Monday, January 31, 2011

favorite dessert: mango & salt

So simple. I love to dice a mango (skin on, which lends a bitter, grassy flavor), sea-salt it, eat it, done. Delicious.

list blog: treating myself!

I think people who know me *very* well know that I'm not very good at treating myself to gifts, or even necessaries. I might even have some kind of a ... thing ... about it. I usually find an excuse why I don't need / shouldn't have / can live without something.

But you know what? That has *got* to change. I don't know why exactly, I just know there's something about it that's wrong. Maybe it's as simple as holding myself in high enough regard to say I deserve something, even if it is mildly frivolous (though I'm not one for frivolity in general).

And here we come to a new list. A list of things I've thought in passing that I'd love to have. I'm gonna keep this on hand and refer to it on occasion, perhaps especially on occasions that I think I've accomplished something important, big or small.

things i want!


I realized at some point I needed to make "clothes" its own category. I've never been a clothes horse, but I have always appreciated fashion. Most especially I've coveted good shoes (when I was a little girl in church, I loved getting the seat right next to the outside aisle, where all those returning from communion passed by and where I could subtly inspect their footwear as they did).

» new boots (Frye, please? Though I don't know that they make them quite big enough to fit over my calves.)
» flats! Most of my shoes are cheapy Target buys that are totally adorable but that do no stand up to my whole shoe-wearing strategy, which is where them the hell out. I think something like these Frye ballets (I swear I'm not a Fryehound, I just think they present a nice example of classic styles).
» TOMs. I bought a pair and liked them two years ago, but I ran them into the ground ... not to mention that I'd bought them in the height of my baking days. Before they became so raggedy I had to toss them, they'd gotten caked in flour and sugar. I'll likely opt for the burlap, which I'd always wanted anyway, and which look slightly more durable.
» A pair of Raleigh Denim denims. The jeans are expensive, but they're handmade in Raleigh, N.C., in a store run by a young couple who was running the (very small) retail floor when Patrick and I visited in early winter last year. Mr. Raleigh Denim was very helpful when Patrick was trying to figure out which pair to buy. And the care with which he wrapped the jeans was notable. He also said anytime we were in town, Patrick (or anyone who buys jeans from them) could stop by to have the jeans (which are sold in one length) hemmed to his liking. This'll be the kind of purchase I made when I've reached my goal weight, and which will be one of the most satisfying rewards I can imagine.
» tights (oy, the runs in the ones I have now!)
» new gym attire ... this should probably float at the top of my list. I really, really want nice gym clothes. And to look extra cute in it.

house & home
» nice, matching towels for our bathroom Done! Patrick brought home a pair each of bath towels, hand towels and wash clothes from Target. Yay for matchy matchy!
» frames for some of our lingering Knoxville art
» bento boxes! I'm doing a good job of taking healthy lunches to work. I'd like to make them cuter and more organized with these magic little systems. (these vivo bentos are my favorite so far!)

pure pampering
» a manicure & pedicure (just once!)
» aveda skin care (especially eye cream. I'm getting old, y'all)

» Nice headphones. I have weird ear holes. Those little earbuds that come free with every listening device you buy do NOT fit me. They fall out. They hurt if I shove them in (and then they fall out). I need good old-fashioned headphones. What I have now is, I think, some freebies we picked up on a plane ride? Something like that? And I have no idea what makes for quality. I just know what I got ain't it. It'll be a treat to find nice, comfy headphones that are meant to survive the sweaty lifestyle of a gym mouse like myself (phrase "gym mouse" totally stolen from Bailie at Adventures in Foodland, and I love it!)

I'll add to this list as I think of more things, which I tend to do throughout any given day. Kinda can't wait for my first big (or small) accomplishment!

since last we met ...

... I've done some good things!

> I cleared out my digital spaces. Gmail: empty. Google docs: streamlined & organized. Facebook friends: edited. Google Reader subscriptions: improved! All these pieces of data float, they're weightless. But they tax my mind so much when they're not meaningful, organized, utilized.

E-mail, for instance: I was using it to hold on to information (passwords, recipes, etc.). But I never actually searched my e-mail archives for those things regularly. And in any case, is that really what e-mail should be for? I mean, would I keep a big bucket in my house to store every piece of mail I got, just in case I'd need to refer to it? No, I'd level some importance on each piece of mail, and then *do* something with it. So that's that. My e-mail *must* remain a weigh station until I figure out the usefulness of any given piece of correspondence, and then *act* on that usefulness.

> I signed up for the gym! I had my choice of a free gym membership in the town where I work (through my husband's employer, who's based in Blacksburg even though he works from Roanoke ... where we live), or I could get a reduced membership at a gym where I live (though *my* employer, who's based in Roanoke even though I work in the Blacksburg area. Ha!).

I love to save a buck, but the Blacksburg gym would have meant me adding to my commute (which is already 3 hours total every day), and carefully coordinating my (sometimes unpredictable) work schedule to make sure I get to that gym before it closes. Too many obstacles. And I'm honest enough with myself to know that I'll use things like long commutes to excuse skipping my workout.

So it's a membership at my Roanoke gym instead. And in fact, it's a gym I attended when we lived here four years ago. Home sweet home.

> I went to the gym! It only took me about two weeks longer than it should have to actually sign up for the gym, so I was kind of proud of myself for waking up this morning and taking advantage of my membership immediately. 5 a.m. alarm. To the gym by 5:30. Thirty minutes on an ellipticalmadoohicky. Back home. It was short and sweet, and ultimately I want to *get* to the gym by 5 a.m., but I told myself I'd ease into it. Better I start slow and gain traction than start with a high bar and feel like I'm falling short.

> I tracked my Weight Watchers points all week. It took a little bit of effort, especially on the weekend when we took a great day trip to Charlottesville, Va., and I had to remember all my food choices. But I did it. And I was honest. And I was only 2 points over for the week. When I get on the right track with food, I know I'm in for a string of even *more* healthy decisions. So yay!

> I pre-tracked my breakfast and lunch for today. I've always found this helpful, and almost necessary to set up good food habits throughout the week. Not to mention that I can usually find a time to pre-track, but by the end of a day of looking *back* on food I ate and trying to record it, I find myself full of excuses for not doing it. Which tends to lead to more days of not tracking, which eventually leads to days of not actually making the smart food choices that tracking helps me focus on.

So, a pretty great start to the week. ...

... *ahem* after this confession
My husband planned a pretty amazing weekend for us. I even drafted a sweet blog entry about how wonderful he is and what a productive Saturday and Sunday we had ahead of us ...

And then I got in a crabby, crabby mood on Saturday. And it carried over into Sunday. This happened last weekend, too. And either I *hate* the weekends (???), or there's something else going on. And I think I may have identified it: Saturday morning breakfast.

It should be a treat, right? First day of repose, lazy morning ... "good" breakfast! Of ... donuts! (It's good because it's delicious. Uhuh.)

But yeah, sugar in the morning ... hell no more. Hell. No. More. Because I think it's crashing my spirits right into the ground. Poor husband! He really did have a great weekend planned, and we ended up doing most of the things we intended to: drive to Charlottesville, with a stop at a brew-pub on the way (here's his review of Blue Mountain Brewery); and then good coffee & walkin' our sweet dog through C'ville. And there I was, pouting. Boooooo.

In any case, it's a lesson for my future breakfast: if anything, I'll make it bacon. Hold the sugar.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

goal: enjoy food, bite by bite

I have this really irritating habit of thinking about the next meal *while* I'm eating my current one. Or thinking of dessert as I'm eating dinner. Lunch as I'm snacking on my fruit.

Basically, I almost never ever hardly ever actually enjoy the bite I'm taking *in that* moment. ... And yet, wasn't I eagerly anticipating that very bite sometime earlier in the day?

Consequently? I think that whatever part of my appetite is mental is not getting fed. (And whether or not it's OK for appetite to be mental?  ... I don't know; that's a whole other discussion. I do know, though, that one of the reasons Weight Watchers works so well for me is that it imposes some natural order to my eating, rather than me relying solely on my constant mental desire for food).

So. Famished mental appetite. Self-perpetuating void.

one bite at a time
Isn't this the root of most life lessons? Enjoy the moment *in* the moment. No looking back, don't get caught up in the future. The reward is the journey, not the destination, etc., etc., etc.

It's hard to believe that I actually have to work at enjoying my food, considering how much brainspace it occupies. Maybe the daydream of food sets an unreasonable expectation for the experience of it? ...

mission! Enjoy my breakfast, full stop. Enjoy my bus ride. Enjoy my coffee. Enjoy work. Enjoy lunch. Enjoy work. Enjoy my bus ride. Enjoy dinner. Enjoy repose. Enjoy reading. Enjoy sleep. Enjoy the morning routine. Enjoy breakfast & repeat.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

list post: grains i want to try

Whole grains are good for you, but I have to admit to being ignorant of most of them beyond the common: quinoa, corn meal, oats.

So I'm gonna start this here list and add to it as I discover more grains to try. Hopefully you'll help me with that! In fact, I already *do* have some things to put on the list thanks to some friends on Facebook. ...

the eatin' grains list
(alphabetical order, of course!)

corn meal (polenta!)
couscous (added 1/26)
farro (added 1/26)
quinoa, red
rice, brown
rice, forbidden
wheatberry (added 1/26) 

things I've learned 
"groat" It's a fun word! It means "hulled grain broken into fragments larger than grits." Thank you, Megan, for using this word!

quinoa can go sweet. I know very little about quinoa (at least as of now, as I set out to make this list). But I definitely only ever thought of it as a savory ingredient. Not so! According to my friend, Jennifer: "...delicious, hot breakfasts can include this! quinoa cooked with some water AND OJ, add raisins or craisins, cinnamon, YUMMY! I like some apple chunks in there too sometimes..." This opens up a new world!

sick day + food (+ simple recipe)

I always hated sick days when I was a kid. Guilt complex + double the work once I got back to school. And invariably that guilt would have me convinced about halfway through the morning that I didn't feel sick anymore! I should have gone to school! I'm such a lazy bugger and now I'm going to be punished with make-up assignments!

Ugh. I still hate sick days. I still feel guilty taking them. But instead of double the work when I get back, it's double the guilt when I'm on sick leave: because someone else is having to pick up my workload while I'm away. *great*

sick food?
And then we come to this question I've had ever since I started doing Weight Watchers ... when I'm sick, do I stay within my points allotment? I've always answered "heck no! Eat the food that soothes you until you're better!"

But, honestly ... this time I don't *want* to forgo my healthy habits because of some pesky sore throat. And in fact, aren't all the good-for-me foods the ones I should be feeding my sick self anyway? Oranges, tomatoes, chicken broth, eggs, beans, ...

So that whole earlier notion of "eat what you want to feel good" was really feeding whatever self-pity I had for being sick. Self-pity is not hunger! In fact, self-pity should *probably* be starved until it meets a terrible, slow, painful death.

So *there.* One irrational excuse for a poor diet, destroyed. Only fifteen-hundred-and-sixty-two left.

veggie rice bowl (3 PointsPlus)
I'm a girl of simple tastes. I'm excited to get to know my spice rack, but in the meantime I'm pretty happy with a little salt thrown on sauteed vegetables. When I got home from work last night (feeling sick sick sick), I wanted something super filling but super healthy. And that's how came to be this bowl o' food (it's a big one!). ... I think I'll make it for lunch, too.

a handful of each of the following, chopped (for 0 PointsPlus each)
  red bell pepper
  red onion
1 small clove garlic, diced ... 0 pp
4 oz. [1/2 c] chicken broth ... 0 pp
4 oz. [3/4 c] white rice, pre-cooked (we had leftovers) ... 3 pp

Do your thing on the stovetop. Salt and saute the veggies to your liking, throw in the garlic near the end and cook until aromatic, toss in the rice and broth and cook until the liquid has reduced a little and the rice is bloated with brothy goodness. Salt again to taste and enjoy!

(PS: We just bought course sea salt for the first time and I love it for finishing dishes. Just sayin',)

(PPS: If you'd like to suggest spices for me to try in future veggie rice bowls, I'd love to get your ideas! Friends have put me on the curry/cumin track. Also, oregano and thyme. Are there more?!)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

the plum baker project

So, if you knew that I was The Plum Baker, you probably knew that my little baking business erupted from a strong desire to bake for the ones I love, the ones I like, the ones who I just met. The best reward for my work in the kitchen (in addition to the actual work, which I've always enjoyed) has been to hand over a treat to someone with the hope they'd love it.

I even settled on the name "Plum Baker" because one of the meanings of plum is "something desireable given in return for a favor" (and which I've always abbreviated to "a gift given in return for a kindness").

When Patrick and I left Knoxville for Roanoke in December, I folded my professional apron and took up page design again. I have loved my new job and I really lack for nothing by it (it challenges me mentally, it keeps me busy throughout my work day, the people are lovely).

And yet I've found myself pulled by this little urge, a tug at my apron strings. Then this idea dropped into my head, fully formed.

Here goes nothing ...

the plum baker project. honoring kind people, with sweets.
First round starts now!

1. You nominate someone in Roanoke, Va., who's done a good deed. Briefly explain what that deed was, the name of the do-gooder and what compelled you to take this extra step to honor him or her. I'll accept nominations through next Thursday (Feb. 3) at 5 p.m.! Comment on this blog entry or e-mail me at lindsay(at)theplumbaker(dot)com.

2. One 'winner' is picked at random. It's hard to measure the value of a good deed, am I right? So I'll use a randomizer to select a single nominee as 'the one.' At this point, I'll get in touch with you, the nominator, to get contact information for your winning nominee. I'll pick this week's winner & notify him/her by next Friday morning (Feb. 4). I'll announce the winner later that day.

3. A dozen cookies (or scones, biscotti, petite cakes), baked just for them! Good deeds too often go unrecognized. I would love to do this little part to help you express your gratitude to this sweet person. I'll even be happy to hand-transcribe a note of your personal thanks if you'd like. (Oh, and if it's your nominee who gets chosen, you'll get two cookies [or scones, etc.], too. After all, it was mighty nice of you to think of them.) This week? Ginger chews (seen above). It's the cookie that launched my Plum Baker business two years ago; it seems like the right cookie to launch my Plum Baker Project.
4. All stories will be shared. The random winner may get a special treat, but all acts of kindness deserve some recognition. I'll compile all the nominations and stories in my follow-up blog entry. I'll plan to publish this blog entry by Monday morning (Feb. 7).

the finer details
location. I'll have to limit my scope to the Roanoke, Va., area, so I can deliver (or arrange easy pickup) for the treats.

cost to participants? Zero. This is about spreading kindness!

how often will this happen? I'm going to play it by ear. Heck, I may not even get any nominees this first time out! Let's say once every two or four weeks for now ...

and that's that!
Well, I do hope this resonates with folks. There's a lot of kindness and thoughtfulness being spread, and I'd like to hear more people talk about it.

To nominate someone in Roanoke, Va., you think's done a kindness, please comment on this blog entry or e-mail me at lindsay(at)theplumbaker(dot)com. Include their name and a brief description of what sweet thing they did. I'll accept nominations through next Thursday (Feb. 3) at 5 p.m.

Monday, January 24, 2011

homemade granola bars, here we come!

I was flipping through the cookie chapter of our America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook when I caught a glimpse of "granola bars."

And my brain stopped. Turned around. Looked again. Granola bars! From a resource we love and trust! I've seen plenty of recipes for them, and from places I admire. And yet there's something about the granola bar that has seemed unattainable.

But then I stumbled onto this recipe, which has likely been put through all the standard rigors of the Test Kitchen, and I was at once put at ease.

things I want to get from this scratchmade experience:
1. internalizing the ratio of dry stuff to sticky stuff. The thing about a treat like granola bars is that they're not relying so much on chemistry to make them actually bake up properly, they're relying on physics to make sure everything stays where you want it. I'm going to examine just how sticky/crunchy/chewy/stable this granola bar is, then get confident that I know it's because I used X amount of honey for X amount of dried goods, and then I'm going to *experiment*. Because another thing about a treat like granola bars is that  they're infinitely modifiable.

2. a PointsPlus-friendly treat! I'll do the math to figure up my Weight Watchers value for the entire recipe, and then divide it into happy sizes (probably around the 2- to 3-point range). I've been hankerin' for a morning snack to accompany my first coffee of the day, and I think this could be the perfect pair.

3. having fun. Doesn't "making granola bars" just sound *fun*? I think so ...

I'll post an update with photos, recipe and day-dreamed variations later this week!

good things i love: a list

In my effort to get healthy, I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the things I love that I should limit. Couldn't I spend at least as much time concentrating on the *good* things in life that I love?

I present to you, a list (including but not limited to, & mostly food):
> celery, tomatoes, red peppers (and all kinds of snappy vegetables that are tasty on their own)
> riding my road bike
> fresh-made bread (can't wait to brave whole-wheats ...)
> scratchmade hummus
> the simple fact that we *do* scratchmake (salsa, sweets, jam, chili, rice, beans, fries, pancakes & biscuits, granola)
> fresh apricots, peaches, plums, clementines (and other little hand fruits that are simple, sweet & flavorful)
> mango (with salt & skin!)
> sauteed mushrooms & onions in everything and anything
>  the satiating, energizing experience of eating a well-prepared, big salad.
> eggs. for breakfast, in a sammich, draped over pasta & greens with the yolk burst and dripping sauce
> modest amounts of extra dark chocolate (because when it's this good, you don't need too much)
> hiking & any variation on the long, observant walk
> coffee-as-treat
> beer
> water, when I finally get around to drinking enough of it ... and the good feeling of being hydrated

This list could go on for ... how long? I don't know! Add to it for me? I'd love to have more healthy things to look forward to every day.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

sunday night meditations

Ooh, that sounds fancier than it is.

Really what I mean is: Here's what I'm thinking about for the week ahead as it draws nearer and nearer:

Back to tracking in Weight watchers! I haven't been in the right frame of mind to do this for a while. But in the past few weeks I could feel all the gears shifting into place. I've been so. close. just. one. more. turn. And I'm there. I've already entered my breakfast and lunch for tomorrow (oats with almond milk, clementine and banana slices, wheat germ, honey, coffee & cream; and hummus, bread, veggies, an apple, extra dark chocolate).

My absence from tracking has been *so* long that I'm just now getting to use the new PointsPlus system. I'm kinda stoked for it ... it's a fresh start! Also, they give you more points (and even though it's because the foods are of higher points value, the mental trick is a treat).

Back to the gym ... and I'm totally looking forward to it. All that stands between me and the gym is some paperwork (employee discount and direct withdrawal from my paycheck so I don't have to think about it!). That should be done by Monday night, so my plan is to head to my first workout a 5 a.m. Tuesday morning. (AM I CRAZY??)

I'll probably keep it simple, just get my bearings. But I know once I make it a new habit, it won't even occur to me to be upset with the early wakeup call.

A new baking project. I'm still figuring out the details, but apparently I am bloody *compelled* to bake for people. And people should not be deprived, right?! So once I get it all straightened out, I'll write more about it ... and this blog might even become central to the project.

My biggest challenge if this gets off the ground will be to keep myself from dipping mindlessly into the cookie/scone/biscotti doughs as I'm putting them together. Maybe they have a machine at the gym to strengthen your will power?

And that's me on a Sunday evening. May the week ahead be as fruitful as I'm daydreaming it to be this very moment ...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

weekend warriette

We are drinking BEER and eating BARBECUE and buying COFFEE & CHOCOLATE.

Then we are RIDING BIKES & watching WATCHING WILLY WONKA and HAVING MORE CHOCOLATE (thanks to Bike Roanoke and the Shadowbox and chocolatepaper).

I'm excited for the weekend ahead, and intend to be reasonable in my food decisions. I'll be faced with delicious rich foods, so I'll just eat less of them. Grab the veggies and fruit when I can. Drink lots of water. Gravitate to any whole-grain options, and vow to enjoy every bite when I *do* reach for the less healthy treats (because there's nothing more tasteless than a delicious bite of food that immediately trips a guilt complex).

Here's enjoying a full weekend.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

an idea of a schedule.

So here I am striving for increased productivity, making more healthful choices, getting my arse to the gym. And I'm *also* feeling like I don't have the time to commit myself to those lofty goals (they've felt lofty, anyhow).

My bus commute is, no joke, 3 hours every day. By which I mean that from the time I leave my home to the time my butt is in my seat at work, an hour-and-a-half has passed. And then that hour-and-a-half passes again when I head home. Three hours! To be honest, I don't mind the time. If I worked next door to my apartment, I don't suspect that I'd be compelled to make better use of those three hours than I do now. With this commute, I rack up about 2 miles of walking, and almost two hours of reading on the bus. Reading! I've started reading again. On my phone. For free (yay Google eBookstore!).

So that's pretty awesome. But put a three hour commute together with a mentally challenging job, and I have been writing off my free time as me time.

And while I *do* feel repose is healthy and necessary, I'm not sure I need quite so much of it. In fact, I'm pretty sure that if I adjust my schedule ever so slightly to include, say, exercise, the extra energy would get me doing more with those quiet moments.

So here I am wondering how the heck I'm going to fit more into my day, when someone suggests I simply sit down, write out my schedule and make it happen. They even throw out Google Calendar, which they may or may not have known is secret code for "Lindsay is about to make a date with her lover ... her lover named Google."

So here, quite simply rendered, is a sketch of my day, via Google:

It's bare, but I did that on purpose. See, I've finally come to know this thing about myself: The more I get wrapped up in the minutiae of a plan, the less likely I am to follow through. I don't know if it's that I expend all my energy on working out details (for something that would mostly likely be best served with a little trial and error), or if it's that I build up this huge idea that then looms over me like a guilt-cloud ready to burst. Whatever the reason, I need to change my approach.

So here is this simple calendar. The briefest outline.

Not to say I haven't thought how it might play out in fine detail. And not to say I'm not willing to share a theory, or a dream. ...

5am-7am: ymca (go!go!go!)
This'll have me probably waking up around 4:30. Jeezus. Maybe I'll make it 5:30 at the gym, so I can wake up at 5. But you know what? I worked in a bakery. I can do this.

Whichever way it lands, 5 or 5:30, the point is that I want to get my workout early in the day. It's always suited me. If I plan it for the evening, I'll invariably come up with a reason that I can skip it in favor of a walk (which I end up skipping in favor of television).

I want to start out with the basics at the gym: 30-45 minutes doing cardio, 30 minutes on weights, 20 minutes to shower, etc.

7am-8:30am: roanoke/christiansburg (write, notes & lists!)
I've been using both of my commutes to read and generally zone out. While I'm really grateful to be a reader again, in reviewing my day's schedule I realized that my morning commute would be a great time to start working my brain on ideas for my blog (which I want to write more and more), the day's tasks, the week's adventures, the year's big plans. I can go into the office energized by my own steam and hopefully find myself even more focused and ready for the day.

8:30am-6pm: work!
I love my job. It keeps my brain busy. It provides opportunities for me to challenge myself regularly. While I'd love to break this big block of amorphous time into pre- and post-lunch shifts, or to schedule some time to, say, write a blog entry, I know I can't predict my schedule from one day to the next.

Better to acknowledge the truth of it (a truth I like ... I work in news, and sometimes the most exciting thing to hear is "we're gonna have a late-breaking story you have to get in tomorrow's paper!").

What I'll aim to do is keep watch over my workload every day and tuck in personal productivity where it fits.

6pm-7pm: christiansburg/roanoke (read, relax)
I've never doubted the importance of solitude. I've always been comfortable spending time by myself, and in fact I think there's something in it that feeds my very soul. Where other people may find themselves nourished by the company of others, I find myself nourished by reflection.

I've been reading on these bus rides, like I said, and I completely lose track of time. It's one of the few times in the day that I step away from a clock. And without effort! It's something to be grateful for.

7pm-9:30pm (or 10): unassigned
Why unassigned? Because this is when I come home, am greeted by a happy, snarly-faced doggy and a husband who's likely just finished cooking dinner.

What I *will* aim for during this time every day is to stay away from the television as much as possible, to connect with my husband, and to keep feeding my brain and energy with healthful thoughts.

tasks: cook (healthful) dinner; learn something new!; prepare tomorrow's lunch; write blog entry
These things might fit in during the evening, or possibly sometime during my workday. They're things I know I want to get done but that need to be approached with some flexibility. (I think?)

* Cook (healthful) dinner. Why am I doing this if I mentioned earlier that my husband cooks dinner? I realized that the dinners he cooks, while delicious, often are too rich for me. At least for now, while the good-habits part of my brain is still warming back up. Once I get in full swing, I'll probably be more mentally prepared to account for his dishes, and to portion them appropriately.

* Learn something new! I want to keep challenging myself to learn more about healthful eating, baking with whole grains, how to maximize my morning oatmeal, what exercises are best to get me flexible, strong, lean. ... Obviously there's a lot I want to know, and I think committing to at least *seeking* one new piece of information every day is a great start to building my personal encyclopedia.

* Prepare tomorrow's lunch. Because I'm more likely to take a good lunch to work if I don't have to fiddle with it early in the morning. Duh.

*Write blog entry. I'm so glad to be back to this blog. If any of you has kept up with my blogs since I started writing them a long long time ago, you know I have these mood swings. Write write write!! And then nothing for months. Write! Nothing. Write write! Noooooothing. I want to use this platform to record my own thoughts on healthfulness while I'm still trying to hard to attain it. I also want to reach out to other people who might have some smart ideas about how I can continue on this very long path. So it's pretty well settled that I must commit to writing it.

Phew. That was a novel. All to come up with a little thing like a schedule ...

things that work for me

a sense of order
Please give me the same breakfast and same lunch every day. Give me the same time to go to bed and the same time to wake up. I like to catch the same bus. Hit the gym at the same time. Do mostly the same gym routine. Same soap and shampoo. Same makeup. If I could wear the exact same outfit everyday (the *cutest* one, of course), I'd do it ... but there are rules.

I'll fill in the spaces between with excitement, big new ideas, daydreamy dreams. But that sense of routine is my *bones* ... it gives me structure, something to build on.

My routine, though, has to be made by me. And I've come off a long stretch (year? more?) of giving in to a series of disconnected moments that mostly consist of sitting (because it's cozy) and eating tasty things (because they're tasty) in the quantity that suited me (because I wanna, that's why).

mission! So a sense of order works for me. Time for me to start working for *it*.

cutting sugar
So simple. And yet ...

When I eat sugar, I want it in this weird, overpowering way. Addiction? Is that too strong a word? But there's definitely a little voice that bubbles up in me. "cookie cookie cookie cookie!" I am not even exaggerating that it's on repeat.

Once I've successfully kept sugar at bay for, say, two or three weeks, I find it pretty easy to turn down in general. But we just came off holidays. And then there's that year or two of me not putting order (and healthfulness) on my list of priorities (what list of priorities? I think I might have also done away with *that*).

So, like, yestreday: big step. I did not *immediately* eat the delicious oatmeal raisin cookie that someone had brought in to work. I didn't even eat it directly after my (healthy!) lunch. I *even* made a deal with myself ... drink two bottles of water, you get the cookie. So I brought that cookie into my office. And it sat there for two hours as I worked away at my two bottles of water. But this is what was going in my brain (along with all my work-related brainstuff): "eat the cookie eat the cookie eat the cookie eat the cookie eat the cookie eat the cookie eatthecookieeatthecookieeatthecookie..." Not kidding. Even as I had these words resonating, I was thinking "people must know this is what's going on in my head when I face food temptations. That I am constantly battling a voice that's telling me to do something I know I would feel better *not* doing."

So there you go.

And that little voice quiets down, even goes away, when I've exchanged my sugary treats for fruity-spicy-whole-grainy treats.

mission! start using simple ingredients to create sweet treats for myself, instead of reaching for the highly-sugared treats that are so (so!) easy to grab.

lists. making lists. reading lists. scratching items off lists.
I have forever been and will always be at heart, a list-maker.

The earliest meaningful lists I remember making involved, at age 15, me looking forward to being an adult: what my apartment would look like, what clothes I would have, what furniture I would buy, what colors I would put on the walls, etc. Lists have covered everything from big daydreams to what I needed to get done in the next three hours.

It's only in my recent adulthood that I actually *did* the things on my list. lists + action = productivity and accomplishment! It's a good feeling.

But in the last year or so (what is it with this last year??), I've stopped taking the time to list-make in the first place. And I've come to understand that even in those earlier list-making years, when I wasn't *doing* the things on the lists, the mere act of compiling the list was productive: it engaged my brain, focused it on a goal, and forced me to be creative in thinking on that goal.

My list-maker brain has atrophied. Horror!

mission! Make lists! This one is fairly simple, because despite having *not* made meaningful lists in the past year or so, I know I still deeply enjoy them. All I need to do is dedicate the smallest corner of my day to it. (I totally count this entire blog entry as my first list, by the way. Totally.)

Bottom line? I'm ready to examine the things in my life that help me stay engaged in a healthful lifestyle, and I'm ready to make those things a priority.

Monday, January 10, 2011


How are you? It's been a while. Let's talk about that.

I got a new job. In a new town (an old town for us: Roanoke, Va.). My husband and I left a house behind in Knoxville, Tenn. We're renting that out. We're also living in a tiny apartment. I don't bake no more. Professionally. I design news pages. I used to do that. I'm doing it again (at the same newspaper as before). I'm happy.

What I'm *not* is regimented. But I'm getting there. Like with this here potato:

It's my lunch. But it's only a step in the right direction. Because I have no idea how much it weighs. Which means I don't know how many Weight Watchers points it is. I also put butter on it. How much? I'm not quite sure. Enough to make it tasty.

What this potato succeeds at is being a potato. And not a last-minute pizza. Or even leftover (tasty! low-fat!) lasagna that would be delicious, but that would also be full of the cheese that happens to be one of *my* no-no foods. (I'm vowing to myself to enjoy cheese in moderation. I can't cut it out, it's too delicious. But I can be sensible.)

I had to start somewhere
There is *so* much to talk about! I couldn't decide where. This potato seemed like a great place. Potatoes are simple. "Keep it simple, stupid!" Also, I wrote this little blog entry while my potato cooked up in the work microwave. Maybe this'll be a new thing. Lunchtime posts. Quick. Off the top of my head. Maybe this new thing will be how I tackle the long list of food/exercise related thoughts I'm eager to share.

Bonus thought
I'm seriously looking forward to a gym membership. I think I'll get one to the Y near our apartment. And that I'll go to it at 5 in the morning so I can catch my 7:20 bus to work. (Oh yeah. I take a bus to work, now. Something for a future luchtime post ...)