Tuesday, April 15, 2008

This just in: fruits and vegetables are GOOD for you.

People. I have been eating REAL food for eleven days now. No. Seriously! I am eating fruit! AND vegetables! And not just one or the other, but both on the same day! Often even multiple times in the same day! I will stop with the exclamation points eventually, I promise. It's just that I don't remember the last time I routinely consumed all portions of the food pyramid in anywhere close to their recommended amounts.

Do you know what is even more remarkable, though? I think this eating healthier thing is actually working. Within days, I started feeling better than I've felt at any point in recent (or not-so-recent) history. My perpetually sore hamstrings aren't always so sore. I don't feel like a creaky old senior citizen when I climb the stairs to my desk every morning. I've had no, er, stomach issues. (Don't worry; I wasn't going to write about those.) I have more energy and feel less sluggish. I no longer feel like my limbs and torso are filled with bags of sand and molasses. (I know--"Sand and molasses?" Yes. That's the analogy I've had in my head. Cancer victims visualize their good cells growing strong enough to overtake the bad. Poorly nourished women with overactive imaginations envision their insides clogged up with sticky, heavy goo. Or, this one does, apparently.)

I sound ridiculous, I know. This is not rocket surgery. My entire life I've heard "You are what you eat," and therefore, if I am eating crap, it should not surprise me that I feel like crap. But... who knew all that goody-goody USDA marketing and public service nonsense was actually true??

So. The eating better thing is going well for now, for the first time ever, I think. I'm still skeptical about how long it will last. (Until my stomach turns at the thought of another salad or fruit smoothie, I predict.) But for now, I am ridiculously proud of myself, and I can't stop talking about this to anyone who will listen. I'm all, "Have you heard about this thing called nutrition? It actually works! Yes! I'm as surprised as you!"

(Now might be a good time to point out how very lucky you are if you do not know me in real life. I promise I am more interesting than this, at least on occasion. I hope.)

In addition to feeling loads better, I'm also already noticing a wee bit less of the extra padding around my midsection that's been growing steadily for the past year or two. If the happier muscles and digestive tract aren't enough to keep me eating like a normal person (or, like a normal person is supposed to eat), then I'm hoping the prospect of weight loss will motivate me as well.

With that part in mind, I've also been trying to step up the exercise routine a bit. Long-time readers who are extra good at remembering everything I ever write will recall that my company pays for my gym membership, provided I go at least eight times a month. This has never been a problem for me; I rarely have a month where I'm there only eight times. Usually it's in the ten to twelve range... sometimes as high as seventeen (though admittedly, that month was a fluke). The problem is that in the past year or two, nearly all of those workouts have been over my lunch break, meaning they're often quite short and not particularly strenuous. I rationalize this by saying that doing half-assed workouts twice as often equals the same results as a proper workout the standard three or so times a week. Unfortunately, the full of my ass (and the muffin top above my waist band) disagree. So I've been trying to pick up the intensity.

Part of this has just been varying my routine at the gym. Instead of just alternating between the treadmill and the elliptical (followed by a few quick reps on the weight machines to finish), I've branched out and tried the rowing machine and the behemoth stair climber. I'm not talking about the traditional Stairmaster, where you lean on a set of upright handles and tap delicately away on dainty little pedals. No, I mean the massive and imposing machine that stands above all other machines in the line of cardio equipment... the one that looks like someone broke a chunk off of an escalator and placed it in a room as a sort of perverse Sisyphean punishment for all who step upon it. I've never had an inclination to even try the stairway to nowhere, until -R- spoke highly of it. Like -R-, my gauge of a good workout is something that "makes me really sweaty but does not make me want to die." With that ringing endorsement, I had to give the thing a try.

The other reason I've avoided the mega-Stairmaster is that it is situated directly in line with the television that's tuned to ESPN. You probably know by now (by the complete absence of any professional sports-related posts on this blog) that I could not care less about ESPN. I would much rather wile away my 25 minutes of lunchtime cardio letting my brain deteriorate in front of the closed-captioned TV airing Days of Our Lives. (Shut up; it is just a diversion. I swear I can quit any time.) As it turns out, the ESPN zone is the place to be. Not only do they have the crazy stair climber, but they have much fancier treadmills as well. People, did you know there are treadmills with built-in fan vents?? And fun little blinking lights that indicate where you are along an imaginary track?? Of course you knew that. Your gym probably has personal TVs in every machine and free pizza once a month. Mine does not. Let me take my small pleasures where I can.

So that is what I am up to lately. Blending up fruits and making lots of salads like Montel told me to, and speed-walking around an imaginary track. All of this should make for riveting conversation on my date tomorrow, obviously. What have you been doing lately?

21 comments:

Melliferous Pants said...

I used to eat fruits and vegetables on the same day...now the bottom of my food pyramid is popcorn, followed by chocolate chip cookie dough. I need to work on that.

Megan said...

Nutrition blows my mind when I get it right. Everything the school nurse said is true.

nancypearlwannabe said...

As much as I don't want it to be true, eating healthy does actually make you feel better. Sigh. Why can't pizza and BBQ make me magically thin and healthy?!

3carnations said...

Oh boy...You all and your healthy food and smaller midsections and my doctor's scale showing my weight at 5 pounds heavier than a year ago are really putting the pressure on. This time of year I tend to get a lot more active and actually eat better, too, because we grill vegetables a lot - Asparagus last night, as a matter of fact. Should I think of giving up the evening munchies, too...?

The Dutchess of Kickball said...

I am scared to death of the gigantic stair machine. I watch it from afar in wide eyed amazement. Maybe someday I'll get up the nerve just to walk past it.

lizgwiz said...

That does it. Now that I'm done with the play, I'm going to get back on that nutrition/exercise thing. Oh, and after the sciatica stops making my leg numb and limpy. And, well, I need to spend as much time with New Guy as possible between now and...then, so after all that, I'm definitely inspired.

Now, if you'll excuse me, these hash browns aren't going to eat themselves.

-R- said...

So what did you think of the scary Stairmaster?

Courtney said...

Ohmigah! I just noticed you added me to your sidebar! I'm so touched!

You've inspired me to buy lots of fruit today at the grocery store. My digestive tract thanks you in advance.

togethertheycome said...

Well, I HAVE NOT been exercising like I should. I don't think 2.5 miles tal=king me an hour to walk is exactly strenuous. But hey! I'm pregs and that's such an excuse I love to shout out!

Good for you though! Keep it up Stef!!

bleeding espresso said...

Yeah I kind of hate that eating healthier and exercising more really does make a positive difference. Makes me feel even guiltier when I don't do said things.

Good for you though! May the kick continue!

Whiskeymarie said...

I decided that my new workout routine would consist of me just walking EVERYWHERE. yesterday I walked something like 8 miles.
And then my knee went out.

Now my routine is something I call "hobble, hobble, limp, limp".

skiplovey said...

Man that mega stairmaster is tough. At first you think "oh it's no big deal" but five minutes in and I was feeling the burn.

One Smart Cookie said...

Oh, I feel exactly the same way about nutrition. It was like suddenly, I GOT IT, and I couldn't stop telling people about it. And shoving it in their faces. Like, "Look at this apple that I am eating. I am eating this instead of a cupcake. Look at me eating the apple. Because I am healthy. LOOK AT ME."

Mickey said...

And thank you for inspiring Courtney to buy more fruit at the store today. I was just in Target (thank you MN) during my lunch break and saw all the fruits and veggies and hoped she was going to get us the good stuff as promised.

It's amazing what a little good food can do for you! Like causing you to write with exclamation points! Keep up the enthusiasm!

Aaron said...

Having only just recently ended an overly-long tenure at a gym, I am afraid I know all about Stairmasters and treadmills with fans in them. I try not to think about it, but sometimes I dream that I am back there and I wake up crying.

When I was hellaciously sick (aka "faking") a couple weeks ago, and Mara made me eat healthy, it did wonders for me. Naturally, I stopped.

don't call me MA'AM said...

I refuse to work out on any machine taller than I am. It's a safety issue. ;-)

Good luck with the killer stairmaster1

My Life My Life My Life said...

I was recently diagnosed with diabetes and was giving a nutrition class and learning the food pyrmid is part of my menu and 'diet' lifestyle changes. One thing I noticed was that if you eat everything that the food pyrmid says to eat that is healthy for you...that's a lot of freakin' food to eat. Who am I to argue about eating all day??? Can't get any better than that.

Good luck with everything and merry blending.

Nikki & David Goldbeck said...

I think it is possible to never have to say "eat your vegetables" again. That's why I wrote "The ABC’s of Fruits & Vegetables and Beyond.” There is no doubt that the foundation of a healthy diet and weight control is the significant consumption of vegetables and fruit. Unfortunately, many adults do not like these fine foods - so we must make sure kids don’t develop these attitudes. Parents and teachers interested in getting kids to develop friendly feelings towards fruits and vegetables should take a look at a new book called “The ABC’s of Fruits and Vegetables and Beyond.” Out only a few months and already being bought in quantity for class use. Suited for kids of all ages as it is two books in one – children first learn their alphabet through produce poems and then go on to more mature activities. It is coauthored by best-selling food writer David Goldbeck (me) and Jim Henson writer Steve Charney. Say hello to us at HealthyHighways.com

L Sass said...

I go on great kicks of healthy, fruit- and veggie-rich eating...

...then I eat an entire bag of cheetos for dinner.

You give me hope!

Noelle said...

You just reminded me of how I love to eat fresh food, but I always forget to plan ahead, and currently there's just some wilted kale in my refrigerator. I wonder if I can somehow combine it with my stale bread to make a delicious nutritious meal.

Jess said...

Congrats on the healthy eating. A little at a time-you can do it!

I have this great book called "Food and Mood: How what you eat affects how you feel" and it is just an awesome book, I've got the pages tagged and everything, it's so helpful. It's true you are what you eat. You are doing great, keep up the fantastic work!

:) Jess