Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Year, New Obsession

I mentioned before that i'm trying to be healthier. Let's talk about how that's going.

I have been faithfully going to the gym three times a week for an hour each time for the last week and a half, except for one time when i gave up after forty minutes because the elliptical was hard to use. Don't laugh. It's tough to find your rhythm at first. Plus my knee was really hurting and i wanted to cry. But i still made it through forty minutes, so suck it.

Originally, i was planning to switch between the treadmill and the elliptical. The elliptical is better for my knees, because it's a lower-impact machine, but for that same reason it's not as good for muscle tone and bone strength. When you're forcing your bones and muscles to propel you forward and hold you upright, they get better at doing it, and then when you're old you won't have to worry so much about things like osteoporosis or becoming feeble. But i've noticed that i turn my right foot slightly outwards, which is probably why my right knee hurts way more than my left one. This tendency is easier to see and correct on the elliptical, so i'm mostly sticking to that now.

I'm using this app called My Fitness Pal to keep track of how i'm doing. It's pretty easy, and i like it a lot. Instead of one of those programs that tells you to eat four cups of steamed broccoli and do sixty crunches, this program is just a way to track what you're already doing and how successful your efforts are. When you set up your profile, you tell it things about your current status (weight, age, health conditions, etc.) and your goals (faster, stronger, thinner, etc.). You also put in your fitness plans (run thirty minutes every day or whatever.). Based on your age, weight, sex, lifestyle (as in, are you a sedentary office worker like me?), and fitness goals, it gives you a recommendation for net calories and an estimate for when you'll reach your goal. Each day, you input what you've eaten and what you've done, and it tells you what your net calories are. It also tells you how well you're matching your fitness goals by saying things like, "If every day is like this one, you'll lose one pound a week!" or "If every day is like this one, you'll be down to 214 pounds in five weeks!" (NB: they didn't ask me to write a review or anything, and the app is free. I highly recommend it.)

I usually eat very well, so the only real difference is that i'm being faithful about going to the gym three times a week, and that i'm giving myself less leeway for things like snacking. It used to be that i would sometimes get hungry in the afternoon and run over to the school store for some chips and a candy bar, to keep up my strength in the two hours remaining until dinner. (Go ahead and roll your eyes at me. I rolled my eyes at myself every time, but i did it anyway.) Now, when i want a snack, i eat something healthy, or i just stay hungry. I mean, i live in the USA, and i have a job and a home. I can live for five hours without food. I need to stop being such a drama queen about hunger, when i'm so much luckier in that regard than so many other people.

But let's take a minute to talk about my healthy snacks.

Have you ever eaten roasted salted almonds? Not chocolate covered almonds, or almonds crushed up in ice cream or a candy bar, or almonds coated in toffee or honey and cinnamon. Just plain, roasted almonds, lightly dusted with sea salt.

Did you know that they taste like cream?

One of my roommates was mildly obsessed with almonds for a while and ate them every day. But she ate, like, wasabi almonds, or chocolate mint dusted almonds, or whatever. They were all dressed up in other flavors. I don't know why anyone, having tasted what a plain almond is like, would ever want to mask that flavor. All i want to do is pair it with other amazing things, like dried cherries. Dried cherries! Why would anyone eat dried cranberries or raisins when there are tart, spicy, wine-like dried cherries in the world?! Dried cherries or dried apricots with plain almonds can render me speechless. Pair with a tiny bite of dark chocolate and it's hard to imagine anything more mind-meltingly delicious. (Of course, i say things like that and then i hear Tina Fey's voice in my head saying, "I don't know. Have you ever put a doughnut in the microwave?")

And then there's raw honey.

I've been learning more about honey and bees, because i'm worried about Colony Collapse Disorder (Google it. It's terrifying.) and what it means for the future of the planet, and i'm interested in healthy, natural foods that taste amazing, and i want to support local apiarists who treat their bees well, and i want to be exposed to real honey, not the processed clover crap that comes from a plastic bear. (Apparently, apiarists who make clover honey tend to treat their bees very poorly.) Bee Raw has shown me things about honey that i never thought possible. Their Florida orange blossom honey tastes like floral green tea. Their Maine wild raspberry honey tastes like butter. And the orange blossom honey with aged cheddar cheese and fresh bread is like manna from Heaven. Did you know that you could eat honey with cheese? Did you know that when you do, it will change your life? Did you know that raw honey can help reduce or eliminate suffering from seasonal allergies? Did you know that raw honey blends smoothly into even cold liquid, unlike processed honey, which tends to sink to the bottom stubbornly? Did you know that raw honey, whisked together with lime juice and a little mustard, makes a low-calorie salad dressing or marinade that is better than anything you could buy in the store? (Except Ranch, obviously. Nothing is better than Ranch.)

Don't worry. This isn't about to become a health and fitness blog. It will always be the bizarre hodgepodge you've come to know and love: bitching about my roommates or work or money, gushing sappy garbage about my boyfriend, talking about my mental illness(es), updating you on my comic book, reflecting on my daily devotions, and making absolute statements about education and writing and civil rights and the economy and politics and so forth. But sometimes, i will also talk about honey or the gym or salads. I'm growing as a person. It's beautiful and magical, so come with me on this crazy journey of life or shut up and read someone else's blog.

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