Archive for September, 2010

I have been off the food log for about a week, and truthfully I don’t feel very good at all. But what I’m struggling with the most is how to talk about my progress or lack thereof.

I have promised myself that I will not use words like “good” and “bad” to describe how I’m doing with my new lifestyle. Why? It might seem like it’s a little too literal, and maybe I need to park my writer/editor mind while I’m working on changing my lifestyle. But the problem is that the words “good” and “bad” are words that are value heavy, and I don’t want to frame this project with these kinds of words, for a couple of reasons:

1) I feel that talking about my lifestyle in terms of “good” and “bad” makes it feel like a temporary effort instead of a conscious effort to change my life.

2) “good” and “bad” doesn’t leave room for special occasions like birthday cake, girls’ nights, and season premieres (all occasions that should be celebrated with something yummy!)

3) I don’t think that the terms “good” and “bad” are really appropriate to use to talk about food consumption and exercise routines, which are not really moral issues, as these words suggest.

The problem is that when people ask me how I’m doing, they’re looking for a quick response. They have no interest in listening to me talk at length about what I ate yesterday, and how much exercise I got in. So how can I talk about this project without using what I consider to be value-laden language.

Honestly I don’t have an answer; right now I just tell people that “I’m on track and trying to stay the course” or something equally cheesy. If I’m not doing so well, I just say something like “ugh!”

I think we have to learn to accept that the language we use can impact the way we think about life, and also, how we act. If we use passive language, then we can start to feel that we are objects that are acted upon, instead of actors who engage in activities. Likewise, when we use language that characterises our eating habits as “good” or “bad” we are speaking into a discourse much larger than food consumption.

Some people would argue that “good” and “bad” is a religious discourse used to describe “good” actions like charity and “bad” actions like adultery. So how then did these words come to describe whether I do or do not eat cheesecake.

This is the tension that I’m struggling with as I am trying to tell you that things are not going that well. The numbers on the scale are going up, not down, and my clothes are getting tighter, not looser. I’m also frustrated that as soon as I get myself into a good routine of getting up and exercising I seem to get sick, which derails me.

At this point I am looking for advice and motivation; does anyone have any tricks that might help?

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Wii Fit - Instant Fave!

Image by nataliej via Flickr

So, Circe and I started this blog almost a month ago, and so far I’ve only written one post. Unfortunately, that’s mostly because I don’t have anything to report in terms of our healthy living goals. B and I have had a busy month, and, as it always seems to during these times, our eating has suffered. I also haven’t made any time for exercise, other than my daily walk with Toby and my lone hike with Circe and the dogs.

I’m hoping I can get back on track this week. My exercise goal this week: to do at least half an hour of Wii Fit each night. It doesn’t sound like much, but I need to start somewhere. This idea was actually inspired by my parents. I went home to visit them this weekend, and they asked me to help them get set up on Wii Fit. They’ve had the game for about 2 years, and in all that time they’ve only played once (the day they got it, in fact). But they’ve recently retired and they want to start getting some daily exercise. So I showed them how to get it set up (only laughing a little at their attempts to use the Wii remote) and and they’re ready to start their new routine tomorrow.

I figure I should do the same, since in all honesty, I really haven’t played the game too much more than they have in the 2 and a half years B and I have owned it.  The reason, of course, is my own laziness. Aside from not bothering to make enough time for it, it’s always such a big ordeal to get it set up!

First I have to locate the game, and put it in the Wii. Then I have to pull out the Wii balance board, and move the coffee table out of the way so there’s a spot for it. Then I have to turn on the game. This is more complicated than it sounds, as it takes three remotes: one for the TV, one for the sound system, and one for the Wii. And more often than not, I have to change the batteries in the Wii remote.

Once the game is finally on, I usually procrastinate for a while in lieu of actually exercising. First I’ll weigh myself, and then examine the graphs to see how my weight and BMI have changed over time (luckily for me, this is not much). Next, I’ll weigh my dog, just for the fun of it. His weight never really changes either, but he enjoys barking at his little doggy avatar. This never fails to amuse me, and I’ll let him bark and growl for a bit. With those essentials out of the way, I’ll hem and haw over the games before I actually decide what I want to do. By this time, I’ve wasted at least half an hour, which never seems to leave me much time for actual exercising.

I aim to change all that, starting tomorrow. After all, if Circe can get up at 5am to work out with Gillian Michaels, surely I can take some time out of my evening to do a little Wii Fitting! So tomorrow it is. Wish me luck!

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About a month ago I went shopping with a friend. I hadn’t been working out regularly so I wasn’t too hopeful about finding clothes that I really loved, but I was wrong. I walked into the Jacob outlet store (notorious for carrying sizes 0 through 6 only) and found not 1 but 2 beautiful dresses. I was only in the market for one dress, but I just couldn’t decide, they were both so great, and at $40.00 I decided that I could splurge, so I got both dresses.

One is a stretchy wool, and it’s lovely; I’ve worn it to the office a couple of times. The other is a satin, and a little dressier. Before bed last night I decided that I would try the second one on again, and perhaps slot it into the rotation next week. To my dismay I had trouble with the zipper. I did get the zipper up, but then I turned and looked at myself in the mirror and discovered that I looked like…well…like I’d been stuffed into the dress. That was it, I set the alarm clock for 5. No more excuses.

The alarm did go off at 5, and I did (eventually) struggle out of bed and get going on my workout. I have Gillian Michael’s DVD Burn Fat, Boost Metabolism; I know it’s a couple of years old (2006), but it’s still new to me. I love it, and I love working out with Gillian (see, we’re on a first name basis). I find her very encouraging, and the workout is very energizing.

I had been hoping that the dog would stay in bed while I worked out, but just as the music started I heard a very pitiful whine from the bedroom. Nope, Cadie was up and interested in what was going on. I went and got her, and tried to settled her down on the couch (she has her very own comforter on the couch). It didn’t last long. Have you ever tried to work out with a dog? It can be very difficult. She was insisting on playing, but I’ve dealt with dogs in the past: I know that if I want her to stay in bed I can’t get up early and play with her. So I ignored the dog, I mean I threw the ball a couple of times, but I refused to let her derail me. When we moved on to the floor mat Cadie came and stuck her nose right in my face, and made me laugh out loud when she tried to lick my forehead, and jump on my feet as I was crunching. In the end though she made her way back to her comforter and fell asleep.

So having finished this workout 2 hours ago I feel good, a little sore, kind of tired, and hungry (I had to start working out on the day after I finished my week’s groceries), but I feel good. I’m proud of myself for getting up and getting it done. Now all I have to do, is do it again.

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A Kitchen Tragedy

I had a terrible day yesterday, and I fought the urge to go to the convenience store for about an hour when I finally made up my mind that I would make myself some popcorn. Living in the city I have a very small kitchen, it’s pretty standard for city rentals, but very small compared to Penelope’s kitchen which is lovely and big (not that I’m envious). Anyhow, because I don’t have a lot of counter space, and because I was using it only for popcorn, I made the decision to put my microwave into storage, and if I wanted popcorn I would make it on the stove top.

I haven’t made popcorn on the stove top in like 28 years, but everyone assured me that it would be easy, so I took their word for it and decided to give it a whirl. Firstly I had no idea how much oil to use, so I used probably more than a cup (which I now know is way too much) so I ended up adding more and more kernels to try to even things out. It took forever, and I was starting to worry that I would have kernels covered in boiling oil flying around my kitchen, so I locked the dog in the bathroom, wrapped my arm in a tea towel and hid behind the fridge (one advantage of a tiny kitchen) while I was agitating the pot.

The popping went relatively smoothly, and soon the dog was back out and looking expectantly at the stove, but I could smell that the popcorn was burning, so I took it off the head to let it cool while I got my popcorn bowl.

I am very sentimental about certain things, and my popcorn bowl is one of them. It belonged to my grandmother who very proudly told me that it was made of melmac. It is such a wonderful round, wide and deep shape, and even though it’s almost as old as my parents it looks brand news. Best of all, it has a little piece of masking tape where my grandmother wrote her name about 20 years ago.

So without thinking I poured my popcorn, and the unpopped kernels (and the boiling oil) into my favourite bowl, added my seasonings, and grabbed a drink. Then, picking up the bowl to head to the living room, I saw the little piece of masking tape sitting on the counter, and kernels falling out of the bottom on the bowl. I was horrified. I figured it out immediately and grabbed for a cheap glass bowl so that I could survey the damage. It’s bad.

The bowl is totally ruined, as you can see. I have a huge whole right in the middle of it, with 1/2 of the melmac plastic curling out in all directions. The dog was very curious about everything that was happening, so she started sniffing around to see if a piece of popcorn had fallen to the ground for her to eat. I didn’t want her eating anything that could burn her so I had to lickty split sweep the floor, then wipe down the counter top and cupboards, then I sat down to lick my wounds and find solace in my popcorn. But alas, it was not to be, the popcorn was burnt, and all I could think about was the ruined bowl, the last thing I had left from my grandmother.

The cool light of dawn has brought more perspective to this situation; the hole in the bottom of the bowl will make it a great planter, so I don’t need to throw it out. I think I’ll be heading out to get myself a popcorn popper, but in the meantime, here’s a star to commemorate my super star, bone head move.

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Penelope and I were raised and met in a small city, surrounded by farmland. As a teenager I would ride my bike down dirt roads and wave hello to the farmers as I passed. Although I love living in the city, every fall I feel a strong pull out toward the country.

I was home yesterday for my mother’s birthday. The morning drive was spectacular, under a bright blue sky, punctuated by a few fluffy white clouds, and framed with bright red and yellow leaves. Unfortunately, by the time I pulled into my mum’s driveway it was looking pretty overcast so we ended up doing inside activities instead. So it was a nice surprise today when I woke up from my mid morning nap to see the sun streaming into the apartment.


I found the dog sleeping in the bedroom, and said the magic words to her: “Cadie. Want to go for a walk?” And with that we were out the door. The leaves haven’t really started changing in the city yet, but there were a couple of highlights, like the two trees in the park that you see above.


We walked up Yonge Street, which was very crowded with other dog walkers and families out enjoying the sunny, warm September afternoon. Here you can see that even the ivy climbing up the wall of a house is starting to show signs of the season.

Cadie and I strolled up Yonge Street and then headed across and down Mt. Pleasant. As much as I long for the county at this time of year, I have to admit that we’re pretty lucky here in Toronto, especially up in midtown, as we have a ton of green space, all within walking distance.

It was a great walk; we were out for about 2 hours and we ran into good friends, both human and other.

Admittedly I'm not very comfortable with organized religion, but Sundays are still reflective days for me, days when I am very aware of the gifts I've been given. After all, it's hard not to be thankful on such a fabulous day!

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Curse you Galen Weston! I shake my fist at you, and your delicious and innovative products. I was doing really well; I stayed on track, and even bought new items at the grocery store, items that could help me be healthier. I was walking around the grocery store feeling very proud of myself when my eyes lighted on the President’s Choice Loads of Pecan Tarts ice cream. It is unbelievably good, and since I have been so good I thought I could handle it. I was wrong.

This ice cream is like frozen buttered fudge…I am starting to drool just thinking about it…

But I digress. I was cursing Galen Weston. The ice cream is like frozen fudge, with  bits of crust mixed in, but not too much, as this is really the least appetizing part of the of the ice cream.

Anyhow, we all have our weak moments. I will be going to a  belated birthday party tonight, but aside from that I am back on the horse.

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This is the kind of miserable rainy day that makes me want to put my head down on my ergonomically correct wrist rest and sob, which in turn makes me long for the days when a good cry would actually make me feel better, instead of worse.

Why do I want to cry? I don’t know. I don’t really have anything to be upset about, or complain about, but still, I’m feeling very emotional…and hungry. Isn’t it strange how the sudden desire to empty my emotions onto my desk also makes me want to add something to my life (food). Alright, so I am, admittedly, an emotional eater, but I still find it strange, and I can’t help see the cyclical nature of the situation here. First I want to dump out all of my emotions, to make room so that I can fill up on more food. This cycle may make me feel better in the long run (say if low blood sugar has me singing the blues), but is more likely to make me feel worse overall. I consider myself to be a reasonable person, but there is nothing reasonable about this cycle.

Funny too is what I’m craving. During a panick attack I want sugar, but when I feel wrung out I want salt (lots and lots of salt). While I’m recovering from a migraine I want lots of fatty cheese.

So my question here is about the nature of cravings: have I oversimplified my understanding of eating, assuming that all carvings should be ignored? Is it possible that there could be times when “controlled gorging” could be beneficial to a person’s health, if not their mental health? I think so; I believe in moderation, and I believe in trying to stay on track, but in trying to live a healthier life I think I’ve overlooked the fact that salt, sugar, and fatty cheese can be part of a good diet. So at this point my plan is to head to the grocery store at lunch time, and try to keep myself from succumbing to the depressing rain.

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