Friday, May 30, 2008

Writing a Journal

When you leave your country to live elsewhere, it can be a difficult transition. When the language is also different, it adds to the "detachment" you have relating to your origins. Sometimes it's easy to feel like you just left yourself behind.

When I made the choice to move to the United States, I did so knowingly. I knew I would need time to learn English (and I'm still learning obviously). I knew that it might be a while before I can start teaching full time. I knew that the American mentality would take some getting used to. I came in with an open mind, and ready to learn and adapt.

In some ways, it was easier than I had anticipated. Americans are a lot easier to deal with than it is believed from the outside (don't get on me about this, I didn't make the world!). My adventure with Weight Watchers have given me a chance to get to know people, and to understand their lives more than I would have from our 1 bedroom apartment in the city!

I met, and still meet, wonderful people, who are caring and funny and just a joy to be around, both among the members and the staff.

My husband has also been a wonderful support in this. Always believing in me, always happy to help me out and support me when I need it. Always there when I feel down, and ready to celebrate my victories!

The part that I had not anticipated is the feeling that I'm just losing myself in this. I don't know really how to explain it, my goals, my ambitions, my abilities seem to vanish in the whirlwind of just trying to keep going in this "strange world". It's like I've lost sight of who I am.

I rarely talk to my friends anymore, and frankly, I don't know what to talk about with them. I live in a different country, doing different things, mostly things that they might not understand. My life is so different to what it was in Canada, that I just don't know how to relate to those who knew me then.

Here I have friends, but they've known me only for a few years. They can relate to what I'm doing now, but have no clue of what my life was before I moved out. It's so alien to them that they can't relate to it. Again, I don't know where to start, how to make the connection.

I'm in the process of trying to find a teaching position, and I'm not very successful at it so far. That with everything I've just talked about has been heavy on me lately. I'm not sure anymore of what I really want to do, where I want to go. Do I keep trying to get a teaching job? Do I go back to Weight Watchers full time? Do I drop everything and move back home? What do I want?

To help me figure it out, I've decided to start writing a journal. Funny thing is, my first hesitation was "Do I write it in French? or in English?". It pretty much sums up my problem right now doesn't it?

I decided to write in French for two reasons:

First, I'm trying to find myself. As much as I'm trying, awkwardly, to blend in American society, I'm not an American. I'm French Canadian and "Acadienne", my language of birth is French, and that is part of who I am. I think that if I want to figure this out, it's important to connect to that.

Second, I want to use this as a tool to figure myself out. That means admitting things that I haven't even admitted to myself, much less my husband and/or my friends. I have nothing to hide, but it feels safe to know that nobody around me can understand what I'm writing in there. I get to process the feelings, the thoughts before they get out there in the world.

I'm hoping that this will help me go further in my journey of life. I've made so many changes and have learned so much in the last 6 years or so. This is just a tool to go further and learn more.

Does the quest to know and understand oneself ever end?

Be good n stuff!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Things are Moving

Food Stuff

Yeah, yeah I know, the last thing I need is a new cookbook! I say that every time... I couldn't resist this one though!

It's not a new cookbook, it was published in 1992. The authors Sheryl and Mel London put together a most useful cookbook. The title is: The Versatile Grain and the Elegant Bean, A celebration of the world's most healthful foods.

Basically, it's an encyclopedia for cooks! For each grain and each bean they talk about they give and historic; a definition; the different forms the grain or bean can be found in; a cooking chart; and finally healthy recipes.

This is all put together in an easy to read format, with simple but beautiful illustrations and no unnecessary complications. The recipes look very interesting. They don't all fit into my chosen food plan, but I think most of them would be easily modified.

I'm very happy with this book, I have several "grain" books, but this one is the closest to what I really wanted: A simple "how to" book about grains. The beans added in are a super bonus as they are most probably to be my next obsession!

I will stop buying cookbooks someday... I promise!

Activity Stuff

Finally I think I've got myself moving! After struggling for a long time, I just decided to take the "do what you can when you can" approach. I cannot run, my knees won't permit it. I can't lift weights anymore, my joints won't let me.


Yesterday I went for a walk with my husband and my dog for 65 minutes. We walk fast, and non-stop, so I think I'm decently moving.

I also Did a 45 minutes Pilates workout (I have this package, I used the Intermediate Pilates Work out DVD). I followed the DVD work out, and then I added a few of my "own moves" to complete the work out.

Today I walked first thing in the morning. Me and the dog took off and walked/played non-stop for 40 minutes.

After that I did a Yoga work out (Yoga Shakti, by Shea Rea) for about 45 minutes.

I plan on walking again tonight. My goal is to take the dog for a walk at least 2 times/day. Not counting play time of course! AH!

Things are moving

I've been doing pretty good for the last two days. Not so much "eating perfectly" but rather gently following my plan.

Nowhere does it say in my material that I have to "eat clean" 100% of the time. Nowhere does it say that I have to work out 2 hours a day at high intensity.

I'm eating right, I'm moving, and I'm enjoying myself. What else could be better? It sure works for me!

Be good n stuff!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Food food food!

I been cooking my behind off this weekend!

Here's Friday's fare:

Watermelon Salad, Grilled chicken and bulgur. Fairly simple, but delicious! Here's the details:

This is a recipe I found in the Weight Watchers Magazine a few years ago. The heat last week reminded me of it and I found it hidden in a folder on my laptop.

It's also extremely easy! 3 cup of little watermelon cubes, 2 Kirby cucumbers sliced thin, 1 jalapeno pepper minced, 2 TBSP red wine vinegar and salt! Mix together, let chill a little, there you are!

I prepare a chicken recipe from the new Sizzle It cookbook we have at Weight Watchers. It's called Moroccan-style chicken with olives. Yeah, I forgot the olives... oh well... It was delicious that night, and again the following day for lunch! I grilled the chicken on my George Foreman Grill, I bet it'd be better on charcoal!

The bulgur dish was very simple, soaked with broth, salt and pepper. That's it!

Saturday night I didn't feel like cooking, but I had a bunch of vegetables that needed to be used, so I made a vegetarian curry. I don't have pictures of it, but it was just a simple curry that I made up on the spot with sweet potato, zucchini, asparagus, diced tomatoes, onions... I forget what else. I made a lot of it, and it was SPICY, as in 15 minutes later I was still sweatin'... hmmmmm

Today I cooked again, and it was different, but very good!

Here's today's fare:

I did make it with the bentos in mind, a simple Tabbouleh with Turkish Meatballs, a recipe I found on the Weight Watchers Website a while ago. I love it!

Ok, I said a simple Tabbouleh, but honestly I'm very proud of the look and taste of it. I was careful to chop the parsley very small, and to chose vegetable that would look and taste good together. I ended up putting cucumber, red pepper, chickpeas, parsley and bulgur obviously.

The dressing was lemon juice, garlic, salt pepper and olive oil.

Last but not least, the Turkish Meatballs. They are made with lean ground beef, scallions, cilantro, garlic, spices and bulgur. They are fun to make, quick to bake, and taste just wonderful!

We had a lot of fun trying things. We went to the Farmer's Market again Saturday and enjoyed ourselves. Smelled the smells and tasted the tastes of fresh foods and enjoyed the friendliness and "community feel" of the market.

So, that's our weekend! In between our food adventures we cleaned up the front yard, played outside a little and relaxed a lot! We needed it!

Be good n stuff!

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Healthy Food exploration continues

Yesterday while we were BBQing dinner, I made a packet with beets and onions (with thyme) and threw it on the BBQ for 1 hour while we ate.

Then I followed another recipe from the Sizzle It Cookbook (nothing like a new cookbook to get me going!) called Chilled Beet Soup with Cucumber & Scallion (p. 38).

The recipe is interesting, it tasted good, but it could take some tweaking up. I'll experiment with different spices and see what would work... I'm thinking roasted mustard seeds... Also, next time, I will BBQ the beets and onions longer, 1h and 1/2. Or make the fire hotter.

My husband didn't care for it. That's really sad cause there's a lot of it, so I'll be eating a lot of soup in the next few days hehehe. I'll try freezing some and see if THAT works.

So that's my experiment of the day!

Be good n stuff!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Yummy Foods!

Yesterday we went to the Farmer Market in Santa Rosa. There were so many wonderful sights, and smells, and tastes. We promised ourselves to make it a weekly trip.

Among the goodies we got there, we stopped at a booth that was about Afghani foods. We tasted a few things, and decided to buy a Sweet Jalapeño chutney, and cilantro pesto. Both were just delicious.

When I got home, I took a basting brush and brushed the Jalapeño chutney on a pork roast I had planned for the night. I left it in the fridge to marinate all afternoon and then salted and peppered it, and threw it in the oven to cook. I cooked it about 45 minutes at 350 F and then took it out, put another layer of Jalapeño mixture and put it back in for about 15-20 minutes. It was just DELICIOUS. We had it with a vegetable stir fry.

Today for lunch, I took a tortilla, spread pesto over it, and then added a lettuce leaf, and thin slices of pork. That was lunch. Yummy!

Dinner tonight, We wanted to BBQ, so we tried a new recipe from the Cookbook "Sizzle IT" that just came out in the meeting rooms at Weight Watchers. The recipe is "Ginger Chicken Yakitori". If you have that book at home, try it! It's just wonderful! We had it with a Corn, Black Bean and Mango salsa that is from another WW cookbook "The Ultimate Flex and Core Cookbook" (p. 185). It was meant to be eaten with Tuna but who cares? It's good with anything! Finally we had BBQed asparagus and a strawberry, mango and banana smoothie for dessert.

Here's the plated dinner:

We have left over pork and chicken for tomorrow and Tuesday, as well as salsa (lots!). So we're starting the week with goodies "in the bank".

Why am I saying all that? To make a point. I hear so often that being "on plan" is such a pain, that it's too restrictive, that it's too much work. We ate healthy food, in decent portions and still we ate tasty foods and we had plenty.

All of it was fairly easy and quick to prepare, the clean up wasn't overwhelming and we don't feel in the least deprived... quite the contrary... YUM!

Why on earth would I prefer a greasy gummy fast food burger to these foods? I'll take my Corn, Black Bean and Mango salsa over a platter of fries any day of the week!

Be good n stuff!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Thinking deep thoughts... and a decision

I walked to the gym tonight (about 45 minutes maybe... something like that) then did 20 minutes on the elliptical and finally swam for about 25 minutes. I did not overly push myself, though I worked non-stop at a good pace.

After all that, I called my husband to come and pick me up. My excuse is that it was dark... well... it was... not that I care... but it's a good excuse right? ;op

As I was waiting for my husband for show up (and trying unsuccessfully to make friend with the parking lot kitties) I realized 2 things: First, though I could feel that my muscles had worked, I was not hurting; second, I had fun the whole time, never felt pressured to "perform", didn't feel like a loser because I wasn't killing myself, I just had fun!

That brought me to another realization: I stopped competing when I was about 17-18 years old, but in my head, working out means competing. It means that if I don't push as hard as I can, I'm wasting my time. I won't be ready when needed. Ready for what? No clue, but I won't be ready because I didn't go home limping!

That competition mindset has been in my way for a long time. I get discouraged because I don't perform the way I want to, so I push more and hurt myself. Then it takes forever to start again, I'm far behind because I stopped for a while, so I get frustrated, push more, hurt myself again.

In the last year I hit a wall. With my joints hurting, and my improvement being in the negative, I've had the hardest time getting motivated. Why bother? I'm no good anyway.

It's insane, irrational, and I've had enough. So there, 16+ years later, I am now retiring from competition. I will not race ever again, I'll never be a fitness professional, I'll never swim at the Olympics, and I'm fine with that.

My fitness goals are much simpler than that: I want to keep my body flexible, strong enough and lean enough to feel good in my skin, I want enough endurance to be able to play without thinking "Can I do this?" That's all I want, and I can do it!

I know myself enough to know that I'll keep pushing. From now on though, I want to push for the fun of it, for the pleasure to feel my body work hard, not for some pride issue that keeps me from enjoying what I do every day.

Who's with me? Let's have fun with this!

Be good n stuff!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Where to start?

Oh my, so much has happened, and I don't even know where to start.

Have you ever felt really tired and overwhelmed? You know when your are just doing your thing, and it's smooth sailing, and all of a sudden things start happening and next thing you know, nothing is where it's supposed to be anymore?

Then for a while you're just scrambling to keep up, no time to think. After a while everything calms down, and you're still overwhelmed. There's no reason to be anymore, but you just can't land. Like you're stuck in high speed mode.

I was like that this week, just couldn't relax, couldn't think straight, felt like I HAD TO DO SOMETHING, but there wasn't really anything that pressing to do. Finally last night, I decided that enough is enough. Time to get my shit together!

I planned the meals for next week, mostly out of my new cookbook (Sizzle It, from Weight Watchers... everything looks good in there!) and planned my work outs.

Food isn't an issue really, we ate out so many times last week, I'm just too happy to eat at home. Restaurant food isn't my thing anymore, bleh!

Activity is another issue. I've had joints pains for most of my life, but lately it has gotten worse pretty steadily. Finally I had to ask, and apparently, lifting heavy weights (well, heavy for me! Stop laughing!) is hard on your joints.

Everybody in my Dad's family has arthritis, to a greater or lesser degree. So, I'm the lucky one who got it early rather than late. I've known for a long time now that lifting was making it worse, but being who I am, I didn't want to give it up (I love to lift weights!). Oh well...

So, anyway, all this to say that last week, I sat down to put together a plan. I need to keep working my muscles, without putting a strain on my joints.

DUH! I used to swim everyday, I loved it, I was a lifeguard, I taught swimming. I'll go back to the pool!

So last night I decided that this morning I would go to the gym and swim. This morning I woke up at 5:30, and did 20 minutes moderate/high intensity on the elliptical, and then dove in the pool. I swam for about 25 minutes, alternating full style, legs only and arms only (with my feet crossed, you try it!). I pushed as much as I could the whole time I was in there.

Can I say that I love swimming? Why I keep thinking it's too much of a hassle is beyond me. There is nothing in this world that compares to just pushing your body as far as you can, without your knees and ankle hurting. You are limited by your own power, not by pain. Feeling the water slide by, the resistance of the water on your hands and lower arms. Just awesome!

I can stop thinking in the pool, there's no calorie meeter to look at, there's no "am I doing this right"? to worry about, there's no "am I looking ok"? to worry about. It's just you, the water, and the raw power of your muscles. I'm a good enough swimmer that I don't have to "think" about swimming, I just do it... and I love it!

See you in the pool guys!

Be good n stuff!