Thursday, January 29, 2009

No Surprise

....that after two weeks of struggling to lose even a pound, one day of exercise did the trick. I'm at 194 (still working off that holiday weight!) I should be kicking myself for not getting out there sooner, but this is just encouraging me to get back out there again on Friday (C25K demands a rest day between each training session).

Also, don't hesitate to enter to win Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food! Just go here, and leave a comment!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I ran today.

And while I don't actually look all that proud to have completed Week 1, Day 1 of Couch to 5K here, I actually am. Really proud.

I was watching episodes 2 and 3 of The Biggest Loser on Hulu last night, and I realized something: when it comes to working out, I am a Joelle. And if you've seen this season or even read the play-by-plays, you know this is not a good thing. I give any reason under the sun not to push myself. Now, I don't know how I'd be with a trainer, because I've never had one. I've relied on myself to push myself, and we know how troublesome that can be. "Myself" thinks it's okay to constantly take things slow, and while taking it slow when I'm just starting out is good, but there's a marked difference between "taking it slow" and "taking it nowhere." "Myself" is lazy, likes to be sitting down, and hates to be sweaty, out of breath, and in pain. Which is, of course, the state of things after today's interval training. Who knew that jogging for 30 seconds would be so ridiculously hard for me? But you know what? I did it. Only once did I stop jogging before the 30 seconds was up (I'm using the Podrunner: Intervals Podcast until I can find someting less techno-tastic) and I only stopped a few seconds too soon--maybe 3? Still, I have a feeling that if Bob or Jillian were training me, they'd tear me a new one for those few seconds. Not that I would mind either Bob or Jillian yelling at me. They are the hotness.

So here we go. Week 1, Day 1, done.

If I don't tell you guys on Friday how I did for Week 1, Day 2, I am begging you to kick my ass. I need this. Call yourself Jillian if you have to.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

In Defense of Food: Review and Giveaway!

A couple of posts ago, I gushed on this book:

Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food

It is one of the best books I’ve read in a while (and I’m an English major, but you don’t have to take my word for it!), and the best I’ve ever read about food. When I first saw this book in Borders, It was the tagline that caught my attention: Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.
Well, of course! Right? I mean, I eat food, don’t I? Unfortunately, I don’t eat food as much as I thought I did. Pollan’s book is common-sensical, straightforward, and practical. He doesn’t waste your time explaining the science behind nutrition, and he would argue, I think, that too much science is what’s gotten us (by “us” I mean global Westerners eating “Westernized” food) in trouble in the first place.

In Defense of Food is organized into three main sections. The first, “The Age of Nutritionism” is a little part history, a little part science, and a lot of eye opening. He explains (in smaller chapters) how we’ve turned harvesting food into engineering nutrition, a nuance I didn’t think mattered all that much. Nutrients are nutrients, right? Get enough of some, not too much of others, and I should be fine, or so I thought. As it turns out, those diet cereals and breakfast bars and snack cakes haven’t been doing us much good. What they lack in calories and fats and sugar, they also lack in real ingredients. As it also turns out, the banana I put on my cereal isn’t even half as nutritious as a banana I would’ve eaten in 1940. The food we’re eating today are chemical concoctions with artificial flavorings that confuse us and leave us as unhealthy as ever.

In Part 2, “The Western Diet and the Diseases of Civilizations,” Pollan again takes us through a kind of history of eating, but this time on a global scale, and proves, quite effectively, that it’s not what we’re eating, but what we’re eating. (Yes, I just wrote that). Rephrased: there are low carb, high carb, high fat, vegetarian, and carnivorous diets found all over the world in all kinds of indigenous culture groups, and NONE of them exhibit the typical western health problems so many of us are afflicted with (obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke). Our problem is not our knowing how to diet (we do that well), it’s in our eating of non-foods—overly processed, engineered, substitute food we’ve accepted in our pantry as nutritious.

Part 3, “Getting Over Nutritionism,” is perhaps the most helpful in a practical sense. This part of the book takes all the knowledge you’ve gained in parts 1 and 2 and puts them to use in your own kitchen. In this section, he gives his readers simple tools for shopping for your food: stay on the periphery of the grocery store; if an ingredient list has more than 5 ingredients and you can’t pronounce them, it’s not healthy. It’s the “How” part of the whole book—how to, simply: Eat Food. Mostly Plants. Not Too Much.

If you are even slightly interested in healthful eating (and I’m assuming most of us are), you must read this book. I’m serious. Go now, and leave your life of food ignorance. To help feed the masses (ahem. Pun intended) I’m giving away one copy of Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food to a reader. To be eligible to win, just leave a comment on this post, answering this: What’s the one food you refuse to give up, no matter how unhealthy you know it to be (mine’s delivery pizza)?

All comments must be entered by Friday, January 30th, at 9:00 PM (Eastern). Please, one entry per person. I’ll pick a random entry over the weekend. Tell all your friends!

Note: I am in no way supported by Michael Pollan or The Penguin Press. Neither of these groups know who I am, and I’ve never communicated with either of them. Neither are providing this prize, and neither are receiving any direct revenue from the giveaway (Neither am I). I just happen to love this book, and think other people should, too.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Most Delicious Meal Ever.

I'm a meat and potatoes girl. Always have been. There's nothing I love more than potatoes, be they baked, mashed, creamed, fried, sliced, au gratin, or spiced. So when I chose to include a recipe for "Saffron Rice Shrimp Salad" on my weekly meal plan, I knew there was a good possibility I would hate it. But guess what? This is quite possibly my new favorite thing to eat.

I got this recipe from "Cooking for 2" magazine (Winter 2009), which is produced by the same folks that make my other favorite magazine ("Simple and Delicious"), Taste of Home.

This recipe will serve two, and is supposed to take only 15 minutes to make, but cooking the rice takes 20, and if you forget that you still have to cook shrimp, it'll be another 5.

For the dressing, you'll need (I didn't try this, but I'm pretty sure this dish would still be awesome without this dressing):

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbs cider vinegar (I used a little less of regular)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
For the meal proper, you'll need:
  • 1 cup torn Bibb or Boston lettuce
  • 1 cup torn Romaine (I just used a baby spring mix from the bag...)
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup cooked saffron rice (because I am cheap and lazy, I just use single-serve packets that are 75 cents each. Be careful, because if you get saffron on your favorite scarf, it WILL NOT come out.)
  • 1/2 lb COOKED large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro (totally forgot to add this, but still delish)
The Process:
  1. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the first eight ingredients; shake well. If you'd like to use your Nalgene "Life Is Good" water bottle becase you don't have a salad dressing mixer, or even a cocktail shaker, feel completely free. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
  2. Divide lettuce between two plates; top with avocado, rice, and shrimp. Sprinkle with cilantro; drizzle with dressing. Serve immediately, and with a big glass of Shiraz (because Michael Pollan told you to).
It will look like this:

And see how my plate is so ridiculously full? It's because I'm eating off a salad plate. My mind is so easily persuaded. Pretty good, no? Especially considering that three days ago, my fridge looked like this:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's a New Day!

Just under an hour ago, Barack Obama was sworn in as our President. I've been listening to's "It's a New Day" since he released it just after Obama swept the polls, and it's become not only a really great song to mark this historic moment in our lives, but a really great song to wake up to. I play it when I need motivation to get moving, and it reminds me that I'm not just this insular creature, but involved in the world's motion.

Monday, January 19, 2009


I'll go head and admit it; I'm pretty proud of myself today.

I got back in Oxford last night, with my car absolutely loaded with stuff, and my fridge completely empty. But no more.

I came home from the grocery today with no fewer than 11 different kinds of produce: salad, bananas, tangerines, an avocado, a mango, green peppers, zucchini, squash, onions, sweet potatoes, and a russet.

I've made my meal plan for this week, there is absolutely no junk food in the house. And tonight? Craving pizza after organizing my schoolwork, setting up my desk so I'll actually use it, putting together a bookshelf (this makes three, now, and I need a fourth), I didn't order a pizza. I made an omelet out of all those fresh veggies I bought.

And tomorrow? Inauguration day. It's gonna be a good week.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Isn't It Amazing?

It really should be simple by now: eating healthy foods makes me feel good! I mean, that's not a hard lesson, but it seems I forget it every time I let myself eat tons of junk before eating a good, fresh cooked meal.

Also, check out these beauties:

These are dinner plates. Obvious, no? But get this: see that big flower? That's where your veggies go. The medium? You put your starch there. And that scrumptious cutie of a small dandy? Your meat. They're made by SlimWare, and although they are far too rich for my blood ($39.99 for 4 plastic plates!!!), it would be pretty easy to paint some simple white (or yellow or red or cerulean) plates you pick up at Goodwill or Target. I'm thinking this is an amazing idea, because I think we all know by now what we should be eating, it's the how much part that always gets me. (I'd want to fill the big flower with potatoes...).

Also, have you heard of this book?
It's Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, I'm reading it now, and it's blowing my mind in a big way. I'm right at the halfway mark, and when I finish it, I'll definitely be reviewing it (read: gushing my food obsessed little heart out about it).

Hope everyone is having a great week so far! (P.S. Thanks for reading. Seriously. I mean it.)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

1st 2009 Weigh-In!

It is absolutely no surprise that I've gone a little crazy this holiday season. I had such grand plans of losing weight over the holidays, and completely forgot that if I don't have a routine, I don't eat healthy foods or exercise.

And living in my parent's house for a month? Definitely means I don't have a routine. So I weighed in today at 196.2, a weight I haven't seen since August. Whoah. Not that I'm surprised, but it's time to quit making excuses and start taking care of yourself again.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What Just Happened Here?

It started with a text: Be ready to be picked up at 6:00 >:)

I love my fiance, because he'll take me on a date without telling me where we're going. But then I realized that I had no idea what to wear.

I'm staying at my parents' house right now--I'm on winter break from school. So I packed a suitcase full of winter clothes, because, well, it's winter. When I left Oxford, the nights were below freezing, and the days warmed up to the mid 40s. It was only a little warmer in Augusta. Until I got there, and a few days later, it was in the 80s, and people were doing their Christmas shopping in sandals and tank tops. Except myself, who packed sweaters. For the entirety of Christmas break, I've been wearing a rotation of three long sleeve tees and the dress clothes I got at an after-Christmas sale.

So I'm standing in front of my closet, fully realizing that I am, by all standards, SOL. Dustin said not to wear heels, so my dresses are out, but the jeans I like are too short because I didn't pay attention to the tag and bought the shorts instead of regulars! And the shirt I like is dirty because I've worn it two days in a row! And I can't believe I didn't have the foresight to pack my adorable leopard-print flats! And I can't believe how boring all my clothes are! I wish I could put together cute outfits like everyone else on Wardrobe_Remix! And wait, I still have bags under my eyes!! And what's up with my hair? Why is it lopsided? How can it be frizzy on one side, but flat on the other? Why isn't it curling in that ridiculously cute way? And I've gained 10 pounds over the holidays so nothing fits and I'M SO FAT!

And suddenly, instead of being excited about going out with Dustin, I felt insecure, angry at myself, and jealous of people I've never even met. Thankfully, I recognized all of these feelings as ridiculous, and promptly kicked myself in the shins. I put on those too-short jeans, that dirty shirt (don't tell anyone), and borrowed a pair of black-low heels from my mom. And you know what? I think I look pretty good.

Um, It's Still January.

I went into Target tonight, and mine eyes were assailed with racks of these:

Target? It's still freaking January. I know I live in Mississippi/Georgia, where winter isn't so much of a season as a cold, passing breeze, but seriously? I'm still trying to quit nomming Christmas peanut brittle and New Year's amaretto.

P.S. Does it freak anyone else out that you can see this girl's ribs above her boobs????

Thursday, January 1, 2009


I've enjoyed reading everyone's New Year's posts--the motivation is really exciting and contagious, and I've decided, for the first time, to make New Year's Resolutions. Yes, you read that correctly. For the first time! I've never formally made New Year's Resolutions--I'm all about goals, but I usually don't make formal ones. I'm not going to beat myself up to these goals if I find I can't commit to them--the last thing I want to do is make myself feel inadequate when I miss a goal.

Here we go, by category:

Physical Health

  • Lose ~30 pounds this year. I lost about 20 pounds this year, and 30 more will put me at my 150 lb goal. In addition, this goal isn't too strenuous--just around .6 lbs a week.
  • Work up to exercising 4-5 times a week. January-March: 1-2x/week; April-June: 2-3x/week; July-September: 3-4x/week; October-December: 4-5x/week. Exercise has always been a weak point with me, so I'm not going to push myself too hard. 30 minutes once or twice a week to start with is more than enough for me to tackle.
  • Keep improving my diet. This is the thing I've been most proud of in 2008. I started with Weight Watchers, then moved to SparkPeople, and eventually grew tired of counting points and calories, and began to eat intuitively and intelligently. I want to continue these improvements--homemade meals of whole grains, lean meats, lots of veggies and water--reminding myself to eat for health, rather than for weight loss.
Well Being (Spiritual, Emotional, Relational)
  • Keep writing letters to Dustin; tell him (and frequently) what he is that enamors you. When you're frustrated with him, don't be pouty and annoying about it.
  • Read 12 "leisure" books. The irony of getting an English degree is that reading novels for class leaves almost no time to read for leisure. I have a list of books I want to work through: In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan; Passionate Marriage, by David Schnarch; Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John Gottman, Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, and other various fiction and poetry collections among them.
  • Reconnect with old friends, and become closer with acquaintences in Oxford. I really thought I would be better at maintaining my friendships while living in Oxford, but I am, admittedly, a lazy friend. I avoid going out, when I've no reason to other than my laziness and mild social phobias.
  • Do something crafty. Over Christmas, I taught myself to cast-on and the knit-stitch, and I'm about a third of the way done with a crude scarf. I'd like to continue those skills and make something a little nicer looking.
  • Clean the house regularly--this involves making a schedule. For cleaning. And maybe gold stars.
Intellectual Health
  • Plant and maintain vegetable plants--tomatoes, peppers, squash, zucchini--find something that works for Oxford's seasons and planters.
  • Write a short story or play.
  • Set up a working desk--clean, organized, functional. Move it out of the bedroom and in to the living room. Use it for studying so you can focus.
  • Spend at least two hours (if you need that much time--you'll probably need more) reading every weekday. No more getting behind on your reading and skimming through those theory books. Take reading notes if a text is particularly difficult. Don't be afraid to take short breaks--walking around, glass of water, standing outside.
Financial Health
  • Stay on top of my budget. I'm not used to maintaining such a strict budget, but I have to be. I need to look into some resources (better budget worksheets, perhaps?) to help me. Figure out where you're overspending the most, and why. Adjust as necessary.
  • Make the most of your wardrobe: thrift, recycle (via Freecycle, Craigslist, Wardrobe Swap, etc.). Buy new clothes only when absolutely necessary. Try to wear everything in your closet, and get rid of those things that don't fit well and that you don't wear.
  • Don't grocery shop without a list.
Wedding Planning (Because We're Getting Married Next Year!)
  • I won't relist the things I've already posted on our wedding blog, but they all involve gathering inspiration and ideas, and choosing services and venues slowly.
I've written in my day planner to go over these goals at the end of each month. You've probably noticed, but almost none of these are things that can really be ticked off a list. I've really grown in the past year or two, and I want to continue growing.