Lately

I’ve seen these Lately posts on a few other blogs, and well, I’m sort of feeling like writing a lately post…

Lately I haven’t really felt like writing much of anything for the blog. And idea comes, an idea goes, and I just keep doing other things.

Lately I’ve been sick of seeing so much grey.

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Seriously! This time of year I’m ready to give winter the boot and get into some serious spring weather. Unfortunately this hasn’t happened quite yet. Winter is have a final death rattle before going down; we’ve had days of rain, sun, wind, snow, and hale, all within minutes of each other!

Lately I’ve been craving cardio, and have gotten out on my bike as much as weather permits. I’ve also started running a bit more again.

Lately I’ve been thinking about signing up for a race or two this summer. Maybe running, or trail running, or a triathlon, or something like that. Just a thought, but I have been seeing what’s around the island this season.

Lately I’ve been enjoying a lot of this delicious meal:

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(Spicy Almond Sauce with Soba noodles, edamame and Napa cabbage)

And some of this meal:

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(Mexican Black Bean Salad)

And a whole bunch of these Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies. Lately I’d been craving oatmeal cookies like mad, and finally made followed a recipe that was edible. (I’d experimented the week before with the result being a mound of ruined cookies).

Lately I’ve been super excited/impatient for the long weekend because I’m going to Vancouver to see friends and family. We’ll see a Canucks game, go to the movie theater (where I live has a theater with movies that are 2-3months old, kinda like movies on an airplane), go shopping. It’ll be grand.

In fact I leave today, so really I need to go, get a little bit of work done and then head to the airport.

Boxes

I’ve been thinking a lot about boxes lately. Not physical boxes, but the metaphorical ones we fit ourselves into. Call them labels, call them boxes, call them descriptors, whatever you like; same deal, it’s about fitting to the implied meaning of a descriptive word/noun and fitting all it’s implied attributes.

This post came to mind earlier this week, or rather last week, when I joined some friends for board game night, or rather nerd night as it’s being affectionately called.

The guy who organizes the nights asked me at one point what I thought of the new Hobbit movie.

“It’s long,” I replied, because it was.

“Oh,” he said shaking his head regretfully, “I almost gave you nerd cred there.”

It had happened, someone called me out on my lack of true nerdiness – but wait let me explain just what I mean a little bit more.

This comment is part of a series in my life recently, which at first glance might not seem to connect. I had a friend comment early in January when we were skiing that I was obviously a really good athlete. The comment made me really uncomfortable, and I couldn’t figure out why (after all shouldn’t that be a compliment?).

Back in November at brunch with friends, another friend commented, “But you’ve always been really healthy” (on the topic of me being a dietitian). Again I felt really uncomfortable (and bit my tongue from curtly asking, “And what does it mean to be “really healthy”?).

Mostly these comments made me feel like a fraud, because despite the fact that yes I am “really healthy” and I am “a really good athlete” these descriptors have never been ones I’ve considered myself to be belong to. These are not boxes I felt I truly fit in; I was neither born an athlete, nor the most crazy health zealot I knew.

My athletic abilities came from being born to a family who valued sports and had the means to provide me skiing and skating lessons. My healthy habits were also learned and self taught, and often include chocolate on a daily basis (which in my mind negated all the other healthy habits I had). And I am nerd in that I enjoy sci-fi and fantasy, but I don’t necessarily go so far as to read anime, comics, or really play video games.

But mostly I always thought; I’m not enough of a nerd/an athlete/a healthy person  to really fit myself into the boxes. And this means someone will call me out on it (such as at nerd night) if I do call myself a nerd, or athlete or whatever, eventually someone who epitomizes the box (the stereotypes) of these will call me out on it; well you’re not a real nerd or athlete or whatever. This is of course perfectionist thinking at it’s finest; I’m not good enough to be the stereotype, so I can’t actually be part of the box, to use to describe myself.

But on the flip side it bothered me when my friends put me into those boxes, as though they are stationary things, as though I just showed up on this planet and fit into the boxes of being an athlete or being healthy. And it all comes down to me being more athletic or more health conscious than they consider themselves.

Maybe I should just accept the compliment. Or maybe I should not worry about it. But I’m not sure I will be able to stop feeling uncomfortable when someone stamps a label on me as a compliment, nor will I ever fully enjoy self-imposed labels either. After all does it really matter if I’m a nerd, an athlete, or someone who is health conscious? Do these definitions become the be-all end-all?

I really think that while these labels do come from my actions, they aren’t necessarily what should be important in life; after all they reduce me a couple characteristics that don’t allow much wiggle room. Even self-labeling is really about how others see you or how you want others to see you. I kinda just like being me, no boxes, no perfectly-fitting-into-the-stereotype. Just me, and my random collection of interests.

What have you experienced with labels or boxes? Self-imposed (or restricted) or otherwise?

March Goals

Before I get into my March Goals, let me share a tip. It’s called the Confidence Rating. It comes out of Stages of Change models, and Cognitive-Behaviour Theory. When you decide on a goal, ask yourself the following question: On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident am I that I can achieve this goal?  1 = no confidence, it ain’t gonna happen! And 10 = oh it’s done! If you rate yourself lower than 7, you’re unlikely to achieve the goal. (You must have 70% or more confidence that you will achieve your goal…)

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Anyway, with that tidbit, I’d like to talk about my March Goals. I talked about at the beginning of the year not creating goals, but instead setting an intention (which seemed to be the cool thing to do, and really I’m not very good at being cool, never have been).

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And mostly I’ve been okay goal-free for the past couple months (and even the fall before that). But as I’ve settled into working, and living in the “real world” I’ve started to itch for some goals.

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They’re pretty simple, and they are as follows:

1. Mindful March: I read about a really interesting project on this blog. She kept a journal for 100 Days, recording eating, workouts, other important life aspects, and her moods on those days. Seeing if there was a trend. I’d like to do the same, I’m starting with March, but maybe it will go further, who knows?

2. Cardio: My workouts for the past 2-3 months have been hitting the gym for some weight lifting. As March is here, along with some awesome sunny weather, I can feel an itch to get out and run/bike/go fast. Where I live is a lot of small towns all about 50 kilometers apart, a long term goal of mine is to bike to all the respective communities by the end of the summer. Obviously this means I need to get into some serious cardio fitness. So my goal is to get out on my bike 3x per week, in the morning before work (yay Spring Forward). This week I’ve simply started getting up earlier, and next week with the sunrise being an hour earlier, I’ll get out on my bike Mon/Wed/Fri.

So those are my two goals. I’m definitely 90% confident on goal #1, but closer to 70% on goal two. This is mainly because I haven’t really had the discipline in the last couple years to follow through on cardio workouts (no idea why), but I’m hopeful I can make it happen now.

When More is Less

I definitely have the more is more mindset. I always have. If a little bit of something is good, then more of that must be better…

If a small Blizzard is so delicious, a big one would be even better.
If exercising for an hour a day is good, exercising two hours every days is even better.
If the recipe calls for a couple teaspoons of spices, a couple tablespoons will be even better
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Of course, whenever I acted on these ideas (which in my head may not have been as clearly stated as they are here) there would be unforeseen consequences.

Of course the idea that more is more is not new, and it logically makes sense; increase the portion of your favourite food, increase your satisfaction. Want to get leaner, stronger and fitter faster? Exercise more! Want a recipe to be really amazing? Add more of the flavour! It is simply the next logical step.

A medium sized blizzard would not lead to increased satisfaction but rather an increased stomach ache.

Exercising for 2 hours did not lead to greater gains in strength, and in fact was probably more detrimental to strength and fitness then it was to increasing them.

More spices did not in fact create a more delicious meal, but rather unbalanced all the flavour and created some interesting concoctions (to say the least).

One of the things I’m really working on is changing the more is more mentality. It’s closely related to it’s friend the all or nothing mentality. I find in my journey the more is more has taken different forms; from more in terms of comfort food, to more in terms of more deprivation or more punishment. At different points I have also confronted the more is more mentality in different areas; first in quantities of food eaten (as a teenager) then in cooking (leave the spices along, or adjust slightly!) and most recently with exercise.

I love exercise, but what I’ve realized is sometimes rest is really important. And this pas year, with school ended, a new job starting, and finally entering the time of “adulthood” I’ve been more moderate with exercise then ever before. I’ve often taken as much as two days off a week (GASP!). This is new for me, I pride myself on my athletic behaviour, so there are moments that test me. The idea of simply allowing myself to have a complete rest day is tough some days.

But all those little niggling fears (you’ll gain weight if you don’t, you’ll lose strength) haven’t really come to pass. I feel rested, and I have energy for work and learning, (guess not having all my muscles using up those glycogen stores means more for brain right?) and it’s been great.

Has anyone else experimented with less is more?

What is Health?

Hello! Here I am, all “back to blogging” and what do I do but take a bit of an extended break. Sorry about that. I have to admit, despite being back to blogging I have no intention of committing to a schedule. These days I’m leaving space open for opportunities {fun opportunities} and plan to mostly write stuff, share recipes, and adventures, when the mood strikes.

Today I want to discuss a topic that has been lately on my mind. It’s a bit of tricky topic, quite broad in scope, and well, this might just end up being a bit of a rambly post (I’ll do my best to keep it short) so my apologies in advance.

Health. We all seek it continuously, for every individual the journey to being “healthy” takes on a different meaning. My journey started in high school really, when I discovered a love of running and exercise, and also how much eating well can affect our body weight.

Let’s face it, for many of us, nutrition has at one point (or maybe still is) a lot about body weight. For some people with chronic diseases, they have perhaps moved on from that. For some people there are ethical and political thoughts as well, but for many people eating well = maintaining a certain jean size. I’m going to talk about this another day though.

Today I’m talking about health in general. What is it? Can it be measured by your jean size? By your blood lipids? By your hours spend exercising? Solely by what you choose to eat? These are often the areas that many of us focus, and while changing habits in exercise or eating are far from easy, sometimes the focus on these can be a disguise from other areas of our life that are not working completely.

When I was younger and first began on my health journey, I was sure, so, so, sure that nutrition was the key to health. Of course, being a dietitian I totally believe that nutrition is A HUGE component of health. And yet, it is just one piece of a very large puzzle that is health. Health is a myriad of different things, and often illness, whether chronic or acute, is often a manifestation of different things.

What do I mean? I’d like to share this Tedx Talk with you:

She explains it much better than I can, she has done the research (though who can verify the “soundness” of her sources…). As I’ve sat in my many nutrition counselling sessions, I’ve met many people who are very sick. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, out of control diabetes.

And yes very often there are tweeks to their nutrition that should be made. But it is amazing how many of them have so many huge stressors in their life; family members passing, bills piling up, job losses. Some just have a pile of small little things that just keeps growing until they can’t handle it any more. But much of the time they don’t look to these things, sure they’re aware of the stress their lives are causing them, but they believe that they need to fix the physical first, when maybe paying some bills, or reaching out to family or friends might actually change some of their health measures.

I’d like to turn your attention to this Wellness Initiative by the New Brunswick government:

NB Live Well, Be Well

It discusses the idea of mental resilience.

I know I’m a dietitian and I should be saying NUTRITION IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD. But honestly, for many people, it isn’t. If you think of what Dr. Lissa Rankin (especially her Health Cairn), and the NB Live Well, Be well initiatives are looking at, they both push the idea that for us to get to fixing the physical body through nutrition and exercise, we have to be able to handle the rest of our life.

Otherwise, fixing the weight issue, the blood pressure, the diabetes, the cholesterol with diet and exercise alone, is just a band-aide solution.

So I know that’s not a fully formed thought, with a great ending, but that’s where I’d like to end it.
And I want to hear your thoughts: have you gone on a health journey? Have you found yourself considering health beyond healthy eating and regular exercise/activity?