Archive for November, 2009|Monthly archive page

Recipe: Roasted Almonds

I should never have tried this.

Absolutely no two ways about it: Yum!

To roast almonds, spread evenly on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 10 – 15 minutes, until almonds are slight darkened.

If using in a recipe
, make sure you make extra to snack on.

Because, trust me, if you don’t make extra and you actually try one, you’ll have to make a second batch! Not that I am speaking from personal experience of course, but I’m assuming….

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday yesterday.

I, personally, had a fabulous Thanksgiving. It was probably one of two in my entire lifetime of eating solid food that I wasn’t completely stressed out about food and/or walked away from the table feeling like a bloated tub of lard.

As we head into the holiday season, it’s important to remember that even though most people just plan on gaining ten pounds over the holidays, because that’s what happens to everyone, you’re not everyone! Or at least you don’t have to be.

Keeping that in mind, let me tell you about my day:

I actually came in 47 calories below my daily calorie budget yesterday, which, believe you me, is another first! And I know that if I can make it through Thanksgiving – the most food focused of all the holidays – while meeting my goals and not feeling the least bit deprived, then I can make it through the rest of the season similarly unscathed.

So what was different this year?

I got up yesterday morning, while the house was still quiet. I made some decisions about what I was going to be taking to MJ’s parents’ for dinner, I made one of the salads that needed to chill (recipe will follow), I had my normal breakfast (a Berry Hemp Shake) and then I did an hour of yoga.

By the time I was done, the household was awake. I put away the yoga mat, made some tea and touched base with Michael J and our new housemate. When Michael J went downstairs to his man cave, I continued to talk to Sarah (the new HM) – for a couple of hours really. It was nice. Around 11:30, I made second breakfast (egg white omelet with veggies) and while Sarah took a shower and got ready to go to her holiday celebration, I did a 30 minute workout tape (K-Bells: Total Body Blast). As soon as I was done, Michael J came up and said, “Want to go for a walk?”

Sure, why not?

By the time we got back, we both needed showers and I still had two dishes to make (Spicy Yams and Rice Pilaf with Almonds and Dates), so as you might imagine, things got a little crazy. One of the reasons I was bringing three dishes was that I had volunteered to make some gluten-free options because Michael J and I are both gluten-free, as is Michael J’s brother, who was driving up that day and was, thus, at the mercy of his family for healthy options (which, as it turned out, there were several)!

Although we were rushed (it was already 2:30 and we were slated to eat at 4:00), Michael J and I both sat down and had lunch. Yes, you heard me. We had lunch at 2:30, when we were going to be eating Thanksgiving dinner at 4:00! Because this year, instead of saving calories for the meal itself, I decided to actively spend them before the meal.

Now, granted, I only had a huge bowl of kale and garlic sauteed in coconut oil and a handful of roasted almonds (which amounted to about 300 or so calories), but it was enough to take the edge off. Especially because kale and almonds are both superfoods, meaning that they are nutrient-rich and extremely satisfying.

It was an interesting feeling to show up for Thanksgiving dinner and not be the slightest bit hungry. Not that that stopped me of course, when it actually came time to eat, but it did slow me down.

As it was, I cheerfully skipped the appetizers and when it was time for dinner (served closer to 5:00 than the slated 4:00), I ended up following Michael Pollen’s advice and “treated meat as a condiment.” I think I may have had three ounces of turkey (which was scrumptious by the way), quinoa salad, a spoonful (or two) of the rice pilaf, a spoonful of yams, some broccoli, and some green beans. It was a beautiful plate. I wish that I had taken a picture of it.

Full of crisp harvest colors and surprisingly free of anything mashed or looking even remotely like gravy or butter, it really was a culinary work of art. And it tasted even better than it looked!

Now, dessert was a little tricky. Mainly because Michael J’s sister-in-law sat an individual sized bowl of chocolate pie filling in front of me topped with homemade whipped cream that had been made especially for those of us following gluten-free diets. And, being a total sucker for homemade chocolate pie, I went for it. And, God, it was good! As were the Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownies!

But let me tell you, after being relatively sugar free now for over two months, I could literally feel the sugar leeching into my blood stream. And I have had worse cravings today than I’ve since I went gluten-free. I have a friend who says with increasing regularity that “sugar is the devil.” I’m beginning to believe her!

Overall, it was a very nice holiday. I had a great time exercising and even a better time getting to connect with friends and family. Even though my own parents and sister are far away, I also made sure to talk to them a couple of times throughout the day. And while it is true that I spent a good part of the afternoon cooking, the day really was more people-focused than food-focused, which is nice (and, I realize, a lot easier if you’re going to dinner instead of hosting it). Thanks, Mrs. Y doing all of the heavy lifting!

So based on the wonderful day I had yesterday, I will do my level best to make this season more about health and people and less about stress and food.

I am definitely going to make it less about sugar!

There are other things that I am going to publicly commit to that will – hopefully – make me more accountable to myself over the next six weeks (and beyond). But for now, I will leave it as this: Happy Holidays, everyone!

A Simple Step

Or, rather, several.

Over the last month or so I started walking more.

I think it’s because the weather has been unseasonably nice where I live and it’s just nice to be outside when the sun is shining and it’s reasonably warm – especially in November.

I used to discount walking. It’s not hard enough. It’s not strenuous enough. It’s boring…. You name it, I had used it as an excuse not to do it. It wasn’t like I was one of those people who drive around 30 minutes in the gym parking lot to get a park near the door and then go sweat it out for an hour (or two) on a spinning bike, but it was close.

But walking, like any other exercise, burns calories. And, not like a lot of other exercises, it’s incredibly easy on your body!

I remember someone telling me once that joggers are simply walkers who don’t have a lot of time!

I’m beginning to see that.

I live on a dirt road with some steep and some rolling hills, interspersed with some rather scenic flats. In addition to just getting out in nature, on an hour and 15 minute walk, I can burn almost 500 calories. And sometimes my heart rate gets up as high as 147 beats per minute! Granted it doesn’t stay there, but it doesn’t really need to.

Heck, just walking over to the gym from my office (and back) I burned 120 calories! (Again, thank goodness for hills!) I was shocked – not to mention pleasantly surprised!

In fact, I was so pleased, that I’m going to start wearing my heart rate monitor when I park so that I will actually be motivated to park further away from my office. (Yes, I am a geek – it’s sad but true!)

And instead of complaining about “having to park in the North 40” I may purposefully park in the last spot on the very last row at the bottom of the hill!

Seriously, walking adds up and it’s easy on the body. I dropped my car off at the shop this morning and walked to work – 139 calories. I have to walk back – probably closer to 100 (given the direction of the hills). But still, in addition to the gym workout, I will have burned an extra 350 calories shuttling myself to and fro!

Think about it.

And stop looking for the closest parking spot – even if you are looking in the gym parking lot!

Pulling out the “skinny” jeans

Like most women, I have several sizes in my closet.

Three years ago, those sizes ranged from 10 to 14.

Now they range from 2 to 6.

Granted, the 2s are totally aspirational. I bought them at a consignment store and I pull them out on occasion and try them on. They do fit (much like a sausage casing fits around 8 ounces of pork), but I would NEVER wear them out of the house. But still, there’s something thrilling – for me – to owning and fitting into a pair of size 2s.

Besides, recent research shows that women who aspire to wear 2s – even though they look like something a 12 year old girl would wear – are more likely to keep their weight off than women who have more reasonable goals! Go figure!

Last summer, I wore the one pair of 4s quite a bit, but then following my disastrous vacation to San Francisco and the reintroduction of red wine back into the diet on a regular basis (and by regular, I mean a few glasses a couple of times a week with dinner), I sort of put the 4s away and got comfortable in the 6s.

Well, last night I pulled out the trusty 4s and lo and behold, they didn’t look as good – or feel as good – as they used to. And they certainly didn’t look or feel as good as the 6s did. Sad.

But is it? Really?

On one hand, yes it is. Because I really got a kick out of wearing size 4s.

On the other hand, when I was in the 4s regularly, I was much more restrictive with myself.

I was also much more judgmental.

I was also more likely to beat myself up at the gym.

And I also more likely to be counting calories in a punitive way.

In the 6s, I am pretty much eating what I want (assuming, that is, that it’s wheat-, dairy-, and sugar-free!), I am much more balanced in my approach to exercise, and I am having the occasional glass (or two [or three]) of wine with dinner.

Not such a bad trade-off, now that I stop and really think about it.

But just to make sure that things don’t get out of hand – remember, I threw the scale away and I have no desire to repurchase my old clothes back! – I’m going to keep the 4s in rotation. As a reminder. As a motivator.

In fact, it might not be a bad idea to plan on wearing them to as many upcoming holiday functions as I can get by with…and when the dress code is a little nicer than jeans? Who knows? I may just stick the 2s in my purse so that I can carry them with me!

All joking aside, what are your best plans for surviving the holidays with your figure in tact?

P.S. The photo is of the jeans I own, but – unfortunately – that’s not me wearing them! At least not yet! 😉

Recipe: Rice Pilaf with Almonds and Dates (Gluten-Free)

1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
(Note: I substituted 2 Tablespoons of Nutiva’s Extra Virgin Coconut Oil for the butter and olive oil)!
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 red, yellow, or green bell pepper

1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon, ground allspice or nutmeg

1/2 cup dates
3 cups cooked brown, white or basmati rice
(Note: I use brown basmati rice, because it’s so much more aromatic than the other two)!
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup chopped roasted almonds
salt and ground black pepper to taste

In a large heavy skillet, heat the butter and oil. Saute the onions and garlic on medium heat until just tender. Finely chop the bell pepper, and add it to the sauteing onion. Stir in the turmeric, cinnamon, and allspice/nutmeg. Finely chop the dates, and add them to the onions. Stir in the rice and the parsley, sprinkle on the water, and heat uncovered for a few minutes. When the rice is hot, stir in the almonds, add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

This was taken and modified from the Moosewood Cooks at Home! If you don’t have this one, I would highly recommend it!

Serves 4 generously; could easily be a meal served with fresh garden salad, dressed with fresh lemon juice!

Per 8 ounce serving: 290 calories, 5.3 grams of protein, 8.5 grams of fat, 75 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol

One of those days (or maybe not)!

Ironically, I spent several hours last night making food for the week.

I made a nice quinoa salad with walnuts, sunflower seeds, goji berries, cherry tomatoes, and cilantro.

I made some hummus.

And I also made up a salad and a huge rice and bean based casserole.

This morning, I packed up some salad, some hummus, and some quinoa and got ready for work. I then proceeded to go down the stairs, without my lunch, get in the car, and drive to work.

I hate that!

Luckily all is not lost, because like the good gluten-free health conscious foodie that I am, I have food stashed everywhere.

Case in point: at work I had a container of unopened hummus, a cup of frozen tomato and white bean soup (which is currently thawing), a small bag of baby carrots, a carton of coconut milk yogurt, and – as if that wasn’t enough – a huge stash of Larabars and miscellaneous dried berries!

Moral of this story: I have way too much food floating around the office!

Oops, wrong!

Moral of the story (take II): if you keep non-perishable healthy snacks around you at all times, even the most potentially disastrous food days can be avoided!

Eight Fat Fighting Foods (and other tips from Self)

Check them out here.

And don’t forget to follow their other links as well – especially the one on stress fighting superfoods!

Eating Out: Asking for Something Wonderful and Getting It

If you are eating out and you have special dietary restrictions – even if you’re just trying to lose a few pounds – the conventional wisdom is that you should always ask the server to have your food prepared in ways that suit your needs.

I’d heard this a thousand times, but I’d never actually done it. It always seemed scary and a little rude. “Why should I have them do something special for me? I’ll just have salad and water. Poor, pitiful me, etc, etc.”

Have I ever mentioned that martyrdom runs in my family?

Last night I realized that I was going to have to shake off the sackcloth and ashes because not only were MJ and I were going out with friends to celebrate the completion of three work related projects, but I also have four additional work-related dinners out planned over the next two weeks. You heard me: five dinners out in a two week period!

What a potential nightmare for someone who is trying to avoid wheat and dairy, let alone not gain 15 pounds in the process!

So last night, I screwed up my courage and asked the cute young server with a super hip haircut if I could just get them to throw some roasted veggies and a salad for me – essentially taking the sides and making them into a meal. I figured that wouldn’t be too much trouble, right?

She looked at me blankly and I said, “I’m on a gluten-free/dairy-free diet.”

“Oh,” she replied. “Let me go talk to the chef. He knows what’s got gluten in it and what doesn’t for everything on the menu.”

Even though the restaurant was hoppin’ – it was a Saturday night after all – a very tall man dressed entirely in white with a strong accent came out to the table. “What can I do for you?”

I explained the situation, while my table mates looked on with interest.

“I can make you whatever you want. What do you want?”

Great! All except for the part that I hadn’t thought it through to quite that level of detail.

I started the bit with the roasted veggies and salad and he looked absolutely disgusted.

“I can make you something wonderful,” he said. “What would you like?”

I actually put it back in his hands. “That sounds great. Why don’t you just whip me up something wonderful.”

He actually smiled. “Do you like shrimp?”

“Yep.”

“I will make you something wonderful.”

And you know what? He absolutely did: a rich tomato based seafood stew with a spicy gluten-free thickening agent that could be added at the table. There were baby mussels, salmon, scallops, and shrimp. Not only was it delicious, it was also absolutely gorgeous. I was completely satisfied and didn’t feel deprived at all. In fact, I actually felt a little special, because when the server sat it down at my place with a flourish she smiled and said, “And here’s something wonderful for you.”

So, assuming that you’re at a restaurant where real people are cooking real food, don’t limit yourself for fear of asking. Because even though it was busy, I actually got the impression that the chef (who came back by to check on my satisfaction) and the server actually had as much fun making it – and serving it – it as I did eating it!

I can only hope that the other four nice restaurants in the area will be just as accommodating! I’ll be sure to keep you posted on my culinary adventures!

As promised: Simple Peanut Sauce

Makes 1 cup

“Peanut sauce is quick to make and delicious with cooked vegetables or with pasta.”

1/3 cup of peanut butter
1/2 cup hot water
1 tablespoon San-J Organic Wheat Free Tamari sauce (or any other gluten-free soy sauce).
1 tablespoon vinegar (cider or seasoned rice)
2 teaspoons of sugar (or organic agave nectar)
2 (to 6) garlic cloves, minced
1/4 to 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small sauce pan, then heat gently until the sauce is smooth and slightly thickened. Add more water if the sauce becomes too thick.

Per tablespoon: 38 calories, 1 gram of protien, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams fat, 38 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol

We served this over brown rice spaghetti, topped with chopped scallions with a generous side of roasted vegetables.

I’ve also served it over acorn squash with excellent results – and it’s not too bad straight off the spoon either!

Recipe taken (and modified from) one of my favorite cookbooks of all time: The Peaceful Palate.

It never fails

I hopped the Nordic Track after about 30 minutes and checked my heart rate monitor: I had burned 232 calories!

For those of you who regularly follow this blog, you may appreciate (or not) the significance of that!

If it was in there, I roasted it

Last night, I decided that I wanted to roast some vegetables.

Why?

They’re delicious for starters. It’s really hard to go wrong with roasted veggies.

They’re also easy, if you don’t mind chopping, which I don’t. I actually like chopping. I find it relaxing.

They’re forgiving. It really doesn’t matter what you decide to roast – they’re almost always good.

Last night I decided to clean out the crispers:

1 head of garlic, crushed or diced
1 onion, sliced
Brussels sprouts, as many as I could find
2 broccoli crowns, in pieces
2 cups fresh green beans
3 carrots, sliced
2 turnips, chopped
1 parsnip, chopped
1 acorn squash, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, cubed
1 yellow squash, cubed

Olive Oil, enough to lightly coat the veggies
Sea Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Oregano lots)
Dried basil, lots

I preheated the oven to 350-375

I dressed everything in the oil, salt, pepper, and spices, except the zucchini and the summer squash in a large bowl.

I laid everything out in a single-ish layer in a large roasting pan.

I let that cook for 20 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until the broccoli started to crisp.

I tossed the 2 squash in a second mix of oil, salt, pepper, and spice and then added that to the roasting pan.

I then let it cook for another 15 minutes.

When they were done enough (or to my taste, as this is obviously more art than science), they came out and got served up with a rice noodle and peanut sauce dish (recipe here) Yum.

3389117248_0321605254

The other thing I like about roasted veggies? They taste just as good the next day!

Is Obesity Contagious?

Some scholars say yes. According to recent research, having one friend become obese – even if they live a thousand miles away – nearly triples your likelihood of also becoming obese! Interesting stuff! Maybe we should start buying our friends gym memberships instead of taking them out to dinner or bringing cookies into the office!

I actually saw Dr. Christakis, professor at Harvard University, give a talk on this last year at Dartmouth. The data was quite compelling and more than a little bit frightening for those of us who like to think of ourselves as being in control of our own destinies.

Time Saving Tip: Rice Pasta

Last night, we forgot to start the rice (to go with the Caribbean Black Beans) and before we realized it, it was 8:00 and we were both way beyond hungry!

On a whim, we decided to try serving them over rice pasta. I mean even though it’s pasta, it’s rice, how bad could it be?

Well, in fact, it turned out to be pretty darned good. Not only that, it was colorful, because we used the open bag of Mrs. Leeper’s Rice Vegetable Twists.

So, if you’re like us – that is, one of those people who sometimes forget the put the rice on some 50 minutes before you need it – keep a bag of rice pasta on hand. It’s fast, easy, and (dare I say it, lest you figure out what a food geek I truly am?) fun!

Eating Your Way to Health: Reducing Inflammation

Great article from U.S. News and World Report on creating a diet that reduces inflammation in your system!

Inflammation, normally part of a healthy immune response, is increasingly thought to play a leading role in encouraging a number of major killers, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s. Dangerous chronic inflammation occurs when the immune system stays turned on and starts attacking healthy cells and tissues-triggering, say, cancer-causing genetic mutations or the bursting of artery plaque. What you eat, though, helps determine how much inflammation you produce. Certain foods promote it, while others are inflammation-fighting superstars, says nutritionist and family physician Ann Kulze, author of Dr. Ann’s 10-Step Diet.

Check out their recommendations of what to go for and what to avoid here. Admittedly, I don’t usually read US. News and World Report, but you’ve got to love any list that actually tells you to “go for” more wine and chocolate – within reason of course!

Now the funny thing about seeing this article this morning (as well as the one on pomegranates that I posted a few days ago), is that all week I’d been thinking about writing about these berries that I had started eating, which 1) are classed as superfoods and 2) reduce inflammation. Serendipity or synchronicity? Or both?

Just as a quick reminder, superfoods are foods that have high concentrated nutritional value that many physicians and holistic health practitioners believe also have healing properties.

While exploring warm wheat-free breakfast options (as drinking frozen hemp shakes in Northern New England gets increasingly challenging as you roll into winter) I came across a hot cereal recipe comprised of gluten-free oat bran, flax meal, and organic shelled hemp seeds. It was suggested that you also toss in some goldenberries, goji berries, and mulberries to “make it a tropical treat.”

No problem I thought. I like tropical treats. But what the heck is a goldenberry?

Well, it turns out that a goldenberry is one of those superfoods that reduce inflammation. As are goji berries and mulberries.

While you can buy them directly from Navitas Naturals (which has one of the most beautiful websites I’ve seen in a while), I admit that I tend to order things through Amazon for the convenience, since I tend to also be ordering things from Nutiva at the same time and, sadly, because it’s cheaper.

Just as an aside, it never ceases to amaze me that all of the healthy stuff is always about 15 times more expensive than the crap out there. Just think how many bags of Cheetos you could get for one bag of goji berries. Not that you’d want that many bags of Cheetos, mind you, even though they are technically gluten-free! 😉

The good news, however, is that the goldenberries, goji berries, and mulberries are so dense with nutritional value that you really don’t need that many in order to feel satisfied. Notably, since I’ve started eating a handful or so of them straight out of the bag (I’ve never gotten around to making the cereal that I bought them for!), I’ve actually stopped eating other calorie dense, quasi-expensive gluten free nutrition bars and organic nuts that I had been snacking on during the day. And finally, assuming that the legions of doctors and health care practitioners out there singing superfood’s praises are on to something, you’ll probably save a bundle over the long term by reducing future medical bills and lost productivity due to the experience of chronic illness!

Even if you’re not a fan of raisins or other dried fruits, check these out. The goji berries are reminiscent of dry cranberries, the mulberries figs or nuts, and the golden berries sweet tarts. They’re really quite delicious! And seriously, check out the nutrition on these things: in addition to sugar, which granted there is a lot, there are also a ton of vitamins, fiber, and even protein!
golden-recipe

What’s for dinner? Caribbean Black Beans and Memories

Tonight I decided to go with something easy. Fortunately – and totally inadvertantly – I happened upon a dish that brought back fond memories of my favorite restaurant when I was living in Nashville, TN, as a graduate student on a small budget: The Calypso Cafe.

The Calypso was healthy, delicious, and, more to the point, it was cheap. They specialized in black bean dishes, sweet potatoes, some sort of kale side dish, coconut cornbread muffins, rice, and rotisserie chicken.

I remember taking my parents and my sister there, pretty sure they were going to hate it. If not for the food, then for the atmosphere, where 9 times out of 10, you’d end up listening to Bob Marley! Despite the obvious similarities between the two, my folks prefer Willie! Regardless….

My dad, the one I had pegged as the true skeptic, loved it. In fact, on every follow-up visit, when I asked where they wanted to go, he’d say, “Is that little place over by the Parthenon still open? You know, the one with the black beans?”

I haven’t been to the Calypso in years; I left Nashville in 1999.

But, fortunately – for my culinary enjoyment – I have the chance to go back this coming January.

Until then, however, I’ll have to stick with Moosewood rendition of Caribbean Black Beans. Given that I just so happen to be well stocked on kale, rice, cooked yams, and coconut, it shouldn’t be that much of a hardship! 😉

If you ever get over Nashville way, check them out! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised! My dad certainly was and having grown up on chocolate gravy (or so the legend goes) and fried catfish it was a bit of a stretch!

Recipe: Caribbean Black Beans

Serves 4 (generously)
Total cooking time: 30 minutes

1 1/2 cups chopped onions
3 (to 6) garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or 1/2 dried)
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
4 1/2 cups drained cooked black beans (three 16 ounce cans)
3/4 cup orange juice
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Saute the onion and garlic in the oil for about 5 minutes, until the onions begin to soften. Add the ginger, thyme, and allspice and saute, stirring often to prevent sticking, until the onions are very soft, for about 5 more minutes. Stir in the beans and orange juice and cook on low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly. Use a heat diffuser or a double boiler if necessary to prevent scorching (I didn’t have any trouble with it). Mash a few of the beans with the back of the spoon (or a potato masher) for a thicker consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve over rice.

Per 8 ounce serving (not including rice): 252 calories, 5.3 grams of protein, 13.1 grams of fat, 26.1 grams of carbohydrate, 1.61 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol.

Taken (and modified) from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home.

Introducing superfoods into your holiday meals!

Check out these gorgeous and healthy recipes featuring the beautiful antioxidant-rich superfood pomegranates! Just think how lovely any one of these dishes would be decorating your holiday tables! And what a welcome relief they would be from the artery clogging and calorie packing “joy” of the stuffing and candied yams (but see my healthy version of the latter here)!

Special thanks go to my friend, Wadeane, for drawing my attention to this. I’m particularly stoked about trying the guacamole!

Question: What’s your favorite, yet healthy, holiday food? Conversely, what is the one thing that you simply “have to have,” no matter how bad it is for you? And, more to the point, what substitutions have you tried? What’s worked? What hasn’t?
healthy-pomegranate-recipes

Sometimes showing up really is the hardest part!

I spent four hours yesterday trying to convince myself to go the gym. And failed.

I actually started over there a couple of times, but every time I did, something more important came up (like playing yet another game of the New Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook). I won’t provide a link, because I don’t want to be responsible for anyone else’s downfall!

When I realized that I was never going to knock my mother off the board (and having received not one, but two notices that I had played 20 games in a row), I decided that enough was enough. I was going to go to the gym. I got so far as picking up my bag when the justifications started.

“There are people with swine flu at the gym. If you go to the gym, you’re going to get swine flu!” (A stretch, I know, but it held me at bay for at least 20 more games, er, I mean minutes).

“But my leg feels so good after yoga this morning. Do I really want to mess it up by going to the gym?”

And then, on my way to the gym: “I forgot my heart rate monitor!”

Taking a deep breath I forgave myself for being a baby and accepted that fact that I really didn’t want to go to the gym – or so I thought.

The reason why I am telling you this story is twofold. The first is simply to get those of my friends who think I am a total exercise junkie off my back! 😉 The second, is to let you know that when you really don’t want to do something, it’s okay not to do it.

Okay, maybe it’s threefold, because I realized – once I was miles away from the gym – that I had hit an internal wall of resistance. And with temporal and spatial hindsight, I realized that everything I had tried to accomplish yesterday was stymied.

Does anyone ever really need to play 60 straight games of Bejeweled Blitz? No, not ever. Did I? Oh, yes. And maybe then some. And did I at least knock my mother off the board? Not even close.

So what was going on?

I had a lot of emotional anxiety about a couple of things going on in my life and, like I used to do more often than I do now, I dealt with it (or not) in my choices about food and exercise. As it turned out, I didn’t exercise at home either; I simply ate Chocolate Velvet So Delicious straight out of the carton just minutes after telling MJ to leave me alone for an hour because I “wanted to exercise.” Ironically, I did want to exercise; I just couldn’t make myself do it.

My subconscious mind was definitely in control yesterday and it drove all of my good intentions and so-called will power right off the cliff!

Last night before bed, I went up early and did a little 15 minute meditation program to promote clarity, before crashing into troubled, integrating dreams.

This morning, without giving it too much thought, I rolled out of bed and hit the yoga mat. Then, without changing clothes, I packed my gym bag full of work clothes and drove straight to the gym.

I had a great workout. It was fabulous. It reminded me why I like going to the gym.

Morals of the story:

1) If you just can’t do it, forgive yourself and let it go. Don’t beat yourself up, which will inevitably invite you to overeat or eat something that takes you further away from your health related goals.

2) When you’re having an off day (before it turns into an off week or even an off month) ask yourself what’s really going on. Is there something going on in your life that you’re using as an excuse to not show up? If so, is it something you can change or is it just something you need to let go? Or were you really just tired and didn’t want to go to the gym?

3) Get a good night sleep and do whatever it takes to get up and show up.

In my case, there was no way that I was going to sit in my office all day in my sweaty yoga clothes and even though I could have just taken a shower at the gym and gone to work, that really would have been ridiculous. Even more ridiculous than playing 60+ games of Bejewled Blitz!

Interesting take on fridge utilization

Ever notice that most people store fresh fruit and vegetables in a drawer at their feet, while they store ice cream is usually at eye level? Click here for Ezra Klein’s thoughtful take on food storage and making some calories harder to get than others!

Not low calorie, but guaranteed to stop your wheat cravings in their tracks!

Pamela’s Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

This is the only one we tried, but it was so good that I don’t have an compunction recommending the others as well!

Although the texture was a little dry, the chocolate was amazing!

There are 4.5 servings per box and I ended up with a serving and a half!* MJ, the aspiring-gluten-free cookie monster, decided they were just as tasty as the “real” thing. In fact, his exact words when I asked if I could have one of the cookies on his saucer were: “No. The consequences would be too dire.” He says that he meant that they would be too dire for him (and that really wasn’t a poorly veiled threat), but I’m not so sure 😉

If you’re gluten-free (or trying to get there) but you can’t imagine giving up cookies, etc., these could get you at least halfway there. But beware, at 170 calories and 9 grams of fat per serving, proceed with caution. But to tell you the truth, they’re so rich that one cookie (or half a serving) will just about about it!

Let me know what you think.

* One serving = 2 cookies
417TGMJYKEL._SL210_