Monthly Archives: January 2013

Cold as Ice

State of my heart, winter 2012/13: FROZEN. ROCK SOLID.

Where we last left off, I was all butterflies and batted eyelashes over Firemedic, who subsequently disappeared into the ether without a trace after skipping town on a 2 week vacation out east. I wasn’t invested in him enough to care much.

Following that, I got really into my book club and preferred hanging out with my friends for awhile. I was feeling utter boredom wasting hours of my life on bad dates where I know 30 seconds in that it’s never going anywhere. Why can’t there be a socially acceptable way to take one look at the guy, shake his hand, say “thanks but no thanks” and everyone can just walk away without spending a penny or hurting any feelings? Riddle me that. EVERYONE would be better off for it.

Shortly after this dating malaise began, we entered the holiday season, aka Dating No Fly Zone. (I contend that it is bad planning to purposely seek out a fledgling relationship immediately prior to awkward family festivities and multiple expensive gift giving occasions.) This period extends from just after Canadian Thanksgiving through to just before Valentine’s Day. I’ve stopped caring entirely that I’m single, I’ve read a lot of great books and spent some good quality time with my girls. I have zero desire to go on a date that I don’t have a good feeling about, just for the sport of it.

Despite all this, I do get notifications from online dating sites from time to time that DragonSlayerXXX winked at you! Bbm_me69 wants to meet you! Groove*thang has sent you a message! So I click through to the site and check out these dudes’ profiles. I nearly fell off my chair last week when there was one that actually seemed… sweet and normal? He was a 36 year old divorced guy with a golden retriever, a bunch of photos, NONE OF WHICH INVOLVED SHIRTLESS CELL PHONE PICS REFLECTED IN A CLOUDY MIRROR! and we had a bunch of interests in common. He wrote me a message that demonstrated he could spell and string sentences together coherently, and promptly asked me out for coffee after I replied to him.

Should have stopped while he was ahead. Here’s the rundown of ridiculousness that ensued:

Upon accepting the coffee date, he asked me if Tim Horton’s was okay. Uh, fast food, dude? You’re inviting me to the food court? Why not roll out the red carpet and spring for McDonald’s? I seriously contemplated not responding after this, but against my better judgment I suggested we could do better than Timmies. We went to Starbucks (his choice out of 3 that I gave him).

He asked me when I showed up if I’d like a drink. The phrasing suggested he was paying. Then he just… didn’t. It got momentarily awkward at the counter, and then I pulled out my wallet to buy my own drink. He then made noises like he might add a drink to my order that I was buying. But he finally opted to order nothing, claiming he didn’t want “any of that sugary crap in his system.” I asked him what his usual Timmies order is. It’s a double double.

We exchanged some riveting conversation. Highlights:

Him: “So… I see you’re an Aquarius! Your birthday must be coming up soon!”
Me: “Yup, in a couple of weeks.”
Him: “You’re really an Aquarius right? Like you’re not on the cusp of Capricorn are you?”
Me: “Nope, pretty solidly in the middle of the Aquarius camp. Why?”
Him: “Oh, because I’ve dated too many Capricorns and they’re all fucking bitches and crazy. I won’t date them anymore.”

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Me: “I have a friend who took a palmistry course and she read my palm recently. I thought it would be fun but didn’t expect much from it, but she had some crazy insights that she couldn’t have known any other way.”
Him: “That’s bullshit.”

… awkward pause …

Him: “Oh but if you close your hand like this, the number of creases at your thumb tell you how many kids you’re going to have.”
Me: “I’ve never heard that before!” Showing him my closed hand… “How many am I going to have?”
Him: Visibly turned off. “Looks like zero.”

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Him: “Yeah I had this girl back to my apartment on the second date a little while ago, and she was so weird. She was so hung up on cleanliness.”
Me (alarmed): “How so?”
Him: “Well, like I’m kind of messy, and I’d just cooked a big spaghetti dinner the night before, so I had dirty dishes piled up in the sink and there were crumbs and stuff all over the kitchen counters. And I never put laundry away, I hate it. So I have laundry piled everywhere in my place. I use my ironing board to dump all my clothes on, I never fold them. She was making fun of me for the clothes all over the place.”
Me: “Huh. Sounds like maybe you two were a bit of a mismatch on the housekeeping front.”
Him: “Yeah. And then when she came back for the third date, she looked around and was like, wow, you still haven’t cleaned up huh! And I told her that’s just how my place is. I asked her if it bothered her. And she said yup, it’s kind of dealbreaker actually! And then she LEFT! Right at the beginning of the date! Crazy bitch. I am who I am. I’m not gonna change myself for some chick I barely know.”

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About 20 minutes into our coffee date…

Him: “I bought two guitars a few weeks ago. I’m teaching myself to play. Hey, you know what? I feel like playing right now. I need to practice. I don’t even have a coffee to drink. Come on back to my place, you can meet my dog, I’ll play you Mary Had a Little Lamb on my guitar!”

I thought he was kidding and laughed it off the first time with a joke about his song of choice. When he suggested it twice more, I told him I wouldn’t be going back to his place on a first date. He kept pushing two or three more times to come back to his place so he could practice the guitar. Is this some sort of euphemism for sex I’m not familiar with? Back off buddy. Dudes with a sense of entitlement who don’t respect boundaries certainly don’t get anywhere with me, and I already didn’t like him by this point. I tossed back the rest of my coffee and told him it was clear that I was coming between him and his precious guitar practice so I wouldn’t keep him any longer. He seemed offended, but he left. First time I’ve ever gotten out of a terrible date in under an hour! 35 minutes, aaaaannnnnnnd out. Anyone else find his double standards hilarious?

Ohhhh and the clincher… he has the same name as my horrible ex-fiance. Beware of men named Chris, nothing good can come of it!

So, yeah. Not really interested in dating right now unless there’s reasonable grounds to believe I’d have more fun than if I stayed home curled up with a great book.

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Clean Eating: Meal Systems

Three weeks into January, and here’s what I’ve learned so far: some diet adjustments have been much easier than others, and the hard ones were not necessarily the ones that I thought they’d be. Not only that, but I’m not really cut out for 30 days straight of treating food like a colouring book where I have to stay within the lines and not make any mistakes or else DEATH BLOOD DOOM.

My expectation was that the most difficult cravings to overcome would be my morning coffee and sweets. Surprisingly, the coffee was the easiest adjustment. I eliminated it for the month because I load it with cream and sugar, and I’d sooner avoid it entirely than drink it without cream (I find that milk doesn’t cut the bitterness to a degree where I can enjoy the taste). I switched to tea with honey and a little 1% milk, and it turns out I care more about the ritual of a hot morning beverage than the flavour. So that was easy and I will probably stick to this change on a permanent basis, having coffee only occasionally. I have cheated on sweets and consumed some most days, but most of the time I’ve had just a small handful of chocolate chips as a post-dinner snack and that’s been plenty to satisfy the craving. I expected to crave sweets all day, every day! I’ve easily avoided cheese without particularly missing it as well.

What has been impossible to stick to was the rule about no grains until dinner. This was a lack of foresight on my part because I always eat leftovers for lunch at work. So if I had grains with my dinner? I’m having it for lunch too! I’ve just made peace with this for budgetary reasons. I’m not going to make separate lunch items, it’s too expensive to add extra meals to my weekly grocery list. I’ve also been craving non-sweet plain white carbs like nobody’s business. Last week I would have probably kicked a helpless puppy for a big ol’ plate of pasta. So I had one. Hey, it was to save the puppies!

But after allowing myself some small cheats like this, I’ve been happy to get back on the bandwagon. I’ve been able to create some systems around eating clean that have made it much easier for me because they’ve eliminated some tedious food planning. Here’s what has worked for me:

Breakfast: I eat the same thing every day. No sweets or grains, so that left veggies, eggs and meat. I make a veggie scramble every morning with 1 entire egg + 1 egg white, mushroom, zucchini, and bell pepper, with salsa on the side. Some days I’ll add in some ham or turkey. Lately I’ve been cooking up a couple of breakfast sausages on the side. I have this with one mug of black tea. If I really need a break from eggs every day, I’ll make a green smoothie.

Snacks: I have a list of go-to snacks and I pick two each time I go grocery shopping. Those will be my snacks for the week. Here’s the list I pick from:

  • Veggies and hummus or baba ghanoush
  • Banana
  • Ants on a log (remember these from when you were a kid?!): celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins
  • Apple slices dipped in nut butter
  • Rice crackers with antipasto (this breaks my rule with carbs for a snack so I haven’t actually gone for this one yet, but I think it’s ok after the month is up as a healthy snack)
  • Trail mix with nuts, seeds & dried fruit

Dinners/Lunches: As I mentioned, I make extra dinner when I cook and use the leftovers for lunches at work. I’ve created a Detox Pinterest board with lots of delicious and healthy meal ideas, and I pick 3 recipes to make each week, which tends to be enough to feed me for the entire week with leftovers and usually a meal or two at my parents’ or cooked by my roommate. I try to pick one meal each week that’s a soup and one that’s more… solid… for lack of a better term?! I also stock the fridge with salad fixings, veggies and roast chicken so I can throw together a quick salad or roast a veggie and serve with chicken if I don’t have time to cook. On the weekends I’ll use the chicken carcass to make homemade chicken stock, and then use that as a base for the soup the following week.

A few meals I’ve made recently that have been fabulous:

Spicy kale & sweet potato “stew”
Asian chicken lettuce wraps
Chicken and veggie coconut curry
Mushroom & barley detox soup
Lean beef chili loaded with veggies, served with avocado
Turkey meatballs in spicy tomato sauce over spaghetti squash
And I can’t wait to make this lentil soup with sausage, chard & garlic that Smitten Kitchen posted today!

What do you guys do to stay on track with a balanced diet and curb cravings? Got any new snack or dinner ideas for me?

Clean January

I usually manage to quit eating so much chocolate after Christmas, but as a general rule I’ve never had any serious success at a real diet overhaul as a New Year’s Resolution. I quit making those resolutions years ago. But for some reason, hearing Amy and Holly write about doing Whole 30 in January really put a bug in my brain this year and I decided to do a month of clean eating in January.

The idea behind the Whole 30 plan is a 30-day program is intended to be a “nutritional reset”. Briefly, on the Whole 30 plan, you may not eat any of the following for 30 days:

  • All grains including oats, rice, wheat, barley, millet, buckwheat, and corn. I find this overly restrictive and unhealthy.
  • All legumes including beans, chickpeas, peas, lentils, and peanuts. I also find this overly restrictive and unhealthy.
  • All forms of sugar and sweeteners including honey, maple syrup and agave.
  • All forms of dairy with the exception of clarified butter (ghee)
  • Carrageenan, MSG, or any sulfites.
  • Any alcohol
  • White potatoes

I couldn’t quite get on board with all of this; it primarily seems concerning to eliminate all grains and legumes entirely. As well, I find eliminating all forms of sweetener to be overly restrictive. But the idea was still there to do a 30 day “cleanse” utilizing real, whole foods and so I decided to do a modified Whole 30. What I really want is to eliminate the foods that are actually a problem in my diet for long enough to stop craving them regularly, so that I can then reintroduce them on an occasional basis. So here’s what my plan looks like for the month:

  • No grains until dinner
  • No pasta, white rice, bread or “pastry” type desserts such as donuts, muffins, danishes, cake or pie
  • No white sugar or artificial sweeteners (i.e. Stevia, aspartame, Sweet ‘N Low). Natural sweeteners such as honey & agave are okay in small quantities for tea and salad dressings.
  • No dairy, with the exception of goat cheese, low fat milk, and small amounts of butter.
  • No coffee. One caffeinated tea on work mornings is ok.
  • No alcohol
  • No chocolate
  • Small amounts of oil okay for cooking and salad dressings
  • Lots of lean protein such as fish, poultry and eggs
  • As much fruit & vegetables as my little heart desires
  • Drink mostly water
  • Legumes, nuts, unsweetened dried fruit, and non-caffeinated tea all okay

I started on the first of the month by weighing myself to get a starting point. Here’s an embarrassing picture I never thought I’d post on the internet:

Starting weight. Image source: my own!

Starting weight. Image source: my own!

I’ve been struggling in a major way with my weight for the last two years. A lot of it is related to physical limitations with exercise due to my herniated disc, but a lot of it is also related to my diet. I’ve been hovering between 180-185 lbs for the last two years and have had very real trouble getting and staying under 180 lbs. I am determined to do it this month and never see that number again on the scale.

The biggest food items I struggle to eliminate usually are sweet baked goods, sugar in just about any form, cream in my coffee (heck I even named my blog after this one!), and cheese. Though I do love them, I don’t consume enough healthy complex grains and vegetables. So my personal 30 day clean eating plan directly addresses these specific food issues and will hopefully create some much healthier habits for me.

I’ve stuck to this regime with only 1 real slip-up this week: I made quickie butternut squash pasta the night I’d been planning to make chili, because my roommate had a date over and was watching a movie with him. My clattering of pots & pans while cooking up a storm would have been loud and distracting, and I would have felt like a jerk! So far I am down almost 2 full pounds in only 6 days. I’ve been more conscious of what I put into my body, more connected to my food, and more motivated to move my body. And the weirdest experience: I have had absolutely no trouble eliminating sugar, but I have had a recurring craving for wine, of all things! What the heck?! This is unprecedented! Watch Clean January transform me from having a wicked sweet tooth into a wino instead.

A New Outlook on my Biggest Dream

I love goal-setting and resolutions, but I didn’t want to make too many this year. I think it’s better to focus hard on a handful of things that I’d really like to accomplish, rather than spread my efforts too thin and end up with a mostly unfinished to-do list by the end of 2013. So, I asked myself what I wanted the most right now, and one of my answers surprised me so much, I made a huge change to a couple of the things I’ve always been working towards and dreaming about. I decided to forgo an annual resolution list and came up with a 5-year plan instead. My surprising wish was this:

I want to be free of feeling that I’m on a deadline to find the love of my life.

Whoa, right? This is big. I feel like I’m on a deadline because more than anything else in the world, I want to have children. I don’t need to have them right now, but I need to feel that it’s going to happen for me in my lifetime, and I’ve been feeling a rising panic that I’m running out of time. I’m not too old yet, but this feeling is not crazy. I’m nearly 33 years old and I’m single. If I met my perfect man tomorrow, we’re not realistically going to be trying for kids for at least a couple of years, and that’s with pretty swift procreation plans! That puts me at 35 before I am likely to start trying at the earliest: the very age that we’ve all been warned is the time that a woman’s fertility begins significantly declining.

I don’t like dating with this mindset. It makes me feel like I’m just in it for the sperm donor, though I do also want to find love. I am sick and tired of dating in general, as a matter of fact. I miss sex and the comfort of a loving partner, but I haven’t made an effort to meet any new guys in months and I do not  miss going out on worknights to spend an hour or more in awful conversation with a guy 5 years and 30 pounds over what his profile claims, when I knew 30 seconds in that it wasn’t going to work out. I do not miss wasting money on dates with guys that I don’t care about much or at all. I like putting that money towards saving for a new car instead, and spending my time reading new books or laughing with my besties.

But how to be free of that fertility deadline? I still hope that I might be blessed with the experience of pregnancy, childbirth, and having my own biological child one day. But more than that, I want to be a mother. That kid doesn’t need to look like me or share my genes in order to give me the experience of parenting.

I’ve decided to work toward the goal of taking in one or two foster children within the next five years, and let go of the goal of finding a partner who would ultimately the future father of my children. I can do this on my own, and there are many children in awful foster and family situations who need someone stable and caring to give them love. I would like to do this with the idea of eventually adopting children and being their forever home, but I have a lot of research and preparation ahead of me for the next several years in order to make this possible.

So the real steps that need to be taken to make this a reality for me are:

  • Increase my income to a level where I can afford to rent a 2 bedroom property on my own, without the help of a roommate or fostering income.
  • Increase my emergency fund savings to $20,000 without compromising any other aspect of my financial plan.
  • Research the foster care system and possibilities for fostering to adopt in BC. Read about parenting on an ongoing basis. Spend lots of time with my friends’ children and ask other parents about the day to day reality of caring for children.

I’m really enthusiastic about the freedom and stress relief I’ve created in my life by shifting my perspective on what it means to be a parent and how that should happen. This has lifted a big weight off my shoulders and made room for a new possible future that has my heart singing right now.

2012 Recap

Happy New Year! And thanks to Amy Estes for this lovely quote: “May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”

2012 was a year of recovery for me. I wouldn’t say I made progress forward so much as undid some of the backsliding of the prior three years, which were painful and awful and had started to seem never-ending. I’m glad that finally, finally, I feel that things have turned around and I’ve experienced some big moments and experiences this year. Some of the more memorable ones:

  • A great karaoke birthday party with my closest friends to ring in 32 in February.
  • My sister moved out of my apartment, forcing me to either get a new roommate or move, neither of which I wanted to do. But I found a fantastic new roommate and now friend, Kate, who moved into my place in June with her two dogs and reminded me through her friendship that I’m still capable of a wonderful and rewarding experience living with another person (something I’d begun to question after so many failed romantic relationships! And although my relationship with Kate is in no way romantic, it brought back my confidence that some people think I’m pretty fun to have around.)
  • I learned that when someone’s words and actions don’t tell you the same thing, you should believe their actions. This led to me breaking up with Mike, which was devastating but necessary. He kept telling me what I wanted to hear but wasn’t treating me well.
  • I took a solo trip to Hawaii. I’d been wanting to go on a tropical vacation for years and decided to stop putting it off just because I didn’t have a boyfriend to join me. I tried paddle-boarding for the first time, ate strawberry guavas and kukui nuts straight from the tree and enjoyed the heck out of fresh local pineapple. It was a blast and I hope to return one day.
  • I finally found a workout that I love, that really gets my heart rate up and burns some calories, and isn’t a problem for my herniated disc: hiking Vancouver trails! I even lost a little weight this summer after plenty of pounding the trails. I’m trying to replicate it as best I can during the winter with snowshoeing.
  • I joined a book club with one of my best friends, and have been reading much more ever since.
  • I made a few new friendships that I consider already to be significant and am so happy to grow my social circle to include these lovely new people!
  • I stopped working independently in finance and joined the family practice. This has been a much better fit for me doing similar work, and allowed me to finally start making some good strides in my own personal finances.
  • I discovered that my right ankle is extremely prone to sprains and have spent 3 of 12 months in 2012 with an inflamed ankle. I will be buying a high quality ankle brace to reduce the recurrence of future sprains, which has a very negative effect on my exercise schedule!
  • A friend lost her child to cancer. I was honoured to be able to help her by fundraising and creating an online platform for her to share her story at such a difficult time in her life.

Here’s to great new things in 2013! What was your biggest moment in 2012?