Monthly Archives: July 2010

Celebrations! (and a little cheat treat)

Ok. This was the week I cheated. Twice, now. Not “omg-forget-I-ever-started-this-stupid-thing!” cheats or even “well-that-undid-everything-I-worked-for-the-last-3-weeks” cheat. Just little “oops” cheats.

I already mentioned the popcorn incident from earlier this week. The second one was far less my fault! Not that I’m trying to shift blame or pass off responsibility, but the whole situation was somewhat out of my hands and I think, given the circumstances, I did quite well.

Yesterday was my boss’ birthday. We’re a pretty close group at work, especially now that we’re in our slow season and there’s only 5 of us here full-time. So the boss decided for his birthday we were all going to go out for high tea at the Langham Hotel – Auckland’s only 5-star hotel.

When I made the reservation, I let them know that there were two vegetarians and one person with gluten allergies (me). They said that was fine and they were looking forward to seeing us at 1 pm.

Since “tea” is typically sandwiches, scones and pastries, I was really, really hoping the gluten-free option would be something like a small selection of sushi and seafood with some fruits and veggies – something I know they have featured on their standard menu. Turns out it’s basically the same as the standard tea, but on dry, kind of crumbly gluten-free bread. Disappointing! But at $34 a person, I could hardly peck away at the few pieces of fruit and leave the rest – especially since I had my own little 3-tiered tray like in the photo. (Actually, I sat on that exact couch, too.)

So I ended up having a selection of little sandwiches and gluten-free scones – with some light whipped unsweetened cream and jam. And then there was the entire plate of desserts on top. One month ago, I would’ve eaten the entire thing, then possibly looked at the other platters to see if there was any other dessert that was gluten-free I could steal. Yesterday, I looked at the plate and wondered what I could possibly do to make it look like I ate most of it without actually eating most of it. I had the fruit skewer (yum!) and passed the chocolate-covered peanut cluster to the girl beside me. And then I ate the entire palm-sized meringue with jam and cream in the middle the jam and cream scooped out onto my plate as they were too sweet.

What’s odd is that I don’t feel bad about it. I’ve gone almost 4 weeks without any sugary desserts. Shouldn’t I be beating myself up over caving? Shouldn’t I feel guilty about my weak will power and lack of control? Shouldn’t I be punishing myself today with a diet of carrots and celery to make up for it?

Nope.

I went into tea knowing I would probably be given a whole heap of foods I wouldn’t have ordered for myself. I also knew I wasn’t paying and that it was a special treat for us all to be there. I didn’t over-indulge, but I enjoy each and every single bite. And I don’t feel one bit guilty. In fact, I took it all as a bit of a celebration because…

I got a huge promotion at work!

They actually announced it just after we had all got settled in for our tea. Within a few weeks, I’m going from “Office Manager” (aka: admin lackey) to “Production Manager” (aka: in charge of running an entire show’s production, start to finish). Which means I’m back into actual TV production again, not just working for a TV company, I get a decent raise and I can actually work my way up. PM can eventually lead to producer, which can eventually lead to executive producer… You see where I’m going.

So, yes, I “cheated” yesterday. A little dessert at tea and a green curry chicken takeaway for dinner as a treat from Andrew to congratulate me (the healthier choice than pad thai, I guessed!). Thing is, I didn’t feel any negative effects at all. I’m not tired, rundown or bloated. Maybe it’s masked by the remaining glow of the promotion, but I think it’s just that it wasn’t a big enough diet detour to really affect anything. I’m still feeling great, I’m still feeling motivated and I’m still on-track.

I think the key in all this is being realistic. Life is never perfect and life is never going to follow your plans. Accepting that and not getting too caught up in the minor little details – or beating yourself up over things you can’t control – can go a long way. And when you have to cheat, cheat sensibly! Let yourself have a small dessert or two. Just don’t polish off the entire desert platter.

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The new plan

Last night, a whole bunch of things came together for me. It was one of those “AHA!” moments.

I’ve been putting off joining a gym because they’re kind of crazy expensive here. I used to go to a gym in Toronto that was $20/month. It wasn’t super flash, but it was women-only and had a few classes like yoga and pilates included in the monthly fees. If I could find anything like that here, I would’ve joined ages ago. Or, at least, considered it!

The last few weeks, I’ve been researching local gyms and weighing my options. Most were quoting me $25-30 per week, plus a couple hundred as a “joining fee” and a minimum 12 month contract. The cheapest I found was $16/week, no joining fee, but that included a 36 month contract. Thanks, but no.

Yesterday, I found a gym that is $11/week if you do direct deposit weekly or $10/week if you pay for 3 months as a lump sum upfront. Plus they have at least 2-3 classes I could see taking every week, included in that price. It’s right downtown, so there probably isn’t much parking, but it’s easy to bus to, from both home and work. I’m going to go by this weekend to check it out.

I brought it up with Andrew – who has a chest infection, so gyms are the last thing he wants to think about, I’m sure – because I was so excited about my cheap gym discovery. He said we should go to somewhere closer, in the suburb, where there’s parking. Of course, he couldn’t find any with similar fees. Money is always a consideration with him – especially since we’re saving for a house. And that’s when it all clicked for me. “This gym is $10/week, which is $130 lump sum for 3 months” I said. “I can sell my Wii with all its games and that will cover almost a year’s membership!”

It clicked.

I bought my Wii because of Wii Fit. I loved it and used it about an hour every day when I first got it. When I wasn’t working and had all day to do whatever. When our living room was laid out differently and there was space for it. I haven’t used it in ages. It’s hooked up to a tiny TV in the guest room and usually just sits there. The poor thing is neglected and collecting dust.

Wii is super fun – especially when we have friends over – but it really isn’t being used enough to keep around. Especially when selling it could pay for a year’s membership at the gym! And so I listed it online for sale.

I’m excited. I’ll miss my Wii. I’ll miss the yoga poses, but I know an actual hourlong yoga class at the gym will be SO much better. I’ll miss the hula hoop aerobics game, but I know doing cardio at the gym will be much more effective. I’ll miss the sports resort games with friends, but I’m sure we’ll be able to find something else to do with our time. (Or if I really go through¬†withdrawal, I’ll pop over to my friends’ who will have their Wii and Sports Resort).

So that’s the plan. Sell my Wii Fit – originally purchased to help me get in shape – and use the proceeds to enroll in a gym – more likely to actually get me in shape. And I’m so excited!

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*thud*

Since I’ve started this whole thing – a whopping 3.5 weeks ago – I’ve been feeling progressively better and seeing little improvements here and there. I don’t feel bloated or weighed down anymore. I’m not full of unbridled energy or anything, but I feel GOOD.

Or, um, felt.

Yesterday was the first time in almost a month I didn’t feel good. I know exactly why, too. Food. Andrew wasn’t feeling well so I didn’t want to make a big meal for dinner if his appetite wasn’t that big. So I toasted up 2 pieces of toast each and topped them with tuna mixed with a little homemade mayo. On top of that I layered some homemade guacamole (avocado, red onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice and salt & pepper). These open face sandwiches are one of my absolute favourites recently. They are SO good and a much better option than the loads of bubbly cheese on the tuna melts we used to have.

As delicious as healthy as they are, though, 2 of them does not a meal make. Especially not when the 2 are on tiny little gluten-free bread slices.

Mistake #1: Pretending that would be enough food for the night.

About 30 minutes later I’m still hungry, so I make myself a little bowl of about 1/2 cup plain yogurt with about 1/2 cup toasted muesli mixed in. Another 30 minutes or so later and I’m still hungry, so I toast 2 more slices of bread and top them with some sliced tomatoes, red onion, a little mayo and salt & pepper.

Now, that should have been enough. Or I should have cut up some veggies if I really wanted some more to eat. Instead, Andrew mentions he’s still a little hungry and I say I’ll make us popcorn. While the popcorn’s popping away, I also make Andrew a mug of lemon juice, honey, garlic and hot water – to help soothe his throat. I’m so focused on that, the popcorn burns. Not horribly, but enough that Andrew won’t eat much of it. …so I end up eating about 3/4 of a bag of popcorn.

Mistake #2: Eating and eating just because something is in front of me.

By the time I went to bed, my stomach was no impressed. I didn’t feel awful and I know I’ve felt FAR worse after eating fried foods, too much sugar, too much Thanksgiving turkey with gravy and stuffing… but I did not feel good. Ditto this morning. I felt a little bloated and just generally a little blah.

It’s ok, though. Last night reminded me how much better I feel when I’m eating healthy, balanced meals and only eating until I’m satisfied, not stuffed. The slightly burnt popcorn has slightly soured me on popcorn in general, so I’ll be avoiding that for a little while. I’ll also be avoiding any thoughtless in-front-of-the-TV eating as well as deciding I “must” finish off any food in front of me, regardless of whether or not I’m hungry. I don’t feel bad or guilty or like I’ve let myself down. I just feel like I reinforced just how much healthy eating benefits me.

And, to be honest, I’m a little surprised it took this long for me to slip up enough to really feel the effects! If I can keep it down to about once a month or less in the future, I think I”ll be doing pretty well…

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I call bullsh*t

Recently, I’ve seen a few articles debunking fitness myths and a few have said:
“Myth: Muscle weighs more than fat. Fact: One pound of muscles weighs the exact same amount as one pound of fat – it’s just more compact.”

Are you serious!?!

With that logic, you can say that bricks don’t weigh more than feathers, lead doesn’t weigh more than cotton candy and granite doesn’t weigh more than bubble wrap. ¬†Obviously one pound of ANYTHING will weigh the exact same amount as a pound of anything else. A pound is a pound is a pound.

Telling people that muscle weighs more than fat isn’t perpetuating a myth! If two people have the exact same measurements, but one has 45% body fat and the other has 5% body fat, the person with less fat and more muscle will weigh a significant amount more. Why? Because muscles is denser and weighs more per cubic foot than fat does.

Clearly muscle takes up far less space by weight!

In the photo above, you can see a replica of 5 lbs fat and 5 lbs muscle. Yes, both those pieces weigh the same, but look at the size difference! Now imagine the difference in weight if you were to take one square inch of each and weigh it.

Sure, you can’t just hop on the scale and declare you’ve only gained weight because you’re adding muscle and it weighs more than fat. BUT, if your measurements are getting smaller and you’re losing inches but not losing as much weight as you expected, you can probably chalk that up to the additional muscle on your frame.

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Doctor’s Orders

Way back in October, I went to see a doctor who specialized in hormones. I originally went because I found his information on a website about low dose naltrexone – something I was looking into as it’s being trialed as a treatment for gluten-intolerance. I ended up spending a better part of our hourlong consultation talking about how unhappy I was with my thin/thinning hair. (Honestly, I know 80 year olds who have naturally thicker, nicer hair than me – and I’m 26!!!) I’ll write more on that topic at a later date…

Anyway, I’m really glad I ended up at this specific doctor. He was incredibly knowledgeable and taught me a lot about diet and how it can affect every part of your body – especially hair. He guessed straight off that I have a sweet tooth, that I probably have too much dairy and red meat, and that I really don’t eat enough cruciferous vegetables. All because my hormones were out of whack and all the things I just listed contribute to that. He changed my birth control pill and suggested a bunch of ways I could change my diet to help rebalance my hormones. I gave it a good, honest try for a week or two, but I think I went too hardcore and gave up shortly after. I just don’t think I was really ready for a change back then…

I just recently came across the blood work results from that visit as well as the doctor’s notes on what they mean and what I should be doing about them. What really shocked me at the time, and still does looking back on it again now, is my lipids and diabetic profile. My cholesterol was 4.5mmol/L (should be <5), HDL 1.74 mmol/L (should be >1) and LDL 2.5mmol/L (should be <3). Those are all in the “normal” range, but pushing it. My fasting glucose was 5.0 mmol/L (should be 3.5-5.4). Again, getting pretty close to the edge of that “normal” range. Not cool for a seemingly healthy mid-20 year old!

Reading the notes that follow, a lot of his suggestions are things I’ve started to do naturally as part of this whole lifestyle transformation. Avoid: cream, butter, ice creams, takeaways, pies and pastries, sausages and luncheon meats, cakes and puddings, chocolate, salted nuts, alcohol. Eat more: high fibre foods, veggies with skin on, muesli, fresh fruit? Done! Get more exercise? I’m getting better at that.

There is also a note from him about PCOS and how diet can help treat it. While he doesn’t necessarily think I have PCOS, he thinks following the eating tips of someone who does have it would be beneficial to me. That includes: relatively low-carb with adequate protein for energy, reduced saturated fats, lots of water, minimal caffeine/alcohol/sugar and adequate essential fatty acids. It’s also suggested I take supplements that include zinc, magnesium and B vitamins – all in the thyroid supplement I started taking last week. I was also low on my vitamin D and he suggested I added it as a supplement, as well. Check!

I’m interested in knowing what my test results would look like now. While I slightly altered my diet after getting these results almost a year ago, I have only really been actively following his advice for the last 3 weeks. I might see if I can have the same tests done again in October – a year since my first test and about 3 months into this new lifestyle. It would be interesting to see how and what has changed. Regardless, it’s reassuring to know the changes I’ve made are all ones that are going to positively impact the specific areas my doctor told me – all those months ago – that I need to focus on.

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Flat-tummy Friday

My body aches. Not painful omg-I-can’t-move aches, but hey-I-haven’t-used-THOSE-muscles-in-a-while ache. Since I haven’t been to a gym or done any significant workouts, I can only credit it to luggin a bunch of boxes around the office yesterday and coughing like a mad woman due to this cold. I remember when I had whooping cough a couple years ago – worst illness of my life! – I would joke that at least my abs were getting a hell of a workout.

As I was getting ready for work this morning, I couldn’t stop looking at and poking my stomach. No, I haven’t really worked on getting it tight and toned, per se, but I’m definitely seeing it start to shrink a little. Nothing drastic, but I definitely notice. When I get downstairs, I blurt out “Look how flat my stomach’s getting!!” Andrew looks at me – and my stomach – and says “It looks amazing. Same as always”. Some people might be annoyed that their boyfriend hadn’t already noticed and praised the shrinking waistline, but I actually think it’s sweet. He really doesn’t nitpick my body the way I do and honestly thinks I look great. “It’s because I haven’t had chocolate in 3 weeks!”, with that slight tone of self-praise and a smile, and carried on getting ready for work.

I’ve decided not to measure or weigh myself. Not yet, at least. Possibly at the 4-week mark? Not so much to see how much I’ve lost and how much I’ve got left to work off, but more out of interest and curiosity to see what a small change in diet and exercise can do over the course of a month.
And some Friday randomness:

  • Apparently an almond on top of a dried apricot tastes like a cookie, satisfies sugar cravings and has 24 calories. I’m going to test out this theory next time I get a sugar craving. Bonus – no gluten!

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Family

Family is something you can never change. You can choose to be close with them or choose to cut them from your life completely. Or choose something in between. The fact remains that they are, and always will be, a part of you. Not only did they influence how you were raised but you share genetics, which has an impact on just about every aspect of you – including health.

The summer of 1988: I was four and a half (bottom left)

Family has always been important to me. We’ve been through some rough times, especially recently, but I think in the end it’s brought us even closer together. My parents (top right in the above photo) divorced a few years ago. It was hard but my brother, sister and I all knew they weren’t good for each other. And I’ve gotten closer with both my parents since the divorce. It’s still hard at times but I know I wouldn’t want them back together. At least, not without major changes from both of them first!

This past year specifically, though, has been really hard. We lost my uncle Joe (center of the photo with the sunglasses), the youngest of that family, in March 2009. He had a heart condition his whole life, but was healthy and active. He woke up one morning to go for a walk and his heart just stopped. Naturally, it devastated my grandparents and shook me up a lot, reminding me how short life can be just 3 days before I moved to New Zealand. My grandma passed at the end of July and then my grandpa passed the end of April. I know there isn’t much I could have done, but I still feel guilty somehow for being so far away from them. They knew I loved them and I knew they were both ready to move on, though, which helped a little. I also know they were extremely proud of me and liked to think I got at least a bit of my adventurous spirit from them. A thought I’m happy to have myself, too.

1993-ish? I was clearly still in gymnastics. Look at my little stick legs!

I’ve inherited a lot – good and otherwise – from my family. My gluten-intolerance comes from my dad’s side of the family – both photos above – as does the history of heart disease and diabetes. Probably the thin(ning) hair, too. My mom’s side has bestowed me with a history of addictions, cancer, depression and ovarian cysts.

Jackpot!

With all that said, though, I would never choose another family. I’ll take the risk of diabetes and stroke to have the love, support and history my family’s given me. Besides, just about every potential health risk I have in my genetics is preventable by living a healthy, active life. To be honest, I think I’ve actually gotten off pretty easy with my genetics.

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