Wednesday, September 15, 2010
A couple of days ago, I wrote a blog post titled "Making Your Own Success Story". It was basically about listening to advice about health, but making your own decisions.
I'm doing that with advice about rice.
For the longest time, diet advice about rice put it into the category of evil processed grains. Evil carbs. Processed grains/carbs were to be avoided at all costs. White rice should be replaced with brown rice or wild rice. I'm sure dietitians have very good reasons for this, and I don't doubt this may be good advice. However, 4 billion Asians eat white rice 3 times a day, every day for their entire lives, and they have the lowest incidences of diabetes, heart disease and cancer in the world. There's more to the equation.
I grew up in an Asian household. My family ate the "worst" kind of rice - the short grain white rice. Cue the evil music. DUN-Dun-dun!
My mom and I were skinny. We ate big scoops of it everyday for lunch and dinner. Sometimes two scoops. So eating white rice definitely wasn't causation and sole contributor for weight gain.
I gained weight when I stopped eating white rice, and other healthy home cooked foods. I gained weight when I ate fast food and chain restaurants everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Restaurant meals use a lot of oils, fats, sodium and sugar to make flavor.
For many years, I tried replacing brown rice for my favored white rice. I bought both, and alternated. I love wild rice, but due to its fibrous nature, it is not suitable for accompaniment for all dishes, particularly Asian dishes. You know why Asians can eat rice with chopsticks? It gets sticky. Wild rice does not get sticky. I love making wild rice pilaf to go with my steaks, but I need sticky rice for Korean kalbi, Thai chicken, etc.
So I'm going to make an admittance about brown rice. I don't like it. I don't hate it, though. My fiance doesn't like it either. We would eat it if that's all we had. I don't get excited about making or eating brown rice. I just think, "Oh, brown rice". It has a very grainy edge to it, and it doesn't blend well with other flavors. I don't get excited about it like I do when making lemon-cardamom jasmine rice. "YAY we're having jasmine rice tonight!" My mouth waters at the thought.
So after these last few cups of brown rice are gone, I will not be buying it again. I'll still keep buying wild rice - baked wild rice with chicken broth is one of my favorites. We bought a 24lb bag of jasmine rice this past weekend, which was met with much rejoicing, and shares a cherished spot in our pantry. Welcome home, jasmine!
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
When I was obese, it used to kill me when friends would say, "You're beautiful, just the way you are. You don't need to change." It killed me because it wasn't true. I needed a change. Sure my carefree approach to life is always the same, but I was not the same person. I didn't have confidence in myself.
I was a caged bird. I didn't walk, run, bike, hike, swim, etc, etc. I wanted to do all those things. I couldn't. My feet and knees hurt from the strain the extra weight put on them. My muscles and heart weren't strong enough. I couldn't go very far without overextending my abilities. It was embarrassing and discouraging. It was easier to give up and say, "I'll do it tomorrow".
One day, something inside of me just snapped. I was going to do it, whether I 'wanted to' or not. Whether it was hard or not. Some inner Jillian Michaels was kicking my motivation telling me, "I don't care if it's hard! You're going to do it! Now get up and do it!"
I got on my bike and headed to this hill that was my Mt Everest. I couldn't ride up it. I thought it was impossible, even though I had seen many other people ride it no problem. I didn't care what anyone thought. I was getting up that hill even though I had to get off and walk it. I didn't care if anyone laughed at the fat girl who was too out of shape to ride it (no one did). I did it every day. I walked my bike up the hill every day. How long? I have no idea. I wasn't keeping count. I was doing it for however long it took. I was doing it because it was too hard for me, not because it was easy.
Then one day, I thought I'd try to stay on my bike and peddle to the top. I made it! Sure I had to get off and catch my breath once I got to the top, but I did the 'impossible'. At least, in my mind. After that moment, there were no limits. I've climbed high in the mountains and dove deep in the ocean since then.
It's interesting to see the difference in my identity, and how friends perceive me. The old me was known as the nice, quiet, shy girl. The cute girl that could stand to lose a few pounds (ugh). The girl that played computer games all day, and didn't do much else. Friends told me that I needed to 'get a life', 'enjoy the outdoors', etc.
I'm still occasionally surprised by my new identity, especially my new friends who didn't know me the way I was. I'm now described as assertive, not shy. I told some friends that I was thinking about joining a yoga or pilates class, and asked for their opinion. My one friend said, "You're a hardcore hiker/mountain biker, right? I think you'd like pilates, it's more intense than yoga. It's serious!" I laughed out loud in shock. The computer geek is now the hardcore hiker/mountain biker, who would enjoy a serious butt kicking workout!
I can't say I mind the description at all.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Last week was a bad week in terms of my fitness goals. I'm trying to wrap up a project at work, but of course, as it gets closer to the end of the project, I start finding other problems that need to get fixed.
So I put in a lot of overtime last week. Typical for overtime weeks, I didn't make it to the gym once. I was exhausted all last week. I just worked a lot, ate a lot, and didn't get much sleep.
This week doesn't look a lot different, but with only so many hours in a day, something has to give. I'm going to have to find 30 minutes of personal time somewhere. I know that exercise will help relieve the stress and mental fatigue, so I've just got to do it.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
One of the most important things I do to eat healthy, nutritious meals at home is to plan my week's menu ahead of time. I usually do a big shopping trip on the weekends, then a few smaller trips during the week to fill in the gaps. I watch a lot of Food TV, so I try to pick up ideas on how to run my kitchen like a professional restaurant. I LOVE Iron Chef and Iron Chef America for this.
On Sunday's, I'm my own sous chef as I chop green onions, celery, onions, and carrots and put them into containers. I marinade meats and prep sauces. During the week, I only have to do minor chopping, and for the most part, I just toss things in a saute pan and go.
We had some leftover cherry tomatoes that we didn't eat last week that were starting to wrinkle. They weren't bad, and didn't have any mold on them. I washed them, put them in a blender, and blended until a smooth sauce. I put in a pan with onions, bell peppers, garlic, basil and oregano. I now have a base tomato sauce that I can use for a couple of different things.
This weeks menu will go something like this:
Monday - Lasagna with meat sauce. I bought a Le Creuset terrine that is the perfect size for making a mini 4 serving lasagna for my SO and I. Will use the base tomato sauce.
Tuesday - Korean Kalbi. I marinated some short ribs in a kalbi marinade made from soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, sugar, garlic, and green onions. I'll grill them on the BBQ. One of my favorite dishes!
Wednesday - Moussaka. I don't have any ground lamb, but I have ground beef and ground pork. I'll also use the leftover tomato sauce base, and make a bechamel sauce. I can make a small 4 serving version of this in my terrine.
Thursday - Either fish curry or coconut milk marinated chicken with jasmine rice. I'm not sure which yet.
Friday - Pay day, and date night! We'll enjoy an evening out!
Saturday/Sunday - No idea what our plans are for the weekend, so it's impossible to predict yet.
How do you plan out your weekly menus? Have you found that planning ahead keeps you focused, or do you find it too rigid?
I find that it keeps me focused, but I do plan some flexibility into my menus. Sometimes schedules don't always fit. This is why I love marinades. If I don't feel like cooking on Tuesday, then if it marinades one more day, it just gets tastier!
Saturday, September 11, 2010
What works for one person, may not work for another.
I'm a plate cleaner. I was taught to eat everything on my plate, else I'll suffer the wrath of Sally Struthers and starving children in Africa. I can't live with that kind of guilt. I can't disappoint Sally.
It's nearly impossible for me not to scrub every morsel off my plate. When going to restaurants, I try my best. I'll cut everything on my plate in half. However, if the server is slow getting a box back to me, I'll continue to nibble at it. And nibble. And nibble. Where is that darn box? Nibble, nibble.
If I'm ever a guest at your house, please, do me a favor. Don't pile huge gobs of food on my plate. I will eat every morsel, whether I'm already stuffed or not. It is simply rude for me not to. I was taught that if you are served food, that it is a sign of respect that you enjoyed it to eat all of it. Not to eat all of it is an insult to the host. To leave food left on the plate means that you did not enjoy the meal. It was part of my upbringing and values. My future mother-in-law once made a Christmas turkey stuffing that had a VERY strong liver taste. It was a bit odd. I ate it all anyway, even though my fiance insisted that I didn't have to.
If I eat all the food on my plate, then I'm safe. I never learned to go back for seconds. It's just that darn main course plate I've got to worry about.
I've learned not to fight this. It is pointless for me to try. Instead, I've learned to work *with* it. When going to buffets, I put little portions of food on my plate. First, I had to learn what a proper portion size is. I had to learn how to properly balance my meals with protein, carbs, and fat. I learned to eat large portions of veggies and small portions of meat. If I only put enough food to satisfy me, then I can clean off my plate and still stay within my calorie budget - guilt free. I rarely go back for seconds, so this works for me.
If you are someone that can't resist seconds, then it's best to avoid buffets. There are some situations where you can't avoid an all-you-can-eat, like weddings. In that case, I suggest learning to live with your vices in ways that work for you. Fill up on a full plate of salads or veggies. Have a cup of broth based soup. Then go back for your main course plate with a balance of more veggies, protein and carbs. Chances are, you'll be plenty full.
Some dieting 'rules' may need a little a little bending.
"Never eat after 7PM." If you're someone that always feels hungry after 7PM, then just adjust your calorie totals so you can have a filling snack at that time. There's lots of options for an approximately 200 calorie snack. Half a peanut butter sandwich; half a grilled cheese sandwich; a banana; yogurt and cereal; cheese and crackers; peanut butter and apple. What's your favorite?
"Don't eat carbs at dinner." A friend of mine lost a lot of weight. When you lose a lot of weight, you inevitably get asked, "What's your secret? How did you do it?" She said she did it by not eating carbs at dinner. I find that strange, but hey. If it worked for her, then great. Personally, I can't imagine a steak without mashed potatoes. I just eat a lot less of it then I used to.
"Don't snack between meals." I snack all day long. I simply could not go between breakfast to lunch, lunch to dinner without a snack. No sweat, as long as it's not junk. If I have craving for salty food, I eat unbuttered popcorn - not potato chips. Mindless snacking can lead to weight gain...unless it's mindless snacking on grapes. Then it helps fill your fruit servings!
"Don't eat bananas, coconut, mangos, or pineapple". Ok. I don't know who made this rule, but my house would be a landmine for them. It is true that tropical fruits have higher fat/sugar/calorie content than apples, oranges or grapes. The world's obesity problem is NOT due to eating too many bananas, coconuts, mangos, or pineapples. If you like them, eat them. I swear to you, a banana offers you nutrition in return for the calories. A Snickers bar only offers a sugar high, insulin spike, and plaque on your teeth. You get a whole lot of calories, and not a lot of nutrition.
"No chocolate" "I can't live without chocolate!" I hear ya. Don't fight it, sisters and brothers! Chocolate IS good for you! Become friends with dark chocolate. If it tastes too bitter for you, then try some with 62% cocoa. You'll get a strong taste of chocolate, but a bit creamier. And way better for you than that Snickers.
"No Snickers." "I can't live without Snickers!" Ok, ok. I hear ya there too. I'm not here to preach the evils of Snickers. I'm not going to hold protest signs that say, "NO MORE SNICKERS!". Snickers is my favorite candy bar. I used to buy bags of them at the supermarket. Know what? One day I realized just because it's my favorite doesn't mean that I need to have one every day. I realized that buying a bag of Snickers every week meant that I would eat all of them during the week. I realized that there's no reason for me to have a bag of Snickers in my house. I quit buying it. There were days when I had a horrible, life consuming, urge for Snickers. I had to get up from the couch and walk to the convenience store to get one. Over time, my urges for Snickers started to fade, and I went to the convenience store less and less. While Snickers is still my favorite candy bar, I can't tell you when was the last time I had one.
So moral of the story, listen to the advice you are given. There's a lot of wisdom to be had from success stories. Lots of them will be like the examples given above, like my friend who swears off carbs for dinner. I believe very strongly in learning from others, especially from those who have succeeded. If you want to be healthy, learn from healthy people.
In the end, your success story may be similar, but slightly different than someone else's. YOU have to make your own success story. YOU have to make your own success plan. YOU have to figure out how to work with your habits, or change them.
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