Tuesday truths: Honoring your body

Weekends are supposed to be relaxing and rejuvenating. But I’ve always struggled with them.

Routine, for me, is everything. I’ve worked hard at creating consistency in my life, but every time the weekend rolls around, the freedom from a work schedule threatens my healthy habits. I’m not rushed to fit in exercise and not bound to meal times, and sometimes, because of that, both go out the window.

This weekend was no different. I slept too late, I stayed in bed too long, I worried about things I shouldn’t waste time worrying about and I watched way too many episodes of “The United States of Tara” on Netflix.

I used to think that vegging out made my happy. It doesn’t. I do it anyway. I’m not happy. I wonder why. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So after hours of feeling, well, useless, I turned to a book of daily meditations that I was given in college. Each page is marked with a different date, containing a quote followed by a few paragraphs of thought about the quote.

Jan. 29 read:

“Listen to every prompting of honour” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

And then a few paragraphs down:

“We demonstrate honor when we reject a second, or third, helping of food when we are already comfortably full, or when we exercise even when we don’t feel like it. Such sacrifices earn us the kind of medals we wear on the inside, rather than the outside.”

Now, this book isn’t about weight loss, so I was a little taken aback after reading that passage.

And that’s when it dawned on me. The lesson I’m constantly re-learning and re-teaching myself.

My goals, my wants, my needs, my fulfillment, my happiness have nothing to do with losing weight. They don’t. They haven’t. And they never will.

What I’m doing has nothing to do with loss at all.

It’s about gaining and creating a life I’m proud of. One I want to live and one that will make me happy.

And when I focus on the weight loss that’s exactly what I feel. Loss.

I forget that what I’m really doing is taking on life.

A year ago I challenged myself to take on all that I could. I decided that I would be the driving force in my life. I would stop worrying about how others would view me and challenged myself to believe change was possible.

So when I forget to listen to my body and give in to temporary pleasures, extra helpings of food and extra hours lying around, I’m doing much more damage than affecting a number on a scale.

I’m sending a message inward that I don’t believe in myself.

Getting up early on a Saturday morning to make a healthy breakfast and go to the gym takes discipline and sacrifice. It takes effort.

Wishing for weight loss, praying to be skinnier and hating what you see in the mirror is not honoring your body. But taking action to be stronger, to fuel better, to live happier – that’s honor.

And that’s what I want.

Indian-spiced red lentils with kale

I’m an impatient cook. Terrible at following directions. My recipes usually start with a base idea. A recipe that lights the spark.

And then the wheels start spinning.

“What if I added this…”

And

“I wonder how it would work with that….”

But the cooking happens through intuition.

By taste.

By smell.

By feel.

But not always by look, as is proved with this dish.

It’s not pretty. But, oh, is it tasty. And packed with good stuff.

Indian spiced red lentils with kale (Inspired by No Meat Athlete’s Red Lentil Curry)

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups red lentils

1 16 oz bag of frozen kale

1/2 cup vegetable broth

1 tbsp turmeric

2 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp curry powder

1 tsp (or more) crushed red pepper

salt to taste

Directions:

Bring 4 cups of water and the 1/2 cup of vegetable broth to boil. When the liquid is boiling, add the lentils, turmeric, chili powder, curry powder and salt. Reduce heat to a mild simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes. Stir occasionally.

This is where you can really see my impatience at work.

Add the frozen bag of kale. Break up any large chunks but do not stir into the lentils. Cover the pot so the kale can steam for about 10 minutes

When all the kale is soft, mix into the lentils below it and add in the red pepper flakes. I recommend adding less at first and more if you want it spicier.

Let the whole mixture simmer uncovered until you get the desired texture and most of the liquid is gone.

I poured mine into a big container to portion out for lunches during the week, but this can be served either as main course or side dish for dinner as well.

It’s the perfect meal for a day that looks like spring but still feels like winter! Light, but also warm and comforting.

Have a great Monday!

Bring it: Veggie packed salad with pumped up balsamic vinaigrette

My first thought this morning was man, I’m providing another boring lunch for the blog.

But you know what?

It’s tasty. Filling. Healthy. Super simple and takes minutes to put together.

Maybe you want all of those things in a lunch.

Because when you’ve had a week like I’ve had, with many assignments and rapidly approaching deadlines, it’s a relief to take the few groceries left in your fridge and on your shelves and pronounce, “Lunch!”

Bring it: Veggie-packed salad with pumped up balsamic vinaigrette

Salad:

1/2 bag Fresh Express Sweet Butter lettuce (I’m currently obsessed with butter lettuce, but any kind will work)

1/2 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tomato chopped

1 serving (85 g) chopped baby carrots

Dressing

2 tbsp Trader Joe’s Fat Free Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/2 tbsp Whole Foods Unfiltered Flax Oil

salt + pepper to taste

Whisk the dressing ingredients together just before pouring on the salad. Give the whole container a good shake to make sure everything is coated before digging in!

Sweet ending:

1 Chobani Nonfat Lemon Greek yogurt

1 Apple

All together the meal comes to about 500 calories.


In the now

Today I’m going to the gym because:

Source: tumblr.com via Amber on Pinterest

Wednesday weigh-in and breakdown

What a strange week it’s been!

I battled post-vacation jet lag, so my normal routine was out the window. I was fighting to stay awake at 2 p.m. and wide awake at 4 a.m. My meal times were all over the place and not very balanced. One night all I could manage for dinner were a few spoon-fulls of peanut butter and 2 dark chocolate squares. Then the weekend hit and I slacked on tracking.

Sitting in this thing for 13+ hours drained me!

What I’m proud of:

Instead of making a beeline straight for the shower and bed after a 24 hour flight from India, I pounded down two cups of coffee and headed to Trader Joe’s. I jumped right back into healthy eating and exercising and made it a priority to have fresh and healthy groceries. It would have been so easy to rely on take out for the first few days, but it felt really important to me that I get back to normal as soon as possible. And despite my fear that I had lost all my gym endurance – I made it there three times this week!

What needs improvement:

I totally gave into stress eating this weekend and didn’t track my eats at all Sunday. I’m going to be writing a post soon about how I deal with emotional and stress eating, but it’s still something I work on on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. Also, I usually try to avoid the candy and food that my coworkers sometime bring into the office, and I totally failed at that this week. I had brought back a couple of bags of candy from India to share, and ended up eating a fair share of them!

The numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 183.5

This week: 181

Change: -2.5

Total loss: 62

This week I’ll be again focusing on tracking and staying mindful of what I’m eating.

Happy hump day to everyone!

– J

Get it together

Um, you guys, I forgot how hard losing weight was.

I’m not really sure how I forgot. But I did.

All calories matter. Even the candy you brought home from India and shared with the office but ended up eating a lot of. All the extra dips of hummus, the I’ll-just-have-one of’s and especially all the coffees from Starbucks. All calories. All matter.

I think I’ve been living in a world of compliments, because I’ve been seriously slacking on accomplishing any weight loss.

Even before I left for India, I was in a pretty rough spot between two stubborn pounds.

I’ve been relaxing on a web of fear and lies for the last couple of months, telling myself that it’s okay if my progress has slowed.

But last night I went to bed upset with the choices I’ve been making. I haven’t been honoring my voice. The one that knows better. The one that has the power to override all the outside pressures.

And for that, self, I’m sorry.

It’s time again to put myself back in the driver’s seat. Because at the end of the day, I’m the one that has to live with my actions. I will do what’s best for me even if others don’t get it. I will do what’s best for me even if it’s not popular.

I won’t be motivated by fear.

I won’t let fear make me complacent.

I won’t let fear tell me I can’t accomplish my goals.

I can.

And I will.

Put happy first

Happy Monday!

It just dawned on me that I’ll be working a full week for the first time in a month. Time to expand my coffee budget.

It’s easy to forget that happiness, like weight loss, takes work. And like weight loss, happiness itself is not a goal, but there are goals I can set that will make happiness a more likely reality.

Before I really started examining my life, I thought things like partying, eating crappy foods and watching hours and hours of TV made me happy.

I was wrong.

For me, it’s about the little everyday things, like making my bed and having a clean kitchen, that truly contribute to my happiness.

Source: Uploaded by user via Hannah on Pinterest

Weight loss has happened because I actively work at being happy. Not the other way around. And, sorry folks, it never will be the other way around.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that things like cooking myself healthy meals and working out everyday mattered more in the way of feeling fulfilled personally.

Source: a2.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net via Seema on Pinterest

The truth is, I would continue these habits regardless of whether I ever lost another pound. It’s this mindset that gets me through the frustrating plateaus and weight loss stalls.

Because for me, getting to a place of happy has always been more important than getting to a certain number on the scale.

 

No more blues-berry smoothie

This morning I woke up with a million doubts and fears.

Would I ever lose anymore weight?

Would I ever be able to run faster and for longer?

I had gone to the gym for the first time after my three week vacation last night, and for lack of a better term, the gym kicked my butt. During a 35 minute stint on the treadmill, I only managed to run for a total of 10 minutes, broken up into two five minute sets with walking between. The runs felt awkward. My body felt stiff and hurt in places I wasn’t used to hurting. My breathing was off and I quickly felt my stomach cramp up.

Last month I was able to run for 30-40 minutes at a time with no walking breaks. I felt defeated. Mad at myself that I hadn’t tried harder to work out in India and overall like I had let all my progress go.

But after throwing a quick pity party today, I knew I had to go back to the gym and try again. I went in with a better attitude and vowed to just let me body do what felt right.

I warmed up with 10 minutes of walking, longer than I warmed up the night before, and at minute 10 turned the speed up to a comfortable pace for running.

And then I began to repeat in my head something I had once heard in yoga.

“Let your body sink into the pose.”

So that’s what I did. I let my body get comfortable with the running. The rhythm. I focused on my breathing. I tuned out the rest of the world. With each step I sunk deeper into my body, and by the time I looked down, 10 minutes had flown by.

I held the pace for another five minutes before taking a walking break, and then finished strong with another five minutes of running for a total of 20 minutes of running and 20 minutes of walking – a little over 2.5 miles.

And now? I feel good. I feel strong. I feel like there is hope. And I’m also drinking the most delicious post workout smoothie.

Ignore how dirty my blender is…

No more blues-berry smoothie

serves one. about 190 calories.

3/4 cup frozen blueberries

1 scoop designer whey chocolate protein (or protein powder of your choice)

1 cup water

Microwave half the blueberries for 20-40 seconds. Add the second half and rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth for a great frothy and satisfying post workout snack. Drink immediately.

Bring it: Salad with grilled chicken, veggie dippers and hummus

One of the most effective healthy habits I’ve stuck with has been to bring lunch to work every day. Here’s why:

1. It saves money.

2. I can eat whenever I’m hungry.

3. Knowing I need to have a lunch for 5 days forces me to meal plan on the weekend and have a stocked fridge of healthy foods.

4. Packing my own lunch keeps me engaged with my food and gets my creative juices flowing.

These are just some of the benefits and the reason I plan to post my lunches weekly on the blog. I hear a lot of people say they don’t have time to pack lunch, but with a little effort put it on the weekend, most of my lunches come together in about 10 minutes. If I know I have a crazy week, I can even make containers for all the meals on Sunday, so all I have to do in the morning is grab and go.

This week my lunch, I’m sad to admit, is terribly boring. Even though I made it a priority to go food shopping the night I got back from India, I was beyond tired and only managed to grab things that looked easy to assemble and required no effort at Trader Joe’s. I promise, future weeks will feature more creative, bolder lunches.

Bring it: Salad with grilled chicken, veggie dippers and hummus

Salad:

1/2 bag (3-4 cups) of Trader Joe’s Butter Lettuce & Raddicho

4 oz Trader Joe’s Grilled Chicken Strips

1 tomato, chopped

Dressing: lemon juice, salt & pepper

Veggie dippers & hummus:

1 serving (85 g) of sugar snap peas

1 serving (85 g) of baby carrots

4 tablespoons of Trader Joe’s Mediterranean Hummus

Sweet ending:

1 giant, juicy orange

All together the meal comes to about 465 calories.

Six-pound lessons (Weigh-in)

I didn’t think today was going to be a good day.

For the last three weeks, there has been no monitoring of food intake. At all. No thoughts about restriction or moderation. Just, “yes, please” and “more, please.”

The food on the fork? Brains. I did NOT ask for more.

I knew I had gained. And this morning the scale confirmed it.

Six pounds.

Normally when I gain weight, the number feels like a failure. It fills me with dread and threatens to turn my mood sour. But this morning when I stepped on the scale and saw the number, my face broke out into a big smile.

Cheesin’ hard in Calcutta

The last three weeks have been indulgent. In travel, friends, relaxation, shopping and food. And that’s what I thought of when I saw the six-pound gain. I thought of how much fun the last three weeks have been and for the first time, the weight gain didn’t feel like time lost or a week wasted.

I’m a big believer in “everything happens for a reason.” With all of life’s ups and downs, there are lessons to be learned. These six pounds have taught me a lot of things.

Mostly, it solidified that the path I’m on is the right one. After three weeks of complete abandon, I was BEYOND excited to do my own food shopping, cook my own food, and be conscious of what I eat. Yes, it was fun to ditch all the healthy-eating guidelines I’ve lived by over the last year for three weeks, but when I ate foods like potato chips and lots of sugar, it left me feeling crappy. For me, calorie counting and meal planning doesn’t feel like a chore. It feels like an important part of my day that contributes to my happiness and well being. Over the holidays, my motivation to be healthy wasn’t as strong as it usually is, and having three weeks off kicked my butt back into gear.

The detour from my every day healthy habits also forced me to think a lot about the role food has in my life. When every meal is calculated and planned, it’s easy to forget that food can be emotional and can be eaten for pure pleasure and enjoyment. It forced me to realize that episodes I would call “binging” or “emotional eating” were much more about a state of mind and less about the amount or type of food I was eating.

Pure fun.

Overeating and feeling stuffed are ok, on occasion. Because disordered eating has always been a part of my life, I’ve never really known what it is like to have a normal relationship with food (if such a relationship exists). I have to remind myself that people without food issues also eat for pleasure, eat for fun and sometimes stuff themselves. These are normal behavoirs when done sparingly, and remembering that helps me not to feel bad when I do it too. As long as I’m not consuming the food in private purposely, or sneaking it, overeating in times of celebration is not something to feel bad about.

These may sound like simple realizations, but losing 60 pounds and changing my lifestyle has forced me to rethink about every aspect of eating and food.

With that said, today I returned to calorie counting with full force. There was no hesitation. It is a part of my life and three weeks and six pounds did not change that. These healthy habits are mine. They did not come by luck. I worked hard to have them and will continue to work hard to keep them.

So without further adieu, the numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last weigh-in (Dec.28): 177.5

This week: 183.5

Change: +6

Total loss: 59.5