Thank God for bullshit detectors

I have this in-law who’s something of a bullshit detector.

It’s a new thing for me. Sure, my family recognizes BS but they’re generally far too polite to call you out on it.

Not the case with my husband’s aunt. We were visiting his family a couple of weekends ago and they asked if I was still running.

“No,” I replied. “Not since we moved into the new house. I find the running trails there a bit sketchy.”

Most of the in-laws smiled and nodded, but not Ms. B. S. Detector.

“Couldn’t you drive to the trails you used to run on?” she asked.

“Well yes, but he has the car most of the time,” I explained, gesturing to my husband, shrugging my shoulders and offering a would-if-I-could smile.

“Well, couldn’t you take a bus?” she countered.

The following dialogue occurred in my head:

Well, yes, but it’s winter and I’m shockingly maladjusted to the cold since moving back to NB from balmy Victoria.

Plus, my running shoes are flimsy, airy little things that are really more naked foot than shoe (see below).

And while I’d love to buy new shoes, my newly purchased repo home (that the previous owners did their damnedest to destroy) means I’ve got a whole lot of  money tied up at Home Depot and none for the Running Room.

Instead, what I blurted out was: “I’m making excuses!”

Dear hubby’s aunt smiled and nodded knowingly. Conversation rolled on, but the exchange stayed with me. Was that really who I had become? One of those horribly annoying people with an excuse for everything?

Well, yeah.

I stopped running when we started seriously househunting. I’d get back into the routine once we settled into the new house, I told myself.

And then we moved into the new house. Settling in, it turned out, was going to take many months so I still didn’t run. Worse yet, I stopped working out altogether. And it was easy to do because inside my head the excuses were endless.

There’s just too much to get done on the house. Working out will have to wait.

It’s impossible to keep the house clean with all these renovations. Too dirty to work out.

It’s winter. I’m cold all the time and could use an extra layer of insulation. I’ll work out when it warms up.

And all that excuse manufacturing worked pretty well. Until the in-law called me out.

Since then I’ve done a few workouts. I’ve dusted off my dumbbells and Turbo Jam DVD. Today I did the Women’s Health: Ultimate Fat Burn! workout DVD and am now moreorless chairbound with lower body muscle pain.

(The “!” at the end of the DVD title is a forewarning of the vigor with which you will utter four-letter expletives as trainer Amy Dixon leads you through endless squats (%&*# !) and lunges (@$#&!) that turn your lower half into quivering jelly.)

It’s been feeling pretty awesome. That’s the funny thing about working out. You always feel amazing when it’s over, but beforehand you’ll do pretty much anything to get out of it.

Including making a barrage of excuses.

Thank God for bullshit detectors.

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What now?

In 2008, this happened:

University Graduation

May 2008 - Graduation from STU, Fredericton, NB

Followed one year later with this:

Engagement ring

May 2009 - He put a ring on it, Victoria, BC.

In 2010, we almost lost our damn minds making this happen:

Wedding day

August 14, 2010 - Got hitched, Miramichi, NB.

And in 2011, thirsting for more insanity, we got one of these:

Our First House

October 2011 - Mr. and Mrs. First-time Homeowner, Fredericton, NB

Which begs the question, what now?

It’s New Year’s Day and, as per usual, the promise of this fresh new year and all the potential it drags along with it has me plotting and planning a path to the new and improved me.

It’s a compulsion. Every year, after a week sustaining myself on gingerbread men, sugar cookies and coffee laced with Bailey’s, it suddenly seems like a good idea to start anew.

Despite the rapid succession of major life events (see the above), I feel I’ve become stuck, sedentary, stagnant.

Need some “for-instances”? Here comes the boom:

Over the past year, I’ve become hooked on TV. I’ve spent more hours that I can count, curled up in my sweatpants, watching Grey’s Anatomy, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Community, Parks and Recreation, Desperate Housewives, House, Glee. Hell, I’ve even stooped to the level of Jersey Shore and Teen Mom – both 1 and 2, I must sadly admit.

And no, I still haven’t unpacked my workout gear since we moved into the new place. It’s been a cool 3+ months since my last run. Yikes. And it’s not like I’ve been compensating with at-home workouts. The inch of dust on my Turbo Jam DVD speaks for itself.

And indeed, it is also true that I’ve cooked almost nothing in my new home that required more effort than opening a frozen pizza box.We got a Costco membership in 2011. Ready access to bulk pre-made food coupled with the chaos of renovating our new house makes a great excuse not to cook.

(And yes, now that you mention it, I’ve also spent over a year shirking my New Year’s 2010 pseudo-resolution to keep up with this blog. Because, you know, who the hell has time for it when you’re trying to keep up with Snooki and the crew?)

Luckily for my rapidly diminishing muscle mass and IQ, it’s now 2012 and 2012  will be different.

Which again begs the question, what now?

Well, now I guess I start working on making it different. And I guess I start today.

I guess you could call this, the public outing of my unsavory habits, a first step.

And I guess, if you’re willing to bear with me, you can stay tuned for step 2.

Cooking with Kasha

Groats.

Buckwheat groats.

Does that sound like something you want to eat? Or something you might want to feed to cattle?

After last night’s escapades, I’m thinking perhaps the latter.

I successfully completed Mini-Resolution #12: Get Cooking with Kasha (a.k.a. toasted Buckwheat Groats) and lived to tell the tale — although my stomach did seem a bit worse for wear afterward.

(To be fair, that may also have something to do with my bouncing around the living room for 40 minutes to a Turbo Jam video a short 15 minutes after eating said Kasha. Just maybe.)

For those of you not in the know — such as myself a mere 24 hours ago — Kasha is the Russian name for buckwheat groats that have been toasted to a rusty color in order to reduce the buckwheat’s natural bitterness and bring out its sweeter, nuttier flavour.  Buckwheat groats are high in fibre (5 grams per 1/4 cup) and a good source of protein (6 g per 1/4 cup).

If you’ll recall, I embarked on this Kasha catastrophe due to Dr. Weil’s suggestion that I work on incorporating more whole grains into my diet. Kasha was one he suggested. Because I didn’t know what it was — and I think, also because it sounded a bit like one of my favourite cereal brands of all time — I decided to give it a try.

Toasting Buckwheat Groats

And this is how Kasha is born. Throw some raw buckwheat groats in a dry skillet over high heat and voila!

I was ill-prepared for this task. I realized it as soon as I walked into the grocery store with no idea where they might stock their groats. Nor was I particularly fond of asking any store employees about their groats.

(Is it just me or does groat really sound like slang for goat scrotum?)

I suppose I could have asked about Kasha, but I feared they might point me toward the Kashi, after which I would undoubtedly end up at the checkout with a basketful of Go Lean Crunch.

So I toughed it out and went to the aisle where they keep the flax seed. Several times. In fact, I made about five trips before I finally noticed a package of Bob’s Red Mill Buckwheat Groats tucked in among Bob’s other grains, flours and cereals.

And honestly, that was the most difficult part of this whole adventure. Perhaps with the exception of eating it.

I cooked the Kasha according to directions from the guru of grain himself, Dr. Weil. His recipe included dried mushrooms, buckwheat groats, carrot, onion and soy sauce to taste. You can check it out here.

Dried Shitake Mushrooms

Ew. Just ew. It turns out I have issues with dried mushrooms.

It was pretty easy to prepare, although it was a bit out of my comfort zone. In addition to this being my first time cooking with Kasha, it was also my first foray into dealing with dried mushrooms.

And I just have to say ew.

The photo to the right shows the mushrooms before I soaked them. They only got more unappetizing from there, turning into soggy, semi-gelatinous specters of their former glory as real, fully-hydrated shiitake mushrooms. They also smelled as good as they sound.

I let them soak for about an hour but some of them were still tough in the middle.  Yuck.

However, that may be my fault. I simply followed Dr. Weil’s instructions and soaked them in water until they were soft. In my post-cooking reading, however, I’ve come across suggestions that they be soaked in boiling water. Maybe that would help?

(Un)Fortunately, I’ll have plenty opportunity to find out since I now have a five-ounce bag of them sitting in my cupboard. I’ll keep you posted.

Kasha with Vegetables

The finished product. To be eaten with lots of soy sauce.

Despite my griping, the finished product was okay. It kind of had the flavour of onion soup which was good.The veggies were crisp-tender creating a nice contrast with the mushy Kasha. It was a little bland but adding a bunch of soy sauce made it pop.

The mushrooms were the biggest turn off. Just a mushroom burp after my dinner last night almost brought it back up.

I still get a wave of nausea when I think about them, I think due to a combination of their texture and the smell they emitted while soaking in my kitchen for an hour.

It’s very possible this could be remedied by properly soaking them in boiled water.

I’d be willing to try the recipe again to see.

On the plus side, you can’t beat the nutritional content for this one: 147 calories, 6 gram of protein and 5 grams of fiber.

And that, my friends, brings us to tally time:

Days to go: 339

Mini-resolutions to go: 250

On Turbo Jam and Possessed Pelvises

So I did a Turbo Jam workout last night. I have a love-hate relationship with Turbo Jam. Mostly hate. Sometimes even loathe.

If you somehow missed the onslaught of infomercials and haven’t heard of Turbo Jam, here’s your primer: it’s a combination of dancing and kickboxing set to some pretty pumped-up music (i.e. LL Cool J’s Mama Said Knock You Out, Young MC’s Bust a Move). 

Unfortunately, the DVD also features a few original compositions created just for Turbo Jam, featuring inspired lyrics like “It’s time to party, c’mon and move your body. It’s time to party, let me see you move your body.” Also, “It’s time to jam. It’s time to jam. It’s time to jam.”

(You know what sucks? Spending a work day with that cycling through your brain on repeat. Trust me.)

Turbo Jam is led by a little blonde lunatic named ‘Chalene.’ I have a few issues with her.

Chalene

Chalene, the lady behind the madness that is Turbo Jam

First, she insists on calling the workout a “party.” It’s not a party. There is no booze. No food. Just a bunch of crazies throwing punches and sweating all over themselves.

Also, Chalene’s pelvis appears to be possessed. Ever see that Friends episode where Chandler’s fear of Michael Flatley (the Lord of the Dance guy) comes to light: 

“His legs flail about as if independent from his body!”

Same deal here. Chalene claims it’s all about working those lower abs. I’m not quite convinced (although her abs are epic). It’s very unsettling. And certainly nothing I would want to see at a party.

Chalene also insists on throwing little dance breaks into the workout. They’re exactly what they sound like. For a few seconds, several times throughout the video, everybody is supposed to just bust a move. I don’t get it. Everybody in the video, however, is ecstatic to seize the opportunity and shake what their mamas gave them.

Which brings me to my next point. Chalene’s not the only problem. The other people in the video are so happy to be doing this workout they can hardly stand themselves. Moreover, you can’t even enjoy the fact that they look like idiots doing the moves because you look even worse. 

This workout is not for the uncoordinated. I’ve had a few years of dance lessons and I still thought pretty seriously about breaking the DVD in half  my first couple times through. Watching everyone on-screen do the moves in perfect unison, acting like it’s as natural as walking, while you’re stumbling into the coffee table does not elicit the warm fuzzies.

However, in spite of my griping, I do believe Chalene and her gang of crazies may be on to something. Because Turbo Jam is a helluva workout. According to its website:

“In a recent university study, some Turbo Jam participants burned over 1,000 calories an hour…”

I think that could be true — if those participants were 400-pound people. I estimate my calorie burn for the 44 minute workout to be just over 400 calories burned.

I can, however, tell you that it raises my heart rate to the same levels I experience on a good-paced run. No other workout video I have does that for such a sustained period of time.

I can also tell you that I sweat like I’m in a hot yoga class doing this thing. Enough to actually necessitate a sweatband . Not that I have one. Though I think I should after several sweat-in-eye episodes during last night’s Turbo Jam session.

The workout also has a progress bar along the bottom of the screen which shows you which segment of the workout you’re in, how much time has elapsed and how much time is left to go. It’s helpful for those moments when you feel like you can’t take anymore of Chalene’s pelvis. Seeing you’re already 3/4 of the way through the damn thing might just give you the strength to persevere.

And I’ll admit it: sometimes, against your will, when you finally get in sync with all those smiling idiots on the screen, you get caught up in the hyped-up music and ridiculous moves and actually start to enjoy it.

That is until Chalene opens her mouth again.