Vegan Can Be Yummy

Give me a Five Guys Burger and you can’t go wrong. But, getting healthy has definitely changed my taste buds and tolerance for protein heavy and fat heavy meals. My body craves vegetables. Tom tells me my gut flora has changed and it is telling me what it wants to eat. Whatever…

The thing is, I really like my veggies. Even those veggies that I tolerated (eggplant, yellow squash, mushrooms) and those I hated (kales, swiss chard) are regular visitors to my meals. I can even eat tofu, although I have to say it is not my favorite and is only in the tolerated column. In fact, if you look at my meals, and even some of my days, I’m definitely on the verge of a vegetarian diet and not always so far off from a vegan diet.

Don’t get me wrong. I applaud those that morally live by veganism. I just don’t have that moral fortitude and am happy to keep my omnivorous ancestry alive in my diet. I love eggs, cheese and fish. What I will own up to is that if you take away the moral argument and only apply the healthy argument, then verging on vegan is possible and not at all a restriction.

Case in point. Heading to San Francisco, the restaurants know their customers and recognize that vegans are a dominate group – for moral and health reasons. It isn’t uncommon to see menu items with vegan symbols to make it easy to find dishes to eat when dining out with your non-vegan friends. In fact, restaurants are going out of their way to create amazing vegan food that rivals non-vegan menu items. It is almost hard for the non-vegan to ignore these delicacies. I can’t!

Always searching for healthy menu items to avoid travel spread, and formerly trying to still lose weight while on the road, restaurants that had vegetarian and vegan items were a god send. Being in California is always the easiest, and this visit was no disappointment.

Anku, an Asian restaurant inside the Hotel Nikko, not only has an entirely healthy menu, but also has vegetarian options that can easily be converted to vegan dishes. Purple Cauliflower Soup and a Portobello Mushroom and Couscous Purse surrounded by baby carrots, asparagus and yellow squash sitting in a vegetable puree  (the purse is swiss chard) was my dinner.  The lack of meat wasn’t noticeable. The flavors and textures were surprising and wonderful. Along with a glass of French rose wine and my meal was every bit as good as a steak dinner. The fact that my meal was preceded by complementary nuts, olives and pickled purple cauliflower made it that much better. Really!

I’m not saying you need to give up your meat. I am only saying that there is enough evidence that too much meat has health risks and cutting your 10 oz steak down to 3-4 oz and loading your plate with vegetables or creative vegan delicacies isn’t the hardship your mind keeps telling you. Don’t deny yourself, just nurture your body a bit more.

Be a vegan for a day. It can be yummy.

 

 

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Off Plane – Must Run!

Made it into San Francisco this afternoon and needed to shake off my flight. I got lucky with flatbed seats and took advantage of them. But, the poor lady next to me must have thought I was a head case.  After the first hour of a nap I woke myself up from my snoring. Then I fell back asleep again and immediately went into some crazy bad dreams where I was calling out, “Help me!” and realized that I was whimpering when I woke up. Completely embarrassed.

Anyway, after slamming through my email between the runway and taxi ride into the city, I needed to pull myself together. Even though I did mobile check-in my room wasn’t ready yet. So, I asked for a key to the gym, changed into my running gear in the locker room, and handed my bags to the bell hop.

San Francisco is gorgeous today. 75 degrees, sunny, and awesome breeze (wind). Playlist on and my watch counting down to go, I started my run down to Market St, opening up my stride wider with each step/leap.

I side stepped people and construction feeling like I was on an agility course and picked up my pace doing a cool 9:30 min/mile (fast for me). Heading down Market St. I people watched, dodged a crazy guy, checked out the trolley, tried to keep up with another runner, and overall felt my plane ride slip away.

The Embarcadero gave me more than two miles of less congested walkway, but there were still plenty of people and rickshaws to go around. The wind was pushing against me keeping me cool and adding resistance that I pushed back into. As I got closer to the Alcatraz ferry then into Fisherman’s Warf there were more and more people making it difficult to keep moving, so I turned around and headed back.

Market St felt shorter and I was paying more attention to find the street to turn back on and get to the hotel. I had more lights against me, but instead of slowing me down, I got my wind back which allowed me to sprint back up to speed. Finding my street, I headed up and put my legs into the hill for my last push. Then I turned into the hotel entryway and was greeted with a big smile and, “Welcome Back!” from the bellhop.

A quick shower topped off my run and a text on my phone let me know my room was ready. Which is where I sit now still basking in my runners glow.

Can Exercise be Fun?

I stalk the MyFitnessPal site to get ideas about food, nutrition and work-outs. They had a blog recently about recess inspired workouts.  I also saw a blog from a MFP member that is just struggling to get 10 minutes on the treadmill and hates to workout. It reminded me of another blog (for the life of me I can now not find) where a woman talked about taking dance classes for exercise because she loved to dance.

I’m learning something on this journey that should have been completely obvious but wasn’t. Exercise is a euphemism for being active. We exercise and work out today because we no longer hunt, gather or farm our fields to survive. Most of us sit at a desk for eight hours, sit in a car for two hours, and lounge on the sofa a couple hours. Then we sleep. Millions of years of evolution to be in constant active survival mode and self reliance can’t be turned off in 150 years by our industrial revolution. So now we exercise and work out.

Doesn’t that just feel like another job? While we might love to run, cycle, and do boot camp classes or crossfit (no I don’t do crossfit – but that is another blog), if we had the chance we might do something fun instead. We would play on a jungle gym, ski, back pack, play tennis, or join the kickball league.  Those activities are somehow different. They are all about fun.

My epiphany recently is that I need to think about how exercise can’t only be about a workout for losing and maintaining weight and health but also has to be about having fun. I found that by changing from running on the treadmill and road is more fun when I’m crashing through trails like a kid is awesome. I found that being on a SUP gave me hidden activity but a connection to the outdoors which I love. I used to play tennis and loved being with my friends and playing in leagues together, why not do that again?

So, go ahead and keep up the cardio and gym routines. We after all are still more sedentary than our ancestors. But, don’t forget to have fun!

 

 

 

Surviving a Weekend of Gluttony

This weekend we traveled down to Nashville for my son’s graduation. After 13 months in an intensive master program at Vanderbilt’s Owens School, we celebrated his degree in healthcare administration. I don’t know who was more proud, us or him. But it really doesn’t matter. The thing is he did it!

As celebrations go, this was fraught with food and drink gauntlets and time constraints on exercise. A crazy frantic rebooking of our flight at the last minute due to weather issues meant getting to the hotel at 1:30a. We then had to scramble in the morning on less than 5 hours of sleep to get over to the ceremony. No time for breakfast at the hotel, we instead relied on the helpful description of the graduation that light fare would be served before and after.

When we arrived, light fare consisted of coffee and donuts. Coffee, I can do. Donuts? Oh well. I pulled a glazed donut off a peg and took a bit of the sweetest pastry I have had in months. The sugar from the first bite almost gave me a head rush. I could immediately see why I loved these things before. The problem is that eating just the one, even with the coffee, made me hungrier. So, I pulled everyone to the other side of the room so as not to see and smell those treacherous things.

The ceremony was perfect, a tight hour and a half and I got to see my son give a quick speech and thank yous. It was then back to the entry hall for food and drinks.  Mimosas, champagne, beer, and wine were all out. The tables were laid out with ham and cheese finger sandwiches, fresh fruit and grilled asparagus, portabella mushrooms and peppers. I think there was something in a chafing dish, but honestly don’t remember what was in there. I loaded my plate with the grilled vegetables and grabbed a fruit cup along with a glass of wine. So proud of myself!

That is where the rest of good eating ended. Lunch took us to Hattie B’s, one of Nashville’s hot chicken institutions. Mild, medium, hot and shut the cluck up are your choices for spicy level. Then you have the choice of chicken meat and tenders. Oh, and don’t forget the sides, you get two of those. I opted for a mild wing and chicken tender along with 2 sides of coleslaw. I avoided the bacon cooked collards, French fries, macaroni and cheese and the other assorted but yummy sides looking more for a pallet cleanser as a way to feel better about my meal. Riiight! I scarfed the chicken down along with half the slice of toasted buttered bread it sat on in my basket. Then ate three bitefuls of slaw. Oh my, it was so good.

We had a few hours between lunch and dinner so we headed back to the hotel to laze in the pool with cocktails. Yes, we could have walked Broadway or other Nashville thing. But, we’ve been there several times and didn’t really have enough time to do it justice. With the day at 85 degrees and a bit humid, the idea of the pool and cocktails was too much of a pull.

Dinner, that was heaven. Butcher & Bee is this great place in East Nashville. The food is so fresh, tapas like and perfect to share over conversation and drinks. Just what you want to do when getting together with family and friends to celebrate. Braised lamb, couscous, sweet roasted carrots, fried smoked okra, homemade hummus with fried chickpeas, pan fried fish, potato salad all washed down with this mucha muchacha cocktail (2) had me turning to Tom with a tight belly (food coma) and numb cheeks (liquor induced) to seek his driving abilities. Good thing he was fine.

Back at the hotel, we gathered at the hotel bar for a whiskey and brownie sundaes. While I didn’t eat all of the two scoops of ice cream, two brownies, bananas and glazed walnuts drizzled in fudge and I think carmel too, I did give it a nice dent.

The carnage hit me in the morning as my stomach rebelled from all the grease, fat and sugar. I’m sure my cocktails had something to do with it as well. No, I didn’t throw it up, but I was queen of the throne. So much so that even through I’d set my alarm for 6:30a so I could head out for a guilt laden run to work off my gluttony, I stayed on the throne too long and missed my window.

We got ourselves together as best we could to meet my son and girlfriend for breakfast at Noshville. A NY style breakfast/deli joint with the right amount of Jewish delights brought me back to my childhood. I ordered a plate of matzo brei and fresh fruit with coffee. For those of you that don’t know what matzo brei is, it’s matzo which is a really big water cracker broken up into pieces, quickly soaked in water, drained then mixed with eggs and fried/scrambled. A Passover staple, it is so good that it has made its way into a year round breakfast. After the day before, some of my control was gone. So I also took a bite of Tom’s potato pancake and a large bite of my son’s bigger than Texas toast French toast.

The rest of the day home I was good with only a cup of soup and carrots for lunch, small bag of chips on the plane, and tuna on a sandwich thin for dinner. Guilty for missing my morning run and too wound up after sitting on a plane most of the day, I ran on the treadmill immediately when we got home (we have a heat wave in New England and I was not going to sweat my oldie self to death outside).

This morning I needed to come to terms with anything I did over the weekend. You can’t stay on the wagon if you aren’t honest with yourself. If the scale goes up, that is the incentive to work hard to bring it back down. If it doesn’t, then it means to keep to my steady state plan.

Friday weigh in: 110.8 lbs
Monday weigh in: 110.9 lbs

I have no idea how I did it. I am only going to thank my lucky stars that all is normal and well. The guilt I have over my gluttony is still with me and paranoia over pound creeping is still very much there. I feel like I amazingly dodged the bullet.

This morning I had my veggie pancakes with applesauce and German rye for breakfast (293 calories). The plan, I’ll stay with a vegetarian diet for a couple days just to cleanse my system of the weekend lapse.

*Sigh*

 

Where Did All The Petite Clothing Go?

With fall coming in I am looking high and low at the fashions and relishing all the things I can wear. Yes, I have a clothing and shoe fetish. I am a closet scanner of Vogue, pour over the pics from fashion weeks, and stalk Neimans, Saks, Bloomies and Nordstrom stores. Now, I can certainly not afford to stock my entire wardrobe this way, but picking up a few pieces or pair of shoes and then building affordable pieces around them or getting a great knock off cheap is my strategy. Thus, I was really really really looking forward to a bit of a shopping spree and releasing some pent up demand as nothing fits me from last year.

For the past couple weeks I’ve gone online and hit the stores only to be let down and not a little perturbed. Petite clothing sections are hard to find or no longer exist. Petite sizes that would intermingle in the racks are also far and few between. In fact, for those high end stores where I used to never see anything over a size eight, I can’t find anything under a size 2-4 and the sizes are going up to 14.

Where did all the little women clothes go?

It is not to say you can’t get a size 0 or size 00. Online does have these sizes. My issue is that this doesn’t mean the clothing is also petite – shorter inseam, shorter torso, shorter arms. There are regular clothes that work (typically tops), I just need to try them on. Pants is a different story. Not only is length a problem, I’m also finding that my smaller butt doesn’t fill out the rears of those little jeans. Saggy bottomed skinny pants are not attractive on 48 year olds.

I should be happy. I shouldn’t complain. It does keep me from going crazy buying a new wardrobe. It is just so disappointing that where it used to be easy to find smaller sizes that is no longer true. It takes the air right out of my balloons.

But, this got me thinking, have women increased that much in size that retailers and manufactures don’t make money by creating smaller clothing sizes? Did they lose money as smaller sizes sat in purchased on racks and warehouses? One thing I noticed is that women’s sized clothing is shown side by side with regular sizes on websites now. Even on high end sites. That never happened before.

Well, I guess I just need to keep looking and hope this is just an early season thing. I was at least able to get these skinny lamb’s leather pants that make me feel like a rock star.

 

My Five Reasons to Stand Up Paddle.

SUPI found stand up paddle boarding (SUP) this year and am hooked. It is so much better than sitting in the bottom of a wet kayak or kneeling in a canoe for me. I was going to wait until the spring to get a board, but just couldn’t wait, even through it meant my new skis aren’t going to happen this year.

Since I’m probably going to go on and on in my blogs about SUPs, I figured I’d give you my five reasons for adding SUP to my exercise and activities. Maybe I can convince you to try it or finally give and get a board.

1. Great workout

If you are a cardio junkie, the heart rate just isn’t going to be there – unless you really go all out racing style. But, paddling on the SUP hits just about every muscle. My legs are always engaged. My core is helping with stability and power in my strokes. My arms and shoulders pull me through the water. At the end of my excursions I can feel tightness everywhere, especially my upper and side abs.

Here a nice little chart from SUP Fitness that breaks it down:

SUP calorie burn

You can see that touring on your SUP can be just as good as running if you are touring. I can attest to that from a few hours paddling up and down the Westport River on a windy day against the tide. On the other hand, I have days when I’m paddling around Whitehall or a family outing on the Sudbury and Concord Rivers where it is more casual but certainly more exercise than a walk.

2. Changing up the exercise routine

Calories is really only one aspect that makes SUP great. SUP gives me a chance to let my muscles do something else than pounding trails and pavement. Running 5-6 days per week is tough on my hips.  After a motorcycle accident where I cracked my pelvis and  primarily what got me into my chubby girl era, anything I can do to offset overuse and keep running for most of my life I’m going to do. Don’t get me wrong, getting on my SUP after a hard 4 miler is not easy. My legs give a little shake.

That is minor compared to the fact that I can get the same high on my SUP as I do on my runs. The adrenalin still pumps, especially when I get in some hairy situations between wind and current that make me have to really focus on balance and dig in. Most of the time all is well. But, there was the one time I actually fell in. The adventure can be very real.

3. Getting into my Zen Zone

Nothing beats getting on the water and having the sun pour down on you. I’m a beach girl. Have always been a beach girl. So getting out on the salt marsh rivers, deep clear lakes, and ocean edges brings me to my Zen Zone. If ever I am stressed or over worked, its the water that makes me whole again. Add in some exercise that is rhythmic and I tune into my body in the best of all environments.

SUP takes me to my happy place the way running doesn’t. The ease of paddling means that I don’t have to pay attention to my achy calves pushing me up a hill. I don’t see the path in terms of miles the way I do when I run. I just go. Don’t get me wrong, I love my running. While running is meditative for me as I turn in on myself and thoughts. SUP does the same thing but in a gentler way, like Yoga.

4. Communing with nature

37034377121_031c1be451_zRunning trails, hiking and skiing mountains, snow shoeing, swimming in crystal clear lakes and basking in the glory of waves and surf is where I get my energy. Getting my body back only makes this easier. My SUP is another way that I can get outside and feel connected to nature. Its calming. The fresh air makes me feel alive. And, standing up high on the water gives me such a different perspective across the known and unknown waterways than in a kayak, swimming or lolling on a noodle.

I love that after touring for about an hour I can drop to my board to have a quick bite and drag my feet in the water. If I’ve moved farther ahead of Tom while he takes pictures in a cove, I can drop down to my board and lay back to catch some rays and float. I can feel nature all around me and I’m part of it.

5. Getting exercise while doing something fun

There is something to be said for getting in your 30-60 minutes of exercise per day by doing something you would just do for fun. SUP doesn’t feel like exercise for me. In fact, when I first tried it, the reason I did so was because it was something fun to do with Tom as he kayaked.

I keep reading about how getting your exercise doesn’t mean going to a gym, getting on a cardio machine, running and biking for miles, or taking classes. If you can find an activity to do for the same length of time that is fun, and you would do for fun, that increases your cardio and builds muscle, do it. Exercise does not have to be only about losing weight, keeping weight off, or anything having to do with body health. It shouldn’t be a chore.

There are a lot of things I like to do that are just fun and have nothing to do with if I can lose weight or maintain my weight. I ski because of the joy I feel speeding down the mountain, twisting through the glades or slamming over the bumps. Its just exhilarating. I hike because I like walking through nature and experiencing a jump in the river or waterfall. I like to back pack because it makes me feel like a kid again when I would have overnights in the woods at camp. Never do I think about how many calories I burn or personal bests.  SUP is part of that category of things that are just fun to do – which means I’ll be able to and want to do forever.

Where and When To Fit In Exercise?

Last week I was back on the road for work after 6 weeks and had to relearn my travel tricks. The difference is that I’m in maintenance mode. You’d think this could be easier as I don’t have as much to worry about with counting those calories and keeping to my macros. And you would be right. I just go vegan or add some lean protein and keep portions in control. Its the exercise that’s the killer.

The trade off is always, do you stay where it is easy to go for a run outside but is far from where you need to be each day, or do you stay somewhere that is close and rely on the hotel gym? I had one of those weeks.

You would think that staying in the Bay Area would be perfect. If I am downtown, super simple. Head out to the Embarcadero. But, in San Mateo you are in an industrial zone. It may not be shady (Trader Joes was right around the corner), but it is industrial and shady enough that this little girl was not going to run through the streets alone. Call me crazy, or recognize that I probably have too much of an exurb mindset from living in New England hamlets.

In the end, the Marriot gym and I got to know each other pretty well. I checked into the hotel and immediately threw on my workout clothes, pulled back my hair, and grabbed my headphones and iPad then headed to the gym.  40 minutes later, my treadmill run was done. The next day, I got back from my client meeting and again, without so much as a thought, got my act together and met up with my treadmill from the day before for another 40 minutes run. The trick, just do it. Don’t think about it or you’ll only find an excuse.  Mine was all too easy, I hate treadmills.

That’s the travel side of things, but I am also realizing that as the summer turns to fall, and Jose is kissing our New England shores, the weather and length of day is no longer my friend. I can’t get out for a run anytime I want. And with the water getting colder, so my SUP will see more time in my garage than the lake and river. Outdoor stuff is still possible, just a bit more challenging or I can’t do yet because snow has not yet arrived (need to ski! need to snow shoe!).

What’s a girl to do? Use my work at home days to my advantage! I had a 50 minute call with my team today where nothing was to be presented and all we were doing was grocking on a strategy to cover an evolving technology space. I could either sit at my desk with my phone in my ear, or I could get off my lazy a$$. I chose the latter. With 7 minutes to spare before my call, I threw on my workout clothes, grabbed the phone, and headed to my elliptical.

The call was interactive, engaging and actually fun. I went back and forth muting and unmuting my phone as I would jump in to contribute so as not to distract the conversation with the sound of my machine. I also did what I thought was a decent job of speaking and sharing, although a bit breathy.  Alas, it didn’t go completely unnoticed. Back at my desk my colleague Cinny had shot me an email…”Are you running or biking during our call? love it! <end>”

exercising

I have to say though, it was a great workout, one of my better elliptical workouts. I upped my calorie burn by about 50 calories for the same amount of time and got my heart rate up to 134 when I’m typically in the low 120s. Maybe I should do this more often! Those meetings must get me riled up.

Machines aren’t my favorite workout mode, but when all else fails I need to not think about how I’m getting exercise time it and just work on making it happen. It really is a lifestyle change that thankfully isn’t as hard to do anymore. I feel good after my workouts just as I do when I run, SUP, hike, and bike. I also get the benefit of keeping my weight off. Over the past month I hold pretty steady at 111 – 112, and that is with the Five Guys burger a week ago and the over indulgence on pigs in a blanket and Guinness this past Saturday night at a hockey party.

Life is good.