Baked Apple Recipe

I had lunch with my friend Emily and her adorable daughter a couple of weeks ago, and when she asked what she could bring, I told her, “Something fruity for dessert.” I had no idea what mind-blowing healthy deliciousness she would bless me with. She could have just brought me an apple, and I would have been excited, but NO. She brought this:

Delicious, Clean Baked Apples and Oats

AND she was gracious enough to share the recipe with us! Thanks Em! Y’all. These were so delicious and shockingly healthy. They are gluten-free, sugar-free, and clean. I wouldn’t recommend eating them for every meal or anything, but who wants to eat the same thing for every meal anyway? To make a batch, you will need:

  • 6 apples
  • 6 heaping tablespoons rolled oats
  • 6 heaping tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit (This is optional, but if you happen to have dried cranberries or raisins or whatever else on hand, toss it in!)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • zest of an organic lemon or orange
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 6 tsp butter
  • 1 cup hot water

Wash apples and core them using a melon baller (there is a kind with a slightly serrated edge around the scooper, which works perfectly). Arrange them in a glass baking dish large enough to leave at least an inch in between them.

In a medium bowl, mix the rolled oats, walnuts, dried fruit (if using), cinnamon, salt, zest, nutmeg, and maple syrup. Blend all this goodness together in your bowl and stuff it into the cored apples. Then sprinkle the rest of the mixture in the bottom of the baking dish around the apples. The more stuffing you make, the more will be in the bottom of the pan, and it bakes up so tasty down there. Put a teaspoon pat of butter onto each apple on top of the stuffing (more or less if you want, and if anyone wants to experiment with using coconut oil instead, PLEASE let me know how that goes). Pour a cup of hot water into the bottom of the pan.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Then remove the foil, turn off the oven, and leave them in there for about 30 more minutes

Drizzle those bad boys with a little raw honey before serving. They are amazing on their own, but you could also serve them with plain or vanilla yogurt. If it’s an extra oatmeal-y batch, Emily says she’ll just dish up 2 or 3 of them with lots of the oatmeal part and there’s breakfast!

Feel free to play with this and let me know how it goes. If you want to make more of the oatmeal mixture, you can, but you may need to adjust the amount of water you add to the pan.

Enjoy!!

Discipline Is a Four-Letter Word

Actually, discipline has ten letters. Yes, I stopped writing to count them…twice. I’ll give you a moment to double check my math.

Good? Ok, so our topic today is maintaining self-discipline when it comes to food and exercise. I’m sure we’re all super-psyched to talk about that. How do you do it? How do you keep it up long-term? How do you resist the cravings and temptations? How do you drag yourself off the couch every day to exercise. I think the answer to all of these questions can be summed in in two words: Motivation and Grace.

Motivation

When you have a really good reason for doing what you’re doing, you want to do it. When you have several really good reasons, your motivation gets stronger. When you have a really good plan in place to be successful, when you feel like it’s really possible, and especially when you start seeing that it’s working, it’s like a motivation booster. And when you have at least one person cheering you on, recognizing the hard work you’re doing, and giving you “the look” when you say things like, “Just one brownie,” followed by, “I don’t feel like working out today,” that really helps to keep you on track.

So if you’ve been struggling to lose weight with yo-yo results or no results at all, I would suggest that you answer the following questions:

  1. Why do you want to do this?
  2. How are you going to do it? Is your plan one that you can stick with long-term? Are you willing to change your lifestyle?
  3. What are your goals for the next month? How much weight will you lose? How often will you be exercising regularly? What specific things will you change about your diet (cut out sugar, stop eating fast food, give up soda, eat X number of vegetable servings per day, etc.)?
  4. What roadblocks, disappointments, or problems can you realistically anticipate? How will you get past them?
  5. What are you scared of as you think about getting started with this life change?
  6. Who will kick your butt if you start slacking off? (*Hint: Tell this person [these people] your reasons for wanting to make changes, your fears about doing it, and your plan, and check in with him/her/them daily. Yes, daily.)

Grace

You’re going to have off days. You’re going to enjoy Thanksgiving with your family. You’re going to be in a situation where you have no control over the food or whether or not you get to work out. You’re going to get sick and have to be in bed for days. You’re going to eat a cookie because someone made it for you and you don’t want to be rude by refusing it. You’re not going to have time to exercise one day. You’re going to forget to take your lunch to work and have to either go out to eat or starve. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to drop the ball.

Mistakes here and there won’t ruin everything. Give yourself some grace and move forward.

When I was in college, I went through a cross-cultural training program in preparation for an overseas summer mission trip. In this program, we learned a silly song that has been extremely helpful to me in countless situations since. One part of the song said, “It’s not what you do first; it’s what you do next.” How do you respond to set-backs? How do you treat yourself when you make a mistake? What do you do after you fall off the wagon?

Each decision is a step in one direction or another, but taking one step in one direction does not mean that you have to take another. If you drink a soda in a moment of weakness, choose to stick with water tomorrow. If you decide to skip your workout one day, get back on your schedule tomorrow. Even if you’ve been making bad decisions for years, you don’t have to be stuck in that rut. You can choose to take one step at a time in another direction.

It’s hard at first, I’ll be honest. Really, really hard. But the more often you make healthy decisions, the easier they become to make. You can’t give up at one failure, though. You have to give yourself some grace and try again.

The lady on one of our exercise videos always says, “If you give up, the only person you’re giving up on is yourself.” And as much as we hate her for torturing us each day, she’s right, and I’m worth not giving up on. So are you.

Sautéed Chickpeas Recipe

Y’all, this is the easiest thing in the world to make. Seriously. I forgot to take a picture before I gobbled them up, but trust me, they’re tasty. Here’s what you need:

  • 1 tsp olive oil (optional)
  • 1 15-oz can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • salt
  • pepper
  • basil
  • oregano
  • thyme
  • chili powder

This is going to be a little Cooking 101 for a second. Bear with me if you are already an expert. When you make any kind of beans that come from a can, you really should rinse them well. Those things are packed in lots of salt to keep them fresh, and you don’t need that much salt. Also, the liquid in the can tends to get kind of yucky and gelatinous, and it grosses me out, so I always rinse them. The easiest way to do it is to dump the beans into a strainer and stir them around with your hand while you run water over them. If you’re making a dish with multiple types of beans and you have a big enough strainer, just toss ’em all in there at once.

So rinse your garbanzos and let them sit in the strainer in the sink to drain a bit while you heat your pan and get your garlic going.

If you want to use oil, go for it, but you really only need the tee-tiniest little drop of it. We’re not frying things here, just making sure nothing sticks to the pan. If you have a non-stick pan, you really don’t need oil.

Heat the pan on medium-high with or without oil, and then drop in your garlic. Fresh garlic is so amazing it makes me cry, but the kind in the jar will work too, and it’s faster. Stir the garlic around a bit until it starts to smell kind of toasted. Then throw in the chickpeas.

Stir the chickpeas around in the pan so they get all nice and garlicky. Then start seasoning. A quarter of a teaspoon of salt is MORE than enough. An eighth is probably plenty. The rest, just use as much as you like. This is not a science, but for those of you who require precise measurements, I’d go with 1/8 teaspoon salt and chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, basil, oregano and thyme. If you want them spicier, use more chili powder and/or more garlic.

Canned beans are already ready to eat, so all you’re doing here is heating them up and combining them with other yumminess. The whole process should take 10 minutes or less.

That’s it! I put these in salads, and they’re delicious hot or cold (A can of beans makes two servings, so I’ll put half on a salad fresh out of the pan and keep the rest in the fridge for another day). For a nice side dish with dinner, you could also toss two cups of baby spinach into the skillet along with the garbanzos and cook them both together (with the same herbs and spices) until the spinach gets floppy. If you do that, though, I would suggest using the olive oil or, better yet, a little water, which will create some steam, which will wilt your spinach nicely.

If you add spinach, try topping the whole shebang off with a little Tabasco. That ought to kick it up a couple of notches in spice AND taste!

Spicy Greek Yogurt Cauliflower Recipe

You asked for it, and I’m going to give it to you! You can find this recipe in a bunch of different places on the internet, but I’m not exactly sure where it came from originally. I saw it on Facebook. I’ll give you the original recipe and then tell you how we did it slightly differently.

Ingredients

cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1½ cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° and lightly grease a small baking sheet with vegetable oil. Set aside.
  2. Trim the base of the cauliflower to remove any green leaves and the woody stem.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt with the lime zest and juice, chile powder, cumin, garlic powder, curry powder, salt and pepper.
  4. Dunk the cauliflower into the bowl and use a brush or your hands to smear the marinade evenly over its surface. (Excess marinade can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to three days and used with meat, fish or other veggies.)
  5. Place the cauliflower on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the surface is dry and lightly browned, 30 to 40 minutes. The marinade will make a crust on the surface of the cauliflower.
  6. Let the cauliflower cool for 10 minutes before cutting it into wedges and serving alongside a big green salad.

Modifications

As you can see, the recipe tells you to dunk the whole head of cauliflower in the yogurt mixture and roast it. I thought this sounded entirely too delicious to let the whole inside of the cauliflower miss out (and I hate chopping cauliflower because it’s so crumbly), so we bought pre-cut cauliflower and dunked EVERY SINGLE PIECE into the yogurt. We spread the pieces out in a baking dish and roasted them that way.

We also made this Mujadara recipe (to which we added caramelized onions, which made angels sing in my mouth). It required a much lower baking temperature, but since it also needed an hour of baking time, we thought we’d try just throwing the cauliflower in there at the same temperature for the same length of time. We crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.

After about half an hour, we pulled the cauliflower out and turned the pieces over. They had started to get a nice brown crust on top, but the bottoms were still kind of gooey. We put it back in with the Mujadara and waited another half an hour.

With both dishes in the oven at once at 325, we ended up baking both for just over an hour, and that was about perfect. They were delicious. Highly recommend.

Fuel

One of the vocabulary words we’re practicing in class this week is “purchase.” Today, my students were doing an exercise where they had to choose all the correct answers (out of 4 possibilities) to a question. One of the questions was, “Which of the following could you purchase?” And one of the possible answers was “energy.” We decided that might work because you purchase gas and electric services for your home, and then we also talked about how food provides energy for our bodies. We don’t purchase energy directly, but we purchase the food we consume (another vocab word this week), which our bodies then use for energy. It’s an interesting little exercise, and it creates a lot of opportunities for conversation about words and their usage, which is nice.

Anyhoe, this whole thing made me start thinking about the food I eat and how my body uses it, especially now that I’m trying to be more active. When I want my body to do more, I need to give it what it needs so that it can perform. The body doesn’t need much just to sit around watching Netflix all day, but it needs a little more if I’m going to be standing up teaching, and it needs even more than that if I’m going to exercise. My problem until recently has been that I thought all calories were the same.

I guess if I had taken the time to really think about it, I would have realized that that’s dumb, but I didn’t. I thought of food as the reward you get at the END of the workout, not the fuel you need to do the workout in the first place. And with that mindset, I was eating foods after my workouts that were totally undoing all the hard work I’d just done. And then I was still hungry because the foods I ate filled up my calorie quota without filling my stomach or meeting my body’s nutritional needs. Gah! No wonder the whole thing sucked! (Y’all just witnessed that epiphany. That JUST happened. Just now. Jazz hands.)

One thing I’ve noticed, though, with the program I’ve been doing recently is that I’m not all that hungry because I’m eating at least 5 times a day. And the workouts aren’t so bad because I’m eating foods that are helping me get through them instead of trying to jog with a body full of chocolate cereal and Starbursts. (Incidentally, Starbursts are not good for your body in any way. I have a poop story to prove it, but I won’t subject you to it. You’ll just have to trust me on this one.)

So there you have it. I don’t understand or particularly care to know the science behind it, but from my own personal experience, I can tell you that what you eat absolutely has a direct impact on how your body is able to perform. Feed it well.

3 Ways to Improve Your Workouts

I’ve been working out consistently for just over a month now. That’s a month of my whole life, so I don’t have much experience to draw from unless I also pull from way back in my childhood when working out was not a thing I did, but playing was. As an adult, I have been a terrible role model thus far and definitely no one you should trust for fitness advice. However, I’ve learned a couple things recently that I would like to share with you, and I am also going to pull from way back in my childhood.

1. Eat a healthy diet.

nawlinsDo you want to know why working out sucks SO bad and you hate it all the time always and hate everything that exists in the world while you’re exercising? It’s because the food you’re putting in your body is not fueling your body properly so that it can work out. At least that was true for me. I barely had the energy to change into workout clothes, but I forced myself to work out because I knew I should. And I kept waiting for the day when I would look forward to it, when I’d feel sluggish if I missed a run, not if I went on one. That day never, ever came, and eventually I gave up. Even when I didn’t give up (remember that time Amaris and I did a half marathon?), I didn’t lose a single pound because I didn’t change my eating habits. They may, in fact, have gotten worse. I lacked the energy I needed to train, but I trained anyway. Then to get the energy back that I needed to finish out the day, I would eat a ginormous plate of pasta because dangit I had EARNED it.

Some of you are shaking (or smacking) your heads at me right now, and you are correct to do so. Looking back, I know it didn’t make sense, but I didn’t know any better. Now I do, and y’all, I am not kidding when I tell you that I didn’t get to work out yesterday, and I was disappointed. If you give your body what it needs, it will return the favor. Get rid of the sugar and fried foods and as much of the refined and processed foods as possible. Eat your veggies. Limit your grains (not to the extreme, but probably half as much as you would like). Report back to me on your workouts.

2. Make a plan to change things up.

I get bored pretty easily, so doing a different workout every day helps me to keep it up. But I also need structure. I hated going to the gym because I would walk in, look around, wonder what I should do, not have any good ideas, and end up doing the same thing. Planning what you’re going to do, though, allows you to feel in control and ready for your workout while also preventing you from getting bored with it. It’s the same with diet. If you plan to eat different things every week, you’ll get to eat new things but also not find yourself in the kitchen staring into the fridge wondering if you’re actually hungry.

3. Play!

I have workouts that I do with a DVD throughout the week, and they are not the most fun, but I do them because I must, because they’re different every day (which keeps me from zoning out), because they’re planned for me (structure), and because doing them is FAR healthier than watching an episode of How I Met Your Mother on Netflix. But on Sundays, I’m going to a Zumba class up the street, and that is FUN. I look forward to it. It makes me excited about exercise (most weeks) because it doesn’t feel like exercise. When I was a kid, I was in great shape because I was on a competitive jump rope team. Have you tried jumping rope lately? Good luck going for more than a minute. It is no joke. But when I was a kid, I didn’t think about it as exercise. I just loved doing it. What do you love doing that gets your heart rate up, makes you sweat, and works your muscles (keep it clean, kids)? Dance (Zumba, swing, contra (!!), Just Dance), play a sport, jump rope, run as fast as you can down a hill, ride a bike, play in the ocean, walk/hike with friends, go to a playground and climb on the jungle gym, get some buddies together and play tag (or any other childhood game that won’t make you feel like the fat kid in gym class). HAVE FUN!

Oh, and if you are giant nerd and you know it (you know it), I just found this. Enjoy!

Easy Dijon Vinaigrette Recipe

I promised you the other day that I would give you a good vinaigrette recipe if you wanted it, and since I usually deliver on my promises, here you go!

The 21-Day Fix eating plan booklet has several salad dressing recipes in it. This is the only one I’ve tried so far, but the others look good too. I just made this one because I happened to have all the ingredients, and my salad was naked. In a jar (I used an empty salsa jar, washed out), combine:

  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Put the lid on the jar and shake. This will make you 8-10 servings of dressing. If you think that doesn’t seem like a lot of dressing for a big salad, trust me. The Dijon is so strong, plus the lemon and the vinegar. You really don’t need a lot of this to get a great flavor throughout your salad.

Pop the lid on your jar and store in the fridge until it’s gone. One warning: Sometimes, the oil can sort of harden in the fridge. I took mine out yesterday, and all the oil, mustard, and garlic had formed a glob in the middle of the lemon juice and vinegar. I tried to stir it with a fork, but that didn’t help, so I just let it sit out on the counter for half an hour or so while we went for a walk, and when we came back, it was fine again.

Enjoy!

Meaty vs. Veggie

I went to look at my prompt for today and immediately got “Ebony and Ivory” stuck in my head for some reason. And it’s funny that today’s prompt is what it is because my students asked me this exact question in class today: How do an herbivore and an omnivore cook together?

It comes up a lot when people find out I’m a vegetarian. One of the first questions they ask (after wondering what I eat and how I get enough protein) is, “Is your husband a vegetarian too?” No. No, he is most definitely not. That always invites the follow-up question, “Sooooooo…how does that work?”

It’s honestly not that complicated. I’ve been meatless for seven years, and I’ve known my husband for about seven and a half years, maybe eight, so for the vast majority of the time he’s known me, I’ve been a vegetarian. And we didn’t get together until two years ago, so we both knew exactly what we were getting into before we ever got together. Also, cooking together became a pretty normal thing when we started dating, so we had a good bit of practice before we got married.

Usually, it goes like this…

On Saturday, we decide what we want to make for the following week’s dinners. We pull from a lot of different sources, including a weekly meal-planning service we got cheap with a Groupon (emeals), but my favorites are Forks over Knives, Thug Kitchen (pardon the language if you visit the site), Food Network, and All Recipes. We also have several cookbooks and a recipe box full of vegetarian slow cooker ideas. We both have to agree that we either really want or are willing to try a recipe before we add it to the week’s list. If we’re both on board, I print out the recipe.

Doesn't the mullet magnet guy look like Sir Paul McCartney?
Doesn’t the mullet magnet guy look like Sir Paul McCartney?

Once we’ve picked our poisons, if you will (though you really shouldn’t), we make a grocery list based on what each recipe calls for and what we already happen to have. If we haven’t been very inspired by the recipes we’ve found and only have a few, we’ll make a stirfry one night or just sautee some veggies and pair them with pasta. ORRRR we’ll have “lazy night,” where we go out to eat or order Chinese or something. We put the meal schedule on a white board on the fridge so that whoever is home when it’s time to cook can see what’s on the menu and get it started. We stick all the printed-out recipes on the side of the fridge so they are visible while standing in front of the stove.

Most of the time, Will just eats a vegetarian dinner and has something meaty for lunch, and most of the time, he says he doesn’t feel like the meal is lacking anything, but bless him, he loves me a lot, so he may just not be saying it, though we definitely do have some recipes that he REALLY likes as they are (including our risotto and our tortilla soup). However, there are a lot of times when he says, “It’s good. But it would be a lot better with chicken.” We now have a bag of chicken in the freezer if he ever wants to cook some and add it to his meal. When we make stirfry, he might cook some chicken separately, and I might cook some tofu, and then we’ll just add our own protein to our own bowls.

Last night, we made pasta. We cooked a skillet of veggies for me and a skillet of peppers, onions, garlic, and sausage for him. He then added tomato sauce to his skillet, and I had plain sauce. He now has a jar full of meat sauce that he can use over the next couple of weeks. Making all of that at once was a little hectic, but now when he wants meat sauce with his pasta again, he’s all set.

That’s pretty much it. I usually eat the leftovers for lunch the following day, and that’s planned into my week on purpose, so we make sure we have enough for me to do that. He usually eats whatever he feels like eating for lunch, and we do our own breakfast things too because we have different morning routines and tastes. He doesn’t get as much steak as he’d like in his life, but he gets WAY more veggies than he was getting when he was single, and he recognizes that this is a good thing. I don’t mind him cooking meat, but if it’s beef, we have to set up an elaborate ventilation system so I can’t smell it.

Oh, and eating out or getting take-out is easy, and if he’s like dying for some meat or something, we figure it out. It’s really not so hard.

3 Tips for Healthy Eating

This is my prompt for today, but you’ve heard it all, I’m sure. Eat your veggies, stay away from fried foods and sugar and processed foods, don’t eat too many calories, don’t eat too many carbs, don’t eat too much fat, don’t eat too much meat, eat enough protein, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I realize that these tips may just be adding to the white noise that is the health and fitness industry, but they are three things that have helped me to enjoy food responsibly.

1. Spice It Up

Herbs and spices are fantastic. When we cook any of the “recipes” we just make up on the fly, they always include a plethora of dried herbs and spices. We have ALL of them. At this point, I don’t know if I want to include a photo of my spice cabinet or a gif from The Three Amigos. Oh you know what spices look like. Just imagine literally all of them. plethoraSo as I was saying…fat and sugar taste GREAT, especially when they take the forms of cheese, butter, and wheat (macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese sandwich, Red Lobster’s cheddar biscuits, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm). And when you’re trying not to eat such things, you REEEEAAAAALLLLY miss them. Putting a bunch of spices on your food won’t fill that void entirely, but it definitely helps. Most of our “recipes” end up having a little salt, LOTS of freshly ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, and basil. If we’re feeling extra sassy (and depending on what we’re cooking), we might throw in some paprika, chili powder, cumin, curry powder, and/or turmeric. And I don’t know if garlic falls into this category or not, but the more the better. Adding herbs and spices won’t make non-fried things taste like fried things, but it will still make them very, very tasty.

2. Make It Pretty

I like my food to be pretty. When it’s particularly lovely, I take pictures of it. I think people will probably get tired of that pretty soon, but I just can’t help myself. I mean look at this:berries and honey

I didn’t even want to eat it. I just wanted to have an endless photo shoot with it. It made me a little sad that I didn’t have a better camera, but then my gosh if it didn’t look delicious, so I ate it. AND IT WAS. That’s about a cup of Greek yogurt, a cup of fresh berries (raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries), and some raw honey. I added to it about 1/4 cup of Grape Nuts, and I can now say with all confidence that this snack is the reason Grape Nuts exist in the world.

I like my food (and my home, let’s be real) to have ALL THE COLORS. I want it to be a feast for the body, the taste buds, and the eyes. The only exception to this is Indian food, which tends to all be brown, but it’s so delicious, nobody cares. The prettier your food is, the prouder you are of having made it, and the more you want to eat it. saladAnd you know how you get lots of colors in your food? Lots of vegetables and fruits. Want a rainbow salad? Toss all of this together:

  • strawberries
  • carrots
  • yellow bell pepper
  • spring mix
  • blueberries
  • purple cabbage
  • garbanzo beans (sautee with herbs/spices)
  • goat cheese
  • homemade vinaigrette (I’ll share some recipes with you if you want them.)

I promise it will be beautiful and delicious.

3. Make a Plan and Stick to It

This is the single biggest tip I can give you if you want to eat healthier. Know what you are going to eat when. If you know you’re going to eat soon, you won’t be tempted to snack. And if you have healthy snacks planned, you won’t be (as) tempted to reach for the unhealthy ones. If you know what you’re having for dinner, and you’ve already bought all the ingredients, then all you have to do is make it. You might be tempted to be lazy and not cook, but I feel guilty when I buy fresh ingredients and then don’t use them, so use fresh veggies. They’re healthier than packaged food anyway, and you can let your guilt help you make good choices.

Sticking to the plan is really the hard part. Making the plan will be a bit labor intensive for the first few weeks, but you’ll get used to it once you figure out what works for you. I plan my dinners first because that’s the only meal of the day my husband and I get to eat together, so it takes a little more cooperation to decide what we’re going to make and what ingredients we need to buy. Once I have my dinners in place, it’s not that hard for me to work in all the other foods I need during the day. But sticking to the plan is another story entirely. It really is a meal-by-meal choice to eat what’s on the plan or to eat ice cream. I’m sure it would help a lot if I just threw out the ice cream, but since I don’t make health and diet choices for anyone but myself, I can’t really do that. Also, the guilt.

So far, though, I’ve been able to stick to my plans really well. It helps that I have a variety of foods every day, spaced out so I’m eating every few hours, and that they’re all delicious. I’m not like subsisting on plain rice cakes or anything horrible like that. Man, I’m glad I was never on a fad diet in the ’80s.

Hard Choices

Here’s the thing. It’s really easy (and cheap) for most people to be fat and out of shape. It requires literally no effort whatsoever. Yes, there are people who have trouble keeping weight on, and I recognize that that is a legitimate problem, but for most of us, all it takes is a month of Netflix and regular deliveries from Papa John’s to pack on the pounds. When the PJ’s delivery guy commented that Will was wearing a different super hero t-shirt every time he came here, I really should have known we’d been ordering too much. First of all, we’d had the same delivery guy more than once, which is kind of a feat in itself. Second, he’d been here enough times to know he’d been here before AND to recognize that my husband has a lot of super hero t-shirts.

It’s just that pizza is delicious, and Netflix has so many great options! Terrible excuses? Maybe. But after almost of month of exercising and eating a healthy diet on a regular basis, I’m still tempted to make them. They’re simply easier than planning healthy meals, preparing for them, cooking them, and getting off my butt every day to exercise.

So my biggest fear going into these changes (and still today) was (is) that I won’t be able to do it. I’m afraid I’ll start slacking off little by little until I’ve completely abandoned the program, and that I will then undo all the good things I’ve done over the past month. I’m afraid my body will betray me again – that I’ll injure myself or something – and not allow me to make the healthy choices I want to make.

Basically I’m afraid I will fail, and I really need a win right now.

All I have in front of me, though, are choices – one at a time. I can’t worry about what may or may not happen if I do or don’t do something. All I can do is choose to plan my meals or not, choose to follow the plan at each meal or not, choose to exercise or not. The only definite consequences are that I will become less healthy, more out of shape, and more overweight if I continue to make the decisions I was making before. I can’t know what will happen if I try – I might succeed, and I might fail – but if I don’t try, the only possibility is failure.

If failure is the thing I fear, and if I really need at least the possibility of a win, then not trying is just not an option.

The choices are hard. I’m lazy some days and just want to order a pizza. I’m busy some days and just want to get take-out. I’m lazy some days and don’t feel like working out. I’m busy some days and don’t know when I’ll have the time. I’m trying to be gracious with myself as much as possible. I don’t want to feel enslaved by any of this, but I know that the process of changing habits is not fun or easy, so I’m pushing through the initial difficulty of it. I hope I’ll be rewarded later. I hope I wake up one day in the future and look forward to my workout. I hope one day that I’ll use exercise to feel better, not food. I hope one day exercise will make me feel better, not like I’m dying. I think that day is coming, but the choices required to get to it are tough. One day, one meal, one exercise at a time, though, I WILL do this.