Off to the First Fair of the Year

So Friday night I went to the Washington County Fair…
Kris at Washington County Fair
Whether it is a local carnival, a county fair, or the big state fair these situations tend to be very tricky for people to navigate when trying to eat healthy. As you can clearly see in the background of this photo of myself just outside the midway of the Washington County Fair, things like corndogs, ice cream, cotton candy, funnel cake, deep fried cheese curds and mini doughnuts are scattered like landmines throughout the entire event. Navigating to the healthy choices can prove to be difficult, but it is doable… but let’s be honest… it is an event. However when going to the fair… for me at least food is not the event. I love taking the camera and shooting photos of anything and everything. I take photos of animals, people, rides, abstract colors, anything that catches my eye. I also get a workout in while I am at the fair. By the time I left the fair yesterday I had over 13,000 steps logged. (I aim for 8000-10,000/day.)

So what is a person to do? Go all out balls to the wall and indulge in EVERYTHING? That will surely lead to disaster… that choice leads down a road of destruction that just derails progress. I like to head into these situations with a plan in mind. It is okay to deviate from the plan, but if you go in with a plan in place it is okay. I planned on having a funnel cake for dinner. It has been YEARS since I have had funnel cake, I am a bit fussy about it to be honest. It needs to be big fat tubes, only have powdered sugar on it. It needs to be fresh… yeah… otherwise it’s not worth it.

I planned for funnel cake… I didn’t have it. I DID have… gluten free cheese curds from one of my favorite food trucks. Sadly the truck is up for sale… I felt like it was a sign from the universe… one to have them before I can’t anymore, and two… I need to buy the truck. (Kickstarter anyone?) I split my spicy cheese curds with my friend Jennifer who I was attending the fair with. I ate a good 1/4 to 1/3 of the order, and once I felt that my craving had been satisfied… I stopped. The cheese curds tasted amazing, I wanted to continue eating them… but I know what they do to my body.
Crazy Puppy Gourmet Workshop Spicy Cheese Curds

I knew as soon as I decided to have the curds that the funnel cake was not a priority for me any longer… In fact it is entirely possible walking into the fair that it was off the proverbial menu. I practice this strategy, and it works pretty well for me, so I figured I will share it with you. If I really want something, like I can’t leave it behind or I will feel regret about not having it, I will get it and enjoy it. No biggie right? If I am only feeling so-so about something I tell myself I will just get it next time. I know I will be going to the Great Minnesota get together in a few weeks (the State Fair) and that there will be funnel cake there… but there will also be OTHER things there that I might want to try. So if I simply defer my desire for this food until it is more intense by telling myself next time, and then forgetting about it until the event approaches again I have navigated around the landmine.

I am all about doing what works for you, for some people sharing these high calorie foods is a great option at the fair… some people can eat two or three bites and throw them away (I was prepared to throw away cheese curds). For others avoidance is the only thing that works… if that means not eating at all during the fair, that is acceptable. If that means not putting yourself into a position to be tempted by the foods at the fair or carnival that is okay too. I think it is perfectly okay to make the decision that is right for you.

Cotton Candy

Summer Salad Doldrums Solved, Out of the Blue!

Blue Diamond that is! One of the cues that summer is here for me is the wealth of fresh produce finally available. Most people that know me know my weekend routine used to be to hit the Farmers Market on Saturday and load up my car with all kinds of fresh goodies to last all week. Now I am out and about most of Saturday so it makes less sense to load up on a ton of things to get sad and soggy in my car all day.
There are some things that are just fine in my cooler bag all day long, cucumbers, zucchini, onions, heartier veggies, but now I am a twice a week farmers market girl, and I supplement that with lots of salad fixins from a variety of places. I am not a slave to any one market. I shop everywhere from Whole Foods, to Trader Joes, Costco to Target, I even pick things up at the local gas station (Kwik Trip) where I can score bananas for $.38/Pound!

One of the things that happens to be during the summer though is that I fall into a salad rut. I don’t know if this happens to anyone else, or maybe it’s just me. I can only stomach the same food for so long and then I don’t want to even think about it again. The problem is, I live in Minnesota… and if the winter that we just escaped is any indication of what we are in for in the future… I need to take full advantage of every morsel of fresh, beautiful flavorful produce while it is here. The seasons are never long enough, and I always no matter how sick I was of eating something find myself longing for just one more good *whatever* come winter. It’s usually a good summer tomato, with just a pinch of salt and pepper on it.

So I have taken to trying to keep my salads as interesting as possible… Impossible right? Sure it’s super easy to make a salad taste good if you add a a few ounces of of cheese, and maybe some croutons, or wonton strips those are popular now. How about meat… if some is good lets put more on! So instead of 4 oz of chicken let’s do 3oz of chicken, 3 of ham, and we need bacon right, and while we’re at it an egg. You might as well deep fry chicken fingers and go ahead and pour on some full fat salad dressing because you aren’t actually doing yourself any favors.

To make salads that I find interesting I usually play my own version of kitchen roulette.  I start with a bed of some kind of green.  Generally this is NOT iceberg, I personally feel if you are going to eat a salad iceberg is a waste of time.  If it’s what you like FINE eat it… you’re getting water, and that’s great, but try branching out to a romaine if you like a crisper lettuce, or a butter lettuce if you like something softer.  Spinach also makes a great salad base.  I also have been known to use Kale, Mixed greens, micro greens, it all depends on what looks good and what I have. I eat a lot of salads… Sometimes they have fruit… sometimes they have bacon… and sometimes they are NUTS! (Here are a few examples)

UpTown Cafeteria My Salad with Bacon

Sometimes I Custom Order Salads when I am Out to Brunch

 

Salad wiht Blueberries and Strawberries in need of Almonds

And sometimes we put fruit in our salads (this had cheese and Blue Diamond Almonds on the side!)

 

Once the greens are in play I have to decide what mouth feel I want for the salad. Blue Diamond’s Tastemakers program sent me a package with their Whole Natural and their Rosemary & Black Pepper to experiment with.  I knew I needed to choose ingredients that could stand up to a bolder flavor.  Rosemary is an intense flavor, I rarely cook with it because if you aren’t careful it is super easy to overseason with it.  Then you end up with Christmas Tree Chicken instead of Rosemary Chicken.

Salad with Blue Diamond  Rosemary & Black Pepper AlmondsFor this salad I chose to use a butter lettuce, which is a more tender lettuce,  but would balance well with the crunch of the almonds.  I added some avocado, turkey, olives, red peppers, onions, snow peas, banana peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers to this monster sized salad! The items I chose to add provided a good balance of textures as well as colors to the salad. I topped it off with a sprinkling of the Blue Diamond Black Pepper Rosemary Almonds, as well as a few of the Whole Naturals instead of using croutons.

The salad filled my stomach up so well.  I stayed satisfied for hours thanks to the healthy balance of fat and protein, not to mention the carbohydrate that mixed together by pairing these almonds with my salad.

I posted about this salad on my Instagram account, and posed the question to my friends, and now I want to hear from you as well… what do you put on your salad?  The one I mentioned above required no salad dressing.  The density of flavors from the avocado and the tenderness of the lettuce, and juices from the ripe summer veggies meant I did not need to add anything more.  Have you ever added Blue Diamond almonds to your salad?  I had previously added the Salt and Vinegar variety to salads, instead of adding my usual oil and vinegar dressing but I really enjoyed the change that the Rosemary & Black Pepper almonds brought to the dish.

handfull of blue diamond whole natural almonds

And remember… generally about 23 almonds is a serving… you don’t need to have a whole serving to top your salad… you can put a small handful on a cutting board and sliver or chop them down to feel that same satisfying crunch for far fewer calories or points.

 

 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds They sent me a 6oz can of Whole Natural almonds and a 6oz can of Rosemary & Black Pepper almonds and I ate them! THEY aren’t paying for my opinions, these are my thoughts. 🙂

Saying Thanks

So I spoke up in my Weight Watchers meeting today. I do that a lot. My meeting is full of amazing people. You wouldn’t think at 0700 on a Saturday morning people would be so lively but truly the meeting is awesome! The thing about the first meeting of the day on a Saturday is the people who are at the meeting… really want to be there and are truly motivated to, well… get shit done. I am a front row sitter. Studies show people who sit in the front row lose more weight… that isn’t why I sit in the front row… I just like it better there, and I didn’t know about the statistic when I started sitting in the front row. I am always so thankful for all the information all the members have, and I like giving back to my meetings when I feel like I have something valuable to share.
Today we were talking about “BLT’s” bites licks and tastes, but more specifically being accountable for them. I felt the need to bring the group off on a momentary tangent on accountability. Specifically not taking your team for granted. I had gotten myself into a routine with my new job of going to the gym 3 times a week. I had been eating well, and then… they closed our pool for cleaning. This shouldn’t be a big deal they do it every year, and the nice part a about being a YMCA member is I have other locations I can go to.
Instead of going to another location I started just walking as my workout. While it was an okay thing, when the pool opened back up I didn’t head back immediately. It took a nudge, a strong nudge from my support team to get me to get back into my routine.
Once I got back to the gym, after one strong push, Robb said he had hoped that I wasn’t upset that he said I needed to get back to the gym and that he was only doing what I had asked him to do. It was in that moment that I realized how very crucial it is that we thank our support teams when they step up for us. When we ask for help we do so for our benefit. It’s easy to forget that it can be very difficult for those close to us to step into the “danger zone” and mention things that may be deemed sensitive subjects.
For me things like portion control or going to workout when mentioned by people I haven’t explicitly asked to help keep me accountable might be enough to turn me into a raging bitch! It would make me feel vulnerable and violated. When approached by someone I have deemed safe and supportive it puts things in a different light.
I wanted to remind others to thank their support people and not take them for granted. It can be difficult for people to speak up even when we ask them to do so. Just keep this in mind as you move along. If your support person/persons are mentioning things to you, make sure you are thanking them, because speaking up is hard!

Just Keep Swimming, Walking, Jumping, Playing!,

I invite you to climb into the way back machine with me for a moment. Crank it all the way back to your childhood. Remember those awesome school lunches, whether it was mom or dad packing you your very favorite lunch, be it peanut butter and jelly or a ham sandwich. What was the very best memory of school? Was it math class, or science? I was partial to dissections myself so science for sure, but many people think back to recess! I never really enjoyed it, the fat kid that sat alone and had no friends, was not picked last because that would require participation and there was no participation… But that’s not what this is about.
At some point in our lifetime we go from having playtime and recess to having to go workout. Why do you suppose that is? This morning I went to the gym and had a great time. I did my normal 45 mins of water walking/jogging that I had been doing, and was fully prepared to do more as my body allowed but instead found myself with a few friends playing an impromptu game of water volleyball. Now that being said I have exactly ZERO hand eye coordination. I was super hesitant to even join in at all, but with a little bit of coaxing I had what was quite possibly the most fun at a workout ever!
Laughing at the ball flying backwards, getting splashed in the face, chasing people around the vortex pool. We had become a group of grown up kids and it was pretty awesome!
I would have never even thought to play ball ever, let along engage in this activity in a public setting where anyone could see me. I am so grateful to have such awesome people in my life that help me to step out of my comfort zone and push me to do things that I think I can’t do.
Laughter heard the soul, smiles light up the room, and friends lift you to unimaginable heights. I am thankful to have had adult recess today at the pool, today I did not workout, today I played, and I cannot wait to go play again soon! Remember it isn’t about how much you can do, it is about doing something, anything, to get moving.
So what do you do to play? I don’t think that going to the gym and getting on the dreadmill sounds like fun, are any of you on a sports team? Bowling soccer kickball? Do any adults still play?

2012 the year that the world Ended… A lookback.

So by now we all have learned that 2012 would not bring about the end of the world, contrary to what some of my coworkers deeply believed.  It would not bring about the apocalypse despite all the snow being dumped just south of my home here in Minneapolis.  What did 2012 bring about… the death of Twinkies, which were never a food  I ate but was often accused of eating too many of… I am glad to see them go.  It was also the year my gym membership was basically “life tuition” as I developed new heath problems, from my feet to my back, hips and knees problems seemed to be the order of things.  Physical therapy replaced the gym for the later part of 2012 and even that has been replaced with no activity as I sit here in a coffee shop on a Saturday morning evaluating what is to come for 2013.

I have been in my job now for almost a year.  Each day I wake at 3am and head to work, I am on from 4am until 2pm Monday through Friday.   My job is extremely high stress and extremely critical.  This week I took my 2 vacation days and I ended up having to go into work to fix a crisis at 5pm on Tuesday.  My job allows no flexibility for me to sneak in things like a quick walk around the block for exercise.  The most working out I get in at work is running into the warehouse to grab parts off the shelves for people when we are super busy, all this while I am doing other things.  It is crazy, and it sucks a lot at times because I feel like a punching bag when things go wrong.  Generally when anything goes wrong, from anyone elses shift, because I am there during primetime it becomes my fault, and my problems and I am the punching bag.  I have not taken to eating my feelings, but I have identified (again) that I know why i never thought I ate my feelings in the past.  It was simply because I wasn’t in touch with anything.  Not the feelings themselves nor the feelings of hunger.  You cannot satisfy that which you do not know.

This year after regaining a portion of my weight, due to lack of exercise I joined WeightWatchers.  Call it denial, whatever.  I don’t like to talk about the gain, but my clothes don’t fit right, I don’t feel good, and I can see it, that “bloated look” is FAT. I LOVE my meetings.  I look forward to Saturday mornings getting to go and share with people.  My leader, Judy, who I didn’t like the first time I love now.  Her passion and enthusiasm is awesome! She is also trying to groom me so to speak to be a WW leader once I hit goal.  It will be a long road from now but she thinks I will be perfect for it.  She is always asking for my imput on the topic and what I have to share, as if I were a lifetime member.  I like the earliest meeting of the day best, it is full of lifetime members, the other meetings of the day are great too, but there is something about the first meeting of the day that is so full of energy that feels like home.

I’ve struggled a lot with the #WW program lately, having not been exercising because of my health I track some days I  don’t track others.  This week I posted a 7 pound loss after the last probably 6 weeks all being small, but steady gains.  Go figure the week full of cookies and treats at every turn I could ignore.  I guess I need the temptation everywhere in overload to be able to ignore it.

HolidayStrategyMeeting

Above is an example of the Holiday strategy session we had this morning on ways to cope with all of the temptations we face around the holidays.  It is great to have a weekly support group meeting.

So really I am heading into 2012, a little wiser, a little wider, and with a lot more support behind me.  Do I grieve for the me that I was in 2011, It would be a lie if I said no, I miss the freedom that I had in my old job.  The ability to just go to the gym for hours, the ability to meet up with my friends and share support and stories and laughter at all hours of the night and day.  However the fact that I now have a routine should work to my benefit, should.  Now if we could just sort out the soft tissue damage in my back, and the issues with my feet… if only if only if only.  I am taking it a day at a time.  I am doing what I can control.  I can make the decision to have the small or medium skim latte instead of the large, I can choose to buy the cut up fresh fruit salad  to save myself a little time at home if it means I will have fruit for work instead of junk.  I used to think that our choices defined us.  I am beginning to rethink that.  I think choices REFINE us.

2013 the year of choice. I choose ME.  What will you choose?