I'm home. Back in depressingly cold and rainy Tokyo (the weather has been truly crap this year).
The holiday was great. A very relaxing time. Spent time with my friends, read lots of books and enjoyed being warm just as much as I expected to (which makes being back here a bit depressing - it has to warm up soon though). I have no idea yet whether or not I put on weight but I suspect the answer is yes (I'll weigh tomorrow).
I'm writing this before I weigh though because I want to write down the positives.
1. I did do some specific exercise every single day I was away. I didn't bother to log it partially because logging was a pain and partially because I was so sloth like the rest of the day (and my profile is set to moderate activity level) that I'm sure I was burning a lot less calories than I would in a normal day in Tokyo even if I did no specific exercise.
2. I was certainly more mindful of my eating and ate less than I would have otherwise (and less than I wanted to!). I made an attempt to log it every day but it really was a bit pointless as I had no idea what I was eating.
So even though I suspect I put on weight the fact of knowing MFP was waiting for me will have at least minimised the damage. Now my aim is to get back into routine and try to continue the good habits I was starting to build up before this trip.
Posted on 03/31/2012 by Xiaolongbao
Today I'm going on holidays. I'm flying to Vietnam where I'll spend time with friends. It's only a short trip, I'll be back next weekend.
Only short, but significant. Significant because it is my first break in routine since I started MFP.
So far I'm happy with how I'm going. It has been around 3 weeks (it looks like 4 but the first week I wasn't actually logging or making any effort to lose weight, I was just checking it all out). I've lost pretty much a pound a week which is my target. I'm hungry but not unbearably so. I've been exercising regularly, not insane amounts but twice most days which I'm satisfied with.
I am however, a creature of habit. If you've viewed my food diary you'll see I eat the same thing EVERY single day for breakfast. This is nothing to do with MFP, I go years eating the same thing and then eventually I'll grow tired of it and change. You'll also notice that I eat exactly the same food every day for a week in my other meals. I cook on Sunday and then eat it all week. Once again, nothing to do with MFP this has always been my method.
Of course on holidays I can't do this. I'll be staying with friends, we'll be eating out. I'll be eating food much higher in fat and salt than what I cook myself. Logging will be vague guesses at best (think lots of street food, not understanding the language and not really knowing what I'm eating). My friends will be cooking me nice food (unlike me they actually like cooking. I plan to enjoy it with them. Exercise will be harder to schedule (I'll be away from my beloved pool for starters). I don't think I can really spend my "special time with Jillian" in someone elses house.
Of course all of this worries me a little. I'm only at the very beginning of this journey and I've done this many times before (started a successful healthy lifestyle and then got derailed). But on the other hand I have to accept that this is my life. I love to travel. This summer I'll be away for 2 months. If this change is going to stick I'm going to have to learn to cope when I'm not in my routine.
I accept that I'm unlikely to really lose weight while I'm on holidays. I'm ok with that if I can just avoid putting what I lost back on. So I decided to write this blog entry and put down what I committ to doing. Hopefully this will help me keep myself on track.
1. I will exercise for half an hour each day. This can be as simple as a walk. Of course I'll be walking around lots in the course of the day but I want to do something that is specifically for the purpose of exercise. It's predicted to rain all week but I will remember that I don't melt in the rain and get outside anyway.
2. I will make an attempt to keep logging my food. I know the calorie count will likely be way off and as mentioned earlier I won't even know what I'm eating half the time but I will do it anyway. My thinking is that knowing I'm logging will keep me mindful of what I'm eating. It will also make it easier to resist snacks I don't need if I know I'm going to log them.
3. When I come back I'll post another blog entry with a summary of how I went and of course weigh myself to see what the end result is.
Ok. Wish me luck!
Posted on 03/23/2012 by Xiaolongbao
I saw someone logging “Special Time with Hubby” as one of their exercises. Now I don’t have a “hubby” and if I did I’m not sure I’d be keen for logging our “special times” (hi mum!) but I have a “special” relationship that I do log.
Jillian. Come on, if you clicked on this blog chances are you know who I mean. No second name required (sort of like Madonna or Prince).
Love her or hate her you have to admit she’s spun herself a very successful business off the back of the fact that so many people want to lose weight ( lets face it, the largest part of her market is fat people).
Out of interest I googled “Jillian”, no last name, no extra information. The first 3 links were all her. I learned that she’s about 70 days younger than me, has released over 15 DVDs as well as her substantial TV, podcast and video games work. She’s short, single, trying to adopt a child and claims she was overweight as a teenager.
Well that was fun, I feel like our relationship just moved to a whole, new, level (I also feel a little like a stalker).
At the moment Jillian and I are having “special time” early every week day morning. As the sun rises it’s just Jillian and I hanging together (ok ok, Natalie (for when I’m more advanced) and Anita (who helps carry me through) are there too but I like to pretend it’s just Jillian and I). I follow her instructions, don’t phone it in, don’t stand up and hope that she knows what she’s talking about when she tells me the reason I’m not allowed to rest is because I’m forcing my body to change.
Jillian has taught me a lot about life. She’s taught me that
* the little knot I can feel in my stomach, that’s fear leaving my body. (what does that even mean? does she ever listen to her recordings and think ‘what the hell was I on about?’)
* if I’m on day 5, 6 or 7 I’ll be finding it much easier than on day 1.
* I should not phone it in, not stand up. (this one drives me crazy because I catch myself wanting to say ‘don’t phone it in’ to people - it’s like there is a Jillian inside my head.)
* Jillian always starts with hip circles (except of course when she doesn’t, like on level 2).
*400 pound people can do jumping jacks (and apparently Jillian has some of these 400 pound people)
I’ll stop there but if any of you know what I’m on about then feel free to add your own life lessons from Jillian to the comment section. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who can hear that voice inside my head.
So thanks Jillian for all of your life lessons. I dedicate this blog to you.
Posted on 03/13/2012 by Xiaolongbao
In Chinese Xiao means small. I find it kind of ironic that I’m naming myself Chef Xiao when I’m a lousy cook who isn’t small.
For anyone reading my blog for the first time you need to understand that I cook once a week (on the weekend) and eat the same food all week. So every day it pops up on my food diary and some people ask me exactly what it is that I’m eating.
So, here’s how to make Broccoli Congee Xiao style. This is a super healthy dish but actually pretty tasty.
Ingredients: Onion, Capsicum (bell peppers), Mushrooms (loads, all different types), stock cubes, broccoli (a lot), garlic (fresh for me but you could use it from a jar), quinoa (or brown rice) and tofu.
Cut up the onions, capsicum and mushrooms and throw them in a slow cooker or a pot that is suitable for making soup. Let them get soft.
Throw in the stock cubes and some water. It would be better to dissolve the stock cubes first but I usually don’t bother and just let them dissolve in there.
Squeeze in the garlic.
Add in as much broccoli as you can fit. Chop it up first (eventually it will all fall to pieces in there).
Let it cook for a while. I usually leave it an hour or two (remember I’m using a slow cooker).
By this stage the broccoli should pretty much have fallen to pieces.
Throw in a bit of quinoa or rice (really it should be rice if I’m calling it congee but quinoa makes for a lighter final product). The more you throw in the less watery the final product will be. This is also the main part of the calories of the dish so how much you use depends on what you want to end up with.
Tofu goes in at some stage too. Once again the tofu is completely unnecessary but if you need extra protein this is one way to get it.
Cook for another hour or two.
Eat. Full of fibery goodness.
Go on, try it!
Posted on 03/12/2012 by Xiaolongbao
Anyone who follows my exercise will have noticed that I swim pretty regularly. I try to get to the pool at least 3 or 4 times and week and it isn’t that unusual for me to make it 5 or 6 times (never 7 because I work one night).
First thing to be noted is that I look hideous in swimmers. I’m not just fat but also very white and cellulity (yes, I know that’s not a real word but it anyone who has seen me in my swimmers will agree it should be).
I’m a good swimmer. They probably won’t be calling me for the Olympics any time soon but I easily do my 50 laps (the pool is only 25 m) at a decent speed with no stopping. In fact I’m happy to admit that on many a night I’m one of the fastest people in the pool (apart from the night those pesky students from the sports’ university come train - damn them and their youthful fitness).
So, what’s the problem?
The problem of course is that I’m fat. I’m fat and no one else is. That’s right, NO ONE. Even the few other non-Japanese people who swim there are all slim. I sometimes wonder what they think of me. Sometimes that cheers me up, I imagine they’re thinking ‘hey, how come that fat girl is so much faster than me’ other times it isn’t so cheery ‘hey that girl is amazingly fat, why doesn't she sink?’ (which would of course point to a deficient understanding of the principles of buoancy)
But you know what the reality is? I bet most of the time most of them AREN’T THINKING ABOUT ME AT ALL. That’s right, a thought so shocking I had to capitalise it. I bet most of them are thinking about their work or their kids or whether they’ve got time to do another lap before their ticket expires (you only get an hour).
And even if they are thinking about me - so what. Does it really matter? I don’t know these people at any level above a bowing relationship (this is Japan, you get to bow a lot). Does it matter if they think ‘wow that girl is fat’? It isn’t exactly a secret.
So I swim and that makes me happy.
Posted on 03/11/2012 by Xiaolongbao
This time a year ago (it's 8:30 am as I write this) was just another day. I was here in Japan, happy because it was Friday. It was only a week out from our Spring Break and life was good.
That changed a few hours later.
A year ago today over 15,000 people lost their lives. Entire communities were wiped out. A nuclear incident meant that a big chunk of land was rendered unusable for the foreseeable future and an entire country was plunged into uncertainty.
Now the country is rebuilding. Rethinking its energy policy and dealing with ongoing problems caused by the losses. Thousands of people are still living in temporary housing and many are unemployed (due to the loss of businesses, the wiping out of much of the fishing fleet and the fact that all those who had farms or fishing businesses anywhere near Fukushima have been unable to return to them). I’m sure for most of the world the earthquake and tsunami are just a distant memory, so much happens in a year. Even for many of us here in Japan it has been all to easy to go on with out lives.
So today we stop and remember. And to those of you who read this I ask you to take a moment to remember too. Remember and be thankful. Thankful for your home, your families and your friends. If you pray then pause today and say a prayer for those struggling to rebuild their lives here. And whether or not you pray use this as a reminder to cherish the people you care about. Do something nice and make someone’s day. You never know whether you’ll get the chance to do it tomorrow if you don’t do it today.
Below are a few photographs I took in October - 7 months after the tsunami. I went with some friends to help volunteer. Despite the tens of thousands of volunteers who had already been up there there was still so much to do.
Posted on 03/10/2012 by Xiaolongbao
According to MFP I’ve now logged in every day for 15 days. That’s half a month. Sounds impressive right (ok, ok, I realise that 2 weeks only sounds like a long time if you’re a 5 year old waiting for Christmas but lets all get in touch with our inner child and pretend to be impressed by my achievement).
Unfortunately my MFP journey got off to a rather rocky start. I put on weight. That’s right, well over a kg of it (about 3 pounds). None of those exemplary big losses that a lot of people start new eating regimes with.
So, what happened? Well I joined this site because a friend told me about it. At the time I was home sick with some pneumonia like thing (maybe pneumonia, maybe not). So I joined, entered my weight and just nosed around. I didn’t make my profile or log my food. I was only awake about 2 hours a day and I barely had the strength to drag myself to the bathroom, there was no way I could get my brain together enough to make my profile.
Slowly (so slowly) I recovered. I’ve been in this job almost 4 years and in that time I’ve only needed to take one sick day. This time I took 4 and the day I came back to work I really should not have been there (but there were exam entries that HAD to be done by that day or we would have incurred pretty heft late fees so I really felt I needed to go in). The next week passed in a blur of misery. I was making it through work every day but the minute I could I’d go home and go to bed (so some days I was in bed by 4:30 pm). I still wasn’t ready to start using MFP.
At this point my weight was probably pretty stable. But then came the problem.
We had a long weekend off work. I’d already planned to join friends skiing. It was all paid for. I debated pulling out but since I was gaining strength little by little I figured I might as well go along (the money was gone).
It turned out to be a great decision. A lot of fun and a really good weekend. The first day I only skied about an hour. I was so weak. The second morning I felt a bit rough so I rested and just skied in the afternoon. By the third day I was feeling pretty good and managed to keep up with the others skiing.
So, I see yourself asking (if you haven’t grown bored of my tale and clicked over to Facebook) why did she put on weight if she went skiing and did a lot of exercise.
To make sense of it you need two little facts.
1. I’d vowed not to eat meat (including fish, chicken, pork, beef etc) at all during February.
2. Japan is not a country that is vegetarian friendly.
Our ski weekend was a package with buffet breakfast and dinner. Lunch you bought for yourself. The buffets were pretty good as long as you liked meat, or at least fish. For me they were a bit of a disaster. French fries (and tater tots at breakfast) featured heavily. That and white rice. There were a few other things I could eat but the fried potato definitely took centre stage. Vegetarian options weren’t exactly in abundance at lunch either.
After that trip I was finally feeling healthy enough to make my MFP profile and to begin properly tracking my food and paying attention. The trouble was that I’d entered my weight back when I was sick. So now I was well over a kg heavier than my start weight.
Thus, despite this being my 15th day of logging in every day it’s my first day to get to see my weight in that little box change from “Has lost 0 lbs”. Lets hope things only go down from here!
Posted on 03/09/2012 by Xiaolongbao
This is not the same as cheating!
Today I woke up, realised it was Thursday (not Friday) and felt disgruntled. That’s a pretty normal way for me to feel on a Thursday (who decided to stick a day between Wednesday and Friday anyway?) but usually I get over it relatively quickly. Today the disgruntlement seems to have stuck.
I feel cheated. I feel I’ve done enough days and deserve a weekend. Sadly how I feel has no bearing on reality. So, Thursday it is. A long Thursday since I was woken at 3:50 am (3:53 am to be exact) by an earthquake. I wake up far too easily and then I’m not good at getting back to sleep.
On the bright side tomorrow’s Friday. And that’s a GOOD thing.
Happy Thursday everyone. May yours be more cheerful than mine.
Posted on 03/07/2012 by Xiaolongbao
A few people have asked me what beefless stroganoff is. I’m putting the recipe here so I can just refer people to it rather than keeping on typing an answer in my comments.
First, a disclaimer. I’m not exactly renowned for my cooking skills. I don’t follow recipes (because they are complicated, I usually don’t even know what half the ingredients are or how to find them in Japan and because I just don’t like following instructions). I make food that I like by simply combing other foods that I like. It usually turns out pretty well to my way of thinking.
I cook in massive quantities because I only like to cook once a week - well I don’t actually like to cook at all so doing it once a week is a compromise. I then eat the same food all week. This week was stroganoff week. If you decide to try this DO NOT use my quantities unless you want a LOT of food. I’ll probably have around 10 meals out of this (5 lunches and 5 dinners).
So, here’s what I did.
Ingredients: Onion, mushrooms (lots of different types), capsicum/bell peppers (red and yellow), stock cubes, tofu, tomato sauce (ketchup) and sour cream (one small tub, no idea what size but it had 400 calories in it). Paprika for seasoning.
Throw onions, capsicum and mushrooms into wok with some water. I don’t like oil (I have a weird thing about the slimy way it feels) and I’ve discovered I can cook anything without it just by keeping a dash of water in the pan. I’m sure this is not a method chefs would recommend.
Keep stirring them until they go kind of soft. (I had one big onion, 2 big capsicum and about 5 trays of different mushrooms in there at this point). Shake a bit of paprika over everything. This allows you to feel like a real chef (look at me, I use spices!).
Throw in some stock cubes and water. It would probably be better to dissolve the stock cubes first but I’ve discovered you can get away without bothering so I don’t. They dissolve as it cooks.
Put in a few big squirts of tomato sauce (this is ketchup, not actual tomatoes). This week my recipe could have done with a little more but I ran out after about 2 squirts.
Stir all this round for a while, making sure the stock cubes have dissolved (unless you were good and did this first).
At this point I threw in some diced tofu. I did this because I thought I needed extra protein. It does nothing for the taste so I recommend leaving it out unless you love tofu or are worried about your protein.
When you feel you’ve cooked long enough (for me this is usually around 5 to 10 minutes, I get bored easily) turn off the heat and dump in the sour cream. If you don’t care about calories put more in but I find one tub is sufficient. Stir it round until the sour cream has dissolved and it’s all the same colour.
Posted on 03/06/2012 by Xiaolongbao
Sorry, no slug related tie in today.
Although I’ve only been logging for a brief time a couple of people have already asked me why I don’t log my water. Maybe they’re imagining me as some kind of human/camel cross who only drinks once a week. When you think about it that would be kind of handy, although I’d prefer not to smell as bad as a camel (if you’ve never smelled one try it - everyone should get up close and personal with a stinky camel at least once in their life).
Sadly the truth is far less interesting.
I don’t log my water because I can’t be bothered. Yep, that’s right, no excuse, it’s sheer lack of effort on my part.
Well that’s not the entire story (ha! and you believed me when I said I didn’t have an excuse, that’s because you don’t know me, I have excuses for everything).
In addition to my laziness I don’t log my water because I don’t think I need to. Drinking copious amounts of water is something I do without any effort at all.
I don’t like tea, coffee, alcohol, hot chocolate or most other things people enjoy drinking. I like some soft drinks (pop/soda if you don’t speak my language) but the only one I truly loved was Coke Zero and I gave that up entirely because I felt I was unhealthily dependent on it. So soft drink is something I’ll have maybe once every few weeks.
So, once you rule out all those things what are you left with? Water. Lovely, free water.
If you told me to limit myself to 2 litres a day I’d struggle. On a ‘normal’ day I drink around 3 litres. More if it’s hot or I’m exercising a lot.
I figure there are lots of things I do badly and need to work on. Drinking enough water isn’t one of them. So I won’t be logging water any time soon. But I do encourage everyone else to drink up - it’s great stuff!
Posted on 03/04/2012 by Xiaolongbao
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