Positive Reinforcement

PHEW. OK, I finally have a few moments.

Post-graduate life has been hell of busy. Shortly after starting my job at the cemetery, I began my journalism job and immediately picked up a few extra shifts. The result was working 12 days in a row, and even now I’m still feeling a bit overwhelmed, having not quite gotten into the groove, yet. Anyway, I’m not really sure how I feel about my radio position, still, but that’s a post for another time.

Anyway, here’s today’s weigh-in results:

Last Week’s Weight (which I didn’t post about—oops): 126.3 (Weight Watchers Scale)/125.7 (Tanita)

Today’s Weight: 126.6 (WW)/125.8 (T)

Average Daily Caloric Intake: 1,830

Funny, when I don’t eat all my calories and am very active, I actually gain a bit. Though, according to the Tanita scale, my body fat percentage went from 22.6 to 21.3, though who knows how accurate that measurement is. But, maybe the gain is from over-exercising? In addition to my regular exercise routine, I’ve been doing approximate two hours of weed-whacking a day three times a week. Hm. Not only that, but I’ve been lifting/running and I really don’t feel like I’m getting any more fit.

Regardless, I am bidding adieu to the Weight Watcher’s scale, as I am convinced that it steadily weighs you heavier than you actually are in order to convince you that you still need the help of Weight Watchers. Yes, it is a conspiracy. BUT, when I first bought the WW scale, it weighed me a pound lighter than the Tanita scale! So, how do you explain that it now weighs me 8/10 of a pound heavier AND says I gained 3/10 of a pound this week, while the Tanita says I gained only 1/10 of a pound? Eh? EH?! IT’S A RACKET, I TELL YOU.

Anyway, in the last few stressful weeks, I’ve realized that good habits kind of need to be reinforced when you relocate. It sounds odd, but it’s like I had learned not deal with school-related stress through food, but I need to reinforce that good habit after moving back home and encountering a new kind of stress. For example: After being through into the radio realm, going without a day of rest and not exactly loving my new job, I was ready to eat the shingles off the house. One morning I got up with a raging appetite, and I basically gave myself permission to binge. By 8 a.m., I already had in mind what noms I was going to chomp/make myself sick on. Keep in mind that at this point, I had last binged about nine weeks ago—I thought I was golden, having made it through the (even-more) stressful time that was the final exam/paper period. But, here I was back home, ready to binge. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, as my binge eating originated at home during high school. Still, I am now less than pleased that I gave myself permission to self-treat with food, even though I ultimately ended up not doing so; fortunately, it seems some intuitive eating instincts have developed and kicked in that day, as when I went and got a sundae for lunch, I consumed it and said, “Oof, I’m full/satisfied.” And the rest of the day was healthy.

Moral of the Story: Bad habits never seem to be entirely banished. I feel like I did myself a really big favor, though, by not going back to binge eating as a way to deal with stress, even the one time, because that one time is never just one time.

Blergh, work tomorrow—what do you dudes have planned for your weekend? Sunday, I’m hoping to just sit on my ass and play video games. I hope it’s not sunny that day; whenever I stay inside on the weekend, I always feel guilty if the sun is out.

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Bad Blogger, Bad!

I know! I haven’t updated in forever, FORGIVE ME. But an update will totally be forthcoming, I swear! I just haven’t had a day off in eleven days, and I have to be to work in … five minutes.

OK TALK AMONGST YOURSELVES I’LL BE BACK (Day off tomorrow, finally!)

Recipe Review: Parmesan Risotto from The Best Light Recipe

I’m always wary of cheese-based light recipes; I feel like every time I’ve made a low-fat mac and cheese or other such dish, I’ve just ended up a with bland plate filled with some kind of starch and an abundance of tasteless fat-free dairy with a consistency akin to cement. Not enjoyable. However, when a saw a recipe in Cook’s Illustrated‘s Best Light Recipe cookbook, I was more than willing to give it a shot—I trust Cook’s Illustrated (some of my best cake recipes have come from issues of  this magazine), and I want Christopher Kimball to live in my house and be snarky while making me things that are delicious. But, while Cook’s Illustrated has produced some tasty full-fat recipes, could it also produce equally-delicious lighter versions of its usual fare?

Of course it can! This Parmesan risotto was full of rich, cheesy flavor, and the risotto itself was cooked to perfection. Granted, the cooking process is a little more labor-intensive than most “set-it-and-forget-it” recipes (you have to stir the mix continuously for about half an hour, but I personally found this ridiculously soothing), but the product is well worth the effort. I should probably mention, though, that this was my first brush with risotto (let alone Parmesan risotto), but I can’t imagine actually wanting a fattier/creamier version than this; there was plenty of cheese, and there were no portions of the risotto where I said, “Boy, I really wish this had more flavor/Parmesan.”

Personally, I added about three ounces of baked chicken just for the sake of having some added protein, and the result was a filling, delicious meal for under 400 calories. This would make a delightful side dish, too, though, and I loved that it didn’t use an abundance of ingredients that I would use just for this recipe. Though, Arborrio rice is a tad pricey—a container cost me about $7, but it is also a large enough container that will last quite a while.

Parmesan Risotto

Serves Four

Note: I personally like to use a food scale for exact measurements while cooking, so I’ve included the weight in grams of some ingredients in parentheses alongside the normal measurements.

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 shallot, chopped fine

1 and 1/3 cups (245 grams) Arborrio rice

2/3 cup dry white wine

1 and 1/3 ounces (36 grams) grated Parmesan cheese

2/3 tablespoon (9 grams) unsalted butter

1. Warm the chicken broth in a saucepan over low heat.

2. Meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the shallots, and cook for one minute.

3. Add the rice to the skillet and stir the shallots and rice until the mixture is coated in oil and the rice has taken on a pale, golden color (this will take about two minutes).

4. Pour the wine in the skillet and stir the rice mixture constantly until the wine is fully absorbed.

5. Add 1/2 cup of the warm broth to the rice mixture and stir until the broth is completely absorbed. Continue adding 1/2 cup broth at a time to the rice. Stir continuously and only add additional broth when the 1/2 cup added previously has been entirely absorbed.

6. When your rice is al dente and all the broth has been added (the process will take approximately 15 to 20 minutes), remove the rice mixture from heat and stir in the butter and cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste (Note: I do not believe the recipe requires any additional seasoning and thus use neither salt nor pepper.)

Nutritional information:

Calories: 220

Fat: 6 g.

Sat. Fat: 3 g.

Cholesterol: 10 mg.

Carbohydrates: 27 g.

Protein: 7 g.

Fiber: 1 g.

Sodium: 750 mg.

Weigh-In Day: Weeks of May 7th and 14th

I didn’t really have any expectations/worries going into today’s weigh-in … I basically ate an average of 20 fewer calories per day than I needed for maintenance, but last week was also my first “taper week” (wherein I replaced a 7-mile run with a day of active rest), so I figured it would all even out.

Weight as of April May 7th: 127.9

Today’s Weight: 126.2 (?!)

Loss/Gain: 1.7

Average Daily Caloric Intake: 1,880

Exercise:

05/07: 5-mile walk + 40-minute weightlifting session
05/08: 7-mile run/walk
05/09: 2-mile run + 1-hour weightlifting session
05/10: 7-mile walk
05/11: 7-mile run/walk + 20-minute weightlifting session
05/12: Yoga
05/13: 1-hour aerobics tape

05/14: 7-mile run/walk + 20-minute weightlifting session
05/15: Yoga
05/16: 5-mile walk + 40-minute weightlifting session
05/17: 7-mile run/walk
05/18: Yoga
05/19: 2-mile run + 1-hour weightlifting session
05/20: 45-minute aerobics tape

… Aaaand, I have no idea how that happened. Basically, I can only think of the following explanations:

a) My body has adjusted to more calories, and that amount that I’ve been eating for “maintenance” (1,900 calories per day)  isn’t actually how much I need for maintenance.

b) Sometimes, less exercise when you’ve been overexercising = weight loss. Maybe my body just really badly needed an extra day off?

c) I’ve been more active. But, I highly doubt that two days of cemetery work (which consists of riding a mower and doing about two hours of weed-whacking per day) and moving out of my dorm makes for over a pound and a half of loss, especially since I’ve been walking less since getting home; When I was up at school, I walked everywhere, but now I can just hop in my car whenever I need to go to the store, etc.

d) IT’S A TRAP! … I mean, fluke.

Regardless, I’m not going to look a gift loss in the numbers, and I’m certainly not going to complain about basically being able to gain three pounds before I have to do any kind of “diet” related thang. But, if my weight drops any lower, I’m going to have to go on a … weight gain diet.

/angelic chorus

Anyway, I am hell of nervous about starting my new job tomorrow. But, I’m not so much nervous about the work, itself, as I am about the schedule/being able to chomp. “What if they don’t let me go right at 7 p.m.? What if I get too hungry? WHAT IF I CAN’T SNACK?” … How did I get so schedule-oriented at 21 years old? Jeeze! Also, self, it’s not like you’re going to starve to death if you have to wait an extra hour for dinner. I worry about the most ridiculous things.

What makes you anxious?

A Fitness Favor

Seeing as how I’m not at university anymore, I no longer have ready access to an indoor track/exercise equipment. And, the beloved treadmill that has resided in my living room at home for several years recently shit the bed. Alas. So, I went in search of a gym in my hometown, because I knew the first day it rained and I wouldn’t be able to complete a scheduled run (yes, I’m a wuss who won’t run in the rain), I would flip out.

I actually prefer going to the gym to run over using a treadmill in my home (whenever I would do the latter, it would take me hours sometimes to do a run, just because I would stop for a water break every 15 minutes. It would get pretty ridiculous), so I don’t have a problem with shelling out for external treadmill access. But, I would not have discovered one pet peeve of mine had I never stepped foot in a gym:

I can’t stand it when there’s a whole row of treadmills/exercise equipment open and someone chooses the machine right next to me—it’s like when there’s a parking lot full of empty spaces and the next person to pull in chooses the space next to your car. I just don’t get it. Maybe I’m the only one bothered by this. Maybe everyone else who goes to the gym partially goes to experience having a sweaty body in close proximity to their’s because they’re not having sex and running next to someone on a treadmill is as close to doin’ it as they’re going to get. I, however, do not want someone right next to me, and the minute someone climbs onto the machine next to mine I immediately start leaning away. I am getting an unbalanced workout because of you needy bastards! Get away from me!

Regardless, this wouldn’t bother me quite so much if all those who stationed themselves next to me didn’t all seem to belong to those populations that either don’t believe in deodorant or bathes in perfume. So, here is my request:

DEAR GYM-GOING DUDES/LADIES:

If you are going to be one of those people who tries to experience sexy time vicariously through running next to me, please do not use excessive amounts of body spray/perfume before coming to the gym. It makes me choke and gives me a headache, and I can barely run when I’m feeling well. Likewise, to those folk who don’t believe in deodorant, please keep in mind that deodorant isn’t for you—it is for me. Specifically, it is to protect me from your stank, so please use it.

Love,

Liz

In other news, I started one of my two jobs. Yay! You see, since my radio job is only part time, I need to do somethin’ else to bring in the money, honey. Fortunately, I was able to secure the cemetery job that I’ve worked for the past three summers. Yes, I work at a cemetery, and I actually really enjoy it. Here is a picture of a portion of the cemetery!

Awesome, graves! I know some people may find the idea of working in a cemetery morbid, but I enjoy being outside (the job involves mowing/weed-whacking the 40-acre area three days a week) and it’s nice to be active. Occasionally, it does get a little depressing (a man’s young wife passed away last summer, and he visited the grave site every day, and it was just about the saddest thing ever), but otherwise I don’t mind being surrounded by death. Mostly, I just find checking out grave inscriptions interesting/historical, especially since some of the graves date back to the 1800s. Neat.

Do you have any pet peeves, gym-oriented or otherwise? Do cemeteries/death bother you? These questions are really unrelated to each other, dang.

Restaurant Reluctance

Alright, now that I have all my grades in my possession, I can officially say that I have graduated. Thanks, professors, for not secretly hating me and failing me as a way by which to express your hidden distaste for my person.*

Of course, graduating means celebrating, and in light of the fact that my mum wanted to take me out to lunch to do so, I’ve come to the realization that I’ve developed a major aversion to restaurants. The reason for this is twofold:

1) The first reason—which is actually much more minor than the second—is my “fear of the unknown,” I reckon. It’s like I’d rather sit down with a pint of ice cream than a healthy grilled chicken entree at a restaurant because at least I know how many calories the ice cream has, whereas CALORIES COULD BE LURKING ANYWHERE IN THAT CHICKEN OMG I BET IT IS SECRETLY STUFFED WITH BUTTER. But, like I said, this is a minor concern, and I also am totally aware that the calories in everything can be reasonably estimated, and what do I care if I’m off by a few hundred calories? And, I (hopefully) won’t be counting calories forever, anyway. Bottom line: If someone said to me, “ELIZABETH WE ARE GOING TO A RESTAURANT RIGHT NOW AND YOU WILL LIKE IT,” I wouldn’t totally lose my shit.

2) The major reason I no longer like restaurants is that the better care I take of myself, the less I want to feel gross. And, restaurant food makes me feel gross 90% of the time. When I think of food, now, I think of it like fuel/what kind of affect it’ll have on my physical capabilities, and the last thing I want to dump in my tummy the day before a 7-mile stint is a bunch of fat and grease that’s going to make me slog along like someone who has had a ball of lead take up residence in their intestinal tract (this is along the same reasoning as to why I no longer have the urge to binge, either). Also, I find that restaurant food rarely lives up to my expectations, and I would rather have something that I am able to prepare myself exactly how I want it. ALSO, restaurant food is expensive! Man, you go out for a meal, and you could have bought a t-shirt for the amount of money you dropped on an overcooked steak.**

But, I reckon that going to restaurants is kind of like dating; you tell everyone you’re not into it at the moment, and then a really great Thai place/an attractive firefighter shows up in your town and you’re the first one wantin’ the Pad Thai, if you know what I mean. But, no, seriously though, I’d probably want to go out to eat if there was actually somewhere appealing to dine in my general vicinity, but most of the eateries around here aren’t exactly mad delicious.

Regardless of my reasons, though, I felt kind of abnormal saying I’d rather stay home and have a home cooked meal than go out to eat. But, my eating habits have been the focus of other people over the years (My ex’s friends, for example, always used to make fun of me for choosing skim milk at breakfast. Why do people feel the need to draw everyone’s attention to things like your food choices? Peh), so I guess it has just made me paranoid that other people may perceive my choices as being motivated by restrictive tendencies and consequently think of me differently.

A side note: I totally made/reviewed that Parmesan risotto, dudes, but I forgot to take a picture for the entry! I’m going to make it again this week, though, so I’ll post the review once you can … see what the food looks like, too, I guess?

Do you prefer home cooked food or restaurant cuisine? Have your food choices ever challenged, discussed or made fun of by others?

* By the way, professors, if you had done this I would have just re-enrolled in your class next semester and been horribly disruptive every class. Just so you know.

** I measure all purchases in terms of how many articles of clothing I could have bought for the same amount of money. So, if someone buys something ridiculous/hell of expensive, I will have to exclaim that they could have purchased FIVE PAIRS OF PANTS or something WHAT WERE THEY THINKING.

Hello, Home/New Things Thursday: Mindful Eating

Yay, I made it home! And, was greeted upon arrival with a jury summons. Thanks for the “Welcome Back!” gift, government!

Since I’m going to be working at a broadcasting company right next to my hometown, my mom was kind enough to let me move back home for a bit and live rent free while I get on my feet/save some money. My mom and I get along really well, and we’ve been through a lot together—my dad left when I was a few months old, so it’s always been just her and me. Anyway, it’s great to be home. I am going to celebrate having access to a kitchen again by making Parmesan risotto from Cook’s Illustrated’s “The Best Light Recipe” cookbook. If I’m not too lazy, afterwards, this may mean you’ll get your first recipe review, soon. LUCKY YOU.

Also, I did not binge yesterday (hooray!), though I did go a little overboard. Ultimately, I only ended up using 120 more calories than was officially allotted to me*, but I definitely ate more sweets than I should have; I started with some Tim Tams and ice cream, which was fine, but then at the grocery store I impulsively snagged a bakery cookie and a candy bar. If I hadn’t chomped those, I’d have 660 extra calories today rather than negative 120!** Blergh! But, lesson learned; don’t eat treats on the run and try to keep it to one indulgence a day. I’m going to try and compensate for the extra calories I ate yesterday by eating that much less today, but—in the spirit of eating intuitively—I’m not going to not eat if I get hungry. It’s only 120 calories, after all, and that’s part of the glory of maintenance: Some days you eat a little more, some days you eat a little less. Usually, it all balances out.

Anyway, today marks the return of New Things Thursday! Hooray! Today’s new thing (Mindful Eating) is actually brought to you by Maria over at Chasing the Now (which you should start reading if you don’t already do so; it’s a great “healthy living” blog and also a really interesting look at life in Japan, where Maria lives with her husband. Personally, I’d love to visit Japan … so I can visit the Nintendo store. What?), who recently instituted the “Make Time to Dine” challenge.

When she did so, I realized I hardly ever just eat. When I eat, I’m also usually reading, watching TV or doing something else ridiculous that could probably wait until later, all of which are bad things to do while eating, especially since Maria says that studies have shown that more calories are taken in when we’re distracted while chomping. THAT’S BAD. Anyway, I pledged to take part once I got home, since when she introduced the challenge I needed every waking (and some sleeping) moment to write essays.

So, when I sat down for breakfast today, I said, “It is mindful eating time!”, especially since I’m trying intuitive eating, and part of that is paying attention to your hunger level while eating. But, how can you notice if you’re full if you’re to too busy reading a book while throwing back your breakfast?

Mindful eating was … weird. Honestly, the whole time I was eating, I wanted to reach for a book, or something. I didn’t realize how much of a habit multitasking while eating had become. But, while breakfast this morning meant I spent my meal taking a really hard look at my kitchen rather than a piece of reading material, it also meant that I savored my meal, more (it took me twenty minutes to eat a bowl of cereal, since I purposefully put my utensil down between bites). NEAT. Give it a try, dudes; you my find that when you actually pay attention to your plate, you don’t want everything that is on it.

*I’m trying to eat intuitively, but I’m still tallying calories at the end of the day just to see where doing so puts me with my intake.

** I’m still doing the “bonus calories” system at the moment, too, but any caloric allowances are really more of a guideline now that I’m doing maintenance rather than a hard and fast rule, especially since I don’t know how much I’ve eaten until I’ve added all my calorie values up at the end of the day.

Goodbye, Brandeis

College—it is over.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am more than happy to be hoofin’ it out of here. But, it’s still odd to say goodbye to a place where I spent the better part of four years of my life. I’m looking forward to going home, though, and starting a career; I feel like I’ve been spinning my wheels for a while here, now, and going into broadcast has been my entire reason for going to school. Now, I finally get to be a reporter and an anchor.

As an aside, though, I think the university system could stand to be revamped: For someone like myself who wanted to be a journalist, was it really necessary to take courses like astronomy, which I only enrolled in fulfill a university requirement? And, when am I ever going to use the skills I learned in English classes in which we discussed Proust? They were great classes, sure, but should I have to take classes that aren’t relevant to my career just because you have to take courses for four years to graduate? Peh.

Anyway, I’m a bit nervous about today, just because I’m a celebratory eater. If something rad happens,* I want to eat to celebrate, and I’m hoping that since I haven’t binged in six weeks I can keep up my good habits today. And, really, why be worried? Everything that I eat is my decision; no one is going to force me to binge, so having decided not to binge, now, I know that everything is going to be fine. Problem solved!

Wish me safe travels, dudes! I’ll try to start posting more often soon, but at the moment, I need to just get home!

* I’m also a stress eater. And a sad eater. … Alright, I guess any emotion is really an excuse for me to chomp, whatever.

I Can Has Food?

Lately, I’ve been trying really hard to do the “only-eating-when-I’m-hungry” thing in an effort to move from calorie counting to intuitive eating. And, it’s a nice thing to get back to; I loved just listening to my body when I had my first whack at maintenance, and I can totally relate to a point Quix recently made in a blog post regarding how she’s “tasted freedom” and having difficulty going back to calorie counting and not just eating the food she wants/feels is necessary to nourish her body. When I gained back the weight after my last maintenance stint, it felt totally unnatural to be eating according to my “diet style.” And, my body wasn’t too keen on the practice either and essentially turned into a screaming toddler for the first few weeks of the next dieting attempt.

Body: “HAI AN EGG SAMMICH IS WHAT WOULD FEEL GOOD IN MY TUM LET’S EAT IT.”

Me: “No, sorry, we have 280 calories scheduled for breakfast and that means cereal.”

Body: ” … But I want an egg sammich. RIGHT NOW.”

Me: “Sorry, dude.”

Body: “SAMMMMICCCCCCCCCCCCH.”

And, so on.

Anyway, while I know all the intuitive eating guides say “ZOMG ONLY EAT WHEN YOU HAVE A HUNGRY,” I’ve been having difficulty shaking a few non-hunger-oriented eating habits. But, I have to wonder; is it OK to eat when you’re not hungry, sometimes?

At this point, I’ve gotten to be pretty good about lunch and my snacks (I eat breakfast right after exercising regardless of whether I’m hungry, because I know I need the fuel), in that I wait until I’m hungry to eat lunch and I don’t snack even if I feel I “can” have one but I’m not hungry (yesterday, for instance, I waited until 1:30 p.m. for lunch and when I became hungry at 5 p.m. I just had an apple to tide me over until dinner). But, I still eat dinner at a scheduled time regardless of whether I have a hunger, which according to intuitive eating’s principles is TEH BAD. But, 6 p.m. is just dinner time for me, and I don’t like to eat a heavy meal too close to bed. Likewise, I don’t like to eat dinner before 6 p.m., even if I am hungry, because I don’t like to eat that early (Does anyone else feel that way about meal times? I postpone lunch sometimes, too, because I just don’t like to eat a lunch before noon). That, and I have always an evening snack at 8:30 p.m., again, regardless of whether I’m hungry, because I don’t want to wake up mad famished.

Am I doin’ it wrong? Do I always need to be hungry when I decide to eat, or are these practices OK? It’s not like if I’m not super hungry I chow down on a gabillion calorie snack at the end of the day; most of the time, I nom something like yogurt. And, even when I am hungry but wait to eat until a scheduled meal time, I don’t usually wait for more than a half an hour. Also, should always eat a certain amount of calories a day (e.g., my BMR) so I don’t get my fainting on?

I should probably invest in some kind of nutrition book, but I’m cheap. Regardless, I’m trying to get away from eating a certain food because I have a certain amount of calories, but this is the diet habit I’ve had the most trouble kicking.

In other news, don’t you hate it when you have a day to sleep in, and your body decides it just doesn’t want to do so that morning? I definitely didn’t have to get up until 7 a.m. today, but at around 5:45 a.m. my mind just went “I’MUPUPUPLET’SWORKONESSAYS!” and then when I actually tried to work on my essays this early in the morning my mind was all, “Oh no my bad I’m not actually conscious enough to do this right now lol.”

For those of you who have/are making the transition to intuitive eating, do you have any tips? Did you have difficulty kicking certain “diet habits”?

Copyrights and Cooking

You guys, I only have four days left at University! Unless, of course, my school’s professors are horribly sadistic and enjoy springing failing grades on graduating seniors. Eep.

Anyway, professors/God willing, I’ll be home in a few days, and home means having a kitchen. Hooray! And, with access to said kitchen, I’m hoping to start a new blog feature; that is, recipe reviews.

However, I’m a little uncertain as to whether it’s OK to post recipes from books. Granted, I could probably find out with a little digging, but I am horrendously lazy and would rather ask you dudes, instead. So … does anyone know the policies regarding putting up a recipe from a cookbook on your blog site? Also, are recipe reviews a thing you dudes would enjoy? Personally, I really love buying cookbooks, but half the time I feel like the recipes in most books end up either a) using too many ingredients or b) just being not that good, so personally I would find this to be a helpful thing, but would you?

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