Sunday, February 13, 2011

This weeks's Aha moments!

Even though my newest diet does not require exercise in order to lose the pounds, if I have learned anything about weight loss over the years it is is nearly impossible to keep it off if you don't have an exercise regimen in place. Although, we have a gym here in our complex, another thing I have learned is it is more motivating to work out if you have to pay for it, so I joined the gym just up the road. I love the classes, especially Zumba. I feel like a complete fool as I gyrate and shake but it's a great work out and I am exhausted by the end.  One thing I have always feared and struggled with is strength training. There is something very intimidating about weight rooms! I think it has something to do with all the steroid enhanced muscle men I have to share the dumbbells with. I am also worried that I am going to sit down backwards on a machine or do something else humiliating so I just avoid this part of the gym entirely! Unfortunately, I have to pass it daily in order to go to the locker room and that's when a smiling, tone, petite man came up and asked me when he could start training me...UGG! Against my better judgment I agreed to a free training session. This of course lead to 10 paid sessions. I am truly grateful that I am being forced into the dreaded weight room, however, during my 1 hour training session twice a week I hate this little man. Even with his darling smile he means business and I am convinced he is trying to kill me. He ignores my whining and excuses and although there are a few things I have told him I absolutely refuse to do, I end of doing them anyway. UGG!

My first AHA! this week involved a new perspective on food, thanks to my arch nemesis, Terrance the trainer. He grew up in a very rural and poor area of South Africa. He along with the majority of the population here survive on a porridge like substance called "pap". It is made from ground maize meal and while it looks like mashed potatoes it tastes nothing like it...I think it is pretty bland and I don't particularly like the texture. It is often combined with a sauce, maybe something tomato based like chakalaka or a type of gravy or vegetables. The kids at Aurora (where I volunteer) eat it every single day for lunch. According to Terrance it can keep you full for hours! This combined with the fact that it is very cheap has made it a dietary staple and something this population may eat as often as three times per day! Although, Terrance can possibly afford a richer variety of food now he still prefers to eat pap with every meal! Food here is about survival. He would rather eat pap than a piece of pizza, as he will stay fuller longer on the pap! He laughed when I told him what food means to me! I am still not convinced that living on maize mill is nutritionally fulfilling so while I will not be changing my diet to pap only, I have changed my thinking about food. I may just have to paste the "Eat to live not live to eat" motto all over my fridge and cupboards!

My second AHA! this week was about the power of friendship and surrounding yourself with positive energy and enlightening people! Clearly one of my more dominant traits is that I talk a lot, and while I have always been sensitive about it, I have come to the conclusion that while I do talk a lot I also listen a lot! And with that I am constantly learning and growing. I have been fortunate to meet incredible people that have added value to my life. I am always amazed how I end up being surrounded by people that I need in my life at that moment. In Hawaii, I was surrounded by a group of down to earth, spiritual giants that not only strengthened my testimony but my family as well. In Arizona, I have friends from different periods in my life and each one has taught me something new and made me a better person. And now I have a great group of friends that fill my days and most importantly give me the needed support to become healthy! Lisa is the perfect balance of exercising and clean eating (yet still has moments when she accidentally eats 8 cookies instead of one, I love that about her). She introduced me to Tosca Reno and the Eat-Clean diet (which is a great compliment to the Flat Belly Diet) and has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to food and exercise. Besides that she loves to shop as much as I do but has way more willpower and has taught me to only buy things I absolutely can't live without. She has a very calming personality and everyone knows I need that in my life! There are two more wives that just came recently and they two have talents and knowledge that can benefit me! I imagine that this would be a very different expeirence if I did not have built in friends! I have decided I can honestly live anywhere and be happy as long as I have friends to share the experience with! I have been lucky to make some really great friends here in the complex and at church as well. One thing about South African's is that they are very friendly and welcoming. It is quite possible to go to a party not knowing anyone and leave with 10 new best friends. One of my favorite things about being here is everything I am learning from all of the people that I meet on a  daily basis. It is a very fascinating world we live in and I am so grateful to be in the thick of it!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Be Mine

When I picked up Aiden from school today he informed me that there is going to be a Valentine's dance at his school this Saturday. He then followed that with "I have to get a girlfriend by then". When I asked him how he was going to get a girlfriend, he said "I will rent one."! I of course started laughing hysterically and asked him how he could go about renting one, and he replied, "I will go on the internet!" It is a very scary world we live in :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Faith in Action

We started back at Aurora Primary School last week and it was amazing to see all the children again! I was in a different classroom then I usually am so I didn't have a chance to see the students that I spent the most time with last year until lunch. I was then greeted with huge hugs and smiles! "You're back teach-a Sarah, we missed you!" Oh, what a welcoming group they are! When I had a chance to break away from them I had to hide in the classroom as I was overcome with emotion. I am not sure how I am going to leave these kids. What will they do when I don't come back? I am not trying to flatter myself, it's just that I am afraid there won't be anyone to replace us and it breaks my heart. I am determined to make every minute count with them and do my best to make an impact, no matter how brief my time with them is.

When we arrived at school this week we were pleasantly surprised to find another group of American's there hard at work. The school is under serious renovation as they have to make several improvements in order to meet the new health code standards. They are tearing down buildings and bringing in new "portable" type structures as housing for the students as well as re-building bathrooms (thank goodness)! When I had a chance to talk with one of the women, I found out that they were from Pennsylvania. They belong to a Baptist church there and have had a relationship with Aurora for years, thanks to another individual from their church that is on a service mission here. They had raised money in December to help Aurora with their never ending needs and when they received a call that man power was needed to help with the demolition and construction a group of 6 arrived at the school with less than a weeks notice! Now that is faith in action! I had chills as I listened to this woman recount how she and the others were able to make such quick arrangements in order to be of service! I also felt guilty as my role is to play and give love to the kids as they were doing back breaking, demanding work! I did offer to help for good measure but fortunately they had it under control!

I am inspired and in awe of this group. I am fortunate to have this opportunity to serve because I am already here for other reasons. These people came all the way here for just one week to give of their time and talents! AMAZING!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

In control...

As I begin week 3 of my "recovery" program I feel incredible and more importantly in control! It is a very strange expeirence to think of food as fuel instead of a pick me up when I am bored, sad, happy, stressed, lonely, etc. The meals on this diet are more rewarding than cake! I love the idea of what blueberries, quinoa, and walnuts are doing for my body! In the past I required immediate results in order to continue a diet. My expectations were always so silly and if I didn't lose like 10 lbs instantly than I would throw in the towel and eat a cookie! My attitude this time around is so different. I won't even allow myself to get on the scale right now because of it's psychological impact! I am receiving comfort by the way I feel versus the number on the scale. There is no doubt a mind body connection and I am still too fragile to weigh myself and then have the number not be where I think I should be at this point. So my focus is on increasing my strength and cardio and enjoying food as fuel and not as a band-aid!

I typically prefer a diet that is less structured and allows me to eat whatever I want so long as I stay within a number of calories. I have always had issues with being told what to do, just ask my parents! Diets with specific meal plans are usually hard for me as I feel I have less control over them. Now that I have realized my unhealthy relationship with sugar, caffeine, nutri-sweet, etc. I understand being "allowed" to eat foods that contain these ingredients was actually more harmful than helpful for me. These substances are antagonizing and I suffered when I couldn't have them in large portions.  It is no different than being an alcoholic and trying to only drink one glass of wine! It's torture! I am shocked how much more control I feel over my brain and stomach now that I have eliminated these substances completely. I have zero cravings, so when it is time to eat I am happy with whatever is on my plate...WEIRD! I am completely satisfied at the end of each meal and I have to pay attention to the clock in order to eat again...REALLY WEIRD!

The meals are designed to be filling and satisfying and are still surprisingly delicious! My favorite breakfast to date is the following:

2 whole grain waffles, one medium apple (chopped up), 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts and 1 teaspoon of agave syrup. I then add some cinnamon on top! It is so yummy and keeps me full for hours. We unfortunately don't have Eggo here in South Africa so I am actually making a whole grain pancake recipe my friend Lisa gave me and than I make this recipe with one small pancake instead...hopefully I won't get in trouble for plagarism but this is the recipe:

1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup oat bran
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 Tablespoons Agave Nectar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cup fat free milk
3 Tablespoons melted coconut oil (I love this stuff)
1 whole egg
1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

mix dry ingredients in a bowl
mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl
combine and stir

I will say these pancakes are very bland so you definitely have to eat them with fruit on top. Lisa takes a cup of strawberries and puts them in the microwave and them smashes them up so they are more like a syrup. Even a teaspoon of agave on top helps sweeten them up. They are incredibly dense so a small pancake is very filling.