Workplace temptations

As you might know from past posts, I am an accountant, specifically I am an auditor (not taxes, nothing to do with taxes). Accounting is not a notoriously healthy profession. It is in fact a notoriously sedentary profession that encourages extremely long hours where the only rewards for your over time is they “treat” you to dinner. Obviously that dinner is not going to be a salad. it’s frequently greasy and definitely not on the diet. It’s a hard situation for many people in my profession who are trying to maintain a health lifestyle. You are working hard and you probably feel like you “deserve” that food as a reward. Now that isn’t specific to accountants of course. It’s something we are all do, and workplaces can be terribly difficult to navigate.

 

I have heard many a fellow fittie lament the fact that their office has a donut platter every Friday and there seems to be endless supplies of birthday cake (how many birthday’s can one office have?!). Not to mention that it seems for some reason that people actually take offense when you don’t partake in the treats!

 

So how do you navigate the workplace while keeping you figure?

 

Some tips that I employ are:

 

  1. For people you are working with consistently, try to explain your choices and lifestyle so they know what you are doing and why you are politely refusing the cake

    English: Starbucks at West Coast Plaza, Singapore

    English: Starbucks at West Coast Plaza, Singapore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  2. Bring enough snacks and food to get you through the whole day and maybe some overtime so you don’t get tempted by hunger
  3. Find someone who has similar interests to you and try to buddy up at lunch. Having support makes making healthy decisions so much easier.
  4. Picture yourself refusing that cookie so when it happens in real life it feels like a natural thing to do.
  5. Have an option for something that feels like a treat that you can go to if you need to. For me its a skinny vanilla latte from Starbucks.

 

I’ve been lucky to have co-workers who are interested, more than critical about my lifestyle. I’ve been even luckier to work with a girl who is also training for a competition (needless to say the conversations between us tend towards the fitness topics).

 

Workplaces are hard to navigate but not impossible. Stay strong and use your support network 🙂

 

Short Term Goals

In general I live a pretty healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately there is a bit of a pendulum effect and the more strict you try to be the more you want to rebel against these restrictions. That’s why I maintain that you sort of have to “sneak up” on health changes.

 

I have been a little bad over the past few months. Not consistently bad. My eating and exercise are still probably 80% there, but the other 20% is way worse than it should be. I have been indulging in sweets and alcohol too often and my portion sizes seem to be creeping up along with the scale. I’ve tried to reaffirm my good habits with some goal settings, but I’ve been undisciplined for too long now. My will power has gotten a little lazy as of late.

 

So let’s take it back a notch. Baby steps.

 

Let’s do a daily and a weekly goal for now and just get that will power flexing again.

 

Goals for today:

 

Zero sugar – this includes raisins, which I have been indulging in, honey, maple syrup and artificial sweeteners (other than stevia)

 

Honey Comb

Honey Comb (Photo credit: beepollenhub)

 

Back workout – do 30 minutes of cardio and a full back workout right after work

 

Goals for the week:

 

No grains – I have been having popcorn too often because it’s a grain that is gluten free and I love it, so not allowing any grains this week will help kick that to the curb.

 

No dairy – my skin has been breaking out from all the dairy I’ve been consuming between the yogurt, the lattes, and the cheeses. No more!

 

Get in 4 workouts – I’ve been pretty consistent with at least 3 workouts per week, but I want to get in that extra one.

 

No alcohol – I don’t typically drink very often, but there seem to have been a few too many “occasions” recently.

 

The reason I am not making these overarching goals is because I won’t stick to it 100%, which is fine… usually. But I’m going off my plans a little too often so taking things day by day and week by week makes it way easier. I can commit to just about anything for a week… that’s only 7 days!

 

Next Monday I’ll let you know if I succeeded. 🙂

 

Secret Friends

Cover of "The Eat-Clean Diet: Fast Fat-Lo...

Cover via Amazon

Tosca Reno (AKA most amazing source of fitness motivation ever!) once posted a chart comparing various diet strategies.While I was looking at it I realized that I love the Eat Clean Diet, but Paleo is kind of awesome too.

Unfortunately (or fortunately maybe?) there are a lot of different varieties of paleo and the one Tosca used to compare is the original and quite extreme version that I would not recommend.

Because I am gluten intolerant, I started looking up recipes that were naturally gluten free instead of substituting low nutrient value foods to replicate glutenous foods. This led me to paleo blogs, recipes and cook books. I have followed an eat clean diet approach for a lot time. It’s my “go-to” method for shedding weight and is how I eat day-to-day. So when I started learning about Paleo I felt a little like a traitor.

But guess what? I think that they are secret friends!!!

There are some fundamental differences between them , but the core is the same. Both diets are designed to have you eat the way you were designed to… they just differ on how that actually works.

In my mind the main differences are:

  • Grains – paleo say absolutely no grains, where as the ECD encourages whole grains IF you can tolerate them
  • Dairy – most paleo diets say no, but primal says full fat dairy from healthy animals is ok IF you can handle it, where as the ECD encourages low fat dairy products
  • Saturated fats – paleo encourages animal fat consumptions ONLY from good sources (i.e. grass fed cows), where as the ECD says no or limited saturated fats, and encourages unsaturated fats instead
  • Meal Timing – paleo discourages snacking, ECD encourages eating every 2-3 hours.

Those may seem like big differences, but here is why I think they really get along quite nicely: JUST EAT REAL FOOD!

That is the main message in both. Neither diet says “hey, go buy my special brand of nutrition shake and eat that for 2 of your meals instead of food”. They aren’t trying to sell a product… they are trying to teach you a LIFESTYLE!

So true to form in my family, I have picked both over and taken what I like from both and here is where I come down on each:

 

ECD

Paleo

Grains

Winner!

Dairy

Keep the fat though!

Sat. Fat

Yummy!

Meal Timing

Definitely!

I think the goal is to find out what YOUR body does well with. If you are allergic to tomatoes, it doesn’t matter how healthy they are… don’t eat them. Some foods cause inflammatory reactions in almost all people and these should be avoided across the board (like refined sugar), but otherwise it’s about finding what is healthiest for you personally.

Busy, busy, busy!

Wow, it’s been a busy few weeks. I had my boyfriend’s birthday last weekend which basically left no time for anything else; I have been trying to squeeze in seeing as many friend as possible because I kind of ignored people during my contest prep; I am on a couple of jobs for work that are requiring some overtime (I am starting to see a ramp up towards busy season – for the non-auditors out there, usually January to end of March is INSANELY busy… like 14 hour days 5-6 days per week type busy); and I have a thousand chores to do around the house that also got neglected during contest prep. FYI this is my long winded way of apologizing for not posting for a couple of days and pre-emptively apologizing for not posting this weekend because… It’s the Toronto Gourmet Food & Wine Show!

English: Sauvignon blanc wine grape. Location:...

English: Sauvignon blanc wine grape. Location: Vlasotince vineyards, southeast Serbia. Français : Grappe de raisin du cépage Sauvignon Blanc. Photo prise dans le vignoble de Vlasotince, dans le sud-est de la Serbie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I went to the Ottawa Food and Wine show last year and let me just say that it should be called the wine and food show because there was WAY more wine than food. It was so much fun though. I discovered quite a few wines in all price ranges that were awesome and definitely got my drink on. In order to keep track of which wine’s we liked (really me, because at that time my boyfriend was just starting to like wine) we took a quick picture with our phone. Then when we were like “what was that one from NZ for like $13 that was awesome?” we could go through the photo’s and remember “It was Kato”. True story, it’s $13 at the LCBO (for non-ontario peeps, that’s a really good price since the LCBO over charges for everything), go try it if you like Sauvignon Blanc.

This year we are in Toronto so we are giving the Toronto show a go and have heard good things. I am hoping to find some wines to add to my repertoire of “go to” bottles. In addition, some friends are coming down and joining us which will make it even more fun 🙂

Ok, but on to the actual point of this post, which is time management.

Have you ever heard the saying “if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it”? It’s true! Sort of. In my experience by busy or not busy doesn’t have a whole lot to do with your ability to get things done. The main factor is structure. Last busy season, I had a client that ran about 7 weeks from start of January to almost end of February. At the beginning we were working until 7pm most nights and that slowly worked its way up to leaving between 9 pm and 11pm during the last few weeks of the job. During that time I did the following:

  • I went to the gym in the morning usually 3 times per week, but at least 2 times every week without fail
  • I ate 5 – 6 meals per day every day and 90% of these were homemade by me
  • I lost about 8 pounds in that time, just over a pound per week.

This is NOT the typical busy season experience because you are sitting in a desk all day, you get your dinner purchased and you are exhausted all the time. Most of my colleagues gained about the same amount of weight, ate take out food almost every night and maybe went to the gym on the weekend but definitely not consistency. So what did I do differently that allowed me to succeed?

I planned.

Oh yes, planning is key. Everyone thinks that having a healthy lifestyle take so much more time than having an unhealthy one. Well I’m telling you it doesn’t. (I’m not talking about competition training because that’s a whole different ball of yarn).

This was what I did:

  1. I worked out in the morning when I can’t make excuses! I’ve written about that before, and while I hate waking up at whatever hour is required, I feel way better the whole day.
  2. I got my boyfriend to hold me accountable. Most mornings I went to the gym, he would come with me. This actually worked out great because on the nights before a scheduled workout, he would come over just before I got home and sometimes would start making dinner 🙂 then we would eat, sleep and wake up early to go to the gym. Since I was working such long hours, this was the most important “us” time and was really helpful in maintaining good communication and really benefitted our relationship in a time that most accountants can tell you is very stressful on relationships.
  3. I made LOTS of food for dinner and then had leftovers for lunch. When I’m less busy I will just make a double batch of something and have one dinner and one lunch. During busy season I will make enough for 5-6 meals because I am typically having dinner at the client or won’t have time to make dinner when I get home.
  4. I had snack that could be kept at work. I would store a bag of almonds and dried fruit, some yogurt and a couple servings of protein powder at the client site so if I didn’t have time to pull together some snacks that day, I knew I would have things available to me at the client without resorting to take out food.
  5. I had a goal! I had planned to compete in a fitness competition in May and oh boy was that some serious motivation to stick with the plan during busy season. When I don’t have a goal, I make excuses, when I have a goal I will go out of my way to make it work.

Now I know a lot of you are guilty of saying, “I don’t have time to make dinner… let’s just go grab take out”. But how long does that take you? You have to get in your car and drive to get the food, bring it back and eat somewhat cold, unhealthy food that you probably don’t even enjoy that much and the whole process probably took 2-30 minutes depending on how far you drove. You now don’t have leftovers and will have to buy lunch tomorrow or make something fresh instead of grabbing Tupperware. AND you could have made an awesome meal in those 30 minutes.

Like I said, it doesn’t take more time to live healthy, what it does take is planning. You need to have good healthy food in your house so when you want to go grab take out, you can instead whip up a quick stirfry because you have everything you need on hand.

Some really fast meal ideas:

–          Stirfry of any sort over rice or quinoa that you cooked a huge batch of so that you will have leftovers

–          Steamed veggies, pan fried chicken or fish and the aforementioned rice or quinoa

–          Egg drop soup in homemade broth

–          Omelettes or frittatas (which you can made in large portions)

–          Oatmeal (even the slow cooking kind take only 15 minutes

Or better yet, made a huge pot of something on Sunday and eat it for dinner for the next 3 days. Think stews, soups, curries, roasts or any other large meal.

So this is what my plan is for this busy season too 🙂 I have roped in a new motivator in the form of my best friend who has agreed to start doing morning workouts 2 times per week with me. I will start increasing the leftovers from the food I make. I will start packing snack that can keep for a few days in my work bag. Plus, I have that goal for motivation because the next competition I want to do is also in May… but more on that to come!

What are your thoughts… do you think it takes more time to be healthy?

Knock your socks off Lamb Sirloin Chop

OMG guys, I cannot actually explain to you how amazing this dish was. I freaking devoured it! It probably helped that I really needed the fuel because I had just done a great run and upper body workout which I will tell you about after I give you the awesome recipe for the meal I just had.

Knock your socks off Lamb Sirloin Chop

Ingredients:

The lamb in the skillet with garlic and wine.

  • 1/2 lb lamb sirloin chop (it’s a very fatty and relatively tough cut, a shank would also work)
  • 2 cups red wine (I used leftover Ripasso I had from the competition)
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and kept whole
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil of choice (I used bacon grease)

Directions:

  1. Season the lamb with salt and pepper and pat dry
  2. Heat a skillet to high heat and add the cooking oil
  3. Brown the lamb on each side, approx 2 mins per side, the fat should be starting to get crispy and the meat should be browning nicely
  4. Add the garlic and let cook on high for 1 minute
  5. Make sure the pan in nice and hot still and then add the wine, reduce heat to low and make sure it’s simmering nicely
  6. Cover the pan and simmer for 2-3 hours, I went to the gym in this time and it was definitely more like 3 hours.
  7. Remove the cover and turn the heat up and watch the pan until the wine reduced to a thick sauce
  8. Remove the meat to a plate and pour the red wine reduction over top
  9. If you have too much sauce like I did and you sautéed some veggies as a side dish, go ahead and toss those in the wine reduction for added flavour
  10. Devour the whole thing… but make sure that you shmear each bit with some of the now super soft garlic infused with wine

    The finished product, I promise it tastes better than it looks.

I served this with some sautéed onions and peppers that I tossed in the reduction and a half a sweet potato with some butter and salt. This was seriously un-freaking-believable. I will definitely be making this again with more than 1 serving and maybe a different meat… a game meat like elk perhaps?

Well since this is quite a rich meal (I am not going to even guess at the nutritionals because there was all sorts of fat that reduced down and probably mixed in with the wine, plus fat that I obviously did not eat) I figured I needed to earn this meal. While it was simmering away, I went to the gym and did the following workout. I felt great about it because it’s helping me move towards my November Promise of liking running AND building strength.

Upper Body Hypertrophy + Running

Cardio: Run 3 miles in 30 minutes (even though you want to stop because your legs are tired from the workout on Sunday!)

Stretch: legs – 10 minutes

Upper Body: all exercises performed 3 sets, 8-10 reps, with 1-2 minutes rest

When doing dips, remember to keep your shoulders down and head up!

  • Chin ups with a hammer grip (palms facing inward) – body weight only
  • 1 arm cable flyes – 17.5 lbs
  • Bent over pronated rows with wide grip – 90 lbs
  • Dips – body weight only
  • Lateral deltoid raises – 12.5 lbs dumbbells
  • v-up crunches on a bench – 20 reps and 3 sets

Stretch: upper body – 5 mins

I felt really great after this workout, in part because I ate really well all day. No sugary things and no huge portions! Yay for being good to your body!