A weekly round up: eats, workouts, watches, and reads. Today is the last day of the holiday before we all head back to work and school, so we're chilling out and enjoying it. Here's what's been going down in our world, food related and otherwise.
Content warning: towards the end of this post I get into weight/diet talk so if that's not your scene feel free to bail at the "New Year New Goals" header or just skip this post altogether.
Let's Start with Some Genius Links
Here are three blog posts that have stuck with me recently:
A Story Worth Sharing from The Lady Okie. I can't tell you how many blog posts that I've started and scrapped because I felt that the content was too mundane to be worth sharing.
Between The Years from The Inbetween is Mine. The German language is a gold mine of phrases and concepts that the rest of the world doesn't know that we need until we see posts like this. The correct descriptor for the time between Christmas and New Year's is zwischen den Jahren - between the years. It's a between time.
Someone is Staring at You in "Personal Growth" from Girl is a Boyhouse. Nicole (HI NICOLE) takes zwichen den Jahren one step further - December is the yin and January is the yang.
The reason why the last two posts resonate with me so much is that the time between Thanksgiving and New Year tends to be a low energy time for me but there's something about January that's very high energy. I can't exactly explain it other than that thing called seasonal depression. I think that by the end of November the lack of daylight starts to get to me but once the pattern starts reversing, mentally something kicks in and says "cool, we're over the hump so let's get stuff done while we're stuck inside and waiting for winter to clear out".
Also, I had grand plans to blog more after NaBloPo, and I've figured out why I went back to business as usual. Yes, work got crazy for a bit but there's more to it than that. NaBloPo was a "big for me" thing and it's natural that I went back to "normal for me" output, the same as when I used to run half marathons - afterwards I needed recovery time. Combine that with the normal seasonal slump and it makes sense.
And Now Let's Have Something to Eat
I've been on a bowl craze lately for lunches. The only trouble with bowl meals and is that the pictures aren't quite worth a thousand words. You pretty much need thousand word descriptions to make sense of the pictures.
Exhibit A: sofritas bowls
I wanted something "taco-ish" and the 4-pack of tofu that I got from Costco is nearing its expiration date so that was the dual inspiration behind the sofritas bowls. The original concept comes from Pinch of Yum's Spicy Sofritas Tofu, but honestly I've simplified the recipe so much that you'd never know it. My version is: take two blocks of tofu, slice lengthwise into a few strips, dab on a coating of oil and seasoned salt and air fry at 360 for 20 minutes. Meanwhile blend a few chipotles and a cup or so of salsa in a blender. Rip the now cooked tofu into small pieces and mix in the sauce.
The final bowl is a base of refried beans and the tofu, iceberg lettuce, tomato, salsa, quickie guac (mashed avocado with salt and onion powder), and a few tortilla chips to help scoop it up. I ate this for a few days and then portioned up the rest of the tofu and beans into tortillas to make burritos and parked them in the freezer ready and waiting for the next time that I have a "taco-ish" craving.
Exhibit B: sushi bowls
My primary inspo was this Cheap Lazy Vegan "what I ate in a day" video. I googled tofu sushi recipes and used what Google showed me to come up with the idea of slicing tofu into thin strips and running it through the air fryer (same method as above, a spray of oil, seasoned salt, 360 for 20 minutes). Meanwhile I cooked up a cup of sushi rice via Cheap Lazy Vegan. The bowl is a base of the rice with a splash of Teriyaki sauce, topped with the tofu, frozen edamame beans, carrot, cucumber, and there would also have been avocado except that it wasn't ripe yet so it's on tap for the leftovers. The toppings are Trader Joe's furkake and some chili lemongrass sauce that I got from the Asian store that doesn't exactly fit the flavor profile but is delicious and anyway My Bowl My Rules.
Served with seaweed snacks on the side so that I could alternate eating it with a fork and wrapping it into sushi bites.
As promised, I started Caroline Girvan's Epic III and based on the first week, this just might be my favorite one yet. I'll keep you posted for the next 9 weeks.
I got in a few more sessions of the Peak Fitness workout (the one where you sprint for a total of 4 minutes out of 20 minutes) as my cardio finisher, but the first leg workout in Epic III put that on hold! I have been (re)humbled.
For the first time in years, we had an empty nest for New Year's weekend. We celebrated by going on a Big Fat Quiz of the Year bender (a close cousin of 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown - just drop those titles into YouTube and you'll get a good idea of how we spend our free time) and going to bed at 11:30 because we had nothing to prove by staying up.
Most of my TV watching other than that is random YouTube videos in the background while I work on my primary hobby this time of year.
Look, it was kind of a given that whatever book I picked up after Station Eleven was going to be a flop since that's one heck of a tough act to follow. Not only was the next book not Station Eleven, but it was a bad case of Deja Vu Book Syndrome.
Deja Vu Book Syndrome is when two books have elements that are eyebrow-raisingly similar. I don't mean plagiarism, I just mean that there are plot or character elements that are similar to another book. A previous example is that I felt that the main character in The Maid was cut too close to the cloth of the main character in Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Both are excellent books, but I enjoyed The Maid a bit less because of the similarity.
The current example from this week is a book called Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson. I heard about this from an old episode of the Sarah's Bookshelves podcast so I knew going in that the premise sounded very similar to Stay Awake - the main character has the kind of amnesia where she forgets everything when she goes to sleep and has to figure it out all over again when she wakes up. The problem is that it was exactly the same premise but way less well done.
I wonder if I would have fared better with Before I Go to Sleep if I had read it first, but as it was the discrepancy between it and Stay Awake was jumping out at me on every page and I just couldn't even. I feel bad since Before I Go to Sleep was written long before Stay Awake so it's the OG, but Stay Awake is the GOAT for amnesia books.
[P.S. I struggle with trash talking books a bit. If I make a recipe that doesn't work out, I just say that I made a recipe that didn't work out, I don't link to it and say "this sucks". Books are different because sometimes it can take a few weeks for me to get through one, so I may love something dearly when I start it and then have it not work out for me a few weeks later. Also I figure that if someone has what it takes to get a book published, they probably have a thick skin and don't care/don't know that some rando blogger isn't a fan so I'm not hurting them. I'm going to start talking more about my DNF's since I value seeing what isn't working for everyone else==>my intention is to paint a fuller picture, not to be a troll. The final point on this is that it takes two to tango - the book and the reader so when a book doesn't work out it may be more about where my head is than the book itself.]
Currently reading: I figured I'd check out the book that everyone else is raving about right now and the early signs point to everyone else being right. Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister.
New Year New Stuff
I kinda do and I kinda don't do resolutions. It just depends on what's going on in the moment. The last time that I had a written down list of stuff to tackle was 2018.
I've debated saying or not saying anything about this for a while and I'm finally ready to come out and say it: my goal for the natural high energy period that I get at the beginning of the year is to either finally lose the weight that I gained last year or STFU and accept it. I've been in an unproductive inbetween spiral for a while now. ICYMI, the #1 item on my 2018 list was to lose weight, which I did, but then I got into distance running and regained five pounds. For the longest time my weight was stuck at 140# (I'm 5'5" for context), which is about 10# more than I like but (1) it wasn't worth getting bothered about and (2) as long as I was running the idea of maintaining any kind of a calorie deficit was laughable.
Last year I gained 10 pounds from the combo of work stress, blinding following a high volume low intensity running program, and the well-intentioned but ultimately bad idea of working with a sports dietitian, and this year I gained another 5 pounds just 'cuz. And let's nip this one in the bud - yes it's normal to gain weight when you start strength training but when you gain weight AND your pants get tighter, it's not because of muscle. I don't look terrible but I'm also not thrilled with my physical appearance. Don't worry, you won't be seeing any more skin that this, but here's what I'm taking about (2020 photo from this post)
Reasons to lose weight:
- I've put a lot of work into my hunger cues which were pretty much blown out from running. I've got a better sense of when I'm truly hungry and when I'm just frustrated with life.
- Now that I'm not running, I don't have 24/7 Runger driving me into the kitchen at all hours.
- Emotionally I think I'm ready to tackle this.
- I'd feel better at a lower weight, both physically and from a confidence/feeling comfortable in my own skin perspective.
- Related, I will be taking 2 one week long vacations this summer (one by myself, one with the fam) and it is a lot more fun to be in a bathing suit at a lower weight.
- I deserve to have the body that I want.
- Unsure if my weight will stay here or if it will go up. Speaking as someone who was overweight as a teenager, it's a lot easier to take on a 10-20# loss than it is to take on something larger.
- It's not all or nothing. I'd take a phased approach and start by getting my weight under 150, then target 145, etc. If I could even lose one pound a month I'd be a lot happier with things at this time next year.
Reasons to stay where I am:
- Dude, there are better ways to spend my time and energy. I've tried and failed to get my weight down so many times in recent years.
- There is nothing inherently wrong with my weight apart from the fact that I don't like it. People come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and most of us are a variety of shapes and sizes at different points in our life.
- My past weight loss/maintenance has been more from activity than from diet. I gained most of the weight while running 30 miles a week, so there isn't an increase in activity that I can do over that.
- My doctor is cool with my weight and all of my labs are good.
- Maybe this is where my body wants to be. My weight gain role model is the Insta account Georgia Beth Fitness and this very insightful post.
My plan of attack is the wildly unsexy method of a slight calorie deficit with a goal toward getting my intake under but not much under 2,000 calories a day for the month of January and seeing where my weight is then. I've been tracking my intake for the last three months and my average is 2,400 cals a day - that's a mix of some days of eating what I wanna eat, some days of trying to cut back, all of our family parties, and those times when I get frustrated and take it to the kitchen. On paper I just need less "eating what I wanna eat" and less "frustrated and take it to the kitchen".
Yes it's very simple but also I haven't been able to achieve it since back in 2018 so that's where the "do it or STFU and accept it" part comes in. If I can't get my average cals down or if I do and my weight/size doesn't go down by the end of the month then I just need to be good with the fact that there's more of me to love.
Related goal: also by the end of the month I'm getting rid of all of the clothes that I own that don't fit. Even if I do lose weight, my wardrobe is pretty old and in need of a refresh. And let's be more honest, I have a stash of stuff that never fit to start with and a stash of stuff that fits that I don't like, so this is a loss that is very achievable.
I'll circle back on both topics sometime in early February.
Happy New Year Everyone!!!