Tuesday, January 30, 2007

My chopsticks diet

(First off, I will say that this diet is something I “cooked up” only for myself. It has no research or medical support whatsoever. There. Just a little caveat.)

About two years ago, I saw a picture of myself seated at a Christmas party and looking 5 months pregnant in a loose black top. The cut of the blouse and the angle at which the picture was taken conspired to create the illusion. Either that or I was in denial. Regardless, I decided to shed some weight in 2005.

Gym. Green tea. Diet. Chopsticks diet.

Chopsticks diet?

In my very practical way of thinking, it occurred to me that the easiest way to limit my food intake was to make it more tedious for me to eat. Hence, the chopsticks. Like most Filipinos, I grew up eating with a spoon and fork if not with my bare hands, not chopsticks. Here in Canada, we have chopsticks at home for those occasional times when I make sushi. But we are still a diehard spoon-and-fork family.

When I decided to start on a chopsticks diet, indeed, it took me a lot more effort to have my fill. Have you tried eating rice and sinigang, or rice and abobo, or some other Filipino dish with two sticks? Try it.

I was on this chopsticks diet for some time, then for whatever reason I reverted back to the spoon and fork. Maybe I got better with the chopsticks. Maybe I got tired of picking up cooked rice from a soupy plate. Maybe I had met my target weight loss (which I did! Lost some 12 pounds). I forgot about the chopsticks. Until recently.

“Boys, when you set the table, give me chopsticks and a small plate again,” I told Gabriel and Markus, the family’s designated tablesetters, the other night. So now the chopsticks are back. I get to eat slower, and fewer, and longer. Solves the problem of some poor eating habits mentioned in my previous blog.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Breakfast at night

As some of you might know, one of my resolutions this first half of the year is to lose weight. I am still at it, slowly working off excess fat through exercise and diet. Before you imagine me at size 16, I am still at 8 or 9, but if I don’t watch out, I might just balloon before I know it. I see this happening to many women.

I will write about my exercise regimen some other time. For now, I will talk about my evolving eating habits.

I have indeed started making changes in what or how I eat. Some things I do now aren't new. I have heard or read them before. But I hardly applied them until recently. Like, eating slowly (about 20 minutes), drinking 8 glasses of water (in my case, lemon water and green tea), cutting down on sugar and rice, eating 3-4 servings of fruits each day, not sleeping within two hours after supper…

I have a classmate from high school, who is now a doctor, who said that some people gain weight because of poor eating habits. Eating fast was one of them. Another was drinking cold water during a meal. Whaaat? That was new to me. I heard someone say that drinking hot water aids in digestion, but I didn't know that drinking cold water during a meal was bad. I wonder why. But it makes sense. Doesn’t fat congeal in cold temperature? Yeah, fat and cold water in the stomach seems like a bad combination, doesn't it?

This same doctor-classmate said that the heaviest meals should be breakfast and lunch. I have heard this too, but coming from a doctor, it sounded more credible. Breakfast has been my most neglected meal. Usually in a rush on weekday mornings, I hardly sit down for a decent breakfast. I nibble here and there. At times, I skip breakfast altogether. Not good! My friend at work tells me. It should provide me energy for the day. Sometimes I skip lunch too. Not good! she says again, for the same reason. If you want to skip a meal, skip dinner.

Unfortunately, dinner was my heaviest meal. I was not keen on skipping it. Besides, that was our family time.

Then I came across an article saying our metabolism slows down at night. This was why we should eat light. This is probably the reason behind the no-food-after-6pm weight loss diet, too.

Because I am determined NOT to have more cellulite than I already have in my body, I am trying to make gradual supper changes for myself. I cook the usual rice and viand(s) for my lean family, but I myself eat light. So far, I have cut down on rice or avoided it altogether. I eat smaller portions too. I eat my dinner food at breakfast. For lunch, I bring leftovers. I also bring nuts and fruits to snack on.

Now I’m thinking, if I’m eating my dinner in the morning, then I should probably be eating breakfast food, like oatmeal or cereals or a toast, at night.

Coming up next, my very own “chopstick diet”.

Monday, January 15, 2007

An idyllic afternoon, a century ago


This is how I might have enjoyed a lazy Sunday afternoon with Gino and Mickey in Intramuros, Manila. That is, if they hadn't jumped into the water yet. This photo came out in Mabuhay mag. No talent fee for that. Hey, it wasn't easy holding those two guys and keeping them from actually going into the pond.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Lemon

I’m a big lemon fan. I can hardly drink water without squeezing a slice of lemon in it. I’ve been doing this for a few months now.

When I was new at my work here, my department would occasionally eat out together. Wanting to blend in, I would observe and copy what people ordered. Ladies would ask for lemon water. I would too.

The FOB that I was, I began ordering lemon water for no other reason than to seem more “Canadian”. (Get a grip, woman. That’s just a glass of sour water.) Then later, I realized that lemon water was a cheap way of ordering a drink that was between plain water and juice or pop. At least you get a slight taste of juice for free, and you drink more than bland water. Cheap cheap cheap! I could hear Gabriel chirping.

When I started to give up pop, not only because it was a useless additional expense when dining out but was not a healthy choice as well, I began to see lemon water as a better alternative. Thus started a habit of asking for lemon water in restaurants outside of office lunches.

Then I came across Internet articles on the benefits of lemon to your health and hygiene. I brought the habit home. Lemon juice supposedly raises the alkalinity of water and makes it pH neutral. I know someone who bought a $4,000 filter that alkalises water, which as a result could supposedly cure all sorts of body aliments. She told us how acidic tap water was and that bottled water was not any better. In fact, she ran it through a test to prove her point. Impressive! However, I don't have 4 grand. I think I will stick to my lemon and let it do the alkalysing.

Let me quote from the website of Energies for Life,

Apart from being an amazing body alkalizer/alkaliser, lemon water also gives the following health benefits:
• Lemons are antiseptic
• Lemon water has excellent digestive properties and can ease heartburn, bloating and other digestion problems
• Lemon water cleanses and stimulates the liver and kidneys
• Lemon juice contains calcium, magnesium and potassium
• Lemon juice has been known to relieve asthma
• Lemon water (hot) offers relief from cold and flu symptoms while providing some much needed Vitamin C
• Lemon juice is a great skin cleanser
So if you do not do anything else - start every single day with a glass of lovely lemon water!


Since reading this and other articles like it, I’ve been drinking mostly lemon water. At night, I prepare two bottles and keep them on the kitchen counter overnight so by morning they are at nice room temperature. I bring one bottle to the gym at 6am. The bigger bottle I take to work to drink the whole day. Sometimes, I prepare a pitcher of lemon water at home so the rest of the family can drink it too. I am still trying to get them to like it or get used to it.

I use lemon for other things. I take previously squeezed lemon slices to my bathroom for grooming purposes. My kids used to tease me about this. Mom sprays lemon on her armpits. No, I don’t. I squeeze it on my hair after a shower to make my hair shiny and massage the juice on my scalp to prevent flakes. Then I rub whatever remains of the lemon on my underarm, hahaha. Good to the last pulp bit! Poor lemon. I might even rub it on and around the sink and faucets.

If lemon has so many benefits, then why is it used call a bad car? I wonder...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Sale!

Had I not blogged last week about some of my goals this year, I would have broken a so-called resolution within the first week of 2007. Accountability works! Actually, I was, and am, more concerned about what my boys will say to me if they found out I had gone shopping just a day after writing that blog. Mom, you said you won’t be buying anything new!

But this time of year is one of the best times to go shopping here. Christmas sale. Boxing sale. Yearend sale. New Year sale. Clearance sale. Warehouse sale. Sidewalk sale. Sale, sale, sale. There’s a sale everywhere. There are great deals out there. I bought a good printer on sale from Best Buy on Boxing Day (December 26). I bought a few more Boxing Day sale items from Wal-Mart and American Eagle.

Then I made a resolution.

Back at work after the New Year, a friend invited me to go with her to Sears. First, I said yes. Then, I said no. Then I said yes. I vacillated. I did not want to tempt myself into buying sale things I did not need. But then I thought I might find a good pair of runners for Gabriel. I won’t be buying for me, I rationalized. And so I went.

Oh boy, were there ever so many cheap buys! Oh, this shoe feels so good on my foot!… Oh, these are good pillows… This shirt and matching cap will fit Markus. These tights will keep my legs warm…I struggled hard to keep my hands in my pocket, or should I say, out of it. My head prevailed.

On Sunday, another friend was telling me about very good sale items at Guildford. Three tops for $10! …75% at a close-out sale! I was very close to going, even just to look around. But can I really go and just look around? Why bother?

I am not a shopaholic. Normally, I can just window-shop. But when stores drop their prices and sell some products at a loss to attract customers and minimize inventory costs, I can do a bit of impulse buying too.

With all the determination I could muster, I decided not to visit the mall. 50% off is still 50% money coming out of your pocket. You are not saving 50%. You are spending 50%. Unless the purchase is really needed or expected, it is an expense at 50% of the regular price, which was probably jacked up in the first place. This is one lesson I learned from the Good Sense budgeting seminar I attended at our church.

I think it's time to make a budget and stick to it.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Resolutions

It’s New Year! Time to make new resolutions or recycle old ones. I don’t really make resolutions per se in the New Year, but I do set goals and plans throughout the year. Like garden in the spring, paint a room in the summer, do some sewing in the fall…

This year, I set goals to coincide with the New Year so I can get a headstart and reap results early. To name three:

I will save, save, save. We plan to travel as a family at the end of the year. We need to put away $$$ for this purpose. The sooner we start, the better. If I can help it, I don’t want to travel by credit card. I wonder if this is doable. I need a windfall from heaven. Truth to tell, I’ve had windfall money from God’s storehouse just when I needed it. I hope He'll give me the same again this year. Even so, I will do my part by being my frugal self and get my family on board. I need everyone’s cooperation to meet our financial goal. No more once-a-week junk food, guys! We'll cut down other nonessentials. Which leads me to a second goal—

I will not buy anything new this year. I got the idea from an officemate who heard it from some TV show. I think I can do that. That should not be difficult for you, someone tells me. Looking at my wardrobe and my huge pile of clothes for ironing since last summer, I think I have enough clothes to last me this year. Enough shoes. Enough bags and other accessories. If I can keep my weight down, I will be okay with my old office clothes. Which brings me to a third goal—

I will lose at least 10 pounds, hopefully 15, by the end of June. I pigged out last December. I set aside diet consciousness in favour of buffets and Bud’s creme brulee. Guilty! on all counts to the charge of reckless indulgence in guilty pleasures. Now I am paying the price. I can hardly step on the weighing scale without cringing. Time to hit the gym. It’s Jan 3 and I’ve been working out at Fitness World for three days straight! I hope I can keep this up. I want to eat healthy too.

I have other goals. Some same ol', same ol'. Some new. I have home projects in mind. I want to explore opportunities. I want to invest in relationships. I want to be a better person this year than I was last year and the year before that.

2007 is going to be a great year. Last year was wonderful. This one will even be better.