Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Creating instead of Consuming

Short story:  I lost our Fitness Improvement Competition at work.  It was just for fun with a little money on the line, so no big deal.  Except that for three months I really tried to lost some weight and I didn't.  Not that weight matters that much, but it is one easily measurable indicator of fitness.  It's the trend I was not liking... gaining five pounds a year doesn't sound like much until you think about what that means: it means fifty pounds by my sixtieth birthday. Ack!!!

The week after I lost at losing, I decided to make a daily walk my top priority.  Yes.  Priority number one each day is to get my body moving.  So after the kids are off to school, Laird and I take the dogs for a three-mile walk on the rail trail.  Yes, it means I am late to work.  So I work late.  Which works way better than getting to work early, coming home to not-exercise because it is dinner time, then not-exercise because I just had dinner, then not-exercise because it is too close to bedtime.

So, we have walked every day since mid-February. We're happier, the dogs are happier, we're healthier, and we get more couple time.  Walking... it's not just for the mailbox anymore.

Also, in January, I read the book 7 and got inspired to confront overconsumption in my life.  I asked the questions, and made my own plan because my life is way different than Jen Hatmaker's life.

Month 1 was Possessions.  I wanted to get rid of seven things a day, but I don't have a book deal; I still have to work a full-time job while I am confronting overconsumption.  So, I spent weekends de-cluttering.  I am still working on actually getting rid of some of the stuff I weeded out. (Stay tuned for a list of items I am giving away.)  But hey, I haven't bought much at all since then just because I am more aware of the overabundance of stuff I don't use in my house.  Also, I decreased my Overfunctioning.  Just needed to be done, so I added it in to month 1.  I will need to re-visit this effort, of course, because, like stuff, overfunctioning seems to creep back into my life whenever I am not consciously keeping it at bay.

Month 2 was Food.  I dropped sugar, chocolate, coffee, and alcohol.  Well, I intended to.  I knew sugar would be hardest, so I set my mind on that, and ended up cheating on coffee and chocolate a little bit, and pretty much ignoring my idea of skipping alcohol.  It's not that I drink that much wine and beer (average one to two glasses a week).  I just wanted to skip the things that might have been zapping my energy level and see how it feels live on goodness.  Well, it felt good.  I slept better, I felt better, I worked better.  Now, keep in mind, all this time I was also walking three miles every morning, so it might have mostly been about that.  Still, I've done some research, and here you go:  fructose is poison.  And sucrose is half fructose.  And almost everything I used to eat had one or both in them.  In excess.  So, if I avoid refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup, I pretty much have a diet of real food.  Veggies, fruit, meat, eggs, and cheese.  And a little milk.  And butter.  I can deal... I eat LOTS of veggies and a couple of pieces of fruit a day.  I eat happy (free-range, local, drug-free) meat from our freezer and free range eggs from the co-op.  I substitute perfectly ripe avocados for chocolate. Not local, but hey, I'm working on it.  I substitute tea with a little milk and honey in it for my latte.  And I substitute bread from New Day Bakery for everything else I used to eat.  And I eat Triscuits with chevre.  Yum.  So, March was not that bad.

So, I rewarded myself with home-made brownies on April 1.  Yes, I missed brownies.  And I found creme fraiche at Kroger, oh my goodness.  We had some with berries for our Famiversary dinner dessert, and I wanted to know what to do with the rest, so I looked on the website for recipes.  And found brownies.  But, the recipe called for 16 ounces of butter and 8 ounces of creme fraiche.  That would make a biglotta brownies.  So, I cut the recipe in half.  And in half again. And substituted some things. And changed some quantities. And added something.  And they turned out to be really yummy.  So perfectly between cakey and fudgey that they were not either. They didn't look like the ones in the recipe at Vermont Creamery.

I would post a picture, but they have been completely devoured. 

Barbara's Once-a-Month Brownies

Pre-heat oven to 300 F.  Grease an 8x8 glass pan.
Melt 1.5 ounces (three squares - it was all I had of the Precious) Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate (I think... maybe it was the extra bittersweet) with a stick of butter in a double boiler and allow to cool.  Whisk 2 eggs with a little more than a cup of coconut crystals (sugar), a quarter teaspoon of vanilla extract, a quarter teaspoon of almond extract (I spilled so it was more like a half teaspoon), and 2 ounces of creme fraiche. (Definitely lick the spoon here since you are only doing this once a month, darling.)  Mix until incorporated.  Fold half the chocolate/butter mixture into the egg/sugar mixture.  Then 1/3 cup flour.  Then the rest of the choc/butter.  Then another 1/3 cup flour.  Do not overmix. If you want, add some chocolate chips (about 3 ounces).  Bake for about 40 minutes.  Cool.  Cut into squares.

I eat mine with butter on top.  Yes, for real.  That's what we did in the Walker family, but it was blue bonnet margarine (which was probably not the same product it is now) that my mom called butter.  When I found out that no-one else in the whole wide world eats butter on top of their brownies, I was aghast.  Now that I would eat dry toast (from my favorite bakery) rather than put blue bonnet on it, I eat even more butter on top of my brownies.  I know. It doesn't make sense.  But, my love of butter has been exonerated in Dr. Lustig's video, Sugar: the Bitter Truth.  Calories are not the problem.  Fat is not the problem  It's sugar.  Namely, fructose.  So, month 2 has been a huge step towards health for me.  Even if I do put butter on my already rich once-a-month brownies.

Month 3:  April was supposed to be about getting moving... about ending my overconsumption of couch potatoness.  I was planning to put in at least 49 miles a week of walking or biking.  But, since I started walking three miles a day, and I ride my bike to work at least once a week (21+18=39, close enough), April needed a new focus.  And so, I introduce to you: Month 3, the month of Sleep.  I will sleep more and grouch less.  Go to bed at or before 10:30.  So far, I have been a dismal failure.

It turns out that my overconsumption (stuff, food, waste, etc) did not need to be addressed as much as my underconsumption (veggies, movement, sleep)... does that make any sense?

By the way, I have lost over eight pounds in six weeks. 
(I didn't even do that last year training for running a 5K.)
Walk three miles a day and drop the refined sugar. Boom.

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