VHALKYRIE   16,233
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My Fate in Books?

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

I wrote a few days ago a rant about public education in defense of teachers. I wrote it with the intent of supporting the rallies and protests in certain states.

It seems the theme is reoccurring in unusual aspects of my life.

I went to a Barnes and Noble yesterday to buy a Nook eReader. I mostly wanted it because I want to be able to read while working out. I am an only child. When I was little, I read mountains of books to entertain myself. I still love to read, but I don't read as often as I once did. I thought since I have about an hour to myself during workouts, it would be a great way to add book time.

I've been in Savannah about a year. I work at home full time, so I don't have contact with office coworkers. Thus, it's been difficult to make new friends.

I've been meaning to join a pilates and spinning class to help fill the social void, but I haven't done it yet. While I was in the bookstore, it occurred to me that maybe I should join a book club.

While I just bought the Nook, I was browsing some of the new releases to get an idea of books I might want to buy. A woman said to me, "Are you looking for something good to read?" "Do you have a recommendation?" I asked. She pointed out a few titles and said, "Our book club really enjoyed these."

I was taken aback. Wow - weird! I said, "What book club?" She immediately became guarded. "Oh, it's just a small little book club with friends. We've been going for years." I got the message. It's an exclusive, private thing. This is one of the things I have difficulty adjusting to. It seems to be an 'east coast' thing. There is a culture of exclusivity. This same conversation in Denver, Seattle or San Francisco would have been met with an eager invitation to join at such and such coffee shop on Tuesday.

I thanked her for her recommendations, then went home and looked up a book club on Meetup.com. I found one near me, and immediately clicked the button that I was attending. The meeting is in 2 weeks.

The choice of books for this meeting also seems to be uncanny. It is "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" by Amy Chua. When I wrote my blog about the teacher's strike a few days ago, I added that my parents were disappointed when I got B's on my homework. This book is about a Chinese-American mother who is very strict and unorthodox by Western standards raising her two daughters in America. She pushes them very hard to excel.

If anyone is interested, I'll write separately about my thoughts on it. I'm enjoying the book immensely. My perspective for the book club should be very different. I see a lot of my upbringing in the story, a lot of myself, and many of my own concerns about raising a child at some point in the future. If we have children, I want to make learning fun like my parents did for me. I want to push them to be the A student and reward excellence like the asian model. But I want to encourage them to find who they are and their own calling in life. In essence, I want to combine the strengths of an achievement based education like the asians, and the freedom and independence of the Americans. The best of both worlds. I think it is possible, because I think my parents were able to do that for me.

I'm looking forward to the book club meeting. For whatever reason, it seems fate has brought book clubs and a discussion about culture and education into my range.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JKPONYGIRL 3/8/2011 4:07PM

    I hope your book club meeting goes well. Hopefully you will make some new friends there.

I am in a book club and it is the highlight of my month. We are also reading "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" this month! It is a VERY small club. There are usually no more than 7 girls there and usually closer to 4 or 5!

On the "types" of book clubs...I have found that some of them never even discuss the book. They just use it as an excuse to get together, which is fine if that is what they want, but not so good if you actually want to discuss the book!

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DAISYBELL6 3/8/2011 3:15PM

    How do you like your Nook?

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DDOORN 3/8/2011 2:45PM

    Cheers to scouting out and joining a new social venue! I'm sure you'll enjoy!

Had a lovely trip to Savannah last Nov., rented a bike and rode out to Tybee and back.


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SUGARSMOM2 3/8/2011 1:59PM

  nothing is by chance . It all has a purpose . fits together like a puzzle . when we need a teacher one appears . Yes i agree that we are headed down a slippery slope . what can we do to make it better ?

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VHALKYRIE 3/8/2011 12:59PM

    ARCHIMEDESII: I will post a review after I finish! It is thought provoking, whether you agree or it infuriates you. There may be a culture bias on whether a person will identify with it, or be appalled by it. It is not as clear as Asian mothers versus American mothers, though. According to my dad, my German grandmother could have written this book herself!

More later...

ELIZABETH_SKY: The Nook is working great for me while exercising so far! I am able to read it on a stationary bike or elliptical with no problem.

Thanks for pointing out the two book club 'types'. I guess I was disappointed because just a few minutes earlier I was thinking "I should join a book club", then it seemed like a perfect opportunity had arisen! Then it was kind of rejection. I suppose that's not her fault, and odd timing.

Comment edited on: 3/8/2011 1:05:19 PM

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ELIZABETH_SKY 3/8/2011 12:42PM

    I never thought of using a Nook (/Kindle, etc) for exercising! But that is a fabulous way to resolve my exercise boredom issues. Interesting!

About book clubs...I think there are really just two types. Some book clubs are meant to be a gathering of *friends* with similar interests. Others are more um...socially outreaching. Friends you already have vs. friends you're going to make. And I think both are fair.

It is a bit weird though that she'd bring up a club you're not invited to. That's a bit thoughtless, I think

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ARCHIMEDESII 3/8/2011 12:09PM

    My cousin is reading Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother !! I've read the review in the Wall Street Journal as well as the reviews (good and bad) on amazon. It's a certainly polarizing book. Some people think what she's doing is spot on. Others think she's nuts. I did find the article in the WSJ to be really fascinating. It made me wonder how her relationship with her children would be 20 years from now. Would they be writing a memoir on how they were bullied by their mother to be successes ???

I think joining a book club is a great idea !! I'm a pretty voracious reader too. I should join a club, but I haven't because I'm picky about what I want to read. I tend to go through phases. I just finished a book on Madame Chiang Kai Shek that was interesting. I'm finishing a book on Jane Boleyn (SIL of Anne Boleyn) and I'll probably start a biography of Rasputin next !! Yeah... my interests are that diverse.

Have a good time at the book club. Looking forward to your review of the Tiger Mother. This is what I find interesting. In one chapter, she mentions how people who follow horoscopes are idiots. I'm paraphrasing. Well, if she thinks that people who follow horoscopes are idiots how does she reconcile her belief in Chinese astrology ? She's identifying herself as a Tiger, the year she was born in. So... isn't Chinese astrology no different than Western horoscopes ?

Just a thought from the Devil's Advocate ! teeeheeee...

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VHALKYRIE 3/8/2011 10:45AM

    DIANE7786: Thank you for your comment. I will keep that in mind. However, in this particular case, she said it was members only. It was a group of 12 of her friends that have been doing this for years. That's fine. If that was the only incident, I could see it differently. We are finding a lot of these types of things around our area, though, and personally we do find it off putting. Kind of gives the impression that outsiders are not welcome, makes it rather difficult to integrate, and want to be part of a community. I found something else that will hopefully work for me.

PETUNIAPIG: I've had great experiences with Meetup in the past, so I am hopeful this will be great! I kind of wish the first book I would be attending wasn't quite as controversial, though, so it will be interesting to see what mix of people will be in this group.

Comment edited on: 3/8/2011 10:47:06 AM

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DIANE7786 3/8/2011 9:44AM

    I'm glad you found a book club. Please don't feel offended that the woman didn't ask you to join her book club. My book club is limited to 15 people so everyone has an opportunity to talk. My guess is that her club is full.

Those interested in joining a club might consider contacting their library. Most have at least one book club. That's where I started. Later a few of us started a separate club because a different day was more convenient. Some small book stores also have book clubs.

Comment edited on: 3/8/2011 9:53:18 AM

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PETUNIAPIG 3/8/2011 8:55AM

    Cool! Let us know how the book club turns out. I've been thinking about the Nook as well, but am holding out for whatever reason ... I guess mostly because I'm a tightwad and I know I can get books for free at my library.

I live near a small midwest town and I find that same exclusitivity here. You need to have been from the town for generations and have a certain last name to really feel welcome. No big deal to me, though. I usually don't have anything in common with them as I have a career, have no children, and not from the area whatsoever.

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Exercise Before Breakfast

Monday, March 07, 2011

I've been trying unsuccessfully to wake up at 6am and get an hour workout before starting work at 7 for the past couple of months. While I've long since grown out of the college girl "sleep til 11" phase, early rising isn't one of my strongest traits.

This morning I did better. I managed to get OUT of bed at 6, at least, but through rather unpleasant circumstances. The cat hacked a furball, so I had to get up and clean it up.

Thanks, kitty. emoticon

I turned the light on and laid back in bed. With the light on, I didn't immediately snuggle up in my still warm blanket and snooze. At 6:30, I was sufficiently awake to get my workout clothes on and to the gym.

I've been trying to exercise before my breakfast. I've read a number of reports lately that say studies show more fat is burned, and less fat is stored when starting exercise from a fasted state. I thought I would give it a try for a while. There is a definite performance tradeoff, though. When exercising on an empty stomach, I cannot workout as hard. I don't have as much energy to do very intense cycles. But I do not get dizzy or experience any of the unpleasant side effects that some people have on an empty stomach. I don't have any side effects other than feeling a sluggish, so I am going to continue to do it.

From my preliminary observations, it may be working. I did get a noticeable drop in my waist size in my first week. I've been doing a split routine. I'm trying to get 1 hour of exercise in a day. I'm doing 30 minutes in the morning before breakfast, and 30 minutes before lunch or before dinner. My second workout is usually much more productive as I am in a less fasted state than before breakfast. So, I am doing both. A fasted worked, and a non fasted workout.

The other benefit of this, if the study is correct, muscles are primed to handle insulin better when starting from a fasted state. This may be important for preventing insulin resistance, or lessening insulin resistance.

If you are training for a competitive event, you should never run on empty. Your performance and training will suffer drastically. Some people can't work out on an empty stomach because the low blood sugar will make them dizzy. If you get dizzy, stop. However, if you have no ill side effects other than not having enough energy to go full out, then this may be an effective way to burn more fat.



Also, this refers to cardio workouts ONLY. NEVER try to lift weights on an empty stomach!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JMAYS831 3/8/2011 9:28AM

    Thanks, this is a great tip.... perhaps I will have to give it a go

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Teaching Friend about Nutrition, Part II

Sunday, March 06, 2011

I wrote about how I was trying to help 'coach' or 'teach' a friend to make some changes in her life. She says she knows she needs to lose some weight. She said she was inspired to get started by me (a very nice feeling!)

One of the things she is sold on is the idea that I live my life with 'no diets'. I eat what I want, I just eat less of it. I eat mac and cheese, apple crisps, grilled cheese sammiches - whatever. I just eat a lot less of it. 1/2 cup portion of mac and cheese with a large garden salad. 1/2 grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup. Homemade apple crisp made in an 8oz cocotte.

This is something that has taken me YEARS to learn, though.

I'm wondering if this is a leap too far forward? You first have to learn about proper portion sizes before you can eat traditional 'forbidden foods'? Or this is how you start to learn about portion size? She's already made a few 'adjustments'. Like I recommended the 8oz cocotte pots. She said she bought a larger one because my recommended size was way too small.

I remember being appalled the first time I weighed a 4 oz piece of steak after years of clearing off a 16 oz by myself. This is something that is a long race, not a sprint. I'm just concerned she will lose momentum if she doesn't see at least marginal change. You can lose weight a lot faster just by drinking slim fasts, after all.


I think portion sizes is a much bigger problem than I am able to address (no pun intended). Next time she asks, I'm going to defer her to a program like Nutrasystem with prepackaged meals to get an idea of what a meal size should look like.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THINRONNA 3/8/2011 3:24AM

    It is so hard to do what you are doing in trying to help your friend. I think that you are doing great and should recommend what ever you think is best but ultimately it is she who has to finally have the light bulb go on and want to do it. I think for me it was learning how calories work and how many calories were in different foods was what helped me the most. Then it naturally went to portion control. It is amazing to me that for several years I tried dieting with out having a clue about calories and actually resisting calorie counting....sometimes, for short periods of time I succeeded with out having a clue as to why!

Good luck!

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DDOORN 3/7/2011 12:39PM

    Sounds like she's throwing too many barriers in front of herself. I question whether she is ready to make the changes she needs to make to improve her lifestyle.

I think it may be time to practice EXTREME patience with a kind, gentle "nudge" here and there. When she's ready to truly make a commitment toward building a healthier lifestyle she will come to you for suggestions (instead of the other way around) and be in a better position to truly HEAR and PRACTICE some of your suggestions!

Sometimes (and I speak from many wasted years of the school of hard knocks!) we all have to reach a point where we are just so SICK & TIRED of being SICK & TIRED before we can "see" what we need to see to make healthier changes for ourselves.


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VHALKYRIE 3/7/2011 10:33AM

    Portion control was, and is, the hardest thing for me to learn, too. It's hard to convey many years of history in short blogs, but I do try to be understanding about it. It is a huge step to even be thinking about making changes, and I'm rooting for her! But, she is in a place where I am not able to help. I learned about portion control, portion sizes by first joining eDiets, then Spark, where I had access to lots of information without feeling embarrassed.

When my friends and I all went on vacation together, almost everyone made a comment about how 'little' I ate. I ate plenty, trust me. I had 2 or 3 plates of food. If anyone was paying attention, they would have noticed that I had small pieces of meat, and very large plates of veggies. It's only because it is an inversion of the way most Americans eat, that they had a perception I was barely eating anything.

Comment edited on: 3/7/2011 10:42:49 AM

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ARCHIMEDESII 3/7/2011 9:50AM

    Learning portion control was probably the hardest of all the "healthy" habits I've adopted over the years. Which I'll put emphasis on i.e. it's taken me years to reform my eating habits. The fact is, my eating habits today are different from the way I ate when I first started out.

While we all understand the importance of portion control, if your friend isn't quite ready to adopt it fully, you're going to have to cut her some slack for the time being. She's open to learning about changing her eating habits and that's a good start. Even the smallest changes she makes today will impact her health later. However, like the rest of us, she isn't going to learn everything overnight. It is going to take years to really reform her eating habits.

So, I would encourage all the healthy things she does, but try not to be upset if her portions are a little bigger than they should be. Before long, she'll learn that restaurant portions are out of control.

I would definitely keep encouraging her to join Spark. Show her around the place. Let her know that the people here aren't overbearing. We're all here to help and support each other.


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VHALKYRIE 3/7/2011 9:03AM

    This is why I wish she would get on Spark. She once told me she can't exercise because she gets too bulky. She said she puts on too much muscle and looks like Schwarzenegger. I had to hold my tongue. Women do not generate enough testosterone.

While we were in the Bahamas, we shared a hotel room and ate most of our dinners together. I ordered a sandwich and a huge salad one night. I ate half the sandwich. I took the rest to eat later. This is how I normally do it. I follow a "Volumetrics" type strategy. Eat little bit of high fat/high protein/high starch food, and huge volumes of low calorie fibrous veggies and fruit. This way, I eat a little bit of all my favorite foods, but get very full on veggies and fruit.

She later told a friend about how tiny my sandwich was, and that it must not have been very good because I only ate half! She completely misunderstood the reason why I did it.

I really do think she would benefit from a program like WW with trained dieticians. I suggest Nutrasystem because another friend is doing it, so maybe they could support each other.

Otherwise, I get on the slippery slope of trying to correct her.

Comment edited on: 3/7/2011 9:14:36 AM

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BTVMADS 3/7/2011 8:28AM

    That is a tricky situation, because if your friend thinks that Chipotle burritos are a normal portion (which BLOWS MY MIND; even my husband, who can eat 3x what I do, thinks they're huge), she will never get a grip on her eating without seriously measuring everything. She's going to have to really TRY if she wants to eat better. As you know, you do get used to the portion sizes after a while, and a 2oz. portion of pasta looks big (especially smothered in 2/3 cup of homemade marinara)... you just have to have to be patient and get over the "shell shock" of thinking you're not getting enough food.

I don't think something like Nutri-system would work though, because that food is really depressing. A friend of mine tried it for a while, and eventually her shelves were stocked with a month's worth of shelf-stable Nutri-system meals that she never ate. Mmm, appetizing -- 2-month old vacuum sealed ham!

But you know, there are the Hungry Girl cookbooks, and those are AWESOME. Lisa Lillien, the author, does use a lot of "science experiment" foods, like splenda, non-dairy creamer, fat-free cheese, etc., which bothers some folks. But she has some really great recipes to satisfy just about any craving, and because she uses low-cal options like egg beaters, shiritaki noodles and 100-calorie tortillas, her portions look really big without being a million calories. They're great because you can lose weight quickly by replacing big take-out meals with her 300-calorie recipes, but she also has enough variety and practical tips that it's really NOT a diet, it's a lifestyle choice. I'd definitely suggest them to your friend, because she'll be able to have her mac n' cheese and potato skins and philly cheese steaks -- just lightened up considerably!

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LADYROSE 3/6/2011 7:40PM

    Personally, I think we all need to learn and adapt at our own pace... For me I had to start with just tracking my food for a period of time to really get what and how much I was eating. After a while, I would get frustrated that I didn't seem to be making progress - scale wasn't moving, clothes weren't getting loser, didn't feel any changes with energy, etc. - so I started dialing in on how much physical food I was eating. Weighing, measuring, etc. Was an eye opener.

As for your friend getting a larger size dish, remember... it's all relative. 4-5 oz of meat when you're used to 14-16 oz is teeeny tiny... you're going to feel like it's not enough, like it won't satisfy, etc., but now you look at that smaller portion and know it's plenty.

I also know for me it's frustrating to see people resist, not want to be where you are right now, but remember - it took you a while to get there too, and you had your own mental process to work through.

Celebrate your friend taking baby steps. Maybe she'll be eating more than she should, like 2 cups of mac & cheese instead of 1, but if she used to eat 3 cups, then this is a big improvement and give her a high five, while being consistent with your eating as well. She'll catch up, as long as there's encouragement and a great role model!

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VHALKYRIE 3/6/2011 6:42PM

    Well, she says she did join Weight Watchers a long time ago. She says she likes the 'old' WW. I'm not sure what's wrong with the 'new' WW, but she says she doesn't like it.

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PETUNIAPIG 3/6/2011 6:33PM

    What are your thoughts on suggesting Weight Watchers? I know several in my office that are on it and have been successful. Not sure how it compares in cost (meals vs membership). The WW classes do talk a lot about serving sizes, healthy choices, ways to control overeating, etc. Just a thought....

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Traveling Like a Local

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Many of our friends have the mistaken impression since we like to travel that we're high flying globetrotters, dining at the finest restaurants in London and Paris.

We aren't, and we don't. When we travel, we travel like a local.

Many of us actually live in tourist towns ourselves. I've lived in Denver, Seattle and Savannah. Do you eat in your local tourist traps?

No, you don't. Not unless you have visitors from out of town who insist on going, right? You warn them its a tourist trap, but they want to go anyway.

When I visited Korea, I had the great benefit of having my family with me. We ate in hidden side markets for just a few dollars. The most expensive meals I had were near the US army base, where the prices were inflated. McDonalds, Quiznos and Pizza Hut abounded.

In the UK, I had the benefit of my fiance who is British. We were briefly fleeced in London because he didn't know where to go, either. The rest of the time we had really great local food for not much money. No suit and tie required.

In Barcelona, we wandered the markets where the locals shopped and ate. Americans kind of stick out like a sore thumb. They'll wear a Hawaiian print polo ANYWHERE. We avoided the restaurants where there was a congregation of khaki's and polos.* We looked for congregations of Spanish locals. Where did they go? What did they eat? We'll try some of that.

We drove along the Spanish coast where there are no tourists. Fortunately my Spanish was just good enough. As you get farther away from the metropolitan areas, the number of people who can speak English decreases. They were very eager to share their culture and food. The Spanish were very friendly to us, and were very polite about my poor Spanish.

Once upon a time in Mexico, we were in a grocery store looking at an overwhelming array of tequilas. This nice man came up to us, pointed to a bottle of tequila on the shelf, and gave a thumbs up. We took the local's recommendation, and were not disappointed.

This is my favorite thing about traveling. Experiencing the culture through the people and the food. We've been on vacations with family and friends who never leave the resorts or the confines of the tourist areas.

I can understand. Until I actually visited these places, if you just go by the horror stories you hear in the news, it would seem like you shouldn't go anywhere. But I'm sure you know where all the bad areas of your local city are, too.

It is true that many people in certain foreign countries may be very pushy about trying to sell you something. Have to remember that if you make over US$35K, you are in the top 1% richest people in the world. Most people in the world are very poor, and very desperate. You don't have to feel obligated to give them money. You do have to be smart about avoiding getting pick pocketed. But this is true in the metro cities I've lived in, too. Use zippered purses, and don't keep your wallet in a back pocket. I would do this while visiting LA or NY, too.

While we were in Spain, we bought a blind, old homeless woman a sandwich. She was genuinely grateful. On the other hand, we had a bellboy in a 3rd world country tell us that he thought a $20 tip for carrying our bags was appropriate because $20 didn't mean as much to us. We did not give him a $20 tip.

If you can blend in, you'll be hassled less. People in Europe and Asia are generally very well put together. Not runway models, but not running through town with a pair of Crocs. In Asia, there are tailors everywhere. Americans look very 'dumpy' in comparison with oversized t-shirts, pants that don't fit right, and athletic shoes. I am not exaggerating. You can spot the American from 100 yards. It is embarrassing. If I were a timeshare salesperson, that's who I would make a b-line for. And they do.

* I'm picking on the Americans because I'm American. My fiance is British, and he had a few facepalm moments with British compatriots as well. Apparently the British have a terrible stereotype of being loud and rowdy when they travel in the EU. About as famous as Americans with their colorful polos.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THINRONNA 3/10/2011 4:16PM

    What a great blog! When we were in Italy this summer Patrick and I tried to avoid places that had signs or waiters outside stating _We Speak English_ (sorry my quote marks have been missing on my keyboard lately) but my inlaws were drawn to those places like moths to a flame! Ugh!

I would also like to say that often times in Europe at restaurants you needn't tip as much as in the US or not at all as in cases like here in Norway. Here servers are paid nice living wage just like everyone else and they often times get a percentage of the total sales of the restaurant. Tipping is not expected...but they love when Americans come because they do tip. Some countries even have a service charge already added into the bill. You should check it out or ask someone ahead of time. I know that this is true of other services too like taxis. It can save a lot of money. Again...my father in law, bless him, could not stand not tipping and did it anyway. We were on vacation for a few weeks and that all adds up!

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BTVMADS 3/7/2011 8:33AM

    LOVED this blog! I'm going abroad for the first time this spring, and I'm all about going where the locals go. I have no intention of hitting up Blarney Castle in Ireland (although my husband probably will want to see the Guiness brewery) or the Bulldog Coffehouses in Amsterdam, and I'm going to try as much as possible to NOT gawk, lol. Like you say, I want to experience their culture -- not impose my own.

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VHALKYRIE 3/6/2011 10:05PM

    REI_REI: I was only in Japan briefly for a layover to Korea. I would love to go for a proper visit!

PETUNIAPIG: I've only started traveling recently, and I was amazed by how fashionable people were compared to everyday in America. Emphasis was on well fitting clothes at very affordable prices. Finding clothes that fit me is difficult because I am shorter than average. Getting clothes altered is expensive. In Korea, if something didn't fit right, the salespeople insisted that I take it across the street to a tailor. I could get anything altered for $5, and done in an hour.

STORMTMB: I was disappointed when family members just wanted to stay by the pool the whole time. It gave the impression they weren't really interested in where they were. They could have sat by a pool almost anywhere and got the exact same effect.

The places where I have traveled, the people have always been very excited to tell me about their culture and country. They were so pleased I was interested in them and their country.

Comment edited on: 3/6/2011 10:09:21 PM

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REI_REI 3/6/2011 9:41PM

    Same here in Japan... wow what a difference between the touristy places and where the locals go!
Have you ever been over here?

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PETUNIAPIG 3/6/2011 6:28PM

    I work at an International company and I can always tell someone's origin by their shoes! Haha..

Seriously, you have a great point. Only in America would someone think it was ok to go out in public in your pajamas. Drives me nuts!

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STORMTMB 3/6/2011 2:52PM

    I have a close friend who preaches the same sermon. To get to know the country and the culture, you have to get past the tourist traps. It's a great lesson.

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Trying to Teach Friend about Nutrition

Saturday, March 05, 2011

In my last post, I gave high praises to teachers and the job they do. I don't know how they do it, day in, day out. Especially kids in grade school. I'm tearing my hair out trying to teach an adult friend about good nutrition.

She has to learn about portion sizes. We once went to a Chipotle, and she shocked me with a comment about how small the burritos were. Never heard anyone describe a Chipotle burrito as 'small'.

We went to a friend's wedding in the Bahamas. She was really uncomfortable the whole time. It made me realize how insulating fat can be. It was very hot, but it seemed to be unbearable for her.

She reminds me of me about 10 years ago.

She didn't know me when I was very overweight, but she knows that I was. She only really knows the new me. Not supermodel thin, but healthy; cycler; kayaker; snorkeler/diver.

She asked me several times questions about fitness and diet. She still holds to the archaic idea of 'diet' though, not lifestyle change. Like, how you change what you eat is what you will do for the rest of your life. Not soup and salad until you get to your bikini weight.

She says my new blog has helped inspire her to make some changes. She bought some of the pots I recommended for making single serving sizes of food. I told her to only eat half her box when she grabs teriyaki for lunch. There's actually 2-3 portions in the to-go teriyaki. Splitting in half will get her used to smaller, more normal sized portions. It's how I learned.

I keep encouraging her to join Spark. She hasn't done it yet. I hope she will. Keeping a food diary is essential. You can't change your life unless you know what you are putting in your body.

I told her to make a few changes at a time. I thought I was getting through to her, making progress. Then she said, "Ok, I can do that. I can make a few changes at a time. Like, no beer with fried foods."

Arg. Not quite what I meant...but...ok...sure. That will save 140 calories.

Well. It's a start.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ARCHIMEDESII 3/6/2011 1:06PM

    It's great that you friend is open to learning about good nutrition. Admittedly portion control is one of the hardest things to learn because we're so used to seeing oversized portions on our plates whenever we eat out. It's that uniquely American idea of getting "the most bang for your buck". Unfortunately, you can track the increase of the American waistline with the increase in portion sizes.

Here's a good way for your friend to visualize a normal portion... teach her the palm rule. In general, a serving of meat is roughly the size of a person's palm. That works out to around 4 oz, which is about right for a serving size of meat.

Somewhere on this website is a listing of similar visuals... That's a good way to learn portion control.

I'll poke around for it.

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VHALKYRIE 3/6/2011 12:15PM

    BTVMADS: That is a great point about teacher and friend. I didn't mean to imply that. I am doing my best to try and gently guide her, without being preachy. Which is hard to do!

ThinRonna: Most of us that finally 'got it' are so enthusiastic about our success and what we learned, we want to share it with everyone! And then get crushed when they don't want to hear it. I'm trying my very best to encourage because she is so close to a breakthrough! I just know it! Yet as you say, I don't want to scare her off. The embarrassment issue is a very hard one to get past. I exercised at home for the longest time because I was self conscious about being the fat girl at the gym. Once I started, though, it was easier to get over.

JSPEED4: Exactly right! I am trying to tell her what worked for me, and kind of let her make her own inference.

DDOORN: That's a great idea! One way to take the heat off me being too 'preachy' is to defer her to some books and let Michael Pollan do the talking - lol!

INTHELOOP: I know what you mean! When my friend mentioned the fried foods, my heart sank. But like you say, I was the exact same way.

MY4KITTIES: She has indicated that she needs to make changes. I think she is ready, but just a little lost on where to get started. I can relate. She has to find her own path, this is true. Just trying to find the right way to encourage her. It tough when she mentions 'diet' and I desperately want to scream, 'lifestyle change'!

Comment edited on: 3/6/2011 1:27:38 PM

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BTVMADS 3/6/2011 9:08AM

    I think it's wonderful that she wants to talk to you at all! It's really really hard to let yourself be vulnerable enough to ask someone close to you to teach you about healthy choices, and be honest about all the crappy choices you've been making. So you know what, just keep being patient with her, encourage her to check out Spark, and keep setting a good example. You could invite her to do active things with you, too -- go for a walk together, or ask if she'd like to learn to kayak. If you go out to eat, order first to set the example.

I will add in that I'm a teacher, and you DON"T want to be your friend's teacher! Teachers are responsible for their students' results, and they have to be an authority. You don't want to feel like you have to correct your friend or be "above" her in any way, and she won't appreciate that dynamic either. Just be her friend and give advice, but let the results be up to her. When she needs more advice, she'll know where to get it!

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THINRONNA 3/6/2011 3:04AM

    How nice that you are willing to help her and she seems receptive. It will be interesting for you to see how it goes with her. I have a little bit of not so great experience with other people asking me about diet and nutrition. One person was SO interested in my weight loss and how I did it and how I maintain but then saw the spark site and backed away because they didn't want to share or talk about their weight issues...never mind that you don't have to share if you don't want to!

I actually also lost one friend here in Norway who loved to complain about weight with me when I was still big but as I lost and she didn't. It became less fun for her. I think I talked too much about what I was learning about nutrition and then one day I showed her the site. She literally got up from the table and walked out of my apartment! This is a different culture here and they really don't talk about weight loss here and I think she took it as an insult that I did...Heck! I'm an American...we all talk about it!

On a final note I now have a new friend and I am VERY careful about what I say. She also only knows the new me but she has seen a couple of pictures of the old me. She is very smart and knows a fair bit about nutrition, is a foodie (rare here) and has quietly said that she eats low carb (unheard of here...it is said that they bring their bread with them on holiday...and at daycare the teachers tell the kids to eat their bread first before any thing else!)

Anyway, I haven't even asked her why she eats low carb because I am afraid of starting a conversation that will cause me to lose another friend! She is Swedish though...so maybe that is why she is a little different.

I hope that you and your friend can navigate the waters it seems like she genuinely wants to make change. My only advice is for you to follow her lead...she will work on this as she is ready.

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JSPEED4 3/6/2011 2:50AM

    Yep, it's a start.
Mention things TO DO rather than things to not do, like cutting the burrito in half and having half of it for tomorrow's lunch. emoticon
Any new thinking needs a lot of practice, and helping her practice good thinking, even if it is just the thinking, will be a great tactic.

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DDOORN 3/5/2011 11:26PM

    Cheers to Spreading the Spark! What a TERRIFIC friend you are! :-)

I like to point folks toward Michael Pollan's Food Rules...so basic, common sense...and also as you mention, stressing the lifestyle approach and ditching the diet mentality.

Best thing, though is to Be the SPARK You Want To See In The World...keep inspiring folks by example!


Comment edited on: 3/5/2011 11:29:39 PM

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INTHELOOP 3/5/2011 10:33PM

    I love when some tells me that they want to start working out - and then as the conversation persists they start manufacturing the excuses - (At one point - I had them too)

I wish I had the magic words for them to get past that point.

Sounds like small changes will make a difference for your friend - ha! If she eats healthy she might melt away quickly.

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MY4KITTIES 3/5/2011 9:32PM

    She's lucky to have a friend like you that is willing to show her the ropes when she's ready. It sounds like she wants to make changes but she's not quite ready just yet. It sounds like you're setting an example for her and she'll let you know when she needs guidance. Changes didn't happen overnight for me. I had to make baby steps in order for my brain and body to accept the changes and realize they are to help myself become healthier. My mom sees the changes I'm making and is slowly asking more questions, which I answer to the best of my ability. Your friend will do the same, in her own time.

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