Changing the way America eats

It’s that time of year again!  It’s ten days into 2013 and people everywhere are biting their nails and wishing for that one cigarette, that one beer, that ONE MORE GORDITA. Grrr.

I stopped making actual resolutions a few years ago when I realized that nothing I do is ever within a particular time frame.  Even with writing that sentence, I realize that I only have four months and two days to accomplish many of the goals on my “30 before 30 list!”  Upon looking at that list, I realize there is no chance for many of those goals to happen just because my priorities in life have COMPLETELY changed.

2012 brought forth a lot of changes in my life that mostly revolved around my visit to Europe in April.  While I was there, I got to experience how other countries are run.  The biggest difference that changed my prospective was the European food system.  The food was REAL.  People in Europe weren’t hobbling down the street in pants with an elastic waistband and I didn’t see a single billboard telling me to “Get hot.  Get fit. Get the elastic band” once!  I also didn’t eat a single tum while I was there nor did I once feel that I ate too much.

Unfortunately I had to come home after my three glorious weeks of country hopping and was immediately thrown back into my typical American way of life.  I drove the mile to the grocery store and I drank 32 oz. of soda as one serving.  As I continued to observe the rest of my fellow Americans live their lives in similar manners, I realized a few things.   I am truly the only one accountable for my unhealthy weight but I feel that if I lived in a country that didn’t make being unhealthy so easy, perhaps myself and the 65%+ of Americans wouldn’t be as overweight as we are.

Check out this awesome graph I found from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

overweight

It’s interesting that I base this comparison off my time in Europe since many of their countries are on this graph too.  The graph also fails to show the countries of Naura at 94.5% and Tonga at 90.8% of overweight population,  according to this article that quoted the now deleted Guardian survey. But the point is, America is covered with opportunities to being fat by the need for convenience of transportation and our food.   Who wants to spend time growing and preparing their own food in a garden when they can easily drive to the store down the street, buy lettuce chopped up and ready for us in a bag with dressing, croutons, cheese, and even dried sugary cranberries with only the effort of prying apart two thin sheets of plastic?

I do.  I know that I definitely do.  Being able to sustainably grow my own food is one of my most important life requirements.  That reason is exactly why I have chosen to spend 2013 making this the year that I learn skills that I can use for the rest of my life.  I’ll spend my three months of summer back in Europe learning the ways of the farm through WWOOFing, shoveling compost under the hot Portugal sun, and making the fat that has been hanging from my arms for 15 years slowly melt away like butter on a hot potato.

I shall return to this country of ours and do what I can to encourage people to start making the change from processed crap to whole foods that came from the ground, not the grocer.   I really want to use my education in agriculture to help make the changes that I think are necessary for our American citizens to live a healthy and sustainable earth.   So many of us are just so used to the way we have been doing things and then are still times when I find people who won’t eat “organic food” just because they don’t know what organic actually means.  I hope I’m able to work more with community gardens and organizations like Petaluma Bounty, that help provide produce for people in need.

You all will be stoked to know that I managed to lose 3 pounds this year already, as I am back on the weight loss wagon and working hard to stick to eating only whole foods.  I also finally utilized my free three months at 24 hour Fitness and have been going MILES while staying in the same place quite a few times now! Haha!

Gotta love cat memes.

Gotta love cat memes.

I however still need to drop another 3 pounds to get back down to where I was before the holidays.  I bet within  the next two weeks I’ll get back down there and probably even lower than December!  Alyssa and I are both in a weight loss competition that the lovely KJpugs started so that’s helping me stay motivated besides the strong yearning I have to drop some serious pounds before my trip.

I hope you all have had a great year so far and thanks for reading!

Peace and monkeys,

AprilSignatur

 

 

Jungle Trekking and Conquering my First New Year’s Resolution

Matt and I celebrated New Year’s Eve on a small, tropical island in Southern Thailand called Koh Phi Phi Don. This island is most famously known for being where Leo DeCaprio shot the film “The Beach”. The resort we stayed at was quaintly rustic with no hot water and no electricity from 6 am – 6 pm. No screens on the windows, either, which mean lots of tropical critters coming in to say hello. (My favorite was a giant monitor lizard who lived under our bungalow. I named him Pete.)

Our New Year’s Eve started off with a huge Thai buffet and Thai dancers. As we stuffed our face with yummy things like No Name Chicken and curried spring rolls, the dancers gyrated against the sinking pink and orange sunset.

As the hours ticked by, we met two sweet gals from Los Angeles, Veronica and Stephanie. We also were joined by two french friends we had met earlier on the day. We all counted down to midnight and then danced in the waves as fireworks sparkled around us. It was magical and easily the best New Year’s Eve I had ever had! We made it till 1 AM and then Matt and I meandered back to our little hut to snooze and pack for tomorrow’s next location.

Did I mention one of my biggest new year’s resolutions, beyond the big fat obvious one, is to exercise more? Well…whoever controls the plot in my life definitely found a creative way to give me a nice strong start on that resolution.

Picture 5The island we were on is so remote that long tail boats pick you up for a 45 minute ride across the water to the pier. When you get off the boat, you have to walk through the surf to get on shore. We had booked a private boat with Veronica and Stephanie from the night before, because our last boat ride was scarily crammed with people in a very choppy surf and we wanted a more relaxing ride. When it came time for our boat, the owner told us the weather had changed and we could no longer take a boat off the island. The waves were too high and it would be unsafe. We would have to walk through the jungle instead.

I heard a big sigh in my head, because I had also woken up that morning with a raging head cold. But there was no other way- the four of us, dressed for reclining on the beach (swimsuits, sarongs and flip flops) would be hiking the “easy 30 minute” trail to get us to our pier as our suitcases had already left in an earlier morning’s boat. Thankfully, Matt had an extra pair of running shoes that I changed into – one of the few times in my life I was thankful for my gargantuan size 11 feet.

Still in relatively good spirits.

Still in relatively good spirits.

We started up the first path which was straight up a jungle mountainside, and I thought to myself, “You have no choice about this. If you want to leave this island, you need to do this. Oh and btw? If you get hurt, you’re SOL because there’s no medical assistance on the island. Have fun!” Somehow knowing all this propelled me to just charge ahead, and by the time we’d hiked 45 minutes, I was feeling very proud of how well I’d been doing. I was soaked with sweat and out of breath, but despite the physical discomfort, the views were amazing and my endorphins had kicked in, probably at the thought of doing something totally dangerous in a foreign country.

Then, stuff started to go down hill. Several different paths converged and the signs were misleading. We started up one path, only to get eaten alive by mosquitoes, and we cringed as we slapped them off of our legs and their blood smeared on our skin. I definitely regretted not getting malaria tablets at that moment- because if I get malaria next week, I won’t be shocked at all.

Picture 8

Clearest sign in the world, right?

We went back down the path, realizing it wasn’t leading us to the ocean. After a few more missteps, up and down various muddy paths, we finally made it to the gorgeous view point- which we thought signified the end of our trek. Here I am looking relieved, as after two hours of hot, sweaty, itchy hiking, I was jazzed up to be done.

Picture 9

Feeling victorious at the top of the Tonsai Viewpoint. Little did I know was was on the other side…

How do you like that bird? Yes, it's true, even sweet lil old me *snort* has a sassy side.

How do you like that bird? Yes, it’s true, even sweet lil old me *snort* has a sassy side.

And then we saw the stairs. Thousands of stairs, very steep, leading straight down into the city. It was at this point that I started to feel stabby. My cold meds had worn off, and each step I took caused a surge of snot to bubble up in my head. The stairs were in direct 90 degree sun, with 88% humidity. They kept going and going and going and going….and just as I though I might faint on the last set, the stairs stopped, and we wandered through the bowels of tonsai pier, past the shops selling tiny wooden elephants and cheap sarongs, past the fruit vendors with pink juicy watermelon and pineapple shaped like stars. All I wanted to do was sit down and die, but we had to keep walking- quickly. We had ten minutes to make our ferry.

We finally got on the ferry, where we discovered there was no air conditioning. So for the next two hours we sat on sticky vinyl seats, showering in our own sweat, trying to wipe the dirt and mosquito bug pieces off of our legs. It was all very adventurous, as you can see. So clearly – on New Year’s Day, I gave my resolution one hell of a start- with a 3 hour up hill jungle hike, complete with killer stairs. I rock, and now all of my future work outs should be a little less tortuous- because I’ll have the right clothes, the right shoes, air conditioning, and a lack of blood-sucking creatures clinging to my legs.

Did you have any fun new year’s adventures??

2012 Goals

I’ve always been fairly ambitious, so my new year lists are always kind of huge. Even though I love new year’s resolutions, I’m a firm believer that you can change or improve something ANY TIME… so we shouldn’t wait until a new year to start livin’ the dream. These aren’t all “Resolutions”, but rather, goals and challenges for bettering myself. Happy New Year – and thanks for being a reader of the Double Chin Diary! :)

1)  Lose the rest of my unwanted weight (currently around 37 pounds) to get to my first “on my way to healthy body” goal.

Healthy eats and water and exercise will help me shed that weight!

 

2)  Drink more water.

3)  Practice the art of mindfulness, especially when I’m stressed out. This means taking time to relax, taking time to calm down, and taking time to prioritize.

Relaxing at Lake Sonoma this summer with a hidden hard cider.



4)  Finish or get damn near finishing my master’s degree.

5)  Take more time to paint, play instruments or garden. I need a creative outlet other than writing and cooking – because when you write full-time, it can sometimes seem like a chore (even though I love it), and when you cook all the time and have a fairly unhealthy love and obsession with food, that can be risky too.

Our 2010 Garden

6)  Book a trip to either Africa or Thailand.

7)  Build AlyssaCurran.com .

8)  Continue blogging at doublechindiary.com .

9)  Get my bumblebee and hydrangea tattoo!

Our wedding cake - decorated with hydrangea :)



10)                  Learn how to make Thom Ka Ga… Chicken Coconut Soup. I can never get it just right, and this year, I’m gonna rock it in all of its coconutty, limey glory.

11)                  Continue speaking up and standing up for myself. I learned a lot in 2010 about being comfortable with the person I am, and learning how to be confident in my ideas and ambitions in two professional environments – work and grad school.

12)  Keep smiling, keep working hard, keep laughing, keep loving, keep learning. A sense of humor and a healthy dose of inspiration will get me through ANYTHING.

Learning a lot with a queen of content, Sonia Simone of Copyblogger, at BlogWorld 2011.

13)  Stay grateful. Not a day goes by that I’m not thankful for the roof over my head, my awesome family, my handsome hubby, my kick-ass friends and my job. It’s so easy to let stress get to you, but the reality is, I’ve got a lot to be thankful for.

Thankful to be living life.


14)   Go to Malibu beach at least once in the summer. (I didn’t do it this year! The horrors!)

15)  Keep paying off my credit card debt! I’ve slashed it over half and am looking forward to putting that debt to bed.


What are your goals or resolutions?

How’d I do on my 2011 resolutions?

Hi everybody! HAPPY NEW YEAR! Let’s see how I did on 2011’s resolutions. The red text are my comments now. Check back tomorrow night to read about 2012’s goals and resolutions!

  1. Lose weight. 30 pounds would be great, but in general, to be a healthier, happier me with less “fluffiness”. I definitely did lose weight – about 15 pounds, give or take a few depending on the day. Not quite 30, but this is a solid yup, it happened, kind of. Yay! 
  2. Get in shape.  This is another one that’s sort of “half way” true. I don’t really feel in shape now, so I’m going to say I need to keep this up. My fitness level has definitely improved, but I could still be a lot less lazy. 

    I hate push ups.

  3. Blog regularly.  I owned this one! Save for a few weeks when it was finals time, I think I rocked at keeping DCD pretty updated.
  4. Pay off my credit card debt. I definitely kicked debt’s ass! I’m not debt free, but well on my way. 
  5. Continue working hard in grad school.  My cumulative GPA is 3.8 :)

    Beautiful grad school friends keep me sane!

  6. Learn to make TOM KHA GAI. (Chicken Coconut Soup). Haha. Nope. And it’s funny because this is on my resolution list next year.
  7. Worry less.Well… this didn’t really happen. I did pretty good, until work got really, really stressful and school got really, really demanding. Still working on improving this year.
  8. Cut my hair.  I did! Definitely did! I’m growing it out now but my short curls were perfect for the summer!

    Short hair! Shortest it's ever been!

  9. See my family more. I did! I think we averaged at least six trips up there this year. Here’s a shot of the I-5 looking kind of pretty as proof. 
  10. Teach Leo not to sit on the counters or tabletops. Yeah. Didn’t happen. AT ALL. Ironic that I wrote that because I was just lecturing him (As if he understood, or cared) about how he shouldn’t carry bad habits over to the new year. Oh, Leo…

    Whatz? I r angel!

  11. Keep my car clean(ish). I’ve done very well at this! “Blueberry” remains clean and smelling of lavender. She’s become the go-to car for group lunches at work!

    Blueberry on her birthday last year!

    All in all, I’m happy with 2011. It wasn’t a bad year, and it wasn’t the best year, but it was a good year. There was some astronomical stress, but there were also some incredible times with family and friends. 2012 is going to be great – I can feel it!