eat, move, think, feel


February 2011

Rocco Rocks the Comfort Food

I was excited to win a (signed) copy of Rocco Dispirito’s brand-new cookbook Now Eat This! (150 of America’s Favorite Comfort Foods Under 350 Calories) from Ryan over at NoMoreBacon. I’ve loved watching Rocco on the Biggest Loser as well as on Top Chef, and one of his special skills has been “lightening up” normally calorie-heavy dishes. And I am a person who certainly enjoys comfort food. In fact, Comfort Food is practically my middle name. When I got the book in the mail, Juniorette flipped through it and put a Post-It note on the page of every recipe she wanted me to make. Fried chicken! Mac and cheese! Brownies! All under 350 calories? For real?!?

Tonight I decided to make Rocco’s Tortilla Soup with Avocado and Cilantro. (<— sorry, we do not like cilantro in our house) It was awesome. Delicious. Fast. And EASY.  I cannot even begin to describe how easy. That, my friends, is a combo that cannot be beat. And under 350 calories per serving? Yow. We are going to be dipping into this book OFTEN.

I have to admit I fiddled with the recipe a teeny bit. I took out the cilantro. I added some black beans (fiber can’t hurt, right?). It was YUMMY. The whole family gave it a giant thumbs up.

Thanks, Ryan! Thanks, Rocco! TOTAL WINNER.

Ideas Are Brewing….

image by elizabethp via Flickr

I’ve been busy thinking of some very exciting ideas lately. One of them is an online writing class with the focus on (guess what?) food, body, health, fitness… you know the topics! I’ve been teaching writing online and in person since 1994 and I love teaching writing. This has fallen onto the back burner for a while now and I am excited to get back into it. I’ve taught many classes on Writing Short Fiction from Life Experience, the Literature of Parenthood and other special topics, and now I’m in the planning stages of teaching a writing class on these topics that are near and dear to my heart. So, inquiring minds want to know– is this something that might interest YOU? It would probably be 8-10 weeks long and start in late summer. It will start with a lot of freewriting but then dip into various writing genres like short fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and maybe more. (solo performance?) What do you think?

What Size Am I? Ummm….

Image from Flickr: doyoubleedlikeme

This has been one of my pet peeves forever! The answer is: I have clothes that are size 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, Large, Medium and Small… and they ALL FIT. At once. Isn’t that crazy? I saw someone posting on Twitter recently that they were “between sizes” and it made me laugh. “Just try a different brand!” is what I have to say about that. To prove my point:(all these pics were taken within a few minutes of each other)

Here I am in my size 10 pants and my size 6 shirt.

Size 10 Coldwater Creek pants, Size 6 Fleuret top

Here’s my size 8 pants and my size 14 jacket and size Medium Tshirt.

Ann Taylor size 8 pants, size 14P jacket

Here are my size 6 pants and my size XL cami!

Tommy Bahama size 6 pants, size XL cami

And finally… my size 4 jeans (yeah what?) and my size XL American Apparel shirt.

Size 4 Gap "boyfriend" jeans, size XL Tshirt

So there. So am I a size 4? A size 14? I guess I’m all of those. Which make clothing sizes just… plain… ridiculous!!

Speaking of clothing, I recently discovered this awesome site called the Great Clothing Exchange. It’s a wonderful place to share (and to find!) clothes. If you’ve got clothes that are too big, send them to the GCE! and if you’re looking for new stuff in your new size, ditto. I just donated my infamous “Before” shirt. That shirt to me has become iconic with my Before self. I’m not going back, so I’m ready to pass it on. Go check it out!

Confessional: Weigh-In

image from Flickr: Wade Kelly

Something happened a week or so ago that was a first. And not a happy first either, like “My first half marathon!” Woo hoo! It was the first time that I had a weigh-in as a WW staff/Lifetime member where the notice popped up that I had to pay. Which meant I was over my range for Lifetime membership. This was the first time this has happened since I made Lifetime status in July 2009.

I was “only” over by 1.8 lbs. Which on one hand is “not a lot.” But on the other hand… if that happened every month for a year? There goes almost 24 pounds, just a little bit at a time. And that’s how it happens, isn’t it?

I wasn’t completely shocked. January was a total bust for me as far as activity. I was sick about 70% of the month and probably only exercised 2-3 times. When I weighed in during the first week of February, it had had its effect.

I have been wrestling with this blog post ever since. It’s so much fun to post fantastic, celebratory, Woo-Hoo! I DID IT! sorts of blog posts. This kind is not so much fun. But I do think it’s just as important. It’s one of those moments of honesty that I think are absolutely crucial to this blog, and my whole process here.

So here I am. I weighed in at 1.8 lbs over Lifetime range. I am here to tell you that this is not going to happen two months in a row. When I weigh in again in the first week of March, I will be FREE again. I love that: “Free Lifetime.” Not only is it free in that you don’t have to pay, there’s a Freedom to knowing you are in range. I have been free since July 2009 and I am not about to put those chains on again. I worked hard to get there. I am going to get myself back there.

This is something that has happened to most WW staffers that I know, as well as many many Lifetime members. At some point, something slips for one reason or another, and then you’re up. Just a little. And then the little kind of snowballs into more and more until it’s… oh my god. Right?

Wrong. That’s not going to happen here. This is one of the HUGEST reasons that being a WW leader has helped me. I am not going to stand up there week after week if I’m not walking the walk. Or running the run. Or tracking the points.

This is my vow to myself, and to anyone reading this. I’m saying it again. I’m going to see that “FREE” pop up on the computer in March. And that’s that. It was interesting to have this, um, Learning Experience here, but what I learned is that I don’t want to repeat it. Got that?

Food Fitness Fabio FUN!

I had a very Foodie McBody weekend this last weekend. Mr. McBody and I took my mom down to LA to visit friends and relatives and to visit the awesome Japanese American Museum. The weather was absolutely amazing.

It was really interesting being in LA for so many reasons. From the minute we got to the airport, I was struck by the incredible number of (by my estimate) size zero-to-2 women around. I mean, I rarely see women this stick-thin where I live. But it felt like they were everywhere. Plus, incessant ads for 1-800-Get-Thin on the radio, on billboards, EVERYwhere. And cosmetic surgery. It was such a “Toto, you’re not in Kansas anymore” realization.

On the other hand, there was such a visible overall commitment to fitness as well. AND massive foodie-ness everywhere. So… double edged sword, I guess. Triple edged sword.

The McBody part: I went for an almost five mile run along the Palisades and the beach on Saturday. It was absolutely gorgeous.

I had plenty of time, and I just told myself I was going to go as far as I wanted. I started out slow but after mile 2 (my magic moment) it started feeling really, really good. One of the great things was that I kept passing these “pods” of around 20-25 people, each running with a couple of coaches. LA Roadrunners, you guys are AWESOME! I must have seen a total of (no kidding) 500 people out there running that morning. At first, I saw lots of really fast teams but toward the end of my run, I saw this group out there that looked… like me! They were running like penguins. I got so excited because I could see their feet and they were moving at the same pace as mine. They were coming toward me and as they passed me, I turned around and ran behind them for a while. It was really fun, and a great aha! moment to think, there are training groups that go at my pace! I loved it.

On Sunday, I took a nice long walk along the same route. Beautiful.

But the HIGHLIGHT of my Sunday was a cooking class at Firenze Osteria, the restaurant of Top Chef‘s Fabio Viviani! Woo! I am such a HUGE fan of Top Chef and Fabio is one of the friendliest, Tweetiest chefs there is. And funny. AND an amazing chef. I was so excited to discover that he was going to be offering this class the same weekend that I was going to be in LA. YIPPEEE! I invited my young cousin-in-law’s fourteen year old son, who loves to cook, to come with me.

The “class” was actually a live demonstration in front of a restaurant full of highly amused people. Fabio is a great entertainer, warm and funny. He also really knows his stuff! He’s been cooking since he was a toddler. He’s been in restaurants his whole life. He told lots of affectionate stories about his grandmother and her handmade, old-country ways.

So the class was about how to make pasta in five minutes, which Fabio stretched out to about 45. But really it was shockingly simple. He quizzed us over and over: HOW many eggs if you are cooking for four people? “FOUR!” I was actually amazed at how easy he made it look. Then we got to taste it. Wow. It was so, so, so delicious. With this crazy delicious Bolognese sauce. Immediately people started clamoring for a “sauce class!” Which Fabio put into his iPhone immediately and promised to offer next month. Yahoo! (if only I could return…)

After the pasta, he demonstrated gnocchi. “The potato needs to be grinded, not mashed!”  I was a little bummed to see that gnocchi involves (ideally) a stand mixer. Which is not the same as investing $40 in a pasta presser. I have wanted a stand mixer, like, FOREVER, but it always has seemed like too much of an extravagance. Let’s just say it’s on my permanent wish list.

The class was awesome. It was like going to a performance and a great meal and invited into a friend’s kitchen all at once. Y’all, if you are near LA and want a fantastic experience, I really recommend checking out Fabio’s cooking classes.  Follow him on Twitter or watch his blog for announcements. I’m posting a lot of my photos in a slideshow below. You’ll see that his hands are often completely blurred, because they were never still. Total Italian!

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Love your body.

I made this image at a linoleum carving workshop I took last weekend. It makes me happy to look at it. Love to all, and to all your bodies. oxxoxo

Running Does Not = StairClimbing!

note: this is NOT MY BUTT. No resemblance whatsoever.

Wow did I have  wakeup call today. It was really illuminating, my first unofficial “training” for the Stair Climb event in March.

I work in a building that is 18 stories (ie 36 flights) high. I thought it would be interesting to climb the entire height of it after work, just to get a sense of what it would feel like.

WELL. It was … interesting.

First, it felt like pain. Like after the 2nd story. My thighs were screaming out, like, WTH are you DOING TO ME?!!?!? in chorus. Secondly, I was definitely “fighting for air” and not in the metaphorical sense. In the real sense. Pant! Pant!

But the weirdest thing was how fast it went. I mean, I went up to the 21st story (ie roof) so actually climbed 20 stories (40 flights) in about six minutes, or two songs’ worth on my iPod. That was just… weird. I guess I just expected it to take me at least half an hour. But a flight of steps, although STRAIGHT UP, is not that much actual distance. So. That was just a strange thing to wrap my head around.

So I guess I’m gonna have to roughly do my building times 3. All at once. Hmph. I was really not sprinting, I was pretty much walking steady. It was hard. It hurt. But it went… FAST! Which is I guess the very good thing about this activity.

Speaking of the Stair Climb, have you put in your donation yet? So you can win a pretty quilt? Please please do!

I’m climbing stairs. LOTS of them. You could win a quilt.

I’m doing the Fight for Air Stair Climb on Saturday, March 26th (this is going to be the most aerobic weekend of my life!). Part of the deal is that we raise money for the American Lung Assocation.

I have struggled with asthma on and off during my life. It has affected me when my allergies flare up, when I’m not in overall good condition, and just any old time. When my body is stressed, I get asthma.  Nothing is more frightening or upsetting to me than not being able to take a full breath. Which is why this challenge really hits home for me. I am so glad to be raising funds for this organization.

I would love to get support for this climb and this cause. To sweeten the deal, I am throwing in a quilt handmade by my mother, aka Mama McBody. She has been getting all fancy-ish in her latest quilts and this one is a real beauty, don’t you think?

So — everyone who donates at least $10 will be eligible in a random drawing for this quilt. For every $10, you get another chance at it. So if you donate $50 (!!) you get five chances. But as in any random drawing, it could be just one $10 ticket that wins it.  And if I get lots and lots of donations, I might just give away TWO quilts.

Here is my donation page. It’s looking pretty, um, empty right now. Please let’s fill it up! Let’s OVERfill! If you want a chance at the quilt, you have to include your name. (right?)

I used to get short of breath just taking a walk up a slight incline. So to think that I am taking on this physical challenge is a very, very, big deal. Please support me in this personal undertaking and please support the American Lung Assocation.

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!! oxoxoxo

Healthaversary #2: Rainy but Inspiring

January is the month that I mark my Healthaversary, aka my Blogaversary, aka when I woke up and decided it was time to be healthy. Last year I marked it with a hike to a volcanic labyrinth, blowing bubbles and brunch. This year it was pouring rain and I knew the hike down to the labyrinth would be ankle-deep mud. So I decided to skip the hike part and just do a little ritual in my living room. I wasn’t sure who would come.

In the end it was about a dozen women (plus Mr. McB!) who showed up, some I’ve known for many years and one Twitter friend (hi @debroby) whom I was meeting for the first time. First we had an amazing feast prepared by Qi chef Patrick Bremser. He showed us the most seasonal, local dishes he’d made, for a transition into spring. There was a giant pot of potato leek soup with “pungent herbs,” (bright and pungent being the most appropriate foods for this time of year), a most amazing kale and radicchio soup that had been MASSAGED with sea salt and… grapeseed oil? and all I can say is, man, I’ve got to start massaging my kale! It was sooooo tender and fluffy and just.. incredible. There were also little bowls of walnuts, some quinoa, some long-cooked onions (mmmmmmmmm), olive tapenade (MMMMMMMMM), pumpernickel walnut bread, orange zest (zesty!), and some dessertish crostini with pear compote. It was all to. Die. For.

After having this most amazing lunch, we went to our health altar where we’d all put some items symbolizing our health goals for 2011.  Therapy bands, running medals, a heart, a little sumo wrestler, a stalk of broccoli, photographs, mementos and other things. We all lit candles. It was just lovely and I felt so … supported and held up as I go into my third year of health.

This second year has been both easier and harder than the first. On one hand, I feel like I am more comfortable with it. It feels like a more solid part of my identity. But this is also where I feel the foreverness of it all. The very long haul. Most days it doesn’t feel like  a struggle, but sometimes it does, especially when, like this January, when I’ve felt sick and not with my usual high energy. I don’t like being tired or sick.

But it was wonderful, and wonderful to see the ripples out as others have gotten healthier and others have faced challenges with great courage. I love and admire my community, both local and invisible-and-far-off, and I could not, could NOT have gotten these two years down without you all.

This goes out to all the invisible ones who weren’t in attendance but who have held me up so much these past two years. Much love.

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