Monday, April 23

A New Twist on Pork & Beans

I'm letting my kid eat fruit, carby veggies and legumes even though otherwise she is eating "with me" on my plan. We also eat small (underline small) amounts of breadishes, such as corn tortillas the last few nights. (Which got me wondering if I could come up with some variant that mixed corn meal with flax seed meal and almond flour for a sort of corny firm crepe. I never did get back to The Great Crepe Experiment and I really should.)

So I dumped a pound of pinto beans into the crockpot -- off, not heated -- and left 'em there overnight. Next morning, dumped off the soakwater, rinsed a big chunk of pork loin and tossed it on top of them, fat side up. I was too lazy to chop it into chunks and was hoping maybe it'd be ok.

I found this "pinto bean seasoning" (for refried beans) in the mexican section at walmart, and I put a bunch of that and nature's seasoning on it all, filled the water up to nearly the top of the meat, put the lid on, turned it on high, and ignored it for 11 hours. Which is really long but I've found that pork loin can cook twice as long as most stuff and it just ends up super tender and yummy instead of overcooked (it's less tender if cooked as long as I'd cook, say, roast beef). I know the seasoning stuff has carbs, but not so many per the usage/serving that I'm too worried about it.

I didn't have to chop up the pork like for chili verde which was such a relief. I didn't have to add bacon like I would for pork & beans. The flavor result was incredibly good and the kid and I had it for an afterschool snack. And the flavor, being more of the pinto bean mexican seasoning than the pork and beans type seasoning (similar but not quite the same), was perfect: we tore it up with a fork and nuked some, and dumped it into tacos for dinner. Pork tacos! It was great! I could have fried the beans for her but she loved the tacos with some beans in them too.

So counting rinsing the beans, soaking them, dumping off the water, adding the pork, the seasoning, and more water, I think the meal took me a total of about, oh, 7 minutes all total, and it gave us two good sized meals, a bunch of meat for one of the kitties, and enough to have another meal between us as well. Which although the pork isn't super cheap (it's loin, not tenderloin, so not too bad), the beans are, and that many meals out of 'em for two people makes it a great price. The time investment doesn't count the 11 hours during which I ignored it -- long enough that you can put something like this in at night and take it out in the morning.

Nothing real novel or brilliant but it worked well for me.


Friday, April 20

The Recipe for "Gumption"

You know, you gotta "get up the gumption" -- where on earth did that word come from, I wonder?? -- to do much of anything.

Eat right. Exercise. Drink water. Take supplements. Clean your house. Whatever.

I've had a very difficult time 'getting up the gumption' to do anything useful lately. I'd like to say something else. Tell you how inspired I am. But really, I feel like I am looking for inspiration under rocks and in haystacks. Here, kitty kitty kitty. Come home to me.


I've noticed that sometimes it's a matter of extremes. Often in the past, I have known I was unhappy, dissatisfied, needed to do something, about some situation in my life. But this went on and on. Eventually I hit rock bottom, the ultimate in desperation and despair, and from there, the only direction to go was up.

This presents a real problem for fitness goals. You can't wait until you're worse off than you were before to finally feel like getting around to doing something about it. Well you can, but then you fit in with most of the rest of planet earth that diets strenously and ends up fatter.

I don't want to wait until I hit rock bottom. I could be dead before that happens. I want to find inspiration within myself now, or at least soon.


Years ago when many of my cats were about 7 months old, it had snowed, and then iced. They wanted to be outside for brief times, and there is no more memorable sight and sound than that of half a dozen cats, "galloping across the frozen tundra" of a backyard. Yes. Cats gallop. I never knew that until the iced-snow echoed all their pawbeats. It was awesome.

I had a cat-door in the window of the spare room at the time. Near that window is a big metal thing on the ground that houses the HAC air intake unit. To make it more easily possible for the gets to get from the big-thing to the cat-door in the window, I used the little plastic slide that my kid had outgrown, that used to be on one of those rubbery-plastic "cube" things that multiple kids can play on.

At first, it was so cute, their little pawprints in the snow as they ran up the slide to the window.

Then it iced over.

It was cruel. It was unusual. It was deviant and inconsiderate of me. But watching the kittens run up the slide, only to get huge eyes, flex their front claws like crazy, and sliiiiiiiiiiiide back down it again, was so funny that I literally ended up on the floor clutching my stomach with tears rolling down my face. Every time I would stand up and look again, to see the latest cat doing it, I would just collapse in hysteria.

They were backsliding, going downhill, while trying to get a grip with eyes wide and claws out.... to no avail.

I feel kind of like that right now.

I hope someone is having half the fun over it I remember having over them. I think I feel just about as irked about it as they seemed to. And like them, I eventually gave up at least for the present, sitting at the bottom of the uphill journey home, and staring at what was inside, thinking, 'DO SOMETHING TO HELP ME, YOU FOOL!'


My little girl is overweight. The last two years have put it on her in a big way. The irony that her dad moved here allegedly in part to be healthy food and exercise for her to solve my worry about it way back when, and that it got exponentially worse, is not lost on me. For the last two months since he moved out, though, I've been having a hard time focusing even on what is good for ME. Which would at least partially translate to what is good for her, of course. It is starting to genuinely ruin her life. She is miserable. She can't fit in any of the clothing types, styles or pieces she wants, and she can no longer run and play well with the other kids. She bawled her head off to me about it recently, and I felt like the lowest kind of lifeform that I had allowed this to happen. I wasn't overweight in school so I don't know what it's like in that respect, but I've got the testimony of plenty of friends that tell me it's a nightmare nobody can really imagine.

So getting my act together is more than just about me now. It's not just about getting the gumption to improve my life. It has to be SO lifewide and SO consistent that it improves hers, too.

No pressure PJ. It's just that your cooking, diet and exercise will not only kill you if you don't get your shit together, but they're ruining the life and future of the one human you love most in the world, your only child.

If that isn't supposed to be inspiration, what is??

So why does that make me feel like turning on the music loudly and crawling into a dark corner and making the world leave me alone? Shouldn't that instead make me feel all optimistic and positive and inspired about what can be done and needs to be done?

I need therapy. But I can't afford it. So ... instead, I have a blog.


I've even thought of many good ideas lately for having quick food. Like:

1 - make tons of taco meat and freeze in portions so it's always a nuke away.
2 - make tons of 'blue-cheese burger' patties and freeze so it's always a grill away.

And my old standards,

3 - make massive quantities of chili verde (a friend reported the recipe was dry and tasteless for her. The portions vary on my recipe but I recommend using more water and veggies if in doubt.) and store it in 4-6oz gladware containers.

4 - make cocoa flax muffins (to die for IMO) and stick 'em when fully cook in a ziplock kept near, so you can just pull one out and munch on it -- good protein, good fiber, super yummy.

5 - make a pound of spicy ground sausage and then scramble a dozen+ eggs and mix it all together with some shredded cheddar and then put it in a big gladware container in the fridge. Anytime you're hungry, dish out a bowl of the stuff, nuke it briefly, and if you want add some salsa, sour cream, a little more cheese, lowcarb ketchup, or whatever to it (it's good plain). Lasts awhile and having a lot of both fat and protein is filling.

I have a bunch of hamburger I bought in bulk (bought 1/2 a side) in my big freezer. So theoretically there is no reason I can't do the first two things at least.


That I don't FEEL like it -- and that my normal obsessive discipline has so NOT kicked in to save me lately -- is making me wonder what the heck is going on? I'm starting to feel like maybe I'm possessed. One of us is avoiding getting healthier, I just don't know which one. But it feels like an internal wrestling match.


Friday, April 13

Highway Blind

I know it's been forever and a day since I've posted on this blog. I'm genuinely sorry about that and I am really grateful to the people who made comments and encouraged me to, well, get my act together and say something. As bloggers go, I kinda suck -- consistency is one of the primary criteria of this web genre. Then again, I swear that doing the FT+ job routine plus the Single Mom routine plus having other substantial things in my life, already means that anything important to me I have to deduct from sleep hours. I don't know how people with more kids do it. I have one and I feel like the time issues are ridiculous.

I'm also really focused as a personality. Sometimes I have trouble focusing on more than one or two things at a time. So when my food/exercise/health is in focus you can't shut me up, and when it's not in focus I'm nearly antisocial. I stayed away from the forum so long (aside from occasional lurking) that now I have a guiltfest about acting like a friend to friends after having abandoned them. (It's a four planets in Virgo thing. I can feel guilty about anything. Pretty impressive... I'm not even Catholic. ;-))

OK let's see. FOOD! Well, I've learned something, and that is always a good thing, even if you have to wade through a trench filled with carb-laden disaster to learn it: I learned that it is very hard for me to do anything "moderately." Starve myself? I can do that. Eat to oblivion? I can do that. Do low-carb? I can do that. Do low-cal? I can do that. However, the "do moderately low carb, moderately low cal, moderate amounts of food, eaten several times a day, along with decent water intake and supplements" -- is apparently a challenge I haven't yet mastered.

What is it about "moderation and balance" that is so hard for me?

I think maybe it actually relates to "attention, intention and expectation." Curiously, these three things are heavily tied into another subject I study as well, in which psychology plays a major role. Let me explain:

When I do something extremely, I really have to pay attention. Compare it to how people actually spell common names wrong more often than long complicated names. Why? Because the long complicated names, they really have to pay attention to, to write/type at all. It's the ones like Smithson that tend to end up with typos or what have you, that they don't think they need to think much about. So when I am totally lowcarb, I really have to pay attention to what the heck I'm cooking and eating, because I'm counting carbs all over the place. But when I am "moderate carb" -- basically just "eating with an emphasis toward protein and veggies and an emphasis away from starches and sugars" -- well frankly, that's just so middle of the road. I don't need to "worry about" the details of how many carbs or how much protein because I'm not counting.

I thought counting carbs etc. was kind of driving me crazy. But now I'm starting to think maybe it's the thing that was actually making it possible for me.

Intention is another subject. In order for me to really INTEND toward my health goals, obviously I have to pay attention, but it's really part of a driving "intent" that one either carries with them or they don't. When I have that driving intent because the 'attention' factor is forcing my food and exercise and health to be "present in my mind" almost constantly, then I am much more prone to be 'committed' to whatever I am doing. I am more habitual about drinking water for example, which affects how I feel, how bloated I am not, which can affect my energy level, which can affect my exercise quantity and even my food choices, so these things snowball like crazy into an end result for better or worse. Often worse.

And finally, expectation. When a person is really working hard to eat well and count carbs and get exercise and drink water, they EXPECT to lose weight. Well, or at least to gain muscle, or something! I believe that expectation, on a psychological level, is a huge driver of the reality we create for ourselves. One only needs to be around children awhile to see how their belief systems, and what they have learned to expect, has a profound effect on not only how they filter their perception of reality but, it seems, even the 'luck' that brings events into their life. I mean it works with adults just as well, but we tend to be so ingrained in patterns and slow to change that it is less obvious with us.

So my plans for 'moderate' eating failed abysmally, primarily because apparently the whole fact that it was moderate caused me not enough attention, intention or expectation concerning it. I am wondering if this actually speaks to the larger question of our society and why it's so hard for most our non genetically thin members to STAY lean and fit through their life. I mean you have to admit that with the exception of health issues, most people would "eventually" be in good shape if they just ate "moderately" -- I don't just mean in portions I mean in terms of food composition (eating moderate amounts of deep dish pizza will still make you fat ;-)). But most people don't eat moderately. They eat excessively, and then eventually they go to the other extreme, on some kind of diet or another, and eat non-moderately in some other way. Go figure.

So meanwhile back at the scale, I haven't weighed in a couple weeks but I think I am at about 390, about 10lbs heavier than my lowest weight, which is actually only about 1-2 lbs heavier than when I went on my "moderate plan" which shortly failed to be a plan at all.

I think at the moment what I am mostly fighting is emotional, psychological frustration. I want fresh orange juice now and then. I want to not have to make every imaginable food from scratch. I want to be able to eat at a restaurant and have more than 1-2 menu choices. I know, I am acting like a petulant child. That is how I feel about it though.

Some days ago I crockpotted a huge bag of chicken breasts which we've been 'mostly' living on. I discovered if I chop it up and toss it with cream-of-anything soup and some veggies it's quick protein (although, also carbs). I just finished cooking a brisket in my oversized crockpot. I didn't know what to do as I forgot to buy beer. I poured in a cup of red cooking wine, a cup of real apple cider with mother, a few cups of water, a bunch of natures's seasoning, minced jar'd garlic and course black pepper, and hoped for the best. It came with a pre-seasoning stuff all over it and you know, it just did not smell that good cooking, so I'm not sure I'll like it. I think I recall last time planning to NOT get it seasoned next time, but forgot! Anyway, so tonight I have to figure out something to do with it. I should go eat some now. I've never used a crockpot for brisket before. Never had one big enough!

I've also had fast food and regular soft drinks during this period so I can't pretend I'm eating well. I want to get off the soft drinks but it kind of requires getting enough sleep for once. The more exhausted I am from sleep deprivation the more I drink caffeine (I really detest diet drinks. I don't mind diet rite tangerine, but it has no caffeine!) which has sugar and then I end up wanting all kinds of stuff that is not good.

Isn't it funny how carbs/sugar changes your taste. When I am lowcarb, I drool over slices of onion. Asparagus is dreamy. Real food is awesome. An orange is orgasmic. When I am not lowcarb, I have zero interest in even the sweetest fruits unless they've got sugar added so it's a dessert! I just want carbs. So if I allow myself to eat the carbs I want when I am lowcarb, I then cease to have any interest in eating lowcarb. Oh brother.

I have an exercise room now, at least I do when I can get my kid to clean it up, as she is nearly living in there now, she loves it. She sits on the weight bench and watches star trek: the next generation videos on the TV which is up on the wall. She nabs the big cutting board from the kitchen and does Sculpey clay stuff while watching. I am getting slightly more exercise than I used to, although the addition of yard work is certainly increasing this by a big percentage. My yard is not huge but everything grew like 8" from no-green to overgrown in like 10 days -- the whole city was overgrown -- it wasn't easy to mow.

Speaking of yard. I decided I'm not going to garden except a tiny bit this year. I just don't have time. Meanwhile, spring sprung, everything in the landscaping grew like crazy, especially the grapevines and this is their first real year so that's cool, it was beautiful and impressive, and then it froze deeply for a few days, then was hot, then froze again, then was hot again, and now everything looks dead as rocks. grrrr. Hope they survive.

They opened a movie theatre by my house, I'm pretty excited to have 4 screens near me, we used to have to drive an hour nearly to get to one. My dad talked to the chief of the tribe who was building it, and told him about my issue with fitting in seats, and how I used to be a movie freak but when I got fat, stopped going since I didn't want to sit in the aisle or be miserable. Well that was a long time ago they had this talk and the theatre just opened and ALL the seats have 'optional' arm rests that go up, so I fit in anything! It's so awesome! And it's like 4 blocks from my house. Way cool! My kid's pretty excited about it too. ;-)

Two of my cats remain indoors but the others live outside now. They are less than thrilled about this, especially when it is raining like today. But I have a garage with a cat door (it has mild heating) and a covered front porch with a padded bench and they get fed regularly so they are not gonna die of it. I miss them but I so do NOT miss the constant disaster of 8 barfy, poopy, hairy animals living indoors!

My house is so much better now that my ex moved out I just can't believe it. I mean literally it's a different house. And my little girl is nearly a completely different person. She used to always be miserable, whiney, cranky, drama queen, and for the most part now it's like her entire personality has had major sunshine added to it. I'm making a point to spend at least an hour with her every night and focus on a decent bedtime and it really seems to be paying off a lot. I mean she is just so much happier. And when he first left she was literally bubbling and dancing for days. It was sort of sad, and embarrassing for him, that she was so obviously so much happier. I'm so glad I finally made the decisiona about that. And so glad for my friends that helped me see sanity on the subject. Oh yeah and she recently got her jr. purple belt in karate, she's so proud. She just got glasses. I let her get whatever she wanted and she chose some insanely pricey designer pair (nearly $300! I had no idea they were that much until it was too late), but they do look cute and are due today or Monday. She is actually looking forward to wearing them, bizarrely enough, this after months of angst about not wanting to wear glasses! Only needs them if she 'needs' to see distance like the chalkboard.

Meanwhile it's been just over a year since my LASIK. I need some +1-+1.25 reading glasses but I'm 41 so that would have happened anyway. My distance vision is about 20/45 in one eye and 20/15 in the other so it's about 20/25 together; not super clear but I don't need glasses to drive. I was waaaaaay beyond legally blind before I had lasik, it was just 'correctable' was all. I couldn't see the face of someone I shook the hand of; I couldn't read the giant numbers on my digital alarm clock while lying right next to it. So I am still stupidly happy about it and I feel sure my vision would be even better if I had kept my eyes decently hydrated esp. the last six months. With indoor climate control it is really hard, they get dry so easily after LASIK.

Well anyway, so that is what is up with me. I have been having these little pep talks with myself lately about how I need to get my act together and focus on my health. But you know, for the last few months, since January, I have focused on my house, my job, my kid, and a little bit on my primary hobby which has a ton of internet stuff that has required mega time investment. I just haven't felt like I had "enough left over" to focus on my food and my exercise and water and supplements and weighing and counting and so on. But that's stupid, I mean it's a cop-out excuse and I know it, because I know that I feel better when I focus on my health, and I feel even more competent about everything ELSE when I do, so it is not competition for attention, it only benefits the other things in my life.

I'm still "thinking" about it. Working on getting up the gumption for appropriate attention, intention and expectation. But I wanted to post something about my status at least, so people didn't think I had forever abandoned the blog. Right now I just feel like I am trucking down the highway of life, halfway hypnotized, highway blind.