The long and winding road to fitness, day 197

Another pretty good day today.   Getting my exercise in and eating healthier, still not perfect, but much better than it has been.  I’ve noticed I’m sleeping better.  Of course, not having to go to work may have something to do with that.

I got my cardio in on the exercise bike today.  I’m trying to alternate walking and biking in the hope that I’ll be able to avoid hip and/or knee pain.  Keeping my fingers crossed that it works.  I did core exercises today too.  So far I’m not experiencing a lot of muscle soreness, very mild.  Not sure if that means I’m not working hard enough, not doing enough, or that I didn’t totally lose the fitness I’d worked so hard for.

I pulled the crock pot out today and made a pot of chicken chili with quinoa instead of pasta.  One of my friends (thanks, Chris) mentioned that they had tried that in an effort to make the chili a little healthier, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.  Not bad, not great…but it was okay.  I may play around with the recipe and see if I can improve on it.  The quinoa did make it thicker and I think you could either reduce the amount of meat in the chili or do away with it altogether.

I’m definitely going to make this again, I just think I want to figure out how to make it better…then you can bet I’ll post a recipe with all kinds of pictures.

I was out running some errands today around lunch time.  I have to admit, I did consider stopping at one of the multitude of fast food joints I drove past…but I didn’t!  Instead I drove home where I had tilapia and half a sweet potato for lunch.  A tiny step in the right direction…making it just a little further down that winding, bumpy road to fitness.

The long and winding road to fitness, day 72

Quinua (Quinoa) plants near Cachora, Apurímac,...

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Seventy two days!  Unfortunately, no weight loss this week…darn it!  But I have jumped back on the wagon of healthy eating this weekend.  I cooked quinoa corn cakes to take for my lunch for work.  I baked blueberry muffins and put most of them in the freezer, so I have a healthier snack available.  I avoided buying junk food this weekend.  I exercised consistently.  I ate more fruit and veggies.  So, a few steps in the right direction, I do believe.

One of the things I’ve realized about this journey is that it truly is about taking small positive steps.  It’s not about completely changing everything in my life right now, this instant.  It’s about making small changes, working those changes until they become habits, and then moving on to the next step.  There have been many times in my life when I’ve changed everything all at once…but I could only maintain those changes for a short period of time because I didn’t give myself time to develop good habits.  I was hanging on desperately, but inevitably my grip would slip and I’d find myself in a heap at the bottom of the mountain I’d struggled so hard to climb.   I would hang my head in shame, go back to my old lifestyle, and reverse all of the progress I’d made.  I gave up until the next time I tried to solve my problems utilizing the exact same methods that hadn’t worked the previous fifty times I’d tried to lose weight.  Talk about crazy!

Now I’m working at changing slowly, focusing on health and fitness more than weight, taking the time to change my lifestyle..not through sheer willpower but through changing my beliefs and my habits.  It may take me longer to lose the weight this way, but if I can keep it off, who cares how long it takes?

Quinoa corn cakes

I had completely forgotten how truly tasty this meal is until I was browsing recipes at SparkRecipes.com.  When I came across this one I knew this was what I was going to prepare for my lunch for work for the first part of the work week.  Because this recipe is so basic I already had everything I needed on hand.

Quinoa, whole wheat flour, an egg, skim milk, onion, frozen corn, salt, pepper, and water…how much more basic can you get?  Here’s the link to the recipe…

http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=1207271

Okay, this doesn’t look like much before you cook it…

But look at this with a little fresh salsa on the side…yum!  Tasty, filling and about 200 calories for lunch…can’t beat that!

Watch out! Cooking can be dangerous.

Plastic wrap on top of a vessel.

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In anticipation of my return to work, I was cooking some quinoa today. The plan was to make a cold quinoa salad to take for lunch for the early part of the week.  Quinoa is good for you, tasty, combines easily with a variety of produce to come up with a lot of different dishes.  The salad I was making today had red quinoa, fresh yellow tomato, onion, cucumber, summer squash (both yellow and green) and black beans.  Then, of course, I used my trusty Hendrickson’s sweet vinegar and olive oil dressing (yes, again).  The flavors meld perfectly to produce the most delicious summer salad.  Since I’m trying to eat healthier food and avoid fast food restaurants, this works well for me…something I actually like and that has a lot of different veggies in it.

I decided to cook the quinoa in the microwave since it’s so terribly hot today.  No need to heat the house up unnecessarily…isn’t that what microwaves are for?  So I measured out the quinoa I had left in my pantry (added quinoa to my grocery list) and used one part quinoa to two parts water.  Put everything in a microwave safe bowl, tore off enough plastic wrap to loosely cover the bowl, put it in the microwave for 8 minutes.  When the dinger went off, I opened the microwave door and noticed that the plastic wrap had puffed up.  I lifted the edge of it up…children, don’t try this at home!  Steam billowed over my right hand…ouch, ouch, ouch.  I’m proud to say not even one cuss word escaped from my mouth…that doesn’t mean I wasn’t thinking them, but at least I managed to keep my nasty thoughts to myself.  I left the offending bowl of quinoa where it was and walked over to the sink and ran cool water over my hand for a while.  That helped, well, at least as long as I kept my hand under the running water.  Kind of difficult to get anything else done with your hand under the faucet.  So I decided to be a big girl and just deal with the pain.  I sat down at the computer while the quinoa was cooling for 15 minutes…cooling, or sitting there, or something.  Hey, the instructions say to let it sit there for 15 minutes then put it back in the microwave for another two minutes…so that’s what I did.

As I was working on a blog post, I could feel the heat emanating from my fingers.  Not the best feeling in the world, but I’ve had worse things happen.  If I had an aloe plant, now would be the time (or past time) to coax a little aloe gel from the plant…note to self, add aloe plant to shopping list…

See, I took my mother’s advice and never ran with the scissors, or stuck my hand in the garbage disposal, or took a pan out of the oven without using a pot holder (just kidding, she never told me about that, somehow I just knew that was something you didn’t want to do), but the steam…I’m sure somewhere along the line, she must have informed me about the dangers of steam, but it slipped my mind for about five seconds today…now I’ve got the burns as a not-so-gentle reminder…cooking is a very dangerous activity.  The next time I hear someone say that they’re steaming mad, I’ll know exactly what they’re talking about.

The long and winding road to fitness, day 1

cooked red quinoa

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Okay, I know this isn’t the first time I’ve said this, but I really am going to work at regaining my health and fitness…and that begins today.  I’m going to do some form of exercise every day, even if for only 10 minutes.  That is to get me back in the habit of exercising regularly.  After I’ve re-established that habit, I’ll work on increasing the intensity and length of workouts…well, I’ll gradually increase both intensity and duration each week.  I’m cutting out junk food, cooking more real food, planning my meals and snacks for each day.  I’ll weigh myself once a week and take my measurements once a month.

I don’t feel comfortable talking about what I weigh, but I will tell you what I’ve lost or, heaven forbid, gained each week.  I guess, by the time I’m closer to the end of this road (hmm…I guess the road to becoming fit and healthy turns into the road of maintaining that level of health and fitness, I don’t think the journey ever really ends), you’ll probably have a pretty good idea of what I weighed when I started (gasp), but for now, we’ll do things my way.

I’ll talk about what I’ve eaten each day and probably about why I’ve eaten what I’ve eaten (stress?  can you say work related stress?).  I’ll also talk about what I’m doing to better cope with my life.  We all know people don’t gain this much weight just because food tastes good, right?  I totally get that I need to work on the underlying issues in order to conquer this problem once and for all.  I know it won’t be easy, it won’t always feel comfortable, but it’s what I need to do in order to live the life I want to live, to whole heartedly embrace this life of mine, to be happy with who I am and where I am.  And I’m going to share my journey with you lucky folks…and if anyone cares to join me, hop aboard…we can work together.

So….for today…

Exercise:  walk 15 minutes; strength training, upper body, 6 sets with light weights; stretching 5 minutes

Nutrition:  breakfast-bagel (250 cal), pb (180 cal), skim milk (80 cal), oj (80 cal)  Total for breakfast:  630 cal

  lunch-soup (110 cal), rye bread, 2 slices (140 cal), cheese (100 cal), 1/2 banana (60 cal)   Total for lunch:  410

  dinner-quinoa and black bean salad (385 cal), frozen grapes  (120 cal), V8 Fusion (50 cal)  Total for dinner:  555

Total calories for the day (remember guys, I’m a girl)…1,595 which is right in the range where I want to be  1500-1800 calories a day.  I know I’m going to have to do some tweaking in order to get in additional servings of fruits and veggies…once the bagels are gone (3 left), I’ll buy either the Thomas’ bagel thins or a 35 calorie whole wheat bread…that alone will save at least 150 calories to use on additional healthier foods.  The quinoa and black bean salad is one of my favorite meals, so you’ll probably see it fairly frequently.

My first pepper of the season from my little patio garden.

Chopped onion, pepper and black beans added to quinoa.

Olive oil and my handy-dandy Hendrickson’s sweet vinegar and olive oil dressing.

The finished product..yum!!  If I’d had tomatoes or zucchini in the house, I would have added them to the salad.  That’s the great thing about this dish, you can put whatever you have on hand into it and it’ll be delish!!  Go ahead, experiment!

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Hummus…a convenience food?

Hummus

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I was trying to figure out what to take to work for my for the rest of the week.  Nothing in the freezer or fridge was calling my name.  I looked in the pantry, thought about quinoa and black beans…one of my favorite dishes.  Then I saw the package of hummus mix on the shelf.  Oh yeah, quick, easy, tasty and good for me.  I grabbed the box…

and proceeded to mix up this wonderful convenience food.  All it takes is olive oil and warm water…can you believe that?  I love hummus, but I usually can’t eat an entire container of the pre-made stuff before it goes bad.  With this mix, I just put some of the mix in a bowl, saving the rest for another day.

How convenient is that?  And way better for me than a frozen dinner or a Lean Pocket, right?  I’ll pick a few lettuce leaves in the morning, use the hummus as a spread on a sandwich thin and top it with lettuce and pickles…yum!!  Throw in a piece of fruit and I’m ready to go!!