So it may seem like I’m a little obsessed with my diet lately and maybe I am. When I gave up wheat, dairy and sugar 4 years ago, I thought I had my diet sorted. I gave up all the things that I was intolerant to and I should live happily if somewhat restricted ever after, right? Well no, that doesn’t seem to be the way it works. As I said in my last post, I am a sugar addict so over the years, I’ve slowly back slid into eating sugary snacks. It’s nearly impossible to be Japanese and not have any sugar since it’s in so much for the food. But it’s not the same as having a piece of cake. So with a few exceptions since my last post, I have been able to cut out all sugar snacks from my diet.
Now there is the sticky issue of carbs. I read the Six Pack Chick by Bridget Hunt and while her particular diet doesn’t fit with my lifestyle, I thought I would at least cut back on the grains and other sugar producing foods she mentioned. Well the combination has done remarkable things for my middle. I have lost very little weight but my middle is visibly smaller. My jeans are comfortable again but best of all, I feel lighter in the gym. So what was that stuff hanging around my middle? Who knows? I’m just glad it’s gone. It is very hard as a Japanese person to not eat rice. But where I used to have one biggish bowl, I’ve cut back to half a bowl. I’ve also experimented with quinoa for rice. While it is not as satisfying, it is fine as an occasional substitute. The only problem is, when you don’t eat anything starchy, it’s hard to stay full. So I’ve gone back to snacking regularly on Kinomi (shameless plug). Nuts really are satisfying things to eat and now that I understand that all fat is not the enemy, I love my two handfuls a day. As I have a tendency to go overboard, I have to remember that all things, even good fats in moderation.
But while the low carb low sugar thing seems to be working for me, it’s probably not the answer for everyone. So how do you figure it out? Is there a test? Do you have to consult a nutritionist? Anyone have the answer? Oh and I did have a small bowl of muesli with my two eggs this morning. Hope this is not the beginning of back sliding. It’s only been 3 weeks.
As it says in the title, I have a really hard time with sugar. I don’t know if a sweet tooth is born or made but ever since I can remember, I have loved all things sweet. I have a mother who would rather eat sweets than meals. She was pretty good about it when we were growing up, eating proper meals with us and everything but now that there are no more kids in the house, I think she lives mostly on sugar. I guess my favourite form is ice cream but since I gave up dairy 4 years ago, there hasn’t been a good substitute in this country so that hasn’t been much of an issue. I also gave up refined sugar 4 years ago but it’s amazing how many things are on the market that use unrefined sweeteners to tempt me. Then there is of course chocolate. I love dark chocolate but have recently discovered if I eat it at night, it keeps me up. Oh the joys of growing older.
It’s a slippery slope this sugar thing. First you have a little something after dinner because it is nice to end dinner with something sweet. Then before you know it you crave something sweet after every meal and that includes breakfast. There were cookies, chocolate, cake readily available in the house so I had a choice whenever I had a craving. The inevitable consequence was even with lots of gym time, I kept putting on weight in my middle. It got to a point where my usual jeans were uncomfortable. This is a very familiar pattern to me. So you’d think I would immediately know the cause. But no, the light bulb finally went off this time and so I decided to go cold turkey. No more snacking on anything sweet, no more desserts. Within 3 days I could see the difference to my stomach. I don’t know if it’s weight or bloat that happens when I eat sugar but visually the results are the same. I spend so much time at the gym, if I was more careful about what I eat then I could look like someone who spends a lot of time at the gym. Of course I know what I should be eating, but it’s a constant battle between doing what’s right and laziness. But to make changes and make them sustainable, I need to take things slowly. First I’ll tackle the sugar, then the fat. I’m sure I will slide back now and again but as long as I can remember what happened this time and hopefully get to it sooner, I should be okay. Wish me luck.
Well this is it, the excitement of the holidays are over, the weather is miserable and the reality of another year looms large. The initial resolutions have faded a bit and it’s hard to muster that get up and go when you can’t tell if it’s 10am or 4pm from looking outside. When that happens, it is so easy to fall into martyr mode. I found myself on that slippery slope yesterday, just feeling generally down, as if a cloud was hanging over me and weighing me down. Forget work, I needed to dwell on my current woes. Oh yes I thought, I am the one doing all the work (usually for my family) and no one appreciates it. The reality is, I’m a bit of a control freak and the things I’ve chosen to take on, I wouldn’t be that happy letting someone else do it. But you can’t let rational thought get in the way of a good rant and so I continued to brood with a good dose of self righteousness thrown in.
I was all set to continue to wallow when the sun came out, a real blast of light that instantly lifted my mood. It was just what I needed to get me out of this pointless and unpleasant activity. I decided to go run errands instead of sitting in front of my computer. Of course by the time I got ready to go out, it was grey again, but by then I was committed. I ran my errand, treated myself to a nice lunch and had a catch up with a friend. I was also getting e mails with nice news and by the time I got home (much later than I anticipated) I was all set to get back to work.
So I guess the moral of the story is when you don’t feel productive, get out. Do something else, a change of scenery really works. Remember, even if it won’t warm up for awhile yet, the days are already getting longer.
I took some time off at the end of last year which segued into early this year. It was wonderful to have days at home doing nothing. I watched tons of useless Youtube videos, read loads of trash and watched equal amounts of terrible television. Now I know for most people, a couple of days of that is more than they can take. But I think I am inherently lazy. I love the prospect of days of nothing to do. Hence our holidays tend to be beachy ones where the biggest decision of the day is, “beach or pool?”, So the first week of the new year slipped by, pretty much guilt free. Now it is time to get back into it and actually works towards the goals I set myself at the end of last year when I was still in hyper motivated mode. As I sit and write work e mails this morning, I am remembering what it is like to have days full of things to do. Truth be told, even I was reaching saturation point for all the endless nothingness. I predict by the end of the week, I will be back in the swing of things. By the end of the month, I will be thinking back longingly to the two weeks I spent doing nothing. So off I go, I hope the world responds.
Happy new year everyone, hope 2013 is a great one for you. New year is my favourite Japanese holiday. It is so peaceful as everything shuts down, people dress up and there’s a feeling of anticipation that the new year will bring good things. There is a mad rush in December to get ready, to do a thorough house cleaning, finish up business especially relating to money and prepare food which will be eaten during the festivities. There is always a temple or shrine visit during the 3 days of new year to pay your respects to the gods and start the year off auspiciously. From talking to my mom this year, it seems much of the stillness has gone with shops opening on January 1. When I was younger, everything was shut for the first three days. I remember about 15 years ago when the convenience shops started opening on New Year’s day, I thought that was the beginning of the end.
The nice thing about living overseas is that your memories can stay frozen in whatever time you choose. So even though I’ve been home for new year’s in recent years, the ones I recall most vividly are from the 70′s, the last time I lived in Japan as a child. Lots of food, ridiculous television, endless games and just hanging with my family are what I remember. Also in my memory, January 1 was always bright and sunny, it probably isn’t true but that’s what’s great about memories right?
But fast forward to 2013 and here I am in London where January 1 is more a day to recover from the excesses of December 31 than a day unto itself. I didn’t make any of the traditional foods for new year both because of a lack of ingredients and a general lack of interest from the other family members. I did want to make the soup we have on new year’s day but I hadn’t bought any of the ingredients. So rather than make a traditional Japanese ozoni with dashi, mouli, spinach, bright red carrot and of course mochi, the pounded sticky rice cake, I made a vegetable soup with onions, cabbage, jerusalem artichokes and carrot. It’s the mochi that makes it new yearsy I think and it didn’t disappoint. I felt like I had kept the spirit of the tradition. Here’s a photo.
My new year’s soup
I’m going to try very hard to do a better job blogging this year. Here’s to another year full of fun and adventure.
So I spent a long weekend in New York. Hubby currently has a job there so it was a quick visit to see him. Of course we have been married forever and in typical unromantic form, he failed to take any days off. So I had a couple of days on my own to fill and somehow that was not a problem. The weather was just beautiful and it was great to walk around in flip flops and complain of being hot.
I did some serious damage at my two favourite shops and saw lots of friends old and new. Saturday night, one of my friends from college organised a dinner and a bunch of us got together. We all went to school together and some I’ve known for 35 years. My that makes me feel old. But the upside to all this ageing is having history with people. We don’t keep up on a regular basis although thanks to Facebook, I keep up with some better than others but every time we see each other, we just fall into a very easy dialogue. It’s just great that I have these friends and great that we still get together after all these years. The funny thing is, there have been gaps of years with some of them, I guess these things happen when you know each other over 30 years but then we just pick up again.
So on the one hand, there was much catching up and on the other, I met someone I was introduced to on Facebook through a mutual friend. It really didn’t feel like we had never met, we sat and chatted for 2 hours in Starbucks and didn’t run out of things to say. The truly astounding thing is, her best friend lived on my floor freshman year. How is that for a coincidence? We did not go to the same school and are no where near each other in age and yet… This year has been filled with so many people coincidences that I am no longer surprised. The world seems vast but in fact it is one global village.
I kept meaning to take photos of all the delicious food I had but I’d forget and eat it. I could never be a food blogger. I would say the highlights of my food trip were the two meals I had at Candle Cafe, a vegan restaurant around the corner from where hubby lives. I’m not vegan but I am dairy free and he is veggie so it was a good compromise. I had a wheat free brownie sundae with coconut ice cream. How great does that sound? On the opposite end of the spectrum, I had a 1 pound lobster for lunch at Chelsea Market. That and a couple of American size martinis made my weekend.
Now I’m back home and dealing with the mountains of things I have to do. But the sun is shining and I can’t complain. Life is good.
Well, I’ve done it. I was an exhibitor at the Speciality and Fine Food Show. For 3 days a 1 metre by 2 metre stand was my home. It had to be the face of my brand which is essentially me. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I guess I should have been blogging about the prep, but really I didn’t have the time or the mental space to chronicle that part. Suffice to say, it involved many stickers, much backing and forthing and even a list! I never make lists because I think lists lull you into a false sense of security. I think if I have everything on the list, I am fine. But what if I forget to put something on the list. See what I mean? Anyway, me and the ever growing list managed to pull it together to pack everything I need for the show into two large Ikea bags. Of course I forgot to photograph that, but you can kind of guess what it might look like. Actually I haven’t unpacked yet, I can go get a photo now.
Not too bad, right? But keep in mind, my stand is only 1m x 2m. It’s just the blue bags by the way, not the boxes in the background. Saturday was set up. I arrived at Olympia and found my stand and here is what it looked like. For some reason, the photo refuses to upload so you’ll have to use your imaginations. Just think of the photo below, but with nothing in it but a gross white cabinet,
I wasn’t sure about the ice cream shoppe look to the stand but what can you do? I was very thankful for the large but very beat up cabinet. I probably could have bought one for as much money as it cost me to hire that one for 4 days but then I’d have to get it there and back. It’s nothing that a little decoration can’t fix. But it was big with lots of storage and it kinda sorta locked. So it was good.
I had my wonderful friend H helping me for the whole time, it would have been a very lonely thing to have to do alone. Everything is better with a friend. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, we stood in my stand smiling and trying to get people to sample Kinomi. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but I was very happy with the positive feedback I received. Now of course lots of people could have just been polite but I saw enough changes of expression (in a good way) after they tried them to know that they genuinely thought it was good. My neighbours on both sides were first timers like me and we were in the small producers area which meant no big corporations. Just lots of people like me, trying to get our products out into the world. Everyone was really friendly and positive.
Visitors come in all shapes and attitudes. No one was horrible, but I did have some people who obviously aren’t trade but just in for a nosh. I don’t mind at all, I want as many people to try Kinomi whether or not they have the authority to stock them but if you know you’re just munching on free samples, at least make eye contact, smile and say hello. I don’t begrudge people tastes at all, it’s just not very pleasant when they do it silently without eye contact. On the opposite end were people who wanted to try them but felt they shouldn’t because they couldn’t buy from me. People are complicated.
Anyway, I’ve done my three days, I’m now doing my follow ups and only time will tell if any of the nice people I spoke with will stock Kinomi. I hope so but even if they don’t I had a great experience that I never dreamed of when I thought it might be a good idea to turn my snacks into a business.
I think next year I’ll do a bit more to the walls. Looking a bit bare I think.
I will leave you with a photo of H and H at my stand. Doesn’t it look like we had fun?
I am not a health and fitness expert so I’m not going to attempt to talk about the science behind overtraining. I’m just going to tell you what happened to me. I began going to the gym seriously 2+ years ago after a 8 year break. During that time, I gained more and more weight and my blood pressure shot up. I finally adjusted my diet and began exercising in an attempt to stay off the blood pressure medication. I joined a very nice local gym which had just opened. It is a gym that specialises in MMA training. I don’t have any interest in fighting but I really liked the conditioning classes and so I began. Of course the classes were super tough but because it was a brand new gym, there weren’t that many people yet so I managed to keep up. Before you know it, I was stronger and fitter and I began to increase the number of classes I was taking. I could handle it, I thought and at a peak I was taking 8 classes a week. I loved the fact that I could do all those classes and keep up.
In between, I would take 3 week breaks here and there since I didn’t train when I went home to Tokyo and I had cataract surgery and had to stop for almost 4 weeks. I noticed when I came back, I was stronger. I thought it was strange and there were people at the gym who would suggest that it was a sign my body needed rest. Well, I just had three weeks off, that should be enough rest.
Then I took my annual summer holiday with my family. Since it is a holiday involving my entire family, I treat myself to a personal trainer to keep the stress levels down. I was chatting with him about my routine at home and he said to me, “that’s just a lot of stress on your central nervous system” a sentiment that was echoed on a programme I listened to on London Real TV. I also noticed that while I was away and training 3 times a week, I felt great and lost weight. So finally I began thinking about how much I was doing and came to the conclusion it was too much.
Since I’ve been home, I have added one more day off so now I go to the gym 4 times a week and do 5 classes and you know, I feel so much better and stronger when I go to class. I can go all out during the classes knowing that I have the next day to rest and recover. Maybe you know these things when you’ve been involved in sports your whole life. I never was, so it never occurred to me that you could do too much exercise. But as with everything else, it doesn’t matter what anyone says if you’re not ready to hear it. I’m glad I was ready before I did any real damage.
I have had quite a week. It tested my resolve for continuing with my business and let me see how precarious it is to juggle so many things. One mishap, or a series of small mishaps and the entire thing comes crashing down. Nothing that can’t be solved with time and money but jeez, I don’t have either in abundance.
All my troubles can be boiled down to miscommunication. And it was only after a surprising number of things had gone wrong for me to look up when Mercury was in retrograde. Sure enough, it ended last week, just when I was making the first of what would turn out to be a series of mistakes. Now I really don’t know anything about astrology but my friend A has been talking about Mercury in retrograde for long enough for me to notice some patterns. So, rather than blame my own inattention or perhaps jet lag, I’ve decided to conveniently blame Mercury. There, I’m off the hook until the next time it’s in retrograde, November I believe.
But there is always good along with the bad, otherwise what’s the point? I’ve made some great connections which I hope will strengthen into friendships. It’s a long term process especially when we are all so busy, but it is great to meet people you really like. Also, the materials for my trade show are coming together nicely, it really is remarkable what talented people can do. I’m pretty confident now I can go out there and not make a total fool of myself. Just because the operation is tiny doesn’t mean it can be unprofessional.
I am slowly coming to another leap forward, I’ll let you know when it happens.
It’s been so long, I’d nearly forgotten that I have a blog that I used to write pretty regularly. Life has been extremely busy and I haven’t had any time for introspection let alone writing anything down. I think that’s one of the hazards of having a blog that you write when you feel like it. Maybe it should be themed, I’ll have to think about that.
Anyway, for a quick recap on what’s been happening since my last post, I’m still juggling my cooking and nut business and have signed up to do my first trade show. I did a show last year with my distributor, but this time it’s all on me. I signed up for it without thinking that much about it as usual and have discovered that there are a million details to keep track of, many e mails to read through, forms to fill out etc. I want a minion but only if he looks like this.
But I digress. I went away on my annual summer holiday with the family. It was a nice holiday but also a bit of a reality check to discover how old and frail my dad is getting. He never recovered from his heart surgery 18 months ago and the doctors think he had a stroke during surgery. It is so sad to see him struggle with everyday tasks and for him to be bewildered and confused. This was a man who was up until the time of surgery, as sharp as a tack and still travelling domestically by himself. I’m trying hard to see the positive in this and failing. It’s not fair and it sucks.
On a happier note, my kids really pitched in and helped out during the holiday, I don’t think I could have done it if without them. My 80 year old mother, who can barely use a mobile and had absolutely no interest in the computer has gotten herself an iPad. My sister and I each have one and she discovered that she could do things with them. So she went out and got one and we installed Skype on it. I wish I had taped her introduction to Skype, it was a classic. She couldn’t believe she could see me (I was in a different room skyping her) and talk to me. She woke my dad up who was napping on the couch to show him what she could do. I just hope she remembers when she gets home. She’s had no trouble accessing the games we downloaded for her, but the internet remains a bit of a mystery. I think you should be able to relabel the icons so instead of Safari, I could just label it internet, what does she know from Safari?
Where was the hubby in all of this? He has been in New York on a consulting gig. He did a whirlwind visit on our holiday but really I haven’t seen him since he went away at the end of May. As this is likely to continue for some time I am planning a visit out to see him. It’s been a wonderful experience for him, catching up with friends and living again in the city that he loves.
Now that I’ve written it down, it doesn’t sound like I’ve done much, but I swear I’ve been really busy. I must get back to it now, I have more arrangements to make for the show and I need to place orders to get my Christmas products in place.
I’ll try not to let another 3 months go by, talk soon.