Monday, September 26, 2011

Getting Healthier in a Month

No, I'm not having a body image crisis. No, I don't think I'm fat. No, I have not developed an eating disorder.

However, following my super-duper intense 14er training this summer and successfully summiting seven 14ers, my level of fitness has indeed slipped. When one is consuming the same amount of food as when training, but no longer training, things happen.

I wasn't concerned until the jeans started feeling a bit tight despite exercising most days of the week. Time to get back into some healthier routines! This is good since my group of girl friends is going to be the Spice Girls for Halloween and I got recruited for Sporty Spice. While I have no desire to emulate the mid-1990's version of anorexic-sportyness, there is room for improvement and a whole month to get there!

I googled losing five pounds in a month (figuring that goal relies more on healthy lifestyle and less on crash dieting/cleanses/maple syrup concoctions/strange teas/weird supplements/"Follow This One Weird Tip!"/snake oil/etc.) and found a pretty good article with some simple tips. For me, seeing the math behind calories is a huge motivator for self-control. I love numbers! Each of these ideas is pretty straightforward and very do-able in everyday life since sadly, there is no magic solution.

  1. Ditch alcohol: I'm not a huge drinker, but let's figure in a week, I typically consume 2 light beers (~100 calories each), 2 real beers (~150 calories each), 1 glass of wine (~100 calories), and 1 double mixed drink (~400 calories. If it's an 8 oz margarita, ~560 calories. Ouch!). Right there, I'm consuming between 1000-1160 calories in alcoholic beverages a week. Math time! Four weeks of skipping alcohol will save me 4000-4640 calories. 
  2. Skip junk: I don't eat a lot of junk food, but I have lots of room to make healthier choices. Time for some serious discipline! Part of this for me will be skipping pop as well. I drink 2-3 servings of pop a week, but that still adds up to 300-450 calories. In a month, that's 1200-1800 calories. 
  3. Eat more fiber, drink more water: Fiber is magical. It acts as a gut filler to help prevent hunger and also helps move things along. Drinking water also helps with both! Plus, we often eat when we're actually thirsty, so drinking lots of water will help out with that too. One healthy lifestyle challenge I did a while back set a goal of drinking 3 liters a day. That's a lot of water, but also a great goal to shoot for. For fiber, I'll be upping my whole grains, fruits and veggies.
So we'll see how this goes. Goal: Sporty Spice! I also need to find a wig and a temporary armband tattoo in the next month. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Stuff/Time Parallel

This blog began about two years ago when I first started seriously considering graduate school.  At the time, I was envisioning being a full-time student and living on half my income, so simplification seemed like great preparation!  However, things took a different course, and now I'm doing grad school online (through a reputable univeristy) and working full-time.  I don't need to simplify the finances, I need to simplify time!

However, many of the principles for minimizing stuff and purchases are also applicable to minimizing activities and time commitments.

My philosophy for possessions and purchasing is "Don't own stuff you don't like." Slightly tweaked for time commitments, this would be "Don't do stuff you don't like." Just typing that, I'm thinking, "Well duh, why would I do something I don't like?" It happens all the time though. We all have to do some stuff we don't like (emptying the dishwasher, getting the oil changed, etc.), but for discretionary time, we do often decide to spend our time doing things we don't like for various reasons. The biggest reason though is the general inability to say "no" to activities. Other people are exceedingly good at manipulating our time since it's not often treated like the valuable commodity that it really is.

One of the aspects I group into my overall stuff philosophy is not owning stuff that gives you a bad attitude or brings out bad memories. The same goes for time commitments. There's no point in engaging in activities that bring you down, make you mad, or otherwise cause general frustration. Sometime this could be the activity itself, sometimes it could be the people we're doing it with. Is that unfriendly, mean and kinda selfish? Yes. But it's my time, I get to chose!

So- first tier for me minimizing activities: "Do I like this activity?"

Another principle of stuff-and-things minimizing is examining the return on investment on objects. Relating this to time commitments, I get to analyze the return on investment of my activities. What activities are moving me forward in my personal and professional goals? What activities help me adequately rest and relax? What activities are simply time sucks? What activities help other people?

Second tier: "Does this activity actually benefit me or someone else?"

Living in a world with little time margin available, the business principle of opportunity cost comes into play. In the world of purchasing, opportunity cost means "By buying this item, what am I giving up the opportunity to buy?" So with time management this translates to "By pursuing this activity, what other activities am I giving up?" This is one of the hardest principles for me to follow. I can talk myself out of buying just about anything because I know I'd rather spend money on something else. But thinking "I need to forego a gathering of friends so I can finish this school project" is quite hard. Friends are way more fun!

Third tier: "Is doing this activity going to cost doing other important activities?"

In terms of practical application, here's what I've boiled my activities down to in the last few months:

Working out
Daily life chores
Select friend gatherings

Anything else happens on an as-needed, convenience basis (including blogging, heh, sorry). It's a bit draconian at times and I've had to start saying "no" to activities, thus causing a few moments of "I'm a terrible person!" but it's really been ok. I'll catch up in 2.5 years or so when the Masters is done :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Frickin Good Chicken

We already had a family recipe called “Mmm Good Chicken” so I had to name this something else.  The primary flavor contributor is hot sauce, so caution: it’s spicy.

Ingredients (measurements left up to your own inspiration)

Chicken breasts (I cut mine into strips)
Sriracha Hot Sauce
Olive Oil
Ginger (powdered or for real)

Mix the Sriracha, oil, & ginger in a glass container or a plastic bag.  Add chicken and stir to completely coat.  Marinate for 30+ minutes.  Fire up the grill (George Foreman!!!!)  and cook until done.  The original recipe suggests serving on hummus but I used refried black beans & it was quite good.  

It was also seriously good on some leafy greens with ranch dressing.