As a general rule, you can tell where I am emotionally and/or mentally by my reading material. I love to read, and I will read anything and everything I can get my hands on. At any given time, I am in the midst of two to three books and a magazine or blog following. I prefer actual books, but my Kindle is impressively full.
I have some staples - pages of recipes and quotes or interesting facts cover the fridge along with my children's artwork/homework/sports schedules/grades/pictures...it's a veritable nightmare for the Feng Shui community. There is no peaceful space in my kitchen. I generally have books scattered by the bed and bathtub - you'll always find titles about child rearing (because, let's face it...none of us actually know what we're doing), spiritual growth or inspiration (I have no illusions about my ability to survive without celestial help), relationships (shout out here to Stormie O'Martian's The Power of a Praying Wife - I purchase it often because I keep giving it away, and I need to keep a copy....some days the only way not to kill your spouse is with divine intervention) and various professional articles (gotta stay on top of my game there). When I am overly tired or overwhelmed, I delve into the area of mindless romance or fantasy - sometimes you need to escape and not think too hard. When I am looking for some extra entertainment or adventure, I'll pull out a great mystery or crime nail biter - for these I look to James Patterson or J.D. Robb. I love novels with strong, funny, independent characters, male or female.
So, I'm sure you are waiting with baited breath to read what my literary ambience is these days. Well, the thing is....I'm a bit discouraged at my lack of progress towards the whole Fit by Forty thing. Which means that my house is currently littered with fitness and health publications. I have got this stuff everywhere, as though by looking/reading/touching these magazines and books I will magically transform due to osmosis. I stare at the cover models in envy, wondering why I can't pull off that look, and making reassuring comments to myself about their trainer budgets, personal chefs and air brushing. I devour the articles, inspired anew with easy-to-do fitness routines that take just ten minutes three times throughout your day! And the recipes...oh my! They even print the quick on-the-go snacks and dinners interspersed with pieces on affordable meals for gals on a budget. There are vegan versions and vegetarian versions and substitute chicken for every meat on the planet versions. Side note - this is hard for me because I don't really like chicken. Shocking, I know.
Then I turn to the page with the heading, "Hollywood's Best Bodies", and I am alternately discouraged and determined anew. Ok....enough whining. Let's find some recipes and a workout program and get cracking. I can do this. Oh....this particular article named Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston. I know you were holding your breath in anticipation. You may now exhale.
So, I see a picture of a cool looking treat and decide to start my journey. It's a recipe for roasted cherries with cocoa mocha granita. Sounds pretty fabulous, right? And it's in Health magazine, which means it has to be healthy and likely low-cal. I am the ultimate target consumer for these people. Prep time is only 15 minutes. Bake time is only 15 minutes. Freeze time is one hour. Okay, no big deal. I just have to plan ahead. I'm not sure what granita is, but the picture looks like brown sugar with cherries on top, so surely it's edible. I started going down the ingredient list.
Cherries - check
Sugar - check
Lemon juice - check
Kirsch - what??
Seriously, what the heck is that? I have no clue, not even the faintest guess.
Why is it that these recipes always have that one ingredient (sometimes two) that is impossible? It's either really odd or difficult to prep or hard to find (you know, the foods that are only sold in organic whole food stores that ship from a specialty grower in Oregon) or is in season the first and third Thursdays of April. Don't they know that working moms in Texas want a chance to be skinny, too?!?! I need ingredients I already have around the house, or can at least find at HEB.
FYI: Kirsch, or kirschwasser (German for "cherry water") is a clear, colorless fruit brandy traditionally made from the double distillation of morello cherries.
Thank you, Wikipedia.
I don't even want this stupid treat, now.
I flipped past the recipe section, disgusted, and found a promising article. A late night snack can actually help you sleep better, and, according to the doctor spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, we should eat 30 minutes to an hour before bed for optimum relaxation and restful sleep. Score! This is my kind of study. I went on to read more, riveted. The best snack includes complex carbohydrates. Even better! Permission to eat carbs! So, she suggests cheese and whole wheat crackers or almonds and a banana. What? That's not a nighttime munchies snack! Who even eats like that??
Probably Gwen and Jen.....which may go a long way to explaining why they have documentation worthy figures and I don't. Hmmm....
Because, honestly, this stuff only works if you do it. I can lament from now until the end of days about how my abs don't look like the Shape cover girl of the month or why my thighs aren't shrinking at the rate I want them to or at the unfairness of my scale's harsh honesty.....but if I refuse to follow the programs, recipes, routines and expert advice, none of this will ever change. Forty will come and go and I will be disappointed and depressed at my lack of goal attainment. Yes, the media darlings have trainers and chefs and seemingly unlimited funds. However, they still put in the work and shut out the calories.
Last year, I lost a tremendous amount of weight through a strict nutrition program, complete with vitamin shots, bi-weekly appointments, weekly check-ins with a nutritionist and food journaling my 800 calorie/day diet. Along the way, I had comments or questions from other women about what I was doing, and the odd comment about "doing it the easy way" or "cheating". Excuse me, sister, but there is nothing easy about 800 calories/day. It sucks. And it's hard. And it works.....but only if you do it right, with determination and accountability. Is it sustainable? No way. The maintenance program is, but (say it with me) only if you follow it. So, I am paying the price for falling too far off the wagon. But that's on me.
Because anything we hope to accomplish in life takes action. Yes, we need to find our motivation. Yes, we need to discuss our options and plan of attack, getting advice and setting a course. But if we never leave the finish line...if we never take that first step, and then keep putting one foot in front of the other.....we'll never move towards our goal, much less accomplish it. There is no "easy way". There never has been, at least not for anything worth fighting for and accomplishing.
Don't believe me? Check the books, beginning with the greatest one ever written. The instructions are clear - don't just listen to the Word, do what it says (James 1:22), because faith without deeds is useless to the point of being dead (James 2:20-26). For the more secular minded, you'll still be hard pressed to find any tome that doesn't say the same thing. Until you get up and get going, you don't move out of the place you're in. And the perfect plan only works for those who bring it to life and apply it. Period.
So, I'm actually cooking the healthy recipes I read and/or pin.
I'm hitting the road for my much accursed runs.
I'm sticking to an earlier schedule for bed time and kitchen closing.
I'm watching what I put in my mouth, mind and heart....fitness isn't just about the scale, my lovelies.
But there's no way I'm shopping for kirsch. The buck has to stop somewhere.
Solidarity, sisters. Women of action can change the world (along with our well-bein