Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday Sabbath

I'm a big fan of Sabbath. In fact, I think this is one of God's best ideas ever. It's so essential to take a break and relax from the daily grid.

I also don't think Sabbath has to happen on Sunday. Really, just find a day each week when you take a break from work and enjoy spending time with friends and family (or yourself).

Last week, I had a Saturday Sabbath. I woke up at a hotel room in Chicago with Todd and Rebecka. At 6:40 AM, we took the shuttle over to Midway Airport (love Southwest!) to escort Rebecka to her flight to Orlando and Disney World. Once she was airborne, we took the train up to Loyola University, where we started walking to a restaurant that I had picked out for our brunch. It is a place called Uncommon Ground that has the country's first certified organic rooftop garden. How cool is that? We both decided to go with the granola pancakes and it was a good choice. Those may have been the best pancakes I've ever had (it's a toss-up between these and the sweet potato pancakes at the Pancake Pantry in Nashville).

After a leisurely brunch, we took the train even further north to Evanston. This is one of our favorite spots in the Chicago area. It is the home of Northwestern University, including the Kellogg School of Management (I can always dream...). We walked around the campus for a while and then started wandering along the lake shore. We passed through a neat park and continued walking through what must have been one of Evanston's more affluent neighborhoods. The proud old houses are so beautiful and inspiring. Why did we stop building houses like that?

We eventually ended up in downtown Evanston (thanks to Todd - you know me and directions...). It is so nice to see a town with a real downtown. Feels like Sweden. When we started getting hungry, we found the cute little Italian place we went to last time and ordered delicious food off of their ridiculously cheap lunch menu. We sat there for a good while enjoying the atmosphere and the food, of course.

Finally, it was time to go so we could catch the 5:08 PM train back to Milwaukee. Seems like every time we manage to be running late for the train. We were slightly lost (mostly my fault), so I asked some people, who looked like locals, for directions and we arrived at the gate just as the train was boarding. At least we didn't have to wait around in the less-than-attractive Amtrak "lounge."

It was good to be welcomed home by a tail-wagging Bichon and settle in for a calm and quiet evening.

Sabbath at its best.

Biggest Loser Update

So I was doing really good the first week. I got down to 137.6 lbs. Not bad for one week. Then we went to Chicago (see next post), and I had a business trip, and I stopped by Kopp's yesterday because the flavor of the day was Red Raspberry (my favorite). And it's almost the end of summer.

However, it's all good. I'm back on track today. Will probably be until Tuesday when I leave town again. Travel and eating healthy do not go well together. Any suggestions on this?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Biggest Loser - I Continue Alone

This morning, I stepped on the scale and the unforgivable happened... The digital display crept up over 140 lbs. It used to be that my max threshold was 135 lbs. After overindulging during several trips to India followed by two years of intense travel, the threshold increased. Last year, I lost some weight and was feeling great. Now my jeans are tight again and I'm feeling heavy during my runs.

Even during our Biggest Loser contest, I got really close to 135 and then I'm not sure what happened since then. I've been pretty diligent about exercising. I've been eating a very small meal consisting of a sandwich and tea at night. What the...?

Well, I suppose there are a few causes... I've been trying the "Eating for IBS" diet over the past week or so. This is pretty heavy on soluble fiber (think white bread, pasta, rice, etc) and does not restrict sugar at all. My stomach has been better on the inside, but is growing on the outside. Hmmm, interesting dilemma. We have also frequented Kopp's (awesome custard place) a bit more than we should this summer.

So, I am now ready, once and for all, to get back to my old threshold of 135 lbs. My goal is to be below this weight (like 134.9) by the time I run the Race for the Cure on September 27.

Here is the plan:
  • I have started using again to monitor my calorie intake, at least for a couple of weeks. This is a pretty awesome site and they've added lots of features over the past few years.
  • Per, I need to reduce my calorie intake by 495 calories per day to meet my goal. What I'll do is increase calories burned by 200 by adding 30 minutes of cardio each day and reduce intake by 300.
  • Go cold turkey on sweets (candy, cookies, ice cream, desserts, etc)
  • Start drinking tea without honey (if I can stand it)
  • Avoid foods with more than 10 grams of sugar per serving
  • Drink herbal tea at Caribou/Starbucks rather than sugary drinks
  • Eat less at each meal (isn't it sad that so many people around the world are starving and I have to force myself to eat less. There is something really wrong with this picture.)
  • Don't eat within two hours of bedtime
  • Drink more water in the afternoon (I do pretty well in the morning)

I feel confident that I can do this and keep my stomach happy at the same time. Please hold me accountable. I'll provide a weekly status update on my progress.

Off to ride my bike with my beloved husband...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Julie & Julia

Todd and I went to see Julie & Julia yesterday afternoon. We were in a sold-out theater with mostly retired folks and a few other "young" people like us. It was a totally inspiring and creative movie with lots of laughs, a few tears, and lots of great food. It reminded me that it is never too late to start the process of changing the world.

I must say, I was relieved that I had cooked salmon, new potatoes, and fresh summer veggies as well as an apple crisp earlier in the day. It made me feel like a respectable cook.

"If a pot is cooking, the friendship will stay warm."
- Arab Proverb

Taking the High Road

Yesterday, the sermon at the church we attended was something like "Taking the High Road." In the sermon, the minister referenced the website where there is actually an entry for "How to Take the High Road." Check it out:

Saturday, August 08, 2009

August Giving

I'm sure you've heard the expression:

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”

I am a big fan of this concept. I mean, I appreciate the importance of emergency relief in disaster areas. However, I don't think continuously giving people money/food is good use of time and money. Rather, we should educate and empower people so they can make a living (i.e. make enough money to live on) for the rest of their lives.

One organization that is very good as this is Heifer International. Heifer reaches out to depressed areas of the world and teaches people to farm in a sustainable way. They may give a family a few animals to get started and the know-how to care for the animals and create a business. The best part is that recipients of the animals commit to "passing on the gift" to another family in the community. For example, if there is a new baby goat, this is passed on to the neighbors. This way, it is really a gift that keeps giving.

Heifer has a great gift catalog where you can select to give (among other critters) a cow or a llama or a flock of geese in honor of a loved one. We like to do this around Christmas time and for birthdays. You can also fund a project, which is what we did this month.

It's a really neat organization. Check it out!

Ending Hunger, Caring for the Earth
-Heifer International

Saturday, August 01, 2009

July Giving

During Christmas break, I read a most fantastic book called Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. It is a touching story of a middle-aged mountaineer stumbling into a Pakistani village and thus receiving a calling to make the world a better place. This month, our charitable giving goes to Greg's organization called Central Asia Institute. The organization's mission is "to promote and support community-based education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan."

July also called for the renewal of our Slow Food membership. It was timely considering our recent viewing of Food Inc. as well as a documentary night at home with Super Size Me. It's a sad state in which we find ourselves. Slow Food is all about enjoying healthy food that is good for the earth as well. It is also about preserving diversity of food and making good food accessible to all. We're looking forward to attending our first Slow Food potluck next weekend!

"He who obtains has little. He who scatters has much."