Monday, September 19, 2016

An Exercise Post.


Trigger Warning: weight talk.
TL, DR; I am struggling with weight and felt like talking about it.

Today I realized that, despite calling myself a "writer," I rarely express myself much further than "this recipe is good and here is why!" on this blog.

Perhaps it's because the feedback from the casual blog follower tends to be "I just scroll down to the recipes." Has that subliminally affected my content? Who knows. But I do know that this is my blog, and I need to let myself shine in it a bit more. So, that said, here's a topic I'd like to talk about.


Still with me? Good. Because I'm not going to tell you pain is gain and nothing tastes as good as skinny feels and all that bogus. Because it IS bogus. I'm of the opinion that tough love and shaming yourself into the process is just never going to work. One of the reasons I had a major issue with the Whole 30 official plan. It didn't for me--I'd end up frustrated and crying and giving up so I would stop that racing feeling in my chest that made me feel not good enough to continue.

Literally the last picture where I feel confident about my body. It's from 2012.
For about 24 years of my life I was effortlessly skinny. I never once had to think about what I ate or how much, and aside from struggling through gym class every other day in high school, I never really did any exercise. Then comes 25 and the Ass Fairy paid me a visit and never left. I went from a size 4 to a size 8 seemingly overnight, and it's been a steady crawl to a size 10-12 ever since.

And despite having a fiance who thinks I'm the sexiest being on the entire planet (and who, yes, tells me this every day), my self confidence has plummeted below the ground and caused me all sorts of anguish. I look in the mirror and think, "this is not my body, where did my flat belly go?" all while the outside world would probably still consider me thin by most standards. And with the knowledge that weight doesn't matter, there are worse things than being "fat" but the idea of the bitchy girls from high school or my ex's ex who hated me would look at my pictures on FB and think "wow, she really let herself go" would keep me up at night.

The body I used to have.

And, sadly, the little voice in the back of my head reminding me that if my dad had gotten control of his weight just a little sooner, maybe he'd be alive today...

My food blogging didn't help, but my typical diet wasn't enough in and of itself to be responsible for the extra poundage. I knew I was just fighting my aging ass as well.

So I got gym memberships. And I hated every minute. My long hair gave me a headache when it was in a ponytail for too long. I had to go home to shower before going out. I couldn't wake up early enough and was too tired after work. I hated the way the sweat felt. I hated the little hives I'd get when I worked too hard. I went for a solid month and saw no results. Then I tried classes like Zumba or Jazzercise and failed hard at both--I could feel all eyes judging my out of step moves, even when I knew no one actually cared--I even tried running through Austin's gorgeous landscape... and was embarrassed I couldn't keep up. I attempted Whole 30 and Paleo and calorie counting and each one ended way too quickly. How can I get through this without wine? And sugar? But how do I do this and still feel satisfied? I did more crying about my weight than action.

2013, when I began to feel less confident

If only I had a workout buddy, I'd think, someone to hold me accountable... then I'd reach out to people who weren't interested, or would flake (or I would flake) and then get sadder and lonely feeling, adding to the heap of negative feelings about the situation. So I'm a blob with no friends? Great.

Step one was realizing I was suffering from depression, and the resulting body dismorphia was a product. The meds I was put on ("please, not the ones that make you gain weight!" I begged my doctor) helped even me out. I still hated the idea of sweating, and avoided the gym, but the crippling anxiety about the whole situation was quelled.

Then my wedding date was set and the idea of having pictures that hang in my house forever showing me marrying the love of my life was the motivation to try one more time. And I know, it's silly and superficial and it's not about pictures at all--but sometimes I'm silly and superficial. I freely admit that. And whatever works, right?

Now it's been nearly three months of three workouts per week. With Austin's Class Pass I've found a system that works for me. I found Barre, while still dance-inspired, is slower and more my pace, but results in a deep burn the next day that I know means it's working. Piloxing Barre is even better, because it has bursts of cardio. Class Pass is five times the price of a discount gym membership ($50 for beginner, $90 for unlimited) and at the limit of my budget, but the ability to check out a variety of gyms in my area keeps it interesting for me. Plus, once I reserve a spot, I'm tied to it, lest I lose my money or one of my allotted monthly classes.

Thanks to my medicine, the anxiety and sadness surrounding exercise are gone. It's still not my favorite activity, but I don't spend all day dreading it. The endorphins have yet to kick in, but the energized feeling I get after the class is over gets me motivated to do the little things I need to do--like clean my house, make a healthy dinner, catch up on work.

I got a Fitbit HR, to get the most accurate calorie counts for my activity levels. Before, keeping myself to 1200 calories just because that is the "magic" weight loss number was impossible. Now, I know that if I burn 2000 in a day, I can have as many as 1500 and still be on track.

No weight loss yet, but my tummy looks flatter and my arms have lost a bit of jiggle already. And the scale tends to trend on the lower side of my usual range.

I guess the point of all this is... This is what I'm doing, and so far, it works for me. Weight loss and, more importantly, getting healthy, are so hard. If it's important to you, you can find a way to do it. Don't beat yourself up if the first or even the tenth try doesn't get you where you want to be.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Plenty o' Pickles Courtesy of Wheatsville! Easy Fridge Pickles


Fall is in the air--and that means the harvest is nigh! How do you preserve your delicious summer fruits and veggies, and how do you do it in a unique (and tasty!) way?

Pickle that stuff up.

So, to be honest, I'm totally new to pickling. I took the "easy" route and did them all via the "fridge pickle" process. This means that they're not shelf stable, but they'll last a long while in the refrigerator.

Austinites are lucky: at Wheatsville Coop, we have a plethora of fresh, organic, and local goodies to choose from! Take a look at the haul I got.

All of that gorgeous produce got pickled in a variety of ways.

First, I did a very basic pickle: cukes, onions, garlic, dill, and brine, with this neat pickling spice mix I found at Wheatsville.

Then, I got a little crazy. I have no idea what I'm going to do with all of these pickles--I think I need to have a fancy hors d'ovres party or something.

Basic Pickling Process

  • 1 cups vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt
  • 1 tbsp dried dill
  • 1 tbsp pickling spices
  • 3 large cucumbers
  • 1/2 onion, sliced thin

-In a pot over medium heat, mix together the vinegar, water, salt, dill, and spices. Let boil until steamy and the salt is dissolved. Let cool to room temp.

-Place sliced cucumbers and onions in a glass jar that has been thoroughly cleaned. Pour brine over the cucumbers and refrigerate for 2 days.

Please note: these will not be shelf stable. Keep cold at all times.

Creative Pickles (variations)

Blueberry Fennel
-sub 1/4th cup of the water for red wine
-sub 1/2 cup of the vinegar for balsamic vinegar
-add 1/4 cup brown sugar to the brine
-sub the cucumbers for blueberries
-sub fennel for the onions

Asian Carrot
-sub 1/4th cup of the water for mirin wine
-sub the vinegar for rice vinegar
-add 1 tbsp sesame oil
-add 1 tbsp black sesame seeds
-add 1 knob of peeled ginger, coarsely chopped
-sub the cucumbers for carrots