Guys, I am super stoked for March.
Why, you ask? March SUCKS. March is cold (or unpredictably weathered, taunting you with warmth and then slamming you with cold, giving you the flu as a result of the abrupt transitions) and there are no holidays and it goes on forever. I looked ahead to March and had no exciting diversions coming up. No wild and crazy whirlwind New York city weekends, no madcap camping adventures, etc. etc.
Furthermore, I felt sluggish, and stressed, and tired, and low on the self-esteem due to the weight gain from this job that I’ve made light of in the past but is seriously bumming me out.
SO rather than focusing on OUTER SHENANIGANS, I am instead focusing on an INNER COMMITMENT. This commitment?
HOT AND SEXY IN MARCH!
Hot and Sexy in March is a reflective time to take care of myself. With exercise, with healthy foods, and with self assessment.
I thought about how insanely firm and strong my body was when I had the luxury of being a college student, working out daily, taking time to eat a meal and be satisfied.
I wanted it baaaaaaaaaaaaaack.
I want to be totally fierce, with strong legs and toned arms and a flat belly and the removal of all the excess little pouches of things that have appeared on my form since I started this job, my first “real one”, one filled with stress and temptations.
So, you gotta walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Steps must be taken. First and foremost, I have a hostile work environment.
Not in the, yknow, sexual harassment sense or anything. In a constant ubiquity of stress and unhealthy food sense. Witness a recent refrigerator shot, paying special attention to the middle shelf:
Yes, that is cheesecake. And that other tupperware? Fruit tart. In the office? A huge paper bag of baked goods. My boss went to a dessert party and brought in all the leftovers. She calls them treats. They are constant. CONSTANT. Is cheesecake good for you? No. Does eating cheesecake cultivate strength? No. Does it actively work to increase the level of flab on one’s body? YES.
The sweets are bad news for me. I am kind of an addict.
Evolutionarily, it makes complete sense. I experience mental stress about getting all my work done (because I care, and because we’re understaffed). Sleep? Not so great. I have typically ten minutes or so to eat lunch, while having a meeting, and feel no fuller whatsoever. I work for a long time, not having an opportunity to snack unless I eat what the kids do which is typically super duper mega processed. So I finish work ravenous.
Humans crave foods of the sweet, fatty, and high-calorie variety that are ubiquitous at work. It gives you a quick energy burst. It comforts you, literally making your brain feel better.
When I thought about not eating sugar for a day, I literally felt afraid.
And went, “Lele! You are an addict! That will clearly be step number one!”
Thus, my first week of Hot and Sexy in March Step Number One: No desserts!
Due to teacher workdays for the past two days, I realized that I had the opportunity to go to the gym EVERY MORNING for the first SIX DAYS OF MARCH. (I ordinarily have to be at the school at 8 am on Thursdays and I’m just not getting up at 5:30 to work out. I’m just not.)
Thus, my awesome second goal for the first week of Hot and Sexy in March Step Number Two: Work out every day!
Picturewise, here’s how the week took shape.
It involved beautiful local spring greens…
I know I mention basically every time I post how much I love the farmer’s market but dang I love the farmer’s market. I really couldn’t tell you what some of these greens are. Arugula was there. Mustard greens. Really don’t know what else. Any greens experts in blogland?
Layered with homemade hummus (nom), mushrooms, carrots, avocado, and lemon, in a salad the size of my head :D
Hoping this picture adequately shows the size of this bad boy. Rounded out with a beautiful New York apple (still going through my farmer’s market stash), and a yogurt for growing lady bones.
Recollecting college healthfulness, I came up with a collection of snacks lunch. Advantage? Can be eaten in phases!
There were Sun Chips (the only healthful-ish item in my boss’s unhealthy delivery), more yogurt, carrots to dip into homemade hummus…
Quick, super delicious, mega easy homemade hummus recipe:
Put 1 can chickpeas (I love Goya low sodium), juice of 1 lemon, 1 large clove garlic, 1 scallion, 1-2 T tahini in a food processor. Blend. Add 1 T water and 2 tsp. olive oil. Blend. Devour!
Also included: what was meant to be a snack but just rolled into lunch was some roasted almonds and an apple half.
My FAVORITE sandwich. Hummus and avocado! On a sammich thin, rounded out with some fresh spinach.
Plus more toasted almonds (had those for an afternoon snack) and a yogurt/apple/cinnamon bowl.
Hot lunch! Leftover bean chili that was a little bland… so I jazzed it up with some leftover roasted pumpkin and a whole lotta salsa. On our ugly work table.
More yogurt. And a grapefruit!
Breakfast is definitely of the If it Aint Broke category.
Banana oats, you are all I need.
Still making the huge batch at the beginning of the week.
Slight new tweak: flaxseed! Some store only had skim organic milk, rather than my usual 1%, so to get some fat in with breakfast for fullness, I added omega-3-rich ground flax. It was so yummy that that is now how I always make it.
Reheating tip: I make myself a hot cuppa tea every morning. When my kettle water is hot, I dump some of it on the cold oatmeal and stir before I microwave it (it’s typically sort of firm and coagulated by the time it’s been sitting in my fridge.) The water does a nice job of reconstituting.
My best friend is in town (yay!) and we ended up talking about oatmeal (as her boyfriend pointed out, we almost always do). She shared her tip for microwaving oats: she does them daily, and uses whole oats. She dumps hot water on them and then lets them soak up the liquid, then microwaves them for three minutes. Sounds good to me!
With all the working out, I’ve been a hungry beast right afterwards. Sometimes I just have to keep going on the breakfast. These guys go down VERY easily.
Finally, dinners have been simple and nourishing. This is an old classic that my mom made all the time when we were kids:
Tofu, that’s tossed with corn starch and cooked up in just a little bit of oil, then tossed with oyster sauce. Stir-fried bok choy. All together.
First time making it with baby bok choy, which was awesome. Love that texture.
Fun fact: this is actually from the Betty Crocker Chinese Cookbook. Who knew? I don’t know how authentic it is, but it was written by an actual Chinese person. The techniques are really good: easy for a home cook, and gets a pretty authentic flava, I think.
The cornstarch makes for seriously succulently textured ‘fu:
Plus rice on the side. Yummmmmmmmmm!
Here are my thoughts on Hot and Sexy in March so far, on its fifth day:
I feel SO GOOD!
Working out every day has given me huuuuuuuuuuge energy levels (despite the fact that I don’t sleep at night) and has made me absurdly chipper at work (likely due to the wonderful endorphin-fueled post-cardio glow, what Steve calls the “Mary Poppins effect”).
Cutting out the desserts has made me realize what a blood sugar tailspin I was in- it was affecting my mood! I now feel so calm and rational, towards the world in general and towards my addictive thing with sweets. I know all-or-nothing doesn’t work for a lot of people, but having detoxed myself from desserts, I now highly recommend the process. I seriously want to avoid eating sugary treats again for a good long while, because I am realizing I don’t need it and am much happier without its side effects. Sugary snacking was completely self-perpetuating, getting me in a feedback loop where I was craving the happiness/energy boost of a sugar high but it is completely temporary AND simple carbohydrates don’t actually satisfy hunger. So I was snacking and snacking and snacking, especially late at night. Improving that (I snack at night, but in much more moderate amounts, at least so far) has meant that I wake up in the morning feeling alert and hungry, rather than stuffed and sluggish and very unhappy.
Doing good things for my body has caused me to keep going. I’ve gone to two bars this week, and calmly ignored the alcohol, preferring to not put something with no nutritional value (but plenty of empty calories) into my body. Plus, who wants the temptation of being slightly drunk and eating crap?
Finally, having two small manageable things to accomplish for the week has caused me to stop making such critical value judgments on myself. Instead of going to sleep hating myself for eating too many sweets/too much at night, I go to sleep saying “I worked out and didn’t give in to my metaphorical sugar crack addict”. If I eat perhaps an excessive quantity of trail mix in one day, I shrug and say I must’ve been craving protein cause I worked out so hard that morning. And then get up the next day, work out, eat a healthy breakfast, and feel awesome.
I’m now at the age where I’m deciding what I am going to make priorities in my life. Am I going to sacrifice my own health and healthy eating and fitness? I really don’t want to.
So far, so good, March!