Archive for May, 2011

May 31, 2011

Post-holiday Eating

by Zen Gray

Memorial DaySince yesterday was Memorial Day, most people spent the weekend eating BBQ and visiting family and friends.

It’s no secret that the first day returning from vacation is usually the toughest day to get back on track with good habits. But I find that the sooner I jump back in with healthful eating and a quick workout, the better I feel and the easier it is to shed a couple “happy pounds”.

Certainly I’ve had the urge to prolong my holiday with another treat because I want to hold onto the sugary-haze of the last couple days… but I’ve got to suck it up and go for the spinach omelet instead of the strawberry waffle now. Like anyone, I can add 5-10 pounds in a weekend of unchecked eating. There’s a big difference between having just one cheat day as opposed to two or three.

Personally, I planned for one cheat day over the weekend. One of my clients had suggested we go to the Getty for the 18th Century Parisian exhibit and wear girlie hats and have a lunch-time picnic with Nicoise, bread, cheese, wine, fresh cherries and raspberries and the wholeZen Gray in flowered hat at The Getty Parisian Exhibit works.  Since my fiance is such a good sport, he came along to help carry all the baskets and get immersed in estrogen.  I think I may have gotten a little high on brie and date cake in this picture, actually.  (Also, the exhibit was gorgeous and if you’re in LA, you can go see it until August 7th: the dresses, jewelry, artwork, furniture and games, etc. of that era.) After the exhibit, we enjoyed our favorite chocolate butter cream cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery and THEN some macaroni & cheese deliciousness for dinner. It was a pretty big cheat day before we sank into our carb-induced comas.

But then Sunday rolled around and old friends were in from out of town. We HAD to meet them for brunch, of course, and since they suggested eating at The Griddle on Sunset, we waited over an hour for a table. By that time, I was starving and just as in most cases when I’m starving… I ordered what I was craving instead of what healthy. (Plus it’s easy to do if you’ve ever devoured a pancake, waffle or french toast at The Griddle… omg… so delicious.) And once I open the flood gates at breakfast, the whole day is usually shot. So, I decided to just enjoy myself and start fresh the next day.

One thing I was really proud of was that we FINALLY decided to start cooking on the grill my brother and his wife gave us for Christmas. It’s been sitting out on the patio for ages with various grilling accoutrements because neither David nor I have ever grilled before. My brother told us to get this charcoal-starter-thingy so we wouldn’t have to use lighter fluid. And I loved the idea but when we went to implement lighting the fire, we just kind of looked at each other and blinked.

“Do you know how this goes?”
“Uh… put the newspaper underneath it, I guess.”
“Do I stick the paper in the holes and light it like a wick?”
I shrugged.

Grown adults were soon staring at each other and engulfed in smoke and our kind neighbors were nice enough to just close their patio doors without comment. But we would not be discouraged! Soon, my healthy red pepper, onion, and tomato kabobs, asparagus and turkey Italian sausage were filling the air with tantalizing aromas. And shortly thereafter, David triumphantly carried in the delectable-looking plate back inside along with the 2 1/2 foot tongs. (Is that really necessary? Are my meager foot-long stove top utensils hopelessly inadequate?) However, I’m thinking perhaps just one small meal is too little for charcoal grilling. David kept checking the coals before we went off to bed and I think they might just now be cooling off this morning…

grilled vegetablesI have decided to call this past weekend a success because we feasted on a great holiday bounce-back meal AND learned to do something new that had been pushed aside for months. It’s funny how just a little win can motivate me to continue the momentum for the coming week. Lots of canned legumes, tuna, chicken and veggies await to be savored. I know that my couple “off” days will force me to work a little harder this week, but I’m willing to put in the extra work to get back on track as long as healthy eating is delicious in it’s own way, too. And grilling those vegetables and lean protein was a VERY yummy way to enjoy my “on” days again.

Enjoy your week!

May 10, 2011

Getting Into a Groove

by Zen Gray
Madonna's "Into the Groove"

Madonna's iconic "Get Into the Groove" look

Madonna would be so proud of us. After living together for six months, my fiance and I have really gotten into a groove. We time our morning rituals nicely so that while I’m getting ready, he’s feeding the dog and taking her outside. I grab my protein shake and run off to the gym and then the house is free for David to get dressed and ready for work, too. When he comes home, I’m typically making a protein-packed dinner for the two of us and then we either take the dog to the park or head to the gym together before watching a movie and going to bed. Thursday nights are open for fun activities like dancing or karaoke or whatever else we choose.

Saturdays are typically spent working on career-improvement things — new certifications, classes or books for me and music-related research and rehearsals for David. Sundays are easy-going family days as well as grocery shopping/prep days for the week ahead.

Sundays are typically our cheat/binge-days, too, so I really look forward to them. Every time I crave something sugary during the week, it’s easier to triumph over the urge to blow my diet by writing down a list of all the food that I COULD eat on Sunday. (Even though once I get there, I don’t always have those cravings anymore.)

It’s a nice healthy groove we’re in… but I understand that sometimes a groove could be more of a “rut” for some people.

I’ve certainly had relationships where we’d have dessert every day and our habit would just be to complain that “we shouldn’t have” after we ate it. Then we’d do a little self-loathing, finger pointing and do it again the next day. Sound familiar? Or instead of going to the gym together or being active, we’d only hang out on the couch… secretly resenting the other person for not getting up off their ass and coming up with something more exciting. Fat and bored. Fun.

When clients come to me overweight and unhappy, one of the first things I do is ask them to describe a typical workday… from waking up to going to bed: all activity, food, work and relationship stuff. It all matters because all of those things affect the body. We discuss how we could make some small changes and try to adopt new habits every week… not go for the complete overhaul on Day One. I know I’d fail if I tried to make too many changes at one time so I wouldn’t expect anyone else to be able to do it either.

If your groove feels more like a rut, then take a look at one entire workday over the last week. See where you can make small changes:

  • Can you get more sleep?
  • Can you start your day with a better breakfast?
  • Are you drinking enough water?
  • Do you enjoy your job? Is there anything you can do to improve it?
  • Do you have healthy, supportive co-workers?
  • Do you need workout buddies?
  • Are you eating balanced meals every 3-4 hours?
  • Are you addicted to caffeine?
  • Is your home a place that feels rejuvenating?
  • Are you active with your loved ones?
  • Do you take time to play?
  • Are you taking steps to improve your life or are you coasting and hoping?

I think that if you’re not excited about SOMETHING, then you’ll be depressed about everything. One of the first places to start making a change, is to create ANY vision that sparks some passion in you and start working toward it. Whether it’s your work, your partner, your family, or your dreams… start tracking SOMETHING and the momentum will help you succeed in more areas than one.

It doesn’t matter if you’re just making one more sales call or adding one more minute to the treadmill, make today just a little better than before and soon you’ll notice you’ll be groovin’, too.

Health & Happiness,