Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Fast (Food) and the Furious (Me)

The more I hear about eating clean, the more furious and confused I become. Which foods are considered clean, and furthermore, what is considered fast food? Where is this gray area, line in the sand, or are we all just kidding ourselves? Can foods be clean and fast?

Fast food used to be restaurants with a corporate name like McDonalds, Taco Bell, and Kentucky Fried Chicken: these restaurants have recognizable logos, teenagers manning the cash registers, a numbered ordering system, and food portions that always look and taste exactly the same, every single time, at any location. The food has been somehow scientifically developed to make really bad ingredients taste really awesome with the help of preservatives, fillers (wood?), or allowing people to drown it in ketchup. When people say, "Oh, I haven't eaten fast food in years!" I always think this is what they are referring to.

If fast food is, "food that can be prepared and served quickly," then don't most of us eat fast food on a daily basis? You'd have to consider hot dog stands or anywhere you can eat nacho cheese from a machine as fast food because these foods were invented to feed flocks on the fly. But, what about those tasty schwarma wraps at the farmer's market? They are made from meat that spins on a stick all day - it might be good meat, but it is definitely processed. If it is accepted at the farmer's market, a healthy place, it can't be bad for you. Right?

What about my triple-washed lettuce?

If you eat a burrito at a taqueria, it is fast food. If it is at a sit down Mexican restaurant, it is not fast food. . . that just doesn't make any sense. Explain.

Does making it in a vat and letting it sit around for hours make it fast food? What about buffets?If sitting in a vat = fast food. Then, all buffets = fast food. Remember that the next time you pay $60 to eat at the Bellagio!

Did you bake that muffin? I didn't think so.

So, what about slow cooking? It says slow in the name, so that can't possibly be fast? But, have you looked at a slow cooker recipes?! Many of them call for cans or boxes of ingredients. So, you are making your fast food and cooking it slow. That seems ridiculous.

*Steam starts rising from ears*

I think food and diets in general are mind boggling. I watch these Foster Farms Chicken commercials that claim their chicken is never frozen and there is no salt water added. But, salt is a natural ingredient that you would probably add anyway. And corn is a natural ingredient that, when made into a syrup, is bad for you. And now that McDonalds is advertising that their lettuce comes from a a nice family farmer in Salinas. . . . Arghhhh!

*Brain explodes!*

Do you understand why I'm so furious about food?

Where do you draw the line? Is fast food now limited to the stuff with "disgusting" (insert your definition here) ingredients, partially hydrogenated something-or-others, or have to once be sent down a conveyor belt? It sounds like the only tried-and-true method of eating clean is to prepare it yourself, or get to know hunters or farmers. If I need to start hunting and growing my own veggies, there is going to be a problem. First, I will need to buy a gun and learn how to use it (There is a cat in my neighborhood who is really getting on my nerves . . . Just kidding. Nice kitty.), and I'm going to have to figure out how to grow enough veggies for two people on the balcony of my condo. Ok, seriously though - there are plenty of ways to get fresh meat and produce around here: fresh fish from the ocean, farmer's markets, veggie delivery services, and of course Whole Foods Markets. But it just seems like so much extra work to track down the origin of plant and animal species to make sure they are clean.

This is the modern world. If astronauts can live off of freeze-dried fruit, then so can I! If I have the chance to go to the farmer's market or buy free range eggs, I will do so. But, giving up the conveniences of the modern world? Nu uh. Ain't gonna do it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wine, glorious wine.

I never intended to be a wineo. I'm just a nice girl from the Midwest! Swear!

I'm proud of my wine knowledge, which I will say is about a 5 on a scale of 1-10. It's pretty amazing considering 12 years ago the only wine that had gone down this gullet was Boone Hill Strawberry Farm (which is, for the record, is NOT wine). My first introduction to wine was through a very classy friend who reminded me of the San Francisco version of Audrey Hepburn: she wore black turtlenecks wool-knee length skirts, had her hair in a bun and caressed her Merlot wine glass lightly as she spoke of books and politics. Drinking wine seemed so much more demure than guzzling a beer, or doing shots. Uh, so unrefined!

Sometime into my 21st year I was introduced to wine tasting. Wine tasting is an excellent excuse to drink because not only are you drinking, you are also learning. My first wine tasting experience was while studying abroad in Germany - Rieslings and the dreaded Gewurztraminer. I wasn't too much a fan (still am not) of the white variety unless very dry. Don't even think about giving me something sweet or, worse yet, buttery. I'm not a fan of malolactic fermentation. I did fall in love with Sauvignon Blanc (Fume Blanc is also a nice name), French and Italian reds while traveling in Europe.

Upon returning to California, I went wine tasting on the Central Coast and expanded my palette a bit more. About this time, Charles Shaw (2 buck Chuck) was introduced at Trader Joe's. Although I knew there were better wines out there, for $2 a bottle - a bunch of college girls might as well keep a case around the house just in case!

One summer out of college, I dated a sommelier who introduced me to some more expensive varietals. I learned there are other whites that I enjoy that are not Chardonnay. I then found myself kicking down 20 bucks for a bottle, although maybe on a special occasion. A few years later, I found my way to Sonoma and the Russian River Valley. Then Napa, and now. . . I'll spend $40 or more on a bottle. No problem.

This past weekend, I discovered Oregon wine tasting. Yet another region to add to the wine list.

Unfortunately wine is incredibly dehydrating, and a 5 ounce pour has between 100-110 calories. But, who pours only 5 ounces at a time? Furthermore, who has just one glass of wine? Not this girl. I enjoy my red in the biggest glass possible, and that glass gets refilled at least once.

An evening with a nice meal followed by wine drinking usually makes for a lazy day following. When I'm training, I really need to follow the equal-parts-wine-to-water rule, or just not drink any wine at all. Dehydration causes a lazy day following, which is unacceptable if I need to go out and do a bike ride; not to mention, uncomfortable.

The other problem with being a wineo: alcohol makes me SO hungry. I can eat dinner, go out for cocktails, and be starving 2 hours later. Oh it gets worse. My favorite late night snack is . . . cheese. Served with . . . crackers (of course). I'll save my Cheese, glorious, cheese post for another time.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Goes to show you never can tell

Some of you thought I might be writing a post about Pulp Fiction. But, I'm talking about fitness levels here, people!

I always thought triathlons were for only real athletes who were not only good at one sport, but good at all three (swimming, cycling, running). Kind of like being a triple-threat in the acting world: only with the ability to act, sing, and dance will you get the chance to perform on Broadway. So, when I decided to try a triathlon, not being a very good swimmer or cyclist, I had a lot of hesitations about joining what I thought were a truly elite group of athletes.

My friend Bryan (AKA the "Lean Bean") tried to calm my fears about my first triathlon experience last fall by telling me a story about his first tri. He did a sprint triathlon with a couple of friends last summer, and was intimidated by a some guys in his wave who looked like mega athletes: they were ripped with muscles, were warming up very seriously before the swim, wearing really expensive tri suits and goggles. . .

Yeah, he smoked em'

There are all kinds of people competing in triathlons these days, it's just a matter of not being scared to join them. People come in all shapes and sizes, and you never really know what drives them internally to train for an event, whether it be a tri or a 5k run. So, you can't possibly base their performance abilities on external factors like age, weight, gender, and definitely not their tri gear.

Check out the ages for the top three women at the Coyote Hills run a couple of weeks ago:
1st place - Age 46
2nd place - Age 15
3rd place - Age 24

Um, enough said. 46 year-old smoked everyone, trailed slightly by someone who can't drive yet.

Many endurance athletes are "overweight" according to the BMI. The BMI is basically a good measure of nothing. Read this fab article by my new new Facebook friend, Dr. Stu, and his team of bloggers. Dr. Stu was also disturbed to hear about such a thing as "normal weight obesity." Remember when being obese meant you can't fit into an airplane seat? Now normal-sized people are fat.

Men may have been bred to be more athletic than women, but I guarantee there will be a mix of both sexes finishing at different times during the race. I like my speed because I tend to run with a lot of the more hefty, or muscular dudes, as opposed to the lanky runner-types. Hence, I am a chubby chaser. :) Women, if running with men makes you nervous, there are all kinds of races especially for women. If you are a man, I don't know what to tell you. I don't make up the rules here.

Gear is nice, and the proper gear does help. But, there is no shame getting started in a cotton t-shirt and Target jogging shorts. (Target has some good workout gear anyway, imho.) But, the truth of the matter is, there are plenty of people who will spend money on something that they don't really need, or don't even know how to use properly. Have you ever seen someone driving a car that they don't know how to maneuver? Like the tiny woman at the grocery store with her Yukon, trying to fit into the parking space? Yeah, it's something like that.

"C'est La Vie," said the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cycling vs. Politics

Cycling: I need to get my butt back on the bike - literally. This winter I'm taking spin classes to make up for a lack of evening rides. It's not the perfect replacement for the real thing, but it's fine while I build my endurance back. It will be daylight after 5:30pm before we know it!

Politics: Wow, this year is off to a politically-intense start. In just a few short weeks we've seen a major European debt crisis, Republicans fighting it out in the caucuses, Susan G. Komen vs. Planned Parenthood, One Million Moms vs. Ellen DeGeneres, and just yesterday, Proposition 8 was overturned in a federal court.

I like to be aware of politics, but I'd much rather focus on riding. Riding is less stressful. So, let's speculate here just for fun! If political entities went up against each other in a bicycle road race, who would win?

Debt-ridden European countries
Italy. Italians are famous for road bikes, including Bianchi. Italy has a lot of hills and their diet includes a lot of pastas. Carbo load!

Although tea is a nice, zero-calorie drink, Santorum needs to drink a few more electrolytes during his ride, or he's going to loose steam. Newt would get pulled by race officials for doping, and Paul would get pulled from the race for refusing to wear a helmet. I'm going for Romney only because he might be the most physically fit. I wonder if President Obama has a road bike? Hmmmm. . .

Susan G. Komen Foundation vs. Planned Parenthood
SGK Foundation would win because they have more money for bikes and gear, and they don't share with just anyone.

One Million Moms vs. Ellen Degeneres
Have you seen how fit Ellen is? Come on, she would wear them down with humor, then sprint to the finish.

Prop 8 Supporters vs. Gay Community
I'm not sure who would win the road race, but the gay community would surely throw a much more awesome bike party than the Prop 8 supporters. The Gay Bike Party would be awesome! Everyone, including straight folks, would be included in the celebration and there would be assorted colors of bikes (and spandex), glow sticks, fun flashing bike lights, and streamers. The Prop 8 supporters would complain that bikes are ruining the sanctity of transportation. What is the definition of "vehicle" anyway?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Girl Interrupted: What's the deal with Pinterest?

OMG best spice rack, ever? Right? (Feel free to re-pin!)

I've been thinking a lot lately about how not-girly I am. I wear heals and skirts and makeup, but it's not the majority of my personality or personal interests. I've been called a "tomboy", "sporty", "low-maintenance" and it usually makes me feel proud and maybe somewhat original. Until a little girl asked me this past weekend why my hair is short. I told her that my hair looks better short than long, and then she asked, "Did you get lice?" (Sad face.)

I've gone into Pinterest a few times: I find 90% of Pinterest, puninteresting. This I find 100% frustrating. The recipes are ok, but some of the Do It Yourself projects, the best dress ever, or furnishings no one can afford makes me wonder what's wrong with womanhood these days. Or, what the hell is wrong with me that I'm not interested in it?

Somehow Pinterest has created a Stepford Wife Utopia that I am not a fan of. There seems to be many levels of crazy going on:
1.) I-love-this-dress crazy
2.) I-love-and-need-this-$20,000-Vera-Wang crazy
3.) I'm-going-to-make-a-dress crazy.

Who has time to sew a dress, or make a magnetic cosmetic board? I guarantee my boyfriend would throw a fit if I tried to put a magnetic cosmetic board for our bathroom. There is no way he'd want a to drill hole in the wall to put up a pink board with all of my dirty makeup crap stuck to it. It would be the equivalent of my coming home to a picture of a nude model on our fireplace mantle.

I did have time to hang a spice rack in our kitchen this weekend. No, I did not make the spice rack. It is from Ikea.

Most disturbing to me at the professional-looking photos of everything: Has anyone noticed that no one is less than perfect and beautiful on that site? Has anyone seen a person on that site that faintly resembles a normal human being? Yeah, I'd love to braid my hair that way, but whose hair actually looks like that? I'd love to wear bright red lipstick like Giselle Bunchen, but my co-workers would think I was working nightly on the street corner. Also, *shocker* why is everyone predominantly CAUCASIAN? Where are the Latin, Asian, African women?

Do women really find all of the same things interesting? Are we supposed to be clones? Where are the pictures of real women, real homes, and real life?

I'm not sure how my personal fury with a silly website started, but I've been thinking a lot about how to get out of the February Blahs, and the Susan G. Komen vs. Planned Parenthood debacle. The winter blahs just don't make me feel cute, and the thought of a bunch of women wearing pink tutus makes me leery. (If you want to support a cause = GIVE THEM MONEY! The ribbons, clothing, and the rah rah rah are all marketing tactics so that you give them needed funding! So, cut the BS and write a check!)

I digress.

I'm not sure if my frustration with other women's fascinations leads to my own insecurities, or if it's my mother's fault for calling the "Craft Faire" the "Crap Fair." God bless her! I just don't enjoy Disneyland (or the idea of it because I've never been there), shopping malls, smokey eye, or making gifts in jars.

I'd rather sweat.

For a new challenge, I need your help. Pick something girly from Pinterest that I can try: a new beauty tip, recipe, or *dun, dun, dun* DIY project . The only caveat I have is that it can't cost much, and it can't destroy any part of my home or my person. (i.e. I'm not going to paint a room in my house, or get a tattoo.) I'll let you know how it goes.

February Blahs

I'm sitting at my desk, enjoying (not really) a salad for lunch, and it dawns on me: I hate February. February should be a wonderful month because: my mother, boyfriend, and bestie are all Aquarians, there is at least one Monday holiday this month, it's Black History Month, Groundhogs Day, the beginning of Lent . . .

(Notice I didn't say anything about Valentines Day.)

February is when I realize how much damage I did to myself since November. In addition to it being cold and dark outside, I'm at least 5 pounds over my ideal weight, my clothes are hanging on me funny, my skin is pale, I hate my hair, and I just feel unmotivated and kind of gross. . . again (this happens every year).

What went wrong this year? I promised myself this wouldn't happen again! How did this happen? I've been exercising all winter!

So, instead I'm going to suck it up and take February as a challenge. That's all. I'm just going to have to work harder to get back to my best self again. This totally sucks, but I will drag my ass to the gym in the dark after work, swim in the rain, and buy myself a cycling poncho, and just get the hell over it.

Motivational picture time!

Last February, I started taking pictures of my least favorite body part - my belly. With hard work, I got some good results by summer. I'm pretty much back where I started last year, which is depressing. Maybe this year I'll get my body fat percentage down another percent - we shall see.

*Warning* This link is rated G for most, but for those of you who believe that the body is evil or are offended that I said the word "sucks" or "ass" in an earlier paragraph, this is probably rated X, so please click with care: Here's the difference 2% body fat makes. (February to July 2011).