So, Where Are You At?

“Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.” – Oprah Winfrey

It is now mid-January, and I’m still doing well with my New Year’s Resolution.  This time around I intentionally chose to make a resolution which wasn’t based on depravation or self criticism.  This year I decided that my resolution would be to be kind to myself.  Whatever situation I am in, whatever it means to be kind to myself, that is what I plan to do.

And thus far it has worked.

It hasn’t been easy though.  As some of you may know, last year I gained weight.  Not too much, but enough to make me feel uncomfortable – about ten pounds.  I’ve been told that I still look good, and I’m sure these people who tell me this are being honest, and not just saying so, and I believe them.  But I just don’t feel right.  I don’t feel like I have been able to function at my optimal level.  I feel blah.  And this wasn’t intentional, but I decided join the quest along with the rest of the world to eat healthy and exercise at the start of this year.

photo by smartie knows

photo by smartie knows

With this new resolution in hand, my approach to shed these pounds has been significantly different than my many past attempts.  It has allowed me to not look at food as being the enemy, nor exercise as a form of punishment for allowing myself to gain the weight.  No.  Instead I have developed a wonderful relationship with food.  I’m now not afraid to have that piece of cake, or that spoonful of Nutella.  And I actually look forward to exercising, to the point that if I am not able to exercise first thing in the morning, I try to do little things throughout the day, such as jumping jacks as I’m sauteing vegetables.

How did I get to this point?  Well, let me explain this to you.  As I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t feeling comfortable in my own skin, and I found that my body was operating on a sluggish level.  I thought long and hard about when my body worked wonderfully and I noticed that it was at a slighter lighter weight and while I was eating well and exercising.  Not rocket science, I know, but it took me a while to figure this out.  However, I also had to think about the type of approach I would need to take which was in line with my resolution.  Clearly, depriving myself of treats. condemning myself to a lifetime of vegetables and fruit only and being militant about exercise was out of the question.  The solution I came to was to download an app which calculated the calories in the food I ate, along with an estimate of the calories I burned while exercising.  This allowed me to be creative with my meals, allowing me nourish my body with healthy foods, and also provide me with the opportunity to still enjoy treats, so long as I exercised.  As a result, I am now excited to exercise, look forward to it for many reasons – it feels good, it’s my ‘meditation’ time (I do it in silence), but most of all it allows me to eat more, because quite frankly, I simply love to eat.

photo by smartie knows

photo by smartie knows

Being kind to myself has also shown to benefit other areas of my life.  I have found that it has forced me to really slow down and take a long, good look at every situation that I’m in, how I’m reacting to it and what I can do.  I have a choice in the matter.  Being kind to myself so far has meant to take time off and take a break when I’m tired.  It has meant to take a walk at lunch time and de-stress from the morning’s work.  It has meant to speak up when someone was unkind to me (and even to other people as the injustice was horrible to deal with).  It has meant to say no to some people, and yes to others. It has meant to change plans at the last minute. And sometimes to just cry.

This process has been amazing because through all of this, I have found that what has resulted is that I have felt more at ease.  I keep having to monitor myself and try yo bring me back to center and now I don’t get worked up as quickly as I did before.  I am paying more attention to how my body reacts to things and I adjust accordingly.  Relationships with family and friends have improved as I’m not as stressed out and I used to be.  I now don’t mind anymore being behind that person who has ten price checks at the grocery checkout.  And being stuck in traffic – I now view that as a time to think and if I’m with my daughter, a time to talk as we likely wouldn’t have that much time otherwise.  Dealing with unpleasant people doesn’t affect me as much. I am now more patient, relaxed and kind with others.

photo from wikimedia

photo from wikimedia

I think I picked a good resolution this year which I will carry onto next year and years to come.  What is your resolution?  Where are you with it now?

Mmmm……

“It ain’t burnt, Rosemary, it’s blackened.”  ―    Bunny Mathews

I have been thinking about my relationship with food lately.  It’s a love/hate relationship.  I love to bake, I hate to cook, and I love to eat.  I have been told that I know how to cook, and I have also been told that I have no idea what I’m doing in the kitchen.  I’m often made fun of with my cooking.

I know that can bake.  I can make a serious Turtle pecan Cheesecake, and my other desserts can knock your socks off.  I can read a baking  recipe and tell you if it will turn out to be good or not, by looking at the ingredients and how it’s prepared.  And now I have a cute apron to wear when I bake!

Cooking is a different story.  Despite what some people say, I think I can cook – though some people may argue against my point. Looking back, I can see that when I first got married, I had a rocky road ahead of me.  Prior to being married, I didn’t cook a day in my life, and then I was expected to cook gourmet meals – every day.  And I was being constantly compared to my mother and mother-in-law.  Not fair.  Of course I would hate to cook.  Who wouldn’t? And recently I realized just how much I dislike it. And it’s a strong dislike. I think I may do just about anything possible to not cook. There have been times when I’ve jokingly asked my daughter if she would like to make dinner, and her response would be “Mommy, I’m too little to cook.” Of course, she’s right, and there was a bit of truth to the question, but one can hope, no?

If I could, I would live off of Nutella sandwiches all day long – for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The fact that I have a dependant, and I care deeply for her nutritional needs prevents me from doing so.  So I have no choice but to suck it up and move on.

But like I said, recently it hit me in the face how much I don’t like it, and being spoiled and served this yummy food all the time while on vacation doesn’t help the matter.  I’d like to share some of the photos of the DELISH food I had recently:

I had never had French Onion Soup until my trip to Paris.  The day I arrived, I had this one, and all the ones I had afterwards (one each day) none could come close to being this yummy.  Restaurant La Ville De Abbesses is the place to go.

The same restaurant also served Creme Brule’ in the most interesting way, and this too was to die for.

One thing I found interesting in both Italy and France was the lack of veggies.  I love my veggies. Yes, I’m strange, but I can’t help it.  I found out later on that the veggies weren’t growing very well due to the very hot temperatures, but the fruit did well. Look at the gorgeous apricots!

Gelato. Creme glacee.  Need I say more?  Isn’t your mouth-watering yet?

I need a crepe pan. It’s not real cooking, more a dessert. I went to a crepe restaurant in Rennes – La Creperie Saint Georges.  All the menu items contained George.  I had the George Clooney, and he was delicious.  It was a Rapini crepe with goats cheese and tomato, and cucumber sorbet.  YUM!

Italy means pasta.  Nothing beats pasta baked in the oven.  My Mom’s cousin made this and it was lick your lips yummy.

In Rennes, the little Bed and Breakfast I stayed in was wonderful. Symphonie Des Sense was luxurious, and totally spoiled me. How could I possibly go back to making my own breakfast when I was brought this to my room at my arranged wake up time?

So back to making Nutella sandwiches I go.  At least when I’m home alone. If only I could bring this back with me.  Too bad there wasn’t enough room in my luggage.  It would have made my life so much easier.

Colours, Sour Faces and Force Ripe

“The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.” – Galileo Galilei

It’s been a few mornings now that I’ve been wanting to write about how colour affects me, or lack there of.  But every time I start to write about it, something else pops into my head.  This morning is no different.

I had most of my post already planned out in my head, and it was just a matter of transferring it over onto the screen.  As I was getting my breakfast ready, I was looking at the different colour of fruit – red plum, yellow-red peach, orange apricot, red raspberries, green kiwi, and how beautiful they looked cut up into a bowl and topped with sour cream.  The vibrant colours made me so happy, especially when my brain is trying to wake up.

And I absolutely love how the colours blend in my dark green coffee mug.  How the instant decaf melts into the clear water (I’m über sensitive to caffeine), and when I add a splash of milk, the brown liquid makes the most interesting designs.

But this morning I’m not going to write about colours (actually, I think I did a bit).  I’m going to tell you my take on unripe fruit.  While I was prepping my breakfast this morning, I couldn’t wait to dive into it.  Since posting about sugar content and it’s effect on the body, I’ve really been careful about what I eat.  So the mornings have switched from a Nutella sandwich to healthy fruit, followed by a slice of bread with almond butter.  I was a bit disappointed when the plum turned out to be a black plum instead of a red plum, which is my favorite, but I was still ok with it.  I had the peaches, apricot and raspberries to make up for it.

Then I sat myself down at the computer desk, and started eating.  I took a nice spoonful of this stuff into my mouth and nearly screamed and spit the stuff out to across the room.  A lot of the fruit wasn’t ripe, even though they appeared to be!  The peach and apricot were hard and sour, and the raspberries were bitter.  What a disappointment!

And of course, I wouldn’t be Smartie if I didn’t associate this experience to other things, and of course, I did.  I thought about the time when many, many years ago a good friend of mine would call me “Force Ripe” when I would try to force myself to do something which I couldn’t, and also when I clearly wasn’t ready to.  How many times do we do this? Especially to our kids?  On the outside, or maybe in our heads, we look like we’re ready, or we want to believe we are, but instead of the experience turning out sweet and enjoyable, it turns out to be a bitter and hard experience.  We don’t enjoy it.

For example, something as simple as taking a kid onto a roller coaster ride.  They look like they are old enough, intellectually they are, but emotionally – they just may not be there just yet.  The kid doesn’t know any different, but when we take them on, they cry the entire time.  When they get off that ride, they vow to never go on it again, or any other ride for that matter.

Another example is we try cram a bunch of tasks all into one day, knowing very well that it will be difficult, if not impossible. When things don’t go the way we planned, we get pissed.

So in the end, just like the fruit, we have a “Forced Ripe” situation with both the kid and the roller coaster.  Why not just let nature take its course and tell us when we are ripe enough to be sweet and juicy, instead of picking us early, way before we’re ready, and hoping that we aren’t bitter in the end? As we can see from Galileo quote, with just a bit of time, sweet things will come.