Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Next Big Remodeling Project: Me.

Seriously. I've concluded that 55 was the year my body decided to get old. I've put on about 8 pounds, which isn't a lot in the grand scheme of things, but was 8 on top of the 10 or 15 I still needed to lose. I sit all day at my job, and my abdominal muscles have abandoned ship. I can't fit into 3/4 of the clothes in my closet - or if they fit at all, they show some really unattractive lumps and bulges that weren't there a year ago, and look awful on me now. It's like I grew a "grandma body" overnight.

And last night I was awakened by a leg cramp.  WTH? My grandma got leg cramps!I'm too young for...oh, wait, I guess I'm not. Shit.

Well, fuck that noise.  I got up this morning disgusted with myself.  Yeah, yeah, I know I should love myself no matter what,  blah blah blah, but really? I call bullshit on that bit of pop psychology passing as "wisdom."  Sometimes, you really should be pissed at yourself.  Like when you know, deep inside, that you are doing yourself a disservice and not doing your best for yourself. No, you should not love yourself when you do that.  You should kick yourself in the ass and call yourself names.  I do love myself, and treasure my health, my body, and my life, and I love myself too much to let myself fall apart like this.

But Catherine, you ask - what about all this plant-based eating of which you speak until we are sick of hearing about it?  Isn't that alone supposed to be the magical path to flawless health and a size 4 ass?

Here's the truth: I'm the poster girl of U R Doin It Rong lately.  I've let too much crap creep back into my diet, and that, combined with sitting all day, has been a disaster.   I snack at work. I snack all day at work, truly. Not processed stuff, but do you have any idea of how many calories are in a "healthy" mix of dried fruit and nuts, nibbled on way too often throughout the day? I might as well stop at Dunkin Donuts every morning for a big eggy sandwich and a latte, with a couple of donuts for a mid-morning snack later. Calorically, it's about the same. And exercise? I'm doing the bare minimum for health - I walk 30 minutes a day. This does nothing to revive the abdominal muscles that are apparently vacationing in the Caribbean without me, or make my legs look less unfortunate. It's the bare minimum. I used to do Pilates, FFS! Clearly I am not exercising enough. 30 minutes of walking is better than no walking at all, but it's the "It'll slow your march to the grave," level of exercise, not one that will actually make a difference.

Another food issue: recipes sized for six servings. I will pause now to pass along a recipe to die for: Red Curry Lentils. This is now my gold standard of lentil recipes - it's amazing. Don't skip the fresh cilantro on top. It also makes enough to feed six people, and add rice and it's a substantial amount of calories, but oh damn, if you just want to add a meatless meal to your recipe collection, this is a keeper. But again, SIX servings, and generous, filling servings at that. I can freeze it or cut the recipe in half, but then you end up with even more awkward portions of leftover coconut milk in the fridge, growing hair.

Calories do still matter, and it really is a bit tricky to count calories on a plant based diet. Most online diet trackers like My Fitness Pal and Lose It! are great for what they do, and have fantastically in-depth databases of restaurant menus and processed foods from the supermarket, plus fruits and veggies and meats and rice and potatoes, etc. But if you don't eat Lean Cuisines and processed foods it's more work. To really track accurately, I'd have to take the time to input every recipe for everything I eat, measure portions, etc. This is why companies like Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig exist - because doing that much work is a track to failure.

So, I looked for an alternative - one that would work with the diet I truly believe is best for me, and not drive me crazy with enormous amounts of leftovers or overly fussy recipes.

This weekend I got up ready to make a change. It's 90 degrees and I am too fat to fit into my bathing suits. They are perfectly nice suits for a grandma, they aren't bikinis from 30 years ago, and they fit just fine when I bought them. Now, OMG, they don't. My daughter went to the beach with Miss D and a pack of her girlfriends from work today. I wasn't jealous and didn't want to tag along, but I do want to go to the beach, and very soon. We are in full summer here, hitting the 90s, and I do not want to buy larger summer clothes for no reason other than my own lack of attention to my own body. I would kick myself in the ass but I'm too inflexible to reach now.

Enter The Happy Herbivore. Lindsay is an ex-lawyer (I like her already and know she must be smart - because she's an EX-lawyer) turned vegan cooking goddess and more. I have a couple of her cookbooks, and highly recommend them if you want to dip a toe into vegan cooking without spending an arm and a leg on stuff you've never heard of/can't buy within 300 miles. I own two of her cookbooks: The Happy Herbivore Cookbook: Over 175 Delicious Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes and Everyday Happy Herbivore: Over 175 Quick-and-Easy Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes, and I confess, I haven't used them nearly enough, probably because I bought the Kindle versions. I like my Kindle and I use it nearly daily, but I've concluded that there are two types of books I don't want in e-book format: cookbooks and knitting books. So, while I owned two of her books I hadn't spent much time with them until this weekend.

Most of the recipes are scaled for two people, calories are calculated and right there for you - awesome! I can make a dinner and put aside a lunch for work, and plug the whole damn recipe into a tracker by recipe name, instead of having to enter every ingredient for calculation. I remembered that she also has a great collection of recipes on her website, so I popped on there today and found that once again, synchronicity has been at work. Happy Herbivore is starting a 28 Day Challenge. It's about more than just weight loss, too - it's simplifying life, getting all the crap out, food crap and other crap. I like that.

A couple of weeks ago, an acquaintance I met at the women's Meetup I joined a year or two ago (more about that another day, but...sigh) sent me a link on Facebook, "Challenging" me to join some gimmicky "lose 10 pounds" thing linked to some MLM diet product she's hawking. I ignored, but thought you know, I want to challenge her right back! I want to lose weight, definitely, but I will do it without buying whatever she was selling. I'll do it by putting systems in place to make my life healthier.

So I'm in for the next 28 days. It could not have come at a better time for me.


KatyaR said...

I need to do this soo badly. Almost 57, I've never been in shape, and now I have exercise-induced asthma,a bad lower back, bad feet, and knees that are barely hanging on. My eyes are shite and I need to lose a good 50-60 pounds. I HATE the way I look so much that I absolutely refuse to have my photo taken. And yet, I don't do anything about it. It's taking a toll on my relationships, and I still can't motivate myself to even walk to the end of the block and back.

Good luck, stay motivated, and I'll be rooting for you....

Catherine said...

I'll be 56 on June 28. I've never been in amazing shape in my life but I've been better than this, and believe me, it feels so much better! Why not give it a shot? Commit to doing better for 28 days? My expensive new glasses fixed my vision as much as it could be fixed, my knees are barely hanging in, everything is just sort of barely working, but I know it can be better, if I make it as much of a priority as, oh, responding to the HOA's demand that we pressure wash the driveway. There is always a reason, or a dozen reasons, not to make ourselves a priority, and none of them are valid.

Karen said...

This could not have come at a better time for ME! Thank you!

I'm going to be 55 in August and can echo everything you wrote. Unfortunately!

I got up this morning thinking that today was it...and your post seals the deal. I'm in for a 28 day challenge!

Thank you!

Catherine said...

Yay Karen! Please keep me posted on how it works for you!