Seeing that it’s been 3 months since my last post, I guess I have a lot of catching up to do. I’ll save that for later, because frankly, I’m hungry and ready to go to lunch.
Before Piper was born, I was a vegetarian for about a year leading up to being pregnant with her and would have remained a vegetarian throughout the pregnancy if it weren’t for my carnivorous cravings and the temptations presented on a regular basis by my employer. Until recently, I’d dabble in chicken or other meat, but knew I’d eventually end up back a veg. So here I am, back at it!
Over the weekend Josh and I watched Forks Over Knives on Hulu—highly recommended! We BOTH got sucked into this documentary because it discussed much of the science behind plant-based diets versus diets with a lot of animal-based protein (dairy included). Did you know that there is a direct correlation between plant-based diets and its effect on warding off cancer and heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and in many cases, reducing the severity of these diseases in those already affected? I won’t get into the details, because I want you to check out the documentary for yourself if it interests you! After watching the movie, I Googled the title and found a cool Web site created by one of the interviewees in the documentary; a studly (Yes, I just used the word ‘studly’. I’m getting old.) firefighter who has been a vegetarian for several years. His motto: REAL MEN EAT PLANTS. So sexy. You can check out his site here: http://engine2diet.com/
Including on his Web site are recipes and shopping lists to get you started on a plant-based diet. I found some of the recipes to look quite enticing:
- Red Beans over Quinoa with Kale
- Candle Cafe Brown Rice and Lentil Burgers
- Chili Dogs and Applesauce
- Kale, Lemon, and Cilantro Sandwich
- Cravotta’s Couscous with Tomatoes and Asparagus
Some people might be turned off by these meals, but let me tell you, if they’re cooked correctly, plant-based meals can be so delicious, full of flavor, and very filling. Next week I’ll be back to provide my (and husband’s) review of the meals, so you don’t have to be your own guinea pig. Be back soon!
Why must I be so good…
Before I get too down on myself, I must say that I can accept particular my flaws/shortcomings. The hard part for me is accepting those shortcomings that I have a hard time shaking. One of the most annoying weaknesses to me is the fact that I give up on things too easily. I get overly excited about a new venture, delve into it for a week, and then, “meh.” I’m totally over it. Case in point: Insanity. If you’ve read a previous post on the matter you’ll see that I was quite an advocate of this workout, but this zeal quickly turned to indifference: “I’m too tired/Piper’s more fun to play with than sweating my lunch away/I want to eat my feelings in Ben & Jerry’s.” I find myself waking up almost every day, thinking “This is the new start” but I’ve yet to follow through on that commitment. What’s my deal?
Recently I had a nice conversation with my dad regarding strengths. He is quite gifted in tapping into others as resources and making connections between people in order for both parties to benefit from each other. Naturally, with this guy, our conversations typically revolve around striving for personal growth. He mentioned in this conversation of a book that he read called Strengths Finder 2.0. I had heard of the book and brushed it aside as another ‘feel-good personal empowerment channel your inner Joel Osteen’ type of text, but when he explained the thesis of the book and the results he derived from the assessment, I thought to give it a try.
The author, Tom Rath, bases his short book on the argument that we spend too much time attempting to fix our weaknesses when in reality we should be focusing on our strengths. This concept seems pretty obvious, but stepping back to truly ponder my strengths has been a difficult task for me, which is possibly why I have found myself restless. With the purchase of the book, you receive an access code which allows you to take the assessment (carefully crafted by Gallup) to determine your top 5 strengths. From there, you are provided with an action plan to build these strengths. If you’re curious as to what kinds of attributes this book has deemed as strengths, here are my 5:
At first as I read through the explanations of these strengths, I quickly grew skeptical of the entire validity of the text. Although I would love to consider myself an adaptable person, I didn’t think the description fit me at all:
“They tend to be “now” people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time.”
Ha <Scoff>! Me? In the moment?
Quoting fellow blogger Nom Om Mom (hi Diana):
“I’m the type who goes to yoga religiously because I know it’s good for me, but makes to-do lists in my head during shavasana (At my first pre-natal yoga class, I had a mild panic attack when the instructor announced we would be having 20 minutes of “relaxation” time. Seriously. 20 Minutes!)”
Oh Diana, what kindred spirits we are. My mind is in constant wandering, charting my life as if it were one giant to-do list (however, rarely crossing things off!). So after receiving my results showing that one of my strengths was adaptability of all things, I was quite confused. Denying my urge to minimize the computer screen that showcased my false results, I trudged on through the action plan suggestions for adaptability.
“Your Adaptability talents give you an even-keel mindset that lets you ride the ups and downs without becoming an emotional volcano. Your “don’t cry over spilled milk” approach will help you quickly recover from setbacks. Recognize this aspect of your nature, and help your friends and colleagues understand that it is productive flexibility rather than an “I don’t care” attitude.”
Ok, that’s more like it.
“Avoid roles that demand structure and predictability. These roles will quickly frustrate you, make you feel inadequate, and stifle your independence.”
It’s becoming clear as to why I may possibly give up on Insanity so easily. Structure is much needed in certain areas of my life, but for the most part I wage battle between what my head says to do and what my heart wants to do. I find it easy to build structure, but more often than not my heart wants to abandon all of the rigidity in my life and sell the house, drive away with my family in an Airstream trailer with no particular destination in mind with no set return date.
I may be trying too hard to adapt (ha!) these strengths to my situation, but I learned an important lesson from taking a step back and learning to evaluate what makes me tick. Rather than focusing on how to better improve my determination for completing a structured program such as Insanity, I am going to focus on the overall big picture. I’ve set the goal to strive to be active every day, whether it be a walk, run, Insanity (if I’m ready to blow off some steam), or an impromptu Whitney Houston-themed dance party.
We all have weaknesses, some more annoying to ourselves than others. I’m not saying I will embrace the fact that I quit things easily, but now I will make a conscious effort to choose roles that allow for flexibility so the likelihood of me quitting will be less of a possibility. I think that making this choice will leave me feeling better about myself on a daily basis, as I can choose what I will accomplish in the moment rather than having it determined for me in a 60 day calendar.
I don’t consider myself a very touchy-feely person. Yes, I enjoy giving and receiving affection and telling my husband that I love him, but I’m not the type of person who will ever think a Hallmark card is “speaking to me” or get anything out of watching TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy or most chick flicks for that matter. If I’ve lost you already, girls, I’m sorry. Honestly, when hearing of sad news on TV I do feel empathy for those affected, but I never really felt it to the extent that I thought I should.
Enter Piper Holiday.
I’ve always heard that you don’t know love until you have a child, but what does that really mean? Well, I’m not sure what it means to most parents, but I want to explain what it means to me. These are my symptoms:
Tearflow aka Raw Emotions
Example: I cried watching a commercial for Gmail. It’s the one where the dad sends his new daughter a series of emails to her own account for when she’s old enough to read them. Seriously, I have to confess that freaking Google made me cry? LAME.
Aching Heart aka Empathy
Example: While hearing news that involves any sort of hardship albeit a thousand miles away and will virtually have no direct effect on me personally, I literally feel a sense of heaviness in my chest for those involved.
Mama Bear Instinct aka Protector
Example: “If you mess with my kid I will kill you.”
Ok, so that’s a bit of an extreme statement, but that’s how I feel. When faced with fight or flight scenarios, I most often take the flight route; I consider myself a pretty fast runner for my height. However, just the other day as I made my way across a crosswalk with Piper in tow, a siiiick lifted truck with a Monster Energy sponsored bro driving (yes, it does matter what kind of car he was driving, I’m painting a picture here) it cut me off as I approached the sidewalk. In the past I would have easily gotten upset by this, even if I was just by myself (I have little to no tolerance for shoddy & aggressive drivers, let alone Metal Mulisha types who have 805 tattoos on their necks). Add the offspring into the mix and you’ve got yourself a full-blown “If you even come close to tapping me and my baby with your overcompensatingforsomethingtruck I will personally take a knife to your tires and kick you in the jewels with my thunder thighs and spray you in the mouth with my pepper spray” Mama Bear emerging from hibernation scenario.
With the onset of these symptoms, I had no choice but to ask myself “What is the common thread between these and why is this happening?” I believe it all boils down to the fact that having a child makes me relate almost everything in life back to her and her needs. Once you have a child it’s easy to make your world small in your daily routine, but it is as equally as easy to open your heart to the world around you and all the people in it. Everything I feel now, from joy to sadness, has been amplified by the love that I have for her. I needed to be softened up a bit and she so quickly and easily made that happen—just don’t think I’m going to run to my Netflix queue and add Season 1 of Grey’s tonight.
We pulled the plug. Last night was our final bittersweet boob-tube binge that ended with a drift into dreamland via Conan O’Brien. In other words, Josh and I passed out on our couch after watching No Reservations, How Do They Do It, Master Chef and Conan. We tried to squeeze as much crap in as we could before the lights went out on our dear old friend.
The decision to end our subscription came after the both of us separately realized that we were wasting way too much time watching TV. Towards the end of my pregnancy when I had little energy and once Piper arrived, the TV was an easy way to pass the time since we have been forced to stay in more often. It easily had become our default “family time” but in actuality it was anything but. Ever heard of the phrase, “the family that watches TV together stays together?” Yeah, me neither. Additionally, Josh was away on a trip with his youth group for a week and I was able to work from home with Piper. I could have easily plopped myself down for hours on end in front of the TV, but I decided that I’d challenge myself that week and watch as little as possible. I found to be so much more productive than I thought I could be with Piper in tow (don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy). I read an entire book, hung several pictures to decorate our bare walls, got caught up on our piles of laundry, and began to work on a couple art projects. At the end of the week I felt accomplished; something that had sadly become a foreign concept to me!
I’m looking forward to spending true quality time with my husband now that we don’t have TV as the default time-waster. It will be a challenge, but I think we are up for it.
Have you ever found yourself in the crackers and cookies aisle in your local grocery store, staring at the 100 calorie snack packs while thinking to yourself, “Oh yeah, just one pack won’t hurt.” But then, something else inside takes over as you make your way home. It’s like you’ve been on auto-pilot the whole drive, stuffing one little Nutter Butter after another as if you had to finish each and every one of them before your tires hit the driveway. As you reach in your grocery bag to get another you realize that you’ve downed the entire 6-pack of the 100 calorie packs in a matter of 15 minutes… crap. I’ve done it again.
This was a familiar tale to me, and my brain would constantly trick me into thinking I wouldn’t overindulge again. I’m such a sucker, but discovered that I’m not alone. Here’s some food for thought (harhar!, sorry) on The True Cost of the 100-Calorie Snack Pack.
So…how have I combated this, you ask? First, I’ve replaced the empty snacks with real food. If there are words that you can’t pronounce in the ingredients then it’s not food, end of story. Sure, I’ve backslid plenty of times, but I try to steer clear of the middle aisles of the grocery store. I just know that I have little to no will-power so I won’t even allow myself to pass through the snack section.
Here are some 100 calorie alternatives to these Snack Packs:
· A tablespoon of natural peanut butter and celery sticks
· 30 pistachios
· ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese with 5 strawberries
· ½ red bell pepper dipped in 3 tablespoons hummus
· 45 steamed edamame
· 1 cup blueberries
· 28 grapes
Happy (healthy) Snacking!
I found a great little article on fiber, something we as Americans don’t nearly eat enough of on a daily basis!
Kale Chips—60 calories of greenie bliss!
I was pretty clueless about this amazingly nutritious green from the cabbage family until about a year and a half ago when I stumbled upon it at the downtown Ventura Farmer’s Market one blissfully overcast morning. Little did I know that it would soon become one of my favorite greens to eat! Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and calcium. There are many ways you can prepare kale, but this is one of my favorites.
One bunch of kale
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt (Sea, Kosher, basically your own preference)
Set oven to 400 degrees. Rinse the kale in cold water and pat dry. Rip leaves from stems into potato chip-size pieces and place on cookie sheet (I like to first line mine with foil). Drizzle the olive oil over the kale (sparingly!) and then sprinkle with salt. To coat kale evenly, I usually use my hands and mix it all around and place back in one layer on the cookie sheet. Place in the oven for about 10 minutes or until they look crispy.
Remember the good ‘ol college days when you lived off chocolate milk, chicken tenders and Southern Comfort?
My high-school snacking habits morphed into pigging out via my university’s cafeteria plan. As a young twenty-something, it’s easy to do this without packing on too much weight, but once I got that first office job after college I realized that the tradition of 3 meals a day was detrimental to me fitting into my favorite pair of jeans. I then got married to a guy with the metabolism of a lab rat, who could eat his weight in Taco Bell on any given day, and I took on his eating habits (bless his 55 BPM heart). Thankfully I was able to reverse my bad habit of eating these larger than life meals by turning back to snacking. You’ve all read it in Shape, heard it on the news- eating several small meals a day is the way to go. So here I am again, munching on my raw almonds like a good girl. Here’s a typical breakdown of my eats on any given day:
Breakfast: oatmeal topped with blueberries, coffee with almond milk
Mid-morning snack: handful of almonds
Lunch: hummus with whole wheat pita & avocado slices
Afternoon snack: apple or 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
Pre-workout: handful of almonds
Dinner: lean protein, green veggies, brown rice*
Make sure you calculate how many calories you should be consuming based on whether or not you’re breastfeeding, your workout schedule, your current height and weight, age, and whether or not you need to lose weight.
*It can be difficult around dinnertime to work in a small snack-size meal if you’re married to a guy who isn’t a snacker. Therefore I’ve found it best to both eat the same meal, but just cut down the portion to snack-size.
Exciting, huh? BUT It works! I don’t typically feel that ravenous hunger anymore and my energy is better sustained throughout the day. Trying to eat as pure as possible really does make a difference. Over the next several posts I’ll be sure to provide simple dinner recipes that will satisfy your palate and your tumtum.