Tag Archives: wellness

Day 37: Veg-loading – my new strategy

Day 37 was all about veg-loading. Think carb-loading, but a lot less fun. Veg-loading is my new strategy for surviving nights out!

Pre-drinking is a thing of the past. It's all about the pre-vegging!

Pre-drinking is a thing of the past. It’s all about the pre-vegging!

Day 37’s night out was actually a date! As mentioned in a previous post I find it quite challenging to eat healthfully when going on a date – I get nervous, I forget to eat, I have some drinks and then I eat bold stuff when I get home.

This time around I was determined to keep it healthy. I figured the best way to do it was to stock up on vegetables and other good food throughout the day, as I knew I wouldn’t have time to eat when I got home.

Thankfully, this is really easy to do in work. I will always be extraordinarily grateful for the abundance of fresh fruit and veg we get. When you want to be healthy it’s so easy!

So, I had kale and crudites at breakfast with some eggs, crudites as a snack, a HUGE salad, with a variety of veg for lunch and then more crudites and hummus in the afternoon. I also worked out and drank a shed-load of water during the day. When I left to go out I felt satisfied and clear headed – not like the hungry, dehydrated wreck I was on the last date.

My huge salads

My huge salads

 

I’ve actually already made it a habit to eat a lot of vegetable at meals. I could never be the the type of person that just eats tiny portions – that’s why a conventional, calorie restricting diet would never work for me. I need something substantial in my belly or else I would be driven demented with hunger. So I eat loads and loads of veg.

It’s funny, I work with a lot of Frenchies, and whilst they’ve never said it, I think they are slightly appalled at the amount I put on my plate. The French, in my mind, have really mastered the art of eating – they take small amounts of fine, high quality food. My mountain of raw veg and chicken, with only lemon juice as a dressing, most likely seems barbaric to them.

‘IT’S GOOD FOR YOU!’ I feel like shouting sometimes, when I see them look over in my direction at lunch. ‘YOU’RE EATING A PASTRY! STUFFED WITH CHOCOLATE! I DON’T CARE IF IT’S ONE OF THE MINI ONES.’

I’m a little jealous of the French, clearly. They’ve probably never had to veg-load in their life.

On to the date – we went to The Royal Cuckoo in the Mission. This is a great spot for a date, especially mid-week. They’ve got a great drinks menu with lots of good cocktails. It’s all low lighting, fairy lights and cosy seats. They also played some live jazz as well. I’m not a huge jazz fan really, but it was fun.

So, happy to say I managed to keep it relatively healthy on a date day. I think veg-loading, or healthy-food loading is the way to go in the future!

 

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Day 35: Coping with work stress – the healthy way

I am just off the back of a 12 hour work day. It’s one of those weeks. It was one of those weeks, last week. And it will probably be one of those weeks next week.

I am in the midst of a work-stress attack!

This is me. This is my granola.

This is me. This is my granola.

I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty details, you’ll be happy to hear.

I think it’s the most boring thing on earth to listen to someone talk through the minutiae of a working day that you will never understand. Or care to understand. I have enough boring minutiae of my own to be bored by. Let’s be clear – nobody outside of your company, will ever be as incensed as you are about that pivot table that was pivot-ed incorrectly, even though you are 100% convinced that your co-worker actually did it on purpose (!), just to make you look bad, because you may or may not have accidentally undermined her in your weekly project meeting, but you only did it because she sent an email to your mutual stakeholders without CCing you, in a FLAGRANT violation of the AGREED-UPON internal process you set up SIX MONTHS AGO!

(Note, the events in this blog post are a work of fiction, and are not based on the true life of Michelle).

Suffice to say, it’s been a fast-paced and busy time, which is why I haven’t posted in a while.

The good news is, I’ve still been trying to live a healthy lifestyle throughout all of this. Not just, in spite of the stress, but to actually combat it!

A year or so ago, I learned the hard way that stress can have a huge impact on your physical well-being.

I had always dismissed stress as a real health threat. There were plenty of other things that would ‘get you’ before stress would – smoking, drinking, bad diet – we all know these things bring doom and gloom, cancer and heart disease, weight gain and bad skin.

Little did I realise that stress does the exact same thing! There are countless articles on this, but this is a nice easily digestible one from mindbodygreen.com.

So, one day, about a year ago, I was sitting in work, just out of a particularly difficult meeting, when suddenly my left arm started to go numb, my heart started racing, there was pressure on my chest, I couldn’t breathe and I started to over-heat…all of the symptoms of a heart attack! So, of course, I instantly got on Google Chat to my friend Marie (most logical thing to do in an emergency) to tell her I was having a heart attack, and to maybe call an ambulance.

Thankfully, she calmly pointed out that I probably wouldn’t be able to chat with her if I was really having a heart attack, and that I was probably having a panic attack. She was right. After a few minutes of breathing deeply with my head between my legs I started to feel normal again. (MORTO, by the way. Sitting at your desk, with your head between your legs, heavy breathing, is not a professional look.)

Funnily enough, that hugely scary situation was not enough to wake me up to the reality of the stress I was under.

It was only after I started balling my eyes out crying, in a pub, on a Sunday, surrounded by happy people, in the middle of eating a huge plateful of French Toast, just before going back to the office for more work, that I realised something needed to change. It was only then that I took an objective look at myself and really saw what the stress had done to me – in addition to heart attack symptoms, crying in public, eating French Toast and working on a Sunday, I had definitely gained weight, my skin was gray and spotty, I was short-tempered and absent-minded, I couldn’t concentrate on conversations with family and friends…and the list of terrible things goes on.

After this shocking realisation, I made the decision that I needed to pro-actively dig myself out of the stress hole I had dug and buried myself in.

So, I did a number of things – attended some good classes, had conversations with some experts and got some good advice that really helped me.

The following is a list of the best pieces of advice I got, that I’ve adapted for myself.

  • The corporate world is not the world. What happens in the office cannot make or break you, as you’re a lot more than an employee. You’re a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a friend. Keep perspective on this!
  • Take time to breathe during the day. When you’re stressed you don’t breathe properly. Every time you get up from your desk take a huge breath in and breathe the stress out.
  • Take time to drink water – you can be guaranteed you’re dehydrated when you’re stressed. Taking the 2 minutes to re-fill your water bottle will pay dividends.
  • Schedule some ‘you’ time at some point during the day and do not, under any circumstances re-schedule.
  • Think about making the ‘you’ time exercise time. As soon as I hit the gym I forget about my problems for a little bit.
  • Eat healthfully where you can. There will be times when all you want is bad stuff. But when you have the option choose vegetables.

This time around, whilst I’m still doing 12 hour days, which should be a big no-no, I’m not nearly as bad as I was before. Kicking back with a scented candle, some wine and some blog-therapy also helps!

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Stress therapy. Scented candles are my crack cocaine.

FYI – I’m just going to skip over the other days in the challenge, and pretend we’re now on Day 35. Cheating, perhaps, but it’s the best way for me to get back on track.

Day 32: Time for some tough love

I’ve been doing the 100 Healthy Day Challenge for a full month now. 31 days of making a ‘concerted, dedicated and publicly documented effort to be healthy.’

However, taking an honest look back at my posts, I’ve decided that rather than applaud, high five and/or fist bump myself, I actually need some tough lovin’. I’mma open up a can of whoop-ass on myself.

I'mma open up a can of whoop-ass...on myself

Opening a can of whoop-ass was my favourite saying when I was kid! I was opening up cans all over the place.

There have been some highs, that’s for sure. My zucchini noodles for a start – I was immensely proud of those. Saying no to cupcakes in work, was a huge win, (especially because they were from Kara’s Cupcakes in Palo Alto, and they had a banana cream one. I love banana stuff). And I love all the exercise classes I’ve been trying.

But for the most part, it’s been a catalogue of challenges and failures and small, daily slip ups. Hangover-gate, burrito-gate and of course that week of utter granola carnage.

It’s just dawned on me that, whilst I’ve been making an effort to make the healthy choice where possible, I haven’t been putting any concerted effort into it. I’ve been exercising my will power when I’ve needed to, but I haven’t been going out of my way to make sure I’m leading as healthy a lifestyle as possible.

Let me give you some examples.

Exercising will power:

  • Choosing the healthy option when out for dinner
  • Saying no to bread with brunch
  • Saying no to ice cream, dessert or sweet things when on offer
  • Only having one glass of wine at dinner, rather than sharing a bottle

Where I could have made a concerted effort:

  • Going shopping for the picnic in Dolores Park to ensure I had healthy options
  • Making time for dinner before a date
  • Food prepping in advance to account for those times when I’m too exhausted to cook
  • Buying healthy snacks for those late night munchies after a night out
  • Having healthy snacks at my desk to ward off granola cravings

A dedicated healthy lifestyle takes a lot of work – prepping and planning, shopping and scheduling. You can’t be half-ass about it. (Soz, I think I’ve over-used the word ass in this post.)

I can see now why so many people fall into living such un-healthy lifestyles. None of us have time for it! We’re all too busy! Have you ever found yourself answering the question ‘How are you doing?’ with ‘Ohhh, you know, busy!!’ Shocking.

But, are we ever not busy? What the hell are we busy doing? Why do we prioritise all other things over a healthy body?

So, going into my second month, I’ve decided to get my lazy ass (one more ass for good measure) into gear and make time for my healthy lifestyle.

This will include:

  • Doing a weekly food shop so I have healthy food in the fridge
  • Buying snacks for those late night post-drink munchies
  • Making a big dish of something healthy (eg curry, soup) and freezing it
  • Bringing healthy snacks with me wherever I go
  • Booking my exercise classes in advance

A little more effort will mean a lot more gainz!

Any other tips out there?

Food and exercise

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  • Breakfast: Greek yogurt, apple and pear
  • Lunch: Omlette with tomoatoes
  • Snack: half an apple and 8 almonds
  • Dinner: Spaghetting squash with puttanesca sauce and chickpeas, glass of win
  • Exercise: None – it’s the day of rest after all! I got into my work out clothes though, Nearly there!

Day 10: The Pre-Gaming, Night Out Challenge

  • Breakfast: Omelette with smoked salmon and tomatoes, coffee with milk
  • Snack: Fruit tasting at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market
  • Lunch: Chinese Chicken Salad at Gott’s Roadside in the Ferry Building
  • Snack: Iced Coffee
  • Dinner: Left-over salmon with roast potatoes and fennel
  • Pre-gaming: Prosecco, mini cup-cake, tortilla chips and guacamole
  • Gaming: Vodka Soda
  • Post-Gaming: Pizza…

woops

Day 10 of my 100 Healthy Days in SF brought the greatest challenge to date – the pre-gaming night out. (Or, if you’re in Ireland, the pre-drinking before going on the tear). And I am ashamed to say, I failed spectacularly. 

From the start, I’ve known that social drinking would my Achilles heel. It’s probably the whole reason why I feel the need to embark on this challenge. I’m relatively healthy during the week and feel empowered and motivated to make healthy choices. However, as soon as Friday comes and the suggestion is made to go for cocktails/beers/dinner/margaritas my resolve crumbles faster than low-fat feta cheese. It’s not just the drinking, it’s the whole package – the unwinding after a long week, the catching up with friends, the debating over what cocktail to try…it’s just all so social and fun. 

So, today’s event was a night out with some of the Irish people living in SF. Our friend Kev was over visiting from Dublin, so of course we wanted to ‘catch up’ (aka go on the lash). We started out pre-gaming at another friend Katie’s house in The Mission, followed by drinks at my fave bar The Latin American Club (beware the Margaritas – they are lethal!).

In fairness to me, I couldn’t have been faced with more difficult foes. Kev is the Emperor of ‘getting on it’ and it’s practically impossible not to be affected by his good buzz and Katie is always on hand to pour the bubbles. I just couldn’t say no. Actually I didn’t even try. 😦

So, I ended up drinking a lot, and then going for pizza afterwards. The shame!

I’ve been beating myself up about this ever since, but I’ve decided to stop doing that. This is the first time I’ve met with this challenge during the 100 healthy days, and while I failed it’s not the end. I just need to come up with some strategies to ‘healthify’ the nights out. Some ideas:

  • Drink a TON of water the day before going out so you’re not dehydrated and reaching for the neared liquid to hand
  • Eat a big, protein and veggie filled meal before-hand so your blood sugars are balanced and you feel in control
  • Drink a glass of water as your first drink
  • Bring your own ‘healthy’ beverage to the pre-game
  • Have a healthy snack prepared for when you come home, so you don’t feel the need to go to the pizza place

The next time I go out, I will be prepared!!!

In other news, I spent a lovely day with the folks wandering around the famer’s market at the Ferry Building (a must for those visiting SF) and then doing the city bus tour, joined by the bold Kev.

 

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Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Buidling. Check out dem peppers!

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Irish reunion!

Day 9: The Wine Tour Challenge

  • Breakfast: 2 boiled eggs, banana
  • Snack: Half a banana, wine
  • Lunch: Meats, cheeses, tomatoes, olives, cheeses, cheese
  • Snack: Wine, wine, wine
  • Dinner: At Slanted Door – 1 x fresh spring roll, 1 x crispy spring roll, cellophane noodles with crab, glass wine, coffee with milk
  • Snack: Cheese
Meals today were mostly of the grape variety. And cheese...

Meals today were mostly of the grape and cheese variety. 

One of the nicest things to do when you’re visiting San Francisco is to head off into the hills for an afternoon of wine tasting – Sonoma and Napa Valley being the most convenient areas from the city.  You can hire a limo, join a group, or cajole (bully) a friend into being the designated driver (sucker). Blissful hours are spent wandering through vineyards, sipping on delectable vintages and trying to decide which of the cheeses you bought at the farmer’s market will go best with the 2010 Chardonnay you’ve just tasted.

Sounds idyllic, right? It is.

But days like this are a NIGHTMARE for anyone trying to eat healthily.

1. Wine is obviously high in calories.

2. Cheese goes amazingly well with wine. And cheese is also high in calories and potentially other not-so-healthy things like trans-fat.

3. When you have one glass of delicious wine, you want another. And another. And sure why don’t we buy a bottle for the limo.

4. You don’t drink enough water, so you’re thirsty, so you drink more wine.

5. At the end of the day you’re slightly buzzed so all you want is to eat carbs.

As a result of all of the above, my day was not the healthiest. So, I think I probably failed the Wine Tour challenge. But what are you supposed to do? Decline the invite and sit at home drinking green juices? Actually, that’s probably exactly what you’re supposed to do if you’re really dedicated to living a 100% healthy lifestyle. But, I still want to do fun things and live the full SF experience. I just need to be as healthy as possible.

So, what would the ideal healthy wine tour look like to me? I think it would mean going to wine country, doing the tastings, being able to choose your own healthy lunch (or bring your own picnic), not having any extra wine, drinking enough water and going home to a healthy, home-cooked meal.

Lesson learned.

But it was still a lovely day and I’m glad I was able to give my parents that experience.

As regards the details of what we did – we joined a tour group run by Valley Wine Tours in Sonoma. We visited some lovely wineries – my favourite being Jacuzzi, which had more Italian type wines. I did find an amazing Sauvignon Blanc in Bartholomew Park Winery as well. We had a lunch stop at Larson Family Winery, which was nice. They have dogs you can play with (I say play, but all they want is for you to feed them) and some fun lawn games to play. The tour itself was only OK I would say. I’ve heard rave reviews about the owner Bob, but we had a different driver.

Dinner that night was in Slanted Door on the Embarcadero, which has won a few awards. Tasty Vietnamese food and the views of the Bay Bridge at night are spectacular.

Tasting the wine

Tasting the wine

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Lawn games at Larson Family Winery

Views of the Bay Bridge at night

Views of the Bay Bridge at night

Day 7: One week milestone!

  • Snack: 10 almonds
  • Exercise: 45 mins spin class
  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs (half egg whites, half regular), sauteed escarole (I had never heard of this veg before), celery, coffee with milk
  • Lunch: Mixed salad with loads of veg, chicken, avocado
  • Snack: Half a carton of Chobani Greek yogurt and half a banana
  • Dinner: Kale salad with smoked salmon and chia seeds, apple cider vinegar, nectarine

Photo Collage Maker_JHXJUY

Today marked the one week milestone in my 100 Healthy Days in SF challenge. Whilst there are still 14.3 weeks left in the challenge I’m going to go right ahead and celebrate! Whilst the victory is small, I feel proud of myself for being consistent – both in terms of eating healthfully and blogging every day. Go me!

kale party

One week in and how do I feel? Not radically different- I obviously haven’t suddenly lost a stone or developed a six pack (not that I would want a six pack), but I do feel good. I feel slightly more alert and energetic than usual. I’ve also noticed that I’m not battling any major sugar cravings, which is amazing.

I was even able to go to Mitchell’s ice cream parlour in the Mission with my roommate last night and resist getting a scoop. Anyone who has ever been to this place will know how hard it is to say no. Their ice cream is goooood! Check them out. My fave is the Grasshopper Pie. Arrgghhh enough talk about ice cream.

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Mitchell’s Ice Cream parlour in The Mission. Check them out! 688 San Jose Avenue

 

It just goes to show that even one week of healthy eating can have a positive effect on your well-being. I’m looking forward to seeing how I feel at the end!

Michelle x

Day 5: Labor Day – last day of summer and vacation

Breakfast: Turkey, slice of cheese, tomato, low fat greek yoghurt, strawberries

Snack: Banana and iced coffee

Lunch: Grilled salmon salad with goats cheese and almonds, glass of wine

Dinner: Selection salads at airport (edamame, tomato and avocado, kale and peach, chickpea)

Snack: Crudites, hummus, sunflower seeds (on the airplane!)

Photo Collage Maker_wKCEVP

Today was Labor Day – my first one in the US. I had no idea what the purpose of this day was so I had to look it up. It celebrates the social and economic achievements of workers apparently! It also heralds the last day of summer. Sad face.

Today was also the last day of my mini vacation, which was rather apt. We spent it walking down Venice Beach and then headed to Hollywood Blvd. Venice Beach is a bit seedier than I imagined, but there were a lot of ‘typical’ sights to see – rollerbladers with strollers, surfers with six packs (!), skaters in the skate park and a massive body building competition by muscle beach! Hollywood Blvd was interesting enough and we got a bonus view of the Hollywood sign, which was lucky!

As for healthy eating, I was able to avoid poor choices for the most part. I decided to give the eggs a break as I had had them so many days in a row. So, I went for turkey instead. A few years ago I would have turned green at the thought of turkey for breakfast (or even eggs for that matter) but since giving up cereal about 2 years ago, I’ve come around. It’s not that bad!

A surprise for me was the snack on the Delta flight home. Not only was it free, it was healthy! Crudites, hummus and sunflower seeds. It’s very rare to see this on any flight – it’s normally pretzels or a big lump of sugary carb, Interestingly, they were only serving Coca-Cola drinks on the flight. I got to thinking, as Carrie SATC would say – did Coke sponsor the snacks to try to associate themselves with healthy options?

On the flight home I mused over my healthy eating challenge and how I fared during the vacation. Overall, I would happily declare it a success. Whilst not all of my choices were 100% clean or healthy I definitely made a more concerted effort than I normally would. I did allow myself a glass of wine, the odd piece of cheese and some frozen yogurt, but in general I avoided the really bad stuff- processed carbs and excess sugar. If I had been 100% clean I think I would have been slightly miserable. And what’s the point in that?

Tomorrow I will be throwing myself wholeheartedly into the challenge – clean living and back to exercise!!

Skater boy at the skate park in Venice Beach

Skater boy at the skate park in Venice Beach

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Baywatch!

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Me on Venice Boardwalk