in general. 

So, the Paleo Diet is basically a low carb diet... looks like they don't want you to eat many grains (if any), and no sugar or salt. Pretty much a whole foods diet, minus grains. That's cool if that's what somebody wants to do, but there's nothing inherently wrong with eating grains. Paleolithic people didn't eat them only because they didn't know how to grow them in large enough quantities to sustain life. They didn't have agriculture. They saw grains as "starvation food" because they were thinking of them as tiny things you would pick off individually from a plant and pluck into your mouth, and you'd spend more calories picking them than you'd get out of them. 

I think the best thing you can do with your "diet" (meaning 'the stuff that you eat,' not 'the limitations that you put on what you eat in order to lose weight') is to eat a variety of whole foods. When you go to the produce section, find something you've never tried before--vegetables and fruits--and try them. Find out what people make with them, or come up with your own recipes. Make it a point to try every fruit and vegetable you can. For instance, check out this video of Roni and Ryan trying pummelos for the first time.
(this video is from Roni's Greenlightbites.com
Basically, shop "around the outside of the store," as they say. Veggies, fruits, grains, meats, yogurt, etc. When you go into the aisles of the store, stay away from things that come in a box, but buy lots of cans of beans (or dry beans), and varieties of frozen vegetables.

And when it comes to avoiding the stuff that you know isn't good for you--cookies, cakes, ice cream, chips, pop, etc... do it all with moderation. Treat those things as what they are: treats. If you're very hungry, don't grab cookies first, because you'll eat 10 of them. Have a cookie when you're only a little bit hungry. And check labels. Every calorie counts, and some things that you love have fewer calories than other things that you only kindof love. My favorite new dessert is Edy's Fruit Bars (the little ones). They are pure frozen fruit on a stick, and 45 calories each. 

I have a thing for homemade food though, because I know that it's special. We get together with family, we make food, and it's communal. It's a bonding experience, and it matters. And it's DAMN good food! Last night I ate way too much food at Tayan's birthday celebration. Just don't let meals like that get you down. They don't make or break you, and they don't have to affect future decisions. This morning I had 6 oz plain nonfat yogurt with 3oz grapes in it for breakfast, and it was damn delicious too. 

One problem that we have that Peleolithic People didn't have is that our lives are so easy here in the U.S. that we don't have to physically work to attain food. We have cars that drive us to food, and money that buys more calories than we could ever need... yet our paleolithic brains still tell us that if we can rest, we should rest. Our brain thinks that we'll need that energy later to outrun a bear, or to run down a bear for food this winter, but that doesn't happen anymore. The bottom line is, we have to move our bodies to be healthy, and our brains are telling us to stay put. When it comes time to go take a walk, or a run, or get on your bike, or do some yoga, and you don't feel like it... you just have to turn your brain off for 10 minutes, and let your body do the walking. Once you get into the exercise, turn your brain back on and it will say "Oh yeah, this is fun! We like this!" 

Mar 2, 2011

5 Things I Would Tell Myself

Roni posted a question on her blog that she was revisiting from years ago. The question was "What 5 things would you tell yourself if you could go back in time?" She chose to go back to her 1991 self (when she was 15 years old), and she told herself these 5 things:

What do I tell myself?
  • Stop being so preoccupied with your body. You are young, fit, active and beautiful (that was really hard for me to type) Love who YOU are and stop comparing yourself to others, it’s not worth it, life is too short.
  • Wear clothes that FIT YOU!! I know you don’t believe it but baggy is not better and it makes you look much bigger then you are.
  • Stick to the salads at McDonald’s! (I worked at MickeyD’s for 5 years and ate WAY to many quarter pounders on my lunch breaks)
  • HAVE FUN! Life is too short to miss out on things because you are worried what you look like. Throw that bathing suit on, get in the ocean and SWIM! Enjoy it now before you are running after a 2 year old on the beach
  • Don’t wait until your junior year of college to take a computer class. Get into it early, you have a knack and one day you’ll make a career out of making web sites. Oh! you don’t know what a web site is, don’t worry you will soon enough. :~
And she later added this one:

  • Your body is capable of AMAZING things. One day you will have children and realize this. In the mean time treat it and yourself with kindness. Embrace who you are and don’t be ashamed of ANYTHING. Confidence is a hard thing to master. Start now.

She also asked her readers to answer the question for themselves. In thinking about this, I decided I wouldn't go back to my high school self. For one, High School Me was too young to listen--too much a teenager. Also, I was feeling pretty good in high school. My body had grown up into a beautiful young lady, and I knew it. A lot of the time in high school, I was "feelin' my freedom," as John Prine would say

In college though, I could have used some good advice. I was also "feelin' my freedom" then, but it was more in the glamor of cases of Natty Light with friends, and the freedom of spending all of your financial aid on trips to Applebee's and the Texas Roadhouse. It was the apathy of having things like 2 chili cheese dogs with a side of cheese and chili-covered fries for dinner, drinking all night, then trying to think in class the next morning.

My major in college was Environmental Protection, and it was filled with people who went hiking, canoeing, and rock climbing on the weekends. Instead of feeling like I could do those things too, I was the fat girl who could barely make it back up the mountain on our class arboretum trip. 

So anyway, if I could go back to my 1998 self--when I was 20 years old--I would tell myself the following 5 things:

  1. Start doing something by yourself every day--something that is fun and for your own health. Make it a habit. You will LOVE it. Bryan will understand.
  2.  Treat every day like the amazing gift from God that it is. Listen to Morning has Broken and Dare You to Move (when it comes out in 2 years), and live by these. 
  3. Learn about calories in vs. calories out. Every cookie/beer/late night meal from Hardees does count. There are no freebies.
  4. Re-take that Analytical Chemistry class. There was no need for you to ditch the final exam and fail the class. You will regret it if you don't. 
  5. Sara will be okay. Stick with her as best you can through her hard times. It will all turn out alright, but she needs your help.