Monday, December 26, 2011

Food Glorious Food/I Don't Wanna Go On a Diet

Last December I decided to dedicate a year to my own health and fitness. I did jump into a daily exercise routine. I did NOT want to go on a diet! I've done it a bunch of times, and it does not work for me and from what I've heard it doesn't work for MOST people. So, NO diet for me! I love food. I love to read cookbooks, follow food blogs, go to restaurants, and COOK! I am not going to subsist on carrot sticks and lettuce leaves. It's just not going to happen. I am also not going to go hungry. So that said, I did decide I wanted to be more mindful of my food.

I hear you saying "Wow, Erin Rose, you lost 30 pounds last year, imagine what you might have lost if you had gone on a DIET!" Well, yes, I may have lost more than 30 pounds, or I may have thrown a temper tantrum and skipped the whole thing. I do not do well with feeling deprived. I get depressed and feel crabby. Gimmicks and forbidden foods just bug me. I just wanted to eat good food and enjoy cooking for my family and feeling great. So I decided to eat birthday cake at every family birthday, wedding and on my anniversary. Have you met my family? We have a lot of birthdays. I also keep chocolate in the top of my closet and I eat some almost every day.

Treats. Yes, treats! I love cookies, cake, brownies, the new cupcake craze, ice cream, and I'll eat a donut if I have to, but they are not my favorite, well chocolate cake donuts with chocolate icing, OK, I could eat 4 of those. So healthy casseroles aside, I could definitely adjust my diet.....a little. I decided to save treats for special occasions, except for my little chocolate bites.

I raised my family on a diet of homemade soups, casseroles, whole wheat muffins, veggies and a huge stainless steel bread mixing bowl of fresh fruit on the dining room table. So I started with a stable background. However I did get to 222 pounds somehow so..... I decided to take the good in my food world and build on it.

I'm really good at eating fruit. Next year I plan to keep a chart of my apple consumption. I bet I ate 1000 apples during 2011! I usually eat 2-3 a day. I am NOT so good at eating vegetables, so I decided to start there. I love most veggies, but I'm kinda picky about them. I like salads someone else made. My own salads? I don't know, not so great. I like a few raw veggies, but do you get that weird burning feeling on your tongue if you eat too many? I do. I keep lots of frozen veggies in the freezer and they are by far, my best fall back item. I would love to cook fresh vegetables every day, but I leave for work at 7:00 AM, and what with the gym and all, I usually get home at 8:30 or 9:00 PM. It's a long day without much time to cook. My best strategy is to cook lots on the weekend and eat leftovers. It works pretty well.

I adjusted a few things. Sometimes I drive through McDonald's when there's no other option. I used to order a double cheeseburger (no ketchup) with a chocolate shake or a Sprite or both (a girl gets thirsty you know)! Now I order a classic grilled chicken sandwich with no sauce, and an ice water (or two). If I'm going straight home or can sit down, I get the side salad (or two!) with the Newman's Own balsamic vinaigrette. If I get the salad, I drizzle a little of the salad dressing onto the chicken sandwich bun. One packet of salad dressing is enough for 4 salads. The chicken sandwich is a lot more expensive than the burger, but the salad is 99 cents and the water is FREE!

I knew I needed to increase my veggies so who better to ask than the vegetarians. King County Library System has many, many, vegetarian lifestyle and cookbooks. I have gleaned so much good info from them and one book leads to the next as they tend to mention their favorites. I've even bought a few books.

Now for the heresy. I think I know more than all the doctors, dieticians and health gurus. I know, I know, I don't have a big degree and I'm a fattie, but deep down I know I'm right. I may have to eat my words when I stop losing weight and balloon up to 350 pounds, but until then I think I'm right. I believe, to be healthy and to lose weight, you have to eat! No starvation, no going hungry, no counting calories or points, and no restrictions. Just sensible eating. That's it! That's my plan.

So this is what I choose to eat. Lots of fruits and vegetables, a little meat, whole grains, fairly low fat, fairly low sugar, and treats on special occasions. Pretty simple, no big deal. I do need inspiration to figure out what to eat. Who wants a pile of broccoli next to a hunk of chicken breast and a scoop of brown rice? I take Vegetarian Times magazine, I have several year's worth of Eating Well magazine, I have several vegetarian cookbooks (my best one is Moosewood Restaurant Low Fat Favorites) and I check out two or three or five or eight cookbooks at a time from the library. I follow a couple of food blogs, notably 101 cookbooks by Heidi Swanson.

I love to eat out, but time and money prohibit all but special occasion dinners out. Thank goodness the menus of restaurants are online. Poppy! Have I mentioned Poppy at the North end of Broadway in Seattle? Yeah, I am in love with Poppy. Please go check out Jerry Traunfeld's (formerly the chef at the Herbfarm in Woodinville) menu. Oh my, oh my! The 10 item thali is inspiring. The whole idea is 9 little dishes, a few bites each with a big Naan (flatbread). I LOVE to copy restaurant meals. I can't usually produce 10 dishes on a particular day, but I can produce a colorful plate with 3-5 delicious veggie dishes next to a casserole or grilled meat. Voila! Poppy, it is not, but using yummy flavors makes a little more interest on my plate. I call it Copy from Poppy, cute huh?

Preamble complete.

The yummy stuff:
Roasted beets with spiced croutons (Copy from Poppy)
Steamed broccoli or asparagus with lemon zest
Microwaved or roasted whole sweet potato with black beans and salsa
Roasted whole onion with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and honey
Steamed spiced carrots(cinnamon,cumin, and orange)
Mustard carrots with dill
Steamed potatos with green beans, tomatos and garlic
Garbanzos, spinach, garlic and parmesan
Orzo with green herbs (parsley, rosemary, thyme, and of course garlic with a little olive oil)
Spinach Gratin (Copy from Poppy) they use Swiss Chard
Curried potato, cabbage and garbanzos in a tortilla
Frozen corn tossed with garlic and chili powder

And then there are the soups:
SPLIT PEA!!! (my ultimate favorite)
Lentil with Isernios chicken Italian sausage
Minestrone (tomato based soup with a few veggies but always a green, a bean and a pasta)
Butternut squash creamy soup

There you go. A casserole, a soup and a couple of veggie dishes in the fridge and a bunch of apples, oranges, grapes (I don't eat bananas!) and I am set for the week. What do you think? Am I on a diet? I guess anyone who eats is on a diet, but I don't feel restricted. It's been working for me!

Erin Rose: Out of Her comfort Zone and Into the Gyms

So, here I am, eight months after my last blog post, and ready to put in my annual report. First of all, I have to say that I am very proud of the fact that at the one year mark of my fitness journey,there IS a one year mark! I didn't quit when it got hard (or harder)! I began December 28th of 2010 and here it is December 26th 2011. Will any of you be offended if I use an exclamation point at the end of every sentence? Because that's how I feel, exclamatory.

You all know what I said I was going to do and I did it for a whole year.
*I went to the gym.
*I worked two days a week with a trainer.
*I did water aerobics three days a week until July (more about that later).
*I worked out on my own in between trainer sessions.
*I modified my diet.

The result is I lost 30 pounds!!! I sleep like a rock! I breathe while I'm sleeping (novel idea!) I have noticeable muscles! My house is a lot messier. (No exclamation point for that last one!)

I began with trepidation and finished the year feeling confident, happy and hopeful for the future. I walked into LA Fitness last year all bundled up in my big size
3X coat feeling frumpy, dumpy and scared. What business did I have going in there with all those body builders, weight trainers and skinny little girls? I really thought I would just go use the pool and maybe join their water aerobics class. I got talked into signing up for a year of personal training. Oh man, was that scary. I pictured Jillian Michaels screaming at me as I dripped sweat.

Instead, I got Theresa, a long lean, soft spoken young woman who worked with disabled children at school during the day, and did personal training at the gym a few nights a week. Theresa gently walked me through the gym experience. She pushed me every week and showed me how to use various equipment. On our first day together, I asked her the difference between success and failure in the fitness realm. She told me that people who make a plan, put it on their calendar and don't let anything interfere with it are successful. I decided I would be that person. I mapped out my week.

Monday: Stationary Bike at 6:30 PM, Personal Training @ 7:00 PM
Tuesday: Watch Biggest Loser on TV
Wednesday: Stationary Bike at 6:30 PM, Personal Training @ 7:00 PM
Thursday: Water Aerobics @ 6:00 PM
Friday: Water Aerobics @ 9:00 AM
Saturday: Water Aerobics @ 9:00 AM

That's what I did January through July, except for a three week cruise to Hawaii in May during which I ate dessert every day, worked out in the ship's gym, went to water aerobics and Tai Chi and gained 2 pounds which I promptly lost the next week (patting self on back and doing triceps stretch at same time)! I had been losing a pound a week.

Then July hit.....there must needs be opposition in all things! One day, earlier in the year, Holly Rose went to water aerobics with me. She commented on my coughing during the class. I began to pay attention and noticed that yes, I really was coughing a lot. I talked to my Dr. about it and he prescribed an inhaler for exercise induced asthma. I started using it and noticed I coughed a little less. In July I went back to coughing a lot, inhaler or not, and then one day, I got home from my water workout and coughed all night, I was also shaking uncontrollably (I thought I was going to pull the muscles in my back) every joint and my skin hurt, I thought I had the flu. I finally got to sleep and awoke in the morning with NO symptoms, now that was weird. The next time I went to my water aerobics class, you guessed it, it happened again! This time I thought I might need to go to the hospital, but powered through it and was better again the next day.

I went to the Dr. and asked for a different inhaler. He told me (too bad, so sad) no inhaler would help my symptoms, because I was exhibiting signs of chlorine allergy and there's nothing I can do about it except stop swimming!
WW!!HH!!AA!!TT!!????????? NO WAY! I love my water workout. It is my treat! It is my candy! It is my reward! It is what I love about this whole stupid work hard and get healthy thing I'm doing! NO, NO, NO!!! Do not tell me I cannot swim!!!!!! So he told me I could try taking Zyrtec before swimming, so I did, and coughed and shook and hurt and felt hung over the next day. So I quit swimming.

I needed to add something aerobic to my workout, so I went to Zumba, it was OK, but it hurt my bad ankle. I went to Pilates, not very aerobic and I dunno, not my thing. I went to yoga, now that was nice. I'm still going to yoga. I never lost another pound. Huh? I needed my water workout.

The search was on, I needed to find a non-chlorine pool. Facebook to the rescue. One of my FB friends mentioned there might be salt water pool in Issaquah. Now Issaquah and Black Diamond are NOT next door neighbors, however, I would drive pretty far to get back into the water and Issaquah is NOT Bellingham. So I joined Gold's Gym in Issaquah! Weird, who ever thought I would be a member at two gyms (or one for that matter) but I was and I was able to get back into the water again and guess what? I started losing weight again although not a pound a week.

So here I am. I have conquered some problems over the past year. I learned I need to keep closer tabs on my thyroid. My poor little thyroid gland which hasn't worked right since 1982 had a hard time keeping up with my new metabolism. So I had to change my medicine and need to get it checked again. I haven't injured myself (which I was afraid of) although the muscles I never knew I had have reminded me they ARE there, but that's the good hurt!

So, here's the net result:
* I've lost 30 pounds
* I've lowered my heart rate from about 88 to 56 (no, really, I did)
* I've lowered my body fat from 47% to 40% at last check, several months ago.
* I used to have trouble getting my heart rate up to 120 during exercise, now I can get it up to 140 and sustain it there for a couple of minutes.
* I lost my original measurements (bummer) but I do remember my biggest measurement around my fat tummy, and I have lost 6 inches there!

Trainer Theresa had the audacity to leave me for maternity leave in September and I started with trainer Amanda a super smart 20 year old who I admire SO much. She has a more freeweight focus so I have learned alot more about that kind of training. Amanda is going on a college trip to Australia and New Zealand till March so I'm a little nervous about meeting my new trainer Brenda this Friday morning. Wish me luck and pray that she's not Jillian.

My plans for the upcoming year are more of the same only better! The biggest change for me is that I have given notice at my job and will be finished at the end of March. I plan to shift my workouts to AM instead of PM since I am a true morning person. I watch a cool show on BYU TV every morning while I get ready for work called Total Body Workout. I have never been able to do it because of the afore mentioned getting ready for work. Starting in April I plan to do Total Body Workout at home AND go to the gym for my training and swimming and yoga! I'm getting to be a real fitness geek huh? I guess it's better than a Soap Opera Geek or a couch potato!

James ordered my step for the aerobics part of the show, (it is the ugliest color, but the only one we could find, teal and mauve!!! Hello Jane Fonda!)) I already have my stability ball, my 3, 5, and 8 pound dumbell set has been shipped (Jillian Michaels brand, I might add), I have my stretchy tubes with handles, stretchy colored therapy bands and an 8 pound medicine ball. Now, the only thing I need is a beautiful bamboo floor in one of my rooms and I have a hankerin' for that cool six foot diameter round yoga mat from Mandalay. James is digging in his heels about the bamboo floor, but he always succumbs to whatever I want, so sooner or later, I think I shall have some bamboo.

Barring some ridiculous allergy to bicicles or sweat I plan to meet you back here next year with another report. I plan to blog a little more than twice in the coming year. Not working full time may help me in that regard. As a matter of fact I plan to write about the FOOD aspect of my journey later this week, maybe even later today. Did I mention I didn't go on a diet when I began my journey? Nope, just made a few changes, that were really about adding more of what I like to eat. So, stayed tuned for that story, it has been a joyful one.

May I thank all of you for your support this past year? It has really kept me going. I have a weird concept of myself. I can't really see changes in the mirror. Even when I compare my swimsuit pictures (oh yes, I have them!) I can't really see much difference in myself. So having you tell me I look different or better really helps me. I'm not begging for compliments, as a matter of fact, I'm pretty uncomfortable hearing them, but knowing you notice the results of my hard work helps me, so I am begging for a thumbs up or a "like" on Facebook from you.

As self centered as this post is, I hope it will stir something in you. I hope you will want to take care of yourself in whatever way would be meaningful to you. Breathe better, sleep better, eat better, walk better, feel less pain.... The possibilities for a more abundant life are endless and YOU can do whatever you put on your calendar and don't let anything interfere with.