Thursday, August 30, 2012

Make this Pie!

I'm not kidding.  You should make this pie.  Yes, YOU.  Seriously, it's the easiest pie in the world and like nothing you've ever had.  I've made it twice now and it's the perfect pie to go with any type of grilled meat - or serve with a big salad and eat vegetarian!  Because it's sort of like a starch and vegetable all in one, it's the only side you need.  Yummy I'm telling you! (Biz, you can leave out the shallots.)

I found the recipe over at Noble Pig but I adapted it a bit, reducing the amount of oil called for and using a whole grain mix.

Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Shallot Pie

3 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese (the first time I made it I only had Parmesan and that works too)
¼ cup water
¼ cup olive or canola oil
1 Tablespoon finely minced garlic
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
3 cups sliced zucchini (I slice mine lengthwise then into half rounds)
¼ cup diced roasted red pepper
2 small shallots, finely chopped
1 cup buttermilk pancake/biscuit baking mix (I used Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancake Mix)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine eggs, cheese, water, oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
Stir in zucchini, red pepper, shallot and baking mix. Pour into a 9" deep-dish greased pie plate. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until lightly browned.

Makes 6 servings.  Per serving: Calories: 280, Fat: 16.6 g, Carbohydrates: 20.4 g, Dietary Fiber: 3.4 g, Protein: 12.9 g
That's it for me this week.  I have an extra long weekend coming up with Friday and Monday off.  I'm looking forward to a weekend of extra rest with some fun sprinkled in.  Enjoy your holiday!

Monday, August 27, 2012

White Noise

I'm a fan of white noise when I'm trying to rest.  In fact, since I've been an adult, I have run a fan in my bedroom simply for the white noise.  When we travel and that background hum is missing, I truly don't sleep as well.

Knowing that about myself I've found it interesting that on days when my foot pain is minimal, I actually think clearer.  Or maybe I should just say that I'm actually able to think.  Because that injury provides constant background noise to my life.  I suppose it is more clamoring - like a car alarm that is going off and no one is clicking a key to shut it down.  When my foot doesn't throb, it's as if I've suddenly been put in a quiet, peaceful room with a fan running, and I'm able to calm down to clarity.

That clarity allows me to feel hope. Which in turn allows me to think about what strategy I want to put in place to undo the all-over damage caused by my foot injury.  It's as if without the constant throbbing I can suddenly picture a future that includes me being able to live very healthfully and satisfactorily. I'm struggling not to use the word "normal" but it's probably what I should be saying as my version of normal is what I want back.

I'm definitely at a cross roads and it's because of this foot situation that I've even realized it or thought about it.  Had my usual gone on I'd not have been thinking about anything in regards to what I actually want to do.  But with "normal" taken away it has caused me to do some pretty deep self-examination.  If you're a person who believes everything happens for a reason, perhaps this was my reason.

The decision I am staring at puts me at a fork where I am either going to buckle down and no matter what it takes, no matter injuries, no matter thyroid, no matter any of it LOSE WEIGHT - or - be satisfied with right where I am right this minute.

I have always been a person who, 90% of the time, eats quite healthfully even if portions were a bit too big.  So eating correctly really isn't the issue for me.  I can do it. In fact as the background noise of my foot is lessening, I'm finding myself just naturally making more healthful choices.

I think the key here is satisfaction and self-acceptance, no matter what.  I have to choose one or the other and then be ready to be happy with my decision. If I don't, I'm not going to feel any spiritual or emotional peace.  I have got to get to the point where I'm at peace, no matter the circumstance.  I cannot continue to live feeling so discombobulated and restless all the time.

Sometimes a 'thing' is put out there by the universe and you just know it was meant for you to see it.  I got timelined by Facebook over the weekend and all sorts of stuff that I probably wouldn't have seen, popped into my newsfeed.  As I spent time fixing it (sorry but I don't care to see what you 'like'), I came across something that I knew had been put in my path by the universe.

When you accept yourself just as you are, with all the shortcomings, flaws and imperfections that you know you have, you simultaneously give yourself permission to do something about them. And just in case there is anyone who may be feeling a bit confused. How can you accept yourself and at the same time want to change something about yourself? The answer is simple; accepting something is not the same thing as liking it. 
You can accept that you have a very short fuse around people you don’t like. You can accept that you feel terribly uncomfortable in social situations. You can accept the fact that you are drinking way too much in the evenings. At the same time you can decide to change these things because you don’t like them or the consequences they are causing in your life... In fact unless you accept yourself and these challenges, you are going to be powerless to change them. The pathway to permanent and lasting change is self-acceptance. – Paul David Cohn

Bells started going off:  ACCEPTING SOMETHING IS NOT THE SAME THING AS LIKING IT.   Accepting myself and wanting to lose the weight I feel is holding me down are not mutually exclusive. I can accept myself but not my fat! I've been thinking hard about this all weekend.  I saved the full text of Paul David Cohn's post and have been reading it over and over.

Now, I stand at this fork in the road and know that I have to make the choice of moving forward into self acceptance. I need to be courageous enough to love myself yet change the things I don't like without beating myself up in the process. "The courage to change the things I can..." Then and only then will I get to live with a background hum of beautifully quiet white noise.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Just for Fun

I've had a good 36 hours or so with my foot.  I got to run on my treadmill yesterday morning - 4 whole miles.  My foot did not hurt during the run and I had minimal pain yesterday.  I even realized last night as I was getting ready for bed that I'd had many moments where I hadn't even thought about it.  For that I'm grateful.

I've been writing so many depressing posts lately that people are fleeing from my followers list.  Oh well, I write this for me - no offense to those of you who do read.  It's my blog and I ought to be able to vent about how I'm feeling and what I'm dealing with, right? Even with my foot aggravation, it's not like I'm never happy or having fun. So for today, I thought I'd do something I haven't done in a while... I thought I'd just put up something fun.  Well, fun to me anyway.

Last weekend Little Helen popped home for a surprise visit and my sister ended up throwing together an impromptu Saturday night Happy Hour as the whole family was available. This will probably be the last time all of us get together before she moves.  Yes, she's moving to be with her fiance and taking Grace and Jacob with her!  How dare she!

Anyway,  She and her fiance made several types of hors d'oeuvres and provided beer, wine, and a cocktail. In making the hors d'oeuvres, they had a meatball contest with my sister and Gracie vs. her fiance and Jacob.  We declared it a tie because the meatballs were so different and equally delicious. Her fiance's meatballs were family recipe made of bison and I have to admit that was the very first time I've eaten bison.  The spices and seasonings were right on point.  My sister's meatballs were called Saucy Asian Meatballs and she found the recipe via Pinterest.   I have to say, I think the dipping sauce made these really good. She chose to put the sauce on the side and let people dip or not.  Here's the recipe if you'd like to try them.

Another favorite was this Gorgonzola Garlic Bread, which I originally pinned but had not yet made.  Glad she stole it from me repinned it because it was so good.  By the end of the night people were slicing the meatballs and putting them on that bread making little sliders.  Delish!

The cocktail was such a huge hit, it stole the show away from the other drink offerings.  I begged for the recipe (this was her fiance's special creation) because this concoction might just be the ultimate summer drink.  Also it is perfect for this type of gathering as the preparation method allows it to be served as a virgin drink, which the kids loved.  And look how pretty it is!

Watermelon Mint Cooler (or Martini)

Put a bunch of chunks of watermelon and some fresh mint into a food processor and process until liquidy. (If you can, do this ahead of time and chill it.) If not, stir in some ice cubes to make it cool.

Take a chilled martini glass and pour in 1.5 - 2 oz. vodka (preferably that has just come out of the freezer), and fill glass with watermelon juice. Garnish with a fresh mint leaf.

Obviously if you want it to be virgin, leave out the vodka and use 2 oz. of seltzer.

It's just that easy!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Balance Beam

For most of my adult life I have had low iron levels at one time or another.  Iron seems to be one of the things that my body struggles to hold onto properly - even as I've aged, which is a bit unusual.  What is interesting is that the fatigue and low energy that I suffer begin to feel normal and it's usually not until the doctor says that things are out of whack do I fully realize that oh yeah, I have been feeling tired and sluggish.

Prior to my thyroid diagnosis in 2005, I knew something 'had' to be wrong - the signs were there as I slowly gained weight while training for a half marathon.  Of course I didn't know exactly what it was but even as everything came tumbling down I soldiered on, thinking that maybe I was eating too many carbohydrates due to all the running I was doing.  What amazed the doctor was that I had managed to function as I did.  But again, even with the weight gain how I felt had become so ordinary I didn't imagine something somewhat serious could be wrong.

These days if I don't exercise, I pretty much feel terrible and achey all over.  It's not restful at all.  When I do exercise, my foot hurts.  Depending on what I do my foot may hurt a lot or hurt a little.  But pretty much, most days, it hurts all day long.  Some days I walk in the house and Mr. Helen asks me what happened at work because I look like I've been through the wringer.  The other day I told him not even to ask anymore - it's simply the effort of trying to function in pain all day that is making me look that way.

The simplest things, like getting up in the middle of  the night to get a drink of water, or getting dressed for work, take twice as long because my foot hurts.The constant pain also pushes so many other things out of balance:  at any given time I may or may not be eating properly, sleeping properly, or even emotionally proper.

It's a vicious cycle too because if I don't sleep well, I don't want to exercise which makes me feel bad both physically and emotionally.  Then the chances are that I will not eat properly because my brain is screaming for relief and it hasn't gotten it through exercise-induced endorphins.  When I don't eat properly I further feed the negative self talk that causes emotional and spiritual downward spirals.  See?  Vicious cycle.

This morning, I wanted to be outside which means I can't really run. I may get a jogging spurt or two in but the pavement is just too hard on my foot even with the special heel cup and orthotic insert I now have in my shoe. (When I want to actually run I have to stick with the treadmill.)  So, going outside means I make the choice to walk or wog.  That's fine because at least it's exercise.  But the minute my foot started throbbing, I found my thoughts diving downward as I mourned the loss of my favorite running season.  "Already it's dark the whole time I'm out and pretty soon it will be cold too and wow this just SUCKS.  Seems like everyone I know is getting to run and race and train and all I can do is limp along.  It SUCKS.  No, I suck.  I'm not what people think I am.  I'm a big faker.  A big fat faker.  It's no wonder people constantly look shocked when I say I run or do Muay Thai. Jeez.  I can't even really do Muay Thai properly right now either.  The timing on this could not be worse with my black belt testing coming up.  Sigh.  I DO suck. I should just give up, I should just say eff it all and quit everything..."

Then I get home and think that I just won't eat the spinach omelette I planned for breakfast, I'm going to have... what?  A donut.  (I don't even like donuts for crying out loud!)  A blueberry muffin and not a low fat one. A bagel with cream cheese and an egg and bacon!  Ay-yi-yi. See?  Vicious cycle.

So yeah, I'm very out of balance now and trying to figure out what to do and how to get back up and stay on that 4-inch beam of happiness.  I'm tired though.  Maybe I should get my iron levels checked.

"If you're going through hell, keep going."
Winston Churchill 

P.S. As a side note, my insurance will not approve any more visits to the naturopathic sports doctor I was seeing.  I had already decided to get a second opinion (and maybe a cortisone shot?) so I'll be going to see my podiatrist on the 31st unless they have a cancellation and I can get in sooner.

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.


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.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Down the Rabbit Hole

Starting last Thursday night, I've been having bad dreams - the kind where you're falling and then jerk awake.  I'm sure it's my subconscious coming into play as I feel a bit out of control right now.  Literally I woke up in the middle of the night and thought "I'm Alice falling down the rabbit hole.  Problem is, it's not a Wonderland down here."

I think what precipitated it is not being able to run the race on Saturday.  This race is the 11.6 mile one that's held in my very own city, starting and ending at our beach.  While I haven't run it every single year that I've been running it (at least twice I was away), I've run it every single time I could.  The race is free for goodness sake and the post race festivities are just plain fun.  I was really looking forward to running it as this year was the 50th Anniversary race.  But it became evident a couple weeks ago after I ran 8 miles and it took an entire week for my foot to feel like I wasn't going to die with every step, that while I could probably get through it, that wouldn't be the best idea I've ever had so I had to lay it to rest.

As friends have posted online about their intentions to run that race and others that are upcoming (fall is really distance race season around here), I can literally feel myself spiraling into sadness.  Almost like I'm grieving.  What makes this so odd is that I've had past years where I didn't race and it really did not bother me.  I suppose this is a bit different though as it's not really a choice I've made as much as one I've been forced into.

I soothed my upset soul by keeping busy with my niece and nephew having them overnight Friday and all day Saturday.  Amazing what time with a child can do to make you forget your own issues.  And even though we spent the day at the very beach where the run was taking place, it turned out OK.  I just stayed away from the area where I knew all my running friends would be congregated and concentrated on keeping Gracie from going into the water too deep.  She's fearless that one and knows how to swim just enough to scare ME.

While all my other aches and pains (back, quadricep, shoulder) have healed with treatment, turns out my foot issue is one that ultimately only time will heal.. The doctor even insisted I go get another x-ray to make sure it wasn't an actual bone spur or worse like a stress fracture.  But everything came back all clear.  Which made it all the more frustrating that  it seemed like it was getting better... and then it wasn't.  I have some days that are pretty good and others where it aches so much, when I walk in the door in the evening, Mr. Helen says I look like I've been to hell and back what with the pain on my face.

The bad thing about all of it (other than the obvious not being to exercise and weight gain) is that I tend to be a bit of a hermit naturally and I've noticed as this has gone on that I don't want to do anything.    I just want to go home, put on my shorts and a tank top and zone out.   I don't want to email, talk on the phone, meet a friend for a glass of wine, nothing! I have no desire to be social.  Not a good thing for me ultimately as I spend quite a bit of time alone at work as well.  I can see myself easily getting sucked into a whirlpool of depression.

It's all such a vicious cycle isn't it?  So here I am again at Monday, hoping for a better week in every way.  Today at work I will concentrate on the encouragement Roz gave me last week and hope for better things.