Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Numbers Are In!

This morning contained a voluntary health screening put on by my company.  They'll knock off something like $20 per month from my health insurance premium if I either attend the sponsored health screening or visit my doctor for the same basic tests and upload the data.  It provides a forum for intervention if the numbers aren't in the desirable range.  Sometimes I wonder whether the numbers are used for some fiendish planning, but I go for the superficial here: it's free and quick and saves me money.  So they're welcome to prick my finger for a little blood and compare my results to the recommended health limits.

Of course, it certainly makes me feel good that my results continue to be awesome!  I have the results for the past three years here, so I can see how things compare:

10/11/12 10/10/13 9/16/14 Recommended
Total Cholesterol 140 160 158 <200 td="">
HDL 70 60 69 >60
LDL 61 81 80 <130 td="">
Total/HDL 2.0 2.5 2.3 <3 .1="" td="">
Triglycerides 45 75 45 <100 td="">
Fasting Glucose 81 83 86 70-99
Weight 148 146 148 Whatevs

Also, my blood pressure was great this morning.  One thing that makes me happy is the way that my weight has been so stable for the past few years, and, indeed, the years before that.

What's my secret?  Well, it's not a secret.  It is a sound genetic constitution plus a lifestyle that actually follows all the recommendations that the health professionals hand out.  I exercise 5-6 days per week.  I eat more than five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and minimize my consumption of processed food.  I sleep for about eight hours per night, going to bed typically before 10 pm.  I engage in a variety of hobbies that make me happy and keep me engaged with the world around me.  I'm still working on flossing every day, but I do have a dentist appointment next week.  :)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pick up heavy thing...check.

This morning was my first day in the weight room after a week-long vacation.  Everything was heavy; it was not easy.  (Of course, it's never "easy".)  I'm in week four of the second block of my training program, which is a de-load week.  I was supposed to de-load on reps, rather than weight, but for this morning I chose to de-load on weight as a necessity.  Kicked everything down about 2.5 - 5 pounds.  I'll see what happens tomorrow.

Honestly, I've been having problems with food while on this program.  We're supposed to keep track of protein, fat, and total calories, and periodically eat at a calorie deficit to support any fat-loss goals, but all of that took me much farther away from Intuitive Eating than I'd like to be.  I'm trying to figure out a good way to keep track of things without letting the numbers drive my eating.  I already have the patterns built in to ensure that I'm getting plenty of protein.  My plan is to try logging foods in all at the end of the day, so I only see the numbers after I've finished eating.  That way I can focus on intuition but still track some numbers.

On the cooking front, while doing a little antique shopping for the Gatsby Summer Afternoon, I picked up a cookbook published in 1940.  (Lemme try to remember to take a picture of it.)  I haven't cooked anything yet, but some recipes have caught my eye.  What's particularly amusing is that the section on game includes such delicacies as squirrel and opossum.  Also, the vegetable chapter contains kohlrabi, an excellent vegetable that has fallen out of popularity in our modern times.

If you see kohlrabi at the farmer's market or grocery store, give it a try!  I like to eat it raw.  Just cut off the outer peel (the root end is particularly fibrous, so you might have to pare away more at that end), slice into chunks, and eat.  If you like raw broccoli, you'll enjoy kohlrabi.

Monday, September 1, 2014

1950s Experiment

While we were waiting in numerous lines at California's Great America amusement park on Saturday, my friend mentioned that he should send me a link to a "1950s Housewife Experiment".  Since he has a limited capacity for remembering tiny details, especially after 96 ounces of beer and an exciting iPhone versus Gravity adventure (iPhone 1, Gravity 0.2), I decided to look it up myself.

"1950s Housewife Experiment" made for a quick and easy search on Google, and I read about both of Jen's adventures in semi-immersive 1950s housewife living.  You can chose to read it all yourself here.

What vexed me just a little bit were her descriptions of 1950s cooking.  Not the molded salad abominations--we all know those are scary--but what she perceived as the unhealthiness of it all.  Describing a simple white sauce as heart attack-inducing, coming up with an uncited recipe which uses 1/2 cup each brown sugar and butter to sauce cooked carrots for two people, serving bacon practically every single morning, claiming that dessert is served after every dinner and canned vegetables are used in every recipe.

Attached as I am to my own copy of "Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book"--a facsimile edition of the 1950 original--I could not tolerate having the good name of c. 1950 meals besmirched in this fashion.  If you take a look at the nutrition guidelines presented in the Meal Planning chapter, there's some very reasonable suggestions:

"Be sure that these Basic Seven Foods appear on your table daily to fill in the circle of Good Nutrition:

Group 1: Green and Yellow Vegetables...some raw--some cooked, frozen, or canned; one serving a day
Group 2: Oranges, Tomatoes, Grapefruit...or raw cabbage or salad greens; one serving a day
Group 3: Potatoes and Other Vegetable and Fruits...raw, dried, cooked, frozen, or canned; two or more servings a day
Group 4: Milk and Milk Products...fluid, evaporated, dried milk, or cheese; 1 pt. a day
Group 5: Meat, Poultry, Fish or Eggs...or dried beans, peas, nuts, peanut butter; 1 serving each day
Group 6: Bread, Flour, and Cereals...natural whole-grain or enriched or restored; three or more servings a day
Group 7: Butter and Fortified Margarine...(with added Vitamin A)"

So, let me get this straight: Betty is advocating 4 or more servings a day of fruit and veg, protein sources, whole-grain cereals, and consumption of Vitamin A.  This is unhealthy how?  Since it was published in 1950, it's based on cooking habits coming out of the 1940s, where there was much less dependance on pre-made ingredients, like canned mushrooms and cake mix, and a lot more basic recipes using easily-available, real-food ingredients.

Oh, there's also some basic meal planning for "adequate meals" and "abundant meals".  (I'll put the "abundant meals" add-ons in brackets.)

Breakfast: Fruit, Cereal and Milk, Bread and Butter, [Egg or Meat]
Lunch: Main Dish, Vegetables, Bread and Butter, Fruit, [Cake or Cookies or Pudding]
Dinner: [Appetizer or Soup], Meat and Potatoes, Green or Yellow Vegetables, Salad, Bread and Butter, Fruit, [Pie or Cake]

So, "abundant meals" means a couple hundred more calories in the shape of carbohydrates.

In addition, if you look at Betty's serving sizes, they are very modest compared to what we're accustomed to eating today.  Recipes involving 1 lb of ground meat (filled out with eggs and milk) stretch to serve 6.  Ham and egg pie uses 1/2 lb ham and six eggs, and once again serves 6.  She offers three ways of making a basic white sauce: thin, medium, and thick.  The thin sauce uses 1 T butter, and can be used to make creamed vegetables to serve 4.  That's less than 1 teaspoon of butter per person.  Cookie recipes make 4-6 dozen cookies--and you might get two cookies from the cookie jar if Mom is feeling generous; otherwise that's one 2 1/2 inch oatmeal cookie that you're eating per day.

In fact, I feel so good about these recipes that I'm going to start cooking more of them.  I've started already.  Last night I made creamed vegetables using a medium white sauce and steamed potatoes and green beans.  Tonight I whipped up "New Netherlands Cole Slaw" to pack in my lunch tomorrow.  I've got my eye on the "Green Rice" supper dish, replacing the spinach with some baby kale I received in my CSA box last week.

How about you?  Do you have any favorite recipes from early cookbooks?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Angel Island 12K & 25K Recap

Long time, no writing, I know.  I'm stealing just a few minutes to talk about last Saturday's race.

It was awesome!  I had a great run: challenging, rewarding, and fun.  The weather was perfect--nice and cool, overcast but still light, a great breeze on occasion.  The trail was awkward in spots, where I figured it was going to be awkward, being a very narrow dirt trail on a hillside with high poky plants on either side.  I did have to walk on some of the uphills around mile 4-4.5.  It was steep enough and my legs were tired enough that I just didn't want to push myself to the point of foolishness.  I would walk for 10 paces, then run for 10 paces and decide if I needed to walk again.  Deciding that it would be more fun while dressed as a superhero, I put on my Hawkgirl-inspired costume from the superhero trampoline adventure back in January.  Yellow leotard, green tights, red briefs and tall socks, plus black sleeves because I knew it would start off cold.  No one recognized me as Hawkgirl--several people called me Robin.

This is Hawkgirl.
This is Robin.

My official time was 1:15.36.  I was aiming to come in under 1:20, so hooray!  I also thought this was a pretty good time for running 7 miles.  Then I realized that 12K is nearly 7.5 miles, so double hooray!  Also, it was nice to see that I was fourth in my age group (females 35-39) out of 26 runners.

Maybe I should put the 25K run on my calendar for next year.  I'm definitely scoping out a half marathon to do next spring, if I can find a reasonably flat one.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Stuck in the Middle

Within the past week, I have been on opposite sides of the FA/HAES world.  I was able to interact personally in one incident, and decided to remain outside of the second.  It was an interesting firsthand experience with 1) thin privilege and 2) exercise hatred.

First was the positive experience.  While hiking with my college chums last weekend, while they were talking about their favorite forms of activism, I spoke up about the activism that I'm interested in, which is combating sizeism.  The first comment of one friend was along the lines of, "Well, fat people are okay as long as they're not unhealthily obese, and they should all work to lose weight."  After a few teaching moments on my part, on the issues of size acceptance and HAES, and because this friend has the capacity for rational thought, she realized that her initial statement was a knee-jerk reaction based on her life experiences, so she took it back and was understanding of why I feel the need for activism on this subject.

Second was a more negative experience.  On an online FA forum, a woman wrote in about a friend/cousin/someone, a dancer and frequent exerciser, who had fallen and done some damage to her low back, including a broken L5 vertebra.  Her doctor had said something along the lines of, "Good thing you've been exercising, because the damage could have been worse."  The responses within the forum were 99% in the vein of, "My fat gives me extra padding from falls.  Maybe if she hadn't been breaking down her body with so much exercise, she wouldn't have been hurt so badly."  Needless to say, as someone who both loves to exercise and has suffered from back problems over half her lifetime, this response upset me.  I know for a fact that I have recovered from minor back injuries faster and have had fewer problems and less pain because I have strengthened my back.  But I'm afraid to write in and have my opinion discounted because of my thin privilege.

It's just interesting to see the herd mentality on both sides.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Water, How I Love Thee

One aspect of the High Performance Body Recomposition project which I am doing, is that all 16 or so of us participants, along with the two online coaches, are together in a secret group on Facebook.  This does provide a useful means for the coaches to share files regarding our workouts and diets, and for everyone to have an opportunity to learn from one individual's question.  The disadvantage, as far as I'm concerned, is that there are a few highly vocal individuals who like to step in and make my question about them, or who are trying to be at the head of this imaginary class by somehow finishing the second workout of week two before week one is over.  (Seriously, are you lifting weights every day?  Did you not read the bit where the two plans are classified as "three workouts per week" or "four workouts per week"?)

As I mentioned, one of our tasks for month one is to establish our maintenance level of eating: the number of calories that will sustain us at our current weight, performing the workouts as delineated.  A couple women (there is only one man in the group) were thinking that they'd need to add in some calories because in the first week they'd lost...drum roll...one pound.


Do you know that two cups of water weigh one pound?  So if I chug a pint of beer after a run (The Judge has declared that beer is the perfect post-workout recovery drink), I will increase my weight by a pound.  Or if I don't drink very much in the evening and sleep in a warm room for eight hours, sweating and respiring all that time, I can wake up a pound lighter than when I started.  Or, frankly, if I have an epic trip to the loo.  One pound of difference, in the short term, does not signify weight loss to me.

Or perhaps my thinking is just flawed.  When I stepped on the scale at the gym this morning, it indicated that my mass versus the earth's gravitational pull was producing a weight of 147.0 pounds.  This is after consistently weighing in at 150.0 pounds for all of last week.  Did I think to myself, "Hey--I've lost three pounds.  Better up my calories a bit."  Nope.  I thought, "Hey--I've lost three pounds.  I must be a little dehydrated."  Warm night, peed a lot yesterday, sweated during my morning treadmill workout => dehydrated.

However, if my weight stays at 147.0 every time I weigh myself for the next couple of weeks, then I'll believe that it represents actual weight lost, and I'll need to add some calories.

In other news, you may think that water is the best liquid for hydration...and you'd be right.  Yet another study, published by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, has demonstrated that "neither coconut water nor sports drinks were better than water in hydrating young men after hourlong workouts."  I learned this over at Marion Nestle's site Food Politics.  Her write-up is here, and the original paper is available (free access!) here.

This morning, I spent some time hydrating myself with my favorite water of choice, tea.  :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Reminder: Food Does Not Have Moral Value!

First, let me up and apologize for all those times in the past when I was locked into my own personal low-grade eating disorder.  I was wrong.

While out at lunch with coworkers last Friday, there were two incidents of, well, food shaming.

First up, one fellow commented on the fact that he ate a bowl of ice cream for dinner last night.  My response: "Well, if that's what you wanted to eat and it satisfied you, then no worries."  His reply was that he only ate ice cream because there was no other food in the house, and he couldn't be bothered to go shopping or out to a restaurant.  Well, at least he was honest.  :)

Second, a woman was deciding on her lunch, and was talking about "being bad" by ordering the salad + quesadilla combo.  Another woman, seated across from her, agreed heartily.  I didn't butt in with a response at the time, but it would have been along the lines of what I said above.

You are not a bad person for eating food.  Food is not inherently good or bad, or absolutely healthy or unhealthy.  Even the unhealthiest foods I can think of still provide calories, and our bodies run on calories.  I don't beat myself up anymore if I eat something containing white flour or processed cane sugar.  A bagel simply is.  A doughnut simply is.  A strawberry would be a poor choice for someone who is allergic to them, while a cheesy breakfast burrito would be a fine choice for someone who likes having a hearty breakfast.  No single meal, or single day of eating, will undo an overall balanced diet.