We are what we say we are

A couple weeks ago I was looking for something to watch on Netflix during my Sunday afternoon ‘Kitchen Therapy’. I’ve not ever watched Lost and figured with six seasons of episodes it ought to keep me entertained for quite awhile. And I am hooked – just like people kept telling me I would be back in 2004.

HCRP and I carpool to work which means I get dropped off about an hour early most mornings which gives me a little bit of time to entertain myself. Yesterday on my lunch hour I’d got almost through an episode titled The 23rd Psalm that focuses on the character of Mr. Eko.

I’m not going to even attempt to go through a season and a half’s worth of episodes, let alone several years of the character’s backstory, to explain every little detail because . . . well . . . this is a blog, not Homer’s Odyssey. But there is a scene in the episode where another character asks Mr. Eko “So, are you a priest or aren’t you?” and the camera focuses in on Eko’s face and you see this Moment, this instant of choice, and he answers the question simply “Yes. I am.” And in watching that Moment of his I had one of my own when I had the realization expressed in this post’s title: We are what we say we are.

As if that Moment in that episode of a television show wasn’t enough for me, my Inbox decided to hammer the point home with emails from two completely unrelated sources.

The first was a quote from a daily email newsletter I’ve subscribed to for a couple years now called The Daily Love. This morning’s missive contained the following quote: “A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.” Antoine de Saint Exupery
As I shared on Facebook that event was lacing up a pair of Asics and running 1 minute, walking 1 minute over and over for 20 minutes then doing that two more times that week. And the ‘stranger’ I met that day was Julianne The Runner.

It took me a long time to really, fully embrace the concept of myself as A Runner (capital R). I mean, I ran. Well, I ran/walked. The chances of me ever full-bore running even so much as an entire 5K are pretty slim. For one thing, I don’t necessarily feel the need. For another, that’s not how I train and as every runner knows – you race the way you train. So I will be a run/walk girl no matter the distance!
I’m not going to win, place, or likely even ever ‘show’ from a winning a medal standpoint. At least not until I’m in that 70+ age division and even then I sure won’t if Tonia or Terri Lee are running the same race! And I’m okay with that. I run to finish.

But back to Mr. Eko up there.
In his seminal moment of self-definition I realized the truth that we really are what we say we are!
Runner.
Writer.
Trainer.
Coach.
Motivator.
Even The Good Book tells us “What you decide on will be done, and light will shine on your ways.”
Well I’m ready to stand in that shining light and say I am A Runner and going forward I will be a Trainer and a Coach and a Motivator for others so that they, too, can lace up their running shoes and meet that stranger lurking deep down inside who is their Runner or Writer or Trainer or whoever it is they say they are!

Oh, and that second quote I mentioned hitting my Inbox this morning?
That one came from the blog of none other than Jeff Galloway, the Patron Saint of Run/Walkers everywhere.
Question: My friends think that walking is “less important” and that if you don’t run the entire way, you didn’t do it right. How do you deal with it?
Jeff: In every area of life there are individuals who will tell you that the only way to do something is the way that they do it. According to an original source, all of the marathoners in the first marathon race in Athens (1896 Olympics) walked significant portions of the race. By nature, running is a self empowering activity and each of us can choose how fast, how far and how many walk breaks we use on each run. If anyone says that run/walk/run is not doing it right, ask for the rule book that excludes walk breaks. They cannot, because each of us makes our own rule book.
Thank you Mr. Galloway wherever you are!

Week One of The Cave People

In two words: Went. Well.
In two other words: Got. Results.

Neither of us did any running.
I had a reason.  See Previous Entry.
HCRP . . .  He can start his own blog.

We have different reasons for adopting this new eating style he and I.
Mine is to basically ‘clean up’ my vegetarian diet by eliminating grains, legumes, (limited) dairy, and (what few) sugars I consume. In reality the legumes and brown rice have been the biggest challenge since, like most vegetarians, I have replaced much of my meat consumption with the legume/grain combination as a protein source.
Oh, and I miss my Greek Yogurt.
And cheese. Not that I ate a lot of it, but I do miss my cheesy little boyfriend Colby Jack.
*le sigh*

HCRP’s is to kickstart his weight loss which seemed to have stalled out even during his half-marathon training regimen. That and I essentially told him “HCRP, we’re going to do this Paleo Diet thing. By the book for at least one month to see what kind of results we get.”
He weighed in Monday morning to establish his baseline weight. Tuesday is our Official Weigh-In Day and we each weighed in with visible results. (More on mine in a minute…)

This morning as I was showering I heard the telltale *beeep* of the scale firing up and thought it a tad odd for him to be weighing in between Tuesdays (he generally doesn’t) but didn’t say anything about it.
We’re taking part in a class at our church that meets on Saturday mornings. At the start of each class we go around the group and share the good that has gone on in our lives in the past week. We went around the group and when it came HCRP’s turn nobody was more surprised than me when he spoke. This past week, with zero running/working out (don’t judge him – I’ve kept him busy assisting me with final plans for My 5K) he lost four pounds!
I didn’t say much at the time, but a few minutes ago I sauntered into the living room and asked if he was convinced that this Paleo Diet was going to work. He agreed that yes, it was.

Score One for The Cave Woman!
And her Cave Man. 


The only – and I mean o-n-l-y – way to succeed on this particular Eating Plan is best summed up in the word “Plan”. As in Meal/Menu Planning. Which is how I’ve spent my afternoon.

Sunday Dinner is kind of a big deal around here, and with tomorrow being Easter Sunday I’m pulling out all the stops. Our menu for tomorrow is:
Grilled Lemon, Dill Salmon
Grilled Lemon Garlic Asparagus (brushed with coconut oil)
Roasted Orange Ginger Brussel Sprouts
Roasted Carrots with honey, paprika & a dash of cayenne
Strawberry, Walnut & Spinach Salad with Avocado Dressing
It should be yummy.
And as soon as I figure out how I’m doing all of it I am more than happy to share recipes. Actually the only thing to “figure out” is the Avocado Dressing. The rest if it is just sprinkling spices and drizzling either olive or coconut oil.


Le Knee has been Le Pain Free for a good couple Le Days, so I am hopeful that Monday after work I’ll get in a good, one mile run. My Plan Of Action is to walk 1/4 mile, run (slow and easy) 1/4 mile, walk 1/4 mile, run 1/4 mile.

My 5K is next Saturday.
This time next week it will be All Over but The Dust Settling and cutting the check to The Ronald McDonald House.
Until May 1st when we begin planning for next year’s event.
I’m already planning to expand the event to include a 10K.
Never rest on your laurels, especially when you don’t even have them yet.

Oh, speaking of Unrested On Laurels checthis out!

This is Your Intrepid Middle-Aged Woman Blogger wearing a Size 12 Dress that has languished in a box marked “Skinny Dresses” in the eight (that’s ‘8’ in number years) years since YIM-AWB was last able to fit into it.
YIM-AWB  loves This Dress.
YIM-AWB  has missed wearing This Dress.
YIM-AWB  is very happy to be back in this dress.
YIM-AWB, before actually seeing herself zipped into This Dress was just certain she was still “too fat for” one of the “Skinny Dresses”.  She was, apparently, quite inaccurate in her assessment of her own size and shape.
YIM-AWB is, in a break from long-held custom, quite happy to have been proven
wrong mistaken.

YIM-AWB would also like to point out to One And All the flat, well-cushioned, supportive footwear at the bottom of This Dress.
Yes, she has Learned Her Lesson. 

Embracing The Caveman

It is a well-known fact that most overweight people who take up running do so not just for the joy of wearing out $100+ pairs of shoes and collecting Race Bibs. No, we are also looking for what I call the Happy Side Effect of weight loss.
Okay, I was/am.
So was/is HCRP.
And, to a certain degree we’ve each attained a level of success in that pursuit. I guess when you run enough miles pursuing something eventually you’re going to catch up with it!

My Left Knee (why does that sound like the really bad title of a really bad runner’s memoir?) has finally had enough rest, elevation, stretching, icing, rolling on a foam roller, braces, knee bands, and generally anything-but-running that it is now accepting of moderate exercise.
Wednesday we hit the gym to begin adding strength training to our overall program which had been The Plan all along once we/he finished that first Half. I backed off the amount of weight on the leg machines and did only one set and all was well.
Thursday we headed to our favorite outdoor running venue where I walked once around the 1.6 mile track at one of the lakes with a friend while Rich ran it twice. That little bit of walking it once wisdom was thanks to my friend saying “Uhhh… No.” when I asked “Should we go around again?” in what probably sounded the way eager puppies sound in people’s heads when they stand there wagging their tails with tennis balls in their mouths. I have smart friends. Don’t get me wrong, everything wasn’t all okey-dokey and rarin’ to run.  I was feeling notsomuch twinges at the end of the once-around, but definitely a little bit of stiffness and mild inflammation in the tendon by the end of the walk. But no actual pain and this morning everything is a-okay in Kneeville.
Tonight we’re back to the gym for (still modified for me) strength training, and tomorrow while Rich runs three times around the lake I’ll walk once and a quarter then turn around and head back to sit, soak in the sunshine, and read a good book.

But back to the topic of today’s post.
So HCRP and I have been running along, following The Runner’s World Runner’s Diet and dropping a pound or two one week then gaining it right back the next. Oh, yeah, I had that fabulous six pound weight loss of a couple posts back but I gotta be honest and say that was basically dumb luck + the generosity of my metabolism staying ramped up even when I wasn’t able to run + the fact that in not running my apetite has reduced itself to crap. (On the up side: I have been eating breakfast most of the days since making Meus Amplitudo Mea Culpa). But really, we haven’t been getting the consistent results we’ve been wanting.

Being a big believer in the old adage about the definition of insanity being continuing to do the same thing but expecting different results, I started poking around Ye Olde Worlde Wide Web for alternatives that blend weight loss and what I like to call Fueling The Machine. As I was doing this poking a Facebook post of a friend who is a fitness machine (martial arts, running, body building – and does he have the results to show for it!) about starting the Paleolithic Diet a few weeks back towards the end of dropping his body fat percentage. Of course at the time I read his post (which accompanied a picture of a ginormous t-bone steak and half a plate of broccoli) I thought “All well and good for you Carnivore!” and dismissed this as an undoable for me since I don’t eat meat. (Actually, tomorrow it will be one year to the day since I stopped eating meat. Happy No-Meativersary to me!)
But the phrase “Paleo Diet” kept swirling around in my brain. Which led to the following thoughtversation. (Don’t you love how I just make up words? I need to become some kind of spokesperson for a society or association of word makeruppers like my friend Terri Lee is the spokesperson for Butt Falling Off Syndrome or BFOS. I digress . . . Which is another societation I could be spokesperson for. The Nationally Associated Society for Compulsive Digressors – NASCD. We need a poster. And a logo. Wait, I did it again… See?!)
Dang it. Where was I?
*scrolls back up*
Caveman eating without eating meat . . .
Runners need carbs . . .
Oh. Right.
The Thoughtversation.
Me: That Paleo Diet thing does sound interesting.
My Brain (MB): Yes, yes it does. For a CARNIVORE!
Me: True. But I do still eat fish, eggs, and dairy.
MB: Fine. Google it.
Me: Fine! I will!
GoogleGoogleGoogle
Me: Ah HA!
MB: What?
Me: Look! That No Meat Athlete Guy says it can be done. And he is HARD CORE Vegetarian. He might even be Vegan.
MB: Okay fine. But what about that “Runners need carbs” thing?
Me: Vegetables and Fruits are carbs. Ask Atkins people. They practically break out in hives at the sight of anything vegetablier than lettuce!
MB: Atkins people eat more than lettuce.
Me: Whatever. Not an option.
MoreGoogleGoogleGoogle
Me: Hey. You. Brain. Check this out. Written by a Runner for Runners on a Runner’s Magazine Website! HA!
MB: That’s one article.
Me: Oh yeah? *insert googling sounds* Well look at this: The Paleo Diet for Athletes by Dr. Loren Cordain. One of the guys the vegetarian runner dude had dinner with.  And it’s not “one article” it’s a BOOK!
MB: Huh. Well. Well huh.
Me: That’s all you’ve got? Look dude (yes, MB is sometimes a ‘dude’) I’m willing to try this. Obviously what we’ve been doing isn’t really working. And if I’m going to be able to train for a half-marathon without incurring any future knee injuries, and HCRP is going to be able to shave that nineteen minutes off his half-marathon time it seems to me that one of the biggest obstacles is the extra weight we are each lugging around. This isn’t necessarily a “weight loss” diet per se, but I can’t help but think that dropping grain-based carbs and dairy from our diets might help a little in that direction. Besides, Dr. Jeff has been none-too-subtle in his “go gluten free” messages and what better way to maybe kindasorta go along with that ‘nudge’ without actually going along with it than to do the same thing with a different label? Huh? This way we get the same benefits and results without him being able to come and say “I told you so!” because really, we didn’t do what he told. We did something different. Entirely.
MB: Well. Okay there is that. It’ll be like the Certs of dietary changes: Two, two, two benefits in one!
Me: You have entirely too many 70s references readily available.
MB: You’re the one who watched all that television as a child.
Me: I have Googling to do.
So after all that I ended up with the aforelinked book by Dr. Cordain and the The Paleo Diet Cookbook notsomuch because I need ideas for cooking – I love coming up with interesting and creative uses for food all on my own – but because, well, it was a reasonable excuse reason to buy a new cookbook!

Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be going through our pantry, fridge, and freezer(s) and strafing all the grains and grain-based foods. (I’m not throwing them away, but one of my co-workers is gonna love me every time she makes spaghetti with whole grain noodles for the next six months!) And tomorrow evening I’ll be making up a menu and shopping list. I’m pretty much going to ‘automate’ our breakfasts and lunches and get creative with dinner.

For me it’s going to be a matter of just not eating pasta, bread, and potatoes and upping the vegetable and fruit quotient. There are a few – very few – staples of my diet I’ll have to find a new ‘source’ for. Such as yogurt. I’m hoping our local Whole Foods stocks the So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt because yogurt is a huge breakfast component for me.
HCRP may struggle a little more with the absence of bread, rice, and pasta but I’m pretty confident in the end results I expect us to see and that going a long way towards offsetting that struggle.
And yes, once this has become a habituated dietary pattern for us there will be allowances for occasional ‘cheats’. But honestly, based on everything I’ve read from people who have gone this route and stayed on it, I think we’ll find that we don’t necessarily miss all that grainy goodness as much as we might anticipate on the front end.

But today and tomorrow?
Oh honey, we’re goin’ out with a bang!
And a bagel.
And probably cookies.

Blogging about food – not running

Spinach & Mushroom Baked Ziti a la Me

Ingredients

‘Cheater’ Pasta Sauce
2 – 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 – 8 oz package sliced mushrooms
12 oz frozen Baby Leaf Spinach (thawed)
1 head minced garlic (approx. 2 TBSP)
2 TBSP dried Basil Leaves
1 tsp dried Thyme leaves
1 tsp finely ground Sea Salt
1/2 tsp red or cayenne pepper

Everything Else
1 package Barilla Whole Grain Penne Pasta
1 cup sour cream
1 cup plain, Greek Style Yogurt
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese (part skim)
1 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
Olive oil
Butter (real butter – NOT margerine!)

Directions

Sauce
In bottom of lightly heated 3 quart sauce pan drizzle approximately 2 TBSP olive oil and add 1 TBSP butter, heat , over medium heat until butter has melted.
Add garlic, basil, thyme, salt, and pepper and stir.
Add sliced mushrooms, place lid on sauce pan and cook until mushrooms are soft.
Pour in two cans of crushed tomatoes, place lid and bring to a slow boil; reduce heat and simmer.

Everything Else
Cook pasta according to package directions, rinse, mix in spinach, sour cream, yogurt, sauce, and cheeses.

Place mixture in baking dish and bake at 350 (f) for approximately 30 – 45 minutes. (Check for doneness based on how browned the cheese and pasta are on top and your personal preference.)

This is, as a carb laden dish goes, fairly healthy.

I call the sauce I made today ‘Cheater’ Pasta Sauce because normally I saute finely minced eggplant, zucchini, onions, bell pepper, mushrooms, and chopped fresh spinach in with garlic and fresh herbs; add blanched, peeled, pureed Roma Tomatoes; then cook all that overnight in the slow cooker. I call it “Julianne’s I-Ate-What?!” Pasta Sauce”. My grown sons know good and well there is: A) zero meat; and B) vegetables they would otherwise never eat; but they eat it and come back for seconds and thirds!