Month: January 2011

Facts About Quinoa

With trying to eat healthier, we are trying to broaden our diet. One thing we tried recently was quinoa (pronounced, at least by us, sorta as KEEN-wa). It’s a type of grain, which is good to expand into since nearly every grain we eat is wheat. Wheat is great and all, but it’s not the only grain in town.

Diana tried a black bean/salsa/quinoa recipe that even all of the kids loved, and we’ll definitely be adding it into the rotation to have again soon. Great stuff!

A few quick facts about quinoa for those who haven’t heard of it:

  • It is very high in proteins.
  • In fact, with soy, it is one of the only complete proteins among plants (i.e. it has all of the essential amino acids our body can’t make), and is therefore great for vegetarians. Otherwise vegetarians need to combine, say rice and beans, in order to get complete protein.
  • Also high in fiber, magnesium, and iron.
  • It is easy to prepare. You can cook it just like rice, for example.
  • Easy to digest and, according to Wikipedia, NASA is even considering it for long duration missions.
  • When your cat chews open a bag in the middle of the night, it makes a mess that you would not believe. The grains are so small that it is impossible for any broom known to get them all. Plus, being so small they don’t even stick to bare feet, but sort of embed into your skin and need to be picked out.
  • Quinoa originates from South America.

3 of these facts, I learned recently from our weight loss class. 3 more I learned from Wikipedia. And one I had the joy of learning this morning. Any one guess which?

The Start of Teaching

Three weeks down and I can finally get around to taking stock of how it has been. Technically, I started taking stock last week, but this week I can finally get around to writing about it. 😉

A lot of my focus has obviously been the class I am teaching on my own up at Alma. However, I need to watch out and maintain a balance with the class I am assisting with here at MSU. It’s all too easy to shift my attention too much in one direction.

With the Alma course, two things surprised me the most right from the start. Number 1 – planning a course is a heck of a lot of work!! I mean A LOT. I knew going in that it would take quite a bit of effort, but it is one of those areas that the deeper you go, the more you realize really needs to be done. I definitely understand why some professors like to teach the same class again, because a lot of the prep work is already done.

Second thing to surprise me was my comfort. The first day I was in a panic about having to fill 90 minutes twice a week and having a clue what I was doing. So far, however, I have regularly been either covering my material within a few minutes of the end of class, or having a couple small bits left when time runs out. My plans have been fitting with the timing just fine.

Now, I’m certainly not an awesome teacher by any stretch of the imagination, but I was worried I would be starting off much worse. Thankfully, right from the start I’m comfortable enough not to freak out (but worried enough not to coast), and am actually able to start “meta-thinking” during and between classes. In other words, not just trying to teach the material, but looking at my teaching itself and how to do it better. Am I addressing all of the students? Am I holding interest? Are there better ways to present this material? etc. I figured I wouldn’t be able to reflect on my teaching (especially while teaching) until later on. Since I can do it from the start, hopefully I can improve things quickly and make the class worthwhile.

One fun story is from when Samantha gave me some teaching advice. I mentioned after one class that I asked the students about the first article they were supposed to read, and a lot of people chimed in with comments. But when I asked about the second and third… crickets chirped. So it felt like they mostly read the first article and skipped the rest. Samantha suggested that maybe I should give them planners so that they can track their reading and make sure they do it all.

Her other piece of advice was not to turn around and look at the board too much. “That’s when they pass notes,” she said. I told her that I hope she doesn’t know that from personal experience, but I would certainly keep it in mind. Now when next I teach, I will try to add in amongst the other tips I try to keep track of to make sure not to turn my back too much so they can pass notes. If nothing else, I’ll think of her teaching advice and then I won’t need to remember the tip to keep smiling.

Weight Loss – Not with a Bang but with a Whoops!

Final weigh in!! And the results are…

Gained a pound. Whoops!

Ah well, 11 straight weeks of loss, I was bound to screw up at some point. 🙂 But it was a combination of no longer walking to work now that I’m teaching (some of my old co-workers joked about how it would be quite a walk to work teaching in Alma!), and overeating at a couple meals. I knew I was over-doing it, and now I can see what happened.

But I’m not distraught or anything. I knew I goofed, and it showed. I’ve never really beat myself up over eating, and considering how much I lost, I won’t start now! Besides, with Diana’s loss (she lost a pound – I figured she gave it to me, she’s so kind), we are tied for overall weight loss on the program!

Although, I hesitate to say that the program is over. Technically, we still have our Maintenance Prep tomorrow morning, 2 classes to make up, and then we plan on going to classes for maintenance (they recommend 26 out of the next year to earn “lifetime membership” to their facility). But it was our last weigh-in, so it definitely feels like a big transition.

I feel better than I have felt in years. I keep wanting to slip into eating some junk or over-eating when we have something really yummy, but I’m better about going easy on it. (Maybe we need to have fewer meals that taste good!) I’m still amazed at my blood pressure, which is a nice clear number to track, going from “talking about medication” to “spot-on normal”. Also, final week blood work came back with everything in the normal range.

So, it was definitely worth it, but it is only the beginning. The program didn’t get us totally healthy, but it jump started us in that direction, and that is probably better in the long run. If we can only lose weight while in the program, that doesn’t bode well. We need to be able to continue our weight loss (and more importantly overall healthy improvement) while outside of the program, in our everyday decisions. That’s one of the reasons I never got into journaling (the other reason being because I’m too lazy). I know myself enough, and have had enough past experience to know that journaling does help me to not overeat, but I never keep it up. I need to be able to eat healthier as a habit, not by doing daily math. Hopefully, I’m well on that track now.

Either way, I know I wouldn’t be able to survive the hectic semester without feeling as good as I do, so the immediate benefit has been nice. I can also walk up the 2.5 flights of stairs to 3rd floor of the Academic Center where my office is in Alma without getting winded. It’s the little things that are subtly better, but add up to a great difference.

From here on, I’ll keep updating the weight page – maybe weekly, at least monthly. Plus if anything health-wise pops into my head to discuss, I probably will. Heck, food is a whole lot more complex if you try to eat healthy rather than “off-the-shelf American”. But thanks for listening in through the major first step!

Weight Loss Week 11 – One more week

Almost to the end of the main program and then it’s maintenance! I have pretty much leveled off at losing 1 pound per week now that we are back on food (and I have been walking less). Plus my blood pressure has really stabilized at what I have found online to be pretty much textbook normal. So that’s awesome.

I hope to kick up the exercise a bit again, especially in this final week. If I can manage a 1.5 pound loss, then I’ll manage a 30 pound loss over the program. Less than I hoped, but more that I have ever lost at a time. My 1 pound a week feels slow compared to my numbers in the first part of the program, but it’s still a steady loss. Plus, towards the end here, we have been less strict about our exact exchanges and all that, and have been more of less just “healthy eating”. Doing that and still losing is great.

Sure, we ate out today and I overdid it. But I choose to overdo it, and still “over doing it” was far less than a normal day for me several months ago. It all just needs to be balanced out. Too much of that, means less of this, and more exercise. No guilt. No habitual overeating. Just enjoying a meal (which, by the way, was today’s class topic – slow down and enjoy food again!).

But today we got our last of the Optifast shakes. So the end is near. I will actually miss the shakes and might not mind having some extra stocked up on occasion. When it’s time for a snack or am in a hurry, it’s easy to just grab one of those. So I have to work on other healthy substitutes for the quick food.

Overall, the program has been good, but like many things, it started dramatically and ends quietly. It really dominated our lives at the beginning (for obvious reasons), but now, it’s becoming more of an after thought. Partly that’s due to actually eating meals and real food again. Another part is the vast amount my schedule has filled up with school going now. (Is it a bad sign that only week is down, and it already feels like a marathon?)

But whatever the reason, 1 week from today is our final weigh-in and doctor visit. We will attend a couple classes as make-up sessions, and then have to go to some more to get “lifetime membership” (basically allows us to get products in the future, schedule meetings with staff there, etc.). So there’s plenty more in store, but it’ll be quieter and less dominating. I hope that’s a sign that it’s a settled lifestyle change. The changes from the program are more habit than challenge. It will be a different kind of difficult, sure, but I am confident that, like a lot of other things in my life right now, it’s the beginning transition to a great things.

Various

Worried about weekly weigh-in, but Diana still lost 2 pounds, and I lost exactly 1. Plus I posted my record low blood pressure. Take THAT Mr. Dr. Man recommending blood pressure meds.

Got up yesterday for my first day of being a full time student/professor and not having a desk job. I guess I watch to many movies because it felt like such a new beginning should be more profound, you know? Like I should at least have a musical montage 80’s style. But I just snoozed the alarm twice and then made pancakes for the kids.

Today was the first day of class at Alma. I’ll see about going into more detail on that later (although perhaps not too much, students these days have that Google thing). 😉 But overall, it went much faster than I thought it would, I rambled more than I wanted but less than I feared, and it went alright. The white out blizzard there and back was not fun, however. But I am home safe.

Hopefully something more substantial tomorrow since I have been running crazy getting everything ready for this week.

So what did you do on your Saturday night?

Ella decreed that tonight we would have a talent show after dinner, and everyone had to perform. I am not sure if it was a factor, but last night Samantha had a sleepover and so we are all operating on minimal sleep. (For example, at 4am Samantha and her friends “woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep” – I’m not sure they had even slept yet at that point. Ug.)

The results of our Talent Show are below. Enjoy… if you dare!

Continue reading “So what did you do on your Saturday night?”