Monday, September 16, 2013

"A person's a person...

... no matter how small."

Stefani over at Paleo for Women wrote up a neat post about evolution and gender-size stereotypes, and it's really good. She talks about the benefits of being a small woman, how men have certain ideas about what a woman should look like, and certain expectations women have for men. And how a lot of it is somewhat silly.

I agree, it is. As a nearly 6-foot tall woman, the cultural expectations for women are both frustrating and freeing. Women take body size and weight very seriously and it's hard (and sad_ to hear women lament at being "size 8" or "size 10". Since when do we let what clothing stores choose as a number to represent the amount of material needed for a shirt or pair of pants affect our self worth? I am me, I am healthy, and this is the way my body looks. If your products don't fit me, I don't have to buy them.

Because I'm bigger, I have the freedom to be as athletic as I want and to feel comfortable in size 10 pants. I will never weigh 140" because of my height and muscle mass (and, yes, my body fat, too). I don't want to. Jennifer Lawerence says that she's considered a fat actress, and that she'll never starve herself for a role. Jennifer Morrison has arm muscles I envy. We need more women like these in Hollywood. We need strong, food-eating women for young girls to look up to.

I do completely understand the need to be small, and I wish for it sometimes (especially when it comes to feeling protected by a man). But, a man doesn't have to be physically bigger than me to be able to do that, and I don't have to be smaller than him to let him. Because my size challenges gender stereotypes, then he doesn't need to follow them either. This gives both of us freedom to be strong as well as vulnerable, and there's no way it's a bad thing.

I enjoy being tall. I enjoy being athletic. I enjoy being a woman, and feeling beautiful and strong. But, thankfully, I will never have to wear high-heeled shoes. ;)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Paleo Lessons: Week 13

This is ironic, today is Friday, September 13 and I'm writing the Paleo Lessons for Week 13.

Sometimes, you're just going to spend more than you'd like at the grocery store. It happens. Sometimes, it's for a very good reason though. Sometimes, the extra cost is due to nuts being on sale and restocking your coconut oil stores and getting flourless cake for a birthday that was totally worth splurging on. It's not always the cause, but sometimes it is.

After the massive grocery trip, Super A and I did what anyone would do in that situation: we went out for dinner (for the aformentioned birthday). On our way back to the new apartment (which I moved into all by myself [yes, I'm proud and excited about it]), we explored a little and found a butcher shop that actually looks fairly promising. We're both really excited about it, but I'm waiting until after this coming week to go there. This coming week is almost the end of tri season/my "week off" before classes start up again/a week of weird meal schedules/the last week before campus fills up again and my friends come back and I'll no longer be cooking alone after it. So hopefully 2 Fridays from now I'll have a really nice little blurb to say about what will hopefully become my local meat shop. Until then, Trader J's, here I come!

Sometimes, you're not going to want to cook. So instead, cook a bunch of meat and prep your veggies when you have the time to (over the weekend, right after you get them) so that you'll be ready for your "Nope, not using the stove today" moments.

And finally, even though I'm pretty sure I've said it before, this lesson is worth repeating especially because I apparently didn't get the message the first time: fat will help keep you full. My goals are to use more fat when I cook, including coconut oil and bacon fat. Not sure what I'm going to do on the Whole30 coming up, but I don't normally use butter (or even have it in my fridge since I discovered bacon grease), so I should be good on that front.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Importance of Quantity

When it comes to food, yes, the quality of what you're eating is important. That's why so many Paleo sites emphasize the need to get organic, pastured, free range foods. But another thing that's just as important is the quantity of what you eat.

Eating disorders and disordered eating (yes, they are separate concepts) are far too common in today's society. I'll bet that usually when you think eating disorder, you think self conscious teenage girls. It's not limited to girls. It's not limited to teenagers. I suspect most people are at least a little disordered in their eating. That does not mean that I think most people have eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia. It means I think people use food to control and react to stress, or as a reward system, or mindlessly eat to stay awake or to help them focus. Some people just don't eat enough good real food for meals and gain weight from all the snacking they do to try to fill themselves up.

No, if you do these things, you are not broken. Neither is your relationship with food. You just need a little adjusting.

Take a look at what you eat. Try keeping a food journal for a week. Write down every single thing you eat (even those 3 m&ms from the candy bowl sitting out on your coffee table). Look at it at the end of the week. How much of your food consumption was real food? How much of it was during meals? How full were you after those meals? How full were you at the end of the day?

Also note down how much you moved, and how much sleep you got. Exercise and amount of sleep also play key roles in how your body reacts to your environment (including the food you put into it).

Now, you've done your research, you've gathered your data, and it's time to start adjusting. Things do not change overnight. It will require a little work. If you found you snacked a lot between meals because you were hungry, make bigger meals. If you snacked for any other reason aside from being hungry, start cutting down on your snacks. If you ate mostly TV dinners and rehydrated meals, you know what you need to do (eat real food!). If you rarely exercised or slept, make those aspects of your life a priority. I understand the book is good, or you really want to see what happens on your Netflix show, but put in the bookmark, hit the pause button, and hit the hay. Having a solid 8 hours will help you focus and be more productive the next day.

I would also recommend not counting your calories (in most cases). They're just numbers. They're an estimate. Obsessing over amount of calories consumed vs amount of calories burned does not encourage healthy eating habits. 17 calories is not going to make a difference either way. You'll probably be much happier when you stop doing that. Maybe try going by macronutrient ratios (protein, carbohydrates, fat) and vitamin/mineral content instead with a focus on making sure you get enough.

Try eating real food for meals, eating until you're full (not stuffed), eliminating snacking, exercising (whether just walking or something more strenuous like weightlifting, swimming, or running), and getting 8 hours of sleep a night.

End of Internship: the Performance Reivew

Just as important as getting an internship, make sure you ask for a performance evaluation at the end of your time with the company.

"Why?" you ask. "I don't really want to know what they think I did badly."

Au contraire, my friend. You do. It's not a matter of what you did badly, but what you can do better at your next internship or job. They say it's important to learn from your mistakes, and you won't know what your mistakes were unless you ask someone.

If a review is not mentioned or offered by the last week in your time there, seek it out. Ask your supervisor or mentor if they have 20 minutes to meet with you for a performance review. They might ask you questions about your time there - what you got out of it, what did you like, what didn't you like, etc. I would suggest that if you know what day it's going to be, make sure you look nice that day for work. Not interview nice necessarily, but office-nice. No jeans, even if that's normally what you wear. Nice, clean, unwrinkled pants.

When you finish at your review, thank your reviewer, shake their hand, and then go write down what they said. It's nice to know what your weak points are as a worker, but it's also nice to hear what they thought you did well.

Then, next summer (internship or job), put it into practice.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Blueberry Pieish Salad

No, there are no sugars, sweetners, anything added to this salad that resembles sugar other than the blueberries and the coconut. No, there is no guarantee that your salad will actually taste like blueberry pie. The combination of the coconut, berries, and cashews reminded me of it a little, though.

Ingredients:

  • salad greens (I prefer romaine, chopped)
  • handful of blueberries
  • couple of pinches of shredded coconut
  • small handful of cashews
  • 1 tsp coconut oil, melted
Rinse your salad greens. Toss with blueberries, shredded coconut, and cashews. Drizzle with the melted coconut oil. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Race Season 2013: Race 2 Recap

Labor Day weekend brought my first Oly distance race. It was predicted that we would have perfect weather on race day, so naturally it rained the night before. We stayed a few minutes away by bike, so getting to and from the transition area was easy. 

Nervous as anything, I got into my wetsuit and hoped it would come off more easily than it was going on. Raised my GU with two other team members a bit before the swim start, checked out the water temperature, and posed for a group picture, all with butterflies. My age group went second, and it was a group start on the swim. Because of the open water, wetsuit, and oh yeah, my first time doing an Olympic distance, I started near the back and off to the side. The course was a simple out and back. I zig-zagged a bit on the way out, turned left and swam across to the other set of buoys, and started coming back. The next buoy seemed really far away, but I kept swimming for it. Just as I was about to reach it, someone came up to me in a kayak.

"I'm sorry, you're almost back at the 'out' side. You have to turn around and go back."

Oh boy, did that get me moving. I had wasted so much time trying to reach a buoy that I had already passed. After that, though, I caught up with and passed a girl from my team, made it to the shallows, and was halfway out of my wetsuit before even the professional photographer got a shot of me with it on. The rest of it came off in about a minute (could have started singing, had been stuck in one in a previous race) and I was out of transition and biking in less than 4 minutes. I think that's a personal record. 

I had been led to believe the hills on this course were going to be killer, but they weren't as bad as I had expected. The worst one in my opinion was at the very beginning of the course. I saw Abbs on one of them and kept telling her to not give up, that she was almost there. She made it to the top, I passed her on the way down, and that was the last I saw of her on the bike. Then there was some "leapfrogging" with a 16 year old later, where we passed each other but neither got a good lead for a while. He left me in the dust though.

Then came the run. This is the leg I'd been most worried about. I started at a jog to prevent my PF from flaring, and Super A passed me about a half mile in (on his second lap). He was pretty impressed, the look on his face was great. I jogged and ran most of the first lap, but my legs kept giving out. Turns out not running for 3+ months means those muscles start to forget how to work that way. Despite that (or maybe because of it) I liked the run. I wasn't the only one struggling, so I'd pace with people who were about to give up (kept me from doing the same) and even challenged a teammate to pass me (which he did) and paced with an injured teammate (she was so determined to finish) until my legs gave out again. Ended with running, and crossed the finish line 7 seconds before my goal time of three and a half hours. Definitely a good first Olympic distance race! Can't wait to do it again next year!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Paleo Lessons: Week 11

Whew it's been a busy week. There were a couple of things I noticed this week.

I forgot how good hardboiled eggs are. I'm not kidding. I made some to go with lunch salad this week, wow. Not only are they protein and fat filled, but they're super portable and come with their own packaging. If you do it right, they take less than a minute to peel and don't need anything else to taste good (although that second bit might just be me).

This was a little stranger, but I realized my tastebuds are changing. For example, almonds taste slightly different now, with have more depth of flavor. The chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream I splurged on last week tasted... fake. It tasted full of preservatives and sweet chemicals made in a lab. It wasn't as good as I was expecting (might be the type of ice cream though, since the black raspberry - no judging, 20% and a 2/$5 sale - was delicious). As mentioned earlier, hardboiled eggs are fantastically delicious now, and I grew up enjoying them only for their ability to be colored. It's not just a physical adaptation, I think. I also wouldn't dream of giving up my lunch salad for any type of sandwich, and eggs are pretty much my go-to for breakfast now.

Last week I was sorta dreading doing a Whole30 and had all but completely dismissed the idea. Now I'm actually considering it and somewhat planning to do one relatively soon. It seems like a neat challenge. With that in mind, I'm trying to see what I can do to remove dairy from my diet. Not yet, and probably (hopefully) not permanently. Just to see what I would use instead on the Whole30. It's little things, like replacing the cheese on my lunch salad with cucumber chunks and coconut flakes and using bacon grease (my usual go to) and coconut oil instead of butter.

And finally, because this has been the most important lesson this week, allow yourself time to recover after a race. Do not go somewhere and walk around for 6+ hours the next day when you quad muscles were screaming if you merely stood the day before. Especially don't do this if you suspect you might be dehydrated. Let yourself sleep, even if that means putting off prepping some type of food until the next day. Your body needs sleep to recover. You will thank yourself the next morning, or afternoon - let yourself sleep in a little bit. I could only afford an hour, but boy did that extra hour help.