Monday, February 9, 2015

Why is it so hard to eat "clean"?

So I was feeling really good up until I had no choice but to eat crap. Last week, I was in a solid routine. I went to work, went to my hot yoga classes, and cooked cleanly. I even ordered this book from Amazon:
Now I actually know the definition of "clean."

According to my scale, I lost six pounds. My boyfriend was boosting my ego with compliments about my tight, healthier frame. And most importantly, I felt happier. The combination of nutritious food and the emotional satisfaction that I was mentally steadfast in a regimen made me feel more clear.

Then Saturday rolled around. My boyfriend and I had purchased a Groupon to go skiing up in New Hampshire. Our plan was to drive up Saturday morning, stay the night, and drive home Sunday. I knew that I would have some temptation Sunday morning because we were staying at a charming bed and breakfast where we would likely be given a petit déjeuner that would be chock full of unclean ingredients. And I wouldn't be able to say no because I never wanted to be that person, who attempts to sound polite when declining her host's meal, but actually comes out sounding like a pretentious snob, condescendingly turning her nose up at perfectly good and normal pancakes. So I surrendered to the fact that there would be a minor cheat meal happening on Sunday. But it's not like it was a big deal because we would have skied for like, nine hours the day before. 

So we drove up to New Hampshire, me on an empty belly (banana and coffee) and my boyfriend on a chocolate chip muffin. He was shocked and slightly saddened by the fact that I hadn't stealthily cracked off the dome of the muffin, and left the rest of the crumbling cake in the paper bag. 

Due to our light breakfasts, we needed to have lunch after a couple hours of skiing. This is where my majestic clean eating edifice that I had proudly built in one week  collapsed in one fell swoop.

Bye-bye benefits of Greek Yogurt for seven days

As soon as we entered the ski cafeteria, my eyes darted from chalkboard menu to chalkboard menu. Hamburgers. Chicken fingers and fries basket. "Award winning" chili bowl with a conglomerate of three different types of meat. A menu "key" illustrated which meals were Gluten Free, and which were considered "healthy choices." A little green heart distinguished diamonds from shit. And it only appeared next to the veggie wrap, which was full of mushrooms. Which I despise. 

My stomach snarled in undernourishment. The banana and coffee were distant memories after four hours of skiing. 

Rushed, I chose the turkey sandwich. "White or wheat bread?" The blonde cook asked readjusting her plastic sanitary gloves. "Wheat," I replied without hesitation, suddenly feeling resolute and dignified. How's that for a healthy choice? 

I watched the girl unload a handful of french fries onto the plate. My boyfriend hungrily bit into his hamburger from afar. Panic pulsated through my veins as I realized I would eat these fries. Maybe I'll give them to my boyfriend. I'll just eat the pickle. I'll be able to say no. I'm strong. I'm a "clean" eater. I blog about my triumphs!

Three minutes later, I had only left four french fries for my boyfriend to finish. Clean eating diet gone to hell. 

We skied for a few more hours, totaling an eight hour day. By the end of our excursion, we weren't hungry at all. We wondered if after a week of clean eating, our bodies were unaccustomed to typical processed, shitty American food, and so it filled us up for longer periods of time. It was a strange sensation, not being starved for food after eight hours of physical activity. 

Dinner time came around, and we were still indifferent about our imminent feeding time. We agreed that we had to eat, otherwise we'd wake up at 2 AM scrounging for food from our innkeepers. I had found a high-rated, healthy-ish restaurant only ten minutes away from our B&B. Thinking we were in the middle of nowhere, we didn't even consider making a reservation. We were regretfully informed by the restaurant owner/ maitre d/ waiter that he had no availability. So like Jesus and Mary, we turned around and were forced to dine at one of those 2.5/3 star-rated Italian places with huge portions placed atop picnic checkered tablecloths. 

And that's when the entire clean-eating diet was donezo. I ordered a cocktail, which had to have been 75% sugar. I diluted it with my lemon water. I ordered a chicken caesar salad, and decided to split a pizza with boyfriend (split= I eat one piece). I ended up eating only a quarter of the salad, and indulging in one piece of the sausage pepperoni pizza.

The amount of food I ate was not absurd. Two years ago, my boyfriend would have been alarmed. "Are you sick? You haven't eaten a thing," He would have asked feeling my forehead for a fever. I felt like I hardly ate anything. The quality of the food was disgusting in comparison to the week of kale and hummus. 

That night, I couldn't sleep. I couldn't poop. I felt horrible. Like an alien in my own body. 

I woke up the next day wishing it had all been a dream. It's incredible to note how our bodies react to crap processed, sugar/fat/carb laden food after a week of training it to be dependent on only wholesome food.

It is really difficult to obtain healthy, clean food when dining out. Especially when the options are so limited. 

It prompted me to get back onto the Clean Eating train as fast as possible. I'm sticking to foods that are most similar to their natural states.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Day three of eating clean-ish

Last night, we made the chicken lettuce wraps as the BuzzFeed Clean Eating Challenge outlines here. We were supposed to use cabbage leaves, but well, fuck you, cabbage.

I didn't know what cabbage looked like at the grocery/ didn't really care to search. There are so many rows of weird species of plants I've never even heard of in the produce sections of groceries. I obviously know what cabbage is, but here's a real recipe for ya: mix in spiky, octagonal fruits and dick look-alike horseradish, and like, a million people trying to do their grocery shopping pre-Linus snowstorm and Patriots Super Bowl, you've got a delightful I don't fucking care about cabbage leaves, we'll just be lucky if I get out of here without punching this guy's son in the face for pushing his shopping cart up my ass.

Yes, I searched "radish that looks like a dick" into Google. Weirder things have been searched.

Here was our chicken, mango, basil, lime vinaigrette mix. 

I also added in red and orange bell peppers, and some fresh cilantro leaves.


Except after, my boyfriend was starving like this:

Still hungry.

Then, I shit you not, I woke up in the middle of the night (or morning, around 4 AM) hollow as fuck, in desperate need of food. I can't remember the last time I woke up from being hungry. Never. That has never happened.

Today was the first day back teaching after living in a dream world of snow, and I brought a Greek yogurt parfait to wolf down for breakfast. I've never been a big breakfast person, so it took a lot of energy to force myself to eat the whole thing. I included: Greek yogurt, rolled oats, a splash of skim milk, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.

I was very hungry by 10 AM, which is my "prep period." In the biz, this is a term that is synonymous  with "hurry, you have 40 minutes to pee, eat a snack, grade a stack of quizzes, and plan for the next three lessons ALL AT THE SAME TIME."

For lunch (you won't believe this), I ATE ANOTHER GREEK YOGURT. I think I'm overdoing it with this nasty, plain whipped textured crap. So I sprinkled in some trail mix (yes, M&M's, peanuts, almonds) onto the top. 

When lunchtime rolls around (noon), I have no time to eat, and I spend my time problem-solving teachery things. I would have loved to enjoy the feta basil tomato lunch that BuzzFeed suggests.

At 2:20, I eat an apple and drink a seltzer. Then I can't take it anymore. I eat some of these that I stored in my desk before my clean eating epiphany of mid-January:

Absolutely NOT on the clean eating list.

But they were so good. Still very hungry, I could either go home and fuck this entire thing apart, eat pretty much anything and everything I could find in my apartment, until finally finding myself sobbing in a fetal position as I permanently delete this blog from the cyberverse. 

In other words, I could quit.

So instead, I dragged myself to yoga a good 90 minutes before class began. I go to Corepower Yoga because it's heated yoga, the studio is fantastic, and the classes are only one hour long.

Don't let the cute photo fool you; I bulged out of my little yoga tank from Old Navy the entire class. I still have lots of work to do here, people.

I came home in a somewhat happy mood, and cooked the salmon recipe with lentils. Except with swordfish. And with snow peas instead of green beans. Boyfriend was happier with this meal. But then again, he also was able to fattily enjoy some Ben and Jerry's after dinner. Whereas I was exiled to blog about my successes/failures while my tummy continues to growl.

"I'm fine with this inadequate meal because I'm going to consume 800 calories of Americone Dream after."

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I guess I'll make a blog

Today was another day off of school due to extreme wintry weather. My day was spent going to the gym (I'm on a trial week membership), eating Greek yogurt, watching the last hour of Boyhood, and considering the pros and cons of blogging. Obviously the pro side won.

So I woke up this morning feeling extremely hungry. I think it's the first time in a while that I've had hunger pangs so early. That kale crap last night did not fill me up.

I shoveled out my car and my boyfriend's car for about thirty five minutes. Then he sped off into a blur of snow/slush and I went to get an iced coffee from Dunks.

The lady looked at me crazy for ordering an iced coffee on an 8 degree day, but whatever. 

I eventually trekked in the snow to the gym. I ran a slow 5k, did some lunges and squats to Kanye, Big Sean, and Jay Z's verses of "Clique" and called it a day. The snow sucked, by the way. 

Mountains of snow. Sorta looks pretty...

Until your feet are soaked with frozen pollution snow.

Anyway, this is when I decided I should write a blog. Because I was coming home from the gym, famished, and ready to do some serious damage to the fridge. My boyfriend wasn't there to feed me distorted compliments, my mother wasn't there to lecture. That's when I realized that perhaps I could use the power of social media and nameless, random people to revitalize me. Maybe people people would find my posts entertaining, or helpful? All I know is today's birth of my blog prevented me from swallowing 10 Twix bars over the past two hours.

To eat for a post-workout lunch: I blended a smoothie- ice, frozen berries (strawberry, raspberry, strawberry), OJ (probably not clean), banana, chia seeds (I guess they're high in fiber). And some kale leaves. 

The problem is I really can't tell the difference between kale, chard, and spinach (though the salad bag features an illustrative glossary). 

I'm just putting any and all of this green shit in.

Here was the result:

Pineapple not included.
And so that's where I am as of now.


Feeling lighter.  

Eating too many almonds than allowed according to the Clean Eating snack guide. 

Proud I went to the gym.

Annoyed by the horrible gridlock traffic outside my apartment due to the lack of snow cleanup. Nice work, Boston.

Pissed that it's hard to find a good name for this blog's address because I missed the "blog train" when it was cool to publish trivial musings, and so now I'm stuck with But let's face it... it works because the whole point of doing this is so I can say I didn't spend the entirety of my twenties as a heffer...

My original blog address didn't work.

Wondering why my mint leaves in my mint and cucumber water look like shriveled up blades of marijuana. 
Can you tell which one is mine and which one is Khloe Kardashian's?

Okay. Time to cook something that won't fill me up at all.

The worst time to detox ever

This has to be the worst time to start the detox. It's winter, and Boston has been pummeled with what feels like ten feet of snow. I could search for some hyperbolical images of Antarctica to plaster here, or I could show you real footage (which is just as farcical, in my opinion).
This ridiculous man in the American flag shorts is indeed my boyfriend. Note the harsh landscape. Day one of five snow days.

Now I'm not going to do this whole blog thing where I take before/ after selfies. I'm not going to start out each blog post with my current weight. I'm never going to actually write how much I weigh. Yes. This is because I don't think this will turn into an uplifting Oprah-worthy weight loss miracle. At best, I think I'll feel a little less sleepy, and my belly won't be quite as expansive. But if no serious lbs are shed and I type out my true, honest size and weight, it will just be a pathetic joke that will definitely lead me into a downward spiral of life.

But seriously, winter has to be the worst time to start a diet. All I want to do is hibernate like a big bear, and feast on a ham and  Fontina cheese panini.

Be advised, I'm not following this Clean Eating diet perfectly. I will try to follow the system to a certain extent, but it's not feasible for me as a middle school teacher with a literal ten minute lunch break. I barely have time to eat an apple and drink half a seltzer, let alone heat up an already prepared dish of shakshuka.

Also, there's no fucking way I'm giving up coffee. If I quit my morning caffeine fix cold turkey, I'll have brain tumor headaches, and every student will wind up with an "F" for quarter 3.

I'm going to try to cook the dinners (sorry boyfriend who likes to eat steak and pasta every night), and stick to the mainly produce diet as much as possible. Problem is, I'm already sick of Greek yogurt.

I know it looks good (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, granola, greek yogurt), but at a certain point, I will need a chocolate croissant. The chess board was purposefully placed in the photo to represent "strategy" in this whole thing.

During yesterday's snow storm, I was ravenous. Luckily, my boyfriend didn't go into work yesterday in order to keep me from eating stay safe from the hazardous driving conditions. Any time I felt like snacking, he gently reminded me of my plan. He even said "You look thinner." It had only been like, six hours since eating Super Bowl Sunday BLTs at my parents' house. 

Anyway, somehow I was able to stick to clean foods (I'm still unsure what constitutes as "clean"). 

Last night, I cooked the Roast Chicken Bowl with Quinoa and Kale. The photos always make it look so good.

My boyfriend was still hungry after the meal.

Here's our photo of what this meal looked like:

I didn't even think of taking a nice overhead photo until after every last forkful was finished. The orange vinaigrette was a nice touch. I totally effed up the slow olive oil drizzle, however. I just dumped that tablespoon on in. So I added some more garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice. I typically bend the rules. 

Here's Day 1's recipe: Day One

Friday, January 30, 2015

Through the years...

Where to begin? Well, like pretty much every other woman who has walked the planet (or will walk it), I have an extreme love/hate relationship with food. Or perhaps I should replace the word "food" with the gerund "eating" because the food itself isn't the problem. It's my inability to restrain myself from eating huge portions of well, anything, really.

 There was this time when I wanted to die when I was like 11 years old because I ate every last morsel of the tortilla chips at a Mexican restaurant with my family. And then I somehow managed to consume every last bit of my chicken quesadilla AND save room for a big fat cone of strawberry ice cream. I couldn't say no...we were on vacation and this ice cream joint was part of our Cape Cod tradition.

Just the black and white striped cup on Google Images sparks excitement sixteen years later.

I remember being full to the point of immobilization; the very act of buckling my seatbelt across my bloated torso was painful. From the backseat of my family's Ford station wagon, I vowed never to eat again. This prompted an immediate lesson from my fit parents, who insisted on exercising (usually in the form of running) every single day, rain or shine (I have a vivid memory of my father going for a run during the famous Hurricane Bob of 1991).


"It's all about moderation and exercise," Mom or dad (probably mom) lectured. I've always been an extreme person. Either elated or despondent, riveted or detached; and redesigning a whole lifestyle and mindset about carefully thinking about what I ingested would be impossible for me at age 11 (it still is impossible now). So instead, I pledged I would never eat again. This is where you think I'm going to transition into a horror story perfect for one of those xoJane "It Happened To Me- I weighed 95 lbs. after developing an eating disorder". Nope.

Within 24 hours, I'm sure I was gleefully chomping into a s'more.

That's the thing: I was never anorexic nor bulimic. I never had to be hospitalized. I never had to have an "intervention" with loved ones. I never lost a "shocking amount of weight" to cause concern or rumors. I just was a normal fat teenager, eventually bowling my way into the "technically" obese chart in my pediatrician's office. Then, when I was 14, I spent two weeks of the summer only eating Freeze Pops and every so often, working out to my mom's trippy Reebok Step video. I think my mom was concerned about my eating habits, but she was probably proud that I was finally getting my heart rate over 80 BPM without her harassment.

Normal 14 year olds swim at the pool in summer. Abnormal 14 year olds exercise to this. 

A month or so later, I had to run a mile around a field next to my high school as part of a gym fitness test. A class clown with mainly self-deprecative themed material, I told my friends who agreed to run alongside me that they should encourage me by repeating the mantra, "Keep running, fat ass," should I try to stop to catch my breath. They had to say it like, five times.  But I finally ran a mile! In the gym classes of junior high, I had "pretended" to "run" the mile. I never actually made it around the track four times in the  allotted 15 minutes.  Like, I needed 20 minutes to walk a mile.

Anyway, this was a major physical breakthrough for me. And so then I started to run, albeit slowly and not far. As time went by (cue the movie montage of running clips over the years: stuffing my inhaler in my sports bra, twisting my ankle after losing my balance on a teen-angsty run, the kind neighbor at the end of three miles who gave me a cup of water on a 100 degree summer day), I dropped a lot of weight, and soon I became like, in limbo between "athletic" and "still kinda fat." I also was a heavy dancer at this time and I fell in love/hate with Bikram hot yoga.

Whatever. The point is, I exercised and worked out, but continued my carpe diem eating habits.

Thirty fucking pounds of me has yo-yo'ed back and forth for the past ten years. I lost a good amount of weight during a college breakup, and then put it all back on within four months of studying eating abroad in Italy. That pattern sums up my twenties pretty well.

So here I am now, at age 27,  a seventh grade writing teacher, on the heavier side of my typical twenties' fluctuation, stumbling upon a BuzzFeed "Clean Eating" diet that a random girl like three years below me in high school posted to her friend on Facebook. "Absolutely not, LOL," this girl has written above the link. It's a snow day, there's no school, I'm bored and therefore hungry, so I click to look at some pretty pictures of food.

It's a clean eating detox. Click and scroll. Lots of kale and almonds. Click and scroll. No bread or rice or pasta or red meat of any kind are featured in the Instagrammy photos.

Impressive spread. But doesn't really get my blood flowing like the Peaceful Meadows cup.

Maybe it's the aerial photos of perfectly arranged plates and whisks and the chic cooking ware. Maybe it's that I've always wondered if a kale smoothie tastes like shit. Maybe it's because I've already emailed the link to my best friends, boyfriend, and mom, which is like making a public declaration that I'm going on a diet/ detox and I've put myself in a position to somehow be held accountable. Or maybe, I'm finally experiencing a reverse form of my  carpe diem eating habits.

I decide I'm gonna do this.