I remember well the days when I had no faith in my instincts, particularly as it pertained to recipes and exercise (imagine I’m saying that in my best Peter Brady impression).
In terms of food, I never strayed from a recipe except to omit onions if my kids were eating it or to reduce the amount of salt. The recipe was the expert, not me. As the years and pounds have fallen away (and I’ve become more picky about what I eat), I’ve been listening to my inner foodie and have become more adventurous in ad libbing.
I’m not out to reinvent food or write a cookbook. I’ve just made some small changes to existing recipes that I like and reading new ones with curiosity. I could use this for that… goes through my mind now when I read cookbooks or search recipes online. I don’t discard a recipe idea just because it has meat or eggplant or exorbitant amounts of oil. If the foundation of the recipe sounds good, I think around it and find substitutes.
I especially love putting together; things from scratch with a little of this and a little of that. You know, the few leftover carrots that don’t quite constitute a serving, the quarter-cup of mixed veggies on the bottom of the bag in the freezer, the two ounces of tofu that if you don’t use soon will go bad (and no wise cracks from the peanut gallery about how can you tell, OK?)
Here’s an example of what I mean. I made soup yesterday because I had a few leeks and rutabagas in the fridge, some lentils in the cupboard, bits of frozen corn and green beans, an opened container of veggie broth, and a lonely stalk of celery. I hate seeing things go to waste, especially in this economy, so here’s what I came up with. It’s pretty basic, but very tasty.
Lynn’s Smorgasbord Soup
1 cup thinly sliced leeks, rinsed well
1 clove garlic (or more)
1 tsp. olive oil
4 cups boxed vegetable broth
2 cups water with 2 tsp. vegetable broth granules (substitute 6 cups of boxed or homemade broth, or 6 cups of water and the equivalent granules)
1 can (15 ounces or so) diced tomatoes
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
8 oz. cubed rutabaga (or use sweet potatoes or butternut squash)
½ cup frozen corn
½ cup frozen green beans
1 cup dried green lentils, rinsed and sorted
½ tsp. marjoram
½ tsp. dried thyme
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
In a Dutch oven sprayed with non-stick spray, sauté the leeks and garlic in oil on low to medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir frequently. Dump everything else in and simmer for about an hour.
Makes 6 hearty 2-cup servings, and if you make it like I did, it’s 3 Points per serving.
Last night, I made stuffed peppers from a cookbook recipe. I reduced the bulgur from 2/3 cup to ½ cup because it seemed like too much starch, and I added a ½ cup tomato sauce because my eyes told my mouth that the peppers might not be all I wanted them to be without some tomato. It turned out I was right and the peppers were just how I imagined.
There are times when my instincts fail me, too. Let’s just say there are some things that shouldn’t be mixed with lime juice and leave it at that.
The other area I lacked confidence was exercise. I was a by-the-book kinda gal. If some expert said I had to do cardio an hour a day to maintain my weight loss, by god I was going to do an hour of cardio a day. When another expert told me I could get by with just two days of strength training, that was good enough for me. The problem was that my body said no to both these scenarios, and so over the last several months, I’ve allowed my body to be the expert.
Let me say right now: I hate cardio. Well, at least I hate an hour of cardio. Thirty to 50 minutes, no problem, but an hour? I dreaded it, and you know and I know that if you dread something, you’re less likely to do it. Now I do about 120-150 minutes a week of cardio and this makes me a much happier exerciser. I’ve lost the guilt. (Yes, I felt guilty for not doing cardio like a maniac. Kinda sick, huh?)
What I lost in cardio, I upped in strength training. Using books and other guides, I developed my own routine for upper and lower body that works with my body and its abilities, not against them. I’m not a personal trainer and I haven’t had any classes in physiology (ergo, would never advise anyone on what they should do), but I know my body best and it’s responding to the three to four hours a week of ST nicely. Best of all, I love it. It’s my favorite exercise ever. Well, besides biking, but there’s 12 inches of snow still on the ground. I won’t be out on the trails for quite some time, I’m afraid.
So are you listening to your instincts, too? What are they telling you? I’d love to hear how you’re learning to (or have learned to) trust yourself in weight loss/weight maintenance.