Thursday, July 24, 2014

Chicago, Chicago

Time for another whirlwind trip. As I mentioned earlier, we're going back to Chicago to attend a wedding! (I wish I'd followed the French diet more consistently, perhaps I would be a bit slimmer. But there's no use crying over spilt cafe au lait now.) It is interesting to me, at least, that I had just started thinking about the French diet (and applying it) around the time I went to Chicago last.

I managed to score us a great deal at a five star hotel, The Langham, Chicago. It's just north of the river, and only a couple of blocks off of famed N. Michigan Ave.  From the pictures on the hotels' website, it looks super nice and I'm especially interested in exploring the spa/indoor pool and relaxing with afternoon tea. Hopefully I'll be able to do both. Sometimes, when you are attending these kinds of events it can be hard to find the time, even though you are theoretically on vacation!

I'm not sure if I'll be able to post anything tomorrow or Monday (we fly back on Monday, so my usual weigh in will be delayed), but if not, have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Taking Care of Yourself & Re-focusing

For the past couple of days I really haven't been feeling all that terrific. My stomach hasn't been that happy, but I'm not sure why. I'm not aware of having eaten anything that could be responsible for the recent malaise. Then, this morning, I woke up and I was really dizzy. That seems to have passed (mostly) but there's a lingering not feeling 100% normal feeling. Sigh.

This got me thinking that probably I am starting to feel the effects from the past couple of years' stresses. As I may have mentioned (or alluded to) in previous posts, my papa's health has not been great for some time now, and in the last year and a half, especially, he's required a lot of extra care. My maman has shouldered the bulk of the burden, but I have also been very involved and sort-of "on call" every day. In fact, with the exception of some very quick family-related trips (visiting monsieur's family at Thanksgiving, or going to see his maman for her birthday), I haven't had an actual vacation in almost 2 years. What's even more challenging has been keeping my spirits up in the face of papa's occasional, "I'm ready to die and just want to get this over with" attitude. Double Sigh.

Perhaps the time has come to re-evaluate everything I'm doing and see if I need to focus some more on rest and relaxation...

On a somewhat unrelated note, I'm also wondering if I should limit the content on this blog to things that are strictly related to the French diet, or if I should branch out to other areas that interest me, like fashion or home or just whatever!

My original intention for the blog was to have a place where I could keep track of my progress and also just hold myself accountable. But the truth is that sometimes I feel like I'm struggling to come up with something, anything that is weight or health related, and it starts to feel contrived. I really don't want this blog to turn into an online food or exercise journal:
I had a grilled chicken breast with some sauteed vegetables today!
Today I walked for 30 minutes and then I had a turkey sandwich!

I mean, honestly. I don't want to read that, and why would anyone else? At the same time, the world (and the Internet) if definitely full of somewhat generic "lifestyle" blogs and maybe I'd just be adding to the noise if I started writing about general life things.

Thoughts? Opinions? Ideas?


Monday, July 21, 2014

R.E.P.O.R.T. card

Ah, Monday morning and it's time for another check in.

Let's look at how well I did against the French Diet's basic principles:
  • Real, natural foods: Pass. Most meals were home-cooked and minimally processed. 
  • Enjoy the dining experience: Pass. I still haven't gotten back to the days of multiple courses and finely set table, but dining has been fairly enjoyable nonetheless.
  • Portion control: Pass. 
  • Only at mealtimes--no snacking: So-so. Light snacking, but nothing excessive.
  • Run around--incorporate exercise naturally: Pass +.  Last week I exercised almost every day for at least 30 minutes. There were at least 3 bike excursions that lasted 30-45 minutes, and one walk. 
  • Treat yourself: Pass. I neither over-indulged, nor restricted myself excessively. Good balance, I think.

Weekly weigh-in: 164.5 (No Change versus last week and -2.5 to-date)

Final Grade: A  Last week when I weighed myself, I thought that my new weight was the result of a chaotic week and some stomach distress. I reasoned that I probably would see my system resettle at a slightly higher number. Luckily, that hasn't been the case this week. I think that the combination of extra, consistent exercise with a small amount of discipline (small, trust me) worked in my favor.

This week, I leave for Chicago on Thursday. Monsieur and I are going for his brother's wedding. My goal for this week will be to maintain good exercise and eating habits until I leave, and then maintain the healthy French mindset while we're gone. None of this "I'm on vacation so give me the donuts and banana split!" sort of excess. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

So far, so good

Well, this week has been decidedly better than last week! I've been waking up early, exercising almost every day (just missed Wednesday), and generally taking a bit more time to take care of myself and enjoy the summer. I've also felt a bit less stressed out than usual because my papa is back home after his stint in the hospital, and we have had 24h care, so I haven't had to worry about him or my maman hurting themselves.

Starting today, however, our 24h care schedule is changing and we will instead have someone there for most of the day (9-5) and most of the night (9-7). This leaves the early evening hours 'uncovered'. We are going to see if that will work or not, and adjust accordingly. Thank God, though, that papa has taken all of this with the best possible attitude and he seems to be committed to doing his part for his rehabilitation. So, I am hoping that he will continue to get stronger and we will need to rely less on outside help.

Anyway, I was curious about whether anything had changed, weight-wise, since I was so (pleasantly) surprised at my last check in. I wasn't sure if it had been some sort of water weight fluke or some such thing. And I was wondering if the increased exercise had had any measurable effect. So, I decided to step on the scale, even though my general rule it to not weigh myself more than once per week.


No change since Monday. Actually, this is quite good news since (as I already mentioned) I thought Monday's results might not have reflected my true situation. Or perhaps, Monday's results really didn't, but the increase in discipline this week (both in terms of the French diet and the uptake in exercise) has led me to the same result. Either way, I'll take it.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Le Tour de France...or of your neighborhood

Not only did the World Cup just end, but we are also in the middle of the Tour de France. I will confess, I've never followed the Tour very closely since I have a hard time getting excited about watching cycling on TV. (The World Cup, though, is another matter entirely...)

I used to ride my bike as a kid, but once I got my driver's license my interest in pedaling to get places dropped sharply. Then, in my late 20s I bought a "hybrid" bike and it sat around collecting dust, because every time I rode it I felt like I was thisclose to killing myself. Years passed, and I met Monsieur, and (wouldn't you know it) he wanted us to go biking together.

I agreed to venture back into the cycling world. I thought that my best hope of getting into it was to find a bike that I'd feel comfortable and safe on. After some research, I settled on a "cruiser" style bike--the Townie "Electra"

To further enhance my bike's appeal, I added a front wicker basket. I pictured myself wearing something cute, pedaling along, perhaps something like this:

Unfortunately, though, my experience riding my Townie was never quite as idyllic as I'd imagined. For one thing, I never looked that cute. For another, I gradually realized that the Townie was only really good if I was going alone completely flat terrain. As soon as I hit even the slightest hill, I had to do a lot of work to keep moving, and as a result, I found myself growing more and more averse to cycling.

Monsieur, however, had not given up on me yet. He suggested I try out a different type of bike. One that might make riding easier and more enjoyable. 

So, I went back to the (research) drawing board and I visited a number of bike shops to go on some test rides. Eventually I found a new bike that I hoped would make cycling more fun: the Cannondale Quick 5 (Women's frame):

Mine is exactly like the one pictured above. The official color name is "Cabernet". Honestly, I found the color was a bit more...grape-y. I christened him "Grimace", after the McDonald's character.

Since I bought Grimace last year towards the end of summer, I got a fantastic deal on him. And, I gave up on the idea of trying to look like a chic European girl while riding in favor of comfort. I purchased some Ibex cycling gear (after discovering that wool is cooler and more comfortable [even in summer] than your traditional synthetic jerseys) and I started riding.

I wouldn't say I've turned into some fantastic cyclist or that I am ready to take any cycling tours. But I am enjoying myself a lot more and I don't dread going out for a quick (no pun intended) ride. Now, I consider it one of the main ways I can get in a little (30-45 minutes) exercise in a day.

I don't regret purchasing my Townie, since I'm not sure I would have been ready to venture out on something like the Cannondale if I hadn't already built up my confidence on the Electra. But, I realize I've outgrown it and I will probably sell it soon.

If you haven't been on a bike in ages but you are considering giving cycling a try, I really recommend that you check out what's available now. There are so many options that I am sure you will be able to find something that appeals to you and will prepare you for your very own Tour.

Monday, July 14, 2014

R.E.P.O.R.T. card

As I mentioned in my previous post, last week was a doozy. My papa was in the hospital for four days and most days my maman and I were running around just trying to take care of everything.  As a result, my eating was anything but typical. In some ways, this was actually positive because since I wasn't at home, I couldn't just walk over to the pantry to forage for a snack. And, to some extent, stress functions as an appetite suppressant. But, obviously, stress, poor sleep, erratic eating, and no exercise doesn't exactly lead to glowing health.

In any case, papa is back home now and I'm hoping (fingers crossed) that I will be able to recuperate this week from last week's stress.

In terms of grades, here we go:
  • Real, natural foods: 50% pass, 50% fail. Some days, take out was the only option. 
  • Enjoy the dining experience: n/a. It's not easy to enjoy dining when you are exhausted and stressed out from other things that are going on.
  • Portion control: Pass. 
  • Only at mealtimes--no snacking: Pass. See intro.
  • Run around--incorporate exercise naturally: 50% pass, 50% fail. Did okay up until my dad hurt himself.
  • Treat yourself: Fail. Not because I over-indulged, but because I didn't treat myself well at all. :( Perhaps I'll have to make up for that this week with a little pampering? ;)
Oh, one more thing. Yesterday's lunch really didn't sit well so for the entire rest of the day I didn't eat much at all. Dinner was some herbal tea and a slice of toast with a little peach jam. 

Weekly weigh-in: 164.5 (-1.5 lbs versus last week and -2.5 to-date)

Final Grade: Obviously, I'm thrilled with the number on the scale and I plan on fully enjoying its memory for about half of the day. However, I also realize that it is probably somewhat misleading since my stomach was upset and I didn't eat much at all yesterday. Since I hadn't planned on using fasting as a means of weight control, I don't expect that weight loss trend to continue! 

Now I think I just need to focus on sticking with the plan and really taking care of myself. Hopefully that will not result in a weight gain next week, if I'm careful about how I go about things this week.

Friday, July 11, 2014


My papa fell and fractured his pelvis. If you ever consider going and breaking yours, try to do it the way he did--with a stable fracture that doesn't require surgery, just time, to heal.

This happened on Tuesday evening and ever since we've been in a bit of turmoil, trying to get everything settled. 

As a result, the last two days I've been eating take out. Pizza and salad on Wednesday and Chinese food yesterday. And lunches have been slapped together. 

Add to this a lack of restful sleep and no exercise, and I'm sure you can imagine how well I'm doing, French diet-wise. 

We can't always control the circumstances of our lives, and I think that now I just have to give myself a break. What good would come from beating myself up on top of everything else that's going on?

Maybe that's kind of French after all...