Thursday, 10 March 2011

Eating fruit and veg means eating fruit and veg

So, this month on Health Month I've decided to really step it up. First off, I've bumped up my rules from 3 to 7. (7!) And, I've expanded them away from my basic eating and drinking rules. I still have the basics: drink a ton of water, take a vitamin. I've modified my basic "eat greens" to "eat seven servings of fruit and veg a day" in order to encourage more variety. I also still have my food journaling rule. But, I've added a flossing rule, a list of grateful things rule, and an exercising rule. This is only week two, but I feel like I'm doing pretty well. I've not lost any life points so far.

But, I'd forgotten that when you target a certain number of fruits and veg in a day, you pretty much spend all your meal times (and meal prep times) trying to get those fruits and veg in. I've started drinking v8 again (which I love, by the way). I bought a big bottle simply because I knew that the serving size wasn't that big and that would be a nice way to get a serving in without having to think about it in the morning. And, I've eaten a ton of fruit. All of the snacks I've eaten in the past ten days have involved a fruit or a veg. And, finally, I've been really strategic with what I've been cooking. Over the weekend, I made a Persian stew that is almost entirely vegetables and fruit. (It also had a small amount of meat in it.)

This past week, the last week that there is a visiting scholar in my house, has been really busy (and a little stressful) so getting I'm really proud of myself for hitting these targets. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep it up!

Monday, 28 February 2011

Looking at the Rules

So, I know that February isn't quite over, and I shouldn't count my chickens before they hatch, but I think if I learned anything this month it is to just keep at it. First off, I only missed 2 of my rules this month once each. That is pretty good for someone who has had all kinds of craziness (car problems, house guest, computer problems, health problems, weird official gov't bs problems and new this weekend phone problems) I think that's pretty good. It is nice to know that even when it seems like everything is falling apart around me I can still push forward and do things that are good for me.

I think I've also learned, building on the same thing I learned last month, that variety is the spice of life. I have branched out into different green vegetables this month, but I want to branch even further. It is nice to eat vegetables every day, for the most part I feel awesome (possibly just placebo-effect awesome, but I'll take it) after each instance of veggie eating, but I think I'd like to try more things. So, next month, I'm concentrating on getting servings of fruits and veg so that I can branch out.

And, something that I probably could have used this month but I'm absolutely up for next month is that next month I am going to be keeping an ongoing list of stuff I'm grateful for. The world is full of all of these little things that make living easier, and I'd like to recognize them.

This isn't a full sit-down and reflect on your month, but I think it is a start. I can't believe that I'm at the end of my second month on Health Month! and I am so excited about starting a new month and trying my hand at some new rules!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

It's just a pie to the face, is all.

I'm thrilled that February is almost over because I have to tell you, little campers, this month has been really hard on me. I got my computer back on Tuesday and then it stopped working again briefly on Thursday. This was sort of the straw that broke the camel's back. I kind of lost it. I had a few beers. I hardly got any work done. It was just too much.

And, then I get to the computer shop on Friday night (couldn't go earlier because there was snow and it took us an hour to drive a distance that normally takes 20 minutes!) I go to show them the new problem and it is suddenly gone. So, I'm standing there, in the computer shop (20 minutes before close) feeling like a complete tool. To quote Dan and Casey from Sports Night:

Dan: Sometimes, it's worth it, all the pies in the face. Sometimes you come out feeling pretty good.

Casey: And, sometimes you just stand there, hip deep in pie.

I feel like this month has been like that. Me, standing here, hip deep in pie. Well, maybe more sternum deep in pie because I keep getting hit with more pies in the face.

But, the thing I've realized about all of this, the silver lining of this month has been that it truly could have been so much worse. My country isn't run by a dictator hell bent on keeping his grasp on the reins of the country. Nor did my city get hit with a major earthquake. And, I've managed to get within two days of the end of the month on Health Month and I've still got 8 life points left. So, I must be doing something right. Ya, this month has been rough. Ya, I'm hurting a little. But, no bigs because I'm still here and I'm still full of fight.

That being said, I hope that there's something in store for me in March that isn't pies in the face.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


Recently, I've had suffered a series of unfortunate events. My computer died. My car died. There are some not-delightful things going on with my lungs. And, I'm the sort of person who tries to deal with things as rationally as possible. For me, X happens. I come up with a series of steps to deal with X. And, that's just how it goes.

That being said, I'm still an incredibly emotional human being and while I may do my best to rein my emotions in, it does not always work. and, whether or not my "try to deal with things as rationally as possible" is a healthy strategy or not, it is my strategy and I tend to do a pretty good job of it.

Except, when many things break at once. Like right now. Times like these, I'm much more likely to punch a b*$%# in the face (see, even my language goes). Or, I just get really snippy. In particular, I get snippy with people who keep asking me how things are going. For example:

Colleague: So, your car still in the shop?
Me: It sure is. Since you're the one who has been giving me a ride to work, don't you think you'd be one of the first people I'd tell when it isn't?
Colleague: I was just asking.

And, then I apologize. I know people are just asking but I also know that part of me is working really hard to not explode or cry or punch someone to deal with the massive amounts of frustration and having the things I'd relegated to the "can't work on until X is resolved" brought back up just adds to my frustration.

Maybe I need a new strategy. :/ Or, maybe I really should make meditation one of my health month rules next month.

Friday, 18 February 2011


In a previous post I mentioned that it may be a good idea to note in my food journal not just what I've eaten, but how I feel half an hour after I eat. I made it a rule on Health Month to food journal because for the past two years I've bought a daily planner so that I could do this and then I've only done it sporadically. My object in the daily exercise is to just bring more awareness to what I do. But, it is one thing to be aware of what you are eating, it is another thing to be aware of the effect food can have on you.

So, I've been trying to add that in to my entries. And, I've noticed a few things. First off, lean meats and vegetables make me feel calm half an hour after I've eaten. And, it has been really nice to observe this sense of evenness a couple of times a day. The second thing I've noticed is that if I have a bunch of carbohydrates, I feel so sleepy half an hour later. This makes me think that one of two things is happening: Either I'm eating the wrong kind of carbohydrates (to be fair, there have been a few spicy thai kettle chips in the mix this week) or that I'm eating too much of them.

I'm not really one for portion control. This isn't because I don't think its important, it is more because when I really focus on it I find myself in terrible cycles of going over the allotted size and then seriously punishing myself for it, sort of in a sneaky hate spiral kind of way. And, I'm trying to avoid that sort of behavior from myself. That being said, I think I'm going to investigate this over the weekend (the plan is to make my favorite dish: home made mac and cheese!) and see if smaller servings cut into the sleepiness.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Things just keep getting better and better

I totally missed one of my health month goals this week. I was about 15 glasses short on water. I'd say that I feel a little dehydrated, but I've had a cold for a month that has turned into a nasty chest cough and so all I really feel is that nasty, itchy, I want to cough feeling. Oh, I also feel tired from all of the extra effort I'm having to put in to breathe (which sounds weird when I put it like that, but weird sadly doesn't mean untrue.)

I went to the doctor this morning and told her about the cold and she had me hop up onto the table to give my lungs a listen. Then we had the following conversation:

Doctor: Do you have asthma?
Me: No.
Doctor: Not even when you were little?
Me: No.
Doctor *pauses to give me an unbelieving look* Well, your lower lungs sound clear. You clearly have some sort of upper respiratory infection and a lot of inflammation in your lungs. I'm going to give you an inhaler.

So, I have a cough that is mimicking asthma in its spare time. Meanwhile, in my "spare" time, I've been napping. You know something is wrong when you come home at 5, sleep until 7.30, get up and do some work and are back in bed by 11 for a full eight hours (well, minus the coughing interruptions) of sleep. I hope I get better soon because this last month has just been miserable.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011


So, A little over a year ago I bought a new laptop from HP. My previous laptop was four years old and had this glitch where it liked to turn itself off sometimes. It is hard to get work done when you have to save after every sentence for fear of losing stuff.

At the time, I was thinking of spending a little more money and making the switch from PC to Mac. It was such a mistake not to. Yesterday, for the second time in a year, I had to take my laptop in to have repairs done on it. The top is pulling up, the DVD player is broken and, worst of all, it won't connect to the internal monitor. (By the way, this has all happened since Friday.)

Thankfully, there are computer labs on campus so that I can get work done, blog and continue to check on Health Month, but this means that likely for the next two weeks I'm just going to be living in my office. Which sucks. Because I actually like working at home. I have a special space set aside for it and everything. Actually, I have two special spaces set aside for getting work done.

But, now I find myself in this position of once again wondering if I should retire this HP laptop to desktop status and make the switch to Mac. This is a very serious consideration for me, despite the fact that it is not in this year's budget. I have probably another 3 years of research and classes left on my PhD and the thought of having a two week mandatory period of being chained to the on campus computer labs (even though I have access to a private one) does not please me. This "job" is hard enough without your technology failing you twice a year.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Wine Party

So, last night I had a few friends over for some wine. I try to do this thing every month or so (this gives me a good reason to clean my apartment) where we all pick a variety of wine and then everyone brings a bottle and we all get to try several different kinds of the type of wine. It works out pretty well. I keep forgetting that I want to stop by the dollar store and buy little notebooks so that people can keep track of their favorite wines from the evening, but I still think people get a good sense of what they like. At the very least, you'll hopefully remember the label so that when you're at the store and thinking, "Oh, I need some wine" you can also think, "Oh, I remember liking that one."

Last night we tried Cabernet Sauvignon. There were some that were okay in my opinion and some that were not particularly nice. There was one (luckily the first of the evening) that was just beautiful. It had strong cherry overtones and it was just really, really nice.

Even though I'm tracking my food as one of my rules on Health Month, I relaxed last night and didn't stress tracking every single piece of cheese and every last pickled garlic clove (which are so delicious.) My big deal isn't about tracking calories or what I eat because I'm trying to hit specific targets, my object is to be aware of what I'm doing and how it makes me feel. I have come to wonder if I use food as entertainment or comfort or to alleviate boredom and if I'm ignoring how I actually feel because of the intake of food. Now that I'm thinking about it, I wonder if it wouldn't be better to not only write down what I eat, but also write down how I feel half an hour after. Huh.

Saturday, 5 February 2011


I've been completely stressing out about a presentation that I had to give yesterday about my research to my entire department. Now, I know that my department is full of excellent researchers who are also decent human beings so that, when you give a presentation you get excellent feedback (that is delivered in a kind way). I know that I'm not an idiot. I know I've worked hard on this. And, yet, I can't seem to help not psyching myself out and thinking that I have nothing useful to say before a big presentation.

Which is so ridiculous.

Because the presentation went fine.

And, there was a good discussion afterward from which I got at least one reference to some work in another language that may support my claim.

So, yesterday, I get up and I'm freaking out so I sit down and drink my usual cup of joe and play with my cats and go over my slides again. Then, my carpool buddy calls and pack stuff up and grab a banana and go. After my first two classes, I buy a cup of coffee. I get back up to my office and my friend has brought me a donut. I eat my donut. I look at my slides some more. I got to my third class. I give my presentation. And, then, on the ride home I realize the only things I've consumed today have been water, coffee, milk and sugar in the coffee, a donut and a banana.

That dog won't hunt, Monsignor.

So, before dinner (I know, right!) I went digging through my bag and realized I had a honey tangerine. I ate it.

I'm totally changing tenses in this post. Sorry about that.

Eventually I went to dinner with friends and had some Indian food. But, I can't help but wonder if I'd be more calm if I ate on a schedule.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Defining the Rules

I've been thinking and I've come to the conclusion that in order to really move forward with my health (and, part of playing Health Month is about getting into the habit of being more healthy, which is to say moving forward with my health, that I need to be as explicit as possible with my rules. I'm going to take a moment today to explicitly set out what it is that I want to count as completing a rule today and my goals in doing so.

Last things first. My long term goal with all of this is to just learn to be more mindful. I feel a lot of my bad habits come out of letting myself get so bogged down with things and stressed out that I let the little things slide. In essence, I fill my plate so full that I just stop paying attention to details. This is detrimental and incredibly disconcerting because I feel many of life's good things are little details and many of the details can serve as flags on whatever path you're on. It is easy to lose the way when you're not paying attention.

Okay, so the rules: the three from last month continued (drinking water, eating greens and taking a multivitamin.) I have as my definition of a glass of water a 6 ounce portion. I know everyone says "8 8ounce glasses a day!" but, I feel 6 ounces is more manageable. In addition to water, I feel that I non-caffeinated herbal tea and the occasional vitamin water can count (if its less than a quarter of my water intake a day). My reasoning here is two fold: 1. every now and then you want something a little different and I don't want to deny myself something because "I *have* to drink so much water!" Secondly, I own a ton of tea and I don't want it to go to waste.

For the greens eating, I'd like it to only count if I eat half a cup. Now, this is going to require some planning so that I'm not sitting there, at 9.30, shoving down a salad. I am more than capable of planning my meals in advance so this shouldn't be a huge effort.

The new rules are about flossing, meditation and tracking what I eat. The only one I really want to put a stipulation on is the tracking what I eat. Every year I buy journal specifically to do this and I'd say I don't do it easily 75% of the time. I think the key to this is to get into the habit of writing things down right after I eat them. (For example, I just had a snack of celery sticks and cream cheese. So, I'm going to write that down right now.) As for the other two, I think just sitting still is going to be hard enough, but I'm going to have to plan it. With the flossing, ya, I don't take as good of care of my teeth as a should. Ya, that's gross. This is why I'm going to do something about it. Floss, ahoy!

Alright. So, that's the scoop.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Picking rules

So, I'm getting ready to start Health Month for February and I've picked my rules. In addition to the rules that I picked last month (drinking water, eating greens and taking a multi-vitamin) I'm adding meditation three times a week, flossing 3 times a week, and track my meals every day. I'm keeping the rules from last month because I feel like I've made some progress with these things and I want to build on them because I'm not really sure they're habits yet.

In particular, the water drinking habit. I'm getting the water in, but as I mentioned in a previous post I'm doing most of my water drinking late in the day and in the evening. I've had five glasses of water so far today and that is about half of what I want to drink (and I've been up for twelve hours.) Sure, I've had other things to drink, a big cup of coffee (which doesn't count) and some sweet tea (which also doesn't count) and an herbal tea (which I'm willing to count. Perhaps more on that later.) The same with the greens. I've been pretty boring in the different kinds of greens I've been eating: mostly having spinach and salad. (Of course, while I had a cold it didn't matter what I ate because I couldn't taste a thing.)

I've recently discovered that my grocery store has bags of pre-washed and cut kale and broccoli rabe (that counts as a green, right?). I'm super excited about getting adding these to quick meals that I'm going to plan as soon as I'm done posting. I have a complicated relationship with food but at the heart of that complicated relationship is that I absolutely love it. I love cooking. I love eating. I love planning what I'm going to eat. I love having people over to sample something I've cooked. And, part of my goal in doing this is to help establish healthy habits and work through some of my complications. It is just food, after all and I'm just a creature that needs food to survive.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Another week on Health Month

So, I've been doing so well on Health Month. I've been drinking a lot of water (albeit, a lot after 6 pm. It would be better if I drank water more slowly throughout the day.) Now, how many times I have said that this month? Ah, well. I suppose I should just work on it a little bit at a time. At least I'm actually getting water.

That being said, I've been totally stressed out this week. I have to give a presentation on my research next Friday and I don't even know what I should title it. I have to come up with something, though, because I just got an email from the Professor that schedules Friday afternoon talks and he wants to know.

Earlier this week, I made some pasta (ravioli with spinach) and a butternut squash sauce. It was amazing. I got the recipe from Martha Stewart's website and it was super tasty. I forgot to put the sage in that the recipe called for (which is a shame since I grow sage in my window sill.) Also, I used organic half and half. I know it is probably the placebo effect, but organic animal products (and radishes) just taste better.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

The most amazing danish

It is possible that I'm just in a really good mood and good moods predispose me to hyperbole, but I had just had the most amazing coconut custard danish from my local grocery store.

I had bought it intending to have it for breakfast but instead I ended up having blueberries and cottage cheese for breakfast. So, I brought the danish with me to school. I am sitting in my office, watching the snow fall and enjoying this danish. I've had cheese danishes before, but I don't think I've ever had a custard danish before. It was incredibly creamy, with a hint of vanilla and topped with coconut. For some reason, I find coconut to be the perfect flavor for a winter dessert. I think it is a visual thing.

My office is on the top floor of a building looking at over a completely closed in courtyard, so snow both falls and rises here in a swirl. It gives you the impression of looking in on a snow globe. I rather like that.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Body Love Revolution!

Greetings, all. Golda Poretsky, who is a holistic nutritionist will be interviewing a number of women who are Fat Acceptance activists/Health At Every Size proponents/awesome human beings. The telesummit is free and the interviews are probably going to be awesome and full of interesting and useful information.

In case you are interested or even a little curious, you should sign up and see what Fat Acceptance and Health at Every Size are all about.

Body Love Revolution Telesummit

Health Month: Week 2 and 3

For two weeks in a row, I've managed to actually beat my goal of 61 glasses of water a week. It feels good to have goals and to make them, even if they are just small goals.

I've already picked out my rules for next month. I have three different ones. I am thinking that I'm might actually sign up for a paid account and add the vitamin rule and the water rule from this month to next month's.

During the past two weeks, I have had a terrible cold which has made it hard to breath and smell. This has definitely made it easier to complete part of the challenge because I made a huge pot of chili that had spinach in it. Since I can't taste, I've had no desire to vary what I've been eating. I've had chili two meals a day everyday for the past four days.

Now that I've got my sense of taste back, though, I'm thinking I'm going to make my own butternut squash pasta sauce. I have this really simple recipe that I am looking forward to trying. I'm going to put it on some spinach ravioli that they sell in the health food section of the grocery store.

I do have one concern about the rules, though. I am a little concerned, with rules like "eat greens every day" that I may not be getting enough variety in my diet because I'm eating the same things over and over again. (This week in particular.) That being said, if I'm going to be stuck in a rut eating something, it might as well be spinach.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Weight Watchers

So kinda on a whim, after work I Monday I signed up for Weight Watchers online. I did it in college so I'm familiar with how the diet works and so I thought I should try it again. I had some success with it but like all the diets I have been on as soon as I plateaued I became frustrated and went back to my hold habits. I am determined that this will not happen again. When I weighed myself to set up my profile, I was horrified to find that not only have I gained back all the weight I had lost before moving to New York but I am now the heaviest I have ever been! When did this happen? I don't feel like I have changed my eating habits? I'm not eating more then I did before. I'm actually more active here in New York then I ever was in Iowa since I don't have a car and am forced to do more walking. So how can I really be heavier now then ever before? This puzzles me but I want to look as this as a good thing. Maybe this is what I need to push me to really lose the weight. I refuse to gain anymore weight. I wanted to lose some weight before we go to Florida in March but it's no longer about that. I'm not happy with the way I look. I know I am not healthy and I have been overweight for most of my life. I know this is something I can change and God willing this plan will help me do it.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Health Month

Do you all know this website: Health Month? It is a health management website that is set up like a social game. You pick a couple of rules each month and you do your best to follow them. The thought behind it, at least for me, is that I have the opportunity to be mindful about a couple of little things all month and I have rewards set up for when I succeed and if I fail I've also got a non-reward set up because you start each game (a month is a game) by setting up a little contract for yourself.

I've not done it before; this is my first month giving it a go. I know it is only January 2nd, but so far, so good. I've set it up so that I have three rules: I have to take a multi-vitamin everyday. I have to drink 61 glasses of water a week and I have to eat greens everyday. I had a salad last night for dinner and it was very refreshing. (This is going to seem counter-intuitive as someone who has a CSA share, but getting enough greens is actually pretty hard for me.)

So far today, I've already taken my vitamin and I've got my trusty-rusty water bottle next me and it is already half empty. (It isn't actually rusty. It is a vapur water bottle that Santa brought me for Christmas.) I think things are going pretty well.