Archive for January, 2012

Things I don’t Miss About Being a Carnivore

1.  Bloody food on the counters

2.  Enormous grocery bills from buying chicken breasts and good cuts of meat

3.  Every meal being virtually the same:  meat, veggie, starch: repeat

4.  The smell of meat scraps in the garbage if you don’t take it out right away

5.  Trying to decide what to do with the grease left in the pan.  (Pour it in a coffee mug?  down the drain?  in th neighbor’s yard?)

6.  Checking expiration dates on lunch meat

7.  Feeling weighed down by heavy food


Fitting a Workout into a Busy Schedule

I’ve been skimming a lot of fitness and weight loss sites out there in the world wide web, and they seem to have something in common:  they make me tired.  I see words like “pushing myself” or “addicted to running.”  I read people’s discussions about adding something new to their two-hour long routines in utter consternation.  Where do these folks find the time or energy?  What is the rest of their family doing while they’re working out?  How do they have energy left to unload the dishwasher and fold laundry before going to bed?

I can almost hear my fit friends telling me that it is a choice to achieve their level of fitness and a matter of priorities.  I agree wholeheartedly and still say, No thanks.

It’s not that I don’t think exercise and fitness are important.  It’s just that I have a lot to juggle and a 90-minute workout is not a priority for me when I have kids at home that haven’t seen their mother all day, dinner to fix, housework to do, and deadlines to meet.  For me to carve out the time and energy this kind of workout regimen demands I’d have to take it from the other things that occupy my time and energy now.  And, since I spend almost 100% of my time after work tending to the needs of my family and household, I’d have to take that time away from them.

Don’t get me wrong.  I think working out is important, and I do it.  I just don’t feel the need to do it to the level that some of my fit friends do.  I have to balance my workouts with everything else.  For me, 30 minutes a day most days of the week is all I can work in.  I don’t feel bad about this.  I don’t feel guilty.  I don’t feel the need to do more.  I can accept that I won’t see the results that my friend who alternates between P90X and Insanity every day sees.  In exchange, I’ll get a workout that I can adjust to my interest and commitment level for the rest of my life.

This is definitely not for me.

With that said, Pilates is my favorite workout.  Pilates stretches and strengthens at the same time.  After a good workout, either in a class or on dvd, I feel worked and rejuvenated.  I can do a good Pilates workout in around 30 minutes and barely break a sweat.  What’s that you say?  How good can a workout be if you don’t break a sweat?  Well, I took a 45-minute class yesterday that saw nary a glisten on my forehead, and today my obliques, thighs, and abs are sore.

Winsor Pilates is my favorite, but there are plenty of others. I like the Circle Workout.

Once I’ve worked in a few Pilates sessions (my goal is 3 a week, but usually I only get in 2), I feel really good about doing 2-3 cardio sessions (30 minutes, tops, of jogging, doing the elliptical or rowing) and calling it a week.  Pilates works my muscles.  Cardio works my heart and lungs. Done.

I realize that doesn’t seem like much.  (I watch Biggest Loser so I know what people think you have to do to lose weight.)  But, if I continue this plan for years and years, I’ll see all the results I want.  I’ll be 50 in 2023.  I want to look like someone who has exercised her whole life, not someone who worked really hard for a few months until she twisted her ankle or until her son started playing baseball or until whatever else pops up in the next few months and years that would keep me from exercising.  A manageable amount over a long period of time.  That’s my plan, and Pilates fits it perfectly.

Occupy Beauty! A letter from 31:26:36

Occupy Beauty! A letter from 31:26:36.

Is Being Vegan a Commitment I’m Willing to Make?

I think one of the hardest parts about being vegan is the knowledge that I’ll have to give up some things forever.  I mean, can I really go my whole life without a Pizza Hut pizza ever again?  Will I never eat turkey at Thanksgiving?  Will I never have a hamburger again in my whole life, not even one hot off the grill?  I’m not good at swearing off things forever.  In fact, I never want things more than immediately after I swear I’ll never have them again.  So, going totally vegan is really a challenge for my rebellion and my gluttony.

Grilled Cheese is one of the hardest foods to go without. Is it possible that Daiya Vegan Cheese can fill the void?

On the other hand, going totally vegan will also help me never have some other things again, and to those, I’ll gladly bid adieu.  I would not mind never having to try on a bathing suit and choke back tears as I look at myself in the mirror like I did two springs ago.  I stood there under those fluorescent lights and felt like a blob.  (I started moving toward a plant-based, whole food diet immediately after this shopping trip.)

Once years ago, I was at a pretentious store in the mall, and the sales clerk approached me and asked, “Are you depressed because you can’t find anything in your size?”  (No lie.  She actually said that to me.   The first words out of her mouth.)  It was one of those stores where they stock a half a rack of size XS and maybe 2 XLs.  You know the clerks all bad mouth the two people that buy the XLs.   Even though I hate those overpriced stores and their low rise pants, I’d like to be able to pull something off the rack and look good in it anyway.  (I won’t buy it though until I’m sure none of those snotty bitches get commission.)

These women belong at the mall. I am not one of these women.

I’m really tired of looking fat in pictures and video.  Since I’ve been “going vegan,” my mental image and my photographic image are starting to look the same.  I used to look at myself in pictures and think, Please tell me I don’t really look that fat in real life!  Lately, that hasn’t been so bad, and I’d like to keep it that way.

I’d like never again to pass by a reflective window and feel the need to suck in my stomach.

I’d like it if I were to never again get distracted by my pot belly during sex.  Is that TMI?  Sorry, too late.

There are some less traumatic things that I could avoid by being totally vegan.  For instance, when I’m vegan, I don’t get that over-stuffed, lethargic feeling after meals.  I don’t have to unbutton my pants surreptitiously at my desk after lunch because my food is sitting in my belly like a rock. I don’t have to worry about poisoning my loved ones with chicken germs on the cutting board.

Really, I won't mind saying goodbye to dead animal parts all over my kitchen.

I don’t get blood on my hands shopping for meat at the grocery store.   I have tons more energy.  My skin is better when I’m vegan.  (No woman should have to alternate between wrinkle cream and acne treatment! I’m 38 for Pete’s sake.)

Nevertheless, I have to admit, I am loathe to say I will never have something ever again in my life.  I guess this is where folks would recommend I take things one day at a time.  I should worry less, and by less I mean not at all, about what I’m going to eat at Disney World this summer, and I should just focus on making the best choices I can right now.  Later, if I’m dying to have something, I might.  I’ll just make a deal with myself that I won’t regress unless I absolutely need to for sanity.  And, if that day should come, I’ll eat only exactly what I’m craving—no grazing until I figure out what I want—and only the very least I need to be satisfied—no falling off the wagon and deciding to just flush the whole day and binge.

Good news--these can be vegan. There is lots of vegan junk food. I just have to be deliberate in my choices.

In the meantime, I’m going to continue to find new foods that I like and that make me feel good about what I’m eating, and I’m going to keep you posted on how it works out for me.

Great Article to Get You Started Eating Healthier

Eating Vegan: A Complete Guide to Vegan Cooking for Beginners

January 17, 2012 By Tanya Sitton
eating veganvegan cookingThere is an indisputable trend sweeping America’s refrigerators and grocery carts, making animal agribusiness folks uneasy and ecovores optimistic. For a growing number of food consumers, beef (or pork or chicken or fish, for that matter) is no longer “what’s for dinner.”

Whether for reasons of health, environment, or ethics, people in the United States are eating less meat. Recent food documentaries and books such as Forks Over Knives, Food Inc., and Eating Animals have increased consumer awareness about the health benefits of a plant-based diet and about the ugly realities of industrial meat production; consumption trends have shifted accordingly. Vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, or simply veg-curious, more people than ever before are interested in plant-based cooking.

Cooking without (or with minimal) animal products can be daunting for new vegan or veganish chefs. For many cooks accustomed to a standard American diet, the first decision of every meal is ‘beef, chicken, or pork?’ For plant-based cooking, obviously the process is a little different. Instead we might say, ‘Hmm, I think I want nachos for dinner,’ or ‘Tonight I feel like Thai stir-fry’– it’s just a different way of thinking about food and cooking.

Habit is comforting, and change can be intimidating. But armed with some knowledge and a world of resources, the transition to a vegan kitchen doesn’t have to be anything but exciting and tasty!

Vegan Basics: Knowledge is Power

Before making the transition to a plant-based diet, new herbivores are encouraged to arm themselves with information. For any significant dietary change, it’s important to embrace new habits healthfully. It’s also important to be knowledgeable enough to handle potentially awkward social situations in a positive way, by responding confidently to well-meant but erroneous advice.

First of all, let’s just get this out of the way — protein is all over the place in a balanced vegan diet, from whole grains/ legumes/ nuts/ seeds/tofu/ seitan/ mushrooms/ tempeh/ nutritional yeast/ etc. etc. etc. Humans need about 10-12% of their calories from protein (about 0.36 grams per pound per day), which most vegans get easily without extra effort. Consumption of higher levels of protein (15-18% of calories), as in the standard American diet, can actually change blood acidity in such a way that calcium from bones is lost in urine, and osteoporosis rates increase. At least one study suggests that too much protein can also contribute to the development of diabetes.

Like protein, calcium is often the subject of grim warnings from omni friends to dairy-free herbies. There are many reasons to avoid or minimize dairy consumption, which is a topic deserving of its own post. For now, suffice it to say that not only isn’t dairy NECESSARY for calcium (unless of course you happen to be a baby cow), it’s actually not that great a source of calcium for humans.

The highest rates of osteoporosis occur in the nations that consume the most dairy. Calcium comes from plants; that’s where the cows — and all other herbivorous animals on the planet — get it in the first place. Kale, spinach, mustard greens, turnip greens, almonds, sesame seeds, tahini, tofu (set in calcium citrate) and fortified orange juice, soy milk, or cereals are all good plant-based calcium sources.

Bone density for most people is actually determined more by activity level and weight-bearing or resistive exercise than by calcium intake. Bone is metabolically active, just like muscle. Popping protein pills won’t give you big muscles; consuming calcium without resistive exercise won’t give you strong bones. There is a powerful myth within our Western culture about needing cow’s milk to meet calcium needs; it’s well-funded, but inaccurate.

kale supplies both iron and calcium

Leafy greens and other vegan foods also provide plenty of iron; you’ll be asked about it by well-meaning SAD eaters. In the developed world, it’s much more common to have an excess of iron than a deficiency. In the absence of significant blood loss, humans only need about 1 mg of iron per day (1.5mg for women of childbearing age). There are many plant-based sources of iron, so vegans/ vegetarians do not experience a higher rate of iron deficiency than do meat eaters.

You may also encounter omnivores who offer dark warnings against soy consumption; these concerns have largely been debunked, but are still floating around. Basically, consensus among the scientific community is that unless you have specific food allergies to soy, or eat large quantities of heavily processed soy foods (with lots of additives/ preservatives/ other unhealthy ingredients), or have some types of thyroid disease, soy is not harmful and in some cases is especially beneficial.

So educate yourself about your nutritional needs, and how to best meet them with a plant-based diet. Type ‘vegan nutrition’ into any search engine, and surf around a bit: it’s well worth the time! A veg (or primarily veg) diet can be outstandingly healthy, but to get the benefits you need the knowledge. A diet of potato chips and sodas won’t build a healthy herbivore! Also, if you’re going vegan (avoiding animal products completely), be sure to read about vegan sources of B12 and Omega-3s; these are the main things that are (not absent but) deserving of a extra attention within a vegan diet.

A little nutrition research will come in handy when relatives or acquaintances offer unsolicited (and often inaccurate) nutrition advice, as many people feel compelled to do once they realize you’re a planteater.

(This article just goes to show you how much you can learn from poking around good blogs!  Thanks, Tanya.  Novices like me are depending on the real vegans like you.)


News from the UK: Hypnosis is the Fast Route to Weight Loss

By Nigel Burke, Daily Express writer

WE’RE halfway through January and for most of us the resolutions have slipped a gear and it looks like we won’t be delivering the slim, non-smoking, de-bugged Self 2.0 that we promised to launch. There is one way to get back on schedule: through hypnosis – the dark side. For at least a century hypnosis has been trying to bury the image of the swinging watch and waxed moustache.

It has been promoted as a mere relaxation technique and has ended up in the same aisle as crystals and whale-music in the self-help supermarket. But a new gastric band hypnotherapy treatment that has helped hundreds of people to lose rucksacks of fat is likely to bring hypnosis back where it belongs and where it works best: as a dark art that bamboozles your mind into behaving itself by the power of suggestion.

In gastric band hypnotherapy the obese patient is hypnotised and lied to. Through verbal suggestion and play-acting the Hypnosis patient is made to believe that they have undergone gastric band surgery. Their appetite is drastically reduced.

This has proper Svengali overtones, recalling George du Maurier’s 1894 novel Trilby in which the sinister hypnotist turns an ordinary woman into a theatrical star whom he can manipulate.

The 80 per cent success rate of hypnotic treatment beats the 70 per cent success rate of real gastric band surgery comfortably. Yet the reputation of hypnosis remains rocky with mixed reports about its success.

Gary Barlow has been successfully treated for a fear of spiders. Russell Grant used hypnosis to propel himself through Strictly Come Dancing on a bad hip and Joanna Lumley beat panic attacks with the help of hypnosis.

On the other hand the England football squad was reported to have been hypnotised to believe they would be unbeatable in the 2002 World Cup and Kate Moss is supposed to have tried hypnosis to give up smoking. Hypnosis can do good but it can’t do miracles.

I know hypnosis works because I learned how to hypnotise people from a doctor who worked at a psychiatric hospital and had treated several of my highly strung friends.

As his private student I was allowed under supervision to lead several volunteers into a trance. I could talk consenting friends into falling backwards helplessly without them even knowing that they would be caught.

Experimenting on myself I found it easy to dismiss sensations of cold by suggestion so that I was able to walk around in shirt sleeves in winter as if I were a Geordie.

When I went shopping for hypnotherapy years later I was disappointed to find that most hypnotherapists aren’t very interested in the power of suggestion.

They want to sell you 10 weeks of talking sessions in which you are supposed to unearth rotten old thoughts and memories such as that terrible day when your dad spanked you with a butter pat while dressed as a clown.

It can help some people but it won’t get you over that crippling phobia of clowns nearly as well as old-school hypnosis, in which a charismatic and authoritarian hypnotist puts you under and tells you you’re fine about clowns.

I discovered several distinct species of hypnotherapist: there is the Gadget Boy Hypnotherapist who sits you on a hydraulically reclining Mastermind chair, puts you in headphones and hypnotises you through a microphone with a slight reverb.

There is the Nursey Hypnotherapist, a deceptively nurturing older lady, probably an ex-NHS psychiatric worker. Then there is the Hippie Hypnotherapist, likely to try to steer you towards crystals, spirits and energies. I even encountered a holistic healer who offered a package deal of hypnotherapy with colonic irrigation. I told her what she could do with her irrigation.

For the rich there are celebrity hypnotherapists such as Paul McKenna. Even if I could afford him I’d wonder.

Despite writing a book called I Can Make You Happy, at times he strikes me as being unhappy and unfulfilled as only a man who owns several Ferraris can be.

The important thing is to find a hypnotherapist willing to cut down on past-life chit-chat and help you tackle irrational fears and filthy habits.

It’s a good sign if they offer hypnotic gastric band therapy. It’s probably a bad sign if a hypnotherapist offers too many fringe therapies.

One practice sells a £12.99 hypnosis CD for non-surgical breast enlargement. Hypnotic breast-enlargement is controversial, although thinking yourself buxom looks like a better bet than silicone right now.

Another practice offers “past life regression” therapy in which clients are encouraged to remember traumas from past lives. I don’t believe in it, though I have witnessed “class regression” in which a hypnotised subject dropped his mockney accent and spoke the received pronunciation that his parents had taught him.

It’s tough to find a hypnotherapist who will really hypnotise you but it’s worthwhile when you do.

Help! Bitchiness will make me Fat!

It has occurred to me that for all the good work I’ve done reprogramming my brain to think about what constitutes a meal and what fueling my body really means, I still have to work on breaking bad habits.  Since I’ve been in a total funk for the last few days, (I don’t know why—hormones? the weather? seasonal affective disorder? chronic bitchiness? Probably) I’ve been face-to-face with my tendency to link food and mood.

This bathroom remodel put 5 pounds on me.

When I get really happy, I want to celebrate with fancy food.  When I get really down, I want to console myself with decadent food.  When I want to create a homey atmosphere, I begin with home cooking.  When I want to unwind, I start by planning my special food indulgence.  It’s too much.  I’ve been pretty successful at eliminating food for entertainment, but I haven’t unhooked it from my emotions yet.  And, as a woman with raging hormones and children and a man, I’ve got too many emotions to eat all of them.

But, what can I do?  I don’t have the money to substitute shopping or decorating.  I don’t have the space or time to go for long walks or take bubble baths.

Bubblebaths just don't relax me. The last thing I want to do when I'm depressed is sit around looking at my naked stomach.

With four or more kids in my house at any given time (kids, stepkids and neighbors), I don’t have much privacy or quiet to do much of anything.  Eating is convenient.  If I’m going to lasso this bad habit, I’m going to have to find something that is as accessible, affordable, and effective as chocolate-covered peanuts.

My weak spot is the combination of crunchy and sweet. I forget that binging doesn't really solve any of my problems.

That’s not going to be easy.  And, to tell you the truth, I don’t know what that is.  I’m going to give it some serious thought though and get back to you when I come up with something.

Do you have any suggestions?

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