Saturday, October 26, 2013

pick yourself back up

A dearth of posting this week meant that I was overwhelmed. Oh-so-overwhelmed.  Despite having two days off for fall break at the beginning of the week, I found myself unable to fully catch up on my student's work and my own work.

It wasn't like I slacked off either--I was plenty busy working on this stuff, including starting my dissertation research--yet, a giant pile.  It made me a bit cranky on Wednesday, though by the end of the week I'd made some headway.

It also meant that while I was still getting my fall challenge workouts in (mostly), I stopped eating as healthfully and mindfully as I was trying to last week.  I didn't go gobble down a bunch of sweets or even anything that unhealthy, but I did eat out of boredom, frustration, and unhappiness.

The beauty of this whole fall challenge thing is that the barre3 philosophy isn't to be super restrictive or go overkill--you are supposed to make it your own, and not worry if you don't quite meet your own goals.  So, happily, I'm getting back to it and not beating myself up about it.  I'm also going to point out that my normal pattern would have been to just give up, then go out and get a pint of ice cream or a bunch of candy and eat it all, but I didn't do that--so, progress!

I have to say, I love feeling not stressed out about all this. Sure, it's hard to make sure to fit exercise in and cook meals that are healthy and tasty (all while trying to keep the house respectable and keep up with my own academic/scholarly work), but I'm starting to see a glimmer of balance in all this craziness.  I love it.  Onward and upward!

Friday, October 18, 2013

the missing butter

"Where's that stick of butter?" L asked me one morning as he prepared to cook breakfast.

I looked up from my reading, puzzled. "What butter?" "I had a partial stick right here, and now it's gone."  We hunted around, yet, no butter.  I queried the cats, but they revealed nothing.  We figured, however, if they'd stolen the butter (and they would if they could, greedy little monsters), that there would have been butter EVERYWHERE.  This was the good, organic butter, so we were certainly not willing to just give up.

We looked around a bit more, and with no sign of the butter, we were left scratching our heads and slightly sad that the pricey butter had vanished so thoroughly with no sign.  I thought about it, thought about a poem, and then dropped the subject.

Fast forward a few days later.  I'm working from home, L has left from a camping trip. During my work breaks, I'm cleaning as I tend to do when he goes out of town. After I finish work, I begin taking out the recycling piled high in the kitchen; I pick up a box to break it down, and LO! the butter has reemerged!

It appears only slightly scarred by the maw of whichever little furry beast knocked it off the cutting board in the first place. It must have fallen in where they could not reach, and thus it remained until I discovered it as I tried to recover from my household neglecting ways.

Otherwise, things were good. Day 5 of the challenge grows a bit easier, and I'm getting into the swing of things.  And I gave the new 40 minute interval strength workout online a go, and liked it! Downside: I ate way too many barre3 bars. Next week: snacks will be veggie based.

day 5
Breakfast: GF banana pancakes with yogurt and a plum
Lunch: leftover beet, chickpea, and arugula bowl
Snacks: apple, barre3 bars, dates
Dinner: Spicy Moroccan Stew (YUM)
Workout: 40 minute barre3 interval strength

Thursday, October 17, 2013

day 4. what's that??

mmm, tea
I ate the granola I made last week again, and again I noticed that my stomach hurt. Too many occurrences for it not to be coincidental--yep, I'm reacting to whatever gluten contamination is in my oats. Drat!  No fair.  However, I will obtain GF certified oats, and make more granola--this time PUMPKIN. Watch for it.

But, when I finally woke up enough this morning and felt a bit better, I decided to do a barre3 video for 30 minutes, which was pretty nice--L even came out and did part of it with me (since I disrupted his sleep and all).  Anyway, after finishing my shower, I poked my abs a bit, and I saw it: my oblique muscles, showing through. Whaaaat?  Never in my life have I had definition in my abs, and there was a bit of something starting. Amazing!

The other thing that popped into my head, however, when I was looking in the mirror was that I was happy with my body. Since I've often bashed myself in my own head and generally wished I was different (oh, my pear shape! my long arms and legs that fail to fit clothes properly!), this is a pleasant change.  In fact, I have to say that I have very rarely thought negatively about my body in the past couple of months, mostly since I started doing more yoga and began barre3. A regular yoga practice in addition to regular strength training has made me feel strong and confident and proud of my body and what it can do.  Sure, I don't have a totally flat stomach (and probably won't ever, or at least not anytime soon), but I like how my body looks and how even when it's changing, it's still me. And better than those ab muscles: being able to hold boat pose LIKE A BOSS.

Tonight, I'm ending my day with a bit of turmeric tea.  Turmeric has been attributed with a bunch of potential health benefits (some seem a bit overstated, but some seem reasonable), one of which is calming inflammation. With all this work I'm asking my body to do, I figured I'd best take care of it, and if drinking a delightful turmeric tea helps my muscles repair themselves and calms my digestive tract, then I'll give it a go.  Plus, it's pretty delicious.  

stir up the honey, add some hot water, squeeze in the lemon.
I made this batch according to Heidi's recipe (from 101 Cookbooks), but I think the next time, I'll add a bit of ginger, or maybe start grating some fresh ginger into the brew--ginger also has anti-inflammatory properties, and it happens to pair nicely with the flavors of turmeric, honey, and lemon.

day 3
Breakfast: yogurt and the cursed granola, then leftover veggies and an egg
Lunch: spring rolls with veggies and tempeh and delicious spicy almond sauce, raw banana oat bars
Dinner: A riff on this barre3 recipe, except instead of spinach, I used arugula, and I threw it all over a bed of lettuce and put a bit of sriracha on it.
Snacks: an apple, celery with sunflower butter, barre3 bar, dates + sunflower butter (still a little snack heavy, but I felt more conscious of my foods today)

exercise: 30 minute barre3 workout, 3 mi run, yoga

PS: I saw that there's a new 40 minute video posted that looks really, really fun, so I'll give it a try tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

day 3: hungry, hungry

I was hungry ALL DAY TODAY.  It probably had something to do with beginning my day with a 5-mile run at 5:30am.  I found myself digging into my lunch  (turkey and kale quinoa over lettuce) at 9:30a when my delightful breakfast of eggs and veggies was no longer cutting it.  Then, hungry again at 1:30, I grabbed a cup of coffee and some nuts from Starbucks, then ate an apple and a small amount of almond butter a bit later, followed by a huge snack when I returned home at 4:30 of anything I could readily shove into my mouth. (rice cakes with hummus, dates, and 1/2 a Barre3 Bar).

This afternoon hunger thing is often a problem with me. I think, perhaps, it's that I don't eat a large enough lunch.  When I don't eat enough for lunch, I get hungry early in the afternoon, then I just eat everything partially because I'm really hungry, and partially because I'm tired and don't eat mindfully.

Since mindfulness was one of my goals, I plan to break the cycle: I'll set out one thing for my snack, wait a bit, and if I'm still hungry, opt for an earlier dinner, perhaps.

Day 2:
Breakfast: eggs with dill, sauteed veggies (squash, onion, kale)
Lunch: leftover quinoa chili with avocado
Snacks: too many donut holes, dates and sunflower butter
Dinner: turkey and kale quinoa
Exercise: 5 mile run, 1-hour vinyasa yoga class

Day 3:
Breakfast: eggs with tomato/basil, sauteed veggies (mustard greens, onion, squash)
Lunch: turkey and kale quinoa and lettuce
Snacks: nuts, apple with almond butter, 1/2 barre3 bar, 2 rice cakes with hummus, dates
Dinner: Watermelon! (since I had a huge snack, I didn't need much dinner)
Exercise: 5 mile run (with my lady running group--always a nice mid-week event!), 60 min barre3 Shape online video (challenging, but fun!)

I was pretty tired when I got home from work and didn't feel much better after just sitting and chilling; however, after the video I felt more energized (though ready for bed!).

These first few days have been a bit rough, and though not totally successful, I feel like I'm hitting the stride of the challenge.  I am coming back to my goals (by talking about all this here, I'm moving outside my comfort zone AND thinking about mindfulness!) and am happy that I'm taking care of my self with rest, delicious watermelon, and good exercise.

Monday, October 14, 2013

day 1

What I ate (mostly): steel cut oats, apple + tea, salad with veggies, quinoa chili
Day 1 of the Barre3 Fall Challenge passed mostly normally: I ate roughly what I already eat (but made with some fancy recipes!), I worked all day long, went to a Barre3 class for my first workout of the challenge, then came home. I'm eating my dinner as I type this, thinking of the other work I need to accomplish before bed.

Random thoughts: I ate some candy because I neglected to bring my snack (not that candy is bad, but I didn't really want the candy nor did I enjoy it, so...yeah). I came home and ate a bunch of snacks because I was so hungry.  So, lesson learned, take your snack with you places.

Also, I made this miso tahini sauce from Smitten Kitchen and dumped some on top of roasted delicata squash, tofu, and broccoli, which I piled on a huge heap of lettuce I forgot to wash and subsequently realized was pretty gritty (Lesson 2: wash your lettuce). I ate it all happily, gladly, hungrily for lunch and skipped my normal coffee, which I didn't really need but wanted because I usually get afternoon coffee.

Also, rain. I like rain, though I didn't like forgetting all of my rain gear and being unable to get myself home. Oops.

The first day of challenges are ordinarily full of magic and excitement and delight, but maybe I wore myself out with all the weekend's cooking and the hype leading up to it.  Ah, well.  There's a whole month to be excited.

I will say, however, that prepping the food is super NICE--no cooking to satisfy the hungers!  The steel cut oats I ate were cooked and frozen, so I popped 2 "oat bricks" into a saucepan this morning to heat up and feed L and I. And the quinoa chili was heated up on the stove easily and efficiently, and my lunch was pre-assembled the night before. Easy!

Now that my dinner's gone, it's time to get back to work...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

the preparation

Kitten doesn't prepare to do anything except sleep and murder

Preparation is key to success--and with this challenge, preparation will make success easy.  The big thing is preparing all of the recipes (or most), so that all I have to do next week is heat dishes up and perhaps add something to it.  I took a look at the Barre3 Fall Challenge Menu last week, and over the course of the week, I procured groceries, cooked beans, and planned.
The week's menu (my printer was out)
Yesterday, I made my snacks: hummus, chocolate "donut" holes, and the Barre3 bars (like a larabar); today, I made the main dishes.  As I was making recipes, however, I realized that there is WAY more food than one girl and her husband can eat in a week. So, I cut out one soup and didn't make a few dishes later in the week in case there were too many leftovers; we might even get to invite someone over for food one night.  All this is good because there might even be stuff for next week, so I don't have to cook as much!

The preparation was heavy, but I think it'll save on time overall, and make it so that I don't eat random stuff because I'm tired and starving after a long day, and L will be happy too because there are delicious things to eat after a day of work (and for lunch!).

The recipes so far are great--full of flavor, satisfying, and chock full of veggies.  Delightful.

Here's to the next 28 days of to get  back to writing and teaching (without having to worry about cooking next week).

Friday, October 11, 2013

setting my intentions

At the beginning of yoga class, the instructor asks us to take a deep breath and set an intention. All throughout the hour, we are to return to this intention, to hold it in our minds as we move through the poses.  Initially, I sort of shrugged and thought of something (or nothing), but when I realized that setting this intention really did affect my mental state as I moved my body (and focused me), I realized how valuable setting an intention is. Usually I think of a word: joy, truth, trust, play, exploration, etc, and these words help me to focus on some element of my yoga practice.

With this in mind, I've been thinking about my intentions and my goals for the Barre3 Fall Challenge. Having an intention (or goals) to return to throughout the 28 days will structure my approach to the challenge, help carry me through the difficult spots, and keep me focused on building toward something.

The easy intention would be something purely physical: I'd like to be more toned, thinner, etc.  However, that intention is too simplistic, and would not enable me to get the most out of the challenge. Also, it's boring, and it's increasingly something I don't care about (I'm a healthy weight, and I'm strong--who cares if I'm not as thin as that person over there?). So while I might find myself physically different after these four weeks, it'll be a side-effect, not a primary goal.

Instead, I have two intentions, one relating to my body and one relating to the food I put into my body.  My first intention, thus, is challenge myself to move outside my comfort zone.  I don't want to just do the same things over and over again because growth and change don't happen there. So, I'll be trying different workouts and talking about them here--exploring my own weaknesses a bit more publicly will definitely be a challenge, as will committing to regular workouts that are often frustrating because of my lack of flexibility or strength.

My second intention is to eat mindfully. I'm really bad, sometimes, about eating not because I'm hungry but because I'm bored, scared, unhappy, stressed, etc.  So while I eat pretty well, I sometimes eat too much and not for the right reasons.  My goal is to eat food that is delicious, nourishes my body, and for me to take the time to enjoy and experience the food I'll be making. Some of that will mean sharing a meal with someone else (not eating alone), and eating food that is exciting and enjoyable and satisfying, not just a means to relieve boredom or stress.

These intentions are pretty broad, but I think they'll help me keep the focus on the more emotional/mental side of health and wellness. I'm looking forward to discussing this challenge and participating with a great group of people.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

A Fall Challenge! + granola

I love a good challenge.  So when Megan announced that the Fayetteville Barre3 would be hosting a Barre3 Fall Challenge, I signed up right away. After all, what's more fun than finding a way to incorporate more delicious food and fun exercise into my day?
I love granola with some plain yogurt for breakfast or a snack.

I also promised her that I would post a bit about my experience with this challenge, as well as sharing some recipes and cooking tips.  I'll be posting more about my preparations for the food I'll be eating, but suffice it to say that I'm really excited about the menus that the challenge uses.  They are all gluten free (which rocks, since I have this whole gluten intolerance thing), and they incorporate lots of delicious veggies and seasonal recipes.  In fact, the Barre3 nutritional approach is pretty awesome--it's not about restricting or counting calories or labeling foods good/bad, but about working to incorporate healthier choices and eating food that is flavorful and delightful.

With that in mind, I looked at the meal plan for next week and the associated recipes.  When I saw this peanut butter granola recipe on one of my favorite websites, Food in Jars, I knew I wanted to make it, but bring it more in line with a lower-sugar nutritional profile, since lately I've found anything sweeter than fruit to be almost unbearable (including a banana).

So, using the Favorite Granola Recipe from the Barre3 site and the Food in Jars' recipe, I created my own take that is delicious, not too sweet, but should be satisfying with the amount of nuts and other nutritionally dense elements, which'll keep you from feeling hungry one hour later.  I'm already thinking of trying a pumpkin version for the next batch.

Jenn's Almond Butter and Banana Granola
Serves 8 (~1/2 c servings)

Note: I forgot that dried fruit should be stirred in AFTER baking to prevent it from being too hard to chew.  However, if you forget to read all the directions, you'll be all right.  If you'd rather have it a bit sweeter, up the honey a bit--for me, it has a lot of good flavor without being very sweet, and the dried fruit adds enough for me.

  • 1/3 c. almond butter
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp honey (the end product isn't very sweet with just 1, but I like it).
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 c. rolled oats
  • 1/2 c. shredded coconut or coconut flakes, unsweetened
  • 1/4 c. sesame seeds
  • 1/2 c. pepitas/pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 c. sunflower seeds (or really, any nuts you have on hand)
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  • 1/2 c. dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a saucepan, heat the almond butter, coconut oil, and honey until melted and liquid.  Add mashed bananas, stir.  Toss in the cinnamon and pinch of salt.

In a large bowl, mix oats, coconut, sesame seeds, pepitas, and sunflower seeds.  Pour the liquid over the oat mixture and stir.  Spread on a cookie sheet.

Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring regularly, until it begins to brown (watch carefully or it will burn). Cool.  Stir in dried fruit and place in an airtight container and NOMNOMNOM.