Sunday, September 15, 2013

Side stitches and fruit body shapes

Just about all week except for one day DH and I have been walking after work. I always go the same route: out of my neighborhood, around two gated developments, up a side street, and back to my house. Previously, I figured it was around 3 miles. Today I timed it walking alone at about 10 am on a Sunday. It took me about 1 hour.

I thought I was walking at a pretty good clip until close to the end but that only equates to a 20 minute mile. Pretty average for me. I will have to time it when DH and I walk, I feel like I walk faster to keep up with him and his long legs. A general online calendar estimated I burned 345 to 386 calories during my walk, depending on how fast I was actually traveling.

Last night I started to feel a cramp in that darn same spot on my right side. DH mentioned maybe needing to eat a banana, but we thought those were just for leg cramps, or drinking more water. I have been off on my water consumption lately. But I used to get the stitches before when I was hard core about my water.

Jenny Side Stitch Four Ways to Stop the Dreaded Side Stitch

So I did a bit of research on side cramps, also called side stitches, among many other names. It is a cramp in the diaphragm (a muscular membrane that moves the air into or out of your lungs so you can breath). They have no idea why it happens but there are a couple of theories about how it could happen. This is the gist that I got from it:

  • Tugging from organ movement
  • Exhaling on a foot strike, liver pulls down when diaphragm pulls up.
  • Exercising may restrict blood to that area
  • Running (or fast walking?) pulls the knee higher which squishes the belly which squishes the diaphragm
  • Not pushing a whole breath out can build up pressure and cut off blood flow

Not related to the diaphragm directly:

  • A build up of gas, sped up by exercise, in the large intestine. 
  • Eating or drinking within the last 2-3 hours before exercising

When I get the stitch I usually throw my hands on my head and run, or walk, like that. Instantly, it improves. Arms down, pain. From my reading, and the above bullets, it looks like I am stretching the organs out and giving my diagram more room. It might even change up my breathing on which leg I strike, so who knows? I found this arms-up method mentioned only once, on the Prevention website. It suggests doing this as a stretch every day. Once upon a time I used to do yoga quite often, and before my runs I did a similar stretch.

Runner's World mentions foods high in fiber and fat take longer to digest and can cause a number of stomach area issues if still moving around in there during exercising. One person's perfect is another's pain. Both How Stuff and Core suggest lips as away to help with breathing. Either grunting on the exhale or pursing your lips. Both make you focus on breathing and the forceful exhaling.

Now that is particularly interesting because I try to not look like a mouth breather when I walk. Running, oh well, open mouth it is. I try to do deep breathing through my nose, but maybe I need to start extending and pulling in my belly also. I kind of like the idea of the blowing out birthday candles idea. Sure I probably look and sound goofy, but if it works I am all for stopping the pain.

Interesting, wikiHow has something that uses water on your skin, or a bath, to get rid of them. See the link for the how-to.

I figured all of this walking would have me at least dropping a few pounds. When I weigh myself on the weekend, its less, during the week, back to normal. I do eat and drink less during the weekend so that is probably it. And I know the exercise will be building up the muscle I let go slag recently.
My motivation to start running (ha, let's see if it holds true!) came at a Girls Night Out potluck. I came in a few hours late due to working late and leaving my phone/gps in my office at work (ugh!), wearing a flowy style dress that had a stretchy top. The hostess, whom I know casually, was already into the wine by this point, and understandably so, hugs me and as we are walking in touches my belly and says, "OMG are you pregnant?" Now, this is not the first time this has happened in my life, although not in a while. Apparently, I had funny quips to let the comments roll off, after all, most women my age are well into multiple kids and we rarely all get out together so it's hard to keep track of who is and who isn't. I never feel bad because I understand, and I am  holding my weight right there. This time I just said no and moved on, she counted with, "Oh! I'm sorry! Don't feel bad," and we went on through the night as if nothing had happened.

So I wake up this morning and think, should I go walk or should I get on the treadmill and start my C25K training again? Clearly, it bothered me, just a little. I ended up going for a walk this morning and deciding to start running on Tuesday. Fingers crossed I do. I might actually get up regularly for work and "run" then head to work a bit later on. I realized just one hour later and highway rush-hour traffic almost doesn't exist, both to and from work. Which helps my stress level immensely.
I came across an interesting pic on an ad on facebook. This is a similar lay out. It uses fruit shapes overlayed on a female body drawing to show where the weight is held or to show the larger location of the body, if there is one. I liked it because I knew I wasn't pear-shaped, it's mostly in my belly. But what am I?  According to this I am an apple. Hey, we all can't be hour glasses or bananas like society dictates.  I am not fitting into my pants, my shirts are kind of all over the place because I weeded some out, bought some new ones for winter, and it's still hot, so they are too heavy, and just can't find anything that I own that looks good on me: hides the flaws, accentuates my curves. I pulled this image from My HighWaist That website is a good one to check out for celebrities in bikinis who have particular shapes, like the triangle, or inverted triangle. Not the most comprehensive and appears to be selling bathing suits. But hey, its a resource and the picture was informative.

Anyone else have cures for side stitches or complaints about which fruit you are and which you want to be?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Pasta and a Walk: Shirataki noodles

I am happy to share, I was going to go for a walk today all on my own-no outside motivation!!

The plan was around lunch time when the rain stopped. I was changed, all ready, and decided to text DH and ask if he wanted to walk with me when he got home. If I didn't hear from him I was just going to go. As I was trying out an email to him just in case that got through first, he texted back! I was shocked. Usually he doesn't have his cell with him, so a response right away is like surprise gift. 

So I decided to wait for him to come home. As it turns out, just as I would have set out, it started to pour rain again. He saved me from the rain, aw. It turned out to be much nicer later on, no clouds in the sky, beautiful sunset, cooler temperature, most of the rain had dried up or moved to pool in the channels to the storm drains (which always seem to be backed up). I just used a better map and our usual walk is about 3 miles. Yet again, I forgot to check the time to see how long it took us. Although, we do have to stop somewhere between 5 and 8 times for road crossings or gate entrances, which may slow it down as we wait for a chance to cross. 

Dinner request was pasta and sauce. I only allowed it because I had just bought some Shirataki noodles to try out. Pasta just has too many carbs and I have successfully learned to live without it. I have been reading about these non-carb noodles for years and only just found them now. So I knew they had to be rinsed, rinsed, and rinsed again. The smell of the bag as pretty pungent, it is made from mushrooms and sometimes tofu, after all. I boiled for about 3 minutes and then pulled the extremely long noodles into bunches and pulled some into shorter lengths for easy eating. I boiled some regular wheat pasta for DH in case he couldn't eat the new ones. I actually put the wheat pasta in first, mixed it a bit so it wouldn't get clumpy and then used my handy dandy wires skimmer to hold the shirataki noodles in the boiling water above it. Mine happens to be "Chinese Style" as opposed to heavy duty all metal. Mine is also now an heirloom and I am honestly surprised it has lasted through so much use. Back to the noodles, I strained and rinsed and strained and rinsed again, just in case. This ended up cooling the noodles down too much but I wanted to make sure there wasn't any residual nastiness that DH might pick up on. Or me, but I am a bit more receptive to odd smells and textures and flavors. 
This is half the package, or one serving. Might need to double or triple for that "plate of pasta."

I thought the noodles were just fine, like ramen. DH agreed that it wasn't bad. Not the best texture for pasta sauce, but could be great for soup, maybe fried up for chili, cold pasta salad, or just as a side. I am already envisioning my favorite sauce, ricotta cheese (which is actually whey). Yum! 

Here is how the noodles stack up against our wheat pasta. Shira is 113g serving size, 4g of carbs, 3g of fiber, 15 cals. Wheat is 56g serving size, 41g of carbs, 5g of fiber, 210 cals. 
That compares as 113 vs 56 serving size. 4g vs 41g carbs. 3g vs 5 gs fiber, and 15 calories vs 210.
Or double that for the the Shira portion size: pasta is 82 grams of carbs, 10g fiber, 420 cals. 

Wow! That is of course, if I read the package right. Still, this is going to be a new, if far more pricey than pasta, staple. And it was kinda pricey. I think one bag was $2-$3 maybe where as pasta is, what? $1 for a ton of servings? Eh, we are trying to lose weight, not feed an army before it does a triathlon. We can afford, thankfully, to spend a bit more to eat a bit more that amounts to quite a bit less. Does that make sense? 

Now, we might need to double or triple the amount of Shira noodles to get that "full" feeling if we are eating "pasta" for dinner, as I said earlier. We always have a veggie along with dinner. The more carbs, the more free veggies, like salad. So since tonight was pasta, I made a huge salad for both of us, taking up the whole plate on each of our plates. The result was full bellies but now I need to buy some more salad, which is no big deal. I will just grab it for less than $1 at my favorite veggie warehouse just down the street. 

Our protein tonight was lean ground beef. You can see it peaking out of the corner of of my seasonal plate picture. This was a current picture, by the way, I just keep the those plates out because they are all dishwasher, microwave, ovens-safe. OVEN SAFE! I love these plates. I can cook on one plate, transfer half the meal to another plate, and boom, we are done. Less dishes, less cleanup. Just have to let the cooking plate cool off. Or put it on a cork pad to save the table from the heat. If it's just me for dinner, I either throw the stuff in the oven to bake while I shower after the gym, then pull it out to cool while I do my hair or whatnot or I eat right off it. So far no burns and its been a few years. 
So, if you have tried Shirataki noodles, or something similar, let me know. Any tips or tricks are greatly appreciated. This is supposed vegan friendly and gluten free. This is a go for my family. Hope it is for yours as well! 

(all pictures are mine except for the wire skimmer and yoga cook, via google)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A nice walk before soup for dinner

I cooked the soup described in the last post. Then ran (drove) to the library to exchange some books and got home in time for DH to come home from work.

He did not want to run. He was tired from work, from the long drive home. Just wanted to eat and relax. But if he didn't run he would have to get up early in the morning and that really isn't a reality. 

Sound familiar? It should, it's what I say all the time. It sounded so strange coming from him. While I have heard him complain a few times throughout the years, that's it.

Watching him getting ready for a run, I was motivated to go outside for a walk instead of inside on the treadmill, which rarely happens despite best of intentions. And he came with me! We had a nice 2.5 to 3 mile walk around the neighboring developments at a pretty good clip. My breathing was labored, was having a bit of trouble talking, and towards the end I could feel the burn in my bum and upper thighs.

The flowers and bushes were in bloom and the sun was about to set, it was really nice. The temperature was still pretty warm but compared to a month ago, or a few hours had it not been so overcast, it was pleasant.

We came in and turn the soup on to warm up a bit. I had tofu as the protein but was so excited to try the soup that I had nearly forgotten until the second bowl.

The soup did turn out to have red (purple, really) broth from the cabbage leaching. It was pretty amusing but, man, did it taste good! The flavor was absolutely amazing. I am sure it was from the sautéing I don't give any credit to, and am really quite impressed.

And I am glad to share, I am already planning my walk tomorrow!

(all photos available via google search)

Veggie Soup, a staple

This is a picture of my most recent soup. The water was added after the picture was taken.

I used a bit of olive oil and sautéed on medium-medium-low heat some chopped fresh garlic, chopped green onion (the entire stalk), and cremini mushrooms, chopped. For a nice explanation of these mushrooms see A Few Mushroom Facts. The setting on my stove is actually more like high, it's just the other half of the nob is power boil at various levels of gas flame. Most of the time I have to alter the heat back and forth depending on how much has been prepped ahead of time (almost never).

Then I added a chopped red bell pepper and some coconut oil. I usually grab the green peps but heard the other colors are sweeter. Here is a nice explanation for the colors What's the Difference?

sautéed all that down to soft or relatively soft, flipping it around with my wide bamboo spatula you can see in the picture. Here and there I add more coconut oil as needed. For one, I am currently running out of evoo, and I heard from the public and a few friends that coconut oil is the way to go, not to mention it has a higher flash point, supposedly. Both Doctor Oz and a 2011 Times article mention the possible benefits and how it got a bad rap in the beginning (spoiler alert, it was chemically altered from its pure form, surprise surprise). I am not a one-oil woman here. I will give anything a try (I did just try (native) Alaskan seal oil and was tempted to eat the black meat. Thank you my new friend!)-actually I am pretty open to try anything, veggies, fruit, meat, substitutes, why not? The same-ol'-same-ol' can get pretty boring.

Back to the soup, I threw in chopped zucchini. I just learned from watching America's Test Kitchen that if you want your soup, stew, or chili to be less watery, scoop the seeds out of the zucchini. But I want it soupy, so I just chopped it up real small and in it went. I tossed in some liquid spices (see below).

In past experiences, I have burned the zucchini letting it just cook down. It was amazing in flavor, but I don't want to experience the OMG ITS ON FIRE feeling (it was NOT on fire, I will have you know) or having to scrub clean that pot afterward. So I add a cup or so of water to help the zucs cook down.

Debated beef or chicken bouillon. Settled on chicken and needed to replenish the little jar with stuffs from the bigger, bargain warehouse buy. As I was using my improvised funnel, a giant clump came out and everything spilled all over the floor, wet cutting board, and counter top. Bummer. So I let everything cook down while I cleaned it all up.

Spices: I added in some spicy mustard, Worcestershire sauce, low-sodium soy sauce-this is amazing for a meaty flavor when using only veggies, thank you, America's Test Kitchen-and whatever spices you might have on hand. The actual dry spices, I have yet to get a spice pot to grow my own fresh, are up to whatever taste you want. Sometimes I don't think we can taste the spices, but whatever. Today it was hot pepper flakes (we like it SPICE-AY), nutmeg, "curry," sage, tarragon, a bit of salt, and black pepper-I usually crush it fresh but I wasn't feeling it. That's about it because all my other spices are running low. I love tarragon on fish, but that is another post.

While all this is on the boil I chopped up some purple cabbage. I know, if left to boil too long the color leaches out. But I was bored with the green cabbage and it was the same price. While I was chopping, the thick parts of the cabbage conspired against me and I watches in slow motion as the large knife made a dive for my finger, which was properly placed for this type of cutting, except for cabbage, apparently. Second bummer in less than 30 minutes. I immediately washed my finger and grabbed some antibiotic ointment and a bandage. The cut wasn't bad but every time I bend my finger it will open up. Despite not wanting a water proof bandage, I realized I still had to shower and took it anyway. Doesn't it just figure that the top where I need it to be sealed onto my finger gets folded on itself? When I tried to pull it a bit to un-stick it from itself and it rips off. Gah!

After cleaning up the kitchen so it didn't look like a gore movie, just kidding- my cut wasn't bad at all-I finished the cabbage in a bit worse of a mood, added the dry spices, and poured in 8 cups of water to top off the pot half full of veggies and help mix in the spices. I set the heat to low and let it simmer all day. For whatever reason mine usually boils but it's all good.

Actually, for this type of soup I could just put it all in the pot uncooked and boil away. But most recipes have yosauté for taste or whatever, so I do it. Well, I do it when I have time. It happens to be Saturday morning and I am not working but DH is, so the house is empty and I have nothing immediately pressing.

After the cabbage is in I mixed it all up, watching to make sure the dry spices were able to get into the water and touch as many veggies as possible and to get the cabbage, which can float, down to the bottom to cook. Cook this on low if you have all day, medium heat if you are only around for a bit, or put it in the fridge and set it to cook at dinner time when you are ready. If you pre-cook it all like in this example, no big deal. If it's a toss and run day, it will take longer. For that I suggest a slow cooker, which makes excellent soup on low all day. I leave it on while we are at work. Then turn it to "keep warm" or off when we get home to let it cool off a bit.

As you can see in the picture I do have some chopped up potatoes in the bunch. Since I have successfully weeded carbs out of my diet (no, chips and salsa are not carbs, they are not, they should not be, I know, I know), we never have potatoes in the soup. But I tried a slow cooker roast recipe that called for potatoes-it was so yum, the seasoning was in/on the potatoes days after as leftovers. As it only called for a few, or our crock pot was not as large, and so we had the rest of the bag left. (DH does not shop at my bargain veggie grocer like he should where he could have grabbed them loose.) Since pots tend to have the amazing ability of absorbing salt I threw three small red potatoes in, finely chopped. This will not only add creaminess to the soup if they cook down all the way, but also absorb any extra salt. I have a very low salt diet, other than eating green olives for my martinis...

This recipe is a mishmash of whatever I have based on the age-old cabbage soup diet and a Weight Watchers recipe my Uncle Ted has given to me, said it was a million times better because of all the veggies and flavors and it was filling. Well, that link to the recipe is similar to the one I have printed. I did a Google search to find one for you, but they all have different ingredients. One looked much closer but it used "shallots" and I can never seem to find these when I need them, so I know that was not it. But it will give you the idea. Low carb veggies, low salt, high flavor.

Soup is the best thing for dinner because if there is any leftovers, it is the flavor to build off of. I usually end up buying too many veggies for my cooking pot (Mom took back my huge cook pot and I haven't gone into the garage to get the seafood boil pot). I used half the veggies, then, as the soup gets low, I chop up more and in it goes to simmer away for another day or on another day depending on what our menu looks like for the week. It freezes beautifully, as well. If you are into rice in your soup and have some left over from Chinese fast food take-out (or take-away), freeze the left over and then throw it in the soup. It will defrost just fine, make sure you break up the clumps. I have also defrosted first and then added to DH's bowl instead of the whole soup, so that I won't get any.

Let's talk protein. If I used the meat for the meal I will let it boil in, either first thing in a slow cooker or last thing after the veggies have sautéed, fishing it out to shred the chicken or chop the beef for bite-size pieces. Sometimes I throw in left over parts saved from other dinner, for flavor. If you have never heard of this think of medieval times, or lower income areas, where they use the bones for soup base. Yes, I do this also, especially if we have whole chicken (rotisserie or baked), meat pulled off the bone from other meals, the left over carcass is perfect to boil off. Not only does the small, hard to reach bits of meat fall off the bone for the soup but you get all that flavor. I will even save some of the fat I cut off my steaks (bleh) for boiling for soup, then I scoop it all out (bleh). Yum for flavor. Then toss the bits or bones you don't want. Gotta make this food go as far as possible.

Moving on, tofu. I get a block of tofu and cut it into four pieces. Then chop (mush, fold, flake) one into bite-size pieces and it goes in the bowl first to be warmed by the soup. This eventually gives us half a block in two bowls each. We are not having a conversation on portion size here because when it comes to soup, our focus is on fitting more veggies into our diet, use up older veggies, or need something quick because no one took out meat from the freezer. Cheese is also a good protein source, see below.

What to add to the soup? To me, soup is something quick, easy, cheap, and filling. It is the best thing to make when veggies are on their way out, as in past their prime. Need more veggies but don't have any fresh on hand? Check your freezer. Frozen are just as good. If you are a can family, rinse out the veggies really well to get as much salt out as possible, in my humble opinion. I do, now I try to keep the salt to a minimum and then add as needed. Greens of any kind are great, beware of the bitter ones, like turnip or mustard greens. One time I did try to use salad greens. Not bad but not really for soup. Starchy roots like turnips or sweet potatoes are good and add color and texture. Think of or see something? Try it, if its not good, try something else the next time.

Plating... or bowling... I don't make it look pretty, it's soup to us. The colors can work for you, go crazy if you want. We tend to throw in some hot sauce, I like grated or sprinkled cheese on mine. Actually, if you have any cheese that is getting pretty prime, toss it in the soup bowls. The veggies and spices will help to calm down that ripeness and if it's chunky soup the cheese will get gobbled up, too. If the cheese is stringy when melted, this makes for a fun experience. Thinking about protein, if you are trying to watch protein intake ("we" in the more comfy levels of society have a tendency to overeat on protein, or the unhealthy protein) watch how much cheese you add. Or if there is no additional protein, add more cheese to act as your protein.

The house smells delicious, I can't wait for dinner!

Recipes and pictures to come!

I have had some serious internal motivation to work out. Actually, I had some serious external motivation- my pants no long fit. Muffin top is the positive of it. The shame in it is that when I bought those pants I could have bought a smaller size but decided against it, now I am a size up. Bummer. So the skinny soup is on!

I decided to move this blog away from the negative and onto the positive. Since my life revolves around food, I should post a bit about that. At the moment, my photos are limited. I don't usually think about taking photos of stuff unless it looks amazing. Usually we just dig in. Or take amazing photos, usually it's me balancing whatever in one hand and trying to get my cell to capture what I am seeing in bad lighting, or fuzzy, or the inexpensive digi camera is just not getting the flash right.

So look forward to some recipe trials for better or worse. And please don't be turned off if it doesn't look so hot. Usually, the food tastes really, really good. Or at least is a good alternative for something I shouldn't be eating until I get back into running.

Speaking of that, we finally got the paperwork set up so the gym membership is up to date and we can use it. He has a PT test coming up and is balls to the wall. Not that I am anyone to talk, looking at the crap I eat and that I am up 20 lbs (but holding steady for a while, take that pants!), but I have been on him to go to the gym with me. Not only does it help me to go and not sit around and eat with him (dinner right after work), but it helps him to keep up with it since there isn't really a SQ PT program set up here. Sometimes it's in the AM, or afternoon, or PM after work, not at the moment. And he is on shift work a few days off from my work week, so his weekend might fall in my workout week. He doesn't want to work out on his days off. I totally get that. But if things get busy, he isn't necessarily working out at work either. Hence, the gym. So it comes down to, he doesn't want to work out twice. I get that too. But it helps to motivate me!!!! ME! The important one here. haha.

Part of my need to work out now is to handle stress. Part of my recent bad eating is stress.

Not really stress from work,

but from the drive there and back. Las Vegas has some of the worst drivers, it was in the news paper! Recently I heard about The Rant, a spot on the local new station, where people can complain about things going on around here or in the news in general. I am tempted to complain about the drivers. Unfortunately, if I try to take side roads it can add 30 more minutes up to 1.5 hours of drive time one way. If it rains, these side roads, while still major arteries at three lanes plus turn lanes, will flood and dismantle cars trying to ford it Oregon Trail style.  DH even saw a F-250 bobbing upside down. It's no joke. The highway system in the rain can be just as dangerous, slamming on breaks is not exactly going to stop you when the roads are wet. Even dry, the highway inches during rush hour. But even inching I can get home, or to my area, within 30 minutes. It is just crazy stressful. No turn signals, getting cut off, people cutting people off causing multiple car pile ups, no one allowing the entrance ramp people to merge. The list goes on...

I could change up my schedule to avoid rush hour, but then if I have a question, no one else is there at work. At the moment, the recent project needs input and debating from a number of people.

The good news is I will have a gym buddy if I go in the morning, which then has me having to stay later at work, to make that crazy drive worth it.  So maybe I will go a few days in the am with her and then go after work a few nights. We have two gyms nearby, she lives a bit down the street, maybe a 10 minute drive away. Either way, the point is while I lost my other gym buddy, and hang out partner for after my gym visit, I have someone new. Actually, she is old, one of the first people I "met" here and both looking for gym partners. Times just didn't line up back then. I might actually add a trainer in to help me start using the machines. I know how, but maybe paying for it will get me to use it also.

So let's raise our glasses of water to a new routine and some good food!

(all photos taken from a google search)