Does Meat Change Your Mood?

I had a strange thing happen to me.stormy clouds by Kristine Paulus

I’ve been feeling deeply stressed. It’s gotten so bad that this morning when I was out walking the dog, there were tears in my eyes. It was a beautiful, gorgeous day and I was out doing something I love. I should have been happy.

Adding to my unhappiness (although certainly not the cause of it) is my weight. I was comfortable with my weight all through the end of last year and up into the New Year. I sailed through Christmas feeling great about where I was. However, at some point after January, things started slipping. I’m working on it. I’ve mentioned that I am getting back to exercising and lifting weights and so forth. I’m not talking about a lot of weight, roughly 7 pounds from where I was, so I decided mid-May to give myself a little challenge: Get back to where I was by the end of June. Seven pounds in 6 weeks seemed doable. Here we are, two weeks into my challenge… and I now I have 10 pounds to lose.

That’s right, I went up 3. It’s not the end of the world, but it is discouraging. I’ve been tweaking my diet, trying to find my groove again. One of the things I’ve been doing is trying to eat for the occasion. The idea is simple – I usually know what my day is going to be like, so I should eat for that. Just like you pick out the right clothes for the right activity, I wanted to try eating for the day. If I was lifting weights, up the protein. If I was going to sit on my butt at work all day and then sit some more at night when I went to the theatre, then eat lighter. Going out with friends? Eat really healthy during the day so I could blow off a little steam at night without terrible consequences. It seemed perfect.

It was terrible.

I don’t know why I doesn’t work for me, but it doesn’t. It seems so logical! But my body hates it. In fact, I didn’t realize quite how much it was backfiring until today.

One of the things I have cut down is my amount of protein. I haven’t cut it out completely, but I’ve been eating less unless I know I am going to work out. On a rest days I’ve been concentrating on counting calories instead. So, I get home from the dog walk, tears in eyes, feeling like I just want to go back to bed. It’s a workday though, so that isn’t an option. I go to make a light breakfast when it suddenly hits me – I want a protein shake. I’m craving it. I make one, no big deal. Along with it I have some meat and some mushrooms.

And almost instantly I feel better.

Twenty minutes after my high protein breakfast I had a wave of energy. I felt wonderful. It wasn’t a slight “lifting of the mood” it was a tsunami of “Let’s DO this!” It was great! And it lasted, I felt better all day. I’m still stressed, but I’m not feeling that upset about it.

A coworker suggested that there are vitamins in the shake that might have helped with mood. I’m also hormonal, so I thought the iron might be helping. Then I did something I’ve been meaning to do for a few weeks. I hopped onto My Fitness Pal and looked up my food logs for last November.

Last November I was as slim as I have ever been, I was feeling good, and I wasn’t exercising all that much. (It had gotten cold and I wasn’t doing any outdoor cardio at all.) I have mixed feelings when people say “You know how to lose weight, just go back and do what you were doing,” because I feel that just because something worked when I was 170, doesn’t mean it will work at 140, however, I can’t argue the logic. It’s pain to look at past food logs on your phone (which is usually how I use My Fitness Pal,) but I finally sat down on desktop computer and looked it up.

In November, I was eating high protein breakfasts every. single. day. I had a lighter lunches and a very simple dinners. The goal was to eat a gram of protein for each pound of my weight, and to eat over half of those grams in breakfast. This is what my body loves – and this is the exact opposite of what I have been doing.

I am not saying this would work well for everyone. I think different people have different metabolisms and react to different foods in diverse ways. My body seems to react well to this – not just on the physical side, but on the mental side as well. Fair enough, I am smart enough to take the hint. I’ll take all the help I can get. Guess I’ll be thawing out steaks for breakfast again!

Photo credit: Kristine Paulus via flickr

 

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March

Walking Hermes

The snow does not deter my dog in the slightest

Though it is March, it was -5 degrees this morning (colder yet with windchill.) With over 20″ of snow on the ground, it still feels like February. My city is constantly being ranked in the snowiest cities in the country – not just in the top 10, we are up in the top three. The other morning the wind was whipping fine snow spray everywhere. I felt this strange sensation… it took a minute to realize that my eyelashes were freezing together! Welcome to winter in the Midwest.

I don’t really mind all that much – snow shoveling is an excellent work out, as is slogging though snow. In fact, my dog walks are more like hikes – I end up climbing 4′ – 5 ‘ hills of ice and snow at every intersection. Even though I haven’t been working out like I was, I am still getting quite a bit of exercise. And I have to say, it has been a beautiful winter. Usually by now all the snowbanks are grungy and black and the streets are nasty, but this year everything is still as pretty as a Christmas card.

I’ve slowly been getting back in the swing of things. I’m back to making sure I get at least 15 minutes of exercise a day (over an above my hour a day dog walks) and tracking my calories with the MyFitnessPal app. I’m also trying to make sure I get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. It’s paying off, I have lost a couple of the post-holiday pounds I put on, and I am definitely feeling more energetic. I’m hoping to build on those three habits as we move into spring.

I’ve still got a lot on my plate. I am trying to figure out where to focus my attention: home, work, family, friends, writing, health… there is so much I want to do! I’m trying to find that mysterious work/life balance I’ve heard tell about, but it is like tracking down a unicorn. People talk about it, but has anyone ever actually seen it? I wonder…

Hermes Snow

Quit thinking! Let’s go for a walk!

A Quick Update

Mom! Let's go track some snowmen!

Mom! Let’s go track some snowmen!

I’ve been a bit MIA lately. I am working on a few new projects, and those combined with the holidays, is keeping me hopping! I might be posting a little bit less for the next couple of months. I am trying to get all my ducks in a row on some big things, and it is taking up a lot of my time and creative energy to write.

I’ve also not been able to exercise the way that I want to. I keep trying, but I think I just have to accept that in December, dog walking and snow shoveling is about all I am going to get done. I do have one small complaint, however. I wish RunKeeper (the app I use to track my walks) had a feature where you could input the number of inches on the snow along with a modifier for the percentage of negligent neighbors who haven’t shoveled! I don’t really mind that they haven’t shoveled, but want extra “slogging” credit on my calorie count! (Also, most of my neighbors aren’t really negligent, I know that those who don’t shovel usually don’t have the wherewithal to do so, but I loved the alliteration of “negligent neighbors.”)

Hermes and I are still out for about an hour a day. I’ve added ice fishing cleats to my boots and a few extra layers, but we’re still getting out as much as ever. He loves this weather. He jumps in snowbanks, buries his nose in it and always grabs a few mouthfuls. Even though I am bundled up like I am going on a expedition to the North Pole, it’s hard to be grumpy when he is so dang happy.

So that’s the latest. I’ve got lots of irons in the fire, but I’ll be around, I promise!

The Daily Habit

LiftI thought I would write a quick update on what I am working on. I have a number of habits I am trying to build daily. I track them on the Lift app. Here’s a summary:

Eat Protein (1g/1lb): Recently I wrote a lot about how I am eating, (see: Food and Happiness) and that continues to go well. I have good days and bad days, of course. There are also times where I *think* I’ve hit my goal, but did such a lousy job tracking that I am not sure! Overall though, this is still working great. My weight is holding steady, I feel great and I never feel like I am dieting. The only new thing I am noticing is that my body doesn’t seem to like me to eat late anymore. I never used to think that mattered. I ate when I had time, so if that meant dinner at 9PM, then that’s when I ate. I’m starting to find that I feel better if I eat earlier in the day. If it is late and I haven’t had dinner, go with a light snack rather than a large meal.

Exercise: I’m still trying to find my winter groove. I’d like to do more, but for now I am content with whatever 15 minutes I can get, whether that is 15 minutes of shoveling snow or 10 minutes of shoveling, 4 minutes extra of dog walking and a few Kegels! I’m sure I’ll find my rhythm – I’m just trying to let that happen naturally instead of forcing it like I usually do.

Leave for Work On Time: Confession time: I am frequently late for work. Not a huge amount, just a few minutes here and there. I’m salaried, and I always make up the time by working through lunches or staying late, but I hate that feeling of walking in, knowing I am running behind. Especially now that the roads are covered in ice and snow, I am trying to ensure I always leave the house with extra minute to spare. The hardest part is distractions; not with fun things like reading a book or catching up on a game of Words With Friends, nope, those are never a problem. My problem is doing little “good” things that will only take a minute – emptying the dishwasher, throwing in a load of laundry, tidying the kitchen, and so on. One of those isn’t a problem, doing all of them is. So, I have a couple of strategies to help:

Making My Lunch the Day Before: This goal hits three areas: it helps me get out the door a little quicker in the morning, get my protein for the day, and it helps me save me money. When I do it regularly, I love it. I use up the food in my house, I have a great meal every day, and I spend less. Obviously this is more of a weekday thing than a weekend issue, but even on the weekends I am trying to think ahead.

Set Out My Outfit for the Next Day: Similar to the goal above, it’s helping me with my time in the morning and it’s saving me money. If I have time the night before to set something out, I can be a bit more creative with what I already have. I don’t need new clothes, I just need to figure out new ways of wearing them. It’s easier to plan that at night than when I’m in a rush in the morning.

Meditate: Like exercise, my meditation habit got derailed for a bit. I am trying to get back to it. In November, I was walking on my lunch hour and then sitting in my car for a while, but now it we’re having highs of 11 degrees. Yesterday I tried taking part of my lunch hour in the conference room. It worked okay and it was a nice place to sit quietly, but I kept worrying that someone was going to walk in. I might have to go back to meditating more at night before bed, but I’ll really miss those quiet minutes in the middle of a crazy work day.

Saving Money: I’ve mentioned that I am starting to budget again. Mostly I am just tracking figures, but the goal is to put together a reasonable plan for my spending. I have a ton of things I want to do, and many of them require money. Saving as much as I can is a good thing.

Sleep at Least 8 Hours: Another hit or miss habit for me. I love it when I can do it though. The last week had been pretty good, hopefully I can keep the streak going. I am a happier, healthier person when I get a good night’s rest.

Unclutter: As usual for me, I started removing clutter by jumping in with both feet. I was sorting out closets and cleaning out cupboards… and then I became exhausted. Lately, I am happy if I clean up the kitchen counters or tidy the vanity where I do my makeup in the morning. I have to say though, even a little bit of cleaning makes a difference. Just taking the recycling out makes my kitchen feel better, so even though I am not getting everything done that I wanted, what I am doing is making a difference.

So that’s it. That’s all the stuff I am working on. It sounds like a lot, but really it amounts to taking care of myself. All of these things are either related to my physical health, or my mental health. I’m just trying to feel better, about my finances, my job, and my home.

Slowly Getting Back

saddle

Whoopi-ty-aye-oh

This morning I attempted to go for a run. The weather app on my phone said it was supposed to be fairly mild (high 30s, low 40s), and the ice and snow have pretty much melted off the sidewalks for now. It was supposed to get around 50 degrees (Fahrenheit) later in the day so I thought that might make good running weather. I set out my running gear the night before. In the morning I got up early and donned it under my dog walking clothes.

I didn’t end up running, however. Once I got out with the pooch I realized that the winds were just too strong. We aren’t talking about some little gusts, we’re talking about the kinds of winds that blow over trash cans. Was it likely to blow me over? No, but I could tell it would be miserable. Instead, I pulled up the hood of my winter coat, tightened my scarf and took the dog for an extra long walk.

I was a little disappointed, but also pleased. I did what I set out to do – got up early and was ready for a run. I can’t control the weather, and the fact I bailed didn’t feel like a failure, it felt more like an affirmation. I am taking care of myself, whatever that means at the time. The weather was much milder at lunchtime, so I went for a walk then. Knowing about the wind, I specifically dressed for work in clothes that would keep me warm (tights under my dress pants, layers and a warm sweater.) I got a solid 45 minute walk in.

I read an awesome article about working out and getting older over at Stumptuous.com that reminded me why this is important. It won’t make me invincible, but in the long run, it just might make life a little better.

Winter Messages

The River in winterI’ve been feeling out of sorts lately. As I mentioned Monday, I’ve fallen out of my routines. I seem to have a slight case of the blues. It’s nothing serious, there is nothing really wrong, I just feel like the Gods of Entropy and Apathy have taken notice of me and decided to teach me a little lesson.

I think I know what started it all. The Thursday before Thanksgiving I was in a minor car accident. Really minor – an inattentive driver rear-ended me. Fortunately, it was at a traffic light and I have one of those 5 mph bumpers. Though it felt like a lot more than 5 mph when he hit me, my car was fine – not even a scratch. I did, however, bang my right knee into the steering column. (I drive a stick shift.) That knee has been giving me some grief for a couple of months now, so it took me some time to realize that the new sharp pains came from the accident. There was no visible bruising or swelling, it just hurt like someone was repeatedly hitting me with a ball peen hammer. I thought I must have really messed it up somehow. It hurt to walk the dog and it was impossible to run. Weight lifting, with all the squats, got thrown out the window too. I could have done other things, but that’s when the vindictive nature of the Twin Gods of Little Movement struck.

We all know Newton’s First Law, right?

An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

I seem to be at rest, but I want to be in motion. In order to change my state, I need some kind of force – a lever to pry me free of my inertia. With the holidays and rotten weather, I’ve been spending a lot of time indoors, much of it in front of screens. I decided it was time to get out in nature. I’m out walking the dog every day, of course, but I was feeling called to do something else.

I went for a walk in the woods.

I went on my lunch hour. It was dark, rainy, wet and cold. I was also inappropriately dressed, (since a muddy walk wasn’t my plan when I left for work that morning.) Fortunately I always keep a spare pair of walking shoes in the car. I was about 20 minutes in when I stopped to take a few photos, then walked a little further… and saw what nature wanted me to see: a pileated woodpecker. Many people see signs in every day things, like numbers or colors. I have a deep affection for birds. Some birds, of course, are particularly special. The pileated woodpecker is one of those. There he was, up in an old tree, proudly strutting his stuff.

Like me, my dad was also a bird lover. For many years I gave him books on birds and bird watching for Christmas, especially when he became sick and couldn’t read much anymore, but could still enjoy the pictures. He was amazed by the pileated woodpecker, and I remember him saying “Look at these huge woodpeckers! They are the size of a crow! I want to see one!”

As far as I know, he never did.

But I have, several times since he passed away. They are shy birds and usually found only in heavily wooded areas, like the areas up and around my cabin. Every time I see one, I think of him.

And perhaps that’s the message: Buck up, buttercup! Live large and follow your dreams. Life is a crazy thing, you can die of cancer at 59, so don’t waste it moping about – get out and do something. You’ll be glad you did.

Fair enough.

pileated woodpecker

 

Photo credit of the pileated woodpecker: Matt MacGillivray on flickr

Building Slowly

I’m in the process of catching up on my blog reading. I missed a lot while I was out on the road! There were some wonderful articles. I wanted to write about a couple of them that got my mental wheels a’ turnin’. The first one is: Habit – the Real Key to Long-Term Weight Loss Success on gokaleo.com.

I’m going to excerpt a bit of it, but you should really go over there and read the whole thing for yourself.

From gokaleo.com:

Five years ago I had an epiphany of sorts. I realized that my body was the result of my lifestyle habits. The way I ate, the way I moved, the way I slept, the way I dealt with stress…all these things worked together to produce the body I had at the time. My body, and my health, were a product of thousands of small, seemingly inconsequential behaviors (both conscious and unconscious) I engaged in on a day to day level. Trying to undertake massive behavioral changes all at once, as I had done so often as I tried fad diet after fad diet, rarely worked in the long term, as those massive behavioral changes gradually gave way to the ingrained habits that had established themselves over the course of decades.

I shifted my focus. Instead of focusing on an aesthetic goal and trying to force my body to that goal, I decided to focus on those small, seemingly inconsequential habits that formed the vast majority of my day to day activity. I identified the habits, the nearly subconscious behaviors that I fell back on automatically, that shaped the body and health I had at the time. And once those habits were identified, I identified new habits that could replace them, and I focused on shaping those new habits, slowly and methodically. The end goal wasn’t ‘weight loss’. The end goal was a new habit, a nearly subconscious behavior that I would fall back on automatically in my day to day life. I believed that with new habits and new behaviors, my body and health would change. I was right. []

That’s the essence of the article, but what I loved was what she wrote about the science behind modifying behavior. I am not going to excerpt that part, (seriously, go read it on the site,) but what really struck me was her idea of creating good solid habits that you can always fall back on when times get rough. I immediately started thinking about how I could start to apply those concepts to my own life… when I realized that I already do! I didn’t have the terminology that she uses, or even really do it consciously, but it is how I have approached my weight loss and fitness. A great example has to do with my goals on being physically active.

As I have said many times, one of the things I do each and every day is walk my dog. We go for a half hour in the morning and a half hour at night. I’ve tried lots of different walk times over the past three years – at one time I was trying for 45 minutes each walk, then I tried three 20 minute walks for a while, I played with a 15 – 20 minute walk in the morning and 40 – 45 minutes at night, and so on. It took a long time to find exactly what works for me. But being able to commit to this daily isn’t just about when to do it, it is also takes other little helpful habits, like keeping dog walking clothes right next to the bed – ready for when my feet hit the floor, having routines for what I do when I walk in the door at night, always knowing where his leash, waste bags and treats are, and having them ready to go. These are all little habits that have formed over time. Now walking my dog is just something I do automatically, I don’t even think about it anymore. It’s so ingrained in me that even when things are bad, never consider not grabbing the leash and heading out.

In fact, it is so much a part of my everyday life, that I just recently set myself a goal to do some kind of physical activity each and every day, without ever even thinking about the fact that I already walk an hour or more a day! It didn’t occur to me. Of course, walking with Hermes is great for a lot of things, but it isn’t enough for me to hit my fitness goals, which is why I am trying to develop this new habit. Like Go Kaleo suggests, I’m starting small. I’m shooting for at least 15 minutes a day of extra activity, and it can be anything at all – running, power walks, extra strength training sessions, time on my bike, my boxing DVD, whatever, as long as I do something.

I’ve got a few things that are helping me stay on track. For one thing, I am trying to look at the calendar and plan out what I am going to do the week before. Nothing is set in stone, but having a plan helps me make sure I have the right clothes, shoes and mindset for the day. I’m trying to use all the times throughout the day I have available – morning, afternoon and evening. For example I do strength training in the morning before work. I try to do it every other day, but if I know I have plans in the evening, that might be a great choice for that day. I also have lunch hours available, if the weather is nice, I can get a great power walk in around my office. It’s located near some really good residential areas for walking. Evenings are good for runs and bike rides (as long as the weather behaves,) but it’s good to know ahead of time when I am going to do that so I can pack my running shoes or throw my bike in the back of my car. I’m also using apps, of course. (I do love my apps.) I track running, walking and biking on RunKeeper and use Lift for daily motivation to keep at it!

Right now my goal is to simply build daily activity into a habit, to get to the point where it doesn’t even occur to me not to take an extra walk or hop on the bike when I have a few minutes. This is all part of a bigger goal, though. I love the weight that I have lost and the fact that I am in the best shape I have ever been in… but it still blows my mind. It feels fragile, like it could all burst like a soap-bubble. In some ways, it still isn’t real. But I want it to be, I want to feel like this (or heck, even better) for the rest of my life. I want to keep challenging myself and my long-held beliefs about who I am, what I look like and what I am capable of doing. I don’t want to jump into unsustainable changes, I want to carefully build and sculpt who I will become, habit by habit.


If you visit Go Kaleo, also check out their guest post: Winning the Fat Loss Lottery (not what you think…) by Sean Flanagan. It really speaks to exactly what I am talking about.

Hermes Update and Dealing with Stress

On a walk in the rain

Can’t wait to see this face.

First, good news! I finally got some good news about my little guy. It has been a long, rough week! As I mentioned, his initial surgery to remove the tumor went well, but it was followed up with complications. Hermes spent two nights in the Emergency Animal Hospital and another night at the vet’s getting blood transfusions and IVs. However, I got the call this morning that he is looking great, has finally eaten some food on his own (his last real meal was Monday morning before all this went haywire,) and is sitting up and bright-eyed. The doc is weaning him off his IVs and if all goes well, I’ll have my little guy back home again by the end of the day.

I can’t wait… the house is far too quiet without him.

Here’s an interesting thing – I’ve been handling the stress differently than I ever have before, and it has a lot to do with the changes I have made over the last year.

I actually hold up fairly well under extreme stress. The day-to-day stuff can really get under my skin, but when things go absolutely sideways, I tend to be pretty solid. I think I get this from my dad who was the same way. (Perhaps a good inheritance for once, eh Andra?) He had some, well, let’s call them “anger management issues” on the day-to-day, but when things went really, really bad, he was always calm, cool and collected. I’ve worked hard not to have the anger problems he had, but I’ve nurtured the calm. I tend to be practical, (sometimes to the extreme,) and while I have my teary moments like everyone else, my goal is always to hold it together until I get through to the other side.

The waiting is the hardest part.* Whenever situations like this come up, especially ones dealing with medical issues, there is always waiting involved. My tried and true method of getting through it is books. Preferably something interesting, but fairly light. My favorite are older, formulaic murder mysteries like the Nero Wolfe books by Rex Stout. I can’t tell you how many books I flew through back when my mother was in the hospital, waiting on some kind of news.

My other tried and true method is emotional eating. I’m not proud – when the shit is hitting the fan, I’m not going to take the time to count calories. Besides, I love food – and I really love great food, so having something decadent really does make me feel better for a bit. This week, I have been doing both of these things. I’ve been burying my head in books  and coating my throat with wine.

But… that isn’t all I have been doing. I’ve also been running, weight lifting and walking. Now, I need to make this clear – I am not trying to balance out the scale here. There is no way one of my runs will burn up the quantity of dark chocolate almond bark and glasses of wine I’ve had. It’s more that I have added another tool for coping. The night Hermes went in for emergency surgery, I knew it was going to be a couple of hours to before I heard how it went. As I headed towards the kitchen, I heard a voice in my head say, “Is emotional eating really going to help right now???

The rest of me said “*&^$!”

… and then went and put on my running shoes. I had that antsy, nervy energy – the kind that makes you want to pace, or punch something. Going for a run, even a bad run, totally let me escape the situation and work off the twitchiness. And man, were my runs bad. My times were terrible, I had equipment failures, I was distracted and unfocused… and yet, I ran. I found, incidentally, that 2 min run / 1 min walk intervals are perfect for this. I didn’t have the willpower, or the mental capacity, to run much more than this, and “just doing whatever” was actually more stressful because it involved making choices – something I had already been doing way too much of this week. Intervals gave me a structure, a purpose, and a framework, plus I could run full-out for 2 minutes if I wanted knowing I had a break coming. Though by every metric my runs were terrible, for me, they were great.

I also worked on my strength training. I mentioned that I am starting to go through The New Rules of Lifting for Women. Even though without Hermes in the house I could have slept in, instead I got up, got out my weights and went to work. I’ve been walking too. One day this week while I was waiting on a call from the vet, I headed out for an hour-long lunch hour walk. Another morning, before weight training, I went for an early morning power walk.

Sunrise. I took this on an early morning walk this week.

Sunrise. I took this on an early morning walk this week.

This is all really new to me, and believe me, I understand why it wouldn’t be appealing. One of my coworkers is going through a rough time too. He said, “I am having to do enough stuff that I don’t want to do right now, I am not going to make myself run as well.” I get that! And even though it briefly occurred to me to take the rest of my chocolate into the office and put it on the “free food” table in the break room, I haven’t – there is a still the long road of recovery ahead.

Here’s the point – I think everyone deals with stress a little differently. I am not going to judge anyone for how they handle it. For myself, I am surprised that exercise has become something I’ve started turning to. I’ve heard for years that exercise is good for stress, but it always seemed like a lot of blue mud. How could sweating, and panting and working hard feel good? Yet here I am, workout clothes hanging in the laundry, running shoes ready to go.

 

 

* Did I just get Tom Petty stuck in your head? Please tell me I did.

Eating Like a King!

peppercorn steak by Stefano A.It all started with a petite filet mignon.

A couple of weeks ago, I pulled a lovely little piece of meat out of my freezer and thawed it out. The next morning I covered it in a delicious cracked black pepper and garlic rub. I was going to grill it for dinner that night.

Then something happened. I got unexpected dinner plans.

To be honest, I forgot about my little steak waiting for me in the refrigerator, until I got home late that night and went to put something in the fridge. There it was, looking at me, accusatory. I mentally reviewed my calendar. To my dismay I realized that the rest of the week I wouldn’t be home until after 10:00PM. There was only one thing to do –

The next morning, I had it for breakfast.

My family has never been a stickler for having to have breakfast food in the morning, (my Mom loves soup for breakfast, for example,) so this was really no big deal. I had fresh melon on the side, and enjoyed my meal completely. The interesting thing was how it made me feel. I usually get really hungry around 11:00 – 11:30AM on weekdays, and this day, I was fine. Noon rolled around and I realized I had forgotten my snack. I also noticed I had a lot of energy and felt great.

Later that day I had a salad for lunch, and since it was one of those late night days, I ended up with a homemade smoothie with greek yogurt and fruit in the evening. I felt good all day, satisfied, and it got me thinking.

It makes sense to me to eat more protein at the top of the day, before I am active, and eat less in the evening, when I am typically just a few hours from going to bed. I decided to try to high protein mornings, light protein lunches and vegetarian dinners whenever possible. Apparently I am not the first to think of this. When I described it to my sister she said, “Eat like a king at breakfast, a queen at lunch and pauper at dinner.” I don’t know about that pauper business, though. Whoever made up that saying obviously hadn’t priced out the organic vegetables I eat!

So, I have been eating like this for a few weeks, and so far, I really like it. For breakfast I’ve had steaks, scrambles with ham and cheese, lean sausages… even hamburgers. I still have a side of fruit with it, or I load up on veggies (like in the scramble.) However, I don’t have any kind of bread or bun with it. (While I refuse to restrict anything from my diet completely, I’ve pretty much eliminated those things from my home. Breads and pastas have become special occasion foods.) I even made this wonderful Lebanese Recipe: Egg Stuffed Kafta Roll. (Note: Try not to mind the typos on this site. I linked to it because it attributed the recipe properly. It comes from Taste of Lebanon, one of my favorite cookbooks. It does not however, make one serving as it says. It makes 2 large 8 serving meatloaves.)

For lunch, I’ve been enjoying summer salads or soup. Sometimes I have dinner leftovers with a small amount of meat added, or breakfast leftovers with extra veggies. I have also been loving this recipe from Simple Bites: Avocado Egg Salad Lettuce Wraps with Bacon. I’ve made that several times. (I usually skip the bacon, because it isn’t something I keep in the house, but it is good either way – and with any kind of lettuce, or just on its own.)

For dinner, my vegetarian meals help not just in how I feel, but they are also making things easier on food prep. My veggie dinners tend to involve a lot of chopping and take a while, so it is nice to move the labor intensive meals away from when I am trying to rush out the door. Or, if I am home late, I can eat something light and not feel weighted down.

There is one other advantage: I tend to do my weight lifting in the morning. I like following that with a high protein breakfast. On the other hand, I like to run right after work. Having a lighter protein lunch means my I feel energetic, but not full.

Please know that I am not advocating this as a diet for anyone. We all need to find what works for our own lives, bodies and health. It also isn’t anything I am setting in granite for myself. There are times, especially when dining with others, that I will eat more traditionally, but I have been doing it for a couple of weeks now and I really like it. It helps that this time of year there are amazing choices at the farmers’ markets. It also helps that Julian has been supportive, so when we go out to eat, we frequently look for a place that has vegetarian options for me. My body seems to like it too, not only do I feel good, but my weight has settled and seems to have stabilized. (I was bouncing all around there for a few weeks.) So, I am going play with it a bit and see how it goes. So far, so good – bring on the steak!

Photo credit: Stefano A. on flickr

The Morning Dog Walk

good morning from the dog

Umm… Mom? I think you should get up now. I sense that there are bunnies outside.

I was just considering writing about my early mornings with Hermes and then I saw Vivienne’s post about her morning wake up calls. I couldn’t resist. Just about 6:30 every morning, I roll over and see this little face, staring at me – Hermes waiting for me to get up and face the day.

This is what I call his “sad eye” face. Hermes doesn’t vocalize at all – no barks or whines. When he wants something he just looks sad, and waits for me to figure out what it is. In the morning, it’s his walk.

If, like on the weekends, I don’t seem to be moving quick enough, he’ll proceed to shake his collar making it rattle. He knows that will always make me open my eyes. (I am a light sleeper.) He’s expecting me to get up, feed him, and then hit the sidewalks for our morning stroll. After all, he has scents to sniff and trees to pee on – this is no time for sleeping in!

Yes! That's better! Nothing like the scent of summer...

Yes! That’s better! Nothing like the scent of summer…

I admit, there are times I resent it. I love sleeping in. I used to be a night owl who would sleep in until the last possible moment. Now that I have a dog, I am pretty much up at 6:30 every morning – even on the weekends. Believe me, there are plenty of times I wish he’d grow some opposable thumbs so he could let himself out and I could get back under the covers! Of course, that is not to be…

On the other hand, walking is my peace, my meditation. It’s now how I wake up in the morning. Even though I am dressed and out the door, I don’t actually feel “awake” for a block or two. I compose blog posts, make mental lists, plan my day and even work through problems on those walks. I know they are good for me – both brain and body.

So, until Julian wins the lotto and hires me my own personal dog walker, I’ll be up, yawning and trudging my way down the road, leash in hand.