Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Make the Hard Choice(s)

I have become thoroughly convinced that no matter what diet/eating plan individuals choose to follow, planning is key.  Recently, I got into a debate with a friend on Facebook (who is a born-again vegan and is rabidly preachy about it). He insists that Americans are misfed information about their diet all the time - to the point where everyone (but vegans I assume) make bad choices.  While I do agree that we are misled sometimes,  my core belief is that good dietary information is out there to be found.  People do know it, but they don't want to heed the advice, or to plan.  They want convenience, not to do the hard work.

I had this belief really reinforced over the weekend when I watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.  It's a documentary about a man who is 100 pounds overweight with an autoimmune condition that causes him to constantly break out in hives.  He starts thinking about how when as a child he would fall down and scrape his knee, his body would actually heal itself if he left the wound alone.  That leads him to believe he should also be able to heal himself from the inside out. (Read a synopsis here.)  What struck me equally as much as his process of healing and weight loss, was the conversations that he had with people across the USA who knew darn well that they needed to lose weight and who knew they shouldn't be eating the way they were, yet they continued.  They excused it in every way:  you only live once, I don't have time to cook decent meals, groceries are too expensive... but the bottom line is they knew.  (If you haven't seen the film, it is available  to watch online, for free!)

I also believe I am entitled to express this opinion because truth be told I can hold myself up as an example of someone who can be wildly successful at healthful living when I plan, and wildly successful at failure when I do not.  I won't lie, sometimes it's just so much easier not to do that hard work, especially if one has a spouse/family that doesn't care to eat the same way.  I'm not saying Mr. Helen won't eat healthy, it's just small things like him wanting potatoes, rice, pasta and/or bread at every single meal.  The man works in 40 degree temperatures all day long and he works out quite a bit so his calorie burners run on high all the time.  He can withstand many extras and probably actually needs them.  I do not - unless I'm training for distance racing.  So, when he wants spaghetti, I need to look at how it's fitting into my overall diet for the day. In othr words, based on what I've consumed previously, ome days it would be fine and others not so much. Often I choose not to do that just because it's easier and more convenient for me not to have to cook extra items just for myself.  Get it?

Such a conundrum and to be frank, one of the things making me feel exhausted. Yet, I also know that making the hard choices:  lots of planning, and then choosing what is healthier over what is convenient is what I need to have to do.  Because otherwise all I'm doing is spinning like a hamster on a wheel and that's getting me exactly nowhere.

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In the category of planning, I spent some time over the weekend making bunches of vegetables so that I could have something other than salad all the time.  Fresh veggies (unless you juice them) require prep and work but it really is worth it to me to have them on hand.  I know I've mentioned that I've never cared much for cauliflower.  I've tried it roasted and mashed but didn't care for either. A couple months ago, I tried a recipe for Cauliflower Au Gratin with Ham that we loved.  Cauliflower was on sale again this week so I bought a large head and decided to try the Cauliflower Rice that everyone in low-carbville talks about.  I used this recipe from Elana's Pantry and my, it is delicious!  Plus the head of cauliflower was so huge that I have riced cauliflower all ready in my freezer for my next batch.


The interesting thing is that even though I prepped and planned by buying the cauliflower, when it came time to do the cooking, I felt myself resistant.  It's not the cooking as obviously I really enjoy cooking but more of a resentment that this is how I have to spend my free time.  Of course I pushed through and did what I had to do but it felt like one of those hard choices.  I'm ready for those choices to feel easier again.

33 comments:

  1. That's the second great post this week, first Shelley's and now yours.

    I totally agree, if you want to live healthy, you can find a way so that it fits in your life. Sure I'm busy sometimes and don't feel like cooking (I never cook in advance) and make the wrong choices. But the stupid thing is that a stirfried dish with beef or chicken, vegetables and some rice is ready within 15 minutes. Getting take out food takes longer. But still I sometimes make the wrong mistakes.

    What I do think our government should work on (and maybe yours too): the "bad" foods are cheaper than the healthy ones and I can understand families that have a low budget and hardly make it through the month with their money, choose the cheaper options. Overweight in Holland is a bigger problem these days than smoking. The government recognizes this problem, yet they don't do anything about it.

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    1. I agree Fran about food costs. If I am really watching my food dollars and I have 2 kids to feed, it is much easier to buy them a frozen pizza for $5.99 and give them that than it is to keep them in fresh fruit and produce. THAT is really a shame.

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  2. I think that for those of you who like to cook, having to prepare healthy food, or additional food because of other family members, can feel tiring, but what about giving yourself a break and doing some simpler meals? One of my favorites (and hugely popular with Jeff) is black bean soft tacos...I heat up a can of drained and rinsed black beans, open a tub of fresh pico, slice an avocado, and heat some corn tortillas in a non-stick skillet. Assemble, top with some grated parmesean cheese, and BAM - yummy, healthy dinner without a lot of effort.

    I'm just saying, you don't have to kill yourself every night in order to eat healthy...because yeah, that would put me in burnout stage, too.

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    1. Shelley those sound delicious and easy! I am definitely going to try to make them... BUT GUESS WHAT? I'll still have to make ground beef for Mr. Helen. No way is he eating a bean only anything lol!

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    2. I guess I'm lucky that Jeff is willing to do more vegetarian...makes it easy on both of us!

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    3. Yes, you are. And you can believe it's not for my lack of trying to get him to eat less meat LOL!

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  3. Excellent post, Helen, because you have addressed an issue that affects so many of us--resistance to doing what we need to do. I totally identify with what you wrote, and I struggle with the same thing all the time. Sometimes I win, and sometimes I don't. I was better about "healthy follow through" when the kids were still living at home. With just two of us, it's too darned easy to go out and eat, but I'm working on it--every day--and making some progress. The thing is for me--I have to be vigilant all the time, and it does get tiring.

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    1. Exhaustion/fatigue/tiredness is what makes me resistant I think so as I said it's quite the conundrum!

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  4. I'm responding here on your comment on my blog. I didn't take walk breaks at the end, I took them the entire run but took more at the end of the run. Saturday I just didn't have it in me. I'm working towards running 5K without walk breaks and at this point I take a walk break after every 2K and make that a bit longer every week. But Saturday was just a bad run, I'm sure the long run this weekend it will be better.

    But thank you for the advice and tips. I'm always happy to receive them from you.

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    1. Fran, I'm replying to you on your blog.

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  5. GREAT post! I do agree that to a certain extent, that "food" marketing has gone over the top in terms of the claims that are made, when in fact, it's still processed food with lots of added sugars, salts, and fats. The marketers seem to be one step ahead of the general consumer so we have to be vigilant, and being vigilant shouldn't be something we do all the time, just some of the time. It's stressful to be vigilant all the time.

    But that's not your point...yes, planning is key.

    I've been spending a lot of time looking at resistance lately because I have come to see it as my default position in many areas of my life. I'm planning a blog post on it soon :-)

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    1. I'll be interested to read what you have to say Karen as I too have been looking hard at my resistance. Though I truly believe it's brought on by fatigue, I am trying to figure out why I'm resistant to things that are good for me.

      Shelley and I had a dialogue about it and she said if I ever figure it out I should bottle it and sell it!

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  6. I think a lot of issue with people is that they just don't know how to cook or even just to prepare simple meals - then rely on Lean Cuisines and the like, which leads to going off plan because those taste so icky.

    Both John and I work hard and we both share in the cooking. If he doesn't want what I am making, he makes his own meal or additions to a meal. We tend to like different stuff. Sometimes he wants to walk down the street for pizza and it just doesn't fit into my plans. Other times I say 'screw it' and go.

    I sort of liked that documentary, but then it started to feel like an infomercial for his juicing equipment.

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    1. I would love to have Mr. Helen cook his own meals, truly I would. He has done a bit of that but even that requires mountainous planning. I have to tell him every meal I've planned and made that he might want something else for. When I've tried it in the past he actually ends up not eating ANYTHING I've made - even the stuff he likes - and either buying pizza or grinders or wings, etc. or he boils one hotdog after another. It's due in part to the fact that he is not home and eating for 4 nights out of the workweek until after 8 and sometimes 9 pm. The other part is that he is not a planner. Not even a little bit. He flies only by the seat of his pants LOL! I admit, I've spoiled him with all the cooking I do but that's simply because I want him to eat healthier.

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  7. I get resistant like that too sometimes. Weird thing is that sometimes I am resistant to making salads, which is pretty simple. One of the hard things that has gotten easier with time is just keeping the house stocked with healthy choices.

    The cauliflower rice interests me. Do you have an opinion on whether that much oil is necessary to make it tasty? Its not that I'm such a saint --I just get plenty of fat /calories elsewhere.

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    1. It's not too much oil if you make that size of recipe Debby. It makes a humongous amount. I used about half my cauliflower head and with the added onions and celery I'd say I ended up with about 8 cups of "rice." So yes, I say keep the ratio the same.

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  8. I love to cook, but don't do it anymore. So I sometimes take the easy way out - go to a salad bar to pick up easy ingredients for a wrap or an omelet.

    I do rely upon "convenience" pre-washed spinach, pre-prepared (but fresh) pico, etc. to make it meal assembly more than cooking.

    It does take planning, but I call planning the "Easy Button" . It allows me to make the decision about what I am going to eat when the decision is easy, not when I'm tired and cranky and faced with the buffet line. If I do that, I'm relying on my "willpower and self-control" to make the best-for-me decision when I'm at my absolute weakest. Make the decision when it's easy, not when it's hard. Great post - oh, and I love the cauli-rice!

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    1. Honestly, I think this resistance is something I'm just going to have to gut out. I don't know why I was shocked that I liked the Cauli Rice because I do like regular rice. So it should have been no surprise that I didn't like the mashed cauli because I don't like mashed potatoes, right?

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  9. I hear ya, girlfriend! Planning is the key but sometimes, even with the best planning, I seem to be able to toss it out the window in a flash! I am also married to a person who can consume mass quantities of things that make me gain weight just looking at them, yet he never gains an ounce. That is probably one of the most frustrating things for me when it comes to planning! I'll plan "healthy" meals then he wants to have burger night with a milkshake or pizza. Or I'm running a short order kitchen fixing my "healthy" meal and something else for him!
    Most of the time he will go along with whatever I'm fixing. Those are the times I'm most successful losing or maintaining.

    It's a balancing act. I think I'll be doing it for the rest of my life! Some days are better than others!

    Great post!

    xo,
    Linda

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  10. FABULOUS post Helen!!!!! Planning is indeed key. For me, if I pre plan, it takes the "effort" of weekday meals because I don't have to decide what to throw together on short notice. That said, I love cooking...and love trying new recipes. Guess I'm lucky that way. Have a WONDERFUL Tuesday.

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  11. I sit in admiration. I love to cook and I must say my favorite foods all have cream or cheese somewhere buried in the recipe.
    This post has got me thinking

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  12. I love that movie and have watched it twice. Some of it IS the cost, the lifestyle etc. most of it is in the want to. You have to want to. Sometimes life gets so overwhelming that the want to goes away....
    But we can do it if we try. Just keep trying is all.

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  13. Planning is key!! I do well when Hubby is around. I tend to get lazy when he works late. I'm working on this!!

    Keep focused!!

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  14. I eat healthy but simple.
    mainly because ---and Id never put it together quite as eloquently as you did above--I RESENT COOKING TIME.
    I want my mindful eating to be simplistic and healthy and fast.
    so I can spend my "free time" doing other stuffs I love.
    like reading your blog :-)


    MizFit

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    1. As you know I normally don't resent cooking - just lately. Maybe it's part of the summer malaise I've been having? Not with summer, but with all the stuff that goes into healthy living. Odd to feel resentful over what I know. darn. well. is good for me.

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  15. It's funny because over the weekend I make my lunch as well as my SIL's lunches for the week. She comes over on Sunday afternoon to pick up her food for the week.

    I really try to give her a wide variety of food/ethnic/veggie choices - I play with flavor combinations to kick it up a notch.

    I usually describe the food she's going to eat while I pack her bag, but she beat me to it, packed her bag and said "have a good week" before I could explain any of the food to her.

    It dawned on me that she really doesn't care what's in the bag, but that she doesn't have to do it herself. In the beginning I thought she and I would cook together and she'd get more confident in the kitchen.

    Turns out she has no desire to do it herself, that's why she pays me to do it.

    And yes, you busted me on eating spagetti the other night! :D

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    1. I wasn't trying to bust you, I just thought you'd said no carbs basically after lunch and then I saw the spaghetti and I'd seen chips, etc. a couple times. So I thought maybe I'd dreamed up you said that. But since you insist, OK, YOU'RE BUSTED!!!!!

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  16. I've been struggling to find the impetus to cook the last few weeks. I am hoping to be inspired again over vacation next week. I agree, it is a choice, and it really can become a chore when you have a fussy-eating spouse. I feel your pain!

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  17. Ah Helen, I definitely "get it". I haven’t posted much, not only because I’ve been so busy, but because I’m tired of fighting with myself over something I know I can do. It’s just so hard to keep it up when Mr. Sandra won’t participate. Spent two weeks camping with him last week – he “promised” he will get up every morning and walk with me and the dogs. Start slowly by walking, but making an effort to get healthier. I walked alone… me and my two dogs that is. And after a while I started to resent the fact that I was the only one walking the dogs and I stopped walking as much. Silly….
    I’m still making the pasta, rice and potatoes for him but just not eating them myself. I’ve accepted that now finally. We will eat differently in some ways, yet the same as he must eat the veggies/protein I prepare.
    I still make my own meals on Sunday, package them up for lunches and have them as leftover for dinners. Sometimes he has the same, sometimes he doesn’t.
    I’m trying to eat as clean as I can (other than the camping beer I partook) and have managed to lose 17lbs – which although it is going slow, at least it is going…. Ah life…. :)
    Take care my friend!

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  18. Just read this, Helen. Interesting because I posted something about planning yesterday, except on a less detailed scale. The more minute details are more difficult.

    I do say, though -- having had a week where I cannot cook (daughter is in the hospital and I am away from home), I have been able to plan ahead and stay on track, even while eating out a lot. But it does take planning ahead.

    My (other) daughter has lost 40 pounds and people are excitedly asking how she is doing it (thinking there must be some magic to it). She tells them she exercises religiously and is eating healthy. They say, "Oh," and you can tell by the look on their face, or they actually say it, that they don't want to do that. There is no magic pill and I don't think there ever will be. It just takes work, and you can't stop.

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  19. Trying to catchup on my blog reading this morning. :)

    Planning does seem to be key no matter what plan you're following. Sometimes, like last night, I just want to go out to eat! I want a pizza like "normal" people. But if I make myself cook a good dinner I'm always glad I didn't go out.

    I will share what worked GREAT for me one week. I cooked up some various proteins like chicken, ground meat, made tuna salad, etc. Then I steamed various veggies like bell pepper strips, broccoli, etc. Also keep caramelized onions in fridge always. Then it was super easy to mix and match proteins and veggies and create all kinds of meals. It was basically heating different things. Worked out perfectly.

    You can do it! :)

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  20. What you've described is pretty much what I do every single weekend Kelly. We honestly do not have time to create meals from scratch except on the weekends. In self defense and so I won't make poor choices, I do all that so all we have to do is heat and eat. I just get sick to death of it, that's all. Sometimes I'd rather spend my weekend doing fun things but if I do that well, then, I haven't planned or prepared. Gah!

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  21. This reminds me of that old saying they use to say at Weight Watcher's metting if you fail to plan, plan to fail. It is so true for me! I have to be on top of my grocery shopping, cooking and planning to stay on track! It doesn't have to be anything too difficult either - easy and simple works just fine.

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