Business travel again (Part 1)

Written on 4/14 in the Denver airport while waiting for my flight to DC. I never feel comfortable using my laptop on a plane anymore given how cramped all of the seats are so I spent most of my layover in Denver writing. I have a silly follow-up story that I will post later this week.

I’m headed to DC again this morning. Currently I’m sitting in the Denver airport waiting for my connecting flight. And in similar fashion to all of my other recent travel, it’s delayed. Why am I not surprised? When going to DC I always like to arrive as early in the day as possible, but having to stop in Denver this time makes that a bit difficult. Luckily all I really need to do when I arrive this evening is go to the grocery store. There’s no way I can maintain my clean-ish eating plan without some fresh produce and healthy snacks. Temptation is always present! This time it will be in the form of Firehouse Subs and Potbelly Sandwiches. (Maybe they make salads? I’ll have to check.) Luckily I did find at least two restaurants that are salad-focused so I won’t have to eat pre-packaged ones every day. If I can stick to my diet this week I’m going to be very pleased with myself. And a little shocked! Similarly, I’d also like to hit the gym tonight, but that’s debatable given that my flight won’t arrive until about 5 PM. I’m missing my usual classes at the gym this week, which annoys me, but I’m going to try to keep up with the workouts on my own. My running buddy will send me the exercises from the classes she attends and I’ll do my best to replicate them in my hotel fitness center. I picked this hotel because they seem to have a nice, large workout space, unlike so many other places that only have a couple of cardio machines, and sometimes only one of each kind which can be problematic. I’ll definitely need some weights to do the boot camp routines. I really should run on the treadmill a couple of times as well, but that’s unlikely given my hatred of that infernal machine. I even brought both my running shoes and gym shows with me this time in case I feel motivated to mix things up. There wasn’t a single bit of extra space in my suitcase when I finished packing, but it’ll be worth it if my fitness routine doesn’t deteriorate while I’m away from home.

Regarding my flight back to LA on Friday, I was fortunate/smart enough to book a nonstop flight to LAX to hopefully avoid the drama of my last trip. Like last time, I have an event that I don’t want to miss shortly after I get home. I’m going to the Dodger game with some co-workers on Friday night so I absolutely, positively have to meet them at 4 PM to carpool to downtown LA. I hate making that drive myself, especially in rush hour traffic. My flight home is supposed to land at about 11:30 AM so that should give me more than enough time to stop by my house, change into baseball game appropriate apparel, and still make the required rendezvous. It’s Hello Kitty night at the Dodger game so there’s no way I’m going to miss it. We get t-shirts! Also, we’re sitting in the coveted all-you-can-eat section of the stadium. Usually that’s a great deal because you can get as many hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, drinks, etc. that you want, but it’s not so great for those of us on a diet that prohibits almost everything that tastes delicious! If I can successfully avoid sugar and grains while I’m on business travel I think I’ll allow myself to eat one or two hot dogs (necessary carbs for weekend running) at the game. And I’ll wash it down with unlimited diet soda! Not the healthiest choice I could make, but not the worst under the circumstances either. I do have a race on Saturday morning as well so that’s another reason to get home on schedule. Funny enough, it’s the Angels 5K at Anaheim Stadium. My running group is will all be there. It’s funny that I’ll be visiting both LA baseball stadiums in less than 24 hours!

Stay tuned for part 2!

Clean-ish eating

For Easter I baked a blueberry pound cake using my favorite cream cheese pound cake recipe. It was incredible. Fortunately for my already too large waistline I only ate one piece before giving the rest away at Easter dinner with friends and the next day at work. But that was the last day that I allowed myself such indulgences because my clean-ish diet started on Monday, April 2nd.

I finished my original Whole30-ish experiment on October 30th of last year and things went downhill after that. (Honestly, I didn’t do too badly on Halloween with the chili cook-off at work, but that was the exception. I’ll admit I did have a piece of the pumpkin sheet cake that I made, though.) I wouldn’t recommend going on vacation right after ending a diet to anyone who wants to maintain their weight loss or other personal gains. And then came the holidays. So many seasonal temptations, and therefore excuses, for slipping back into old, terrible habits. Celebrating holidays with food is such a powerful tradition. Our Christmas dinner consisted of turkey and all the trimmings, plus my mom’s insanely delicious chocolate cake. She also made her famous peanut butter bars which are nearly impossible to stop eating once you’ve started. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The first part of 2018 was tough. I got the flu, had to cancel my vacation, and really suffered mentally and physically after that. In order to maintain some semblance of pleasure I allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted during this time. There were very few fruits or vegetables on my plate in those days. And then the influx of Easter candy in the stores was more than my last bit of willpower could possibly handle. I wasn’t in a good state of mind for a while. Fortunately things started to look up in February. After I started exercising regularly again with my running buddy, which had such a healing effect in every aspect of my life, I knew I needed to make a positive change in my eating habits as well. No more burritos after boot camp class! So I took my inspiration from my Whole30 experience last year and overhauled all of my meal and snacks. I started bringing homemade lunches to work, stocked my kitchen with only healthy snacks, and found the best nearby restaurants to get take-out salads. Today is day 14 of my diet and I feel fantastic. I’ve had few minor cheats, and a couple of intentional ones (specifically, when I need more carbs for running), but for the most part I have stuck to my plan. I’m calling it a clean-ish diet because I’m eating a wider variety of foods than Whole30 allows (like cheese and beans), while still keeping my focus on meat, fruit, and vegetables. And after two weeks I’m starting to see some real results. I wish I’d made this change sooner!

Progress

Today was marginally better than yesterday. (Let’s ignore the fact that I was supposed to be on a plan to Orlando this morning. If I dwell on that too long I’ll get really annoyed.) First of all, I successfully picked up the Tamiflu at Walgreens this morning. The downside? Apparently my prescription drug insurance doesn’t have a contract with Walgreens so the medication cost me over $100. And that was for the generic version! Ridiculous. The only reason I had to fill the prescription there is because no CVS in the area has Tamiflu in stock. Apparently it’s been a rough flu season already. So I reluctant paid the exorbitant price because Walgreens had somehow cornered the market on flu drugs and my insurance is woefully inadequate. Also, I was feeling very light headed standing at the pharmacy counter so simply giving them my credit card was the fastest way for me to get back to my car where I could sit down. So not only did I lose a lot of money cancelling my Disney World vacation due to this stupid illness, but it also cost me an arm and a leg for drugs to combat it! Even though I’m recovering, this whole situation seems to be getting worse every day.

On a positive note, I managed to gather enough energy to go to the grocery store tonight. My refrigerator was relatively bare because I was planning to be on vacation starting today, and I’ve been too sick to go anywhere before now, so I’ve been living off Domino’s pizza delivery for the last two days. Not that I’ve had much of an appetite, but I’m still sick of eating food with no nutritional value. So this evening I filled up my shopping cart with mostly fresh fruits and vegetables. The produce department of the grocery store was pretty picked over, probably from all of the folks who are trying to fulfill their New Year’s resolution to eat healthier. I had to really search for a bag of broccoli florets (my preferred green vegetable for weekday lunches), and I couldn’t find the steam-in-bag green beans that I was looking for (so that I’ll have some much-needed green vegetable variety). Otherwise I had a very successful shopping trip. Even though I’m planning to stay home from work again tomorrow, I’m going to try and do a little cooking and food prep. I might only be able to scramble some eggs for breakfast and chop up some vegetables for future salads, but that will be a major improvement over most everything I’ve eaten since I got back from Florida last week. In order to establish more permanent healthy eating habits (and, let’s face it, lose some weight too) I want to adopt a new meal plan as soon as I am completely over this flu. I’ll detail that in a future post. But for now I’m going to continue focusing on healing. I can’t wait to feel like myself again.

2017 Resolution #4 (NaBloPoMo day 9)

New Year’s Resolution #4: Cook for myself again

I’ll bet you’re wondering, “What happened to resolution #3?” Nevermind about that for now. There’s something I need to do before I write about that one so I’ll get back to it later.

While searching for topics for NaBloPoMo (my daily goings on are not nearly interesting enough to warrant sharing with anyone), I came across a couple of draft posts about the New Year’s resolutions I made back in January. Given that ten months have passed since I gave any thought to my goals for the year, 2017 has obviously not been very productive as far as resolutions go. Fortunately, there’s still a little time to take action and also to take credit for some progress. Case in point, I had absolutely no plans to do Whole30 back in the beginning of the year when I wrote resolution #4 to cook for myself again. At that point I was still halfheartedly eating Nutrisystem meals and snacks, mostly because I was ambivalent about cancelling my monthly deliveries. The premade food was something that required little effort on my part, but I was getting burned out eating the same meals week in and week out. They were edible, but not tasty enough to keep me as a loyal consumer.

After nearly a year where I cooked almost nothing, I started preparing my meals again in September in anticipation for the beginning of Whole30. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. This cooking renaissance reminded me not only that I have to go to the grocery store at least every other day to keep up with all the produce required for a healthy diet, but also that it takes a lot of time to prepare three meals a day! The upside was that I enjoyed knowing that I was cooking from scratch and eating whole, healthy foods. I haven’t written a wrap-up post about my 30-day diet experience yet, but the bottom line is that I was happy with the results. I lost about 6 lbs and I am certain I was healthier at the end than I was at the beginning. Since October 30th my diet has gone downhill a bit, mostly due to my vacation, but I’m working on formulating a maintenance strategy going forward. Especially with the impending holiday season. It can derail even the best-laid plans. I still intend to cook most of my breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, but I want to have some looser restrictions in regards to healthy carbs. I’ve learned that I need more than fruit and sweet potatoes to be able to run any significant distance, and I have a lot of long runs between now and the Dopey Challenge in January. In conclusion, Whole30 absolutely forced me, if unintentionally, to fulfill this New Year’s resolution that I made so many months ago. And since Whole30 is more focused on a lifestyle change rather than temporary dietary rules I think it will help me continue this beneficial trend into next year. Maybe it will even inspire a new resolution in 2018!

Day 30 – ‘Twas the night before Halloween

‘Twas the night before Halloween and the last day of Whole30(-ish)! And the people rejoiced! Actually, my current mood is pretty frazzled getting ready for the chili cook-off. I’m still looking forward to all of the excitement of tomorrow, but I would be even more enthusiastic if I didn’t have a sink full of dishes to wash, a to do list a mile long, and a suitcase I still need to pack for my pending vacation. And my house is a wreck too. So basically the typical state of things during the holiday season! I should just get used to my life being like this for the next two months. It’s certainly not a bad thing. I’ll gladly take a little disruption in my normal routine in exchange for experiencing my favorite time of the year. All I can do it try to enjoy the festive chaos to the fullest extent possible.

I celebrated both the arrival of Halloween and the departure of my month-long diet experiment by baking a pumpkin sheet cake when I got home from work (while watching the traditional October fare – “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and “Hocus Pocus”). I didn’t eat any of it because it’s for the chili cook-off, during which I will sample a wide array of desserts that have been off-limits to me for the last 30 days. For most potluck scenarios I would make an always crowd-pleasing chocolate sheet cake, but Halloween requires something more specialized. I know pumpkin spice has fallen out of favor recently, but it’s still a surefire winner when it comes to baked goods. I’ve made this pumpkin sheet cake before, specifically for the chili cook-off back in 2013, but that recipe included cream cheese frosting. This time I topped the cake with a white glaze (the frosting portion of my white Texas sheet cake) because I wouldn’t have to refrigerate the whole thing that way. Finding space in the fridge for such a huge pan would have been challenging. I also added some Halloween sprinkles (pumpkins and witch’s hats and brooms) for good measure. I’m sure it will be delicious, like so many other things at the chili cook-off. I’ll have a full report tomorrow.

I have so much more to say, but it’s extremely late and I need to go to sleep ASAP. I hope everyone has a lovely Halloween!

Today’s meals:
Breakfast – Scrambled eggs with hot dog slices (cleaning out my fridge!)
Snack #1 – Apple, cashews
Lunch – Carnitas, roasted broccoli and carrots, and roasted diced sweet potato
Snack #2 – Banana with almond butter
Dinner – Tomato soup with Italian sausage

Day 29 – A busy Sunday

I’m sitting on my couch watching Game 5 of the World Series right now and I’m exhausted. It’s been such a busy day, but I feel like I haven’t accomplished nearly enough. I currently have a few more dishes that need to be washed before I go to bed, but I’m just about done with everything that I can fit into this weekend. And I actually crossed a lot of things off my to do list, but there is an alarmingly large number of untouched items too. Today started early because the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles half marathon kicked off at 6:45 AM in Downtown LA and I had to meet my running buddies at an ungodly hour in order to get there in time. Luckily the race itself was great, even if I ran it at a fairly slow pace. In spite of the many hills on the course I felt strong for the entire 13.1 miles, which was wonderful. And the weather was so perfect. Cloudy, cool, and even dense fog all over Los Angeles. After the completely out of character heat wave last week I will cautiously declare that fall has finally arrived in Southern California. Just in time for me to leave town on Wednesday, of course.

My other major achievement of the day was making my traditional batch of chili for Halloween. Traditional in the sense that I have chili every October 31st, not that I make the same recipe every year! I had some time on my hands this afternoon because I decided not to go to work today after hurting my foot during the half marathon. Fortunately it seems to be much better this evening. This year’s chili cook-off entry has three different kinds of pork – bacon, ground pork, and carnitas. A friend of mine suggested the name Three Little Piggies chili and it’s perfect! I honestly haven’t eaten any of it yet, but if it tastes as good as it smelled while it was simmering then I think my co-workers and I are in for a treat. I’ll let you know how the chili cook-off goes this week.

Speaking of food, on our way back from the half marathon this morning my running buddies and I stopped at Starbucks for a late breakfast (around 11 AM). Since there are only two days left of my self-imposed diet, I intended to stick to it as much as possible today (with the exception of Sports Beans and Pedialyte while running), but I was really hungry after the race. I scarfed down a Starbucks breakfast sandwich (sausage, egg, and cheese) in record time and then washed it down with a small hot chocolate. Not at all diet-friendly, but my body desperately needed fuel and it all tasted amazing. When I got home I started keeping track of my meals for the day, but it ended up being an underwhelming list and I deemed it not worth sharing. As hungry as I was after running 13.1 miles, I strangely didn’t eat a lot after that Starbucks meal. I’m trying to clean out my fridge before going on vacation so for dinner I had a salad with some leftover chicken and whatever veggies I found in my crisper drawer. Delicious, if not exciting. Tomorrow is my last day of this Whole30-ish experiment so we’ll see how well I can stay within the diet parameters with the end in sight. I’m hoping to finish strong!

Day 28 – Halloween is coming!

Halloween is three days away and, as of this morning, what you see in the above photo was the extent of my 2017 decorating endeavors. Pathetic! Honestly, I haven’t been able to enjoy October as much as I’d like so far. It’s been a busy month at work, race season and training are kicking into high gear, and my Whole30-ish diet has been sucking up every remaining free moment. There just hasn’t been enough down time for me to relish the holiday season. Along those lines, I was supposed to go to work for a while this afternoon after running with my Galloway group and then picking up my bib for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles half marathon at the convention center (in dreaded downtown LA) this morning. But after I got home, showered, and started doing some of the usual weekend chores around the house, the day pretty much got away from me and it was 5 PM before I even thought about work. And then it was time to watch Game 4 of the World Series! So I decided to stay home for the rest of the day and decorate my house for Halloween. Right now I’m sitting on my couch, watching the Dodgers and Astros, and basking in the glow of my jack-o’-lanterns. The perfect late October night, especially with the blessedly cool weather. Work will have to wait until at least tomorrow. But then, in addition to the half marathon in the morning, I have to make a pot of chili for our annual chili cook-off at work on Tuesday. I did a lot of prep today, including slow cooking a pork roast (I’m trying something different this year), but it will still take at least a couple of hours to complete the process tomorrow afternoon or evening. Let’s just say it’s going to be a busy day.

Speaking of cooking, I did quite a bit of it today – broccoli, carrots, and sweet potatoes – all healthy components of the meals I’ve been eating this month. It’s funny to be making so much food when my vacation starts on Wednesday (I’ll write more about that later), but I needed to make a lunch for Monday, and then the rest is going into the freezer for when I get back. Having diet-friendly foods at my fingertips will make it easier to avoid the pitfall of fast food as soon as I get back to Los Angeles. Just so you know, today is another one of those days where I won’t be sharing my meals. It’s safe to say that I ate more than my fair share of carbs (mostly in the form of bread) in preparation for the half marathon tomorrow morning. I felt pretty terrible running only three miles today with my group so I knew I needed more energy to run 13.1 miles tomorrow. Let’s hope it works!

Day 27 – Friday, finally

It’s finally Friday and I couldn’t be happier. This week has been long and stressful. Working the 5 AM to 2 PM shift at work makes eating, sleeping, and exercising difficult, and the heat wave made everything nearly unbearable. Luckily the weather has cooled down to almost fall-like levels just in time for the weekend. Today’s high was more than 30 deg cooler than it was on Tuesday and it felt like heaven. I ran 5 miles tonight and I realized that this will probably be one of the last times I wear my running shorts this year. (Although I’ll probably need them in Florida next week, but that’s another story.) At least I hope I’m right about that. Right now I’m watching Game 3 of the World Series and the Dodgers are struggling. I’m sacrificing watching tonight’s episode of “Once Upon A Time” (still my favorite show) to watch baseball. Thank goodness for DVRs. It’s getting late and I still have to wash some dishes tonight (lots of cooking = so many dishes), but then I need to get ready for my Galloway group run tomorrow morning. My weekend is going to be extremely busy, but I can sleep in until 6 AM tomorrow! What a treat!

As far as meals go this week, we had catered food at work everyday due to a big event that was happening. However, the food came from our on-site cafeteria so that probably sounds better than it actually was. But when you’re tired and stressed, like I was all week, it was very difficult to avoid the foods I’m not supposed to be eating this month. Like garlic bread sticks and chocolate chip cookies. But by some miracle I managed to stick to my diet except for the one morning I woke up late and had to resort to eating a cafeteria breakfast sandwich because I didn’t have time to make anything at home. Other than that I successfully brought my own delicious, Whole30 compliant breakfasts and lunches with me to work. Not too shabby. The end of this 30-day diet experiment is almost here and I want to finish it as strong as I can. (Except for tomorrow when I’m going to eat a lot of carbs in preparation for the Rock N Roll Los Angeles half marathon on Sunday morning.) Three more days!

Today’s meals:
Breakfast – Scrambled eggs with hot dog slices (so delicious!)
Snack #1 – Apple
Lunch – Salad with shredded chicken, red onion, yellow bell pepper, shredded carrots, nuts, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing
Snack #2 – Banana with almond butter
Dinner – Tomato soup with Italian sausage

Day 26 – Voyage of “Discovery”

It’s Thursday night and I have dishes that need to be washed, laundry that needs to be folded, and a tomorrow’s lunch that needs to me made, but instead I’m here I am on my couch watching “Star Trek: Discovery.” This show annoys me, but not in the way you might think. As a huge Trekkie I was thrilled to hear that a new series was in development. It seems like forever since “Enterprise” was on TV and, except for the new movies that basically rewrote the original timeline, that was the last taste of Star Trek that we’ve had since 2005. I have I admit that there is already an abundance of fantastic television shows for nerds like me these days, so much so that I can’t keep up with all of the series I’d like to. I’ve tried really hard not to add any more shows to my “must watch” list this year, but for new Star Trek programming I’ll make an exception. But then came the unfortunate news that with the exception of the premiere episode, “Discovery” would be available only through the CBS All Access app and that viewers would be charged to stream the episodes. So frustrating! At first I declared that I would never pay to watch a show, even of the Star Trek variety, when cable already has so many great ones that don’t cost me anything extra. However, I still DVRed the first episode of “Discovery” when it aired on CBS on September 24th. Much to my chagrin I LOVED IT. Compelling female protagonists, cool spaceships, an exiting story, and crazy plot twists – what’s not to love? So I grudgingly signed up for a CBS All Access account so I could watch the rest of the series. Every week since then I’ve been equally captivated and annoyed because this is such an amazing show. It’s everything I wanted new Star Trek to be, but I hated having to pay for it! As much as I hate shelling out an extra $5.99 per month, it’s money well spent for this level of entertainment. So this overwrought explanation leads me to tonight, watching “Star Trek: Discovery” (and then “After Trek” with Matt Mira) on my iPad while writing this blog post when I should be getting ready for bed. Not only money well spent, but time well spent (even if I know I won’t get enough sleep before my 5 AM shift at work tomorrow).

Today’s meals:
Breakfast – Scrambled eggs and breakfast hash (sausage, butternut squash, onion, spinach, and apple)
Snack #1 – Apple, Larabar
Lunch – Carnitas, roasted broccoli and carrots, and roasted diced sweet potato
Snack #2 – Banana with almond butter
Dinner – Tomato soup with Italian sausage

Day 25 – World Series 2017

Yesterday evening I watched a lot of TV because it was too hot to do anything that required me to peel myself off the couch. Notably, I watched the second half of Game 1 of the World Series (I managed to nap through the first half) between the LA Dodgers and the Houston Astros. Luckily for my fair city, the Dodgers pulled off a win in this hellish heat wave. I actually went to a Dodger game with some co-workers back on September 25th. Ironically it was much cooler there a month ago than it is now (although today’s high was blessedly 10 deg cooler than yesterday). I’m definitely a baseball fan, but the reason my co-workers and I made the long trek up to Elysian Park, which took us about an hour and a half in rush hour traffic, was for Hello Kitty night. Not only did we get a cute Hello Kitty tote bag, but we also had seats in the all-you-can-eat section which offered unlimited hot dogs, drinks, and other ballpark snacks. My stomach didn’t thank me for eating all of that stuff, but watching the game was still a good time. And we saw a beautiful sunset too, as you can see in the above photo. So while I can’t say that I’m a huge Dodgers fan (or Angels either, while we’re at it), I’m rooting for them to win the World Series this year. If nothing else it will make for some entertaining television over the next week.

Regarding my breakfast today, I overslept this morning and didn’t have time to make anything before I left for work. I did manage to grab a banana on my way out the door (which I’m calling snack #1 of the day), but it wasn’t enough. So when our catered breakfast showed up at 6:30 AM my growling stomach caused me to be weak and take a breakfast sandwich. I intended to eat only the eggs, sausage, and cheese portion of the sandwich, but then I started on the buttery biscuit. It was mostly stress eating considering I had a backlog of work to do as soon as I arrived at 5 AM and no one to help me with it, but that’s no excuse for eating crappy food. Fortunately I got halfway through the biscuit, realized it wasn’t worth the calories, and threw out the rest. The good news is that the breakfast sandwich kept me full enough to avoid another snack before lunchtime. So maybe a small win? That’s how I’m thinking about it.

Today’s meals:
Snack #1 – Banana
Breakfast – Breakfast sandwich (1/2 biscuit, eggs, sausage, cheese)
Lunch – Turkey taco meat, roasted broccoli and carrots, and roasted diced sweet potato
Snack #2 – Banana with almond butter (my bananas are ripening so quickly in the heat)
Dinner – Salad with shredded chicken (I forgot the garlic when I made this batch), red onion, yellow bell pepper, nuts, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing