Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Long stressful day in court. Called for 10 am; not heard until 2:30 pm. And not out of there until after 5 pm.
It was very hard work.
High stress weakens will power.
There were potato chips in the vending machine. I did not have any.
Could have ordered a sandwich in the cafeteria. With a side of potato chips. And I caught myself seriously considering this.
But ordered a romaine salad with sliced turkey, carrot, celery, tomato slices, Swiss cheese, dill pickle (and some balsamic vinegar) instead. And a black coffee. No bread. No gooey dessert.
Ordinarily when at the office (or expecting to get to my office after court) I take a salad to work
My salads are way better.
Several large handfuls of mixed baby lettuce or spinach or spinach/chard/kale mix. And a huge range of colourful raw veggies. On any given day: cherry tomatoes, cucumber, baby carrots or shredded carrot; bright yellow or red or orange bell pepper; sugar snap peas; green or yellow beans; radish; Brussels sprouts (purple or green) or cauliflower (white, yellow or purple) or broccoli; raw beet (yellow or red or candy stripe). Plus some lean chicken or shrimp or chick peas or low fat feta for protein. Occasionally some avocado. And a low fat (but not no-fat) dressing: pineapple curry, lemon poppy seed, sun dried tomato oregano . . .
Then for dessert, a mix of fresh or frozen fruits: clementine, pineapple, cherry, kiwi, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, mango, pear. Whatever is in season, a range of colours.
My lunch veggies and fruits are my biggest volume meal of the day; high density nutrition, low calorie. I generally make two salads at a time after supper, then stash them in the fridge at work. I've been doing it for over a decade . . . so I'm a pretty fast salad maker. And I use all the short cuts possible: pre washed salad greens in bins, pre cut carrots, frozen shelled shrimp, frozen mixed berries, frozen mango chunks (they're thawed by lunch time). Tomorrow's salad and fruit are already there because I didn't make it in to the office at all today . . .
Nope, the people at the courthouse cafeteria are lovely and they do make a very nice salad. But it doesn't stack up against my customary creations!
And: at my office I can completely eliminate the potato chip temptation.
But I'm very proud indeed that even on a stressful day, with multiple opportunities . . . I managed to say no to potato chips.
Friday, December 06, 2013
Does anyone remember Bruno Bettelheim's writings about the "good enough mother" (later, the "good enough parent"?) We mothers never feel that we are doing enough for our kids, sacrificing enough, putting their happiness first. So I found Bettelheim's subversive lowering of standards deeply comforting when I was in the trenches of raising my own kids: and here's a quotation:
Not only is our love for our children sometimes tinged with annoyance, discouragement, and disappointment, the same is true for the love our children feel for us.
Bruno Bettelheim (20th century), Austrian-born child psychologist.
A Good Enough Parent, ch. 2 (1987).
Embracing the "good enough" as a parent -- and acknowledging the profound ambiguity and ambivalence of the parenting project -- certainly helps in alleviating the guilt of failure. Failure not being permanent, thank goodness. Because what's key always is sustaining the parenting project until it's done. Which is pretty much: never.
Something like the weight maintenance project, right? Never ever done.
And so for me if I'm going to sustain weight loss, it's essential to be aware of the "good enough" with respect to weight maintenance too.
Am I as thin as I could be? No. But (dare I say it?) I'm good enough.
As I as fit as I could be? No. But ditto. I'm good enough.
Am I (have I been) as good a daughter, sister, friend, student, wife, mother, worker as I could be?
No. Not remotely close.
But if I tried to be the best I could be at any one of these roles, wouldn't some of the others have inevitably suffered? While returning to school in my 40s with a 6 year old and a 9 year old, commuting every day into Toronto, did I have the luxury of studying hard enough to be at the top of the Dean's List? No. And even so, I didn't spend as much time with my kids as I should have. Was cranky, distracted, overwhelmed. Often. But: what I did was good enough.
And by permitting myself just to be "good enough" at each of these roles, it's possible that the constellation of all of them constitutes the best I can be. Overall.
And about food: what I'm seeking to experience is that sensation of "enough". I'd always like to eat more. Always.
Permitting myself to accept the enoughness of myself assists in accepting the enoughness of the food I can have. While sustaining the slim enough body.
There's a connection there somewhere. Which some days I can recognize. Enough.
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Fit but fat? It is possible for me to be healthy even if I'm significantly overweight?
Uh, no. Apparently not. Researchers at Toronto's Mount Sinai hospital have taken aim at that myth.
It's true enough that I might appear to be healthy for awhile. We associate obesity most with heart attack and stroke. And the adverse effects of obesity might not show up as cardiometabolic incidents for 10 years.
But the long term effects of obesity are pretty chilling. That familiar list -- diabetes, joint problems, kidney issues, certain types of cancer, cognitive decline . . . just a few of the obesity related issues that do emerge, sooner or later. Obesity affects every aspect of human physiology and functioning.
Just what I suspected . . . sigh. Can't delude myself that there is anything benign about obesity.
So I'll be keeping on keeping on: tracking the nutrition, staying as lean as possible. Fresh blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries for breakfast with no fat no sugar Greek yogourt (8 grams protein) and butterscotch coffee.
There. Was that so bad?
Monday, December 02, 2013
There are no hard and fast principles, of course.
I make a big pot of soup, generally on the weekend, and it's never the same from one week to the next. Then I nuke a bowlful of soup as soon as I get home from work: it's my standby supper every night of the week. Has been for over 10 years. And helps to stave off that stuffing my face at what is for me my lowest point of self-discipline of the day.
From the point of view of economy, the idea is to use up the vegetables which are left over from my salads, which have been my standby lunches every day of the week. Also for over 10 years.
When I buy my week's groceries on Saturday, I'm also acquiring new vegetables of course --and maybe one or more key soup ingredients for something I particularly have in mind. Maybe something a bit luxurious which elevates the leftovers -- the candy cane beets, for example, or a perfectly ripe avocado, or some oyster mushrooms.
On hand pretty much always: onion (often dehydrated), dried chili peppers, garlic, celery, carrots. And a large variety of spices and dried herbs and vinegars and soya sauce: so I can change it up from TexMex to Indian to Oriental to Italian . . .
But having said that, there are a couple of approaches that have evolved over the years that work for me:
1. As many different bright colours of veggies as possible. "The eye does half the eating", and a brown sludge won't be appealing by Wednesday. Plus: a variety of veggies provides all of those micronutrients that food scientists probably haven't even fully identified yet. Green, orange, red, yellow, purple.
2. Pretty much always some cruciferous veggie: a cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprout, broccoli variant. I recently acquired some purple Brussels sprouts. An orange cauliflower. The cruciferous veggies are apparently important for preventing cancer.
3. Nothing at all wrong with frozen veggies -- and they can save my (arthritic) hands some chopping too. Those big bags of Oriental mixed veggies are terrific.
4. Best quality broths: whether veggie or chicken or (rarely) beef. Because they really make a difference. Homemade turkey broth post Thanksgiving/Christmas really is worth the effort.
5. But: more generally, excess effort is highly overrated. Sure, peeling and chopping my "own" carrots is "better" than using up the last of the week's baby carrots and pre-grated carrots. Peeling and slicing my "own" onions is better than dehydrated onion in the bargain spice bags. Sometimes I do just that, when the onions or the carrots are the key ingredient for a particular soup. But: in general, this soup making is something I'm sustaining for my life time. And making it easier means I'm more likely to do it.
6. A lean source of protein. Most often chicken (skinless, boneless, frozen chicken breasts, partially defrosted in the microwave and chopped into generous chunks, maybe 3 per potful). Sometimes fish: frozen fillets of all types and maybe some shrimp or scallops for a chowder. Rarely, beef. But: gotta step up my heme iron intake so this may change.
7. Plus more protein from some kind of legume. Canned kidney beans or chick peas or lentils. Frozen edamame. Chopped peanuts at the end. Less frequently now, whole grain based protein: brown rice, wholewheat noodles, barley.
8. Speaking of "the end": sequencing matters for texture. Starting with the veggies that require the most cooking: the celery, the carrots. Finishing up with those that require least: the chopped bell peppers, the baby spinach, the fresh herbs just stirred in about the time the soup is coming off the heat. Retaining brightness. Some crunch.
Balancing the flavours. Something acidic. Something umami (savoury) -- meat does that but so too do mushrooms. Enough salt. Enough "heat" from spice.
And maybe most important of all? These soups are for me. I don't consult anyone else's taste. If someone else in residence wants a bowlful: I can share. But I'm not restraining myself within vegan parameters because DD eats only vegan. Or beefing it up for my unredeemed carnivore DH.
For many many years, I was in full press nurturing mode -- focused on the needs of others. Now I'm at an age and stage at which that's not necessary, even if it had became habitual. They can take care of themselves. When I ate with my kids and my DH. providing their
preferences and ignoring my own -- I weighed way too much.
I still stock the fridge with what others need. Steaks. Soy milk. But I prepare my soups for me.
Now I'm nurturing me. And this is what it takes.
Sunday, December 01, 2013
So silly: previous research which suggested that keeping our homes a bit cooler in winter would help with weight loss is now contradicted with reverse evidence. Toasty warm assists with weight loss.
All right then. Gonna ignore all of it. And head to the gym. And keep tracking those calories. Pretty sure that either way, it wouldn't make much difference. (Although possibly hibernating in elastic-waist jammy pants and thick sweaters might assist in avoiding the evidence if weight gain!!)
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