Tag Archives: Diet

[The More Things]Change…

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Three days into the new year, and in my life things haven’t changed much. I spent the last two days in – mostly – slothful decadence, resolutions be damned.

I read – a lot. I finished two books and got halfway through a third. I caught up on the blogs that I follow, read through three months worth of saved magazines, and read the BBC news each day. I had long, enjoyable telephone conversations with friends and family. I watched movies: DoubtEverestMao’s Last Dancer. I watched two episodes of Chicago Code on Netflix, and That Sugar Film on Amazon. I played quite a few games of on-line Scrabble. I wrote and posted a blog on Sunday, and am doing it again today (yesterday, I missed writing, and found myself putting thoughts and events into workable sentences in my mind all day). I managed to accomplish – though minimally – a few things that were on my list to specifically work at this year.

I walked two miles each day. I kind of let that go when the weather turned bitter and the roads turned to ice at the same time that I came down with a cold. Winter is too long to indulge myself that way. It is still cold, and I still have a cough and a rattle in my chest, but I bundled up, put on my “ice-walkers” and got out there. My sore muscles tell me it was about time!

I started a new diet. I was planning to try the Whole 30 plan, which involves giving up all legumes, grains, sugar and dairy for 30 days. The more I read about it, the more I felt that – for me – it was a set-up for failure.  In the end I opted for a less drastic plan. I have given up sugar. That is drastic enough considering that most packaged foods contain it in some form, and that almost all grains (which convert to sugar) are out as well. That means no pasta, no bread, no rice, no oatmeal. No potatoes, except for sweet potatoes. No corn. No bottled salad dressing, even. So, even though it’s more do-able than the Whole 30 – which was going to eliminate just about every single thing in my diet – it is still a challenge.

I managed “Cleaning Time” every day, though I certainly did not get to any of the deep cleaning and clearing out projects that I’d intended. I kept the dishes and laundry moving through sink and washing machine, cleaned up other messes as they happened (mostly snow and ice brought in on boots and paws, and a spill or two) and scoured the bathroom fixtures. That’s it. In fact, I have a long list of things to finish up today, just to feel like I managed to accomplish my normal days-off cleaning projects.

My long list of things to do on this (three days in a row!) time off has all been saved for today. The last day. When I also have to get to the bank, the post office, the grocery store, the transfer station and Aunt Katie’s, to scrub her floors. In that way, life is the same now, in 2017, as it has been for the many years before.

I still make big plans, and I still feel disappointment when I don’t get everything done. I’ve had the conversation with myself, sure, that what I should actually work on changing is the disappointment. Accepting myself, mess that I am, would be a better thing to work on. I’m not quite there yet. For now, I continue to work toward becoming a better (read: more organized; neater; more accomplished) person. And, as usual, it seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Onward, into the new year!

Fat

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It seems like “fat” has always been an issue in my life.

I always thought my mother was fat. She was very short, and often pregnant, but for much of my childhood – according to photographs – she was not fat. Plump, maybe. By the time I was graduating high school, Mom was carrying too much extra weight. She had given birth to eleven children, had lost two babies, was nearing middle-age and was possibly depressed. By the time I turned thirty, she was over it. Mom had gotten a job, taken several courses to become a certified dietitian, and had learned to drive. She embarked on a diet she found in the Lady’s Home Journal and was down to a size eight within a year.

I always think of my father as skinny. He was tall and skinny for much of my childhood, all sharp angles and jutting bones. Dad loved to eat, though. And drink. Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, he always overindulged. He’d pat his belly and comment that if he wasn’t careful, he’d be looking like Uncle Henry. He never really believed it, though. Then, one holiday season – when he was a little older – Dad ate and drank too much, as usual. He packed on the extra weight, as usual. Unlike previous years, it never went away. He hated having that paunch, and mentioned it frequently, but hated changing his diet, even when his doctors demanded it.

Though we were a herd of scrawny children, we would poke and pinch ourselves and each other, exclaiming over any extra flesh at belly, bottom or thigh. Brenda, who was perfectly proportioned, always thought of herself as fat. I bemoaned my fat belly right along with my flat chest and skinny legs. Sheila was going to be shapely, we said. Nita, too. Cheryl, tall and skinny, would look like a model, and Robin had potential to take after her. Amy, the baby, was perfect in her chubby cuteness.

As an adult, there has hardly been a time that I haven’t been dissatisfied with my shape. Fat thighs…fat belly…fat feet! After my first daughter was born, I tipped the scales at one hundred pounds. At the baby’s six-week check-up, I asked the doctor for advice on losing the “baby weight.” I wonder if he grinned to himself as he suggested I eat more vegetables and do one hundred sit-ups a day. Looking back from this perspective, I should have been much more appreciative of what I had. Now, most of that is actually hidden under a layer of fat! No matter how determined (and disgusted) I am, I know that holiday time is not a good time to start a diet. The New Year is on its way, though…I’m making plans to start something new soon!

Unphotogenic Food

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Today is the first day of “Carla’s 5-Day Clean Eating Challenge,” and I am a participant (I know, right? What manner of nut am I, and how many more obligations can I possibly fit in to this one New Year??).

It’s only five days. There is no set menu. The rules are few: avoid processed foods; make healthy choices; post at least once a day. Simple. Too simple, perhaps, when it’s only the fourth of January and I’m still flying high on my crazy self-improvement phase.

I’ve already shopped. I already ate that gigantic dark chocolate candy bar (yes, the one that would usually last for almost two weeks, as I rationed one small square a day) so that it won’t be hanging over my head, interfering with my success. I’ve already kind of planned my meals, leaving room for changes based on mood or time constraints. I’ve been ready for days, raring to go.

With time to spare, I decided to photograph last night’s dinner. Trying to use up the ground beef before the challenge starts, I made smothered burger. I made a hamburger, fried it on one side, flipped it, then added two cups of sliced cabbage to the pan, topped it with about a quarter cup of grated cheese and covered the pan to finish cooking. It’s a fairly healthy, easy, very tasty, low-carb plateful of food.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t photograph well. From any angle. Even with the cast iron pan as backdrop (doesn’t black go well with everything?), it looked bland. I un-smothered the burger and placed it on top of the cabbage. Now I had beige and bland. I arranged it nicely on a red plate (RED!), placed that neatly on the purple tablecloth (PURPLE!), and tried again. Nothing.

I quit trying, before I lost my appetite entirely. “I’ll do better tomorrow,” I thought.

It turns out, oatmeal is pretty pale, too.

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Fitness House

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There is a kind of health movement going on in my house these days.

I start most mornings with a bit of exercise, and finish my day with a good walk.

I replace one meal on many days with a high protein shake. I’m aiming for healthier meals all around. Salad is my dinner this evening.

The other day, having made a nice, brothy soup with lots of vegetables and some wild rice, I decided to make bread.

Fitness House Bread.

The recipe comes from one of my oldest cookbooks, Home Food Systems. It’s not even really a cookbook, though it does contain some good recipes. It is more a resource for providing your own food, from raising and milling grains to harvesting and putting up vegetables, to raising and butchering farm animals. Or rabbits. Or fish.

There was a time in my life when I looked forward to living a life that close to the land, and that is when I acquired the book.

I keep it now, I guess, for the sentimental memories of that stage in my life. Most of the information does not apply to the way I live or eat. Most of the product reviews are so far outdated as to be useless. Just about the only recipe I ever use is the one for Fitness House Bread.

It’s a good recipe, though. Here it is:

  • Seven and one-half cups of whole wheat flour, warmed
  • Six teaspoons of dry yeast
  • One teaspoon honey
  • Four tablespoons of molasses
  • Four cups of very warm water

Dissolve the yeast in one cup of the water with the honey. Proof until foamy.

Mix the molasses into one cup of the water.

Add the yeast, molasses and the rest of the water to the flour. Mix well. Dough will be very sticky.

Divide in two, roughly shape into loaves and place in two well buttered loaf pans.

Let rise for about an hour. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes, until loaves are nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped.

That’s it! Easy!

I always “doctor up” the second loaf. This time I added dried cherries, chopped walnuts, slivered almonds and currants.

My plan was to cut that loaf into thin slices as soon as it was cool, and freeze them, so that I could pull out a slice or two for toast. Unfortunately, it was SO good, i ate four slices warm from the oven.

It really doesn’t matter what the name is, it is not a fitness product if I don’t know when to stop!

Re-Set

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Today is that day! One extra hour! So – though I haven’t turned my clocks back yet, and they all tell me I should have been at work fifteen minutes ago (per usual on my consistently late workday mornings) – I actually have fifteen minutes to sit here with coffee and oatmeal before getting dressed! Hurray!

The oatmeal is another form of re-set, starting my day with a healthy breakfast. It seems I always start the week strong, with the diet and exercise regimen I’ve been working on, but fizzle out by week’s end. Sunday is always a new beginning. Oatmeal this morning, a good walk this afternoon…and I’ll start to feel back on track.

At work, I have tackled the nearly overwhelming job of re-setting the housewares department. “Housewares” is a side room attached to the hardware store that carries our fishing, hunting and camping supplies, and souvenir sweatshirts, T-shirts and hats in addition to a long list of actual housewares: vacuum cleaners and accessories; shower and grooming supplies; clocks; frames; candles; curtain rods, shades and blinds; an extensive canning and freezing section; laundry and ironing supplies; trash cans and totes; kitchen items including pots and pans, dishes, glassware and baking dishes…and all the serving tools to go with them…and a large collection of small appliances!

The last woman that tackled this area decided to leave the job at the hardware store, leave the island and go back to school. I can’t help but wonder if the housewares department didn’t weigh on that decision! In any case, the area was left only partially done – and not to my sensibilities in any case – which further complicated the task.

I’ve been mulling it over for weeks now, and finally took it on. Two days in, it’s going well!

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It makes me inordinately happy just to see all of the shelves clean and adjusted to all the same levels, to have things organized by purpose (baking, food prep, clean up)and presented attractively. I always have loved to sort and rearrange things.

And finally, the “re-set” that I woke up to today: the leaves are gone from the trees!

Sometimes that might seem to be a sad thing…it marks an ending, and hints at Winter.

This morning, with no leaves obstructing the view of a beautiful sky, it seemed like something to celebrate!

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Around and Around

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I’m big on fresh starts.

I like “do-over”s.

Beginning again was my tactic when, as  a child, any game was getting out of control. “Start over” was my battle cry. If, when playing “school”…or “house”…or “church”…the little kids pushed their limits or if I, in my role of teacher or sister (my older sister, Brenda, was – of course – “Mama”) or priest did something out of character, I’d call, “start over!” and we’d go back to try to do better. As if we were putting on a play, not just playing make-believe! If I made a stupid move in checkers, or stumbled in a foot race, “start over” was my cry. It didn’t always work, but it was always worth a try.

Self-Improvement is the sub-title of my life.

I am drawn to self-help books in library or bookstore. Exercise, diet, organization, meditation, procrastination, money-management…the list goes on and on. They are so full of hope! Each one, when I open to the first page, seems like it has the possibility to change my life forever.

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I like having a plan.

I love a good list.

This is my time of year!

The new year offers a time for fresh beginnings. Time to look at what needs to be changed, and make a plan. Time to make a list of improvements to be made. New Year’s resolutions!

I usually have a long list.

I once made a list of one hundred items that I felt needed to be worked on in my life. They ranged from patience and temper-control to neatness and organization to diet and exercise. From their sheer number, it took a little time for them to all fall by the wayside…but eventually they did.

I’m great at making resolutions. Follow through, not so much.

Looking back over the last forty years, I can say I have learned a few skills and gathered a world of varied (and sometimes contradictory) information from self-help books, but the road to life-changing self improvement has been a long and very gentle incline.

My best-laid plans and charts for a better new year take the same trajectory.

The trouble, as I see it, is this: Life is not linear.

Life is circular.

I can see it when I hear my daughters say things to their children (that they swore they’d never say) that I said to them (though I said I never would) that my mother said to me. “Because I said so,” is an example that comes to mind.

I can see it when I look at photos taken twenty years ago when I knew I needed to lose ten pounds…and now, thirty pounds heavier, I still feel like I really need to lose ten pounds.

It is obvious every time that I think, “let me go back to the beginning and start over.”

Lists are linear. Life is not.

This year, my goal is to just keep going around.

Happy New Year!

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