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Posts Tagged ‘diet’

Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper

Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper (Photo credit: ManyLittleBlessings)

I remember a few years back, on the first Sunday of Lent, the minister at my church made a humorous observation, one that has stayed with me and that I repeat often. He said: “as good Protestants you’ve probably already given up on giving up.” I laughed then, and I laugh whenever I think of it. Up until last year I always gave something up for Lent. Usually it was chocolate, or ice cream, or some other guilty pleasure of which I was starting to feel a little ashamed.

The minister was encouraging us to see Lent as a time to broaden our understanding of spirituality, and to use the Lenten season for self improvement, if not for fasting. Last year, mostly because I couldn’t think of anything to give up, I decided that I would instead focus on adding something to my routine, and so I meditated. I meditated every night before bed, and enjoyed it so much that I shared my guided meditations with any friend who expressed an interest. Instead of giving up I decided to add in, to build up my spiritual health, rather than deny myself something I shouldn’t be eating anyhow. I added something to my life to make myself more spiritually aware, help ease my stress, and bring back a sense of calm. In fact, it was the best Lenten season I’d ever had—so good, that I swore I would never give up again.

This year, as we start Lenten anew I’ve changed my tune. I’ve decided to give up diet pop. Diet pop is more than just a guilty pleasure, it’s a daily indulgence that, I worry, is really problematic. So, for that reason, I’ve decided to give up diet pop.

We all have our Achilles heels, those foods that we know are bad for us, but that we can’t seem to pull ourselves away from. Mine is pop. A few years ago I switched to diet pop. I told myself that I needed the carbonation, but I couldn’t justify the sugar in regular pop. So I drank the diet pop, and didn’t give it another thought. But now I’ve reevaluated this indulgence, and I know that it has no place in my life. So I’m choosing to respect my belief that I deserve good health, and that good health is something I can achieve.

Over the summer I made the transition to a mostly plant-based diet. Since that time I’ve been really interested in food: how it’s made, what’s in it, and how it affects us. Then last week, when I was quite sick, I had no energy, so I found myself at home sleeping and watching movies. My second day home, I was flipping through Netflix when I found a documentary called Hungry for Change. I tried not to watch it; I was looking for a good laugh, but as nothing else really appealed to me, I decided to watch it.

Sure, there are lots of things that I took from this movie, but the one that really spoke to me was the information on diet pop. I won’t get into all of the arguments that Hungry for Change makes against diet pop, because frankly there are far too many of them, but there was one argument that really hit home with me. Aside from being full of chemicals, diet pop, the experts argued, is not calorie free. Manufacturers use artificial sweeteners, so that they can make the claim that it is calorie free. And in one sense this is true: no sugar means no calories. But these artificial sweeteners still have a lot of carbs in them, which when you ingest them are converted to sugar in the body. This is all stuff I know. I worked for many years in diabetes education, and so I have a pretty good idea about how this works. (By pretty good, I mean less than a dietician, but perhaps more than the average person.) Still, in spite of the fact that I know this, I continued to drink my stupid diet pop, and think nothing of it. But today it stops. I am giving up my diet pop, and replacing it with water, or other nutrient-rich drinks.

I struggled for a long time with this decision. I hate to “use” a time meant for spiritual reflection and personal betterment for something as base as kicking the pop habit, but I think that this is the right thing to do. I like to think that instead I’m using this time to bring myself back to a more natural diet, which will, hopefully, have other spiritual benefits.

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Deutsch: Ben & Jerrys Cherry Garcia

I often think about support systems. How we keep ourselves on track, and the people who are standing beside us, urging us on, are a big part of the success we experience. For most of us, we get the majority of our support from friends and family. Some of us might have the support of health care professionals, but at the end of the day, the decision to exercise, or to have that second bowl of ice cream, is between us, the voices in our heads, and often the reflection in the mirror. So I guess it’s not all that surprising that we often make the wrong decision.

I have been lucky enough to discover a new supporter. Back in March I walked into my local convenience store and picked up a bag of chips, a two-litre bottle of Dr. Pepper, and a pint of Cherry Garcia ice cream. While I was waiting for the charges to clear my account I started chatting to the sales clerk. I told her that it was my first splurge in two weeks. She laughed and asked if I was on a diet. I laughed and said, well… yes, but also it’s about saving money, since junk food is expensive. Then we both laughed, because my three items had come to nearly twenty dollars. I took my “treasures” and went home to enjoy them.

A few weeks ago I had another series of cravings. I was in the store three more times, in as many days. On my second trip the sales clerk reminded me that I had given up junk food. I became defensive, and told her that I deserved some credit for not coming in before. She laughed and packed my treats into my Lulu Lemon bag.

I could make no such protestation when I arrived the next day with my Lulu Lemon bag in font of my face. She laughed as soon as she saw me slink into the store. Undeterred, I got my treats, said a few self loathing words to her, and turned to leave. In a pathetic attempt to salvage some dignity and pretend that I have willpower, I said “you won’t see me now for a long time.” “Good,” she said, “I’m here all the time.” And with that I left, knowing that I had lost my anonymity, but had gained a new supporter. And an important supporter at that; now that I know there is another set of eyes on me I think twice before spur of the moment over indulgencies.

It’s been two months since that last meeting, and my only interaction with this kind sales clerk is when I stop my dog walk to wave at her through the open door. It’s good to know that she’s keeping me on track.

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Three toothbrushes
Image via Wikipedia

Last week I went to see my periodontist, to see how the graft was doing. Great news, the graft took really well. So well, in fact, that the doctor said “the only problem is that it makes the tooth in front look terrible.” So that slag aside, I’m going to focus on the good news and tell you that I am now cleared to eat solids. I’m still waiting for the palate to heal. The doctor said it would be another 3 or 4 weeks, but still, at least I know that this procedure was successful. The bad news is two-fold:

1) My gums are “terrible.” I already knew that, but it really drives it home when you hear a specialist say it in those words. But it’s not just my hurt feelings, it means that the doctor wants to see me back in 10 months, where we will probably do another tooth, and maybe more.

2) I had to buy a new toothbrush, and relearn how to brush my teeth. Apparently I need to be paying attention to the angle that I use to hold my toothbrush, I need to separate my mouth into quadrants and ensure that I spend 2 minutes brushing, gently, so that I remove plaque, and bacteria, but don’t brush away the gum. (As an aside I’m pretty heavy handed, so this is really challenging for me, and causes me no small amount of stress for 4 to 6 minutes every day.)

But that’s enough about the downside. let’s get back to the upside…the food. As I think I have mentioned I’m not a huge fan of going to restaurants. I like the companionship of eating out with friends, but I’ve often found restaurants over-priced. I mean, $14.00 for a chicken wrap and fries? I’m pretty sure that I can make that or something much nicer at home for about the same price.

So, now you know about me, you know that I don’t care to pay to eat out every day, but I do like going out for a treat that I can’t make at home. This includes Sushi, Indian food, and of, course bi bim bap. These are just foods that I haven’t learned how to make yet. Though I should also tell you that I like eating tamer foods like fish and chips and hamburgers, these are just foods that I can’t make as well as most restaurants.

Penelope doesn’t post as much, so you may not know as much about her. She loves going to restaurants. I don’t know what her favourite dish or restaurant is, but I know she loves to go. You may not know either that Penelope is a vegetarian. And until recently I privately referred to her as a “boring vegetarian.” Penelope is very committed to her beliefs, and she doesn’t cheat. But, I have argued in the past, neither does she take advantage of the delicious variety of vegetarian and pescatarian foods.

The photo taken above came from my birthday dinner; that was the first time Penelope agreed to try Korean bi bim bap. And I’m pleasantly surprised to report to you that she likes it! She really likes it!

Bi bim bap is a yummy meal in a bowl, that has sprouts, and veggies like peppers, zucchini, and spinach to name just a few possibilities. It’s brought to the table in hot cast iron bowls with white swirls of steam billowing up toward the ceiling. When the waiter puts the bowl on the table they mix in a full serving of white rice, and then add as much or as little spice as you like. I like to have chicken in my bowl, while Penelope goes for the mixed vegetable bowl. We like to pair this meal with cool, creamy milkshakes (orange, pineapple and mango for me, and strawberry banana for Penelope.)

 Knowing that Penelope likes bi bim bap as much as I do makes me really happy. So when I found out that my graft had taken and that I was going to have a joyful reunion with food, I decided that we should go to Korean Grill. We ordered our chicken and veggie bowls, along with our milkshakes, and we had a nice conversation while I ate my steaming dinner very slowly, being careful not to burn the roof of my mouth. I have to say I thought the chicken looked really strange: large, white and really soft. Yup that’s right, I had the veggie bowl, and I was eating tofu. Apparently 3 weeks of nothing but Carnation Instant Breakfast and oatmeal (YUCK!) has completely erased all memory of the way food tastes from my brain.

But, no harm, no foul, Penelope and I exchanged doggie bags and I packed the chicken to take to work for lunch the next day. Too bad that I then left my lunch bag on the counter all day. Oh well, Korean Grill isn’t going anywhere. Now I have a reason to try to make Penelope go back for another meal.

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weight loss exercise class

Image by ninahale via Flickr

So as you know I’ve spent the last year trying to lose weight. I’ve started taking classes, forcing myself on the treadmill, I’ve kept food diaries, and I’ve tried to focus on healthy lifestyle choices. I was going about it all wrong. All I needed to do was get dental surgery.

Yup, dental surgery was the answer. I had a gum graft a little over 2 weeks ago, and the rules you have to stick to following a gum graft are pretty strict. You have to stick to soft foods, chew on the other side of your mouth, and make sure that you are constantly rinsing your mouth so that bacteria doesn’t start to form.

The truth is that the whole process has been so unpleasant; the roof of my mouth has felt so stressed and the need to rinse with warm salt water made eating a very unpleasant option. So instead of eating I’ve been drinking. I drink a lot of Carnation instant breakfast and V8. I supplement this with ice cream and yogurt. A lot of ice cream and yogurt. The truth is that I was very worried that I would gain weight. I was worried about drinking my calories–it’s so easy to lose track–but so far, so good.

I haven’t been on a scale in more than 2 weeks, so I have no idea of what I actually weigh, but I judge my weight based on my ability to fit into my clothes, and my clothes have been fitting much better. In fact, I’ve been able to get into some clothes that I haven’t worn since before I started dating my ex.

So, having finally achieved some success with my weight loss I’m feeling pretty good. Now all I need to do is find a way to keep it off once I start eating solids again.

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So here we are, the 100th post, and I need to have some progress to report.

The good news is that I was so productive in January that I am feeling awesome. In fact,  2  weeks ago I felt better than I had in a long time. I mean, I felt so good that I almost posted this at that time. I didn’t, obviously, but I did treat myself to a new lipstick to celebrate.

I’ve always been curious about lip stains, it seems like such a good idea. Disappointingly, I didn’t find that it lasted much longer than regular lipstick, so I think I will just go back to my nice neutral gloss. But I digress.

As I was saying, 2 weeks ago I was on top of the world, skating 2 to 3 times a week, 2 exercise classes a week. In hindsight I should have done my post at that time, because it’s funny what 2 weeks can bring. In my case it was an insane amount of stress, both personal and professional, which means the skating was cut out from my lunch time activities first, and then my after work class last Tuesday so that I could focus on getting caught up.

Staying on track when times are good is easy. Exercise and healthy food is just part of what we do. Staying on track when things are busy is much harder, that’s when we’re tempted to take short cuts to make the routine easier. Still I have a weight loss of between 2 to 5 Lbs. to report 2 weeks ago; it’s not much, but it’s something, and I think slow and steady is the way to go.

Stress doesn’t last forever, and I’ll soon be back to my routine, and back on track. On the plus side, I’ve gained things that far outweigh weight loss (no pun intended):

  • I feel so much stronger it’s not even funny.
  • I am happier, and I spend a lot less time sleeping or moping around the apartment. Instead I use my spare time to do blog posts, bake mini muffins, read books, answer emails, do some light sewing and rug hooking, and keep the house clean. I’ve also joined some clubs, and I have tons of ideas about how I’m going to spend the rest of the winter buzzing around like a social butterfly.
  • I can keep up with the dog (well, sort of). I mean I can’t catch her if she runs away, she’s just too fast, but at least I don’t feel like I’m running through concrete trying.
  • I am starting to see minor changes in the way my clothes fit (some good, some bad), but definitely headed in the right direction.
  • I have more confidence, and I know I can do it.

So, rather than focus on the fact that I have not accomplished my goal, strictly speaking, I am going to post this picture of me, and know that I will definitely make my next goal. A new dress for Easter…and maybe a new hat too ;D

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This may be the last year for Christmas funland

Hello everyone, we’re back. We decided to take the Christmas break off from blogging; there are a couple of reasons for this:

1) Both Penelope and I were off last week and we both had a never-ending list of household chores to tend to, so we decided that it would be best to live offline for a while and try to get our realities in order. So we spent the break focusing on things like cleaning and organizing, baking and cooking, and of course, travelling and celebrating. In fact, with everything we did last week, neither of us feels very rested, so there was just no time for blogging.

2) I needed to buy myself a little more time. I promised you that I would have some progress to show you by the time we get to our 100th post. I did some counting, and if we had posted through last week we would hit 100 at the end of the first week of February; not posting last week bought me another week. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but I am very appreciative that I have the extra week to work with.

Battenberg Cake...I love marzipan

Either way, we’re back, and I’m looking forward to some quiet time, so that I can focus on my “makeover” for lack of a better word. I’m coming back tired, it’s true, but inspired. This is going to be my year, and I am going to try to focus on achieving many goals.

Mincemeat tarts and shortbread cookies

1) Stay the course. Obviously I am working on losing some weight.

My mother has the funniest salt and pepper shakers!

2) Find inner peace. I would like to learn to meditate. As I’ve told you, I’m having trouble sleeping. My mind is constantly running, and I feel that I need to try to rein it in.

3) Go out on a limb. I would like to try to (gulp) start dating again. This is perhaps the scariest thing on my list of goals, and the one that I am dragging my feet over the most. We’ll see how far I get.

4) Coureur de bois. I need some adventure, to try something new. Right now, I’m committed to learning to ski and snowboard, but that can be expensive, so we’ll see.

5) Get revamped. I need to defrumpify; this means that I have to learn how to shop strategically…hmm, I may need to call for reinforcements.

A year's worth of O, Shape, Chatelaine and Vogue...Not really reinforcements, but it's a start.

6) See the world…or at least see more of the province. Yup, I need to head out on at least 1 weekend trip to destinations yet undiscovered by me at least. Maybe Point Pelee — has anyone been there, is it worth the trip?

7) Skate my brains out. I LOVE skating, I once considered myself to be an ice princess. Unfortunately, I lack balance, talent and skill, so the most I can do is skate around in a circle. But we have some great outside rinks here, and I intend to take full advantage this winter.

8) Take a step in the right direction. I’d like to add a step class to my weekly workout routine.

9) Bite the bullet. January is going to be dedicated to balancing my books, and I think I just have to accept that I will need a dog walker at least twice a week (Tuesday and Thursday). It’s just too much to come out of an exercise class and have to walk Cadie.

10) Edit. I think I need to cut down on this list to something manageable.

How long do you think a year is anyhow?

For right now I am going to focus on goal number 1. I figure that if I try to stay on track with at least 1 goal, it improves my chances of knocking a couple more off that list as well. Though I will need to have my friends push me on goal number 3; talking to and dealing with men doesn’t come easily to me, even now I’m trying to find an excuse to back out of it…anyway, 28 posts to go and counting, progress here I come.

What are your goals for 2011?

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The Set Up
Cadie had her annual vet appointment yesterday, and as you know she’s been sick, so it came at that absolute best possible time. We took the usual tests, and I got some help from the vet about Cadie’s upset stomach, and her most recent eye infection. All and all I think she’ll be on the mend again by the weekend, which is great news.

At the same time I asked the vet to have a look at Cadie’s gait. I’ve noticed that her gait is a little uneven, and I wanted the vet’s input, mostly so that I could put my mind at ease that the leg wasn’t broken. The leg isn’t broken, rather, she has a ligament issue. This is an injury associated with her heavily muscled legs, and the joy she has jumping and grabbing at tennis balls. The cure, a little amateur physio after each walk, and no more sky-high tennis balls.

The Riddle
As I stated above, this is an injury that is, according to my vet, associated with heavy muscle mass. Cadie also has a nice, slow heart rate, also associated with being über fit, and finally, Cadie has, again, according to the vet, thicker blood, another physical attribute of being fit. As we were finishing up with the blood test I looked at the vet and said, laughing: “it looks like I’ve raised an Olympian!” The vet didn’t laugh, she just nodded her head and asked me for the specifics of our exercise schedule.

So you’re probably still waiting for the riddle, and here it is:

How is it that a person who has at least fifty pounds to lose can raise a dog who is as fit as an Olympian or a super hero, especially when you consider that the dog is totally dependant on me for her exercise?

The Answer
The answer is Cadie’s diet is very controlled. She eats dog food only, and she eats set servings at every meal, whereas I do not. You see the answer is just as baffling as the riddle.  Again, the dog is totally dependent on me to restrain her diet, God knows she could not be trusted to feed herself in moderation. So why is it that I expect my dog to stick to a strict dietary and exercise regime, while I wander through the buffet at leisure and go back for seconds and thirds as I see fit.

The Solution
I need to find someone to arrange and order my food for me. I need to hand the decision-making power off to someone else. Yes, that might work…then I might actually be able to lose weight…except that…well, then I couldn’t do all of the other things that I enjoy like blogging, or cooking or entertaining so I guess I’ll just have to stop being such a hypocrite, and start living by my own rules.

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