Thursday, March 21, 2013

Duck Eggs!

A surprise awaited me when I picked up my monthly meat shipment from Marin Sun Farms.  A free sample of two duck eggs!  They're trying to lure us into adding on to our usual boxes.  I honestly don't know what to do with a duck egg besides eat it like a normal egg, so I'll keep you posted as to how that goes.

My shipment was a little odd this month, which has me slightly vexed.  Instead of five separate 1 pound packages of ground meat, I was given two large packages of ground beef.  Very curious, and difficult to portion down.  I may have to invite all my friends over for tacos, or make a huge batch of goulash for freezing.  Also received was a large pork loin (excellent--just the thing to roast medieval-style) and a small chunk of lamb leg.

As it was simply a gorgeous, sunny afternoon, I started planting a garden when I arrived home from work.  One small section of cilantro is in the dirt, and a dozen cress seeds have been started inside.  The seed peas are soaking to plant tomorrow.  I'm going to plant in batches, so not everything flourishes at the same time.  There are also some pumpkin seeds in the ground, which I saved from a kabocha.  I have never before planted using saved seeds, and neither have I attempted to grow pumpkin, so it will be interesting to see if anything actually appears.

Green Lantern runs on Saturday!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Gender Stereotyping

Earlier this week, I read a nice blog post over at Fit, Feminist and (almost) Fifty.  Gender Stereotype Reversal in the Gym.  Disclaimer: I have not watched the video referenced in the posting.  I have not had any particular gender-related issues at my gym, probably because it is at my workplace, and the various gym goers see each other as coworkers and (potentially) teammates, rather than along strict gender divides.  I've never had a guy offer any unsolicited comments about my presence in the weight room (and, believe me, there are a few muscle-bound grunting guys in there), but I have encouraged the other women who show up to lift heavy things.  (Note: I've also encouraged the men who show up to lift heavy things, but only the men that I know.)

This morning, the issue of gender stereotyping in the gym was at the forefront of my mind.  Our gym is much longer than it is wide.  At the front is the cardio equipment, then the weight machines, and at the back is the free weight room.  As I strolled in at 7 am, I walked past all the guys working out on the ellipticals, treadmills, and machines, then I stepped into the weight room, where I was the only person.  So this girl got a nice quiet session with the free weights.  My favorite part was grabbing a 45 pound plate off the rack to hold while doing lunges.

Who has two thumbs, likes wine and weight lifting?  This girl.

Giant Trees

[Here's a post that was intended for publication on Tuesday:]

Had an experience yesterday morning that made me think. I was stretching after my regularly-scheduled exercise routine (deadlifts, split squats, lat pull-downs, bicycling intervals, etc.) My position against the wall outside the group exercise class room meant that anyone leaving the room would walk right past me. There had been a new class in there that morning--some kind of high-intensity interval training sort of class--and one lady, an older woman, had stayed afterwards to speak with the instructor about her physical limitations. As she walked past me, she piped up.

"You're welcome to join us," she said, brightly.

"No thanks," I replied, smiling, "I'm good with my weight lifting."

I found it interesting to note that the class had been full of women, and here I was, another woman, being invited into the class. I'm going to make a generalization here: most women like doing things in groups. They get a sense of camaraderie and support. For a woman who's not very partial to exercising, who hasn't yet solidified within herself all the fabulous reasons to exercise, it can be a boon to have group exercise classes.

However, I prefer to exercise alone. Sure, I have been know to do things in teams, but even then I was working on my own while there were teammates around me. We'd call out encouragement at each other and such, and I'd be quietly bemused by the weird exercise routines the guys would come up with. Weight lifting: pumping iron by myself. Running: cruising the trails by myself. Perhaps it's an introvert thing--I like having the quiet time to stay in my own head. (Plus, I don't love it when other people slow me down.)

Which way is best? You and I both know that the best way to exercise for a particular person is under the conditions which encourage them to exercise. You may like best to run with a group, while I prefer to stay quiet and solo. We're both running, though, and that's what really matters.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Don't Be That Guy

Me: "How'd you like to get together for a drink/come over for dinner at my house/take advantage of an opportunity to make out?"

Guy: "Sure, sounds great."

Me: "Friday/next Thursday/pick a date?"

Guy: "Let me check my schedule and get back to you."

. . .

Me, in my brain, 'cause he never got back to me: "Dumbass."

Men, please don't be that guy.  When a woman likes you and asks to spend time with you, there are two options.  Decline gracefully, or make the date.  Girlfriends, same goes for you, too.  I have enough to worry about in my life without stressing over whether you only chose me as a placeholder friend until you could find someone cooler to spend time with.

See?  We'll both get to hold hands and wear fabulous headgear.  Cocktails are in the next room!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

One of those days

There are times when you go to the gym on a Monday morning, and an exercise which should be totally doable is really difficult--you just can't make it through all the reps of your sets.  Maybe you're still a little tired from a weekend of fun.  Maybe you're hormonal, seriously PMSing, or due to start your period any minute now and in the early stages of cramping.  Maybe you're just having a slightly off day.  That's okay: lots of factors can contribute to not being quite able to lift as much weight as you'd thought.  The important thing is that you're there, in the gym, working out, building up consistency and executing the exercises you can do with the best form possible.  Know that it'll be better next time.

Of course, maybe you're a misremembering squid like me, and put two 10 lb plates on the bar instead of two 5 lb plates, unintentionally trying to lift rather more than your body expected.  Now I *know* it'll be better next time.  On Friday, when I repeat this workout, I can try it with two 5s and two 2.5s, because obviously my muscles are capable of a little more weight, just not quite the jump I tried to do this morning.

Obviously, I was the dumb belle here.  :)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Recipe

Follow my train of thought on this one: Valentine's Day features prominently both hearts and chocolate.  Next, the early civilization of the Inca Empire also feature hearts (human sacrifice) and chocolate (cacao beans are indigenous to Central and South America.)  Therefore, since I can't get a sacrificial heart on this short notice, here's a little recipe involving chocolate.

Mesoamerican Chocolate Pudding
(Serves 4 generously, 6 adequately)

2 Tbsp cornstarch
6 Tbsp powdered sugar (it's the sugar I currently have on hand, since I'm out of honey)
Dash of salt
1 egg
2 C milk
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped or broken into chunks
1/2 - 1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp powdered cayenne pepper
1 tsp rum or vanilla

Mix the cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a saucepan.  Add the egg and beat well with a whisk so there are no lumps.  Stir in the milk.  Heat over low heat, whisking frequently until the mixture starts steaming, then constantly as it thickens and comes to a boil.  Boil and stir 1 minute, then remove from heat.  Add the chocolate, spices, and rum or vanilla.  Stir occasionally until the chocolate completely melts.  Spoon into serving dishes (I use 6 oz custard cups), press plastic wrap directly against the surface to prevent any undesirable skin from forming, and chill at least 90 mins to 2 hours.

The warm spices combine so nicely with the chocolate, the pudding is not too sweet, and you can pretend you're the high priestess at the top of a pyramid with a chanting populace below.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Eat Smarter, Not Harder

I'd like to introduce a new paradigm in health and fitness: Eat Better, Move More.  [EBMM]

I get rather irked whenever people say that Eat Less, Move More [ELMM] doesn't work for weight loss.  It does.  They also say that it's not about Calories In Calories Out [CICO].  It is.  At least, it always has been for me.  Every time in the past 20 years that I have kept track of my calorie intake to ensure it didn't get out of control and maintained a consistent exercise regimen, I have lost weight, and I have maintained that weight loss.

This all started back in high school: my senior year I kept a food diary (for the entire year) and went for regular walks, took water aerobics for gym class, etc.  In college, the "freshman 15" was never an issue for me because the dining hall had a well-stocked salad bar and great vegetarian options, and the gym facilities on campus were great (weight room, dance studio, indoor and outdoor running tracks.)  Nowadays, I keep track of calories on one of the convenient websites ( and I'm fortunate enough to have a gym at work and dance classes twice a week.

Presumably, the reason that it has worked for me is because I realized that "eat less" doesn't mean "put yourself on starvation rations."  Back when I wasn't exercising as much as I do now, my weight loss intake was around 1700 to 1800 calories a day.  I couldn't imagine going on one of those diets--like you see in women's fitness magazines every month--that takes you down to 1200 or 1400 calories a day.  At 5' 7" tall, that's like the food supply in a concentration camp.  Nowadays, since I'm actively trying to build muscle, my calorie intake is more like 2000 to 2100.  That's a very reasonable amount of food.

We can all agree on certain things.  Exercise is good--our bodies were not designed to be stationary all day.  Junk food--processed food high in calories and low in nutrients--is not good for you.  If you eat too few calories, your body will respond by assuming that there's a famine, and slow down your metabolism.

The intent of Eat Better, Move More is to demonstrate that one can consume a healthy, natural, filling diet with a reasonable caloric intake while enjoying pleasurable, dynamic physical activity.  What real foods do you like?  Eat them!  They'll provide calories in the form of protein, carbohydrates, and fat; plus all kinds of micronutrients like Vitamin B12 and potassium.  What sorts of physical activities do you like?  Do them!  Whether you're lifting weights, or walking at sunset, or playing baseball, it'll give your muscles some reason for being, lift up your mood, and maybe even strengthen your bones.

What do you think about the concept of EBMM?