Thursday, April 27, 2006

Faster, Longer, and Uncut

I am a perfectionist. People at job interviews and such always act like this is such a good quality, a great quality, something you should brag about to everyone. I’m such a perfectionist, yea me. But really it means that life is nothing more than one big competition with yourself and everyone else, all the time, and that nothing you do is ever good enough. Sometimes I look at all the things I try so hard at and I wonder who on earth I’m competing with. I beat myself up because so many people ran faster than me in my 10K, when I ran forty five seconds a mile faster than I did in October. But it’s just not good enough for me. I’ve never had a run where I’ve finished and then haven’t beat myself up afterwards for hours, or sometimes even days. Isn’t that weird? Most people aren’t like that. Mr. E thinks it’s terrible, he just shakes his head and looks at me with a sad expression on his face.

I am stressed about the upcoming half marathon, and right now I also don’t feel too awesome. I have endometriosis and so every month when I get my period it just fucking sucks. Sucks to the tune of throwing up or passing out because it hurts so much. And honestly when this happens to you over and over again every month and no one can fix it you get really fed up and tired and angry. So right now I don’t feel good, again, just like I will next month, and this is one of those months when I get angry at how much this has taken from me. I do have medicine I can take but it knocks me out to the point that if I try to work I’ll end up throwing up in my trashcan and going home anyway. Add that to the fact that I’m so unbelievably bloated I can’t stand it, I can’t even look at my ass in the mirror because Jesus Christ, why is my ass so large all of sudden? Of course it’s not even as simple as that, because maybe my ass is the same size that it was a week ago, when I loved it, maybe it’s me that’s crazy now. I wouldn’t know, because I have no perspective whatsoever on the relative size of my ass. All I know is that when I think it seems small, I feel better, and now is not one of those times.

Because I am a perfectionist and I want everyone to think I am the number one winner of all time, I try to control the future all the time. I am a controlling, anal, perfectionist, and I am sure I sound like a barrel of laughs, don’t I? My in laws are celebrating their 35th anniversary this summer and having a huge family week long gathering and somehow that leads to me, the Thursday right after payday, contemplating which J Crew t shirt I should buy to perfectly carry off the non desperate super cute look of preppy casual that I’d like everyone to remember when they think of me and the summer of 2006. Which is ridiculous because no one will even care. I’ll compile the worlds largest and most ridiculous collection of prep and everyone there will be wearing cut off sweat pants and old high school t shirts which I don’t even have because I didn’t go to their high school, and I’ll think “oh, we’re doing THAT look this year. I’m wrong again”.

Even after losing all this weight, I feel undue amounts of stress every morning over what the fuck to wear. I am not ashamed to admit that when you start to lose weight you think it will be the magic answer to everything and that in the morning when you leap out of bed 60 pounds lighter a whole outfit will just snap onto your body, crisp, clean, professional, young, hip, whatever. In reality you are still telling yourself that you don’t need to iron those Target pants that sort of almost fit, at the same time as you wonder – fuck, how did all my t shirts get so fucking short? This is a MEDIUM! I’m 5’ 1”, so who DOES this fit? Seriously. Make the t shirts longer, people.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Sauteed Veggies and Tofu with Brown Rice and Peanut Sauce

This dinner is both easy and a pain in the ass. Easy because the veggies come frozen in a bag labeled "Stir Fry Mix" - just find some you like, keep them on hand, then come dinner time toss them frozen in the frying pan and voila. The tofu, on the other hand, is another story. Slice the light extra firm kind into chunks and dry it by letting it sit in the fridge on paper towels all day. Dry it some more by blotting with more paper towels. Fry it (with a little Pam) on as many sides as you can for as long as you can take, until golden brown and crispy. Make some light peanut sauce (I use the Cooking Light recipe thinned down even more with extra chicken broth) and some brown rice, stir together the tofu and the veggies, and voila. Delicious and so healthy!

Grilled Chicken Strawberry Salad

Mr E and I eat this about once a week in the summer. It's got grilled chicken, romaine lettuce, carrot shreds, strawberries, pineapple bits, pea pods, almond slivers, celery, and chinese noodles, with an asian sesame dressing. But again, you can throw in pretty much whatever you have around that sounds good. Make sure you slice the breast after you grill it, and throw it on after it cools a bit so it doesn't make the lettuce wilt.

Elizabeth's Giant Salad Cheat Sheet

I just had a conversation with someone (hi Sarah!) about how boring salads can get. I probably don't eat as much salad as I should, but I keep this list posted in my kitchen and I try to keep as much of it on hand as I can, so I can just throw salads together without too much thought. I'm sure there's stuff I've forgotten so if anyone has stuff I should add let me know!

Spring Mix
Napa Cabbage

Bell Peppers
Mandarin Oranges (canned)
Red Peppers
Artichoke hearts
Carrot shreds
Snow Peas
Pineapple bits
Roasted red peppers
Cold frozen thawed peas
Canned corn
Red onions

Sunflower seeds
Turkey, sliced
Ham, sliced
Walnuts, plain or candied
Almond slices
Chicken salad
Parmesan cheese shavings
Cheddar cheese bits
Asiago cheese
Mozzarella cheese
Beans of any kind
Grilled chicken

Monday, April 24, 2006

Victory is mine! 10K, under an hour!

Congratulations on finishing the Novartis Run!
The following are your personal results:

Name: Elizabeth XXXXXXXXXX
Distance: 10K
Time: 57:22
Pace: 9:14
Overall Place: 260 of 382
Place in Gender: 106 of 188
Division F2029 Place: 53 of 71

I never thought shaving 45 seconds off each mile would be so hard, or that it would make me so proud! Imagine, same time next year - I could be running 8:30's! Hee hee.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Turkey Burgers with Carrot Slaw, Mac and Cheese, and Strawberries and Oranges

Mr. E makes the best turkey burgers in the world. He uses Martha's recipe, and substitutes parmesan for the gruyere. We had these on whole wheat buns with avocado. Yum!

This was a lot of food, probably one side too many, but I had a long run the next day, so I had to have the pasta. This is Lean Cuisine Mac and Cheese, btw, one of my dirty little secrets. Regular mac and cheese is just too bad for you, but I crave it all the time, so when I do I just have the Lean Cuisine version. I can't even really tell the difference any more. The carrot slaw is Kathleen Daeleman's Spicy Sweet Carrot Slaw, which I love, and I make it all the time and then keep it in the fridge, and I'll throw it on salads or just munch on it throughout the week. And then I'm having a love affair with strawberries so I threw some of those in there. Plus they just look so pretty!

Favorite Turkey Burger

Serves 4; Prep time: 10 minutes; Total time: 35 minutes
Burgers are an American classic—and they don’t have to be made from just beef anymore.

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (preferably 92 to 93 percent lean)

1/2 cup finely grated Gruyère cheese

4 thinly sliced scallions

1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 minced garlic clove

Salt and pepper


1. Heat grill to high. In a medium bowl, use a fork to gently combine ground turkey with Gruyère, scallions, breadcrumbs, mustard, and garlic; season generously with salt and pepper. Gently form mixture into four 1-inch-thick patties.

2. Lightly oil grill. Place patties on hottest part of grill; sear until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Move patties to cooler part of grill; continue grilling until cooked through, 5 to 10 minutes per side.

Per serving: (without buns) 290 calories; 9.7 grams fat; 37.6 grams protein; 7.1 grams carbohydrates

Note: Cheese and mustard are incorporated rather than used as toppings. For juicier burgers, don¿t use the leanest ground turkey.

Baked Orange French Toast

This is one of my favorite breakfast splurges, and I don't usually like french toast.
Even though the recipe is from Cooking Light, it's not overly healthy, so I usually eat only a few pieces and then have lots of fruit on the side.
I also swap out some of the sugar with splenda and use that fake egg substitute for the eggs, so that helps lower the calories as well. Oh, and I don't refrigerate it, I just dunk all the bread in the liquid first and then pour the rest of the liquid over the bread once it's in the baking pan. Yum!

Orange-Pecan French Toast Casserole

Making this casserole saves you the trouble of standing over a griddle flipping individual slices of French toast. Assemble the dish the night before your gathering, and pop it in the oven the next morning. Be sure to serve each slice bottom-side up so the pecan mixture is on top.

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons light-colored corn syrup
Cooking spray
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup fat-free milk
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg whites
2 large eggs
12 (1-inch-thick) slices French bread (about 1 pound)

Combine brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup; pour into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle chopped pecans evenly over sugar mixture.

Combine rind and next 7 ingredients (rind through eggs); stir with a whisk. Arrange bread slices over pecans in dish; pour egg mixture over bread. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Carefully turn bread slices over to absorb excess egg mixture. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until lightly browned.

Yield: 12 servings

CALORIES 293(29% from fat); FAT 9.5g (sat 3.9g,mono 3.6g,poly 1.3g); PROTEIN 6.1g; CHOLESTEROL 49mg; CALCIUM 69mg; SODIUM 323mg; FIBER 1.6g; IRON 1.6mg; CARBOHYDRATE 43.6g
Cooking Light, JUNE 2004

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Pasta Salad with Fresh Mozzarella, Basil, Tomatoes, Roasted Red Peppers, and Mango

Mr. E loves this pasta salad. We don't normally eat a lot of pasta, but now that I'm running a half marathon, I have to eat it the night before my long run, so we've been trying some new recipes. I think you could eat it without the pasta, just on some spring mix salad like we had on the side.

The only other ingredients are salt, pepper, a little olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Just make sure to use fresh mozzarella (the kind that comes floating in water.)

According to Plan

I turn 30 in six months. I’ve got this list of 30 things I’d like to accomplish before then. It’s actually around 33 things, but Thirty Before Thirty sounds better, and I’ll be honest, some of the things on the list are things like “Eat Empanadas” that aren’t exactly going to be life changing events. Anyway, it really just started out as a list of things to do around here because it’s so damned boring, and also I find lists comforting. I wish I was the kind of person who woke up spontaneously on Saturday morning and went trilling through the grass on the way to fly a kite via the farmer’s market, but I’m actually the type of person who reads a book on sustainable agriculture and then looks it up on the web and then talks about it with my husband and then puts “go to farmer’s market” on a list.

Then the list evolved, and I thought maybe I could use it to get myself out of the rut I’m in right now. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, and I’m trying to figure it out. I can’t help but notice that I’m not in fact married to JFK Jr and I’m not living in a brownstone in Tribeca and buying shoes for a living and I’m not six feet tall and I don’t have long blond straight hair and things have not gone according to plan. However I am pretty sure that whatever I’m going to love to do in life, whatever it is that I want to do forever, that I’m going to be really good at, it’s not being an underpaid glorified office temp. All I know is that the list reads:

#17. Figure out life: food, books, writing.

Because right now I am feeling lost, I have to stick with the very basics, the things I know for sure about me, the things I am most passionate about in life. Food, books, and writing. As motivation I’m going to start writing about dinners we’ve been eating, that I’ve been cooking, complete with pictures. I hope that for the most part they will be healthy and full of good things to eat and we’ll all be inspired – after all, eat more vegetables is Number Five on the list.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Mr. E suggested I bronze them but even I'm not that crazy.

The other day I got a new pair of running shoes. My main pair became my "around town" shoes and my old old around town pair could be thrown out. But those old shoes were my first pair of running shoes, and I had the hardest time letting them go. They had dog poop in the bottom that wouldn't come out no matter what I did and chunks of the soles were missing, but these were the shoes that started it all. The shoes that sat in my closet for a year until one day they just dared me to run and I finally did it. They were there for that first step when I didn't think I could do it but I did it anyway. That day was a long time ago but these shoes have taken me so far and that's hard to just throw out. But we're moving soon and I can't keep extra crap and besides they did kind of smell like dog poo. So I threw them out in the end. But I took a picture first. And I won't lie, something about this picture makes me feel really really proud.

Monday, April 17, 2006

A Supposedly Healthy Thing I'll Never Eat Again

So this weekend I made some roasted curried chickpeas. They were pretty easy to make, although Mr. E did make fun of me when I dried them, but hey, that’s what the recipe said to do.
They were reasonably tasty, and eminently snackable. But the thing is? By the time they’re drained and roasted and all that, there’s not a whole lot of them, and they’re pretty easy to just toss in your mouth mindlessly, since you figure, they’re beans, they’ve got to be healthy, right? It’s not like I just opened a bag of Fritos – If I was hoovering those in, at least I’d think twice about it, because everyone knows they’re terrible for you. Even if they are delicious. Way more delicious than curried roasted chick peas, I might add.
Anyway, at some point in my snack attack, my curiousity was piqued, and I checked the nutritional ingredients. While normally I’d never eat an entire can of chick peas in one sitting, these were salty and crunchy and like I said, cooked down to a not large quantity of food, so I figured I’d better check and see how many calories are in an entire can of the little suckers.


Jesus Christ! Healthy, my ass. I get that they’re chock full of fibery goodness and all that, but I won’t be making those again. I guess it’s a good wake up call that a whole can of anything isn’t good for you, but I’d rather just eat a handful of Fritos, thanks!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

An Open Letter to the Girl Who Has Everything

I stood there, on that football field, in front of your boyfriend, the quarterback. The Astro turf gave, strangely, beneath me. I noticed small, unimportant things. Like how sweaty he was, how odd I found that. Had he been working that hard, I wondered?

As I stood there, my carefully cultivated ironic detachment fell away and the world felt very small. Everything seemed quiet, as I remember it, although it must have been very loud. I remember someone speaking very slowly, very calmly, very far away, in the background.

The world slowed.

Later that day I forced myself to think through all the jealous and the bitter and the weird rattling around in my brain. I thought about what your life must be like and I felt sad for how different mine must be from yours. Chances are yours isn’t that great either but you have the possibility of greatness. I honestly don’t begrudge you your happiness but it’s hard not to think – look, your boyfriend is a football quarterback, and you’re beautiful and could be a model and you’re going to be rich someday so what ever other problems you may have aren’t the first things that come to my mind.

It’s not as if I feel like you stole something from me. It’s just that it sometimes seems like so far you did a better job at life than I did and I can’t help feeling like all my hard work was just to make my fuck ups less obvious. Not even to succeed. Just to cover up my failures. Losing sixty pounds might be a nice accomplishment but it’s not really all that great when you compare it to not getting fat in the first place.

Maybe that is my fundamental burden here. I always thought I had nothing to get over because I don’t care that my husband gleefully ate seven chicken drumsticks last night while I thought punishing fat girl thoughts over every bite of pasta salad that went into my mouth. I don’t begrudge him his guiltless appetite and so I figured when they dished out the diet advice I could skip over the part where they tell you to get over that it’s not fair.

But I’m here to tell you that actually? I’m full of shit. Because really I DO think it’s unfair and I am hung up on it. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t care that I can’t eat some things and other people can. What I can’t get over is that I let myself gain sixty pounds. What I care about is that I let myself get so out of control, that I let myself get so ridiculously fat, that I never pulled myself back from that edge. I’m really angry about that. I’m really disappointed in myself. I wish I had never been a fat girl, but it’s not that I’m jealous of other girls who aren’t fat. I’m jealous of all those girls who could have gotten fat, but never let themselves.

That’s why it’s so important for me to remember that this hasn’t been a circular journey. I did not do all this work to end up right back where I started. I am a stronger better person now, and I am someone I would never have been had I not gained and lost sixty pounds. I’ve learned some things I never would have learned otherwise. I’ve learned what true love looks like, blind love, at the same time as I learned how superficial the world really is. I’ve learned to run, and as I’ve watched my body change and checked out my leg muscles I’ve learned what really being proud of myself feels like, and that I like it, and I want more of it. I’ve learned to think of myself as an athlete and I’ve learned to turn the TV off. I’ve learned how to cook all over again. I’ve learned how to stick to a training schedule, and that some days are better than others, but that no matter what self defeating thoughts I think before I start out, that I can in fact run nine intervals in a row, I can in fact run 13 miles. I've learned that sometimes you eat the brownie, and sometimes you don't, that I am too hard on myself, that no one is perfect all of the time.

I like to think of all of this as practice for being happy. Even though sometimes I fail, the more I practice, the better at it I’ll be. But sometimes it’s really hard work, and when I see other people and all they have I think it must be so easy for them to be happy and that kills me. I see your football quarterback boyfriend and I believe that for you, for other people like you, maybe no practice is necessary, and happiness is easy. And my attempts, by their very nature, seem like failures.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Why I Try

You wake up every morning, and you’re determined that today will be better. Today will be a good day. And then you roll out of bed and you eat a doughnut and you have a cheeseburger for lunch and ice cream for dinner and you feel disgusting as you eke out four miles on the treadmill and you go to bed with a rock in your stomach but you wake up the next morning and you try again. And maybe you have yogurt for breakfast and a turkey sandwich for lunch and spaghetti squash for dinner and you don’t drink beer at a football game and you get home late but even then you steam roll your way through six miles and two hundred sit ups and then you remember why you do it all after all.

The reasons why are endless. They change every day. And they’re different for everyone. But today, for right now, these are the reasons I ran four miles last night and I’ll run twelve miles tonight and I’m drinking plain coffee this morning instead of a Venti Mocha with whip.

For me, today, right now, it’s because I love being an athlete. And I love being late for planes, and having to run because I can, for the first time since I was ten. Because it’s warm at night now and I wore my short pajamas to bed and last night I saw my thigh out of the corner of my eye and thought “huh” instead of “ugh”. It’s my new jeans from a store where I couldn’t have bought any jeans a year ago – a store I once walked out of, crying. It’s for the cherry red bikini I’m wearing the shit out of this summer. It's for the horror of thigh chafe - realizing halfway through the day that I can't wear skirts anymore - it's worth it to never have that feeling ever again. It’s because when I see people I haven’t seen in a long time, I don’t have to worry that I’ll see that look on their face, the one that says “wow, she’s gotten FAT since I saw her last.” It’s no longer wondering if I’m the fattest one in the elevator. It’s because back in the day I couldn’t fit into my husband’s pants and now we laugh together when I put them on.

And because I remember, two years ago, sitting in the bathroom at work, at a job I hated, and thinking about how much weight I’d have to lose if I even tried, and it seemed so impossible, so totally insurmountable, and you know what?

I fucking did it anyway.

That’s why.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

No Man's Land

Here is a secret for you. Right now I’m not counting points. I’m just eating what feels healthy and trying to eat only when I’m hungry. I’m not eating extensive amounts of crap, but I’m not subsisting on carrot sticks either. I’m sure I could eat healthier, and I definitely drank my money’s worth while I was in New York, but hey, it was my best friends bachelor party and that martini was totally worth it. I puked it all up the next morning anyway. (Not on purpose, btw, just due to the hangover from hell.)

It’s totally possible that I’ve gained weight in the last week, especially since we were on vacation and eating out a lot, but I don’t know if I have, since I haven’t weighed myself since before we left.

And for the first time in a long time, I feel free.

I’m still thinking about all of this. About how free and light I feel, and how much better I feel about my body right now. Last night I looked at myself in the mirror and for the first time in a long time I liked what I saw. I ate a healthy smallish dinner and had a cupcake and I wasn’t tempted to graze on crap all night long. I actually feel so much better about food and my body and my mental state in general right now that it’s a little bit confusing.

I’m torn. I might decide that this was just a brief vacation from counting points and that I’m going to weigh myself this Friday and start back trying to force myself to 115 pounds by counting every carrot stick, but I also might decide that I wanna go on feeling free and eating what feels right and learning how to trust myself. I don’t know yet. I only know that I feel better than I have in a long time, but I’m still scared of gaining weight. The truth is, sometimes I’d rather be thin than happy.

That’s pretty fucked up.

But I suspect there IS a middle ground - something between obsessive counting and total freedom, and even though I have never been good at that type of balance, I think I owe to myself to look for it. At the same time though, I don’t know if I’m ready to do that work. Total freedom feels really good and really safe. It’s not a lot of work and also? I know that if I fuck it up and gain weight and want to bail out of trying to be healthy and happy and eating normally and having a normal relationship with food and my body, obsessive counting 115 craving Elizabeth is right there waiting to take over.

The middle ground is no man’s land. I don’t know how to do that. So it scares me.