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.
I just got back from my annual trip to Tokyo. I’ve been doing this for awhile now, going to see my parents on my own. Three weeks is a long time to be away from your life and I am paying the consequences now, but still I thought I would take a couple minutes to put down my impressions.
For the first time, transport did not run like clockwork. I was on a train that was running over 20 minutes late. Now of course, there was snow and someone had thrown themselves under the train but still, little delays happened throughout my stay. What does it mean? The day of the 20 minute delay, I remembered what it was like to be on a real rush hour train. People had to get to work, so there was no mercy. Not a word was uttered, silently everyone just pushed on and with their backs toward the car, so they wouldn’t have to actually see the people they were squashing. It was a little eerie. It makes the occasional rush hour trains I get stuck on in London seem like a walk in the park.
I had a run of meals in a variety of price ranges and it was an eye opener. I have a favourite series of cookbooks, they are written by the owner of Waketokuyama. So it was with great anticipation that I went to eat in his restaurant with a friend I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. The food was beautiful and the ingredients very luxurious. But the experience overall didn’t fill me with awe. Of course it was delicious but at the price, you would expect that. So I tried to figure out what had left me cold. You really couldn’t fault the food or the service, but I felt it was lacking warmth. They didn’t make you feel special. God that makes me sound like a spoiled brat. But I do think restaurant eating is more than just consuming, especially when you pay top dollar. Maybe they just had an off night, I would like to go again to see if there’s any difference. Compare that to my meal the next night at MayuZen in Nishi Azabu. Now of course this is a place owned by my mom’s friend’s daughter so I do have a personal connection. I brought a friend of mine, the two of us sat at the counter and were just blown away with dish after dish of amazing food.?It is an intimate little restaurant and maybe that was the difference, even though I spent most of the evening catching up with my friend, the owner joined in where appropriate so that my friend went away feeling like he had found a new great place to go. There was not the distance as there was at WakeTokuyama where I very much felt we were strangers as opposed to guests. So the next night, another meal with another friend. We stumbled onto AnNon looking for a place to eat in Naka Meguro. It is a combination of Japanese and Okinawan food. Although we had the set dinner which didn’t feature any Okinawan dishes, everything was again really pretty and delicious. The restaurant itself was gorgeous, a spacious place with lots of blonde wood. We felt like we’d found the deal of the century given that it was dinner. Skipped a day and went for what has to be the highlight of the trip in terms of fish. A friend drove me out to a fishing port to have brunch in a diner owned by a fishing family. I don’t think I have ever had fish that fresh. No nice decor, no gorgeous crockery, just amazing fish. I was very bad at taking photos, but here are a couple taken by my friend at brunch.
Note the iphone in the photo for scale
The individual slices were very large as well
I’m going to sign off here, but there will be more posts to follow about my time in Tokyo, I hope. I start with the very best intentions, then life happens.
I am not by nature a patient person. Perhaps it’s the by product of being a determined urbanite my entire adult life. I like things to happen quickly, that is one of the main reasons I don’t shop online, I need to be able to bring it home with me right then.
But the universe is a funny place and after 51 years, it has decided that I need to learn to be patient. So I have embarked on a couple of things that require time.
The first thing is my new business. It took probably 2 years from talking about it to holding the first cooking class. It turns out I needed all that time to think it through and be comfortable with what I am doing. Not being particularly concerned about the long term, I never thought about what would happen after I started it. So great, it’s launched, now what? It turns out I need to sell people on it, get them interested, excited and want to come. Here’s another discovery, I am rubbish at selling. So here I am, making classic marketing mistakes that I have counselled many friends against. So the business will grow slowly, along with my abilities as a salesperson. Again, patience is required.
The second thing is my fitness. I altered the way I eat about 18 months ago and what started as a 30 day experiment has turned into a lifestyle. I was overweight with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. I fixed my diet and slowly got back into shape. Then I stepped it up a notch by joining a gym which I chose for the very superficial reason of proximity and newness. It is a place where fighters come to train. I started doing conditioning classes because again, it was convenient and now I am hooked. But transforming myself from a creature who loves nothing better than to hang on the sofa, to one that can sustain a serious workout for 45 minutes will take some time. My biggest challenge at the moment is my boxing class. I love it but it’s also really scary. It is challenging the notion of who I am and what I do. There is no sparring involved so I am in no danger of being knocked out. But this is serious business that requires absolute concentration. I have never been sporty so I find myself constantly over thinking. Plus I have never been a fan of boxing so the entire experience is very alien to me. You get the picture, a fish out of water desperately trying to grow legs. I’m going to stick with it even though I feel incredibly awkward and hope that in time, it will become more natural. It helps that everyone at the gym has gone out of their way to be nice to me. Thank you for being so supportive.
So here I am learning to take things slowly and enjoy the journey. Maybe I will savour these victories more because they took time to achieve? I don’t know, but I am willing to wait to find out.
ps while looking for a suitable picture to put in this blog, I came across this fascinating article
Maybe everyone knows about it already, I do tend to live in a news vacuum. It turns out the way I am is well documented. Go figure, and I thought I was special.