Category Archives: Nutrition

Back in the saddle again

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Recently, someone complimented me on a certain body part. I did not believe him. But, that’s his opinion, and who am I to argue (said while silently disagreeing with his point of view). I would dearly like to believe him, I really would. I’ve been focusing on the mental and emotional aspects of my body image issues, trying to find a way to believe him when he compliments me on my body.

It hasn’t been working all that well.

Sure, I can accept that he has an opinion about how he views my body. I get that part. I just don’t agree with his opinion. Quite frankly, because I so vehemently disagree with his opinion, it is oftentimes a huge struggle for me to accept it as fact and not just a nicety. And so, I sit here, mulling over it, trying to come to terms with it, pouring my heart out in my journal…. to no avail. I simply cannot accept the fact that someone could be physically attracted to me.

Tonight, I had a bit of a revelation. I was mulling over different blog ideas in my head, sussing them out, gauging my thoughts and opinions, when it hit me:

No amount of thinking or trying to change my beliefs is going to help me accept his opinion. The only way I can possibly agree with how he sees me is to actually have a great (insert body part here).

When someone tells me that I have a nice smile or beautiful eyes, I believe them. Why? Because I can look at myself in the mirror and see that I do, indeed, have nice eyes and a great smile. The eyes I have my mother to thank, and the teeth? A great orthodontist. But the rest of me? Yeah. Not so much.

I can psychoanalyze the heck out of my body image issues. I can try different types of therapy and counseling. I can buy fancy clothes and wear great accessories: none of it is going to help.

The only way I will ever be able to believe my boyfriend when he comments on my body is if I work hard to create a body that I can love.

I read a great blog post today by the KnowledgeMaven about filling yourself up with love. She writes:

Every now and again, though, we need to turn the mirror of veracity on ourselves and provide the same love and support that we provide to others to ourselves. For me, the truth is that I often found it easier to have enough faith for everyone else.

Upon reading this, I realized that I don’t love my body, and I definitely don’t treat it in a loving way. That’s why I have such a hard time accepting my boyfriend’s opinion of me. And, that’s why I often feel uncomfortable when he treats me in loving ways.

Confession time: I haven’t truly exercised in months. In the last two months, I’ve been using baked goods to deal with stress. My pants are getting tight and I haven’t stepped on the scale in a long time. In short, I’ve been neglecting myself. In the last few weeks, my body has been trying to send me this message; aches & pains, stiffness, digestion ailments, and general moodiness have prevailed. I really don’t like the way I feel.

So, I’m setting some goals for the week ahead:

1. Eat clean 50-75% of the time.
2. Reduce my coffee intake and swap it for green tea.
3. Drink more water (aiming for 2 litres/day)
4. Morning yoga 3x this week.

My reward will be a spa night for myself, including a bubble bath, mud mask, candle light and maybe a glass of wine. I like how this reward focuses on treating my body with love!

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When 50% is a Good Thing

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If you don’t already know, I’m a school teacher. I spend a lot of my time marking and grading. When I was a kid, if you got 50% on a test, it was a bad thing (I can’t remember, but I seem to think it earned you a “D”) Nowadays, a 50% is a C- (which means “not yet meeting expectations”). Grades are a big thing for me – not only professionally, but personally. I have spent pretty much all of my life around this idea of being graded. In elementary and secondary school, I brought home decent enough grades to keep my parents happy without having to do too much work. Now that my own children are entering high school, we talk about the importance of a good GPA as it pertains to getting into post-secondary programs.  As a music student, I took Royal Conservatory Exams, and remember the thrill of getting a “First Class Honours with Distinction” on a few theory exams…. and, I remember the devastation of failing my grade 10 practical exam the first time I took it (a pass, in that instance, was 70%). When I recently returned to university, I decided that this was my time to shine, and I pushed myself to get straight As. Each essay I got back with a lovely red “A” on the last page brought me joy. Those A+s were cause for celebration. When I was doing my teaching practicum, which was a pass/fail program, a friend and I resolved to give each other As at the end of the term, because we were both so driven by letter grades.  And, I’ve been known to brag about graduation from my B.Ed program with straight A+s. Grades are omnipresent in my life.

Today, however, I realized something very important: 50% is good enough.

Wow – I could hear my friends gasping at reading me say that!!! But, it’s true.

This week, I started following the Eat-Clean Diet (which isn’t really a diet as much as it is a lifestyle change for me). Typically, when I start a new “diet” it’s an all-or-nothing thing for me. If I couldn’t give myself a grade of “A” (or better) after a couple of days, I’d get so discouraged, and quit. Which would often lead to me feeling depressed and thereby eating more (usually in the form of chocolate).

Last Friday, during my counselling appointment, my counsellor had me set some goals. I decided that I’d eat clean for breakfast and lunch, which, a few days later, turned into “eat clean for two meals/snacks per day.” I know it sounds like a simple goal, but for me to not strive for perfection is very, very difficult.

You know what? It’s working! In striving for this partial goal, this ‘not-quite-perfect’ goal, I am actually feeling successful!! Sure, I’ve had a few “dirty meals” (um, Burger King isn’t ‘clean eating’ last time I checked), but, because my goal is two meals/day clean, I’m not beating myself up when I have one unhealthy meal. Ok, so I had that piece of cake and a can of pop at lunch today… who cares?!? It was one meal, and I didn’t let it ruin my day! I had a very healthy breakfast, and my dinner was really clean…. and tonight, when I was having a major sugar craving, I waited it out, reminding myself that this is just my body’s way of getting used to a new lifestyle, one that doesn’t depend on refined sugars for energy.

How cool is that?!?!

Even though yesterday I had Burger King for lunch, and today I splurged a bit, I don’t feel like a failure. I am able to focus on my success because I met my goal. And I can do it again tomorrow, and the day after that. Then, once I get used to eating 50% clean, I can increase it to 75% clean.

When I went to search for an image for this post, the first thing I typed into the search engine was “50%.” Do you know what came up? A bunch of 50% Off sale signs. That made me chuckle… maybe this 50% approach will help me take pounds off!!

I’ve never been one for baby steps. No siree. I’ve always been an ‘all or nothing’ type gal. However, I’m learning to be kinder to myself, to love myself, and to forgive myself. I’ve said it before that we treat our pets better than we treat ourselves. As I get ready to embark on a new year of teaching (and grading!) I need to remember something very, very important:

I am a great teacher who treats her students with love, compassion, empathy, kindness, respect and dignity (as every good teacher does): it’s time I started treating myself as well as I treat my students.

When a student fails a spelling test, I don’t tell them they should just quit school! When a student feels discouraged by an assignment that seems too difficult, I help them work through it, step by step. My goal as an educator is to help my students believe in themselves and feel proud of a job well done. I have come to learn that one student’s amazing achievement may be another student’s worst work; I work hard to help my kids recognize their strengths and improve their weaknesses. I encourage them to keep trying, over and over again, until they learn.

Why should I be any different with myself? Why can’t I encourage myself to keep trying and trying until I learn a new way of living? Because, really, it isn’t about the grade. Ask any teacher: grades are not as important as the lessons learned.

I am learning. I am learning a new way of being. It won’t always come easy, but as long as I try my best, I will succeed.

So, yeah, 50% is a good thing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oven Roasted Brown Rice Pilaf

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I took this recipe and modified it, as I didn’t have tomatoes on hand.

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/3 – 1/2 c finely chopped mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped.
  • 2 cups brown basmati rice
  • 1 Tbsp fresh oregano or thyme
  • 4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, heated (you can use vegetable broth to make it a vegetarian dish)
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste.

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large, heavy ovenproof saucepan with a lid. Add the onion & garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and red pepper, saute until soft.
  3. Add rice and chopped oregano. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the rice is shiny, about 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in hot stock. Cover pot and bring to a boil.
  6. Transfer to oven and continue to cook, covered, until liquid is absorbed – about 40 to 45 minutes.
  7. Remove the rice from the oven and fluff with a fork. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl.

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The original recipe called for 4 1/4 cups of broth, but I misread the recipe while making it and used 4 1/2 cups – the rice was nice and soft. All three boys said they liked it – and they don’t normally eat brown rice.

Eating Clean

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Today, I am starting something new: Clean Eating. It’s a term I’ve been hearing over and over again since starting this journey. The way I see it is that if the universe keeps presenting you with an idea, perhaps you should listen. There are hundreds and hundreds of diet books, programs, pills, magic potions, on which you can spend money. Those of you who have been following my blog know that I’m trying to become fit and healthy without giving into the propaganda of the diet industry (and without giving them a ton of money!)

Well, I have to admit, I gave in the other day and bought a “diet book”. Actually, I bought three diet books, costing me a total of $33. Which really isn’t that bad.

What books, you ask?

From the research I’ve been doing, this approach seems to make sense to me. Eat more of the healthy stuff – protein, complex carbs, healthy oils; Eat less of the unhealthy stuff – sugars, refined foods, calorie-dense/nutrient poor, prepackaged foods. Sure, I could probably figure this out all on my own, but I love learning, and knowledge is power, right?

Tosca Reno, the author, states that our physiques are 10% genetics, 10% training and 80% nutrition.  I cannot control genetics (which, in reality, I’ve been somewhat blessed with! My dad is a very trim man. From my mother, I am blessed with amazing skin!). The thought of training freaks me out – I still don’t see myself as a ‘exerciser’. But I love to eat. And, I can control food!! And if 80% of how I look is determined by what I eat, that means I can control how I look! That’s great news.

This past week, I have felt tired, depressed, unmotivated, lazy, listless, and have sat around on the couch like a blob.  I’m not surprised: I’ve been filling up on simple carbs and sugary food. I really don’t recall eating much fruit and veggies in the last week. And once you feel that way, it is really hard to be motived out of it.

Fortunately, I have help. My darling friend Jenn and I went grocery shopping together this morning. She’s doing the Eat-Clean thing too (albeit for slightly different reasons than I). She’s helping me with grocery lists and menu plans, which is a godsend. It was nice to go shopping with someone else – I felt far less tempted to buy junky stuff (although, I did buy some not-so-healthy choices for my kids, but it’s things that I generally don’t eat, so I’m not tempted to eat it).

I had my first Eat-Clean lunch today:

2 pc. sprout grain bread

1/2 avocado

1 tomato slice

1 oz. reduced fat cheese

A bit of sprouts

1 c. strawberries

I am SO full, and feel great. I am looking forward to seeing what heath benefits I can notice in the next few days. I’m a bit worried that it will be hard to give up sugar entirely, wondering what type of withdrawal symptoms I may experience. I am looking forward to having more energy, feeling more clear-headed and emotionally stable (less mood swings), having healthier looking skin and, of course, losing weight.

I was reading in Tosca’s book that you can expect to lose 3 lbs a week. I’m not sure if that will happen to me, because I’m not focusing on going “all or nothing” with this. I know myself well enough to know that if I do go all gung-ho on this, and try my best to follow it perfectly, the minute I mess up, I’ll give up. I’m trying to see this as a lifestyle change, taking it one day at a time. I was talking with my therapist yesterday, and she was helping me set some  goals. This week’s goal that I came up with in counselling is to eat clean for breakfast and lunch.  I think I’m going to tweak that a bit: Aim to eat clean for two main meals and snacks/day. I have menu plans and a fully stocked fridge with healthy food. I think I can do this!

 

That’s ok

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So the past 36 hours or so haven’t been the greatest. I’ve eaten too much, most of which has been junk. But, that’s ok. I’m not going to beat myself up about it. Today is a new day, and I’m being more careful with what I put in my body.

The last few days have been a bit on the emotional side. On Thursday night, we had a picnic in the park and a good friend joined me. It was a lovely evening, and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. Sure, I didn’t exactly eat the healthiest stuff, and I didn’t track my food that night, but spending time with my children and one of my dearest friends was just so darn good for the soul. I needed that. I also needed to give myself permission to not be perfect.

Yesterday, I messed up. I ate poorly, made terrible choices, and succumbed to a bit of emotional eating. But, it was just one day. I have forgiven myself, and put it in the past.  I also know that right now is that time when I am more likely to engage in mindless eating to appease that carb craving that visits every so often. I am trying to figure out how best to deal with this regular occurrence… allow myself to self-medicate with chocolate, knowing I can’t stop at one? Try desperately to avoid the craving, only to fall horribly later? Not quite sure what to do.

Great Week!

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Last week, I made a bet with my friend Jodi to see who could be the most diligent with tracking their food intake for the week (and *sigh*, yes, staying within the calorie recommendations – not just donuts and pizza all day). I’m pretty certain it’s a tie (although I’m secretly hoping I beat her!)… but honestly? I don’t really care who won. I needed this little contest to motivate me in tracking my food. I know that keeping track of what I eat is one of the most important tools I have in this grand adventure. In the past, the only times I’ve ever been successful in losing weight was when I was tracking my food.

I must admit, I am quite proud of myself. I tracked everything I ate for the last seven days (even the trip to Burger King and the blizzard I ate on Friday!). For the most part, I stayed within my calorie allowance. My dietician suggested that I aim to eat healthy 80% of the time, and allow for some splurges 20% of the time. This cuts down on the guilt and shame, as well as the pressure to stay on an eating plan. And, realistically, that’s what I did. In the past week, we celebrated my youngest son’s birthday, and I treated myself to the aforementioned Burger King and blizzard.

I am really glad that Jodi and I challenged each other. I had been feeling really down about my lack of progress, and hadn’t been eating all that well. In fact, I felt a bit out of control. And, when you have an anxiety disorder, feeling out of control, even in the slightest, is a terrible feeling. I now feel much more in control and a lot happier. My motivation levels are rising, and I feel like I can actually do this!

The app that I’ve been using, My Fitness Pal has to bee one of the best weight loss apps/websites I have ever used! For a long time, I was using the Weight Watchers app (which you have to pay monthly dues to use). It was ok, but I found a lot of the foods I regularly ate weren’t in the database. I have tried SparkPeople before, but it seems like a bit of overkill, and you end up getting tons of emails from them every day. But I think I have found a winner in My Fitness Pal. The database of foods is great – I have not yet had to manually enter any food. Plus, I love the scan function – you can scan the bar code of any food product, and all of the nutritional information magically appears! I also love the way that the foods you eat on a regular basis are automatically saved to a list… so if you tend to eat the same thing for breakfast every day, you don’t need to search for those items each time you enter them. Like the Spark People app, My Fitness Pal has graphs that track your progress. The website is great too, although I haven’t spent time exploring it that much, I did pick up a nifty weight tracker that I’ve got on the side bar of this blog.

This has been a great week. Using the My Fitness Pal app has made it really easy to track my food, and, realistically, I think I can really keep tracking my food this way.

So, while I think I probably beat Jodi, it doesn’t really matter, because I really feel like I’ve won this week. I even enjoyed a delicious home-made Indian feast last night while staying within my calorie range. This doesn’t feel like a diet. This feels like a lifestyle change, and I feel like I am going to be very successful!

Game on!

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I still can’t believe the response I’ve gotten to this blog. What amazes me is not only that people are reading it (I figured at least my friends would read it), but that complete strangers are reading it and following it! So cool!

But what thrills me the most is the support I’m getting from close friends and strangers alike. One of the best things I’ve encountered since starting this blog is another blog with a very similar theme, Fat Girl PhD. Today, she wrote a great post about how she has managed to lose 110 lbs without the use of gimmicky, fad diets. I absolutely love her blog – she is such an inspiration for me, seeing someone with a similar problem be successful. The best part about her blog is that she is going to start sharing some recipes, meal plans, exercise tips and tools. I just can’t wait to see what she has to post, and to learn from her experiences!

The other amazing source of inspiration and support is my friend Jodi. Tomorrow morning, we begin a week long challenge. The goal? To track our food using iPhone apps (she uses Lose It, I use My Fitness Pal – both very similar). The person who tracks the most for the week is declared the winner; the loser buys coffee. I am game!

I am a competitive person, and I am SO going to win this challenge. Plus, it’s not like it’s an actual weight loss competition. That wouldn’t be fair because I think I’d win since one of us isn’t going to a wedding this weekend. And, I’m glad it’s not an exercise challenge – one of us (hint: not me!) did FemSport earlier this year. If you think about it, it’s kind of like competitive eating, just instead of eating two hundred hot dogs in 5 minutes, we’re eating and keeping track of it. I didn’t even say that we had to eat healthy, just that we had to track what we ate. I could eat donuts and pizza all week, but as long as I write it all down, I win.

Betcha didn’t see that one coming, my friend!