Baby steps. I could never really embrace that concept. Sure, I know intellectually that a person can't go from being a couch potato to running a half marathon within a matter of days. Yet, somehow I always expected myself to transform into a health nut overnight. With each new effort - the latest magazine-prescribed diet or a renewed membership to Weight Watchers or my local gym, I declared to myself that this was IT! After doing the math ("Ok, so five Zumba classes a week minus 30 points worth of food, times unlimited mental pressure and stress...equals weight loss!") I just *knew* that in a number of weeks, I would be in a single digit dress size and life would be fabulous. But after too many "failures" - skipped exercise classes, takeout meals that obliterated two week's worth of flex points, and sheer exhaustion from trying to will myself to eat less and move more - I gave up. I simply decided that I was meant to be fat. So, fat I would be. That was a few years back. Now, even though I gave up wanting to be thin, I never gave up wanting to be healthy. Well, let's be real - I would've given this goal up, too, if not for the harsh realities of living an unhealthy life. You can only live on a diet of junk food, no exercise, and little sleep for so long before your body starts to rebel. So, out of the necessity of making a change and my own disbelief that change was really possible, I started slow. Keeping a water bottle on hand at my desk. Opting for a fruit and yogurt smoothie instead of a coffee-coated sugary drink. I invested in a Fitbit and decided to see if I could get in at least 5,000 steps a day. (Yeah, yeah, yeah...I know we're supposed to take 10,000 steps per day, but after realizing that I was averaging only about 2,000 steps a day, no way was I going to instantly start making 10,000.) I started a plus-size exercise group and took pride in the fact that I managed to get my butt out of the bed and to a workout every Saturday morning. [caption id="attachment_6597" align="alignright" width="261"] Me reppin' for Team Thick during a recent workout.[/caption] Now, several months later, I'm finding that it's not so hard to engage in these healthy habits. It's no big deal to add in a random walk during the work day to boost my daily step count. And I find that if I don't get my water, I wind up absolutely parched. In the afternoons, I actually look forward to my fruit smoothies - and sometimes add carrot and celery sticks as an additional snack. These days, I'm actually trying to prepare more meals at home instead of eating out. (Those who know me well know what a big deal this is. I hate to cook. But even if all I'm doing is putting an steamer bag of veggies in the microwave while some Uncle Ben's fluffs up in my rice cooker, this is a huge step ahead of ordering takeout.) No, I'm no Sanya Richards-Ross or Michelle Obama. (Not yet ;)) And no, the scale hasn't moved by leaps and bounds. (In fact, it went up a bit when I started to put on muscle...but now it's finally starting to creep into the right direction.) Ultimately, I'm living a lot healthier than I was several months ago...and that's pretty awesome. How about you? How have you been able to make small healthy changes for the better? Share in the comments section!
As I shared yesterday, the Work Your Curves event was a huge success as it allowed many of us to get back into the exercise game in a comfortable and supportive environment. But, as we all know, good health and weight loss are NOT merely a matter of exercise. You must also fuel your body with healthy eats! That's why I was delighted that Tiffany Griffin of ComoWater.com agreed to be our chef for the day! As she explained on Saturday, her whole philosophy is that if you're going to eat a "vegi-centric" diet (which she does), you need to use ingredients and techniques that will harvest the flavor to its fullest extent. It must not just be good for you, but also look, smell, and taste good "because we don't just eat with our mouths." Now, I must admit that being the ultimate carnivore, I was a little skeptical of how tasty a vegetable-based menu could be. But I am telling you, she threw down and made a full-on FEAST! Here are just some of the foods that she whipped up... A yummy carrot salad! And anyone who knows me understands that it truly must have been amazing as I generally do not like carrots. Baked coconut herbed-brown rice and jalapeno cornbread. I loved the rice so much that on the way home I stopped by the grocery store and bought the ingredients and recreated it that night! A meat-free pot of black-eyed peas. Now this one REALLY threw me. Black-eyed peas? With no meat? Does. Not. Compute. Turned out, Tiffany had a secret ingredient to provide that "meaty" savoriness . . . Smoked olive oil. This stuff is amazing. You sniff the cap and it transports you to a backyard barbeque. This was another item that I had to retrieve on the trip home. Couldn't find it at a regular grocery store, though. Had to made a special trip to Sapore in Eastern Market. Of course, they were out of the smoked olive oil (apparently an article about it had just run in the Washington Post), but I did manage to pick up a few other tidbits to help me in this journey towards flavorful healthy cooking, like chipotle avocado oil, sea salt, smoked peppercorn, etc.) But I digress. Back to the event . . . Not willing to leave us with mere water, Tiffany made a pineapple spritzer . . . . Finally, Tiffany topped off the meal with a wonderful dessert of truffles - with NO added sugar! As Tiffany explained, it's important not to deprive yourself - that only leads to overeating. So, instead, you need to find a healthier way to enjoy the foods you like. Sounds good to me! As it turns out, Tiffany actually teaches monthly cooking classes. You can find out more about them here. I think I'm definitely going to have to make it a point to check 'em out!! Well, there you have it, dear readers. Work Your Curves was a huge success! I am so proud and thankful to have had the opportunity. If you missed out, not to worry - we will definitely be doing this again! In fact, if you live in the DC area, Chickaro Martin will be offering a series of six-week bootcamps designed just for us curvy gals! The details are still being ironed out but the first class will be happening THIS SATURDAY, February 2 at 9:00 a.m. If you would like information about how to register, please email me and I'll get you those details as soon as they're available!!!
I hope you are all getting excited for this Saturday's Work Your Curves event! I know that in addition to the workout with Chickaro Martin, I'm really looking forward to the cooking demo and food tasting with Tiffany Griffin of www.comowater.com. As I am an absolute beginner when it comes to cooking, I was delighted to have the opportunity to chat with Tiffany about her recommendations for how to get started in the kitchen. Check out our interview below! What inspired you to start your website? I began my website in 2010 on my birthday. I was inspired by a question I had been asked semi-continuously for almost two decades, “How did you make this?!?!” Not one to typically measure, more often than not, I had no answer for my friends and family for whom I had prepared food. So, in 2010, I decided to start documenting my kitchen adventures. It started as a “service” for my loved ones, a repository of sorts, and it grew from there! How long have you been "a cook"? Literally since I was about 5 or 6! When other kids were watching Saturday cartoons, I was watching PBS (no TV Food Network back then!). Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, The Frugal Gourmet, Ciao Italia, I loved them and they inspired me. How cool to create I thought, and I’ve been hooked ever since. [pullquote]Be gentle with yourself. Wherever you are in the spectrum of living a healthier lifestyle, remember not to judge yourself too harshly....We can all do more to be healthier. So focus on the things you do right, on what you are doing now, and treat yourself with the same empathy and patience that you would treat your best friend.[/pullquote] As someone who is not a cook, I'm wondering what are some beginning steps for someone just starting out? I would say, 1. Learn from someone “real,” from someone who’s not a chef. Chefs, even when they try really hard to keep things simple, tend to be pretty complicated. I think that’s why a lot of folks resonate with Como Water. Everything I prepare, I prepare in a home kitchen with minimal special tools. 2. I would start with simple dishes that take less than 30 minutes or so to make. Think to yourself, "What’s my favorite side dish?" Start there! :D And 3. Take a cooking class. They are really fun and help build community, which is always a good thing in my opinion. What are some of your favorite tricks and tips to make what might ordinarily be an unhealthy meal one that is more nutritious (e.g., ingredient substitutes, cooking techniques)? Being a vegetarian, you have to find ways to extract as much flavor as possible from your ingredients. For me, this usually means—1. Cooking your spices and 2. Roasting or caramelizing your veggies. Folks want to eat food that tastes good. And so, I try to emphasize taste as much as health and wellness in my dishes. You’d be amazed how much more flavor you can get if you cook spices and/or roast/caramelize your veggies. You seriously will not miss meat or fat. Also, to get a great cheesy flavor without the dairy, I use nutritional yeast! It’s pretty awesome stuff ;) How can my readers keep up with you online or otherwise? Oooo, la la, I’m so glad you asked! You can find me of course at my website, www.comowater.com. I’m also on facebook (www.facebook.com/comowater), twitter (@como_water), pinterest (@comowater, and instagram (@comowater). If all else fails, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Is there anything else you'd like to share? Actually, one thing. Be gentle with yourself. Wherever you are in the spectrum of living a healthier lifestyle, remember not to judge yourself too harshly. We are all trying to be better people—to ourselves and to others. We all have vices. We all have hangups. We can all do more to be healthier. So focus on the things you do right, on what you are doing now, and treat yourself with the same empathy and patience that you would treat your best friend. When negative thoughts come into your mind, stop them, take a step back, and show yourself some kindness. It’ll go a long way in the end! Trust me.