Sugar

Dear Sugar,

You know I love you.  I really do — especially in homemade baked goods, cereal, energy/granola bars, ice cream, and chocolate.

But we have to take a break.

I’m seeing someone else.

Okay, that was a lie.  I’m actually seeing three someone else’s: fat, protein, and vegetables.

And sugar, they are so good to me. They’re better for me than you are.  Our relationship has been fraught with violence and abuse: you make me breakout (which is especially bad given my general hormonal issues), you make me overeat (I thought I could just have a little bit of you and be satisfied, but you’re so demanding — you always say “more, more more”!), and you  make me a little lethargic.

It’s time for a change.  I want more energy.  I want a happier, healthier looking face.  I want to feel like my digestive system is squeaky clean (TMI?).

Moreover, I’m an athlete — I thrive off of running, yoga, strength training, and just generally playing/exploring.  And you slow me down.  I know that all the experts say “carbs before and after a workout”, but I just don’t think that it’s working out for me.  See, that means it’s not you, it’s me.

I hope that we can see each other again some day, but only a little bit at a time.  I want my clear skin back.  I want my marathon energy back.  I want to look forward to eating healthy meals and not dread it.

I hope you are understand.  Feel free to call/text/email me anytime.  I hope we can still be friends!

xoxo, Caronae

And so begins a little experiment: seven days sugar-free. At least, refined-sugar free.  Don’t murder me if I use a dash of maple syrup at some point.  But seriously though, I think something has been bothering my tummy, my body, and my energy levels lately, and I have a suspicion that this white powder (no, not the other white powder) is to blame.

I have been focusing more and more on vegetables, a little fruit, proteins (meat, fish, chicken, yogurt, milk, beans, tofu/soy, eggs, cheese) and fats (EVOO, coconut oil, nut butter, plain nuts, low-fat dairy, whole eggs, cheese, butter, avocados) lately and I love it.  I have lost twelve or so of then nagging pounds I’ve had hanging out since the hospital this summer, and would love to lose about five more to be at my happy weight.  I’m fine with the way I am now, to be honest.  I just want to feel like I can finally get a hold of my weight, for once and for all.

And I think sugar (or at least, excessive sugar), is standing in my way.  I am a woman on a mission.  A very determined woman.  Don’t get in my way. 😉

-A few notes: my goal is NOT complete sugar elimination, jsut serious reduction

Source

-I will probably use a little stevia and maple syrup

-I am going to reevaluate after seven days.

Good night all!

Do you have a healthy relationship with sugar, or are you one of the many people who struggles with it?

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Protein+Fat=Happy Caronae

Today’s Happy Note: Crossing things off my to do list.  I still have a lot to get done before this insane weekend, but I’m getting there. 🙂

PS — Does anyone else add things to their to-do list that you have already done, just so you can experience the joy of crossing it out?

Marathon Training: Yesterday I did four and a half miles, with an easy mile and a half warm-up, 4x (400 fast/400 easy), and a mile cool down.  It wasn’t terrible, but I just felt weak.  Today, even more so. I feel lightheaded,blurry vision, etc. No idea what is going on, but I’ll be sure to monitor things and be careful.

I had my super easy yoga class today. We literally sat on chairs half the time and stretched.  I’m taking it very easy this week, so this was perfectly acceptable.

I never told you about my endocrine visit on Monday! The doctor was extremely nice and extremely knowledgeable.  She also seemed obscenely young (early thirties?) for a faculty practitioner (meaning she is a professor) which made me a bit nervous.  She was very thorough.  We talked about everything — diet, exercise, hormones, habits, genetics, blood sugar, endocrine/metabolic systems.  She is running a really broad panel of tests to see if there is something significantly wrong.  If nothing is found, then the “answer” is simply going to be that I have a little bit of a weird metabolic/hormonal system.

I am not freaking out as much as I was before though because of two things:

1. She basically told me that my weight “problem” actually isn’t a problem.  Because of my healthy diet and exercise choices, being a few pounds over the recommended weight for my height isn’t a big deal.  She was actually really soothing/comforting in this regard.

2. I have been making a conscious effort to eat more fat and protein lately and have lost seven pounds.  My period just ended, so some of this might be hormonal/water weight.  But still, seven pounds is a good chunk of my overall body weight.  I am hoping that continuing this eating pattern will help me lose a few more pounds.  But if not, I am not going to freak out.

I promise. 🙂

So what have I been eating of late?

One carb I REFUSE to get rid of is oats (above: 1/4 C with 1/2 serving vanilla protein powder, 1 C vanilla soymilk, chopped apple, and walnuts).  Other than that, I am not eating too many grains.  And I am not giving up carbs entirely either.  I kind of love them. 😉  I’m just making sure to reduce them and then pair them with more fat and protein.

One trap I have fallen into in the past is eating more protein without reducing carbs.  That just results in more overall calories, which isn’t going to help anybody.  Unless you are trying to gain weight, obviously.

Other eats:

Squash “pizza.”  In reality this was actually a squash bowl stuffed with veggies, ground beef, and cheese.  I cut it into little slices and ate it like a pizza though, which made it 10x more fun.

Really random lunch with two mini corn tortillas (which aren’t that good; I wanted wraps and thought these would be good since they were smaller, but they are dry), almond butter, carrots, and a protein cake (a la April) made with peanut flour and cocoa powder with PB.

Dinner was full of fat, veggies, and protein.   Exactly how I like it!  I used a base of pumpkin puree, topped that with ground beef/mushrooms/carrots and brussel sprouts/broccoli cooked in EVOO.  Enough to feed one small army OR one hungry Caronae.

I have heard a lot of different research about diets higher in proteins/fats.  Some of what I have seen has indicated that a diet high in protein/fat, even of the saturated variety (think whole milk, meat, butter) is not harmful.  I tend to agree with this with the caveat that people have very different metabolic/digestive systems with very different needs (I talked about my wants and needs with  my diet in Monday’s post).  I think that it isn’t animal fat or protein that’s killing us/making us obese, but processed crap full of chemicals, like candy bars and pop and snack foods.

I think that there is evidence on both sides of the spectrum, at the moment.  In my opinion, this just furthers my conclusion that different people are suited to different diets.

On the horizon the next few days: CRAZY INSANELY BUSY Caronae.  I promise to post before the marathon though.  Is anyone interested in tracking me/coming out to cheer and wants to know my number?

If so, email me!  I know a few bloggies have already mentioned that they would like to know, but I have lost track.  So please leave a comment/email me and I will let you know.

T-4 days!  Ahhhhhh!!!!!

An Exhausted Pumpkin Seed

Today’s Happy Note: My new string of fake pearls!  My cousin recently moved from NYC and gave me some things she wasn’t taking:

I am NOT normally a take-my-picture in the mirror girl, but I made an exception for this necklace. 🙂

A few notes…

I’m getting to a point in the school year where I am feeling a little bit overwhelmed.  I have a lot of schoolwork and reading.  I’m a history major which means that I spend a lot of time, well, reading history.  History is long. Historians are verbose.  School has to be a big priority in my life.  It’s feeling like I have a million priorities right now.  I certainly like being busy, but I also know that I do need to devote myself fully and passionately to the things that I do.  All this is the long-winded explanation for why blog posts will be inconsistent for the next two to three or so months.

Inconsistency upsets me, so I might like to have an actual schedule of inconsistency.  That makes no sense, but whatever.  Perhaps every other night?  I’ll see what works.  But, especially during the school week, I need evenings to focus on schoolwork.  Last night I went to the library for the first time all semester.  That needs to happen more often.

Another note: Marathon Training. It’s getting annoying.  I’m exhausted.  I originally was planning on rearranging my runs for the week, but I quickly realized that I’m just too tired.  I have some weeks where I am more tired than others (both sleepy-tired and physically-tired) and this is a very tired week.  I took a four hour nap this afternoon.

I’m coming to understand that I need to be flexible with the plan and be gentle with myself.  My body is not some sort of crazy marathon-running-automoton. It has aches and pains, wants and needs, tired moments, lively moments.  I need to listen.  I ran 57 miles last week and so far, this week, I have done four (last night — an easy four with 6×100 strides in the last mile and 20 minutes yoga).  I skipped out on 14 miles worth of speedwork.  I am really struggling with feelings of guilt.

Any other marathoners out there who can relate?

I want to not feel guilty, but it’s there. I know that, at this point, I have a solid enough running ability and cardio-base built up and that I need to take a break when I need to.  So this week I’m taking it easy.  So there.

Onto some fun eats from the past few days!  Many of which have involved pumpkin, hence the title of this post.

Guess what?  Tonight, I do not want to run.  I just don’t have it in me.  So I’m going to do what I do want to do, which is swim!

I really want to be in the pool again.  I miss it!  I used to swim hardcore in high school.

I refuse to let marathon training get in the way of what my body really wants to do. I have a history of over-exercising and I will not get into that cycle again.  I will not do what my body does not want to do.  I have a feeling that this will pass and, in a day or two, I will be ready to run.

Until then, I shall be a little fishy.

We Can’t All Be Julia Child

Today’s Happy Note: Meeting my new students!  I volunteer with high schoolers in NYC public schools and love it.  Some of them told me that I have really strong arms and legs, randomly.  I guess all my strength training and running pay off (although in reality the benefit for me is mostly mental — I want to look fit, but I don’t have a pathological need to “look good” — I’m past that stage, thank God)!

Marathon Training: During my hilly 9-miler this morning, I realized that my half-marathon on Saturday is not gonna be easy.  I have already run 39 miles this week and will probably do 3 or so tomorrow.  Saturday will include the half-mary plus an extra 5 for a grand total of 18 and 60 for the whole week. Wow.  Holy crap.  That’s a lot of miles.

I need new shoes just thinking about it.

Today was another super busy day of running, classes, therapy, more classes, volunteering and….law school fair! This probably sounds really boring to you, but applying to law school is actually something I’m genuinely excited about. Every time I find a new school that seems fun and vibrant and has good programs in the areas I’m interested in, I add it to The List. The List is getting bigger every day.

I haven’t felt so thrilled about most big changes or decisions in my life.  But, like my decision to leave school in the second half of my sophomore year, this is just something that I feel clearly and simply right about. In my heart.

All this is to say that my life is crazy busy right now, just like so many of your lives!  And I want to share with you my favorite easy dinners (and easy dinner-making tips) for when life gets like this.

Sometimes I get home at 8 or 9 and I. Do. Not. Want. To. Cook.

Chopping vegetables and coming up with complicated fish marinades can be relaxing.  But not when you haven’t eaten in six hours and you’re ready to eat the damn non-stick pan you’re cooking with.

Speedy-but-healthy weeknight dinner tips:

  1. Do not fear the afternoon snack. I always have one between three and five.  Usually something relatively large.  A good afternoon snack means that you’ll have the time and energy to prepare a tasty, healthy dinner.
  2. If you can, prep your vegetables on the weekend.  I like to either make a giant stir-fry over the weekend or just cut up a few cups of sliced carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, zucchini, or whatever is in season and in my fridge!
  3. Simple does not necessarily mean bad.  When you’re pressed for time and money, fancy is rarely an option, in fact.  Pick simple proteins and fats. Don’t buy a live lobster or a 10 pound complicated rack of lamb.  Some of my favorite choices: eggs, hummus and cheese, salmon (cooks quickly!), natural/organic deli turkey, canned beans, canned tuna, quinoa, frozen pre-cooked shrimp, extra firm tofu, and nut butters, of course.  You can spice up a simple protein relatively easily and quickly.
  4. You don’t need a lot of equipment but the essentials are, well, essential.  A cutting board (or a very sturdy plastic plate that I may or may not use as a cutting board), a good knife, a measuring cup, a glass mixing bowl or two, a good spatula, a wooden spoon, a pot, and a non-stick pan.
  5. Invest in some spices and sauces that you can throw into a dish to take it to the next level: salsa, hummus, peanut vinaigrette, green chiles, lemon pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, seedy mustard, guacamole, etc.

And without further ado, easy weeknight dinners in pictures!

I tend to go for easy stir-fry comobs.  This was the one I mentioned yesterday — broccoli, onion, sweet potato, tofu, and peanut sauce.  I paired it with some TJ’s carrot ginger soup.  Soups, provided that they’re low in sodium and don’t have crazy ingredients, can be great sides or main dishes if you add in some fillers.

Sweet potatoes are really easy to steam in the microwave!  I topped mine with turkey here, but you can also use beans, greek yogurt, nut butter — whatever.  Paired with a side salad, dinner was good to go.

Sometimes you just need a Smoothie In A Bowl for dinner.  Throw on some granola and nuts for toppings to make it heartier.  And pair it with a side salad if you’re weird like I am and don’t mind veggies with your smoothie.

Omelets or egg scrambles are always a good choice! Tonight I had one stuffed with broccoli, green pepper, and cheddar, with a bowl of oatmeal on the side.  Breakfast for dinner is usually quick and always tasty!

These have all been dinners from just this week.  It’s easier than you think to be creative but tasty.  Inexpensive yet healthy.

Some of my other favorite weekday dinners include quinoa with beans mixed in, salmon baked up with soy sauce, ginger, maple and roasted veggies, whole grain pasta with marinara and local grass-fed ground beef, wraps with avocado, hummus, spinach, and tuna…the list goes one.

Your favorite quick and easy dinners?

Because let’s face it.  We can’t all be Julia Child all the time.

I have more exciting (and important) things to do than cook dinner.  BUT I still want to be nourished and satisfied. These tips and dinners fit the bill.

Transition Stress/Long Run/Meat

Today’s Happy Note: My day involved plenty of chocolate.  Always a good thing.

Mental Health Note: Transitions, of any sort, are always stressful and tricky for me.  At this point in my life, I have come to accept that, and instead of trying to pretend that the stress isn’t there (and thereby making it much, much worse), I just acknowledge it and do my best to soothe myself.  I find moving around — which, unfortunately, happens a lot in college — not just physically exhausting, but emotionally draining as well.  I get attached to places.  I go back and forth between NYC and Michigan (and sometimes Canada) quite frequently.  I am in NYC right now, but have to move back into my dorm.  I’m also making a shift from full-time worker to full-time student and part-time worker.  My life patterns are not all that different during the school year, which helps to ease my mind.  I know that I will still eat oats with nut butter or smoothies for breakfast.  I know that I will find some time in the day to squeeze my run in and that I will make time for friends and life outside of school.

All this is to say that the stress is creeping up on me already — I can see and feel it. It sort of drapes its way around me and sits on my heart and body like a heavy scarf.  I move into my dorm room on Saturday and start classes Tuesday.  I have been mentally preparing myself.  One thing I find very helpful is finding room for extra sleep during my day/night.  Stress often leaves me sleepy-tired, and if I can either sleep 9 hours at night or 7-8 hours at night with a nap in the late afternoon, I am much happier and calmer.  Other things that help include lots of self-care (doing stuff like painting my nails, getting a massage, strolling in the park and looking at the flowers, etc.), reaching out to people I love, and eating delicious but clean foods.

How do you deal with life transitions — physically or emotionally or occupationally?  How do you relieve the stress/anxiety/tension? I love consistency, but I understand that, for the next few years, my life will not necessarily be straightforward.  I am learning how to find the excitement in this.

I got my run in this evening!  It was way too hot at the beginning, but eventually cooled down with a nice breeze. I did ten miles and actually felt really great during it.  I held about a 10 minute per mile pace, but was probably around 9:30 at some points.  I feel like I may finally be back up to pre-hospital strength!  Yay!  I also lifted weights for a quick 30 minutes.

Long run eats:

I’m not showing everything because I think it’s boring.  But I have done a good job keeping track.  And I don’t have a picture since I only just made it, but I am currently eating a delicious chocolate banana smoothie with TJ’s dark chocolate in a nut butter jar.  Nut butter jars make everything better. Seriously, I would be so thrilled if I got my Christmas and birthday presents in (clean) nut butter jars from now on.  It would be so cute!  I’m pretty sure my relatives already think I’m a weird foodie though, so I probably will go ahead and *not* make that request…

Lunch was kinda epic: steamed carrots/yellow squash, green grapes/cherry mix, and a turkey/cheddar/avocado wrap on a TJ’s multigrain tortilla.  I have a lunchtime sandwich fear, for some odd reason.  But on longer run days, I find it helpful to have a sandwich for the extra carbs/calories.  It works out perfectly fine because, when eating more earlier in the day, I eat less in the evenings.

Awesome new snack!  TJ’s (do you see a TJ’s them here?  Hmmmm….) peanut butter crunchy granola bar.  This was a tad sweet but definitely tasty.

Dinner involved more meat — apple chicken sausage, in honor of my sister (it’s one of her favorite foods, but I also really like it as well) with a GIANT salad of romaine, peppers, avocado, and TJ’s peanut vinaigrette (LOVE).  I had okra fries a la Meghann on the side.  They were actually really good.  When I cut up veggies like carrots, squash, or, in this case, okra, into fry form and bake them, I am not intending them as a fry replacement.  I just like roasted veggies.  But these were actually legitimately fry-like!  I coated them in salt, pepper, and EVOO and baked at 400 for about 30-ish (maybe 40?) minutes.  Okra=my new friend.  Oh, and if you are wondering why it’s dark in the above photo that’s because it’s purple okra!  I love veggies in fun colors.

Hello, okra.  You can come over for dinner anytime you want.  Have you had okra?  Do you like it?

Meaty talk:

I don’t eat a lot of meat.  But I think it can be a very healthy part of a diet and I will probably never go vegetarian. I do believe in ethical, moderate meat consumption.  I get as much of it as I can from the farmer’s market or other local, natural, and/or organic sources.  I just realized, while posting, that I had meat twice today! Turkey at lunch and chicken sausage at dinner.  And you know what?  I feel great. The protein and fat really work wonders for me.

I like all kinds of protein sources.  My favorites: salmon, shrimp, steak, turkey, tofu, lentils, black beans, tempeh, whole grains, greek yogurt, veggie burgers, cottage cheese, nut butters, and certain protein powders.

Your fave protein sources?

Bedtime for this stressed chica.  Goodnight friends! 🙂

Thoughts On Yoga

Today’s Happy Note: Best. Yoga. Class. Ever.

I know that not everybody is into yoga, and that’s fine, but it really has been life-changing/saving for me.  I can enter class seething, panicked, distraught, weepy, or in pain.  And leave relaxed, smiling, calm, joyful, spiritual.  Today we did a lot of inversions, balances, and twisting, including one pose I have never done before that I could not find any name for or picture of online.  It is basically what the top person is doing in this photo, only upright, with back foot and hand on the ground:

Hangle Dangle

Source

Anyone have any ideas?

What I loved most about class today was that my emotions started coming up, uncontrollably.  As my body physically opened up I could feel the things in my heart pouring out as well. I have heard Averie (who is giving away some awesome hemp products here) and other yogis talk about this before but have never felt it.  Well, I have news for you: this is not one of those crazy newfangled yoga things.  It really happened — I was alternately smiling and crying during class.  It was wonderful and soothing to let things out of my body like that.

I think yoga has made me more spiritual and more comfortable in my own body.  It calms me down and lifts me up at the same time.  It helps me realize that I do indeed know God, in some guise or other, and that I have this wonderful, amazing body that I need to treat well.  I run because it makes me feel clean and strong, in heart and body and mind, but yoga adds an element of spirit, I think.

Have you tried yoga?  It seems like most healthy living bloggers either love it or hate it.  I am definitely in the loving it camp.  I do recommend trying a few different classes, styles, studios, gyms, or videos before giving up; each experience is different and you really need to find what works for you.  Polly’s videos are always a good place to start!

My absolute favorite studio in NYC is Yoga Vida. Highly recommended, and relatively inexpensive.

The eats:

Diet snapple iced tea and plain oats with soymilk and PB.

Tuna made with plain yogurt and hummus, giant pile of steamed veggies.  I know everyone thinks they’re boring, but sometimes I lover plain and simple lightly steamed veggies.

Two afternoon snacks is the way to go.  PB and chocolate chip Larabar and a basically empty AB jar with plain 2% Fage (I’m in love  — the fats are pretty much miraculous), frozen blueberries, and Justin’s chocolate PB (didn’t really go with it, taste-wise).

I realized that recently I have been falling into the blogger-comparison trap.  I think, “healthy living bloggers should have one afternoon snack, dinner, then a small dessert, or two afternoon snacks and no desserts — I must be overeating!”  BUT this is what works for me.  And I never eat (or want a morning) snack, and I keep main meals a bit smaller.  So there.  I can have two afternoon snacks and a dessert if that’s what my body wants.

Random WF bowl.  It had arugula, walnut/grape chicken salad (my favorite kind), a few bites of potato, black bean udon noodles, shredded zucchini/summer squash, and marinated kale salad.  I am NOT a kale girl, but I really liked this one.  It had shredded carrots, cabbage, and lots of balsamic.

Blurry raspberry protein shake: vanilla soy milk, half a banana, handful frozen raspberries, lots of ice, half scoop of vanilla whey/soy protein, and a few spoonfuls of coconut sorbet.  Topped with dark chocolate and chocolate PB.

A good day of eats — lots of variety, lots of nutrients, good portions that kept me full but not too full.  My belly is a happy belly right about now!

Some days I feel like all my meals/snacks involve nuts or nut butter.  I really truly believe that, if it came down to it, I would say PB is my favorite food.  Oats, Greek yogurt, apples, and carrots are all tied for second place. 🙂

What’s your favorite food?

Thoughts on yoga?

Long Run Eats

Today’s Happy Note: Got in a really good balance of friend time and relaxation time.  This balance is always hard for me to find, so it’s encouraging when it works out and I get to see people I love without feeling overwhelmed.

And see the people I love I did! Starting bright and early this morning…

Bloggers!  Left to right in the picture above (taken in a weird digital window thingy): Jess (Fit Chick In The City), Kath (Kath Eats Real Food), Tina (Carrots ‘N Cake), Me, and Roni (Roni’s Weigh).  Tara (Tall Tara) also ran with us but left before the pictures.

We set out for 6 miles in CP (the main loop, hills and all).  These girls are fast and I had to work!  It was good for me though.  I did another two and a half afterwards for an 8.5 mile long run, plus a mile walking.

Came home and made a giant blueberry-banana SIAB topped with a crumbled blueberry muffin (I had half on the smoothie and half as a snack in the early evening).

I read and relaxed in bed for a bit then met up with my friend Joy for yoga.  It was a good class — a lot of leg work but not too much.  Lots of binds and stretchy poses too.  And the teacher used the most amazing lemony-citronella lotion or oil when she massaged our faces at the end.  Best part!

Time for lunch with my cousin.

We went to a pretty good macrobiotic place  — I was craving some simple veg, brown rice, and tofu.  I rolled with a tofu scramble with tempeh bacon.  It pretty much made my macrobiotic lunch dreams come true (what, you don’t have those dreams?).

Got back to the apartment and rested/watched netflix.  In other words a perfect lazy Sunday afternoon.  Also prepped veggies, went for a little walk, and chatted with my parents.

Afternoon snack was big:

Chocolate-peanut-caramel protein smoothie with extra PB and a clif mojo bar.  So I wasn’t too hungry for dinner.  In fact, it had been over four hours and I still wasn’t hungry so I freaked out a little bit.  I have been practicing listening to my body and eating intuitively while I lose weight (and I think it’s a good habit in general), but didn’t want to skip dinner altogether.  I got a wee bit panicked, actually.  I made a light dinner and dessert which seemed like a good compromise.  What do you do in this kind of situation?

I am, however, proud of myself that I am getting better at understanding when I am hungry and what that feels like and what I need to satisfy it.  That’s an accomplishment.

Two scrambled eggs and lots of scrambled veggies (yellow squash, green pepper, and avocado squash) with a bit of cheese melted on top.  Nice and delicious.

I’m munching on a pear with maple PB and a few squares of dark chocolate right now.  It’s an amazing combination!  If I could only eat one food for the rest of life, it might be PB; it’s got great taste, fats, protein, and carbs.  Pretty wonderful if you ask me.  What food would you choose?

So here we have another full day of (long run) eats.  I think it was probably a good amount but I just kind of feel full.  Maybe it’s just hormones/bloating?

Whatever.

Busy week ahead.  Things to look forward to:

~Lots more running

~Celebration/graduation for the students (my babies!) in second job

~Time to cook/bake/experiment in the kitchen in the evenings

~Top Chef

~Lots of magazines and books to read

What are you looking forward to?

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