Tuesday, March 11, 2014
So I'm 11 days into a personal commitment to go to the gym every day for 100 days. So far I have made it every day, and I'm swimming a lot more, which is important for the upcoming triathlon season. I'm actually enjoying it quite a bit now that I'm getting into the swim routine. Today, though, was supposed to be weight training and treadmill. I did great on the weight training--45 minutes of lifting. Then I looked at the treadmill and felt like I was going to throw up. I just could NOT make myself get on the thing. I walked around the gym for a few minutes, trying to psych myself up, but it was not happening. So I packed it in and left.
I just can't get enthusiastic about jogging/running. Which is kind of bad for triathloning. And I'm committed to a 5 MILE event with my daughter on Saturday. I expect that she will finish, then come back for me about 2 miles in and cheerlead me the rest of the way. I wish I could get enthused about running. I love to walk, and even jog outside. That treadmill, though. It's torture.
Monday, March 10, 2014
Well, I promised not to talk about this project all the time, but I am planning to report in every 10%.
Gym: So far, I'm 10 for 10 on getting to the gym, which was the one about which I was most concerned. But it was also my highest priority. I am focusing a lot on swimming because it was my weakest leg in last summer's triathlons. I am still slow, but I'm getting in the water. As we move into outdoor exercise weather and I start biking and running outside, I will still be going to the gym for strength training on those outdoor days.
Cooking: I've cooked, but not every day. I was out of town this weekend and missed Friday-Sunday.
Reading: I've read every day.
Practicing Italian: About 50% successful in getting this done.
Journaling: I missed Saturday because I was completely away from the computer, and yesterday because I was just plain tired. Otherwise, good.
Crafting: Not. One. Darned. Day. There are only so many balls I can keep in the air. This ball has fallen to the ground and rolled under a table.
In all, I'm pretty happy. Not perfect, but I'm getting a lot more done. We'll see how the next 10 days go!
Friday, March 07, 2014
Lifted at the gym yesterday. I'm a little miffed. I was using the cross-cable machine, and had just switched to an exercise that only required one side when one of the personal trainers came in and started using the other side with his client without asking if they were interrupting me. I didn't say anything, but a little while later he went back to it when a man was using it. He stopped to check in with the man that they weren't interrupting his routine. Now, it might be that he was just concentrating the first time and realized his gaff afterward, which is why I didn't make a deal out of it. But if it happens again, you can bet that I will speak up!
The thing is, I know that dismissive treatment happens to women in gyms, particularly around the weight room. It's not that unusual to see some guy's eyebrow go up when I skip by the small, pastel-colored dumbbells and reach for the regular weights. And to be honest, not many women are putting in much time in the weight room there. Which is a pity, because lifting is so good for women.
I don't like feeling paranoid. But if this trainer treats me in the same way again, he and the management are all going to experience a "teachable moment."
Thursday, March 06, 2014
I have been an active member of Spark People for a couple years now. I like the point system, and that it's nicely all-inclusive for tracking fitness and food. I like the groups and support.
What I don't like about Spark, and other sites like it, is the emphasis on weightloss. On a regular basis I find myself encouraging people to not give up on their fitness goals. What almost always triggers their despair? The scale isn't moving.
Study after study has shown that permanent weightloss is achieved by only a small percentage of people who embark on a diet program. That, in fact, losing weight and then regaining it is not only bordering on inevitable, but that people often gain back as much as they lost and more. And that when they gain all that weight back, they don't regain the muscle mass they lost in their weightloss efforts, so they actually have a higher percentage of body fat than they did before.
The evidence is clear: dieting in the leading cause fatness. The more our society has been inundated with diet plans, the fatter we've gotten. And the unhealthier.
What does contribute to good health? Good eating habits, and physical activity. For some people, this will lead to weightloss. For others, it will not. And that's the part that these fitness sites don't emphasize. Calories in/calories out sounds great, but we aren't machines. Our metabolisms adjust, and we don't all process food with the same level of efficiency. Not everyone will react the same way.
So when people approach fitness with their only goal being to lose weight, they generally go through a short period of elation, and then fall into dejection when the scale stops moving. They think, "what's the point?"
The point is that you are healthier and fitter. Even if you aren't skinnier, you have improved, and can continue to improve, your fitness level. You will feel better, sleep better, and probably live longer. That is worth your effort.
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Yesterday we had our gaming group coming for the evening and it was my turn to cook. I was not feeling very inspired, menu-wise, but then while I was on the treadmill at the gym, The Chew was on and they were talking about it being Fat Tuesday and the tradition of red beans and rice. I’ve never made red beans and rice before, but I ticked off the basic ingredient list in my head, realized I had everything for it at home, and figured I’d give it a try.
Part of the reason I had everything for it at home was because I knew I had lots of dried beans. I had lots of dried beans because they’ve come as part of the CSA. And they were still around because I was completely intimidated by dried beans.
You see, I had tried, in the past, to learn how to cook beans. I had soaked them overnight. And the skins split and the beans turned mushy. I had not soaked them. And the skins split and the beans turned mushy. I had tried adding salt, not adding salt, adding baking soda or vinegar. Always with the same result: split skins and mush.
So for a couple of decades, all bean dishes in my household used canned beans. I never bought dried legume more challenging than lentils. I was resigned to the fact that beans were simply beyond me.
But now bags of them were taking up space in my cupboard. And, unlike the occasional fresh produce that doesn’t appeal to me and eventually turns black and slimy in the back of the fridge and then gets thrown out, beans don’t go bad and give you an excuse to toss them. Those bags weren’t going anywhere. They were just perched there, a silent testimony to my culinary failure.
Something had to be done. And that something was NOT going to be making a bunch of corn hole bags with them!
Besides, I now have a pressure cooker. And pressure cookers are supposed to be good at making beans. So I decided to give it a shot. The recipe said to clean and pick over the beans (and sure enough I found a couple stones), then place them in the pressure cooker, cover them with water, and set the cooker for 20 minutes.
At the end of 20 minutes, I released the pressure and found…slightly softened beans. But at least they still had their skins. I added more water, reset the cooker for another 10 minutes, and ended up with beans that were still inedible.
In all, it took 40 minutes of pressure cooking. But in the end I actually had edible, unmushy, jacketed beans. And red beans and rice into which I had substituted chicken and chicken sausage to make it healthier. And so here are the instructions. Disclaimer: this is just what I did in my kitchen, not a tested, professional recipe. It was, however, praised highly by my fellow gamers.
Red Beans and Rice
2 cups small red beans, dry
2 cups water
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup celery, sliced
4 chicken sausage, sliced
4 chicken breasts, diced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups kale, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups hot cooked rice
Cook the beans in the water and stock. Good luck. (Alternatively, you can use canned small red beans, approximately 4 cups.)
Saute the veggies in the olive oil until they are soft and beginning to brown. Add the chicken, the sausage, and the herbs and spices. Cook until done.
Add all that to the cooked beans. Add the kale in batches–it will seem like a lot, but it will cook down nicely. Simmer together for half an hour or so, adding additional water or stock as needed, then taste to adjust the seasonings and add the balsamic vinegar.
Spoon the hot rice into individual bowls, then ladle the bean mixture over the top. Serve with cornbread.
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