23 November 2011

taking the long view on fitness and nutrition

One of my fascinations is with the myriad of advice, tips, tricks, and general "information" out there about health, fitness and nutrition.

For a girl who's spent a fair amount of time in the gym, keeping a food journal, paying close attention to daily recommended amounts of various nutrients and reading quite a bit about the subject(s), two things frustrate me perennially:

  1. I still get frustrated with myself for not always "doing what's right" 100% of the time, and
  2. the fact that there are people out there who still preach (and therefore people who still believe) some pretty unhealthy stuff about nutrition, exercise, weight loss and health in general.

So I was encouraged by this article I just read on Livestrong, and it prompted me to write a little bit more, mostly to myself, about taking a long-term view, but coupling that somehow with a sense of urgency to some degree.

One of my favorite quotes - which has become a life mantra over the last 5 or 6 years - is "True life is lived when tiny changes occur" (thank you Mr. Tolstoy), and that's the idea here.

But the key to that whole idea is that TINY CHANGES HAVE TO OCCUR. Not just in my mind...in reality. And not just not just one change, but many...and with consistency and time comes a whole new life. This works in both directions, mind you - for the good AND for the bad (but that can be a whole other topic and blog post)!

There's a quick-reading and helpful little book about this idea I found a while back called The Kaizen Way. You can read it in an afternoon, which is what I did...and then I read it again more slowly. But maybe that's because I'm a slow learner or lack attention to detail or something. You probably will only need to read it once. The other half of the title is "One small step can change your life", which sounds all marketingy, but is totally true.

One small step that I took a long time ago was to stop eating anything sweet that was made in a mass-production bakery or food-like substance production facility. I was committed (like the article I linked above suggests) to NOT cutting out any particular food or food group out of my life, but wanted to make better choices.

And I love dessert. So I wasn't prepared to give it up. But when I was honest with myself, I had to admit that I didn't really LOVE most of the sweet things I ate. So I stopped eating even the occasional candy bar for the sake of having ZERO guilt or second thoughts at saying a hearty YES PLEASE to a home-baked goodie that someone brought to the office or offered in their home. Admittedly, this was one small change that had lots of opportunities for execution, but it was so freeing that I was excited about it, and I got to really enjoy the richness of a truly tasty goodie with a huge smile on my face as and when it was offered.

That one, single, solitary "no bad goodies" step I took, and the joy and success I was having with it, led to lots of other small steps over time, like "no diet soda" and "no high fructose corn syrup" (which, combined, means "no soda" for me...which I've not had or missed for over 5 years now). And then there was "no artificial sweeteners" and "no artificial ingredients" too. That last one stung a bit.

Admittedly, it hurt me when I read the ingredient list for fat free half-and-half, because I love my morning coffee, and I was using FF H&H to help maintain my overall fat intake at a level I was happy with...and so honoring my rule meant I needed to accommodate that added fat I would be getting now in full-fat H&H with my coffee...but in terms of competing priorities, I'm more concerned with what the ingredients I can't pronounce may do to me than anything else...so a little less fat elsewhere, and/or a few more minutes on the treadmill is fine by me.

Now to be fair, I started doing ALL THAT STUFF ABOVE was before I was trying my own hand at baking...and before I got married...and before I broke up with running...so I'm going to have to come up with some other small changes to keep me from eating too many of my own cookies (my fave!) and to help fend off the "newlywed nine" (which are akin to the "freshman fifteen" I hear), but you get the idea.

Let's be honest, this whole post (and others like it that may follow) is my own attempt at getting back to my own 'best practices' and advice, and incorporating them into newlywed life, but that's why people write blogs, right?

two whole years...?

It's hard to believe, but true. I haven't blogged in two years (and 12 days, if you're counting - which I'm suspicious my mom is doing).

A lot has happened in two years, but the biggest thing involved the words "I" and "do".

Given that 99.999999% of people who will ever read this know me, this probably isn't news to you. But it's my primary excuse for not writing in so long. My fabulous husband and I started dating in July of 2009 and, impressively, the blogging lasted at least four months into us becoming Team Crouse.

So now, ten months into wedded bliss, I've been reading a few other blogs and thinking "I should start writing again". This is mostly for me, but I'll pretend there's a "you" out there somewhere, just because that's fun.

And with that, I'll welcome myself back into the world of bloggers. Yay me!

11 November 2009

emotions are not a bad thing

Thanks to Stott - yet again - for a great thought-starter...via today's Daily Thought email:

No warmth within:
Some preachers have a great horror of emotionalism. So have I, if this means the artificial stirring of the emotions by rhetorical tricks or other devices. But we should not fear genuine emotion. If we can preach Christ crucified and remain altogether unmoved, we must have a hard heart indeed. More to be feared than emotion is cold professionalism, the dry, detached utterance of a lecture which has neither heart nor soul in it. Do man's peril and Christ's salvation mean so little to us that we feel no warmth rise within us as we think about them?

From "The Preacher's Portrait" (London: Tyndale Press, 1961), p. 51.

I tend to distrust a highly emotional plea or sermon from anyone. And in my own comings and goings, I often want to discount emotions because of their seemingly 'unfounded' nature, but the truth is they are a very real part of how God created us, and clearly have their place.

And what's funny (read: strange, not haha) is that as much as I distrust the overly emotional...I equally distrust the complete lack thereof.

It's not at all what Stott is addressing, but I wonder what this means for the times when I have sat at a stoplight, inches from a homeless person begging for money, and sat in my car without making eye contact - but weeping because of the sadness of the situation and my sometimes cold or fearful or judgmental heart that is so paralyzed by indecision on how to respond in these moments that all I can do by way of response is weep for their heart and my own...

That sure does feel real to me. But if it's all I ever do...is it enough? I submit that it is not.

24 September 2009

sign #78 proving that I am, in fact, a dork

There are two totally obscure 'national days' within a week of each other that both bring incredible amounts of joy to my heart.

  1. September 19th was National Talk Like a Pirate Day. How fun is that?! I am, for the record, horrible at talking like a pirate (which any of you who follow my twitter feed probably noted), and I don't know any pirates. But I did love the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies (yeah, all of them), and I did buy a t-shirt that says "To err is human...to Arr is PIRATE". I wore it out to dinner on Saturday night, and got a few funny looks, but one "Ohhh...that's right...it's Talk Like a Pirate day comment". It made my night.

  2. Today is National Punctuation Day. Oh, the corners of my heart that are lit by the celebration of all the little squiggles, dots, and dashes that - used correctly - help us communicate with each other. At least that's what the grammar nazi in me says.

See? Total dork.

10 September 2009

baked beans

I have a can of Heinz Baked Beans that lives in my desk drawer along with all my work snacks and other such paraphernalia.

My English friend who was working here in Houston for a couple of months insisted on leaving it with me when he left...in February. Since I eat like a hobbit, I have seen it about 50 times (2 or 3 times a day, 5 times a week) since then.

Now, what my English friend apparently didn't know about me is that I think I can count the number of times I’ve eaten baked beans in my entire life on two hands – including the 3 years I lived in England, where they are a diet staple along the lines of our Mac & Cheese or PBJ sandwiches. [Aside: the beans section at every grocery in England is about as varied in selection as our cereal aisles. I'm not exaggerating.]

I’m not sure why it took me six months to share this random bit of life with you, my dear reader(s?), but it’s probably due to the fact that I don’t feel like I’ve got 2 working brain cells to rub together but am desperately trying to do some work in my currently jet-lagged state, and I just went rummaging for yet another snack to keep me going. And then I saw the beans...

So, what does one do with one random can of non-perishable food that will never be eaten? It would be weird to just drop the one can in a food bank barrel. Right?

01 July 2009

the little things #37

One of the greatest joys of humanity is the pursuit of perfecting something.

Whether it's day after day of experimenting to find the exact best temperature for a cup of hot tea or variations on complementary ingredients to find the optimal blend for the perfect cream cheese icing for red velet cake...the joy is in the pursuit, I'm finding.

Getting it wrong time after time, but always increasing in quality and pleasure...even though each attempt is joyful, the process itself ends up bringing pleasure too.

I'm confident this applies to other realms of life, but let's be honest: I love good great food (and drink).

08 April 2009

breakfast rant

I'm out of bread. So I had to buy breakfast at the deli in my work building.

My standard fare is at the deli is a bagel with peanut butter...but the nice lady who runs the deli stopped serving peanut butter a while back because of that scare or whatever it was. She's still not selling it.

So, I brought my own jar into the office a couple of weeks ago for mornings such as these.

But I have this problem where I forget to pay attention to how much I'm paying for dinner, or a dress, etc. Enter building deli.

I just realized that I paid $1.29 for a plain toasted bagel...which, by the way, is the SAME PRICE I pay when she puts peanut butter on it. Even with that, it was already a complete rip-off!!

The best part? I only eat half of the bagel. So I essentially paid $1.29 for 1/2 a bagel. And toasted bagels don't "keep".

Isn't a package of SIX bagels something between $2.00 and $3.00 at the grocery?

How does this woman get away with these prices??? Because people like me keep paying them.

So annoyed right now.

09 March 2009

here comes paddy

As St. Patrick's Day approaches, I thought it worth re-posting a blurb from around this same time last year, when I was fresh off the boat (well, plane) from spending a second Paddy's Day in Dublin.

So, as a recap, they would say either "St. Patrick's Day" OR "Paddy's Day", but never "St. Paddy's Day".

Also worth noting is that the Irish don't generally spell the shortened "Patrick" with a double T (at least not in this context). I know...it defies the grammarian's logic, but it's their saint, not mine.

So, any combination of the above that includes "...Patty..." is downright unthinkable.

Don't shoot the messenger. I'm just trying to be a blessing.

Slainte, y'all!!