“But this does not define you…”

Cover image from Moana. Screen cap via. An approximation of how I’ve felt the past few weeks.

I’ve had a rough few weeks. Personally, professionally, mentally, emotionally, physically… you name it. It’s been difficult to fire on all cylinders. After a particularly trying week, I gave myself permission this weekend to just be.

Terry and I had a productive Saturday and spent time with friends, but I knew I needed today for and to myself. Based on my activities, here are some tips for a rejuvenating Sunday from someone who allowed herself to have one:

  • Sleep in.
  • Drink coffee.
  • Sink into something methodical—preferably with a goal or something easy to achieve—for a few hours. For me, this was crafting gear in Guild Wars 2 and listening to a podcast. I was playing an open-world MMO, but doing tasks with clearly defined crafting guidelines and a numerical goal to reach. This is not fun for everyone. I don’t even like it a lot of times. But it was perfect for today.
  • Eat lunch. Or a snack. Drink water. Just don’t forget to nourish yourself.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Spend time with your person. Or a person or creature who doesn’t make you make an effort to spend time with them. I’m fortunate to have a husband I can cohabitate with and not have to do anything. Most of the day we were within sight of one another, but we weren’t doing things together. We could just do our thing and have a good day.
  • Eat ice cream.
  • Watch Moana. I suppose you could theoretically watch any Disney movie, or any movie that makes you happy. But I highly suggest Moana for empowerment, good music, tears, and happiness.
  • Do Yoga with Adriene’sYoga for Depression.” Again, you could do any workout or yoga you like, I suppose. But Adriene just posted this today, and it was exactly what I needed. More so than I could have thought.
  • Bathe and pamper yourself. Take a bath, take a hot shower, put on a face mask, shave your legs, pluck your eyebrows. Whatever gets you clean and makes you feel a little special.
  • Dance and sing to the Moana soundtrack while you write a blog post. Okay, maybe that’s just for me.

Take a deep breath and get out there and kill it this week.

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OOC: Avocados are not pudding.

OOC stands for “out of character.” This blog isn’t a fitness or food blog, but I need to write about this experience, and by god I’m going to use my blog to do it.

I’ve been feeling pretty down about my weight and body image recently. I completed my fourth half marathon a week and a half ago, but that still doesn’t make me feel any better about my no-longer-flat stomach or the number on the scale.

So in an attempt to feel better about my body, I’ve been looking into clean eating diets, food prep ideas, and substitutions for sugary snacks that don’t help with weight loss. Between a friend who just had a great experience on Whole30 and another who has had a good experience with a detox, surely I could find something that works for me, right?

I found a two-week clean eating challenge from Buzzfeed one day while looking for recipes, and the tab sat open on my phone’s browser for weeks. As soon as I finish this half marathon, I thought, I’m going to try this clean eating diet.

But the longer I looked at the diet, the more nervous I got. It was a pretty big commitment. So, I googled the plan. And found some reviews of it.

That’s right, reviews of a clean eating challenge posted by Buzzfeed in 2015.

There were two consistent aspects of the reviews that gave me further pause: the cost of buying all the food, and the time it takes to prep all of it. Healthy food costs more, we all know this. But almost every meal is different, meaning that even if you’re making the meals for one like the recipes call for, you have to buy different ingredients for every one. That adds up, especially when you’re buying dates, pistachios, avocados, and portobello mushrooms. The time commitment was also alarming. With an estimate of over 20 hours to prep all these meals, the reviewers had zero social lives. One barely even had time to work out, let alone hang out with anyone.

With these two red flags flapping in my face, I ultimately didn’t decide to take on the whole challenge.

Thank god.

Because I did go ahead and try a couple recipes from the challenge. I kept the browser tab open and looked forward to blackberry chia seed pudding for breakfast and trying the delicious-looking chocolate avocado pudding.

Maybe I’m just not into healthy puddings. Because those two recipes sucked.

First, the chia seed pudding. I hate putting blackberries into any recipes, not because I don’t like them, but because I love them so much I want to eat them unaltered in their beautiful full-berry state. So having to crush up a handful of blackberries was hard, but I did it. It looked like jam, and I like blackberry jam, so I was okay with it. I added the chia seeds, the almond milk, the coconut, stirred it all up and set it in the fridge to be enjoyed in the morning. The next morning, I grabbed a spoon, stirred up the pudding (it looked a little thin), and dove in.

Blech.

It tasted like milky blackberry jam. And nothing else. It wasn’t thick enough to be satisfying, and it wasn’t sweet enough to make up for the lightness. It was just bland. I ate the whole thing and was starving for the rest of the morning.

So chia seed puddings aren’t my thing, fine. What about this chocolate avocado pudding? Avocados probably make for a great consistency, and who doesn’t love healthy chocolate?

No one. No one loves healthy chocolate. Because it’s disgusting.

I whipped up this “dessert” tonight. What a waste of an avocado. I froze half of the avocado earlier this week so it was ready to go. I dumped it into the blender. In went the almond milk, the cocoa powder, the vanilla, the date. Then I hit “blend.” Yikes. Frozen avocados are hardcore–and I have a hardcore blender. So I blended and blended, then scraped down the sides, then blended some more. Finally, it looked like pudding, so I scraped it out into a bowl… and noticed it was studded through with chunks of avocado and date. Okay, I thought, I’ll just eat around the chunks. Most of it got blended together, so I’m sure the flavors are right. Dear god, I hope those flavors weren’t right, because it smelled like chocolate, but it tasted like avocado. I take that back, it tasted like bad avocado. It was bitter and cold, and it smelled wonderful, which just made it worse.

What’s sad, is that this pudding recipe made with a frozen banana instead of an avocado is probably delicious. Banana ice cream is good because bananas are sweet. Avocados are not sweet. They go on toast and tacos. Not dessert. Not with chocolate.

I read another Buzzfeed article recently about a woman who cut added sugar out of her diet for 30 days, like a less strict Whole30. The tagline of the article is, “No added sugars, no artificial sweeteners, no fake sugars, no honey, no agave, no syrup, no joy.” That’s what this clean eating challenge sounded like. And, from what I experienced, it’s what it tasted like, too.

Eating healthy is hard. Cutting out sugar is hard. Cutting out carbs is hard. But you shouldn’t be miserable while trying to eat healthy. Try healthy foods, and stick with the recipes you like. I love the Thug Kitchen Cookbook, which is nothing but vegan recipes. I discovered this morning that I like blended oat smoothies. I like salads with homemade dressing and home baked sweet potato fries. All of these things are good for me, and they taste great. There’s no reason to cut joy out of your diet for the sake of a flat stomach. That saying “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”? That’s bullshit. Cake tastes better than zipping yourself into skinny jeans.

Eat a piece of cake, run a couple miles, and be happy.

And don’t make pudding out of avocados.