Category Archives: Trying New things

The Story of the Past Month (part 1)

WordPress tells me that my last post was on July 27th. So that tells me it’s been  about a month since I posted here. I didn’t really intend on taking this long of a hiatus, but I was expecting to be gone for a while.  Lots of very exciting things happened, but I will focus a bit on the challenges I faced towards the end of the summer, and why I took a step back from meticulous recordings of my progress.

Towards the end of my internship, something bad began to happen. I began weighing myself every morning, sometimes more than once. Every morning the scale read 150, and every morning I started out upset. Not visibly so, but in the back of my mind that number sat. Because of this, one of two things would happen. I would either cheat on paleo (less often), or I would start to feel guilty about eating (more often). No matter what I ate, or how I ate it, I was feeling bad. I ate too much not enough, the wrong kind of meat, not enough veggies, etc. No matter what I did, I felt bad for eating.

Needless to say, this wasn’t exactly healthy. I talked with Anthony (fiance) about it the first couple of days of August, and we decided a good way to cut off this cycle was to stop weighing myself. Completely. We set an arbitrary date at which I would be allowed to weigh myself again — after my belt test on September 10th.

My friend David, traipsing around to take pictures in Chicago.

I pretty much immediately started to feel better. Much in the same way that weighing myself a day before my weigh-in during the first part of my journey would get me down that day, I didn’t really realize how much weighing myself in the mornings was putting a dampener on my moods and self-esteem for that day.  I stuck with paleo more easily, and it just became a lifestyle instead of something that was a chore.

I also stopped working out, though that had happened a couple of weeks before Anthony and I decided it would be a good idea to stop weighing myself. Much in the same way that weighing myself every day was bringing down my self-esteem, so was attempting to do TKD by myself. I find it is very similar to when I would work out, or run. If I was doing it out of obligation and there was no fun in it, then it was just a chore.  Not only was it a chore but it was one that magnified my faults. Everything I was doing wrong seemed magnified and frustrated me more than it might have normally. It ate at my confidence, and brought me down further.

I really needed to take care of myself mentally, especially since the stress of going from Chicago to DC for a seminar and then back to Atlanta was mounting. Not to mention that I had two great friends, both of which are paleo, were coming to see me. I wanted to relax and do what felt natural (which paleo does, much of the time), and enjoy my time with them.

Real women leave the crust

Finally, I gave Intermittent Fasting a try. I can’t remember precisely when I started, but for a few weeks I didn’t eat on Sundays or Thursdays (well, skipping breakfast and lunch). It was an interesting experience, but I have discontinued it for now. I would probably do IF during the periods in which I can’t exercise, if I was still trying to lose weight the next time I had such a period.  It’s up for grabs, but it is something that I tried.

With those adjustments made during my last weeks of my internship, I packed up my stuff and said a very sad goodbye to Chicago.

Goodbye, Chicago!

5 easy steps to learning the art of throwing sh*t together

Last night I was describing to a good friend what I was eating for dinner:

I marinated some chicken in red vinegar, white vinegar, chopped garlic and a shit ton of garlic powder. I then chopped up some onions, sauteed them, then put it all in a baking dish and threw on some canned tomatoes.

She said that it sounded really good and that she wanted to make me cook for her sometime.

The thing is, I had no idea that I was going to be cooking that until I got home.

It was then that I realized: I had developed a skill that  had been wanting ever since I started paleo, a skill that I had envied my mother of for as long as I’ve been cooking: the ability to throw shit together and make it all work together.

I think the hardest part of adjusting to paleo is cooking your own meals.  So here’s Gina’s guide to throwing sh*t together, in 5 easy steps.

1. Get to know your palette.

The first thing you have to do before throwing sh*t together is that you have to know what you like. And I’m not talking about “Cheeseburger Macaroni is my favorite Hamburger Helper.” Clearly Beef Stroganoff is the best. No, I’m talking about particular tastes that you like. For instance, do you prefer salty or sweet things? Do you like bold flavors or subtle ones? Look at what you’re eating now and determine what kind of tastes they have in common. What are your favorite dishes? How are they alike? How are they different?

This way, when you go to the store, you’re prepared. Stock up on these things that you already know you like.  The only thing that is up to you to decide is how to throw them all together.

2. Planning is for losers

This may seem like common knowledge, but so many people go to the grocery store with a list of things that they want to cook. I say, avoid this tendency. The more you plan, the more you kill your spontaneity. Besides, necessity is the mother of invention. If you are neurotically planning your meals at the start of every week, there is no room for  invention. However, if you are starving and have nothing planned to eat, you think of something real fast.

3. Find a favorite spice

If you have a spice or herb that you love, there is no reason why it couldn’t — or shouldn’t go into every meal. This provides some stability of taste between your foods while also reassuring you that no matter how much you botch something, there will always be that flavor to fall back on.

For example, almost everything I cook has garlic. I know that if I put enough garlic in it, I can eat it. To give a sense of scale, I bought a standard 3.12 oz bottle of McCormick garlic powder when I came to Chicago three weeks ago. It is 2/3 gone. Not to mention I’ve cut up three whole cloves of garlic already, too. I love garlic.

Note: SALT DOES NOT COUNT AS A SPICE.

4. Pick a base — and know what goes

The above-mentioned friend is a vegetarian, so she should substitute pasta or her favorite vegetable. For the same reason that you need to know your palette, you are going to want to know what kind of bases you like to use. For me, I use a lot of chicken, pork sausage, and ground sirloin. I know that these are ubiquitous meats that I can do just about anything with, so I always purchase these at the store. Again, I know that I like these things regardless as to what mood I’m in, so I am not afraid to buy them for fear I won’t use them. I know I will.

You should also know common things that go with your bases. Try to match these up with your palette choices. For example, tomatoes are really acidic, so they are bold and I like them. They also happen to go with both chicken and red beef. So tomatoes of some sort are always on my shopping list. Bell peppers, which I only like with chicken, aren’t bought as often.

5. Keep it Simple

You can eat fucking caviar and, I dunno, beer battered french fries when you go out to eat. When you’re cooking at home, especially when you’re cooking on the fly, simpler is better. Always. As a southern woman, I like simple foods much better so this rule comes easily to me. However, some foodies who are starting out trying to cook attempt to do too much too fast. There is no need to prepare your final exam for Cordin Bleu every night, especially not the first night.

Generally, I would say a base, a veggie that goes with it, and a spice is good enough to make a meal. If you want something more complex, add a salad or a side to go with it. The more flavors you attempt to mix together at once, the higher your chances of getting it wrong.

5.1. Let Go and Have Fun

You don’t have to cook every night, but the more you enjoy cooking the more you passively learn from every experience, which will enhance your “throwing sh*t together” abilities. The more you are relaxed, the less you feel the need to stick to a prescribed recipe, the more fun you have. Ultimately, the more successful you are, too.

Cooking from scratch on the fly used to be a skill reserved for southern housewives with decades of experience. I hardly think I know all the ends and outs. I do not think I could rival my mother were she still alive, and I KNOW I am nowhere close to my grandmother’s skill, but I’ve got the basics down and I will continue to build my repitoire as I go.

Deuces,

Gina

The art (chaos) of cooking for one.

Firstly, thank you to everyone who sent Barrier of Love Letters. I will update with a picture of the Bad Food Cabinet when I have some more to go up.

My internship program has had me so busy on the weekdays that, rather than simply being too lazy to cook when I get home, I just have no time! Especially when you add three blogs into the picture.

To complicate things, I am also cooking for one. Cooking for one, if you haven’t had to do so, is a big pain in the ass. Shopping for one, is also. A big. Pain.

As I reported the other day, I spent about $100 on groceries, but I really was not able to gauge just how long it was gong to last me. I got 2 pounds of sausage, 2 pounds of chicken, one pound of beef. I got some strawberries (that I need to eat…), some onions, oranges, apples, spinach, and other things.

I’m fairly confident that it’ll get me through the week. I really need it to get me through two weeks. I really don’t know if that’s possible, so we’ll see.

Anyway, back at Avery, I was technically cooking for one, but I was really, most nights cooking for two because Anthony was there most nights. Anthony also eats a lot. A LOT. So it was really like I was cooking for three. I had a good idea of how much to cook so that I could eat he could eat, and I wouldn’t have to cook for another couple of days.

So needless to say cooking for one is a bit of a challenge. The simple rule to fixing it: leftovers.

Learn to love leftovers.

Usually what I’ll do is cook something up that will last me for a few meals, and then eat off of it for lunch and dinner. This time, however, I decided to try something different.

I spent Sunday afternoon cooking. I threw some chicken into some home-made marinade and let it sit for a few hours while I whipped up some sausage, onions, and bell peppers:

Noms

This will be my lunch this week. I plan on taking the whole hoard over with a dish on which to spoon it out and feast while my coworkers drool. My dinners WERE going to be salads topped with chicken this week, but as I look at the rejected bowl of salad in front of me (I really shouldn’t have gotten LIGHT dressing), I may have to find another route.

There is always the magic salad and I can heat up the rest of the chicken I had cooked and eat it on the side. Easy peasy. Except getting the stems off the spinach sucks… hm…

As for this poor dish in front of me, it reminds me of another inconvenience of cooking for one — there is no one to pawn food off on.

Anthony is kind of my garbage disposal. When I made the chicken soup that I didn’t like a while ago, he gobbled it up. He likes most anything, and hates for food to go to waste. Perfect.

But now I am subject to harvesting out the chicken from this disaster, getting the ranch dressing off of it, and finding another use for it. Cause hell if I waste what is pretty much a whole chicken breast.

This is the life of someone who cooks for one, shops at whole foods, and is a freaking intern.

Gotta love it.

 

“That’s so bad for you”

Before I started doing Paleo, I often ran into people who would proclaim to me “That’s so bad for you!” as I sucked down a Coke or say things like I didn’t like vegetables. For people who eat healthy, there is often a certain amount of Evangelicalism about getting others to do the same.

To a certain degree, this makes sense. Especially if you’ve had your life changed by a simple shift of diet, you want other people to have the same happiness, satisfaction, and health that you do. Much in the same way that Evangelicals (the ones who are genuine, at least) want to share the happiness and peace that they get with Christ with other people.

But Evangelicals get a bad name amongst certain groups of people for a reason.

OH MY GOD PALEO! BLESS ME WITH YOUR LOVE!!

It’s not just that they choose not to believe in Christ and have a happy life without him, thankyouverymuch. This is not the core of what bothers people. What really gets under their skin is that this person believes that they know how to live that person’s life better than they do.

And this is essentially what is so grating about people who Go Healthy (in whatever form) and spend their time saying to other people “:scoff: that’s so bad for you!”

It doesn’t matter whether that person’s diet consists ENTIRELY of potato chips and ice cream or if they eat an occasional croissant. If they are not ready to ‘convert’ to a healthier lifestyle, then your nagging at them is only going to prolong their conversion to the other side. And hey, they may live till their 100s on potato chips and ice cream. You never know.

I think part of the ‘that’s so bad for you’ mentality arises from a form of self-confirmation. Eating healthy in a world of potato chips and ice cream is fucking hard, I don’t care who you are. Often times, saying to someone what they’re eating is bad for them is a way to confirm to yourself that you’re making the right decision — that you’re yearning for those chips and not eating them for a good cause.

There’s a certain amount of power in this rhetoric, and the power of mental states and words can be really helpful sometimes. But to take the holier than thou approach to it really only damages your relationship with that person and it also damages their path towards a healthier lifestyle, if they so choose to take it.

If you really need that confirmation, a simple change of language avoids the problem. Instead of saying ‘that’s so bad for you,” simply say ‘that’s so bad for me.’ Because it’s true. Potato chips and ice cream are bad for me. I’m freaking addicted to them and like an addict sometimes I feel like I need them. They are bad for me because there are times when I am dependent on them for emotional stability, and that’s just a problem. I can voice that and confirm to myself that I’m making the right decisions, without attempting to force anyone to my way of thinking.

It's not that you're bad, I'm just better than you

Now, if you really have a friend whose diet consists solely of potato chips and ice cream, I strongly recommend talking to them about their lifestyle. However, this ought to be done in the proper format. Making passing disparaging comments only strengthens the barrier between them and a better life. Sit them down, talk with them about basic healthy lifestyles, and how they can benefit from shifting their habits. If they get defensive, go softer. If they are still unwilling to talk, then let it go. It’s their life, and they have the right to do what they want with it.

And if and when they finally do come over to the right side, be excited for them, not condescending. Be supportive. Lend your guidance and enthusiasm for them — be positive. It was never about you being right; it’s about them living a better life. When I started on paleo, the worst thing I would hear were “I told you so” comments. The best things? “Way to go! I’m so happy for you.” (note: happy, not proud). “You’re amazing for doing this. You’re so awesome.” General praise is always good, and something that helps people commit and stay.

Being a paleo snob — or any kind of snob is only counter productive to your end goals. We want everyone to live a healthful life(if only because it will make eating paleo much easier if more people did it)but we want to preserve our relationships and help those around us be happy, too.

So that is my rant. In case you were thinking I forgot my new accountability schema:

Good things

Apple for breakfast
Paleo spaghetti x2 — lunch and diner (no pasta, just sauce — tasty!!)

Bad things

hot chocolate — it’s free in my office.

Ultimate Epic Shopping Trip of Win, pt 2

This is part two of my epic shopping adventure. Click here to see part one.

However, my trip to Target was not unsuccessful. In fact, it was very successful. I managed to get a good bit, though for more than I really wanted to spend:

Word.

I also was in need of some casual things that weren’t baggy and making me feel icky. So I got these here too. Target as awesome cotton knit shirts. I love the way they fit on me. Observe:

Everything pictured is from Target. Except the sexy curves -- i grew those myself.

I usually buy them in fours and fives, but I settled for only two today:

Muscle Gina! Hey -- posing for pictures gets boring after a while...

I spent much more here and got  much less than I would have liked, but I’ll have to be okay with it. I got things I needed and that are comfortable.

Total spent at Target: $74
Items received: Khaki pants, blue button-up shirt, denim shorts, two knit casual shirts.

It was at this point that I wandered. I knew that I wanted button up dress shirts, and I wanted to get them at Express because I remember them having good stuff before.  However when I went to the Express at Atlantic Station, their dress shirts came in like three colors and were forty dollars each. I wasn’t exactly thrilled with that,so I went and peeked around in some other stores, including Dillard’s. I was unsuccessful. I started to head back and acquiesce to Express’s prices, but when I went back they had closed. It was about 6PM at this point. Apparently everything in the area was closing at six.

At this point I called my brother, the king of dress shirts. He recommended Macy’s and JC Penny’s. But at this point I was so tired, I really just wanted to go home. I sat on a bench for a few minutes and rubbed my knee. I tried to go see a movie, but there wasn’t one playing at any time which would get me home at a decent hour. I was going to eat and go home, but I decided to try and gather up my energy and head up to Perimeter to try Macy’s or JC Penny’s.

This is another long story that I should cut short. However, suffice it to say (again) that I wandered quite a bit, finding nothing, before I remembered that Suzie had mentioned New York and Company as being a cheaper alternative to Express, but offering the same clothing. Awesomely enough, they were having a sale– buy one, get one 75% off. Additionally, their dress shirts were $22.95 and they were fitted better than the ones at Express. So, naturally, I bought three of them:

Purple shirt with dark gray pants from thrift store.

Funny Face.

Note the band around the waist for extra fit.

I also purchased a white camisole. Then… I got some Chick Fil A and headed home.

Total spent at New York and Company:$77
Items Received: Three dress shirts, one white camisole.

Of my more expensive purchases, I am more pleased with the dress shirts than most anything. They are precisely what I wanted and what I was looking for, and for a pretty awesome price (about $18/shirt, with the discount). Purchasing fitted dress shirts  is so difficult, and I was excited to find something that fit and didn’t make me feel androgynous or fat. Woot for these shirts.

Overall, it was one of my more successful shopping trips thus far. I spent around $400, $187 of which was on bras, meaning I spent about $213 on everything else. I feel pretty good about it.

The question remains as to what to do with the rest of the money. I have considered letting Anthony have it to use for shipping costs, and I have also thought about buying something fun from pyramid collection. I could also keep it until I lose my last ten pounds, and spend it as a final reward. After all, it was supposed to be ten dollars per pound, and I have so far only lost forty.

I have a few days to think about it, so we’ll see. I won’t order anything till I get to Chicago, so I know I can be there to receive the package.

Anyway, that is the Ultimate Epic shopping trip of Win. I am now adequately prepared to rock Chicago.