Saturday, June 30, 2012

eating healthy while camping crude

Today I've been packing for the last-ever Cornerstone Music Festival, where I'll spend the next week.  The festival has been the highlight of many of my years, and a real life-changer (hey, it's a huge factor in my ending up living in community at Jesus People USA for 9 of what were in many ways the coolest months of my life thus far). It is fun, diverse, filled with great music and teaching, inspiring, challenging, and I can't imagine how anyone could go and not get their view on Christianity tilted in a very good way.  

What it ISN'T is comfortable.  Camping - and not the nice kind of camping where everyone understands the rules of camping.  Just crazy, do-it-however-you-may camping.  Hot.  Chaotic. Port-a-potties and showers that are outside my comfort zone.  Hot.  Crowded.  Hot.  One source of running water, not near where I camp.  Dusty.  Did I mention, hot?  You gotta know the festival is FABULOUS, to be worth that level of discomfort. 

What to eat is always a dilemma.  Back when I was a youth group chaperone, everyone pitched in funds and I was the camp cook, serving up large portions of cheap carbs-and-fat goodies.  It worked for that season of my life.  Later, going by myself (and not quite as broke as I had been earlier), I had the funds to mostly eat whatever is served by various vendors.  Some of it really good.  Some of it is pretty cheap.  Both were fine with me. 

Having retrained my mind, palate and body toward better eating habits than most of what is offered by those vendors, what to eat this year has been a dilemma.  Here's what I came up with.

First of all, fresh stuff.  A friend recently sent me this fabulous webpage  on how to make mason jar salads.  They supposedly last a week.  I'm feeling good about how they should ride in a cooler.  Here are the ones I made:

 Veggie salads:  in the bottom is red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, with minced garlic.  Added:  cabbage, carrots, bell pepper, cucumbers, green and black olives, garbanzos, tomatoes, broccoli, and romaine (hopefully i didn't forget anything!)  I'll take along both slivered and whole almonds, as they are a great addition to any salad. 
Fruit salads:  in the bottom:  organic low-sugar (not artificial sweetener) vanilla yogurt.  Added:  green grapes, blueberries, strawberries, cantaloupe.  HALLELUJAH for a killer sale on strawberries and blueberries at Aldi today!

Other foods I am taking:

a can of chicken breast, and a can of tuna - that'll be my 2 "meats" this week and i can just toss them in one of those veggie salads

some hard-boiled eggs from down on the farm (they're just such an easy snack)

a can of peanuts and a can of mixed nuts, cuz nuts are easy protein and a fast fix when I am suddenly hungry

multi-grain bread, smuckers all-natural crunchy peanut butter, honey (yes I am eating peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast every day - it's easy)

canned veggies:  green beans, carrots, and sweet potatoes - cuz all are delicious if you just open the can, drain the liquid, and eat 'em fork or fingers right out of the can (not high nutrition, but a damned sight better than Doritos...)

canned refried beans, canned ro-tel tomatoes with chilis, brown rice I cooked up in vegetable broth with raw red onions stirred in, and corn taco shells - even without a cookstove, if I bust this stuff out I can improvise decent enough tacos to feel like I ate "real" food - and I even have a couple of avocados that can be sliced up for that treat

granola cereal, to sprinkle on those fruit salads or just to snack on dry

a couple of fresh mangos

a bag of apples and a bag of clementines (I've never figured out how to help bananas survive camping)
dried apricots and dried mixed fruits

and then just flat out junk food that I want on vacation:  pudding cups, granola bars, and nut-thins

If it sounds like a lot of food, it is, and I'll probably end up ratting through the cupboards for other assorted odds and ends.  In my defense, I'm sharing camp with a friend and we've agreed to share food - and I've never yet experienced a Cornerstone where I didn't feed somebody who didn't come adequately prepared to feed themselves - it's anybody's guess how much of that might happen. 

While it's not quite the high level of nutrition I've been enjoying in the last 6 months of really pressing into this business of which foods love my's not bad, for crude camping!

I shall be OUT for the week.  Be blessed, all, and stay cool. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

amidst the running break

I guess it's been awhile since I posted here.  Been a crazy busy time (which is of course neither new nor unique with me, but I always come back to that) and my mind has been many places.  

Also, I am still on this darn break from running.  My foot finally stopped hurting something like a week or so ago.  I just haven't had the funds to get new running shoes, and I WILL NOT be subjecting my feet to another round of that level of pain.  I'll wait for the shoes, thank you.

Here's what I find to be cool, meanwhile:  my body really still WANTS to run.  I don't have to be awake at 4:45, if I'm not running.  But I am.  EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING my body comes to attention and waits for the run.  I am longing to get back to it.  I am not falling into a state of, "I don't run anymore" - which is what I might have expected, if I were only repeating old lifelong weight loss/exercise patterns.  That's pretty cool.

Meanwhile, my hope is that this break is helping my body recalibrate.  I know that anytime we do ANYTHING consistently, our bodies begin to count that as "the new normal," which is why any trainer will always make you keep stepping up the workout, notch by notch, if the goal is weight loss.  If the workout stays the same, the body eventually stops losing weight at that activity level.  SO!  Hopefully my body is making note that I haven't run my usual 12.5 miles/week for...what is it now...4 weeks?  5?  I'm not sure.  And hopefully when I get my shoes, and get back out there, my body will respond like it's a new thing instead of just life as usual.

Hopefully.  That'd be a nice turn of events!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

it ain't all about size, but...

Size 16 Levi's baby!  I GOT THERE!


It felt like the end of the world, reaching this size, on the way up the scale.

It feels like a new beginning, reaching this size, on the way down the scale.

The number on the tag of my jeans is not the meaning of life. 

But I'm not gonna's pretty fun!

(Though I gotta say...not sure I'm a fan of this "low rider" business...does that make me old?)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

foot doctor and some simple answers

Yesterday was my appointment with the foot doctor.  It couldn't come soon enough, as this business of not running at all is wearing on me.  Right now the only exercise sort of thing I can do is ride the bike - there is too much pain involved in running, walking, or even just standing in an uninterrupted way on my right foot. 

Examination and x-rays determined that the problem is:  I have some arthritis in the top of my foot, in the 4th and 5th ummm I can't remember what those foot bones are called (but I did see the pics of the little jaggedy areas on my bones that are defined as arthritis).  Just for the record, I DO NOT LIKE THE WORD ARTHRITIS.  It makes me feel O-L-D and the young friend who made jokes about me using my walker WILL receive a kick in the shins from my darn old arthritic foot, the next time I see him!  

Nonetheless, I actually find it to be GOOD news.  After all, nothing is broken, nothing is torn, there is no immediate need for any surgery or weeks and weeks of time off the foot.  The doctor was very clear about not wanting to slow down my workout regimen at all.  What she has prescribed thus far:

1.  New running shoes.  I was all, "oh, my shoes are only like 6 months old, I'm sure it's not my shoes."  And she did some calculations based on my workout levels and promptly shot down that notion.  So I gotta do some running shoe shopping after I get paid this Friday.  She says my Mizunos very well may just be broken down enough to make the arthritis pain worse at this point.

2.  Better stretching.  I told her that I DO stretch.  She clarified that a real stretch should last A MINIMUM of 2 minutes - not the few sloppy seconds I take before I go.  She reminded me to stretch both before and after (I'm not so good about stretching after). 

3.  Ice.  She recommends icing after my runs.  That's going to add minutes amidst my morning and I'm not sure how to manage that, but hey...I'm willing to be VERY, VERY good about following orders, as she also mentioned in passing that the day may come when I might need surgery (and I hate the word "surgery" even more than I hate the word "arthritis.")   She also recommends ibuprofen as needed.

4.  No going barefoot, pretty much ever.  (I thought about this later, and realized it kind of means I need to ditch at least 2 of my pairs of shoes, which provide completely zero support - bummer...)

She has orthotic inserts she could sell me for $27 but she actually didn't recommend them yet - she thinks I can probably manage right now just with the tips above (and since she derives zero profit from any of those items, I find her highly credible). Meanwhile she rigged me this little thing out of foam and sticky ace bandage to for temporary support.

I asked her when I can run again - it's been 3 weeks and everything in me is protesting the lack of running.  She gave me this wonderfully easy advice:  if it doesn't hurt, go ahead.  If it hurts, stop.  Uhh.  I can handle that!  So I didn't run this morning, as my foot still does hurt.  I've got my temporary support thing on, and I'll go gently with my foot until it stops hurting me so much, and I guess I'll give that icing business a chance too.  

She expects me to recover soon enough to run the Bix - actually predicted I may be out running again within the next week.  That's pretty nifty! 

And a final note for the day:  all my adult life, my approach to dealing with pain has been to ignore it.  I don't go to the doctor just because "something hurts" - unless it hurts to the point of tears and/or debilitation.  Back when I was married, I went through a couple of years of a foot pain problem that left me hobbling and almost unable to walk for the first 10 steps or so pretty much every time I got off my feet for a little while.  I know others who have had that problem since, and they have gone to the doctor and gotten solutions.  I just gutted through because somehow that seemed right to me.  (On the other hand, when I had gout, I DID go to the doctor, because crying when the sheet touched my toe or screaming when the cat's tail bumped my foot was just too far past my limits.  I shouldn't suffer that problem again, as I only eat meat a couple of times a week and it tends to be the culprit for gout.) 

So my going to the doctor was way out of the box for the "old Karen" on this point.  And I'm telling you:  I could actually FEEL God's gladness and warmth and approval yesterday as I headed out for my appointment.  I'm assuming all that positivity from Him was an encouragement to continue choosing to love my body, as THAT was my motivation for stepping out of my box and into the doc's office. 

It all and always comes back to that central point:  God is teaching me to love my body.  If you didn't know:  God is a good teacher.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

water quality matters, and a trip to White Castle

I've been out traveling around for my vacation, on a 1600+ mile road trip to Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio.  It's been a really wonderful time.  As I mentioned in the last blog, I've got a foot pain problem; though I had intended to continue running 2.6 miles daily while gone, my foot actually ruled that out for the entirety of the trip.  Today, foot pain or no foot pain, I will get out on the bike simply because my body is screaming for exercise (and pedaling is lower impact than running).

While I used to drink very doctored-up coffee every morning (sometimes up to an entire pot of the stuff before lunch, back before I made the "one cup per day" rule, around which I could skirt by using a travel mug that held most of a pot - hey, it's only one "cup"!), and I still really love coffee (though I doctor it less and less over time), in the past year I have taken more and more to drinking hot tea instead.  Coffee is now just an extreme rarity for me.  I have a collection of all manner of teas stashed in my kitchen and in my desk at work.  Among my favorites are peppermint, ginger peach green tea, raspberry pomegranate green tea, a black tea called simply "Awake," and white jasmine tea.  I often drink it with (locally grown) honey, which has moved me from needing allergy meds annually to not needing them at all, but I also like to drink it unsweetened. 

I made an intriguing-to-me discovery while I was on vacation - water quality matters far more than I had ever guessed, where tea is concerned.  At home and at work, I just make it with tap water.  My raspberry-pomegranate tea has always been a very, very subtle flavor (which has always surprised me, because pomegranate is anything but a subtle flavor, you know?)  While visiting my friend in the mountains, I made it with *her* tap water.  Which is...MOUNTAIN WATER.  You know, where they go to get the good stuff to put in bottles?  The first time I made my tea there, I was shocked - the raspberry pomegranate is not subtle at ALL.  It is full-flavored WOWEE yumminess.  It was like a whole other tea than what I'm used to, though I had brought my bags along with me and they were the very same thing.  

I can be hard-headed, so I decided it probably wasn't the water - it was probably just that I was more relaxed and unknowingly gave the tea bag more time to do its work before starting to sip.  On the way home I (almost sort of accidentally) tested my theory at another friend's house, where their water is so rusty that they are told not to drink it (and not realizing, I just boiled some up and made tea with it).  That tea tasted like - nothing.  Like just a cup of terrible tasting water.  And then this morning I put my Brita-filtered water in with the tea - still, back to the "subtly" flavored tea.


And I am now thoroughly convinced, even despite my hard-headedness, that water quality matters much more than I had ever guessed.  

In other news, I tried White Castle for the first time while coming home through Indiana, having been told by several friends that basically one hasn't lived yet if one hasn't tried those little sliders.  I followed a sign that took me 3 miles off my path to get to it - after all, it was still vacation, even if I was just on the way home, and there was an experience to be had!  I got the #1 meal, which gave me 4 little sliders (yes, I got them "with cheese"), fries, and what the heck, I added a large sweet tea as well (sometimes if you're gonna be bad, you just wanna be bad, you know?)

I shoulda tried it sooner.  Like, before I started this now 18-month adventure of letting God teach me to love my body.  Cuz back before that, I'll bet I would have TOTALLY loved those little suckers.  But interestingly, my body has really learned to love, and to crave, stuff that is good for me.  The were fine, for fast food.  Trouble being I have been HEALED of my love of/need for fast food.  It tastes to me now like what it is:  an assault on my health, and also more a "food-like substance" than an actual food.  A couple of days earlier, I had eaten at a steak house that reminded me of the old "Ponderosa" where we used to go when I was a kid.  That day, I got a huge plate of cooked veggies and beans, a huge plate of salad with tons of chopped raw veggies on it and vinegar and oil, and just a few bites of meat with one corn muffin and a small serving of mac-n-cheese for dessert.  That day, my body was happy and I relished the food in a major way.  THAT DAY.  Instead of the day of the sliders.  

This is just one of the many ways that I know what the Lord's been doing in me (in case anyone has forgotten:  I am surrendering to let Him teach me how to love my body) is the real deal, and not just a phase that will end in me returning to eating garbage and regaining all the weight.  Cuz now I crave what will improve my health and maybe even extend my life, when once I craved what would destroy my health and probably shorten my life.

God's ways are higher than our ways.  He says so, and more and more, I notice He ain't lyin'.