A Semi-dry September

I just realized that my sister’s wedding is in two weeks and I’m still fat. (Okay, a little chubby.) I had meant to be thinner by now. Apparently I like food a little too much…and beer. It’s probably the beer.

Earlier this calendar year I talked about the weight gain that has accompanied me starting dental school. I spoke of the need to scratch out time during the (extremely) busy week to run regularly as a means of, hopefully, losing a few pounds but also to keep myself healthy. Fight the man impending hypertension!

I’ve been fairly successful at implementing a plan to run at least three times a week. There’s been a crazy week here and there that I haven’t, but overall I’m back to regular running. I’ve even been managing to drag myself out of bed a little earlier on weekdays

to get in three miles instead of the two I had been. On top of all that I’ve been eating a salad for lunch pretty much every day that I’m at school.

But still that freaking scale has refused to budge.

Over the August break (18 whole days od freedom between the summer and fall terms) I saw a slight downward flux but then school started and it was like those four pounds were never gone. So much for positive momentum.

Obviously I need to do something different. What’s that they say about insanity and doing the same thing over and over? Yup, I’m feeling that. Which is why I’ve come up with the idea of having a semi-dry September. It’s like the “dry month” many people take (or talk about at least) in January when they’re all full of hope and enthusiasm for healthy living except kinder and more gentle.

Plus I know myself and, let’s face it, an entire dry month is out of reach for me right now. My day to day is too mentally demanding to impose the level of self control required… and before you start lecturing me about unhealthy attachments to alcohol and all that check how many pops…err, sodas you’re drinking a week. I don’t drink all that much but I do enjoy a good quality beer in the evening. And unfortunately the beers I enjoy tend to be quite high in calories.

That’s right, KBS, I’m looking at you!

So, this September I’ve been going semi-dry and (mostly) limiting my intake of super yummy but sadistically high calorie beers to the weekend. Hopefully the reduction in calories this brings will tip the scales in my favor.

Thus far I’ve had mixed results but it’s a start, maybe a start that will lead to better habits. And, at the end of the day, we are our habits.

Self-sabotage, my old friend.

To be human is to practice the art of self-sabotage to some degree or another; whether we acknowledge it or not, everyone does it. Some of us, like myself, are well practiced at self-sabotage. Maybe even a master. I mean, if you’re going to do it, do it right! Go big or go home! (I’m a fan of using ridiculous mantras to justify my life choices…especially the bad ones.)

This past fall I started dental school. It’s a pretty big deal and a goal I’ve worked towards for a total of twelve years total. There were some diversions and a span of a few years where I did not think this was going to happen. To be honest, I could have made things much easier on myself and taken a more direct route. But, like I said, I’m a master of self-sabotage. Now that I’ve made it, for all intents and purposes my goal of being a dentist is as good as accomplished (minus four years of intense schooling that leaves VERY little time for anything else), I thought I had moved beyond the habit of self-sabotage. Silly me!

School started in August. It’s been six months (I’m on spring break now hence the random blogging); in that time I’ve grown quite a bit. The first semester was a lesson in adaptation; it took a hot minute to feel comfortable in my class of (mostly) very pretty and privileged (mostly) 22 year olds. I’ve learned how to manage my expectations of myself while balancing 25 credits a semester with 2-3 hours of commuting a day and the demands of managing a four-kid-household. I’ve realized that C’s really do get degrees and are okay (once you’re actually in your program) as long as you’re learning everything you need to know to be successful. Like I said, I’ve grown quite a bit… I’ve also grown a bit physically too.

Before mid-August I was running quite regularly, doing fun runs every few weeks. When school started my activity level declined dramatically. Along with not running much I was sitting, literally just sitting, eight to ten hours a day five days a week. I manged a fun 5k with my nine-year-old and a random 10k race in October but on a day-to-day basis…pretty much nothing.

sitting and studying

When I’m not in school sitting I’m at home sitting and studying. So. Much. Studying!

Just before Thanksgiving I discovered that my blood pressure had gotten high. For a weekend it was very high. I was both shocked and panicked (which probably just made my blood pressure even higher).  How did this happen? I’m healthy, I’m a runner!!! Well, I was a runner. But still, it hadn’t been that long!

I took stock of the situation and realized I had also managed to tack on close to fifteen pounds of extra weight. (I know that’s not really That much but I’m a small person, even five pounds on my five foot two self is notable). One of the sets of scrubs I had bought at the beginning of the school year didn’t even fit anymore. Yikes! This didn’t happen all at once, it was a slow, steady creep to an overweight and unhealthy me. I had this idea that I was a fit, healthy person but obviously my self-perception was inaccurate. High blood pressure has wreaked havoc on the women in my family lately. I was motivated to do better, I started getting up even earlier than I already was to run a couple miles on my handy-dandy treadmill a few times a week.

And it was helping. My blood pressure went down to borderline high instead of Yikes high. My monthly mileage has been close to 40 again. I felt pretty decent, like I was building better habits and being healthy…But my weight was not really moving. Sure it would go down for a day or two but it always creeped back up. What the actual F was going on here?

I was starting to get frustrated…Until one day, just after an early and gross two miles on the treadmill, it hit me…Self-Sabotage!

Here I was pushing myself to get up and run, working hard to get back to a state of good health, but at the same time I was eating whatever was convenient and drinking a good (heavy) craft beer or two at least four times a week. And I was using the more regular running to justify it. I’d tell myself it was a treat… you know, for all that hard work. (eye roll!) It was one or two steps forward, one or two steps back which equals not moving at all! As soon as I saw it I was irritated with myself. What’s the point of missing sleep and working to get back in shape if I was just going to pull the rug out from under my feet and end up back where I started at the end of the day?

self sabotage

Self sabotage at its finest! 

Now that I’ve caught myself employing the old self-sabotage tactics I’ve been a little more conscientious about what, when, and why I’m eating and drinking. Awareness is half the battle.

knowing-is-half-the-battle-215704

Awareness = knowing. Now all I need are some lasers.

Time will tell exactly how effective my new found awareness of my own negative tendencies will be in getting back to a fit and healthy state. Either way this has been a good reminder of the importance of consistent good habits and self-awareness (not my strongest suits). You can’t sit back and coast on yesterday’s success; reaching one goal, even a big one, does not mean you can just stop working. (Mantras again.)

Here’s to health, well-being, and regular running!

 

Getting Stuffed

After going up north for a quick mini-vacation (if you can call three days and two nights in with a couple grouchy teenagers a vacation) it was back to (normalcy) reality which means back to making dinner three to five nights a week. Sit-down dinners are an important part of our family life and while I know it’s not what we have for dinner that’s important, I get tired of making the same five meals over and over again. I’m constantly asking the fam for dinner suggestions. Sometimes I actually get some.

This past go-round my boyfriend suggested stuffed peppers. And maybe stuffed mushrooms. I’ve never made either. Well, not true, I’ve made stuffed peppers at work but never for the family to eat. I’ve also made an appetizer version of stuffed mushrooms with the cute little baby Bella mushrooms, stuffing, spinach, and cheese. The much bigger version of those have always been intriguing but a little intimidating. They’re a big commitment. Like, if I make them and don’t like em it’s a lot to either suffer through or waste.

Stuffed foods are one of those things that could go either way for me with my weird food texture/color preferences. I don’t like mushy or over mixed food. I’m very wary of sauces I don’t know and have a strict one-sauce-per-item policy. And anything pureed, especially if it’s green (really anything green that doesn’t have a very distinguishable solid shape) is definitely a no! But, really, I’m not a picky eater.

That being said…

Let’s start with the mushrooms: they were beautiful and delicious.

I knew the kids were not going to touch the stuffed mushrooms (no matter how much bacon and cheese I put on them) so I got a four pack of the large but not huge portobello. I popped the stems off, scooped out the weird fin things, brushed them with oil and put them in the oven with the already cooking stuffed peppers. I think the recipe I was very loosely following called for ten to twelve minutes of oven time before stuffing.

In the meantime I mixed the internal ingredients: just a little minced garlic, cooked bacon, diced tomatoes, uncooked spinach (see above regarding issues with mushy green stuff), and ,of course, cheese. It’s pretty easy to tailor this to your personal preferences.

After the requisite baking time the stuffing is heaped on the now fork-tender mushroom caps. I say heaped because the caps don’t actually hold much stuffing. It’s more a topping than a stuffing.

Return to the oven for maybe five minutes and Bam! Delicious, basically healthy food. The mushrooms alone probably aren’t filling enough to be their own meal but they are a great side and the leftovers were super delicious for lunch the next day.

For some reason I almost always have an excess of stuffing. A couple days later I got a spinach, bacon, & tomato omelette out of the leftover mushroom stuffing. It was also delicious!

There’s not a lot to say about the stuffed peppers. The recipe I followed was pretty standard. I tweaked the amount of sauce mixed with the rice to suit my texture issue based preferences and put cheese on top but other than that actually followed the directions. Weird, I know. Oh, I did not cook my peppers at all before stuffing them. I like a more firm pepper. (Yeah, that’s what she said!)

Unlike the mushrooms, everyone loved the stuffed peppers. One kid even took leftovers for lunch the next day. You know the meal is a hot when the leftovers get eaten without prompting. Seriously, “Put down that bagel and eat some leftovers!” is something I say often.

Speaking of leftovers, the stuffed peppers would be a pretty good way to use leftovers. Specifically leftover rice. Since the rice is cooked before mixing and stuffing you could make these with leftover rice from another meal, stir fry or something like that. It would make their prep quicker too. I’m all about quick prep and using leftovers.

How sticky are your balls?

I’ve been practicing productive procrastination this week. I’m not sure why I need to practice, I’m already a master at all forms of procrastination but whatever. I’ve been sharpening my skillz anyhow. As usual this involves laundry, a little cleaning, running, and baking. 

Monday was basically a waste (aka spent sleeping) after working until 6am on next to no sleep. It was a struggle just to get myself home after taking the kids to school. Yesterday, Tuesday, I was feeling blergy and down; night shift jet lag was hitting me hard. There were things I really needed to do but they were not happening. I thought chocolate chip cookies might help.

And they did!  Sort of.

I love chocolate chip cookies. I mean, who doesn’t? (My seven year old just informed me  he doesn’t, doesn’t even like them. I think he’s an alien.) Classic chocolate chip cookies are my first love baking-wise too. Starting around age ten I’d make them whenever I was bored which was often. Yesterday it was dreary, cold, and rainy; my head hurt and I was tired. Making cookies was soothing. It was comfort….

But then I ate said cookies and, let’s not lie, excessive amounts of cookie dough. Physically I felt slightly gross. So this morning, after waking up late and getting kids to school almost on time, I had the urge to be super productive and healthy. I made a list of things to accomplish and decided today would be the day I’d start that low carb/high fat diet I’ve been eye balling. This required some Google searching which lead me to recipes for peanut butter chocolate chip protein balls.

Protein balls, or as they should be called power balls, seemed like an adequate replacement for the remaining chocolate chip cookies that were still tempting me. So I found a couple recipes including this one that I intended to follow and began throwing ingredients in a bowl.

I love peanut butter.  Love it! But I hate measuring it out; it’s such a sticky mess. So usually I just eye ball the amount. Really, there’s no way to have too much peanut butter.

The recipe called for 1/2 cup peanut butter but that didn’t sound like nearly enough. I probably used closer to a cup. AND then I added some ambiguous amount of coconut oil  (going for high fat here) and more flax than the recipe demanded because I didn’t feel like putting protein powder in. Oh, and instead of chocolate chips I poured in some cocoa powder. After mixing it all together and tasting the resulting concoction I added a bit more honey and called it good.

It was time to roll these balls!

I’ve never made balls like this before so I have no idea how they’re supposed to feel (insert immature snicker here), but damn! These balls were sticky!!!!

They made a goopy mess. Albeit a tasty goopy mess. 😉

The added cocoa powder gives these guys a…questionable appearance.

All joking aside, are these types of balls usually so sticky? Hopefully the refrigerator will solidify them some. Maybe next time I make them I’ll measure stuff and follow a recipe. Maybe not though. Probably not.

Hey who knows, these might end up being fantastic and delicious magic sticky balls. If they do I’m going to have to write my own protein balls recipe. I think I’ll call it Hippie Poop…for obvious reasons.

(P.S.-The amount the word balls was used in this post is directly proportional to the amount of immature giggles writing the post produced. Maturity is a little overrated anyhow.)