guilt free foods

Let’s talk about “guilt free foods” for a moment. I felt inspired to discuss this when I opened an email from FindMeGlutenFree about “Guilt Free Brownie Bites” — huh?

Now, I don’t know about you, but food doesn’t make me feel guilty. I love desserts, I’m the first to admit. There is plenty of guilt to go around, especially as a mom, but we all need to draw a line somewhere and for me, this is where.

I spend a lot of time thinking about food and planning our meals. One of my goals for this year is to be more mindful of finding balance in my life, diet included. I’d like to slim down a little and lose some weight (health reasons, not merely vanity) and I’m working hard to figure out what works best for my body. I spend a good bit of time reading and researching various recipes. I’ve talked with my doctor numerous times and have met with a nutritionist. Finally, I feel I’m making progress.

Over the summer, I tried WW. I think that it’s too restrictive overall for my liking, in that I’m only allotted ~1200 calories a day. Sure, that number increases with the “zero point food” but I don’t think I’m eating 400+ calories of chicken breast and plain Greek yogurt. I will say, though, that I definitely saw a trend by tracking. I am really good about eating something for breakfast and sugary breakfast foods are not my friend because they just make me hungry. My big issue is that I often skip lunch or have “snack lunch” which never bodes well for me. This is something I’ve become mindful of needing to change. I will miss lunch because I’m busy and then 3PM rolls around and I basically eat nonstop until after dinner.

Whole30 is part of what has helped — while the foods didn’t necessarily work for me, I learned that fat is not evil and I probably need more of it in my diet. What I do not need, however, is a ton of meat — high protein/fat does not work for my body. I love fruits and vegetables and it’s easy to take in a lot of produce, and focusing on that not only works well for my body but also puts me in a good headspace.

After Whole30 a few years ago, I learned that I’m allergic to yeast and as a result, gluten and refined sugars are never going to work well with my body. I had been gluten free completely for years but then there were things that came up (a few trips coupled with a couple deaths in the family and I went completely off the rails with gluten). I got back to being mostly GF and then our kitchen collapsed and I spent the better part of last fall eating takeout and fast food. Since the kitchen was remodeled, we’ve been back to cooking wholesome meals that are more in agreement with my body. I have a few cookbooks I really like and am really looking forward to The Defined Dish’s cookbook that is set to come out.

Despite my eating preferences, I do not feel guilty if I eat something whether it be purposefully or on accident that doesn’t align with my body’s needs. I usually feel sick, but I tell myself that tomorrow is a new day and I try to pick things up and move forward. I like pizza; I like nachos; I like mac & cheese; I like cake; and as childish and gross as it may be, I like Bagel Bites (not even the organic ones but the chemical ones) — but I don’t need any guilt associated with these foods, and neither does anyone else.

Ultimately, this rambling is really about understanding the importance of disparaging titles attached to foods. There really shouldn’t be — we should all just be concerned with what makes our bodies work and what we can afford and what works for us. It really bothers to me that my kids grow up seeing that they should feel guilty for indulging in a treat or should be shamed for eating something that’s not terribly healthy. At some point, I think it’s vital to change the way we look and talk about food — and also how it’s marketed.

/endrant

(On a side note, I go back and forth and back and forth about getting a fitness watch of some sort — I think they’re neat and I’d love a more accurate read of how many calories I burn doing exercises; however, I know myself and I know that I become obsessed with numerical goals like this. Every time I say I’m considering getting one, I weigh my options and always come back to doing what is best for my mental health — steering clear. I do not need guilt from food, nor do I from fitness…)

(Second side note: I wrote this before my trip to PA and set it to publish at a later date. When I was in PA, my mother talked incessantly about calories – so much so, that three started to ask about how many calories are in an item; then, I returned to MA to my MIL who also obsessively talked about ‘bad’ foods and needing to ‘be good’ with eating. She’s doing WW now and everything is about how many points it has… it was all too much for me. I try to dabble in structure but it just doesn’t seem to work because I don’t want to model the concept of demonizing food for the kids. With 3, I worry because he’s never gaining enough weight for his doctors to be pleased; despite the fact that all he does when he’s not moving is eat, bathe, or sleep…)

 

 

 

infertility, pt3

I started this post back in May and was reminded of this particular experience I shared the story with a friend over dinner and drinks last week.

With it being Mother’s Day weekend, I was thinking back to our IVF days. Those days were particularly difficult for my husband and me (and our marriage). As I was reflecting, I couldn’t help but think of our trigger shot day from our first round of IVF.

I was having all kinds of hot flashes from the hormones, so we’d been sleeping with one of our bedroom windows open (and two fans on). In February. In Boston. It was great to have the windows open for this particular experience.

My husband watched a few videos from the pharmacy’s online portal and then told me what to expect: “The video said to use a dart-like throwing motion.” I was standing in position, staring down at my phone that blared Busta Rhymes and my husband prepped the area.

Then, bam.

I screamed. The dog went ballistic, barking and growling at my husband. My husband was frantically yelling, “Don’t move! The needle came out! It’s stuck!” I stood screaming while the dog tried to protect my honor, all with a giant needle sticking out of me. Because the trigger shot needs to be timed just so, we all had to quickly calm down and try again.

Fortunately, our neighbors are the gracious types. Nobody has ever asked what all of the screaming was about, nor did anyone call the police. My husband kept repeating, “I told you it was going to be like a dart?!” and I kept responding, “I’ve never been hit by a dart before?!” This was an intramuscular shot and one of the hundreds of shots administered by my husband (fortunately, the only one with such a mishap)…

Surprisingly, after this particular IVF cycle, we continued on with more treatments before deciding to call it quits with fertility specialists, shots, and mood swings and shifted our attention and energies to growing our family through other means. ENTER, a visit to our local Jordan’s Furniture store to talk to a representative about DCF fostering/adoption and signing up for MAPP training.

While we had not planned on this particular timing; fostering youth was something we’d discussed because it was always something that I’d wanted to do. My grandparents had five bio children and, because that wasn’t enough, fostered constantly to share their home and chaos with those in need. This was important to me and soon, us.

It wasn’t long before we started our first training class, but that’s a whole other story…

weight watchers & more

In June, I had my annual exam and wanted to address my weight frustrations with my doctor. I’ve been asking my PCP for years why I can’t lose weight and she never offers any advice or blood work; she just shrugs and says it’s not a big deal. Maybe to her, it’s not a big deal, but for me, it feels like I am constantly working hard to be healthy and my weight stays the same. I want to be within the normal amounts on the BMI and not just slightly above, so it is important to me to be able to lose a little weight to get there.

When the new year started, I went back to yoga and was eating healthier. I felt like I wanted to put the healthiest of foods into my system and while I saw a change in how my clothes fit and noticed that my strength was increasing and 5k times were decreasing, I did not see any movement on the scale. How frustrating! I know that non-scale victories are important and I am typically all about them but when you’re trying to drop 15 pounds to hit a goal, they don’t seem as important.

At my annual, my doctor told me to try WW. She’d done it the previous summer when she wanted to lose 10 pounds. Apparently, she’d gone to a conference with a nutritionist who recommended it due to the nature of the glycemic index of the foods. Okay, I figured this seemed good enough and I gave it a go. I ordered the app and started using it.

The app is easy enough and the setup with the zero point foods works well for me. I learned that most of the foods I naturally eat are zero point foods and it seems that where I lose my healthy eating is when I miss lunch and then start to snack at about 2PM and that lasts until dinner where I continue to eat and eat and eat. This is a trend that I noticed pretty quickly (and was aware of it to some extent before this). I used the app from June-August with minimal deliberate exercise (walking the dog and at the beach, mostly) and lost just under 10 pounds. This was good enough for me.

I think that there is value to the program but I can also see how it could feel restrictive or too tightly wound. I am considering canceling this month and using my instincts in September. When we did Whole30, I was able to largely cut out snacking unless I’m actually hungry, which is good and with this, I need to keep in mind that even if I’m not super hungry at lunch, I need to eat. I am thinking that being armed with these pieces of information can help me devise my own plan that mixes pieces of what I want and need.

While I can appreciate the approach, and I see that it definitely works, I think that I need something a bit more fluid. I don’t want to be tracking calories or points or anything else with any regularity. I think that I need to find the balance I once had where I could eat anything but I can’t eat everything; that is the mindset that works best for me.

My goal for September is going to be to eat more salads and raw vegetables with the Greek yogurt ranch for lunches. Dinners are typically loaded with vegetables anyway, but I’d like to get more during the day. I also want to try and keep the frozen foods I like more for weekend treats. We love to do Sunday Funday Football foods — wings; wontons; dips… I want to keep the rest of the week simple: stews, soups, meat & potatoes, etc all with vegetables. I’m looking forward to getting back to the cookbooks in the fall and finding meals that work for us all while lacing an occasional Sunday brunch at home in there (complete with sparking juice and fanc-i-fied meals).

So, while I think WW has been a good summer experiment and I think it’s a good way to start and evaluate what and how I eat, it is likely not something I’ll want to continue long term.

 

 

 

may reflections, june goals

May has been a great month for personal growth and movement! First, I landed a big consulting gig and am working to develop a charter school proposal for a group on the west coast. Second, my exercise was consistent. I started 5K Fridays and I took a big challenge on and decided to try back-to-back yoga classes. I was really intimidated by taking a 90-min class but I’ve survived and I am seeing strength increase in my body; my second class on Tuesdays is a yin class where I drape myself over various props for an hour and leave feeling like I can float away! It’s a great combo and it seems to be balancing my body well. My nutrition is improving as well; I talked to my doctor about my concerns and she gave me some ideas, so I am going to try that out in June and see how things go.

I am really proud of myself for my consistency around cardio this month. I tried to lock myself into a routine of:
– 1.5 miles + weights (Monday)
– 90 min hot yoga & 60 min yin yoga (Tuesday)
– 1 mile + weights (Wednesday)
– off (Thursday)
– 5K (Friday)
– 90 min hot yoga (Saturday)
– 90 min vinyasa & deep relaxation (Sunday)

The Sunday class is a great way to wind down after the busy week. The poses are slower and held longer and then there are props at the end for a restorative portion. I feel like this is a great combination of exercise for me and if I’m feeling burnt out or over-run, it’s easy to drop the 90-min class on Tuesday or Wednesday’s run.

Now to discuss the 5K Fridays — my goal around this is to eventually (in winter) get to a weekday 5K. I have a plan to slowly ramp up to that, figuring that I’m outside walking around a lot more in the summer and the winter added exercise should be able to help me better maintain my health. At the end of 2018, I would rarely attempt a 5K. My mile time was about 11:45 for one; 12:30 pace for two; and 13:30 for three. On Instagram, there’s a man who started to run a 5k a day — this is really what gave me the confidence to start working towards that. I was really thrilled with the work I’ve put in 2019 to improve my physical health.

My 5K splits for May are as follows:
May 3, 29:51
May 11, 29:26 (Saturday instead of Friday; Mother’s Day plans had me alter schedule)
May 17, 29:24
May 24, 29:15
May 31, N/A (I told myself all day that I’d tough it out despite feeling run-down thanks to my allergies but at the end of the day, I decided to forgo the last one. I’ll pick it back up next Friday.)

I know for people who are fast, this may not seem like much, but to me it’s huge. I’ve never broken 30 minutes for a 5K; not even when I was in high school and ran track (and was far more fit). This tells me that I am doing something right and that my consistency is paying off.

When I went to the doctor last week, I talked about how I’m seeing a change. I’m definitely getting faster and stronger (I can lift more and certain poses in yoga that I couldn’t do before are easier for me to flow through); my pants are getting looser; and I’m seeing more definition in my muscles; however, my weight is steadfast and isn’t changing. This is when she introduced I look into a low-glycemic diet. She shared her experience doing this last summer and said it made a difference. She told me that as we get older, exercise isn’t going to be enough to move the scale. So, I’ve done my research and am focusing on foods that are natural and whole. This is something that we do a decent amount of but we also rely on takeout/delivery far more than we should. I think that this will help to stay focused on healthier.

My goals for June are to continue a yoga schedule similar to above — travel will make it difficult to get there week to week but I’m confident I will figure it out and get in as many classes as I can (or fill in with self-practice at home). I like the contrast of the heated vinyasa class, which is quick and challenging with the yin yoga, which leaves me feeling floaty and relaxed. Saturday’s class is similar to Tuesday’s heated one and Sunday strikes a great balance between them all. I think that these classes all support the cardio I’m doing.

My running goals will adjust for June a bit:
Mondays, 2 miles + weights
Wednesdays, 1 mile + weights
Fridays, 5k
If, for some reason, I have to skip weekday workouts, then I at least want to make sure that I get the 5k in.

Beyond fitness and health, I’d like to get back to reading more. I have a handful of books that have gone untouched since the semester picked up. Ideally, I’d go down to the beach and read but the weather hasn’t supported that. I’m hoping to get back into reading this month and to continue on my writing. I’d like to shift some and focus more about parenting adventures — for whatever reason, I never get the details/tone right when trying to write about something that’s happened. Hopefully, I can start to work on that.

Overall, I think that my goals are attainable and I’m looking forward to seeing what June brings!

meals, may 17-24

Because 3 and I planned our first adventure, I’d already figured on burgers for Friday but I’m thinking I’d prefer a lighter fare, so I’m switching things up a bit.

I have been feeling a bit defeated that my weight isn’t going down at the pace I was planning. I’ll have periods where I’ll drop and then plateau and it’s frustrating. My body is definitely changing composition (thanks, yoga) and I’m fitting into clothing differently (and clothing that previously was too tight to wear), which is great but that number is just not moving. I know that I should be grateful for the endurance I’m building (and I am) and that my running pace is decreasing — I am definitely seeing all types of non-scale victories but that doesn’t help me not dwell on the number.

I’ve been reading that people who are healthiest tend to eat the same things over and over. I have been doing this, largely, but I think I’m consuming far more meat products that I’d prefer. I used to not eat meat at all and now it’s center stage in all three meals, basically.

This week, we are going to mix things up a bit: open-faced breakfast sandwiches and refried bean tacos for lunches during the week and then grilled meat and salads for dinner. I am hoping this brings more of the balance I’m looking for and won’t require so much day-to-day cooking on my part. I have been getting A LOT of chicken kebab salads from a local place (it’s a nice .75miles r/t walk) and I like that they serve pita with their salads, so I think I’ll grab some of those for us to have with ours to really round everything out if we want to add a little more substance. I also think I’m going to roast some baby potatoes as an alternate carb option.

My husband and I are going away next weekend for a few days, so it’ll be nice to see how this works and if it’s worth our while when we get back from our long weekend trip.

 

march reflections, april goals

I have had a busy March: 10 turned 11, 12 turned 13, and I tried to stay calm and motivated by attending yoga and logging a few running miles (plus weight training) a week. I am happy to report that I met mostly met my goals for March! Every Sunday, I note in my planner my goals for the week — typically, I try to do 3-5 yoga classes, drink at least 64oz of water a day, log 3 miles a week and 1-2 weight training days, take my toddler on at least one excursion a week, and do my meal planning and grocery shopping.

A few things I learned this month — My goal for April is to split the mileage from 1mile/workout to 1.5 miles/workout and run twice a week with weights both days. IF I am only doing yoga 3x in that week, I’d like to add an additional weight training and 1.5mile workout to the mix. I have goals set on MapMyRun to log 3 miles weekly and to work out for at least 3 hours weekly; sometimes the ‘GOAL’ tab is inaccurate but I pulled up my ‘monthly progress’ and am proud to report that I met both goals each week for the month of March. I also hit a 9:00 minute mile; I was so close to just breaking in at 8:59, so I’m hoping in April, I’ll be able to.

I’ve also learned that 3-4 yoga classes a week are completely doable; 5 classes is where I apparently need to draw the line and the thought of attending that extra class does nothing but cause me stress. As a result, for April, I will have a goal to attend 3-4 classes a week — typically, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday. This seems to work out best for me and gets me a variety of classes — Fridays and Sundays, I take Vinyasa & Deep Relaxation classes. I really like these because I feel it’s the best of both worlds. I build heat and then end in a few restorative poses. Saturdays, I typically take a heated hip hop yoga class; if for some reason, I can’t get there, they offer a V&DR class at night that I’ve enjoyed. Tuesday is a Yin & Restorative class and I always feel so buoyant afterwards; honestly, I feel like I could float away. This class is perhaps the most challenging I take because I find it difficult to not fidget during pose holds. I’m really happy that I tried it, though, because I find it really beneficial.

A funny thing about yoga, too — I am noticing that I’m really a part of a valued community at my studio. I’ve started to form bonds with people I see regularly; I feel comfortable going into the back room for a bolster if I want to warm up with one before a class where they’re not used; I’ll grab an extra block or blankets if I feel like it’ll help my practice. This may not seem like much but in the past, I’d have dwelled on wanting something only to deal with a convergence of my anxiety making me not want to get it and feeling regret for not getting it. This is a pleasant, welcome improvement for me and I’m ever grateful.

Yoga has also helped keep me grounded when other things in my life that are beyond my control are going on. I have kept with my practice (and my running/lifting), which on little sleep feels daunting most days, but I know that this is ultimately helping me maintain calm and order throughout my day for my own family. I am allowing myself to prioritize my needs and that greater enables me to support the needs of my family.

I have been staying largely on top of nutrition, but will try to reign things in a bit better for April. I want to be mindful of how I eat with the marathon coming up — my husband is running Boston and we have guests coming to town, so it’s easy to fall into the takeout/unhealthy eating trap. I also have been lax lately with eating grains, despite noticeable inflammation. We had cupcakes for 11’s birthday, doughnuts for 13’s, plus a date night that included a shrimp quesadilla (SO GOOD) and another in Boston’s North End with homemade pasta. I definitely notice a difference in how my body feels, so I’m going to try to approach April with more deliberate decisions around nutrition.

My last goal for April is getting out of the house more with my toddler. We love to go to playgrounds nearby, plus he loves riding his balance bike. We’ve been blowing bubbles the last few days and it’s just nice to be outside as the air warms. We also really like to go to the zoo; we were taking trips there until the wet winter weather hit. I love that I get to stay home with 3 because we can get out on weekdays with smaller crowds to do these types of activities.

feb reflections & march goals

I re-read my post: jan reflections & feb goals. Basically, the only thing that I was able to keep was practicing yoga at the studio and eating in a way that largely works with my body. I did not get around to starting The Grace of Enough, largely because I’ve had to read three novels and a slew of short stories to plan for the semester. Sadly, reading for pleasure is probably on a hiatus until spring break.

My spring break is in the middle of the month this semester. I am taking 3 to visit my parents during the week and am hoping to read my book, visit a local coffee shop for a lavender tea latte, and indulge in a doughnut from my favorite gem of a shop and/or some chili-cheese fries and a cheeseburger from a local dive (they’re amazing). I also want to head to a local chocolate shop and pick up a few things for Easter for the kids and us, and take 3 to the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. It’s a great place and I’ve not been since 10 and 12 were much younger.

I am planning to continue with yoga and as I mentioned in my last post, I’d like to try some different classes as well. I also would like to start trying to practice 4-5x a week instead of three times with consistency. I’d also like to reintegrate weight training and a day of cardio, even if it’s just taking walks regularly or the elliptical for 10 minutes. I enjoy being active but with the weather and the winter blues, I’m not moving around through the day nearly as much as I should or as I’d like. I think this will pick up naturally once there’s no snow on the ground and the weather is better, but for now, I need to make a more deliberate effort.

As for my food/weight goals — well, I am pleased with the progress from February. I cut down on grains but still ate them; I never felt deprived or hungry; and I seem to be falling into a routine that works better for my body but only has changed slightly from how I’m used to eating. I am noticing inflammation more easily, so that’s something I want to keep my eye on more as March progresses. For the month of February, I’ve lost around 4lbs and a total of 6.75 inches (mostly from my waist and hips). I am pleased with this because it’s a slight transformation but I definitely see change. I don’t have any specific goals around this for March — just keep doing what I’m doing and be mindful of planning meals that best fit the needs of my body.

I look forward to reflecting at the end of March and seeing what progress I’ve made!