Sunday, June 13, 2010

Most people are delicious

I'm not a picky eater. You can put almost anything in front of me, and as long as no Food Handler Safety sirens go off in my head, I'll probably eat it and, more often than not, enjoy it. Food is one of my favorite hobbies. I love tasting new food. I love trying new ways to prepare food. I love reading about foods familiar and foreign to me. I find every element of the culinary world fascinating. And although food (in its natural form) is somewhat of a finite world, I perceive it as being so big that every day I could learn something new and interesting.

Each food has its place in my culinary arena. Some things I eat every day because they are a healthy part of my diet, its a habit, and I just simply never tire of them. Some I eat only on very special occasions because they're too expensive or too decadent or simply too unhealthy to indulge in more often. Some I have to remind myself to eat more often because they're good for me. This category isn't full of foods I don't like, but rather foods that take extra consideration and time because for one reason or another I'm not accustomed to having them around regularly. Something as simple as an orange. It just takes a little extra effort to choose and then remind myself to include an orange in my day. But once I eat it, I'm very happy I did. Generally, I have a very diversified diet. Oftentimes even when I make a delicious five-star meal, I will not make it again for sometimes even more than a year. Too many other things to try-I don't want to get stuck in a rut!

My opinions and taste for food parallel my opinions and taste for people. Generally, unless someone is outright rotten I find him enjoyable. Just as the culinary world is full of interesting flavors, so are people. Each one so different. Different spices combine and accent each other in unique ways, as each interaction or social situation highlights unique characteristics of a person. Everlastingly fascinating. But as with trying new foods or food combinations, its not always pleasant but a learning experience regardless.

I struggle with people as with food, to include those who I know are good for me. People who I find intimidating to be around, or those who just simply require extra effort to make the relationship work. They're good for me. Keep me in shape. And I have to remind myself to bring them around more often. And at least a little bit, I end up enjoying it.

I see one very stark contrast between my interests in food and people. I'm interested in depth of relationships, not breadth. I don't feel the need to continue sampling and tasting. Once I find a person who makes me laugh, who I can be honest with and vice versa, I'm quite content to just stick with it. Unless it becomes stale and boring, because for me both people and food are meant to be delicious and stimulating! Those people become my staple foods, occasionally complemented by others.

But they say everything in moderation. Perhaps I need to modify my people diet. We all know what happens when you eat too many cherries. Besides, its not all about me. Relationships are a two way street. If I don't like my dinner, it doesn't feel rejected. Not the case with friends, family, people close to me. They need to be loved and cherished. Maybe I should think more about the taste I leave in others' mouths. Am I rotten? Or bland? Or just plain unhealthy?

Taking it one step further, how do I handle being the leafy greens, or wheat grass juice for someone else? I am a duty to fulfill. Would I rather remove myself entirely? Or maybe I should just be content that at least when I offer the orange, it gets peeled and enjoyed, even if it is only once a year.

"It seems to me that everything that exists is good--death as well as life, sin as well as holiness, wisdom as well as folly. Everything is necessary, everything needs only my agreement, my assent, my loving understanding; then all is well with me and nothing can harm me."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

HCG Recipes

Garlic Lemon Halibut and Peppered Asparagus

3.5 oz halibut
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp dill weed
2 tbsp onion, chopped
Mix lemon juice, zest, minced cloves, dill and diced onion and put in ziploc bag with halibut. Marinate overnight. Cook halibut with juices in pan covered, so steam cooks fish evenly. Toss asparagus with basil, dried garlic and pepper. Grill in 1 tbsp water. Serve with 1 Roasted Garlic Melba Snack.

Halibut Chowder

3.5 oz halibut
1/4 c onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 can Fire-Roasted Organic Diced Tomatoes
1/2 tsp basil
1/8 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp pepper
dash cayenne pepper
Cook garlic and onions in a tsp of water for 3-4 minutes then add all ingredients except halibut. Bring to boil, then simmer 20 minutes. Add halibut, cook until fish is flakey and white. Add chopped spinach (optional)

Apple Spice
1 apple (I like gala or granny smith)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp water
1 packet Stevia
1 tsp Allspice or Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Nutmeg
1/8 tsp Ground Cloves
1/8 tsp Ground Ginger

Mix spices, water and lemon juice in a small bowl. Slice apple into desired size wedges. Put apple in bowl, cover and shake. After apples are coated, you can eat them raw, grill them in a small frying pan in the juice or bake them at 400, covered, for 10-15 minutes. (longer if you like a softer consistency)

Curry Chicken Wraps

1 chicken breast
1/4 c onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp curry powder
1/8 ground ginger
1 stevia packet
dash cayenne pepper
1 tbsp organic tomato paste
1/2 lemon juiced
water to cover
chopped spinach (optional)

Mix spices, onion, garlic, tomato paste and lemon in small bowl. Put chicken breast in small crock pot, add mix from bowl. Add water to cover chicken. Cook on high 3 hours or low 6-7 hours, until chicken is tender. Add chopped spinach 10 minutes before serving. Shred chicken in juices. Spoon into cabbage leaves and roll. Makes 2 servings

1/2 can fire roasted Organic diced tomatoes
1/2 lb ground bison or turkey 97/3 (fat ratio)
chili powder
black pepper
dash cayenne pepper

Cook meat, drain fat. Add tomatoes, season with spices to taste (mostly chili powder). I didn't measure spices on this one. Delicious with diced green pepper and onion also. Makes 2 servings

Tacos (one of my favorites)

Brown 3.5 oz ground turkey, drain fat, add taco seasoning (make sure your mix has no sugar). Chop 3 oz green cabbage, 1/2 roma tomato, 1/3 green pepper. Mix together.

Sweet n Sour Cabbage

If you need a crunchy treat, chop up some cabbage and add 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar and 1 packet stevia (mix together before adding to cabbage) Delicious!

Chili Cumin chicken

Marinate your 3 oz chicken in apple cider vinegar and chopped onion & garlic for at least 1 hour. Grill. Dice. Combine chicken, diced green pepper, 3 tbsp tomato sauce, 1 tbsp chopped cilantro, 1 tsp chili powder and 1 tsp cumin. Cook until peppers are tender.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Colors of Life

Life is art. Sometimes its an abstract painting. The kind where paint is shot from a cannon violently at the canvas. Ever feel that way? Like you're standing in front of a cannon anticipating the blow of red goo. Will it destroy what you know, or show you something new and wonderful?? I think its one part attitude and one part mental capacity for growth.

Most everyone would agree that the people in our lives can teach us and help us grow. Would most everyone also agree that we grow and learn the most from the people we don't necessarily love having in our lives? I've spent the last 3 years in a job that I, for the most part, don't have any passion for. I greatly enjoy the leadership aspect. I love supporting and challenging people to be their best, and watching the fruits of my labors as they grow and then turn to thank me for the push. But the foundational elements of my work are not really the field I want to be in. Originally I saw it as a great opportunity to build my resume. It turned out to be an opportunity to build my character instead.

I'm not even 30, and most of the women I work with are in their late 40s and 50s. This has presented many different opportunities for me to stand in front of the cannon (or cannons) and wonder what color and at what velocity it would shoot out at me and my canvas. I belong to Generation X. Most of my coworkers are Baby Boomers. If you know anything about generational research, these two are everything but allergic to each other. Toxic when mixed. In addition, there's the "kid" factor. I'm young, inexperienced, have no respect for "how things have always been done." Of course not, because I don't have a clue how things were done 20 years ago. I was watching Smurfs, eating Lucky Charms with my babysitter. The point is, its been a huge learning curve, with not many cheerleaders on the sidelines.

I recently had lunch with a coworker of mine-young, bright-who was going through something similar. Trying to contribute and improve the agency but people didn't want to listen, and her growth had been stunted. She was doing her job quite well, but lacked a challenge. We discussed how much we had learned from working with people with whom we had so very little in common, and I'm not talking Bridge club and weekend grandchildren visits. We're talking about theoretical approaches to leadership, problem-solving and policy implementation. Dale Carnegie stuff. So frustrating. But it has given us both the opportunity to choose. Do we get angry and resentful? Or do we find a creative approach to preserve our happiness and continue to contribute in some way to the success of the agency? Do we complain about our incompetent boss, or take notes on what qualities we see as essential in a management role, and how we want to exemplify those in our future? It was refreshing to have such an open, mature conversation with her. I felt encouraged.

I come from a highly religious upbringing, which I have chosen not to continue in adulthood. This has been a complicated transition, and continues to provide me with opportunities to once again, hope a beautiful new shade will explode on my canvas which I can embrace and enjoy as complementary of the colors already painted. I have an endless struggle on my hands. The struggle of living my life to find my own happiness and peace, much to the disappointment and disgrace of my family, or yielding to their definition of happiness, which results in being untrue to myself and my values of self acceptance and honesty. And, as my mom put it today "you have your family forever" so how do I ever find a solution? These circumstances have resulted in some interesting conversations here and there, none as poignant as one I had today. Markedly painful. I had to really dig deep and evaluate myself. Are you doing it for them or you? Are you motivated by what others think or by what your heart and mind plead? Can you be at peace that these answers will never be accepted by them? I expect this conversation between my little shoulder angel and devil will ensue hundreds of times over the course of my life. A battle that may never be won, but must continuously be fought, to keep me afloat, awake, aware.

Pain is the key. Pain awakens us. I can't imagine its often that you say to yourself "wow my stomach really doesn't hurt right now. That's great. I'll keep doing what I'm doing." We make adjustments to our lives based on mistakes or intentional mishaps, but ultimately, pain. If its comfortable, why change? I think people give us the greatest opportunities to change, IF WE CHOOSE.

It takes enormous amounts of strength and courage to be willing to 1-recognize the pain 2-accept it and ourselves as we feel it, and resist placing blame or dismissing it through reactive emotions 3-see it as something to be learned from! So often pain is interpretted as an indicator that something is WRONG- like a check engine light. When my check engine light goes on, my heart drops to my stomach. Oh know the feeling, the dread. But with people, its different. It means we can pause, and find out something new about ourselves. Why does it hurt? What does that say about me and what I value? In what ways am I fragile? What areas do I lack courage or trust or understanding of myself or others? Such potential for amazing insight! And insight that we probably couldn't have access to any other way. I need to really work on taking advantage of those opportunities while I have them. Who knows how much longer it will last...My job and family with both soon be very far away.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

HCG Week Two

Stalled. For 5 days. What was I doing wrong? I was drinking green tea and eating chicken or albacore tuna with cabbage for days. Discouraging. Was I not drinking enough water? Was I eating my dinner too late at night? Was my TOM (expected on Friday) already causing a stall?
I didn't know. But I had to keep telling myself, I was down 5 lbs from my pre-gorge weight, and that was great. 5 lbs, even in 2 weeks is good. I have spent a lot of time trying on clothes that for over a year I haven't wanted to wear. They didn't look too bad now. Just a couple more lbs, and they'll fit perfect. But the stall was frustrating. I finally lost 1 lb Friday. But today is the same as yesterday. Another stall?
Well, there's one more week left, hopefully I can still lose some weight.

Aside from weight loss, I have been very happy and surprised at many of the results from this diet. My chronic back pain of 12 years has all but vanished. I experience a small amount of discomfort during long car rides, or long meetings. But nothing that ever touches the realm of pain. Whereas on the pain scale 1-10 I used to spend most of my time in the 4-5 range. AND having tried endless endeavors to eliminate or minimize the pain (chiropractics, massage therapy, stretches, exercises, muscle relaxants...) this was a shock, a miracle even. And completely unexpected. I also have been able to focus more, and I sleep better. My boyfriend and I go for walks, and he mentioned my "normal" pace has been much faster recently.
Diet or detox? Maybe its both!

As a result, I've been spending a lot of time thinking about how my diet affects my health. What am I putting in my body and how does it limit my mental or physical capacity? I am going to read more about it and make careful decisions as I transition back into regular portion sizes and menu items and choose healthy alternatives for potentially harmful food, like "white food" such as potatoes, rice and sugar. I'm excited to make bread with almond flour and coconut flour. Excited to replace oil and butter and cream with spices and onions and garlic. Excited to snack on oranges and carrots instead of Triscuits and Skittles.

Next Sunday will be the last day using the HCG spray. I will continue on the VLCD for 3 more days, and then slowly reintroduce other foods in Phase 3. Week 1: any fruits and veggies Week 2: Nuts, eggs and Dairy 3: Meat, grain, wheat

We'll see what the next week brings. And on a side note, the frozen strawberry lemonade I'm drinking right now is divine! Look for HCG recipes soon to come...

HCG Week One

Anyone who has tried this diet knows that one of the most difficult parts is the first two days. Its an absolutely must to eat as much fatty, sugar-loaded food as you can possibly fit inside your stomach. I spent the weekend gorging myself. I ate two fast food burgers (which is more than I usually have in a year) LOTS of french fries, storebought cookies, chocolate bars, havarti cheese, avocados and chips, and as I'm stuffing my face, I'm TERRIFIED that I'm going to gain weight, and never lose it. Quite a nerve-racking experience. I gained 6 lbs. In two days. Yikes.

Well, needless to say when day 3 (Monday) rolled around, I was thrilled to put myself on a chicken and spinach routine for the next 3 weeks. I ate lemon pepper grilled chicken and fresh spinach with pepper and lemon juice for lunch and dinner for the next two days. I had little to no tea or coffee those days, and my midmeal fruit was grapefruit. The first day the light meals were refreshing. The second day I was very, very hungry. So hungry I had a hard time focusing on anything but my need for food. I started drinking lots of tea. And reading lots of posts at HCGdieters YahooGroups. I needed support. But the results were soon-coming.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I stepped on the scale roughly 2.5 lbs lighter than the previous day. The thrill was wonderful, and the instant results much needed. My motivation and interest in lemon pepper chicken was on a serious decline. Friday rolled around and I decided to start getting a little creative. I bought some organic fire-roasted tomatoes, and mixed them with some ground bison, some spices, and vuala! Chili! It was SUCH a refreshing, delicous taste. Such a reprieve from chicken! Saturday I made halibut chowder for lunch, with the rest of the tomatoes, celery, onion and spinach. It lasted for dinner as well. I was feeling so much better. I also had discovered the beauty of lemon juice, stevia (natural sweetener), and sweet spices like cinnamon on grilled apples. Things were looking good. Sunday I put some chicken in the crockpot with onions, garlic, and curry spices which I put in cabbage leaves and named crunchy curry wraps. Also amazing!

The problem: I'd stalled. I hadn't lost weight since Saturday. I'd heard that if you hit a weight that you've been at for an extended amount of time previously, you may stall. I also heard that stalls are common, because your body is reshifting your fat distribution. You may not lose weight, but you lose inches. I didn't measure. I just thought I had eaten too much on Saturday and Sunday. Well the following week didn't prove much different...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

My HCG Diet Diary

I'm just going to come out and say it. I'm tired of people being upset when they find out I'm on a diet. And one that entails me eating only 500 calories a day? I may as well check myself in to a rehab center for eating disorders.
Here's the thing though...I may not be 50 lbs overweight, but I am interested in cutting my body fat, and dozens of my coworkers have gone on this diet (which I will explain in short detail in a moment) and I have seen their results. 12-40 lbs of weight loss in less than 2 months. And the mechanics of the diet involve a hormone called HCG, which breaks down your abnormal fat stores. So if I want to lose body fat, I can't think of a better, quicker, (and yes, easier...who doesn't want easier?), more effective way to do it?
Here's the diet:
HCG- You either get needles and HCG from your doctor and do daily injections, or you can buy homeopathic HCG which is what I have, and you spray it under your tongue 3 times a day. It is absorbed through the gland under your tongue. The stuff tastes like water and when I first started I thought I'd been ripped off. But 10 lbs later, I know I haven't.
GORGING- The first two days you begin your HCG intake, it is critical to eat as many high fat & sugar foods as you can. Like a whole box of cookies, a whole tub of ice cream, fries and burgers from 3 different fast food joints, 4 rounds at chuck-a-rama, a king size dark chocolate bar (these may or may not be hypothetical examples...mostly because I'd never admit to eating at chuck-a-rama aside from extended family gatherings)
VLCD- (very low calorie diet) The very low calorie diet begins day 3 and your daily allowance is as follows: No breakfast, lots of herbal tea or coffee, lunch and dinner both consist of the same thing: 3 oz of a select variety of veggies ie spinach, celery, asparagus, tomatoes, onion; 3 oz of lean meat or white fish ie chicken breast, halibut, veal, tilapia; 1 of the following fruits-grapefruit, orange, apple or a handful of strawberries. That's it! I discovered that if you eat only raw spinach and chicken breast you will actually only be around 300 calories for the day. No wonder I lost 2 lbs a day for the first few days!
Other considerations- No oils or fats at all in or on your body. No deoderant, no lotion, careful on the conditioner, no butter, olive oil (or as Rachel Ray likes to call it, "O O") You grill your meat in ample spices, however which helps a lot! Also no sugars. No sugar or artificial sweetener in your tea. There are substitutes though. I am a new believer in Stevia which is an all-natural sweetener and tastes just the same.
WATER! You must drink at least a 1/2 gallon of water a day, not including your tea. This is cruccial to your weight loss.

That's pretty much it. Yes, I've been somewhat hungry. Each day is different. Yesterday I was starving. Today I'm fine. The interesting thing is that I have been craving healthy things. Like almonds, or rice, or granola. Not chips or cookies or ice cream. I have heard that if you don't eat carbs for several weeks or a month, your body stops craving them. I'm excited for that to be an added bonus to the diet.

Well, the last 2 days I've been VERY bored with my food. Cold chicken and veggies...although the fresh taste is nice, and I like feeling like I'm putting healthy food in my body, my mind is getting bored. I love cooking, its one of my favorite things to do. So of course, I am craving some culinary creativity. So yesterday I looked around online and tried to find some info on recipes. There is an HCG recipe book you can buy for $40, but I thought Icould figure some delicious recipes out myself.

So I have decided to blog my HCG journey, which I'm sure has been done a million times over, BUT perhaps not with the twist of adding the delicious recipes I've used (or even not so delicious at all) So for the curious reader who may not be able to take the leap into the HCG VLCD regimen, I will at least have some suggestions of how you can eat healthier. I have been shocked for example, that olive oil, butter and sugar are absolutely unnecessary in making delicious food. Also, I've been shocked at how many extra preservatives and chemicals are in food. I may start paying the extra money for organic on a more regular basis. But more on that in a later entry.

I am already one week in, but I will recap the gorge days in one entry, then this week in one entry. One a day is too much for me. Then we'll see how the rest goes.

You can continue the HCG diet anywhere from 23-40 days. I only want to lose 15 lbs, and since you're supposed to average 1 lb a day, I'm sticking to 23. So this journey will be short-lived, which is good because, if you read my blog about my ISTP personality type, I'm TERRIBLE at routines.

Let the journey begin!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Rachmaninoff in Purple Satin

I went to the Utah Symphony on Friday night and what an experience it was. We ended up sitting on the front row, directly in the center (if I squinted I'm sure I could see the conductor's nose hairs). How that happened is beyond me, and as I took my seat, after crawling over 23 people, my attitude was less than positive. I couldn't see much beyond the first row of instruments, other than shiny black shoes and music stands. But after the music began, my awe and fascination increased exponentially through the remainder of the program. First, Stravinsky's Symphony for Wind Instruments, which as the name implies, was sans strings. Smaller sound, very unique and "cube-like." They say he was trying to achieve the same composition and technique in his music that Picasso was implementing in his art around the same time.

As the strings came in for the remainder, my elation sky-rocketed. I am eternally fascinated with people who are talented enough at string instruments to be in the Utah Symphony Orchestra, or any other orchestra for that matter. I watched each with such curiousity and amazement. Their fingers, their facial expressions, their attention to the music, and their very obvious passion. One man playing the bass violin swayed his head back and forth in such a way that I thought he may have been a metranome in another life. And the conductor...every last part of his body moved at some point during the music. It was as if the music was being emitted from his person. And, on a side note, men in tuxedos look nothing like penguins. As I watched his coattails move as his arms conducted the orchestra I could liken them to only one thing, which added to my amusement. A ladybug. Yes, I know his coat is black not red with black spots. But the coattails resembled that of a ladybug's wings as it embarks in flight. And this ladybug was fluttering about through the entire evening, much to my delight.

At intermission a Steinway Grand piano was rolled in for the second half of the program. The half that had been my reason for attending this particular symphony: Rachmaninoff. His musical genius is rarely surpassed. His pieces are some of the most complex, yet beautiful. Tonight we would hear Symphony No. 3. A young woman in a flowing purple satin dress emerged from the wing as the audience warmly welcomed her with applause, but this applause would seem like a whisper compared to that which would come at the end of her piece. The symphony was euphoric. Her passion for the music was evident, like the conductor, in her movement. Her delicate, gemstone shoes would emerge from under the soft purple occasionally as she moved amongst the pedals. I watched, from my front row seat, in the reflection on the lid of the piano, the strings and other parts move briskly and smoothly as she gave us her best Rachmaninoff.

There was once a man who learned Rachmaninoff for a concert, and in the middle of it, had a nervous breakdown, and was mentally ill for the rest of his life. I now can understand why. The music elicits such passion, awakens such emotion, such life, my heart was pounding just observing.

When her symphony ended, the crowd was immediately at their feet. She and the conductor took a bow and exited, only to return and bow 3 more times. We were speechless. When it was over I felt as if I had just had a Swedish massage, or a Spa Pedicure, or perhaps, walked again on the warm soft beach in Thailand. What a wonderful experience. The colors, the sounds, the feeling. I absolutely love music.

This Friday- Mozart Violin Concerto No. 4!