One last thought about food…for now

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Read the Label: This always seems like common sense to me, but I realize that I am not always that good about doing this. If you don’t already read labels on packaged foods you might be surprised at what gets crammed into the most innocuous of items. That can of green beans might not be just beans. Most pre-packaged foods need to be preserved for longer shelf-life. That usually means lots of additives, sometimes chemical, sometimes natural, almost always with insane amounts of salt. And then there is the other random garbage that I struggle to understand why the makers thought it belonged in that particular package. Case in point: take a look at what is in those flavored coffee creamers in the grocer’s cooler (or better yet, at what is in the “original” non-flavored ones). And now you know why I stick to plain old organic half and half to put in my morning caffeine fix. I’d rather intake a little more fat from a natural source than drink all the garbage in those creamers just to cut a few fat calories…and with the added sugar in those creamers, I probably still come out ahead with the half and half. Hmmm…now I am going to have to go test that theory. And if I am realllllllly trying to be good and cut the fat, then I use non-fat organic milk.

Ice cream. That’s another one that sneaks in all kinds of crazy stuff. Whatever happened to just freezing some milk, sugar, cream and flavors? Maybe include eggs of it is custard based. Thank goodness Haagen-Dazs has come out with a line called ‘Five‘ – just five ingredients. You don’t get all the crazy fancy flavors, but it is pretty darn good for store-bought ice cream.

And bread…since when does bread need so many ingredients? Call me old-fashioned, but I love me some basic crusty, yeasty bread.

Juices! Check those labels for sure. Especially anything that indicates it is “flavored”. While I don’t prefer juice that comes from concentrate, I am OK with that. It is the ones that only end up having a small amount of real juice in the beverage and then a ton of other stuff.

At any rate, there are some pretty decent pre-packaged food options out there for people like me who have a life where it isn’t always feasible to keep fresh foods on-hand. You just have to read a lot of labels to find them. My goal with pre-packaged foods is to be able to pronounce the majority of the items on the label and understand (at a very high level) what all the items are.

Food Stuff

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Recently I have seen lots of random postings and articles about food, eating, dieting…you name it. I overhear conversations about diets folks are on. My trainer even gives me random tid-bits of advice about nutrition. All of it has made me once again take a look at my views on food and nutrition. My journey is an adventure to get healthy. In the process I expect to lose some weight (a lot of weight, actually) and get much, much more fit than I am. But neither of those things is my end goal. My end goal is to feel good and some crazy diet isn’t going to do that for me. So here’s my take on food:

Buy Local: I don’t take this to any extremes, but I do have a small garden. I shop at the local farmer’s market, and I try to buy foods that come from my state/region if not from right down the road. Does this mean I never buy exotic fruits or veggies that don’t grow around here? Heck no! Some of that stuff is mighty, mighty tasty and I want it.

Organic: Let me be clear – I do not think organic foods are more nutritious than traditionally grown foods (this seems to be the basis for many arguments around organic foods which makes absolutely no sense to me). That being said, I try to buy organic foods when possible to avoid ingesting any more chemicals than I already do. With meats and eggs I try to buy free range and grass-fed. This is where the local farmer’s market comes into play – you can talk to the people who raise the food. Find out what their practices are. Just because they are not certified organic does not mean that they don’t have the same or higher standards. Getting certified is expensive and a general pain and many smaller farms simply can’t or don’t want to go through the process.

Eat Real Food: I have heard variations on this in “diet” form that go to some extremes (paleo diets, eating “clean”, biblical diets, etc.). The gist of all of them, though, is to eat real, whole foods and remove processed “fake” foods. The second part to this is don’t kill your food cooking it. Overcooked food loses nutritional value not to mention it just tastes yucky. I try to avoid fried foods. Again, am I always very good at it? I live in the South…eating fried foods is nearly unavoidable, but I try to keep it to a very bare minimum. (I mean seriously, have you ever had a deep-fried Twinkie??? Nutritional value: zero. Taste value: off the charts!)

General Nutrition: I eat red meat. And I don’t just eat it, I love it! But I also eat a lot of fish and chicken and occasionally pork. With all my meats I try to eat lean cuts and trim almost all the excess fat from them. A note about fish (specifically salmon): I will only eat wild-caught Alaskan/pacific salmon. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list’s best choice items are a good, easy way to find sustainable fish and seafood with healthy populations. I also eat a lot of vegetables. I am even growing some of my own this year (squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, several herbs, and I am trying a watermelon and a cantaloupe). I need to cut back on the amount of butter I use. I drink regular old cow milk (organic, but if I could get it, I would drink raw milk without a doubt!). I try to avoid refined sugars and flours. I eat cheese. I drink boat-loads of water.

Moderation: This is key. Every diet on the face of the planet (and I mean “diet” as in the crazy plans people come up with to shed pounds) relies on cutting calories. If you’re already eating real foods and not fast foods or pre-packaged processed stuff, etc. then it all comes down to portion size. Limit your fats and sugars, up your quantities of veggies, and make sure you get enough protein.

Exercise: Food alone will not make you healthy. You’ve gotta move. And I don’t mean any sort of hard-core regimen. Just move. Walk the dogs. Mow the lawn with a push mower. Go play in the park with the kids. Take your significant other out on a hike. But be and stay active.

So there you have it. I don’t have any goals to win body-building championships or medals for finishing first in a marathon. I don’t need (or want) to look like a runway model or some Hollywood superstar. I don’t want to eat just protein shakes or cabbage soup or some other limiting, boring and unsustainable diet only to gain all the pounds back as soon as I return to eating normally. I just want to be healthy and feel good and maybe live a year or two longer because I worked at it a bit.

Zzzzzzz…

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Holy macramoly I’ve been tired lately. Exhausted, in every sense of the word. I really want to go back to bed and stay there for about a year. Alas, life tends to get in the way of year-long sleep (unless you are a princess in a fairy tale) so I am up. Not very awake, but up.

Aside from the sheer exhaustion, things have been in a crazy state of limbo. I have a very vague sense of what I need to be doing, but no clear direction. Add to that the insane amount of work to do, especially without the clear direction, and my head is spinning. Thankfully, all this seems to be pushing me to exercise more. I guess the adage is sometimes true that there is a silver lining to things. And don’t get me wrong, I think I am going to love my new job once things finally get settled, but the unknowns are making things stressful for everyone right now.

And my skin is breaking out. I am assuming it is due to stress because the only other time I have skin problems is when I catch a cold. I know. I am lucky that way and probably shouldn’t complain.

Time to go tackle the pile of paperwork waiting for me…

 

Another day…

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208.6!!

Whew. Less than ten pounds left before I am rid of that nasty “two” at the front of that number. I am pretty stoked!

The garden is growing full speed ahead. I’ve already eaten several home-grown squash and will have my first cucumber tonight! The tomatoes have a billion green ones on them, but I think they also have blight which seems to be killing the new buds/flowers on one of the plants. I am going to go to the garden center tonight and look for some calcium rich something or other to put around them to see if it helps. Also, I’m removing all the affected parts and throwing them away so I don’t spread it. I will be super bummed if it affects the tomato fruit and rots them too (it sometimes causes blossom end rot).

Work is also going full speed ahead. We have made a few offers to folks to fill our open positions and hope to have everyone hired and on-board starting the second week in July. Between now and then is a ton of work to do. The best part, though, is no travel until at least mid-July! Almost four weeks straight at home…I won’t know what to do with myself.

Actually, I do know what to do with myself. I will get myself on a regular weekly gym schedule! I still see my trainer once a week, I even rescheduled this week to meet with her today because I was out-of-town Monday and Tuesday. (Yes, I am very proud of myself!) I plan to do more strength stuff at home and then will make a point of getting to the gym at least three days per week for cardio workouts. I am determined to defeat the elliptical…my nemesis. I am also very fond of the rowing machine and the recumbent bike.

Other than that, nothing new to report. Life is busy. Animals are all healthy (OP has fur balls, but it is that time of year). And I think I am going to pick up some Copper River salmon for dinner tonight. Things are alright.

I feel good!

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Sore, but good. I lasted a whole five-and-a-half minutes on the elliptical machine today. What is even more impressive is that I didn’t feel like passing out, falling over from jello legs, or like throwing up when I was done. That’s some serious progress for me.

After that five-plus minutes of hell we moved onto legs, core, and shoulder work.

The garden is growing fast and I’ve already started harvesting some squash and herbs, so that has made preparing dinner more fun (and healthy)! I even got to use my kaffir lime tree leaves in some chicken curry I made the other night (I also used my first zucchini in that dish). Tonight I am trying out a yellow zucchini from my neighbor’s garden. It is not a summer squash, but an actual, yellow zucchini. I’ve never heard of them before so we shall see what it tastes like.

Just two more weeks of travel to finish up my old job responsibilities and then moving on to the new ones. There will be some travel in July and August for training – even so, it will be nice to have a different destination activity for those trips and not the same old thing I’ve done the past seven or so years. In the meantime we have done some marathon interviewing of new candidates for our team and I think have found some strong ones. Fingers crossed that the next level of interviews goes well for them.

My niece turns one on Saturday! I can’t believe it has already been a year and I am really looking forward to seeing her and my nephew in August.

That’s all for now…time to get back to the required online training I have to take now that I am officially a “manager”. *sigh*

I have lost 9.5 inches!

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I think we might have measured in a slightly different spot for my waist measurement (I have an incredibly high waist so I usually measure slightly lower, but I think today we did my natural waist…which I will just do going forward to keep it easy and consistent). So aside from that big drop, I have lost 1.5 inches in all of my measurements and am down approximately 10 pounds since I started tracking in December. I am definitely not setting any records, but it is nice to see that even my inconsistent working out is paying off. New measurements are posted here.

It also confirms that my shorts aren’t just old and stretched out and baggy…they are really getting to be too big!

Onward and upward…or maybe that should be downward since I am trying to lose? Time to see if I can shed some more size before the first week in August!

This mad race we call life…

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Life has been a mad dash since I last posted…work travel, my mom and sister came to visit last week, more work travel, my new job took effect, preparing to do some marathon interviewing for work…in the midst of it all, I must confess I have let my work-outs slide. And I ate a LOT while my family was visiting…and we drank even more. Heh.

It seems I am still moving in the right direction with weight and size, so that makes me happy. And I have a new “deadline” goal to lose some more size…August 6. I head home for a week to visit family and friends and to see my dad get married. I’d love to be in better shape before then. Call me vain, but it will be the week just following my 20 year reunion (which I am missing due to travel costs and I don’t have enough time to take from work), but I know many of those folks will still be around since most still live in the area.

Next Tuesday morning I start back up with my trainer…we will be doing measurements and a weigh-in and then it is back on track!