VHALKYRIE   16,233
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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

"He who fails to plan is planning to fail" - Winston Churchill

This is certainly true for me. When I set out to do something with intention, I go after it with gusto.

The problem is, I tend to be hyperfixated on it to the exclusion of all else. Then suffer massive burnout.

But the burnout isn't what I'm here to talk about today. Today, I'm talking about getting back on a mission.

My Plan:
1. Daily morning exercise 30min minimum. I like to exercise first thing in the morning so that it's done and out of the way. Later in the day its easier to make excuses.
2. Breakfast after workout. I know there's lots of debate about this, but this works for me. You shouldn't do this if you experience an energy crash, but this isn't a problem for me.
3. Prepare meals in advance. I'm super busy at the moment. If I don't have anything prepared, then I head for fast food. I'm sure this is a familiar problem to many.
4. Eat when hungry. I don't eat set meals anymore. But I still need to have snacks available for when I do get hungry. If I'm hungry, I eat. If I'm not, I skip it.

Last night while I was preparing dinner, I made my snacks and lunch for today. I made egg salad and tuna salad. Since I eat low carb, I eat these with romaine lettuce and cabbage leaves for wraps instead of bread.

I've got a lot of work to do this week, but I'll try to report on progress at the end of the week.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THINRONNA 3/7/2012 3:54AM

    I do know this about you...it is true that you can do what ever you set your mind to. Truly. I love your plan!

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MYLADY4 3/6/2012 10:22AM

    You go girl.

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KELPIE57 3/6/2012 8:59AM

    Let us know how it goes!

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Backslide and Reboot

Monday, March 05, 2012

Somehow I managed to survive the holidays and travel abroad without weight gain.

And then...backslide.

I focus more on bodyfat percentage rather than weight these days. I went from 23% to 28%. 8lb gain. Doesn't sound like a lot, but it is enough to go from fab to noticeable flab.

For the record, though, I'm still lower overall than the same time last year. Last year I hovered near 140. This morning I weighed in at 131.

The problem is I got super busy and I found myself eating more and more fast food.

Ugh. I hate fast food. But I need to eat.

I wish I still lived in Seattle. I used to eat pho soup as cheap fast food.

While I skipped the french fries, the carby burgers was enough to switch around my body fat ratios. I suspect due to lower exercise activity in the winter.

So it's just time for a reboot. I've reenrolled in college so that is why I'm so busy, but it is no excuse. I know how to make meals on a busy schedule, so I just have to do it. Back to veg and protein, and paying more attention to limiting starches.

I have a wedding dress to wear in 3 months! The nicer weather is more motivating to get up and moving around.

This morning, it's a cup of coffee and back to the gym!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BTVMADS 3/7/2012 8:14AM

    I'm just glad to see that you're back! Major life changes always throw us for a loop. The important thing is that you stopped yourself before gaining back too much, and that you've got the right priorities.

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MYLADY4 3/5/2012 2:44PM

    I was just thinking about you yesterday and wondering where you were as I was making the Pumpkin Muffins again (now that I have a properly working oven).

We all have set backs and life gets in the way sometime. You know what to do know I have faith you will get back on track in no time soon.

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THINRONNA 3/5/2012 12:53PM

    It is so great to see you back! I know you can turn this thing around! You and I are in the same boat...I gained over the winter and now I am back at it again. You know what to do ...now you will do it. (me too)

Three months! Sooooo exciting!!!!!!!

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BRENDALEEFREE 3/5/2012 12:05PM

    Congrats on the upcoming nuptials - I know you can do this, find a new routine & stick to it - WOOT WOOT!

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VHALKYRIE 3/5/2012 10:00AM

    Thanks for the warm welcome back!

I'm guilty - no strength training! Gulp. But back on the wagon today! That's what counts, right. ;)

The job hunt is on holding pattern at the moment. I've reenrolled in college, and that's been sucking up all my time. I'm hoping to graduate in December.

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ARCHIMEDESII 3/5/2012 9:55AM

    Hey there !! It's sooo good to see you back ! Don't beat yourself up for gaining a little bit. Instead, give yourself credit for keeping the bulk of the weight off. that's what really counts.

Have you been doing your strength training ? If not, I'm going to say,"naughty, naughty". When you hit the gym, hit that weight room. If you haven't been strength training in a while, your muscles will respond quickly. Love that muscle memory. you might feel some DOMS, but that's to be expected.

So, not to be nosy, how's the job front going ? Have you been able to find a new job ? You know we're all plugging for you !


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KAYOTIC 3/5/2012 9:20AM

    emoticonYou sound like you know what you need to do, and are motivated to do it!

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Christmas in Birmingham, UK

Monday, January 09, 2012

I wasn't abroad very long, but I have to break up my blogs about them separately, or it will be too long.

Unfortunately, I don't have too many pictures of me because my fiance has the worst unsteady hands. I think what happens is, he tries to take a picture quickly, and drops his hands before the shutter finishes. This is why there isn't usually a lot of pictures of us on vacation. I also tend to look annoyed in the pictures because it's usually the 100th attempt to get a non blurry picture - lol.

Most people who travel to the UK have London in mind, I imagine. My fiance's family is from the Black Country, so I get to see more of daily life in England. Birmingham, I am reminded by the locals, though, is NOT part of the Black Country. It is the closest nearby metropolitan city.

We met with the future in-laws and family for Christmas celebrations and evening meals. My fiance was trying to balance family time with some tourism, since we don't get to travel often with our meager 10 days a year American vacation time. We went to the Black Country museum on Christmas eve, which I really enjoyed. This was the heart of the industrial revolution. Coal mining, steam engines, industrial iron/steel work - it all started here.

It was a very hard life for those in the Black Country. Average lifespan was about 30 years. You either died in the coal mine, or from lung cancer from the coal soot. The Black Country was described as black by day from the coal soot, red by night from the iron forges. JRR Tolkien got his inspiration for Mordor from the Black Country.

It is not that way anymore, obviously, but the Black Country museum was a very interesting step back in time to the early 18th century. There was a small block of shops that were set up to approximate 1930's Wolverhampton. There was a fantastic fish and chips shop where I had lunch. They made the battered fish the old fashioned way - with beef tallow. It was simply marvelous. Probably the best fish and chips I've had yet in England.

It was very cold, and we stopped the Women Worker's Union Hall for a coffee. I had a traditional Christmas treat with my coffee - mince pie.

Warmed up, we explored more. Did you know Birmingham has more miles of canals than Venice? Tis true. Transporting coal and iron works from the Midlands to the ports of Liverpool and London used to be the most efficient means. Canals were highways of the 18th-19th century.

Because it was winter, our day was cut short by the sun. The sun started to set around 4:00, and it was dusk by 4:30. We stopped into a small pub at the museum, where I warmed up with mulled wine.

The anchor for the Titanic was made in the Black Country. We drove by the replica.

With night setting in, we went into Birmingham town center for a wander, and last minute Christmas shopping. The streets were made up with Christmas decorations.

Inside the shopping mall, I found a jelly bean replica of the Bullring bull that is in the center of Birmingham square.

The next day we enjoyed Christmas meal with the fiance's family. After dinner, we went for a walk around a local pond and fed leftover Christmas bread to the ducks, geese, and swans.

The following day we took a trip way off the beaten track to Warrington, Lymm, and Chester. It wasn't entirely all for fun - since my fiance is there once a year, he often has to run a few errands. Once we got his details sorted, we went for lunch at a gastro pub in Lymm. It is Aiden Byrne's Michelin starred restaurant called "The Church Green". Those in the US might not be familiar with him, but he is basically a British "celebrity chef".

We started with a bread and olive tapenade that was simply amazing. I'm going to have to try and replicate it soon. It used a little orange zest/juice for a little sweetness/acid. The olive oil tasted like fresh olives.

I had a frois gras plate for my starter. My fiance had a salmon chowder. The chowder was so good. The grayish color might look a little odd, but believe me. It was fantastic. I should have taken notes on what I tasted. I wish I could make soup like that.

I had a braised lamb for my main meal. The lamb was sooo tender, it almost literally fell apart in the mouth. My fiance had a beef and onion pie with a split pea soup. He said it was the best beef and onion pie.

For dessert, we had coffee and split a chocolate mousse with poached pears.

I have to admit. Maybe because of Sparkfriend Ronna and her amazing talent as a pastry chef, I had very high expectations on presentation at a Michelin rated gastro pub. The dessert was delicious, but I was expecting more oomph on the plating. A little sliver of cake with pears on the side - ho hum. I'm certain Iron Chef judges would agree that the plating was not as inviting as the dessert tasted.

Dining at a celebrity chef, Michelin rated gastro pub sounds pretty expensive, eh? Not as much as you might think. If you don't have a Paris Hilton budget, but like fine dining, going at lunch is almost always the affordable option. We were in Lymm, which is an urban district of Cheshire, but it is not London. Before beer and wine, our bill came out to just under 50 pounds, or $65 for the two of us.

I was a big fan of Rachael Ray's travel show, "$40 a Day", and this is pretty much the way I travel. We ate light in the morning so we could eat at this pub for lunch. We were well under food budget for the day. Even though the portions were not oversized, they were quite satisfying, and we didn't end up eating dinner later because we weren't hungry.

Next up, Paris!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LADYROSE 3/6/2012 10:36AM

    *sigh* I miss England... I was only there for a couple of months, ages ago, but it's *home*. :)

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JUSTBIRDY 1/21/2012 11:39AM

    sounds like you had a great time.

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ZURDTA- 1/10/2012 8:28AM

    Oh I am so glad you came to Birmingham - I live about 20ish miles from the city - not in the Black Country but in Worcestershire, which touches the Black Country. The Black Country is industrial and Worcestershire agricultural, so you couldn't get more different, (as Mordor is from The Shire!) but we Midlanders are all wonderful people, even if I say so myself!

So glad you had a wonderful time!

Comment edited on: 1/10/2012 8:30:02 AM

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CHEFSOPHIE 1/9/2012 4:54PM

    Thanks for sharing! It sounds like a wonderful time and the perfect balance between family and tourism. I've been to London and points south, but never that far north.

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SEDGEY 1/9/2012 2:46PM

    Thank you! Makes me want to visit the Black Country. Until my finances allow, this armchair version is pretty good. Can't wait to read what you got up to in Paris. :)

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NAYPOOIE 1/9/2012 2:30PM


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CAROLJEAN64 1/9/2012 1:50PM

    Thanks for sharing your great trip with us. I have not been to Birmingham, but visited son who spent a year studying in Manchester.

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KELPIE57 1/9/2012 12:28PM

    Interesting for this Brit in France to read about an American's impression of the north of England!

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CHIEF_GEEK 1/9/2012 11:16AM

    Looks like you had a lot of fun!

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WOUBBIE 1/9/2012 10:12AM

    What an awesome experience! And too true about the pitiful lack of vacation time for Americans. It doesn't make us any more productive, just grumpier and more stressed!

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I'm Alive! Really!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Hi Sparkies! Long time no see! Sorry I've been MIA for so long. I've had a lot going on since November.

1) Unemployed. I was laid off in November, and I had a lot of drama getting my unemployment. To make a long story short, I was employed in the state of Washington, while working remote from Georgia. There was a dispute over who was responsible for paying the unemployment. In the end, Georgia won, which was a loss for me. WA state would have paid a lot more. But at least I am getting a check now.
2) Moved apartments - again. Sooo tired of feeling like I live out of a moving box. We had to downsize to a one bedroom due to the loss of my income. All we did was move from one apartment to another in the same complex. But it wasn't as easy as it seemed. Took us 3 days to complete the move - ugh!
3) Visit with the future in-laws. 3 days after we completed our move, we were off to England to visit with the fiance's parents. A trip to Europe should normally be a time of great excitement. I always thought the fear of in-laws was cliche. But no, I discovered meeting with a partner's family can indeed be the stuff of nightmares.

On the bright side:

1) I did have some fun in Europe. Went to Birmingham, London, and Paris! I'll share details later.
2) Ate lots of fabuluous holiday food, and enjoyed tons of treats in the UK and Paris. I gained about 1 pound. No, really. I'll share my secrets soon.
3) Stayed on budget in two of the most expensive cities in the world - London and Paris. How did I do it? Stay tuned!
4) Reenrolled in college. I'm just 5 classes away from completing my bachelors. With quite a bit of help from my wonderful professors, I'm set to take classes remote so I can complete my degree.
5) Lots of cooking and baking. Homemade bread is easy. Making pastry dough is shockingly easy. Who knew? Being in UK and Paris inspired me. More recipes coming soon!
6) Exploring self employment. I've got a few projects in the works. I'm adding a travel section to my cooking/food blog, and I'm exploring a couple of options for mobile app development.
7) Wedding dress. I've decided to explore sewing my own dress again. I bought a new pattern, and a couple of books. Have a couple of practice items to make in the next few weeks. I am going to try a go at it in the next month. If I don't have something workable by Feb, then I'll have to explore retail options. I saw some dresses in Europe that inspired me, so I'm going to at least give it one more shot.

So that's what's been going on with me. My time on Spark is limited at the moment because I don't have internet hooked up in the new apartment yet - I'm dying here. I feel like I'm in the technologic dark ages. It's awful. This should be remedied tomorrow. I seriously feel like an internet addict - I don't know what to do with myself at home without the internet - lol. Mostly baking.

Hope you all had a wonderful New Year!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MKPRINCESS007 1/7/2012 11:33PM

    Ooohhhh, I feel like I am in suspense! :) So many details you have to share! Glad you got to see London and Paris (my son is going to June, so do share those budgeting details!) despite the scary in law visit.

You have been missed! Hope you stop back soon and fill us in!


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CTTAGENT 1/6/2012 11:14AM

    No kidding you have been busy. Sorry the in-law visit was not the best, but at least you enjoyed other parts of your trip, so that is good. I look forward to all the recipes and pictures that you will offer us. Have a good one.

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HUTCHISDM 1/6/2012 4:55AM

    Welcome back! sorry to hear about work and the move - that sucks big time - i HATE moving. Looking forweard to hearing about your trip and your recipies. Congrats on going back to school!!!

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FITGIRL15 1/5/2012 11:22PM

    Welcome Back! I'm glad you had fun in London, despite the in-laws. LOL
Can it really be THAT BAD???

I know the feeling of being without internet. I don't have cable OR a television set, so for me, I really have nothing else... I guess except paper books and music. LOL I prefer the internet! ;)

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YULLABELLE 1/5/2012 4:31PM

    You are emoticon. With all the negative going on around you. you kept a positive attitude and are making the most of it. Keep sparking. You are inspiring. emoticon

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SEDGEY 1/5/2012 3:47PM

    Welcome back! Glad to hear that you've been having fun!

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SPARKCHANTAL 1/5/2012 3:13PM

    woosh! i lost a pound just reading about all your excitement!

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MYLADY4 1/5/2012 1:01PM

    Well, that's a relief that you are alive. Have to say, I wondered.

Glad you had a great time in europe and look forward to hearing about it.

Oh, the pumpkin muffins were delish!! Thanks for the recipie.

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WOUBBIE 1/5/2012 12:16PM

    Welcome back!

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THINRONNA 1/5/2012 12:07PM

    I have been thinking about you! I have not been on here as well due to my eye but I am glad to see you back! It sounds like you have had a lot going on...I really look forward to the details! I understand what you mean about living out of a box. I just realized that this month is the first time in 7 years we will be in one place for a whole year!

Happy New Year!

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NAYPOOIE 1/5/2012 11:56AM

    Looking forward to more.

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F.SILVI 1/5/2012 10:36AM

    Welcome back. I've missed your blogs.

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More Similarities Than Differences?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

As with most arguments, I find there are more similarities than differences.

Take the debate between "low carb" versus "low fat/calorie". Does a high fat diet increase risk of heart disease? Does high carb lead to diabetes?

People believe one or the other passionately. We all want to make the best choices for our health. If we follow one dietary advice or another, it's because we strongly believe it is the best choice for good health.

I have chosen my side, and I've been living low carb for about 6 months now. My weight has held steady at 124lbs - the longest that I've been in the 120's since my teens. I am not quite so disciplined about avoiding starchy carbs as I was at the beginning. When I first started this, I chose to go 'extreme low carb' just so I could test whether the theory was sound. The difference is, I do not try add a serving of grain, starch or carb with every meal anymore. I used to make sure I had a grain/starch/carb with every meal. Cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, and a big scoop of mashed potatoes for dinner. I used to eat all three, every day. Now, I'll have a sandwich OR a small scoop of mashed potatoes, once per day. Some people are so carb sensitive they can't do this, but for me, I haven't had problems.

So what are the similarities with my low carb diet versus my previous low calorie diet?

- Eat a hearty breakfast. Skipping breakfast will lead to a power drain, doesn't matter what diet paradigm you choose. Eating a breakfast every day will make your mornings more productive, and you'll be less ravenous by lunch.

Here is an example of my typical breakfasts these days. I have a poached egg, 2 strips of bacon, and yogurt with strawberries and walnuts. This isn't actually too different than the breakfasts of my high carb days, calorie wise. The difference is I replaced cereal in my yogurt with crushed walnuts. I replaced a slice of toast with an egg and bacon. I used to end up with energy crashes mid morning, and I never knew why. With the higher protein replacements, I'm steady until lunch.

- Exercise. Low carber don't exercise is a myth that needs to die. Exercise is beneficial for everyone. Exercise naturally lower insulin resistance, allowing more stored fat to be used for fuel. It lowers blood pressure. It's a natural endorphin stimulator - it makes us feel good.
- Don't exercise too much. Hours and hours at the gym will not erase bad food choices. Sorry. It's the truth.
- Exercise means you need to eat more calories. Our bodies are highly specialized to burn the calories we need to survive. Exercise increases the calorie requirements. The trick is to get our bodies to burn stored fat to make up for shortfall. How to do that is where the debate between low carb/low calorie lies, but the premise is the same.
- Eat lots of veggies. Low carbers don't eat vegetables is also a myth that needs to die. Veggies are packed full of vitamins and minerals. We all need our vitamins and minerals.
- Eat fruits. Some low carbers avoid fruits. Dieticians agree that eating fruits are not strictly necessary. If you don't like fruits, eat more veggies. However, fruits are natural desserts. If you're skipping dessert because you're a low carber or avoiding the calories, then fruit is a sweet treat everyone will agree is better for you.

These are the basics that I find dieters will generally agree on. What our food plates are comprised of is where the debate gets heated.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CAMILLEMANS 11/10/2011 7:14PM

    Great blog, enjoyed it. I too eat a higher protein breakfast. It holds me longer and I don't get any crash.

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NAYPOOIE 11/9/2011 1:24PM

    I agree that the 'no vegetables on low carb' needs to die a painful death. I see someone make that statement on Spark a couple times a week. How many people have not tried low carb because they think it's all meat and eggs? Too many.

My pet peeve for the day.

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CTTAGENT 11/9/2011 12:08PM

    Nice blog. I have to watch my carb intake because too many carbs during the day and I gain weight, but if I limit myself my weight does better and I feel better. The protein for breakfast is a must for me also, especially since my lunch time varies at work on what shift I have.

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FITGIRL15 11/9/2011 12:06PM

    If you eat smaller meals more often, low carb/high carb doesn't really make much of a difference! ... for me, anyways!
We are all different, I prefer not to debate! We all have our own opinions!

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 11/9/2011 10:52AM

    LOL. I'm into both low carb AND low fat. Does that make me a weird hybrid? Or just conflicted?

Love me some lean protein...
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

I limit fruit and "regular" dairy products because the sugars naturally in them ALSO trigger cravings, etc. Being sensitive to starch & sugar is a biyatch. LOL

Comment edited on: 11/9/2011 10:56:22 AM

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