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Skwigg Blog
Sunday, 25 April 2010
Some Readables

Kelly Olexa recently had a couple of great blog posts on conflicting fitness advice, diet frustration, and finding happiness. She's been on a journey similar to mine and has come to some of the same conclusions. Check out The Frustration of Yesterday and Part Two.

I especially like her list of conflicting fitness and nutrition theories because at some point I probably argued with, believed or preached all of them. I think we glom onto many beliefs that aren't necessarily helpful, maybe aren't even conscious decisions. You tell yourself that to be lean you have to cut out starchy carbs, or do barfy HIIT intervals, or be hungry, or skip dessert, or eat every two hours. Then you use the thing you're not willing to do as a (maybe unconscious) reason not to try.

There is always an alternative to whatever is holding you back!

In other news, I did a little interview with Senior Exercise Central because, you know, I'm getting up there in years. ;-) Go ahead and commence with the oldster jokes.

Posted by skwigg at 1:09 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, 25 April 2010 1:10 PM CDT
Friday, 23 April 2010
Photo Phobia

Here's the last picture I took of myself. It was this winter. Obsessively taking "progress" shots was one of those things like calorie counting, food journals, and caliper readings that I used to obsess over to a painful degree. Every time I'd post something I'd think, how does this compare to all my other photos? How does it compare to other people's photos? How do other people compare it to my other photos? Do my arms look too big? Am I really that pale? What's with the beady eyes?

I'd really like to quit doing that to myself! Those of you who don't post progress shots all the time, do you think... well... hmm. I was going to ask what it's like to be sane. Haha! Let me think of a better way to put it. Programs like Body for Life and all the Tracker sites really encourage obsessive photo taking and analysis. I got totally sucked into that back in the day. If you use those sites, does it help you to put yourself out there? Or is it total mortification? Or does the stress of it motivate you to stay on track? Or does it make you want to cry and eat cookies? Or do you not post fitness and weight loss photos online because you're, you know, sane? 



Posted by skwigg at 9:11 AM CDT
Updated: Friday, 23 April 2010 9:13 AM CDT
Sunday, 18 April 2010
Help! How do I get started?

I'm out of shape, bad diet, and I need a kick to get going! Any advice on how to start? My mind is in stop mode and cannot get into first gear. I read all the time about protein, creatine, carbs, etc. How do you start? What do I take? Menus, fitness!! Aaaaarrrgghghgh! Help?

The last thing I would recommend is buying a bunch of supplements and trying to follow a time-consuming workout plan complete with boring menus. :-) You'll do it for a week or two and go back to what's comfortable. It's better to change one thing at a time. Once you've mastered a change then you change something else. Look at what's keeping you out of shape. Maybe it's junk food, lack of exercise, out of control portions, stress, sleeping-in, whatever. What's one thing you could you do to improve each thing? Make a list. Maybe drink more water, wake up an hour earlier, exercise for 30 minutes 3 times a week, use a grocery list, pack your lunch instead of eating out, whatever you can think of.

But here's the deal. You don't have to do it all once. That's why most people lose their minds when they decide to "diet and exercise". They try to go from a human sofa cushion lifestyle to a fitness model lifestyle on the first day. After a week of skinless chicken, protein shakes and exhaustion, they can't take it anymore and give up. People repeat that cycle endlessly. They're either perfect (and miserable) or not trying at all.

What you want to do is pick the easiest, dumbest thing off of your improvement list, like drinking more water, and that's ALL you work on. Once you get the water thing totally down, maybe you start to walk somewhere that you would normally drive, or wake up earlier, or do a total body workout once a week. You keep adding healthy habits one at a time until they become second nature (Alwyn Cosgrove calls it a "goal snowball") and before you know it, you're a fit person.

One of my favorite diet and exercise programs in terms of being sane, time-efficient and effective is Craig Ballantyne's Turbulence Training. (Disclosure: I'm a TT affiliate because I use it and love it and think it rocks.) Here's a free 4-Week Turbulence Training Body Weight Workout for you to try. Old school push-ups, pull-ups, dips and squats burn more calories and change the shape of your body faster than a traditional bodybuilding workout where you're sitting down isolating your biceps from seventeen different angles. :-) Plus you can do TT workouts anywhere with little or no equipment so you can't use lack of a gym as an excuse. All you need is your own body weight but if you want to get fancy you can add dumbbells, a bench, a pull-up bar, a stability ball and maybe a kettlebell or medicine ball.

Blog readers, what's your best method of getting started again when you've been in a fitness rut? Do you find it's better to dive in face first or baby step it?

My approach is to never completely quit or tell myself that I'm "off" my healthy ways. There is no "off." No matter how totally lame it may get I continue to do what I can, fast food, broken legs and hormones be damned.

Posted by skwigg at 11:44 AM CDT
Updated: Sunday, 18 April 2010 11:50 AM CDT
Friday, 16 April 2010
I Cooked

The quest for a veggie burger with no soy led me to the famous Chickpea Cutlets recipe from Veganomicon. I realize that eight gatrillion people have already made these and blogged about them but *I* made them, all by myself with no fires. :-) I took pictures for you.

That's paprika, not blood. The ingredients include mashed chickpeas, olive oil, bread crumbs, wheat gluten, garlic, lemon zest and seasonings.

Once I squished it all together it turned into a BRAIN.

I divided the brain into four patties and cooked them in an iron skillet in a little olive oil. They came out looking like pork chops, or "pea chops" as I've been calling them. They were super delicious. 



Posted by skwigg at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Friday, 16 April 2010 12:01 PM CDT
Monday, 12 April 2010
Skinny Chicks Don't Eat Salads?

Q: I've just read Intuitive Eating 2.0 and, like you, have finally learnt how to relax around food.

Part of this breakthrough for me was because of reading Skinny Chicks Don't Eat Salads by Christine Avanti. I was wondering if you have read this and what your thoughts were if you had? It's all about eating to regulate blood sugar levels - 4 meals a day, 4 hours apart, 400 cals each, protein/carb combo in each. 

I noticed that you say one of the things that helped you was "Eat Stop Eat" (intermittent fasting) and realising that nothing bad happens if you miss a meal. This is at odds with what Avanti says about blood sugar levels crashing and fat storage happening, so I'm emailing you to find out what you think?

A: I haven't read all of "Skinny Chicks" but I did read the sample pages on Amazon which kind of skimmed through the whole book. I ended up not buying it because I don't buy into the "eat a balance of protein and carbs every few hours or you'll turn into a pumpkin" theory anymore.

Now, is it a BAD theory? I wouldn't say so. I mean, if you really are as wacky as her examples where all you do is binge, starve, eat salads and binge some more, then certainly getting control of that would be a really good thing. But if you're an active, basically healthy eater, I don't find it necessary to follow anybody else's rules. What if you want to have a 700 calorie meal and not eat for six and half hours? Will you get fat? Binge? Starve? Feel weak? Lose muscle? Wreck your metabolism? Rock the earth off its axis?

Um, no. :-)

I spent a lot of years freaking out about clocks and coolers and rules for no reason. I'll eat when I get around to it. Nothing dire happens if you get hungry. I get hungry and then I eat something, whether it's two hours or fifteen hours later. And I eat whatever it is I'm hungry for, not what's on some food list or schedule. Radical, eh?

It took time to arrive in happy balancey land. I didn't start off being able to do that. For binge eaters and chronic dieters, it's better to operate from some kind of structure until you regain your sanity. Once you have a healthy foundation going you can start to make adjustments, but the foundation has to be in place first. You can't go directly from Cookie Monster to healthy intuitive eater. Your intuition will tell you "Cooooookies!!!" all the time. In that case, hells yes, it's better to be on a plan, and I do think "Skinny Chicks Don't Eat Salads" is a perfectly good one. Just don't take it (or any diet book) as The One True Way.

Posted by skwigg at 11:53 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, 12 April 2010 11:48 PM CDT
Wednesday, 7 April 2010
Snack Time

Ok, who let the dog on the picnic table? Cesar would be appalled, but she's so cute and generally well behaved that she gets away with things like this.

I was enjoying some Mohamed's World's Greatest Hummus and Kashi TLC fire roasted vegetable crackers. That's iced tea in my bubble glass. I make it kind of strong (colossal understatement). It gives me lots of energy and makes me talk fast.




Posted by skwigg at 10:01 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, 7 April 2010 10:04 AM CDT
Saturday, 3 April 2010
Shortcake, Glass Water Bottles, and Yellow #5

Here is the result of the strawberry shortcake quest. That's not the shampoo cake.



A delicious rotini pasta and garlic bread bonanza that would have given me nightmares (drooling nightmares) during my carbophobia.



If you're looking for organic junk food, these sandwich cookies are the bomb. Better than Oreos.



My new glass water bottle from Lifefactory. I used to have a cool Sigg aluminum bottle. I washed it all the time but one day found mold around the inside rim, freaked the frak out, and vowed to never again drink from something I couldn't see through. So I went back to plastic until finding this thing. It has a silicone sleeve to protect the glass and to keep it from slipping out of your hands. The mouth is big enough to add ice. It's coolz! The trick will be not to knock my teeth out if I hit a bump while driving.



I just finished reading The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O'Brien. It's written for parents, especially parents of kids with food allergies or behavior problems, but it's a page-turning read for anybody interested in food safety, food allergies, agribusiness and genetic engineering. It's amazing how much of what Americans eat every day has been warning labeled or totally banned in other countries (soy, genetically modified crops, aspartame, artificial colors). In places like Europe, Australia and Japan, all food is proven safe and anything iffy has to be labeled. Here, everything is iffy and anything safe gets an "organic" sticker and a price hike. It disturbed me to learn that companies like Mars and Kraft Foods voluntarily removed things like Yellow #5 when they were linked to allergies and behavior problems in Europe. But they ONLY removed them in Europe. Meanwhile American kids are still eating bright orange Mac & Cheese and running around like itchy, screaming psychos.

I liked all of her kid-friendly food ideas. I'll be stealing many of them for myself.




Posted by skwigg at 2:23 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, 3 April 2010 2:39 PM CDT
Saturday, 27 March 2010
Chemical Cuisine and "Healthy" Fast Food

I'm on a label reading bender. It started at the grocery store when I was looking for some cake to go with my organic strawberries. I didn't recognize anything as food on the packaged shortcake label so I headed for the bakery section. That is where I discovered sodium laurel sulfate in the "freshly baked" angel food cake. Isn't that shampoo??

Shortly after the shampoo cake incident, I saw my Diet Mountain Dew in the sun. Don't ever look at that stuff in the sun. The blinding otherworldly glow will have you seeing green spots for days. In a flash of fluorescent green haze I decided to become a tea drinker. I started off with Arizona and Lipton Diet Green Teas but they still have enough artificial colors and sweeteners to petrify a lab rat, also they made my ears ring like alarm clocks (Aspirin sensitivity? Yellow #5? I don't know). So, now I've weaned myself onto plain unsweetened tea. 

I did this once before and was a happy, highly caffeinated tea drinker for months. Then I took a sip of Pepsi Max, the bubbles and chemicals set off my brain fireworks and I relapsed like a total crackhead. Blog readers caught me in the grocery store parking lot loading cases of the stuff into the dog mobile. "Hey, aren't you Skwigg? Don't you drink tea now?" :-D

Anyway, I'm trying to reduce my food additive consumption. Even though I'm big into plant-eating, I still enjoy things like cookies, crackers, chips, and cereal so I've been buying those in the health food section of the grocery store. Now, are organic potato chips and sandwich cookies health food? No, but I like that I can say all the ingredients and I don't have to look them up on Chem Cuisine.

How about you? Are you a label reader? And do you look at the ingredients or is it all about the nutrition stats? Here's a good Tom Venuto article on "Healthy" Fast Food. I've been avoiding that lately too. It's hard to find good fast food as a veganish eater. Most if it is loaded with chickens and chemicals, Chipotle being a delicious exception.

Posted by skwigg at 11:49 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, 27 March 2010 11:53 AM CDT
Sunday, 14 March 2010
Cadbury Stockpile

Ok, Alexandra, here's a shot of the Cadbury Egg drawer. That's all you need to see (positioning myself between the eggs and the hungry blog readers). Move along now. Haha!



There's nothing really new on the workout front. I still walk the dog 3-5 miles up and down hills every day. I run sprints when I'm feeling squirrely. I usually do 30ish minutes of strength training or Pilates three days per week. I lean toward metabolic resistance training involving kettlebells, the TRX suspension trainer and body weight exercises. I get ideas from the Cosgroves, Craig Ballantyne, Caroline Radway, Valerie Waters, etc. and just mix it up. My primary fitness goal is to have fun. It's nice not to be on some kind of freaked out program deadline. I always used to make myself nuts with end dates, pictures and measurements. I think I'm over that.

Posted by skwigg at 11:27 AM CST
Updated: Sunday, 14 March 2010 11:28 AM CST
Saturday, 13 March 2010
Random Foodables

I've been eating new stuff and taking pictures of it (like a normal person). Here are some recent tasties.


Celery, peanut butter and raisins. It's called "bugs on a log." I wish I'd invented it but I saw it on an episode of The Office.



This is brown rice, black beans, lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado and salsa. It's a little something I like to call Chipotle-at-home.



My favorite sandwich to take to work - hummus, cucumber, tomato, onion and mixed greens on a whole wheat sandwich round. This is deliciously messy. It has vegetable projectiles. My other favorite work sandwich is peanut butter, grated carrots and raisins on a sandwich round. I don't have a picture of that one but if you go out in public with a carrot sandwich, prepare to be called a "freakin' freakazoid." That totally happened to me. LOL Still, I love the plant sandwiches and need more ideas, so if you make something tasty with no meat or cheese, do share.



I discovered Kashi Honey Sunshine cereal in a neighbor's recycle bin. I saw the empty box and thought, mmmmm.... must... try... It's good. It's like Cap'n Crunch with fiber and pronounceable ingredients.



Sweet potatoes! I'm on a sweet potato kick. I'm sure the novelty will wear off at some point but I've been having them with lunch almost every day. I bake them at 375 for an hour and sprinkle them with cinnamon.



The other part of lunch is usually a big honkin' salad such as this one.



Today I'm making soup. I can't remember what the recipe was called. I've been referring to it as Hippie Soup. It's six cups of water or vegetable stock, an onion, 3 celery stalks, 3 carrots, 1 1/2 cups lentils, 1/2 cup couscous. Simmer it on low for 2 hours. It's almost done now. I'm about to go have a bowl with piece of seed bread.



Lest anybody think I've become a radical home-cooking health nut, I'm drinking a Diet Mountain Dew at this very moment and I have approximately 452 Cadbury Creme Eggs in a drawer in the kitchen.

Posted by skwigg at 1:03 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, 13 March 2010 1:08 PM CST

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