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5 Day Clean Eating Challenge Recap

So I was in a friend’s clean-eating challenge group this week and she’s asked us to recap. I have a lot to reflect on and felt it was too long for a Facebook comment (lol).

1. What is one thing you enjoyed about the group?

I enjoyed seeing how other participants were planning their day, because it encouraged me to make similar plans for myself, reassured me that I was on the right track, and gave me ideas for my own meals and snacks. I liked the intro to clean eating document and the sample meal plans, even though I was unable to follow any of them. Looking at them gave me an idea of the overall goal and structure of the clean eating philosophy, and gave me good ideas for snacks and meal sizes.

2. Share one thing you learned about yourself.

I learned a lot and I am more aware of what I have yet to learn.

I lost a LOT of weight, before I was pregnant, using Weight Watchers — and at that point in my life, the restrictiveness of the WW plan was really good for me. After River was born, and I was shifting the pregnancy weight, I rejoined WW with the idea of jump-starting weight loss and resetting in my head my thinking about proper eating — and it FAILED. The tracking was annoying. I found the program over-restrictive and downright naggy. The “clean” eating approach, however, is not as restrictive and it allows for a lot of freedom and personalization that WW doesn’t. I learned that I need the freedom to be creative and personalize my meals/snacks. WW makes much of fats, but clean eating doesn’t as long as they are in logical amounts. I can eat a whole milk yogurt and not feel like I am falling down on the job. I am not made to feel guilty about what I eat. I am not made to feel pressure to “count points” and “play the numbers game.” I answer to myself and I am asked to be knowledgeable and responsible for myself. This is the way better approach for me right now.

The most important things I learned and internalized:
1. Drink water. Drink water. Drink water. Drink MORE water.
2. I can’t eat large evening meals. I don’t sleep well afterward, and if I don’t sleep soundly enough, the following day I am dragging, mentally fogged, and sad. Even if the meal I eat is a small, “clean” meal, if it is larger than a bowl of cereal or a few crackers with cheese and salume, I am in trouble for the next day.
3. I think I am going to have to seriously start giving up animal meat proteins. I think they contribute, even in small, 2 oz portions, to my feeling of over-full-ness and my bad sleep. Getting my protein from eggs, cheese, and nut butter was much better. I have been telling myself I should push more toward vegetarianism, but I’m seriously reluctant to give up bacon, chicken, and turkey. We’ll see how that goes!

I lost a few pounds and I think a lot of that has to do with drinking large amounts of water and really keeping my cells hydrated and my body systems lubricated. If I can keep it up and lose a couple more pounds, I’ll have dropped in to the next “decade” of pounds, and once I do that I swear to myself I won’t go back up to the next decade. So far sheer willpower has worked for me on that front. About 3 1/2 pounds more and I’ll be in the next “safe” zone!

3. Complete the sentence: I am worth it because ____________.

This is a tough one. The trite, expected answer is “because I’m investing in my health” or something. I don’t know how to answer this without being trite. Because I have a family to take care of? But that ignores who I am. Because I’m worth it? That’s a marketing slogan. I don’t know how to complete this sentence because I don’t know what I’ve yet to accomplish.

But I can say this.

I deserve to be in my best potential health.
I have the right & responsibility to choose what and how I eat.
I can make intelligent choices that take in to consideration both my physical and mental health.
I can get up when I stumble, and I don’t have to hold grudges against myself for being human.


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What They Still Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School

This. All this. Killer interesting.

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UnSocial Media

A lot has happened in the news/the internets in the last week. Mother Emmanuel. SCOTUS. #LoveWins. My Facebook feed went berserk and riotously rainbow-colored, and only one person expressed a hateful opinion. And I’m related to that person, if a bit distantly, so I can’t say I picked them. But I myself haven’t said a peep. We didn’t discuss political issues in my house when I was growing up because it’s bad form to disagree with the Commander in Chief, AKA the boss. And this aversion has carried over in to my adult life. You will never see a political sign in my yard; my vote is between me and my ballot. Maybe it also has to do with the introvert in me; you will almost never catch me openly telling someone that something they’ve said has caused me any offense, because I don’t want to get in a sniping match over social media. One of my friends commented today that she felt her amazing education was useless if all she did was stay home and raise a family; she feels really, really strongly about this. I resisted the urge to comment with links to articles about the positive effect a mother’s education can have on a child’s long-term health and educational outcomes; I resisted the urge to message her privately saying that her words, her beliefs, were hurtful to me. My ongoing friendship with her is more important to me than telling her these things.

I did not speak up for myself; and I am okay with that at this moment. If I think I am living my best path, then another’s words and thoughts are of no harm to me; I can acknowledge their beliefs and then say, “I do not choose to embrace this.” I can also say, “I choose to live in opposition to this and oppose it with actions and being, not petty words.” If I have learned one thing, it is that I have learned that talk is one thing, and actions another; I can’t just say what a good life is, I must live it. I strive to live my goodness and hope others will strive to do the same.

(My, that’s sentimental, innit?)

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To My Fellow Whovians

So, I’ve been thinking about the Twelfth Doctor today. First of all, big congratulations to Peter Capaldi, the new face of Who. I’m chomping at the bit to see what he brings to the role, even at the same time as I know I am going to be weeping openly watching Eleven regenerate and leave.

Anyway, I’m thinking about Twelve, and my thoughts go all the way back to Ten — specifically to the circumstances surrounding his regeneration.

pause for moment of silence in remembrance of Ten

In particular I am thinking about “The Waters of Mars.” Ten had lost The Doctor Donna, the companion who could have been the closest to him if it hadn’t meant her brain having a nuclear meltdown. He becomes a wicked, cold fish, untouchable by that all too human emotion, love. Do you remember that cavalier bastard who walked in to the Mars base like he owned the place? And who can forget the startling lesson that Adelaide Brooke teaches him at the end? Sacrifice — and above sacrifice, family.

In “The End of Time,” for whom does the Doctor die? Family. He realizes, finally, that he doesn’t want to go because he squandered his chances to love purely, for the sake of loving, as though every person he met was family.

And then comes Eleven. The first person he meets is this brave little girl living all alone in a big scary house with a crack in her bedroom wall, and he has to save her. Despite his apparent childishness, his instinct is to care for that frightened little girl, even when she’s a frightened adult. In “The Beast Below,” we begin to realize that what appears as childishness is actually joy in the ability — and right — of children to live life without fear, to live with childish abandon — to be child-like. He is a hurt man, a broken man, and he chooses to redeem himself through love.

Seriously, think about how many times Eleven has gone out of his way to save, protect, care for, or show love to a child.

The Eleventh Hour
The Beast Below
The Vampires of Venice
The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood
The Lodger (Stormageddon!)
The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang

The Impossible Astronaut/The Day of the Moon
The Curse of the Black Spot
The Doctor’s Wife (poor child-like Idris)
A Good Man Goes to War
Night Terrors
The God Complex

The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe

Asylum of the Daleks (souffle girl!)
The Snowmen

The Rings of Akhaten
Nightmare in Silver

Am I right?

Eleven is, at the very core of his being, a father to all the wounded, frightened children in the universe. The First Doctor was, lest we forget, a grandfather. The Doctor’s been around the block a few times, and in this twelfth regeneration, he looks old and venerable again. I think this regeneration is going to age him in more ways than one — the Doctor who tries so hard to hang on to a child’s innocence would die to protect it.

I am also hoping six ways from Sunday that Alex Kingston comes back at least a few times for the Twelfth Doctor. I think this older, dashing, debonair Doctor could very well be her Doctor, the one she meets and falls in love with. How fitting, then, that her last Doctor — Ten — is truly young, in years and in face, and innocent. How glad would she be, to see him so happy? Even if he hadn’t met her yet….

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HOLY CROW, YOU GUYS. Harry Potter inspired, house-specific, real-world reading lists. Where would the Sorting Hat send you?

Measure of Doubt

In the Harry Potter world, Ravenclaws are known for being the smart ones. That’s their thing. In fact, that was really all they were known for. In the books, each house could be boiled down to one or two words: Gryffindors are brave, Ravenclaws are smart, Slytherins are evil and/or racist, and Hufflepuffs are pathetic loyal. (Giving rise to this hilarious Second City mockery.)

But while reading Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, I realized that there’s actually quite a lot of potential for interesting reading in each house. Ravenclaws would be interested in philosophy of mind, cognitive science, and mathematics; Gryffindors in combat, ethics, and democracy; Slytherins in persuasion, rhetoric, and political machination; and Hufflepuffs in productivity, happiness, and the game theory of cooperation.

And so, after much thought, I found myself knee-deep in my books recreating what a rationalist from each house would have on…

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Wine, Meet Toast

Yesterday I made my second batch of wine-based jelly. The recipe is unbelievably easy, if you aren’t afraid of boiling water or home canning, which I’m really not.

Batch #1 was made with a 2009 Italian pinot noir. I don’t like pinot noir to drink, and I don’t like most red wine at all, to be honest with you. But turn it in to a jelly and I am all on that bandwagon. Intense vigorous boiling boils off the booze, so at first your kitchen smells like a distillery, but it means the end result is all flavor, no headache. (Hurrah!)

Batch #2 was made with a 2010 California riesling. Riesling is a very popular wine in our house, because it is usually a sweeter, fruitier wine to begin with. German rieslings come in three types, kabinett, spetlese, and auslese. For a German riesling, I would stick to kabinett, the least-sweet of the types. New World rieslings don’t have the same typification, so any wine labelled “riesling” should do. I chose something that had a pleasing color in the bottle, and that was fairly cheap.

If you chose a riesling from the Pacific Northwest rather than California, I think it would probably be more minerally in flavor, and I’m not sure how that would translate in to jelly. You probably want to avoid slate-y wines and stick to fruitier ones. This is, after all, jelly. The recipe I used calls for fruity, full-bodied reds, but I’m pretty pleased with the riesling variety. I also think a rosé would be good, and I’d like to work my way up to champagne jelly.

But also, don’t let me stop you from experimenting! If there’s a wine out there you like, it would probably be a pretty darn good jelly.

This is an America’s Test Kitchen recipe. That practically guarantees how easy, simple, and delicious it is, right? You do have to log in to view the recipe, but it’s free and ATK is just the most awesome thing to happen for home cooks since Julia, so I’d rather make you all support them. 🙂

Wine jelly is divine on multigrain toast. I have also heard rumor that it is a delight paired with cheese, just as wine can be paired with cheese. As part of a continental cheese & fruit plate dessert, perhaps?

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