Day 77 – My meat eater

18 03 2010

Hungry tiger at the Denver Zoo

Zach and I went to the zoo this morning while the spring weather is still here and he has his mornings free. Sadly, there is snow blowing in soon… and next year, my little buddy will go to school all day. That is starting to hit me and make me feel bad for not always making the most of our mornings.

A quick trip before kindergarten gave us time to watch the seal and tiger feedings. The zoo keeper (is that the official title?) strategically placed raw meat on logs and rocks around the tiger’s outdoor space. Then the giant was let out on a carnivorous treasure hunt! Zach watched in amazement as the tiger made his way to all the piles of hide-and-seek meat. And then he told me he could be a tiger — and just eat meat all day.

Oh my son… I have been trying so hard to stuff more vegetables and fruit into you lately. Being a tiger must sound like a dream! I can barely get you to eat one color a day, not to mention 5 servings. Even just eating fish like the seal would be better than your meat and carb diet…

Anna, on the opposite side of the garden fence, will eat almost whatever you put in front of her. She would be fine as a vegetarian giraffe — eating greens like a champ. She will snack on raw peppers, carrots, fruit of all colors and will also eat meat like a tiger.

I have made the same meals for both kids for six years. Pink and blue plates with the same choices. Are they really just programmed so differently? I was a picky eater as a kid (maybe still…), so I often wonder — is Zach the oddball, or is Anna?

I think I have to chalk it up to one-out-of-two-ain’t-bad logic and just keep slicing apples, peeling oranges and sneaking squash into the spaghetti sauce. Maybe we can have a treasure hunt for grapes and green beans?

Right now we just need fresh groceries — or we will all have to become carnivores living out of the freezer. The closest grocery store is 8 miles away, which makes it tough to fit into my day. I should have just literally run to the grocery on my afternoon run, but I happily stopped at 6 miles. There is a meeting tonight about a grocery store finally opening in our neighborhood, promising fresh, local produce and organic choices. And lucky for Zach and other tigers in the neighborhood — there will also be a butcher!


Day 60 – My real age

1 03 2010

Day 60! Whew…and another whole month behind me, even if it was a short one… Today my fascination with aging and Internet tools lead me to RealAge site with its confusing slogan: “Live life to the youngest.”

You can take a quiz about your genes, health and lifestyle to see what age your body might as well be. They added a depressing seven years to me — making me 46.8!! I thought perhaps this was the Type 1 diabetes at work, but no — it’s about me not eating 5 fruits and vegetables a day and not knowing my blood pressure, cholesterol or heart rate numbers (I know these are fine, because the doctor checks them every 3 months…I just don’t know the numbers but there isn’t a choice for that on the quiz.).

The site gives you suggestions for diet, fitness and more. For me that includes flossing my teeth more often and more strength training. Yes, some tips are easier to implement than others. Also need to add more vitamins, eat more fish, less red meat and the ever-impossible 5-a-day. Most of my strikes were in the diet category — and I really think I’m a pretty healthy eater relatively speaking.

Just a few tweaks and I should be back to my young, almost 40-year-old self in no time! Luckily I learned that having my dog is keeping me young, along with my silver SUV (50% less likely to be in a serious accident than other colors!).

There are many tools on the site to help you make changes, and I signed up for weekly emails to “Grow 10 years younger in 60 days.” Since I have exactly 76 days ’til my true 40th b’day, this should put me ahead!

All jokes aside, I am amazed at how many sites are out there with quizzes, tools, calculators, plans and trackers. Information overload for anyone trying to learn more about how to live healthier. The three things RealAge put on my personal plan are: 1) relieve stress (with yoga, tai chi, pets, friends, etc.) 2) Eat fish — more omega-3, and 3) Vary veggies to get those 5-a-day.

I’m really already working on two of these…but the fish one is tough. Not a seafood lover at all. Today I did make barley soup with tons of veggies for dinner and did two Classical Stretches with lots of tai chai plies, so maybe I can turn back the clock in time!

Day 54 – Five a day for a smaller dress

23 02 2010

Refocused myself on eating better after a weekend of cheese, cake and other indulgences. I said in early February I would track my daily fruits and vegetables for a week to see how I did — in celebration of heart health month. I knew, in my presumably healthy heart, that I don’t hit the recommended 5 a day very often. And I was right.

I averaged 2.6 a day — ranging from a measly 1 to an impressive 5 — evenly split between fruits and veggies. Breakfast is my weakest meal, with snacks leading in the fruit department and dinner, not surprisingly, winning with veggies. Conclusion: 5 a day is really tough for me on a consistent basis. And I actually LIKE most fruits and veggies.

When you are logging food, I do think you are more conscious of what you are eating. I wanted to write down more, so I probably ate more fruits and veggies than usual. Food logs totally make sense, but as I’ve said before — just seem like so much work! I might try to include sporadically just for the wake-up call.

Along the lines of eating better, I picked up a new book at the bookmobile today called “Cook Yourself Thin Faster” by Leauren Deen. It’s the second book based on a Lifetime Network show I’ve never seen… but the recipes and eating ideas appealed to me. Everyday family food — not a diet book — that you can cook quickly and consume with fewer calories. I try to do this already, making adjustments to some favorite recipes, but I am a big fan of buttery, creamy sauces so thought it was worth checking out. Even has desserts and a pineapple mojito I’m planning to try!

Tonight we tried the easy Oven Fried Chicken with Cinnamon Spice, and I used a Panko crust. Everyone liked it — although Zach added ketchup which is his common disguise for meat. Check out the recipes, book and shows at this link.

The book promises “Delicious ways to drop a dress size.” I’m all over that with a family wedding coming up in May. It has an intro with tips for “Five Big Changes You Can Make.” Number four is — you guessed it — eat lots of fruits and vegetables!

Deen’s tips for getting to 5:
– Keep a fruit bowl on the counter (check)
– Try adding a veggie to everything you’re making (easier for me in the summer when I can go to the local organic farm)
– Try a new veggie from the produce section (I made squash soup with parsnips over the weekend!)
– Try exotic fruits as snacks or in smoothies (kiwi, mangoes, etc.)
– Dried and frozen fruits count (I do love dried cranberries in spinach salad!)

So an ongoing effort that may pay-off with a fabulous, smaller new dress than I have in my closet today…and, oh, Deen adds exercise as number 6 on her “Five Big Changes…” list, so I faithfully did my 3-mile run too!

Day 32 – Happy Heart Health Month

1 02 2010

Turns out February, with all of it’s heart-adorned decorations, is annually declared as American Heart Month by the President. A good thing when, according to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and the greatest health threat to women in the United States. Each year cardiovascular disease accounts for one in three women’s deaths.

My dad survived a heart attack at age 49. His father died of one at age 48. Neither of them were overweight, and they ate a generally healthy diet – especially my dad who has never been a smoker. With my gene pool and gender against me, I am conscious of heart health, and have had special scans as part of diabetes research studies through my endocrinologist. My cholesterol and blood pressure are fantastic…but given my family history I’ve always been concerned about what might change in my 40s. Yet another reason for this daily exercise project! (Did Classical Stretch for core and hips today on my rest day from running…)

Daily exercise is, of course, high on the list for heart health, along with the diet changes that I’m trying to focus on — more fiber, less fat. Here are the top changes I’ve made in the last month:

1) Oatmeal for breakfast (steel-cut, real deal)
2) Agave nectar (to sweeten tea, oatmeal, etc.)
3) Less red meat (try for once per week max)
4) More fruit, less processed carbs for snacks (apples vs. crackers)
5) More skim milk (2-3 glasses a day vs. 0-1)

These changes made my list because I like these foods. I’m not trying to make myself eat raw carrots and rice cakes, because that is a huge struggle for me. But eating more food that you actually like — and trimming some things out — doesn’t seem so bad.

When I was 12 and diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, the doctor and nutritionist made me keep food logs to be sure my daily insulin dose was correct. You had to count “exchanges” for each meal based on portions – long before nutrition labels came along. This made a teenage food log rebel out of me! Adding my insulin pump in my 20s meant I could eat just about anything, as long as I calculated the carbohydrates pretty closely. But no more logs!

Looking at the American Heart Association site, I actually found this fruit and veggie log that I am going to try for a week. I especially love fruit and serve vegetables most days for dinner. (Confession: in tonight’s rush to kids’ basketball and ballet, we had tacos, and I didn’t even have time to add the lettuce or tomato…) But 5 a day? Am I getting that recommended amount? I doubt it… I haven’t tracked it in more than 20 years. So in the name of research experiments and Heart Month I’m going to – at least for this week.