Friday, July 29, 2011

Remember that week in the mountains...

Come next weekend, I'll remember that week in the mountains, because I would have just came back from a week in the mountains, which is to say I leave for a week in the mountains tomorrow.

On the agenda:

I think that's about enough to fill a week. We'll see.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Day 11.

It's Friday, and I'm happy to say I've stuck to my goals for the week:

  • I stayed on plan every day.

  • I exercised at least once, usually twice, each day.

Like many things in life, the more I eat better, the more I exercise, the more I want to eat better and exercise. It's a wonderful cycle.

On Wednesday, UMKC hosted speaker Michelle Robins of Your Wellness Connection, who gave a talk called Embracing a Wellness Lifestyle. Michelle gave her seven habits for a healthy life, which include:

  • Rest, Reflect and Rejuvenate - get plenty of sleep, spend time in nature, thoughtfully consider your own actions, beliefs, choices, etc.

  • Breathe Deeply - oxygenate those cells!

  • Move Your Body - make time for exercise

  • Free Your Space - eliminate the clutter from your house, your office, your car, your mind, your life

  • Go for the Greens - eat lots of fruits and vegetables, especially green, leafy ones

  • Eat from the Sea - and Enjoy the Sun! - Eat more fish, and spend time outside to get Vitamin D

  • Drink to Your Health - drink more water

None of these habits is new news. However, they aren't easy to put into practice. One of the tips she gave that both Frank and I found particularly useful is, rather than eliminating unhealthy foods from your diet, add in healthy ones. Eventually, the unhealthy ones will fall aside as you begin to enjoy how you feel when eating a healthier diet. This has proven true for us. Sure, greasy cheese pizza is delicious, but it is not worth the cost - weight gain, pain, headaches - that come from eating the junk that is traditional pizza.

Another tip she stressed was to define why you want to lose weight/live healthier. If you know why, you are more likely to stick to your plan.

What is your why?

Mine is this: To become the person I know I am. A short, simple phrase that's loaded with meaning, expectation, hope, promise.

Finally, Michelle shared her recipe for what she calls a Green Smoothie. I modified her recipe a bit to make it one serving, and to add a bit of yogurt:

Green Smoothie

1 c. water

1 1/2 c. fresh spinach

1/4 apple

1/2 banana

1/4 c. frozen mango chunks

2 Tbsp. fat-free plain yogurt

3-4 ice cubes

Put the water and spinach in a blender and mix until smooth. Add the fruit and yogurt and puree until very smooth. Toss in the ice cubes and mix until the smoothie is as smooth or chunky as you like.

Michelle claims that drinking one of these a few times a week will do wonders for your overall health and well-being. Not being one to look a gift horse bearing an improvement to my overall health and well-being in the mouth, I prepared and drank my very first Green Smoothie this morning.

The verdict? It was delicious. Really - it was a teeny bit veggie-tasting, but mostly just fruity and cold and very good. I will have another tomorrow morning.

But - and I speak from experience gained this morning - make sure to remove the sticker from your apple BEFORE putting it in the blender. Sure, the sticker has some extra fiber, but I still have sticker in my teeth right now.

This weekend I will be giving two speeches in my Public Speaking class. On Saturday, I will give  a product persuasion speech on the Sous Vide Supreme. Basically, I figure if I can sell them on sous vide cooking, I can sell them on the Sous Vide Supreme. We'll see. Sunday, I have to give a persuasive speech, and I've chosen to try to persuade my class to participate in the KC Slimdown Challenge, which starts next Monday. Wish me luck.

I'll also be doing much swimming (hopefully), cooking, healthy eating, resting, rejuvenating, reflecting, breathing, drinking water, moving, and all those other things that come with a busy weekend.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I love the unknown.

This morning I came across an essay I wrote for a philosophy class a few months ago, and thought I would share it here:

Let Go, Let (go of) God, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Unknown

Several years ago, I came across the Wiccan Rede which states “Do what you will, but harm none.” I take this to mean that I should live and do as I please, but be considerate and aware of the effects my actions have on everyone and everything around me, such that I don’t behave in a way that is hurtful to any thing. I believe that rational beings have an inherent understanding of what is right and what is wrong, and when thoughtfully considered, that understanding can generally be described with some form of the Wiccan Rede.

As a child, I attended Unity Church, a Christian denomination that stressed Jesus was the example, not the exception, and that everyone should strive to be like Jesus the person. I never really had a sense that God was a threatening or scary entity. My concept of God was that he was more like a cross between a year-round Santa Claus and a benevolent genie – he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, and if you wished hard enough, things that you wanted would come to be. As I grew older, I realized that the God I made wishes to and the God that other flavors of Christianity prayed to weren’t exactly similar. My God was like an imaginary friend. But theirs was serious business. Theirs had a capacity for cruelty that I could not fathom, was demanding of praise and admiration, and required monetary sacrifices of people who couldn’t afford to give. The Christian God of grown-ups didn’t jibe with God as I understood him to be. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I knew that I was not capable of believing what I was regularly told I should believe by the mainstream Christian community.

Sometime in my early 20’s, I read Robert Ingersoll’s “Why I am an Agnostic” and it had a profound effect on me. In his essay, Ingersoll reflects on the path he took from blindly following the beliefs of his parents to the realization that we do not and cannot know the truth about the wonders of nature. “When I became convinced that the Universe is natural,” he writes, “that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom.” It took some years of really thinking and soul-searching, but I eventually came to similar conclusions as Ingersoll, and once that happened, I experienced – and still experience – an intense sense of relief and calm. By accepting that I am ultimately responsible for my well-being and for the well-being of my fellow man, I had to stop making excuses for my actions or lack thereof. My decisions are my own, guided by my own hand, and I have to take responsibility for all of my being.

About a year ago, I was talking to my mother about my uncle, who had pancreatic cancer and probably won’t make it another year (he didn’t). She said that she was worried about him, because he wasn’t religious and she thought he would be afraid to die, since he didn’t believe in heaven. I mentioned Epicurus to her: “Why should I fear death? If I am, death is not. If death is, I am not. Why should I fear that which cannot exist when I do?” She said she hadn’t thought of it that way, and that she felt better about her brother to think that he had the same logic as Epicurus. When you accept that “the Universe is natural” and that what is is all there is, you are free to live presently, with no fear of what might come after.

If there is no ultimate authority watching over every action, and no fear of punishment for wrongdoing by the eternal pain and fire of hell, what stops mankind from descending into chaos?  As I said before, I believe that rational beings have an inherent understanding of what is right and what is wrong. It is right to treat others with kindness and compassion. It is wrong to murder and steal. It is right to take care of those who cannot care for themselves. It is wrong to attack someone without provocation. Treat others as you would be treated. Do what you will, but harm none. As long as we as a society and as human beings follow these basic guidelines, chaos will not ensue.

There are big questions to which I would like to have answers, but rather than make up answers to satisfy my questioning, I am content with admitting that I don’t know. I don’t know if there is a God, I don’t know if anything exists beyond death, I don’t know where the universe came from or where it is going or why we are here. But I accept that I don’t know, and won’t know, and that I don’t have control over anything except what I do and say in this moment in time. It is this acceptance that grounds and centers me and allows me to be fully present in each moment so that I can make the most of what precious time I’ve got.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 7.

My weekend was busy, mainly because I'm taking a Communications class for the next couple of weekends that meets on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Friday night after dinnerand a 30 -minute bike ride, I made a bunch of spring rolls for my class the next day to go with my demonstration speech on how to make Vietnamese spring rolls. Then we watched Take Me Home Tonight, which was okay, but not great. The 80s references were pretty entertaining, but it's not a movie I'd want to seek out to see again in the future.

Saturday, I got up early, went to class, came home and went to the pool. I swam some laps and got some sun. Perfect pool weather. Then, because it was Saturday night, and because I'd been on-plan all week, and because we had a Groupon, and because it sounded so, so good, we went to dinner at Michael Smith where we had a 5-course tasting menu and a bottle of Kim Crawford unoaked chardonnay from New Zealand. Both the dinner and the wine were very enjoyable.

Notice the absence of bike rides on Saturday. On the fifth day she rested. Or something like that.

Peaches are in season right now, so for dessert I chopped up a peach and topped it with some greek yogurt that I had mixed with fresh rosemary and a little honey. Then I crunched up a Newton Fruit Crisp cookie and sprinkled it on top:


Then, it was back to the grindstone with 30 minutes on the bike with Harry.

Sunday night we caught up on the second season of Louie and watched last week's Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Today started off right with a 30 minute bike ride and a breakfast of an English muffin and yogurt. Lunch was leftover sloppy joes. They are just as good days later, I'm tellin' ya.

I'm hoping to go swimming after work and if I do, dinner will be at Subway.

A week into the KC Slimdown challenge and I'm feeling very positive about my progress!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 4, aka the day I stopped trying to come up with cute names forposts.

Yesterday, I got up early and rode my recumbent bike for 30 minutes again. So far, I've been sticking to my exercise goals, and for that I am very happy!

I ate well all day, and stayed under my points allotment. Not intentionally - I felt like I ate as much as I wanted to. Check it:

Weight Watchers English muffin w/2 tsp. Brummel & Brown: 3 pts.
Blueberry Fiber One Yogurt: 1 pt.
Coffee with stevia: 0 pts.

Weight Watchers Smart Ones Fettuccini Alfredo: 6 pts.
Peach: 0 pts.
Starbucks double-shot with sugar-free vanilla syrup: 0 pts.

1/2 Chipotle bowl with chicken, 1 Tbsp. sour cream and 1 Tbsp. guacamole: 8 pts.

Then I came home and did 30 more minutes on the bike.

I KNOW, RIGHT?! What a good day.

AND - I went grocery shopping for tonight's dinner yesterday afternoon. In the process, I bought the first bottle of wine I've ever purchased that cost more than $6.

Why would I go and do that? Well, I'm glad you asked.

Last weekend, Frank and I had a lovely meal at Pot Pie, where we enjoyed their out-of-this-world mussels and a very tasty bottle of chardonnay. The wine was a Laboure-Roi Macon Villages Chardonnay, but I couldn't remember that much when I went to Cosentino's in Brookside. So I asked the guy for "an unoaked chardonnay with a French phrase and the word Macon in it." That was enough information, apparently, and I went home with a bottle.

What's a girl who's participating in a weight loss challenge doing buying wine? The way I see it, if I'm going to drink at all during this challenge, it's going to be decent stuff. So I plan on having  a glass of this tonight. It will pair wonderfully with my Sloppy (and Healthy) Joes, don't you think? ;)