Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cupcakes, Beer, and Surprises

As I write this, there's a chocolate cupcake with red icing sitting beside me. It's resting on an upside-down, homemade chocolate chip cookie. Yes, that's right, a double-whammy of chocolate goodness is within arm's reach of me. I have thusfar resisted temptation (it's been a few hours since I acquired these goodies). I figured it's about time for an update on my journey towards saying farewell to sugar in my diet and what better time than when I'm staring my nemesis in right in the face..or in the candy sprinkles I suppose.

So, in short, I've been doing alright. I wouldn't give myself an A +, but I wouldn't be so harsh as to dole out a C- either. I think, overall, I deserve a B for my efforts to eliminate sugar from my diet thusfar. Here's a rundown of what I've been doing well and what I need to improve on:

What I've Been Doing Well
  • Abstaining from sugar until after 8pm - Since I first committed to this plan, about 7 weeks ago, I can count on one hand the number of times I've broken my self-induced rule. One of those times was Easter day, another was this past weekend when Luke & I were at The Wooden Monkey in Halifax and eating an early dinner so we could get to the show we'd purchased tickets for. We both decided to indulge in dessert, but it was only 6.30. Despite these infrequent trespasses into sugar-laden lands, I am very happy with my commitment. There have been umpteen times that I have forgone sugar temptations at work, while at the conference in rural BC, at the Farmer's Market, etc. Abstaining has resulted in fewer (i.e. none) hunger pains throughout the day and, actually, less interest in eating candy at night (while my penchant for candy seems to have diminished,I still have a strong desire to eat chocolate).
  • Eating few grains - Eating grains is not all that different from eating sugar as far as your health is concerned. I won't get into the details of why in this post, if you want to go deeper check out or
  • Eating more local meats - It's hard to find greens locally at this time of year, but I've been stocking up on meats and eggs at the farmer's market and Queen Street Meat market. Next step will be to source some grass-fed beef (just b/c it's local, doesn't mean it's been raised naturally, so asking questions of the farmers is your best bet)
What I Need to Improve On:
  • Portion Control - I am referring namely to portion of sweets I am eating after 8. In the first few weeks, I did well to limit my intake, but there've been a number of opportunities lately to indulge in more candy/chocolate than I really should. I was also using WW journal to roughly track how many 'points' i was consuming per day, but stopped doing that. I know there are some that will argue you should not limit the amount you are eating (if you are on a paleo diet), but since I am still consuming sugar, I really have to.
  • Number of Nights I Eat Sugar - I started myself off easy, with allowances every night but had planned to reduce number of 'sugar-nights' as time went on. There were a few weeks where I went sugar free one or two evenings, but I haven't really moved far on this plan. This coming week, my plan is to eliminate sugars on 5/7 days (with the exception of my homemade, lower-sugar raspberry jam which i'll have with yogurt for a wee treat in the evening).
Hmmmm. So that's all I really have for the Sugar Report. I'm moving forward, but have stalled a couple of times. That's OK, it's life and there's no point in looking back now, I know what I can do today and the day after today. It's all up to me!

As for my reference to Beer in the title, I was going to give a rundown of the trip that Luke (aka Steakman) and I took to Halifax last weekend. It was a fantastic time and a gastronomical delight (at least for me). I'm fading fast as I write this, so am going to use the ole' bullet point trick again here for Halifax Review
  • Friday - We drive to Halifax, the weather is gorgeous. I have mild freak attacks as we drive through NS, despite the impeccable driving skills of Luke. I can't help it, I blame my depth perception, I'm very uneasy on roads that have lots of twists/turns and hills/valleys. We made it to the city unscathed and just in time for dinner and drinks. Chosen drinking hole: Henry House. Luke had invited 7 friends, I had invited 1. It was a good time, althought i thought the food was only 'OK', I had a chance to catch up with Tarek and meet some of Luke's awesome friends and coworkers.
  • Saturday Morning/Afternoon - The new Halifax market is AMAZING. Please, if you live in Halifax area, go. What a treat, I was really, really, really impressed. I was also stuffed by the time we left, thanks to oodles of samples and a delicious savoury crepe. After the market we went to Garrison's brewery for samples, then to Propeller brewery for even more samples. Luke insisted on going to two comic bookstores. It was kind of interesting because it was Free Comic Book Day (all around the world?!) and at one of the stores, there were a bunch of staff dressed up like comic characters. Luke got pictures with them all, but only put his arm around Spiderwoman! Then it was off to Freak Lunchbox, which was packed with kids. Sometimes I feel like i should probably stop salivating at the thought of candy stores, now that I am 30. I remember someone once telling me I'd not want to eat candy when I grew up. Clearly that person was wrong.
  • Saturday Evening - We headed to The Wooden Monkey, a fantastic restaurant on Market Street (right beside our 4-star hotel - Prince George - that we got on Hotwire for an awesome rate!). The resto specializes in local and sustainably produced foods, and the menu is full of temptations. We each ended up with a three course meal and a beverage. It was totally worth it! Afterwards, we made our way to the WTCC to check out Beer & Beethoven, the impetus for our trip, it was a fundraiser for the NS Symphony. I don't know why Luke & I assumed it would be a theatre-like experience with a wide array of micro-beers and German imports available for order. In fact, it was more like a night of people boozing it up on Molson beers (cause they were the sponsors and therefore only beer on offer), while orchestra played in background with terrible acoustics. Saving grace was that at intermission I ran into a former co-worker who invited us to sit at her much better table, with decent acoustics. We ended the evening at the casino, where in one hand of blackjack, Luke lost the $10 he'd vowed was his limit. I ended up giving him $30 I won at the table to keep betting. He lost all of that, then I lost the $20 I had vowed was my limit. He then played the penny slots, got a ticket when he was down to $2 (from a fiver) and proceeded to shove it in a $1 machine, where he was immediately rewarded with $50. I insisted we cash out.
  • Sunday - We ate brunch at Your Father's Moustache and then drove home. Less panicked by driving on way home, because I had distraction of our third passenger, Thea, whom we'd randomly run into at the market and offered to drive her back to the Island. I made it home just in time for a lobster dinner with Mom and the rest of the family. Yum!!!

I love surprises, but it is very hard to surprise me because I have such fantastic detective skills (also known as being nosey and annoyingly persistent), so when I came home on Friday night and Luke, who was half in the bag, slurred instructions to me that I pack an overnight bag and my dancing shoes for Saturday evening I was perplexed. We already had plans to have dinner with Rob & Robin, and it was very out of character for Luke to make plans for us. Saturday afternoon rolled along, and I went about preparing a paleo appetizer of chocolate covered bacon and a sweet potato-bacon salad to bring for dinner. Luke picked me up and we headed over the bridge to Stratford, a wee bit behind schedule because I had taken so much time deciding what to wear for our dancing date! As we drove up the laneway, I saw a tonne of cars and thought 'something is going on'. Then I saw my mom, sister, brother-in-law, stepfather and a few friends coming out to greet us with a banner that said 'surprise'. I was mighty surprised alright, and totally confused. Why was there a surprise party for me, I inquired upon getting out of the car. Apparently mom had decided to go all out in celebration of my completion of my Masters degree. Wow, I didn't see that one coming, since I'd defended in December. My convocation is in a few weeks, but I knew I'd not be going to Kingston for the ceremony. The surprise party that Mom had planned and executed with amazing prowess was waaaay waaaay waaay better than any graduation ceremony could ever be! There were about 20 friends and family there to celebrate and Mom had gone all out with a cornucopia of food, almost all of which she'd sourced locally, including meatballs, ham, chicken, mussels, cheese, salad greens, tomatoes, cheese, and potatoes. About an hour into the festivities, I saw two well-dressed gentleman coming ot the door carrying what appeard to be instruments and an amp. Mom had actually hired musicians to play!! It was fantastic, they were amazing and played some great hits, as well as a very amusing operatic medley of pop songs. later in the evening, the piece d' resistance came out - two delicious cakes, one which was in the form of a food box (gingerbread to form the box, and fondant vegetables covering a chocolate cake). For some reason I felt very protective of this art piece and insisted on only cutting the coconut cake. The following morning I regretted that decision as I looked at how much cake I'd have to take home and consume in the next two days (before my 5/7 no-sugar days plan began). It was a wonderful evening, I can't put into words how lovely it was and I was so delighted to be presented with two bound copies of my thesis, one of which had been signed like a yearbook by all the guests!

The events noted above, along with some other things that life has brought me as of late have me really, really raring to start the Registered Holistic Nutritionist course. The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that it's the perfect fit as far as careers go for me. I think, however, that is may be wise for me to visit a career counselor before I go full throttle.

In closing, yay to surprises and nay to sugar!


Raeanne said...

Congrats! Awesome surprise! And yay RHN school. I'm on a bit of a hiatus. Only a one day saturday course until fall, but can't wait to get back at it. I'll be on PEI from July 30 to Aug 8, hopefully we can catch up then.


Shannon Courtney said...

Rae - I want to hear more about how your studies are going so far and how the work/study/life balance is playing out. Part of me worries that dedicating 12 hours a week to studying on top of working F/T might be a bit much, but another part of me thinks - I love learning about nutrition so it won't feel so much like studying. Any insights welcome! Yes, I'll be around in the summer, although will be heading to NS for Beer Festival on Aug 5 & 6 :)

Raeanne said...

I've completed one course so far. It wasn't too bad, I wouldn't say it took up 12 hours a week... Not close. And I did fairly well. I'm hoping to pick up my final marks tomorrow, but I got 100% on both my quizzes. 16 more courses to go! :)

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you said you liked the new market. Not that I don't like it, but I've so many people say they didn't think it was anything special. I personally don't care what the building looks like on the inside or outside, it's all about what you can buy at the market.

Anonymous said...

Glad I was able to surprise even you. I feel like a master surprise artist now:) I know you actually contributed a lovely salad unawares but not quite like Jim's birthday a few years ago when we had him making salad and cleaning dishes before guests arrive (totally unaware that something was up:):)