Sunday, May 6, 2012

Life Sucks. Eat More Kimchee. (Recipe and parentheticals included.)

Yesterday was suck-tastic.  I mean really, the kind of day that makes you wonder just Whom, in the cosmic sense, you have pissed off. 

"I don't know," mused my neighbor, "But it probably has something to do with that sticker on your car."

Saturday, May 5, 2012

So What's My Excuse?

So a couple of weekends ago, I had to finally admit to myself that my weight had peaked at a level that I really did not like.  I say "peaked," intentionally, because that was the moment where I had to tell myself: this goes no further.  That was the moment I had to decide that I was going to get off the metaphorical treadmill of discontent, butt-sitting, and sugar-binging and start a new program.

I thought about blogging it here, and inviting you all to 'watch my transformation,' or somesuch, or post a picture of myself feeling a bloated and embarassed and wearing a bikini so that in six weeks, I could post another picture of myself slightly less bloated but still embarassed in a bikini, as if that would inspire you all to make whatever changes in your lives you have in the queue.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Recipe: Kale Crispies

Seriously.  Take my word for it, these are gooooooooooood. Everyone loves them.  Even—or especially—kids.  And they couldn’t be simpler.
1 lb.  raw kale, rinsed, with heavy stalks removed
¼ c. (or so) Olive oil
Salt, Pepper, or other seasonings
Preheat the oven to 425 F.  
Dry the kale well.  Toss it with enough olive oil to coat.  Unless you have a positively a gargantuan mixing bowl, you may need to do this in two or three batches.  Spread as much as will fit in a single layer onto a cookie sheet.  Place in the over and toast until crispy. 
Note:  The kale will start out an opaque dark green.  As it cooks, it will gradually turn a brighter green, and then translucent green.  Then it will start to brown.  In my experience, the batch is done when 10-20% of the kale has begun to brown.  Check it, and gently stir it a time or two.  It should be crispy when done.  Like a delicate green potato chip, but better.
Note, take two: These are best right out of the over, but if you let them cool to room temperature, you can store them in an air-tight container for several days.  If they’re a little limp, just pop them back in the oven (or toaster oven) for a minute or two to crisp them back up.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pro-Tip: Print Tops

Yes, I understand that this is about the most cryptic blog title ever.  But all will become clear to you when I say one more word:


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Why Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day

Tip: It has nothing to do with Bruce Jenner.
Self-help gurus and diet experts and MSN article will all tell you the same thing:  breakfast is so important because if you skip it, you’re more likely to binge later.  And your energy will slump.  And you’ll have brain-fog.  Etc., etc.
All of which may be true enough, but in my own experience, the real reason why breakfast is so important is because it sets the tone for the rest of the day.  Eat a bunch of crap for breakfast, and you’ll feel like crap, of course, but you’ll also have rigged the psychological deck against yourself.
Lunchtime rolls around, and you think, “Well, I already blew breakfast.  I might as well have a bacon double-cheeseburger for lunch.”  You can imagine (or maybe you’ve experienced) where this leads for dinner. 
I call this the What The Hell Effect.  You think, “What the hell?  The day’s already ruined…  Why not go whole-hog?”
A friend of mine, years ago, joined Weight Watchers.  A woman there told her, “That’s like spilling a little milk, then going back to the refrigerator, getting the carton out, and dumping the rest on the floor, too.”

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Letting Go. And This Time I Really Mean It.

"Yoga isn't a competitive sport," I often tell my classes.  “Do your best—not what you think ought to be your best, or what your best was 20 years ago, or the person beside you’s best.”

And I mean it.

And I try to practice what I preach.  There are poses that I will likely never be able to do the way the Yoga Journal models do them.  I tell myself I’m OK with that.  I understand the pose; I understand the biomechanics underpinning the pose; I understand how to modify the pose for myself and others.

I even understand that it’s insane to try to achieve some “ideal” yoga goal, that being so focused on the external goal completely undermines everything you achieve along the way.  I get that.  It’s all about the journey.  The process is the point.

Yadda-yadda.  Because…then deep down, there is this sneaky little voice in my own head that says, “If you were a real yogini, you’d be able to [insert name of crazy contortion here].”  The voice that says, “You’re a fraud.”  The voice that starts small, but then makes me feel small.  Some of my friends call their version of this the voice of Satan. 

I just call it “negative self-talk.”

“Be aware of the negative self-talk,” I tell the people in my class.  Because the worst thing is when you don’t even know you’re doing it.  Then you think that voice is actually something other than your own doubt—you think it actually means something; you think it has something to tell you.

“Replace the negative chatter with something positive,” I say, even as my own well of cheery affirmations runs a little muddy.

And then, this past week, I had…a moment.  I won’t call it a breakthrough, that would be too intimidating.  Just a moment. 

I really got it.  I let go of the striving.  I simply was.  With all of my limitations, my tight hips and my S/I joint “issues,” all of that extra subcutaneous insulation that prevents me from binding certain poses.  I felt acceptance.

I felt it—experienced it—understood it.

Normally, you see, I just think it.  I think “I accept myself,” and I think about why that’s good and important, and then if I’m feeling especially self-referential, I might think about the fact that I’m thinking about it, and then I notice the thinking, and then I remind myself to just be, and then I think about what a funny word the verb “to be” is, and I wonder if I’ll ever really get the two different words for “to be” in Spanish, and then I think about how linguistic differences evolve, and what that says about us as cultures, as people, and…

Yeah.   So you can see why this moment of true self-acceptance felt remarkable.

We’ll see if it sticks.


-          Erica

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Absolutely Free, 100% Effective Weight Loss Tip

Every time you feel like eating, go work out instead.

Oh, wait... You were looking for a secret Himalayan herb?  Or an acupressure point?  Or a magical affirmation?

Sorry, I’m fresh out.

But this one works, I can guarantee that.  It just…sucks.  I mean, you don’t waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaant to go work out.  You WANT a pint of Karamel Sutra.

Trust me, I feel your pain.

And my advice is only half-flippant.  For many positive lifestyle changes, the road to success is paved with well-chosen replacement habits.

Let’s start with the fact that for most of us, “feeling like eating” is rarely about real hunger.  I’m not encouraging exercise bulimia when I suggest that you work out when you feel like eating.  I’m encouraging you to recognize that the urge to eat has many different causes, and hunger is just one—and likely not even the one you’re experiencing when you think, “Ooooh, I’d like a little smackerel.”

Just now, for instance, my older daughter torched me with a little adolescent rage.  And in the next minute, I found myself wandering in to the kitchen, opening the pantry, and reaching for…some mango gummy candy.  Did I feel like eating?  Absolutely.  Was I hungry?  No.  Not even a little bit.

The worst part?  Just eight of those gummy little bastards pack 140 calories, 80% of them from sugar.

Now let’s say I had already established in my head that any time I felt like eating, I would head to my stationary cycle instead.  First, just the “threat” of having to get on the bike might have been enough to prevent me from eating the candy.  And if I had gone so far as to actually get on the bike and ride it, just 15 minutes of moderate exercise could have burned over 100 calories.

So develop some replacement behaviors.  Start by identifying your weaknesses.  I’ll start with “stress eating.”  Then make a rule to govern that behavior:  “When I feel like eating, I will ride the stationary cycle for 15 minutes, instead.”

If you’re the sort who thrives under regimentation, you can go further: “And then I will wait another 15 minutes, and if I am still hungry, I will eat a [insert specific healthy snack here].”

Good luck.  And stay away from the gummy mango candy.  It would take you over 20 minutes of exercise just to get back to where you started.