Sunday, January 24, 2010

Flying Solo in the Kitchen

Put JTM on a plane to New Zealand and Australia for two weeks yesterday - Half the time he will be in Brisbane presenting at at conference, but the other half is a much-planned and anticipated solo visit to New Zealand.  I'm so, uh, HAPPY for him!!!!

So for the next fortnight it's just the lads and me left to fend for ourselves.  The chauffering and form-signing and keeping-in-line shouldn't be too much of a challenge - they're growing up and have become pretty independent over the years, and they're good guys and really good company.

But it's the COOKING that's got me in knots!  I used to love cooking - and I'm pretty good at it, but over the years it's become necessary to give up control of something - I just couldn't do all the household stuff on my own once I went back to work - and JTM's developed a real passion for cooking, so he's now the head chef in our kitchen (he's been gone for less than 24 hours and there's already a dozen of his cooking shows stacked up on the TiVO).  We usually consult briefly on the weekend about the menu for the week, and I make sure we have everything needed for school lunches (still my domain), but that's about it.  Most nights I arrive home from work and meal preparation is already in full swing.

So I've put together my own very kid-centric plan for the next several days, and we'll see how it goes.  I figure the most appropriate thing is to focus on making nutritious versions of what they like and then figure out how that fits into my own eating plan.  Shouldn't be too tough since my plan involves grazing my way through the gargantuan box of spring mix JTM bought the day before he left, garnished with some kind of ultra-lean meat, and snacking on celery and Gerolsteiner on my way to the gym to work out.  I'll mostly be just sniffing at their food as I jog by.

I can just hear everyone at Weight Watchers tsk tsking at this approach, telling me that I should be making the kids eat what I eat, and that a restrictive eating plan is not sustainable...well pfft!  This two-week period is a great opportunity to really clean up and simplify the eating, and knock off a few extra pounds. And YES I will get in my oils, and my milk!

Today I'm making slow-cooked beef curry for Roti, and Shepherd's Pie with extra lean ground beef - it has more vegetables in it than the lads will ever know (finely grated carrots add to the volume without calling attention to themselves), along with a generous splash of red wine that gives it an incredible richness - it might be the very best thing I make.  Yesterday was home-made macaroni and cheese.  I make it with Catelli Smart pasta to give it some fibre, and I cheat by using cheese sauce mix from a packet, along with several types of grated cheese - not a ton, just enough to give it a little gooeyness.  It's the topping that makes it though: lightly buttered and seasoned panko.  Sometimes I put in peas, but this time I just steamed some broccoli as a side.  I made enough for a small army so there are two more meals in the freezer now.

Note: the monotasking and list-making is not going so well; I'm still spinning in circles, trying to keep everyhting in my head while flying off in all directions at once - OUCH - but the laundry is still caught up!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Living a Lie

So last night I was getting ready to head out to the gym for a little walk-run treadmill action - cause I'm one of those people who works out regularly - and I caught sight of my profile in the mirror.  I was stunned by how small my chesticular region looked.  At first I thought my boobs had just been compressed by my new sports bra, but then I realized they really ARE that small!  I guess the weight's been coming off all over because I've become quite petite along the bustline, and hadn't really noticed, until last night, that is, that I've been walking around for months now decieving everyone with my miles-too-big bra.  Not much in there but air and foam - like smoke and mirrors only not so gothic.  I only wish that one day I could have the same revelation with a pair of underpants - "Oh goodness, all this time it was just the puffy panties making me look fat!"

Anyway, I'm sorry everyone, that I've tricked you into thinking I had such a great rack.
(And by the way, I ran for ten two-minute intervals without dying - I am making progress!  The right shoes - Asics Gel Kayanos rock! - and a good sports bra really help, although if I keep this up I may not even need to wear a bra for much longer.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The January AAAAAHs

As a transplanted prairie girl I will never quite get used to the winters here. Today I had to run an errand downtown so I left the office, coatless, at 3 pm, and wandered over the bridge in the late afternoon sunshine. The water in the Inner Harbour was doing that glittery crushed tinfoil thing, and there were people sitting outside sipping wine on one of the restaurant patios along Wharf Street. It was PLUS ELEVEN!  In January!

Last week was kinda miserable - not so cold- but we had rainfall of ark-building proportions and not a single ray of sunshine to penetrate the gloom all week long. Still I figure any day between November and March that I don't have to scrape off the car windshield in the morning is a good weather day!  I actually feel bad that I hogged three pairs of red HBC Olympic mittens when so many of my fellow Canadians are doing without.  I'll probably wear them to do a little gardening this weekend.  HA!

On a completely unrelated note, I've been monotasking like crazy around the house and have beaten the laundry room completely into submission. Think I'll stay in the basement a while longer and get things sorted down there.  Feng Shui says that we're not supposed to keep anything under our beds as it interferes with the flow of chi (or something like that).  I can only imagine what they'd have to say about my cluttered basement.

On an even more unrelated note, we are doing yoga at work, in an open space that has workstations all around it.  It's incredibly bizarre to do the Downward Facing Dog in front of the colour copier, while people go about their business around you.  I've now figured out how to dress appropriately for yoga so have managed so far not to show my bra to too many people.  Underpants are another story.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Take THAT, Canada Fitness Test!

So I have recently committed to kicking the ass of running - it makes me absolutely FURIOUS that, my whole life, I have let running defeat me.  So many buses never caught.  So many races finished last (or not at all). So many calories not burned.  So many years spent believing that I couldn't. 

Forget about it - I am no longer letting my past define me.  I refuse to continue identifying with the girl who was awarded nothing but a "participation pin" from the Canada Fitness Tests (a plastic pin?  Come ON!  Not even a bronze badge?  Nope - not for that soft clumsy girl, the one the other girls called spaz, the one who looked for any excuse to sit inside and read for fear of being stuck being "it" for the thousandth time in tag.) For so long I've looked at people busy using their bodies and thought "not me".  I actually turned down an opportunity to play softball once because I didn't own a pair of runners or sweatpants - I actually hadn't for several years!  Now I just put that kind of gear on as soon as I get home from work (my play clothes, I call them), so I'm ready to go when the spirit moves me.

Canada Fitness Awards - clearly not from my personal collection!

But how did I get here?  Not to the elite land of the uber-fit; to be honest I'm not even close to being fit - but to the place where I can walk into the gym, head held high, and feel like I belong there? To a place where I want to grab running by the throat and let it know who's boss?  I honestly don't know; it just happened very slowly.  A waterfit class here, a tennis lesson there, a hundred walks, some yoga, some kayaking, bellydancing, a little advice from a trainer...and then one day I thought screw it, and I signed up to participate in a 10k with some people from work.  That was two years ago.  I walked it, very slowly; and I walked it again last year, albeit at a slightly brisker pace.  This year I will run at least part of it.  I know I can do this because tonight I held running to the mat for a 120 count. Yep, I ran for two entire minutes without stopping, and after a two minute walk, I did it again. And again. And again.  I really got that I'd changed when I invited a couple of friends to come and work out with me.  You know, like, just for fun!

Hey Canada Fitness Tests! Take your plastic pin and stick it someplace really uncomfortable, cause that's not who I am.

How many thousands of Canadians once wore this badge of shame?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hit the ground stumbling

This was to have been the post where I said I was clear-eyed, refreshed and ready to take 2010 by storm - an aspirational (yet oh-so-pragmatic) listing of my goals and dreams for the year, dreamed up from a comfy (yet chic) armchair my uncluttered, dust-free living room, cup of organic herbal tea steaming at my side .  Instead I'm tired, out of sorts, days behind at the office and mired in layers and layers of laundry in varying states of done-ness - seriously I have worn the same socks three times this week- and all is chaos in the house. And I'm two weeks behind in making my New Year's resolutions.

But hey, the Christmas decorations are away now  - uh - except the ones hanging in that one window that I forgot; and we have to step over the tree every time we walk out the front door. And of course, like so many of us, I'll eventually have to find and fish out the extension cord that fell into the koi pond when I was hanging lights out there. But, you know, mostly done. Done-ish.

I think I really need to cut myself some slack here: this is the BEGINNING of something here, not the culmination.  If I were truly able to bounce back from the holidays with a clean house, a bright outlook and and empty "inbox" I probably wouldn't need to make New Year's Resolutions anyway.  And everyone would hate me.

So dustballs, dirty socks and other to-do's notwithstanding, here's my list of goals for 2010.  I expect I'll be elaborating more on these as time goes by, but right now I just have to get them down!

1) Learn to Monotask
This is about doing what I am doing - to focus on the task at hand- and not get sidetracked.  Multitasking is just not efficient!  For me this isn't just about getting things done - it's also about being present in the moment - present in my life and the lives of the people I am with.  Sometimes this means to just stop and do nothing but listen.  Or just stop and do nothing. So hard for me - I always feel pulled in a million different directions, my mind is racing ahead to the next thing.  Even when I'm sitting still I am thinking about what I could/should be doing instead.  Yoga's helped me with my awareness of this, and that's a start. Duct tape may get me the rest of the way.

2) Learn to manage tasks and priorities by making lists
See above.  Lists will help keep me focused.

3) Channel my inner adult
At work, especially, I think it's time I claimed my 45 years of life experience and stepped up as one of the grownups.

4) Learn what is enough
What is enough to eat, or drink, or say...what is enough to buy or own...what is enough to put onto my plate, generally.

5) Learn to give housework the priority it deserves; no more or less
A hard one for me - pretty much since the day I got married, I've viewed home as a workplace,  not that soft place to land that people talk about.  And I find dirt and clutter to be incredibly distracting. I'm going to use the new habits above to get the house to a state I can live with and develop the routines needed to keep everything in its place.  We'll see how it goes.  I've decided to focus on one new routine every month - get it to be automatic and then move onto the next one.

One resolution that I don't have to make this year, the one I've made every year since Year One, is to lose weight and get into shape.  I''m working that one already - just need to keep moving forward on it.  And lose the four pounds I gained by medicating my mother-in-law holiday visit stress with shortbread and wine.