Psst. Okay, so before you read any further, pinky swear to me you won’t tell Misty. Yeah, you remember that post (here) she did on not out-exercising a bad diet. Well, I’m here to offer my perspective. *wink*
Please note that I’m not a family physician, nutritionist, or cardiologist. I don’t know your medical history and you should always consult a health professional before following anyone’s advice.
Diets. I hate that word. At heart, I’m a foodie. I love trying new foods, I love cooking and baking. My television only has two channels, The Food Network, and Treehouse (for the kiddies). And when the world embraced the no-carb diet, I was like, “Hell No.”.
There’s a method to my madness, I promise. Step one is as simple as understanding this:
People who deny themselves sugar are cranky.
Remember the Brownie Contest scene in Notting Hill, where Julia Roberts is all like, “I’ve been on a diet since I was nineteen.”? Yeah, that’s so not me…
Here’s a clip to jar your memory: (gotta love this movie)
But life, *sigh*, is all about BALANCE. What goes in, must come out, or stay stuck on my thighs forever. So that’s why I’m also an adrenaline junkie.
Growing up, I sucked at sports. I mean, really sucked. Don’t ask me to catch a ball. You’ll regret it. My large-muscle coordination is horrendous. But when I was in university, we got a dog. This cute little girl, Kyra, who sadly passed away this year.
She became my running buddy. As a herding dog (a Shetland Sheltie to be specific) she needed a lot of exercise. We started out slow, running laps at the local park. Because, hey, I figured I could at least put my feet in front of each other without falling flat on my face.
On a side note, running with Kyra at the park is how I met my hubby. Ladies, nothing attracts a man like a dog. Yep, it’s a story as sweet as 101 Dalmatians. Except hubby stalked me and his dog (an adorable Golden Retriever) snapped up Kyra’s ball and broke it. The next day, he brought me a new one. The rest is history.
So running became my thing. I’ve run 3 marathons, and tons of half-marathons, 10ks and 5ks (that’s 26 miles, 13 miles, 6 miles, and 3 miles, give or take). And I’ve only ever fallen flat on my face once. Which leads into Step 3.
When you fall down, get back up. This piece of advice works for just about everything in life.
Of course, the one time in my life I fall while running, it has to be when someone’s watching. One morning, I was running along this sidewalk, listening to my iPod and not watching my feet, so I didn’t notice the grade difference between the sidewalk tiles. My toe caught on one and I went skidding onto the side grass (which thankfully was devoid of doggy doo-doo). A week later, I went running on the same path, only to find the sidewalk had been graded.
Yep, folks. Someone saw me fall, called the city, and made a major complaint about the klutzy runner who fell in front of his/her house. Gee, didn’t I feel special.
Even so, I’m grateful to my anonymous hero, and will continue to run on that–now safe–sidewalk.
Back to diets. This is where it gets complicated. I’m totally into this season’s The Biggest Loser, because, well, I love watching people transform their lives. My favorite part is the ending, where you get to see the evicted contestant at home and looking amazing.
BUT. Yep, that’s a big BUT. That’s not living. As with all things, moderation is the key. Something I’ve come to witness is:
Those who don’t indulge, binge.
How many times have you said, “I’m not going to eat a cookie. I’m not going to eat that cookie.” Then two days later, you can’t take it anymore, and you eat six? We’re human, people. Eating the foods you love is a part of enjoying life.
I say, there’s a right way to indulge, and a wrong way. First, don’t tell yourself “no”. The instant it becomes a “no” in your mind, your willpower turns into my three-year-old son. It smirks at you with a mischievous grin and when it thinks you’re not looking, reaches for the cookie jar.
Tell yourself “yes”. Allow yourself to indulge, in small amounts, in the RIGHT THINGS.
What are those right things, Rachael? Simple: Homemade. Yep, good ole’ home cooking. Don’t make fast-food joints your staple, don’t buy that processed junk. You’re just using up all of your “yummy” calories on fillers.
I’m here to help. I’m handing you two of my prized go-to recipes, where what you’ll buy is way worse for you than what you make at home.
This isn’t a diet or a trick to losing weight. This is how I indulge, in the “less-unhealthy” way.
First up, my Honey-garlic Chicken Wings. A family recipe that’s the first to go at every dinner party it’s ever been to. They’re that good.
½ cup honey
½ cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. garlic powder
Bake chicken wings (no deep-frying here) on greased baking sheet at 350ºF for 30 minutes, or until starting to brown. Transfer chicken wings to casserole dish. Combine sauce ingredients and pour over chicken wings. Stir. Bake for another 30 minutes, stirring every 5 min. (yep, baby those wings!) until sauce is thickened and bubbly.
Since I’m a baker, here’s a little old recipe for Sticky Toffee Pudding I fell in love with when I visited Scotland. It’ll satisfy any sweet tooth with its caramely-goodness. Your kids will never know that awesomeness comes from fiber-rich dates.
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ¼ cups boiling water
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ cup heavy cream
For the pudding: place dates in bowl in baking soda and water. Let sit for at least 10min. (up to 30 min.). In a medium bowl, beat together butter, sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, beat until blended. Combine flour and baking powder in separate bowl. Add to butter mixture. Fold the date mixture into the batter. Pour into a greased 10-inch round springform pan. Bake at 350ºF for 30-40 minutes, until tester comes out clean.
For the toffee sauce: combine butter, cream and sugars in a medium saucepan. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Continue to boil (while stirring) on low heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 6-8 minutes). Poke holes (1cm apart) in pudding. Spoon 1/3 of sauce over top of pudding and stick under the broiler until bubbly (about 1-2 min.). Serve warm, drizzled with more sauce. For a less-unhealthy sauce, try reducing butter to ¼ cup and/or heavy cream to light cream.
So, that’s my take on balancing life, diet, and everything in between. How do you indulge? What’s your go-to craving-satisfying food item, and have you ever tried to make it yourself? If not, why not? If yes, care to share your recipe?