Friday, April 18, 2014

Crock Pot Adventures

I want to try to take this in a different direction for the time being; since I'm either not creative enough or my life isn't interesting enough to write about day-to-day thing, I'm going to try keeping track of my journey to fitness here instead. Perhaps it will cause me to get a little more serious about getting in shape, because nothing else really seems to be working.

However, I couldn't start right away, as I have just moved (again) and didn't have a computer or internet for over a week. I know that doesn't sound like a very long time, but I probably would have gone crazy if I hadn't had my smart phone. I wouldn't have known where to get my car washed or where to go shopping or how to make dinner or what the number was for the cable company or the electric company or Best Buy or when I had to be at work or how to get there.

But now I have a computer, and wifi, and some groceries, and a plan.

First, quickly, some back-story: for the entirety of 2013 I was living in the Cleveland area working in food service as a manager. It was difficult, stressful, thankless, and generally just a massive headache. I met some great people, but the environment was unproductive and the atmosphere was mostly negative. By the end of the year, I was done, and some of the administration was done with me as well. So I quit my job, broke my lease, and moved back home (again). A couple months later, a job opportunity came up with the same company, in the same area, doing kind of the same thing in a totally different department: IT instead of managing front-line employees. They offered me a sign-on bonus, a raise, and a different work group. How could I refuse? This time, though, when I went apartment shopping, I exclusively looked for places that were within cycling distance from my new office. The place I chose is 3.2 miles away, and that's not all: it has a walking path, a gym, an indoor pool, two outdoor pools, and tennis courts, and it's close to a couple big parks. Perfect for the aspiring exerciser.

More key back-story: I have a crock pot. It was kind of an accident: I was re-packing and re-scouring the kitchen for anything I thought I couldn't live without when my mother mentioned that she had a cookbook that was comprised of only slow-cooker recipes -- perfect for someone with a busy schedule living on their own. Throw the food in, turn it on, go do stuff, and in a few hours you have meals for the rest of the week. What could go wrong? So I dug out our ancient crock pot, full of nostalgia and beginning to rust on the outside, and scoured our bookshelves for the slow-cooker book.

My plan involves using all of the above to my advantage: biking to work, eating better, maybe menu planning. Self-motivation (which is always a struggle).

I want to catch up with where I am so far, my challenges and successes, and where I want to go from here. There's not too much to tell; I've only been in my new place for two weeks. I can't imagine that it's gone so quickly and I'm not sure what I've done for the past couple weeks, but it seems like most of it has been work and a lot of it has been unpacking and going to Wal-Mart. For the record, I despise the convenience of Wal-Mart. Why should I be able to pick up office supplies, bath towels, a new dress for work, a dish drain, and groceries all at the same place? And then, because I can buy groceries there, I do, forgetting entirely that their fresh produce is cringe-worthy and inedible.

But the first week was good. Busy. I made myself walk around my little lake a few times; it's .4 miles around, so not very convenient for nice round numbers, but it's a beautiful walk. I spent lots of money on things like a rice cooker and furniture and sticky non-damaging wall hooks, and spent lots of time driving back and forth to a site where we did a go-live in the middle of last week. On the up-side, my apartment looks beautiful!

I love flowers.

So I moved in, walked around the lake, went shopping. Decided to try my hand at one of the crock pot recipes! I made the chicken and dumplings because I buy/eat a lot of chicken, and wanted something quick and easy that had some vegetables in it. Worked like a charm.

It doesn't look as delicious as it tasted, and I managed to make it last -- eating it for 70% of my lunches and dinners -- for nearly a week. I also made baked apples with peaches, stuffed with raisins and cranberries, with a bit of a banana bread-y kind of bottom.

I'm still working through that one; it's good but I think I made too much, and I often have a sweet tooth for things other than fruit.

I'm trying to be better with food, but I still get horrible cravings that completely defeat what little self-control I possess. Like the night I made angel food cupcakes with chocolate frosting and ate the whole pan. Or the day I ate nothing but pierogies and buttered toast. But most days are ok; this week I tried out Refrigerator Oatmeal; there's a lot about it floating around on the net right now, but I used this website and it's working out fairly well. Better than expected, actually; I'm not usually a fan of what chia seeds do to the texture of my food, but I don't seem to mind it with the oats. The Apple Cinnamon and Mango Almond flavours are my favourite so far (Peanut Butter Banana is yummy too!).

So, Refrigerator Oatmeal for breakfast, a lot of chicken for lunch and dinner, and a walk or bike ride if it's not raining. I'm taking monthly pictures of myself to gauge my progress because I don't own a scale and don't put a lot of stock in numbers anyway. My first ones weren't too impressive:

Actually quite embarrassing (I kind of look like an elephant on two legs) -- but this was before I started anything; you can see I wasn't even completely unpacked yet. The next monthly picture isn't for over two weeks from now, so I have plenty of time to hopefully make even an iota of visible progress.

Also I'm painting my nails more. It's not really relevant to my "get fit" plan, but it's just nice to be able to do something that was against the dress code for 18 months.

Happy Easter!