Here’s me in my dorky winter biking gear! I honestly have no love for that yellow coat. I don’t even like yellow. But in Chicago, in the winter, the sun sets at 4:30, and I’m not going to wear a black coat to bike in the dark. I have a blinky white light on the front of me, a blink red light on the back of my helmet, and the stickers that make up the skull and crossbones on my helmet are reflective tape. I’m not taking any chances. The ski mask, the heavy duty gloves (they’re like astronaut gloves, I swear) and the Cuddl Duds are all a necessity for me in the winter. Everything else is just layers. But honestly, once your blood gets pumping, you can keep yourself pretty warm no matter what.
I did bike to work today. The streets were not as clear as I thought, it probably wasn’t the best idea, but I made it there in one piece at least. And it warmed up so much during the day that the ride home was much easier. The wind was a little annoying, but it just felt so good to get my heart rate up.
The exercise part of this get-healthy equation has never been that hard for me. Between biking or walking everywhere, flamenco lessons, yoga, DDR, I guess I’m a pretty active person (even if it took me a while to admit that to myself). Now if only I could stop myself from eating all the chocolate and peanut butter in the house, I’d be good to go. :)
Oh! But I have a new favorite salad. Tonight’s win was a salad with tiny cooked shrimp, clementine and orange wedges, roasted cloves of garlic (which I’m sure I will be feeling later), and an improvised dressing made with a little Japanese mayo, a lot of Sriracha sauce, and a spoonful of honey. I wanted to lick the plate when I was done! PS: I think it would be even easier with avocado, but I was too lazy to go across the street to get one.
My body has gotten pretty used to having a 45 minute bike ride every morning. I’ll bike all winter as long as the roads are clear, but in Chicago the roads aren’t always clear. Two winters ago I went almost the entire month of December without being able to bike at all, because it was snowing every three days. If I didn’t have such a long ride, I’d probably be more willing to risk biking more often. I’m still not sure it’s a good idea to bike tomorrow, but it’s been so many days that my legs kind of ache, and my mood is definitely suffering. You don’t realize how dependent you are on those endorphins until you stop getting them.
I used to have Dance Dance Revolution games to get me through the winter months. We don’t really have room for exercise equipment, but I can stash a dance pad away pretty easily. And DDR never feels like exercise, just like a fun game. But we upgraded to a PS3, and my dance pads won’t plug in to it. It’s just a matter of deciding if I want DDR for the Wii (or “Just Dance” or whatever else) or for the PS3, eventually I’ll get off my butt and go buy it. In the meantime, if the weather holds, the roads should be clear enough for me to bike for the rest of the week at least. Maybe tomorrow’s comic will be about how I gear up for a winter bike ride? :)
In other news, I FINALLY satisfied my craving for dolsot bibimbap. I’ve been thinking about that for weeks now. So good on a cold day. And I managed to only have two pieces of fudge! Tomorrow, I will have only one.
That Little Mexican Cafe makes a mean margarita. Today I learned they also make a mean salad.
So it’s the end of the year, right, a time when people are thinking about resolutions and stuff, making positive changes for the future. I’m still kind of pondering how far I’ve come in the past year… going from choosing chicken sandwiches over burgers, wraps over sandwiches, and then salads over wraps. Small, sustainable changes. I still have a long way to go. I still, for instance, have a hard time not eating all of the chocolate and Christmas candies in front of me, instead of having one piece and moving on with my life. But if you get a little bit better every day, after a while that adds up to quite a lot.
The fudge came from Niles’s mom, and it’s delicious, and tomorrow I will have only two pieces instead of three. She also sent a huge amount of oranges from her backyard, I look forward to that every Christmas! Speaking of Christmas presents, my brother and his wife are in Wales (she’s British) and they’ve sent us three packets of “crisps” that claim they are “pickled onion” flavor. I am afraid.
Well. I am pretty sure I have forgotten at least one beer on Christmas night, and I’m not too pleased with the number of ginger cookies and chocolates I’ve been knocking back lately, but it’s the holidays, right? I managed to get in a tasty sweet potato soup and my new favorite spinach salad this weekend. Actually, thanks to a couple of giant bags of fresh spinach, I have eaten a lot of spinach in the past week or so. That counts for something, right?
Our Christmas night was a lot of fun, actually; video games and beers and just whatever we felt like cooking. I had been craving quiche for a while, and Marianna and Dave made biscuits and gravy, which I hadn’t had in I can’t remember how long. Randi and Scott’s bacon galette might have been the standout though. :)
Hey, I did a guest comic for Liz Baillie’s amazing Freewheel this week. I have toyed with the idea of opening up Sauceome to guest comics for a week. Would anyone be interested, if I did that?
PS: Niles got me a Harvest Moon video game for Christmas. I can already tell I’m going to be addicted. If I do get a week off Sauceome with some guest comics, I’m just gonna spend the time farming and trying to decide which of the village ladies to woo.
Happy Christmas Eve Eve, guys! Here is my Christmas present for you, details on how to build that salad. It takes a lot of prep work – but one big squash will make enough for a good 5-6 salads or so, so if you roast it the day before and put it in tupperware, it’ll seem like less work.
I sliced up about 4 large cloves of garlic as thinly as I could, and tossed it with the squash in some olive oil and allspice before I roasted it. It was in the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour. The egg, it was nice, but I could take it or leave it. Oh, and if you’ve got an aversion to pungent blue cheeses, I think goat cheese would work just as well. But goat cheese goes with everything.
But I’ll say this: this salad, tonight, feels just as decadent as a giant pile of Christmas cookies, and I feel a lot better about myself for eating it.
So, at first I felt weird doing a page about eating better when my bosses took me out to lunch at a pub and I had a turkey burger and fries and two beers. But then I realized, no, maybe this is perfect. For me, eating better is about creating lasting, sustainable change. I know that if I feel like I’m depriving myself I won’t last two days. But if I just start making small changes here and there, tiny but PERMANENT changes, I know I’ll be able to keep it up.
So yes, for me, eating better doesn’t mean I have to turn down lunch with my bosses – or have the house salad instead of a turkey burger (with avocado and bacon, it was really delicious). I can go out, have a good time, not really worry about having two beers, and then just take it a little easier the rest of the day.
Speaking of which, that dinner salad is my new favorite creation. It’s inspired by a recipe my mother said she tried. I skinned, and cubed an acorn squash this weekend, and roasted the cubes up with some sliced garlic and spices and truffle oil, and put the roasted cubes in a tupperware. We bought some spinach from the farmers market, and Niles had gotten me some blue cheese crumbles – the sweet from the roasted and carmelized squash and garlic plus the sharp tang of the blue cheese equals a billion awesomes in your mouth. I highly recommend it. I am toying with a few additions that I think might make it even better – some diced red onion, some walnuts, maybe some portobello mushrooms? I don’t want to add too much, it’s really kind of perfect right now.
Oh if you do it at home though, I don’t recommend doing it with acorn squash. It’s delicious, but it’s a beast to skin around those bumpy ridges.
My sister im’d me today. She’s getting married in February, and has her first wedding dress fitting in a few weeks. She was panicking. Apparently, the first time she tried on the dress, it was tight, and she thinks she’s gained a few pounds since then (5!), and so she’s SURE that it’s going to be even worse. She was feeling pretty down on herself.
The whole time I was reading her IMs I was thinking, this doesn’t make sense, this is silly, how can she feel so down on herself for this? And then I realized, wow, I really have come pretty far. Six months ago, I would have been right there with her. Six months ago, I couldn’t even fathom TYPING “I LOVE MY BODY”. These days, I get dressed, check myself in the mirror and think, well all right, lady. Not bad.
I’m certainly not where I was when I started this project. I don’t know if any of you have experienced this, but there were some days where I’d see myself in the mirror, and it was like drums would start pounding in my head: “YOU ARE FAT, YOU ARE UGLY” and they’d just keep echoing in my cranium all day long, you are fat, you are fat, you are fat. Everyone knows you are fat. Everyone is disgusted by you. You should be ASHAMED. When I kept those thoughts private, they’d just bounce around their echo chamber until I worked myself into a frenzy. But, and hooray for webcomics, dragging those demons out into the light made me realize exactly how dumb they were.
I still don’t think I’m quite at the “I LOVE MY BODY” stage, not just yet. But… well, I’m fairly pleased with it. I certainly don’t hate it anymore. It’s got its plusses and minuses like any body does, and I think I’m seeing the plusses a little more than the minuses lately.
Anyway, MC! If you are reading this, I truly meant every word I said today. You are gorgeous, you are so amazingly pretty just as you are right now, 5 pounds more or 5 pounds less makes no damn difference, you are beautiful, and you will ROCK that wedding dress.
So, let’s be fair, here. I didn’t have the goals written in my sketchbook, but I did have them in the “about” page on this site. And I know I retooled that page a little when I was up for the Ignatz, and I don’t remember exactly what the first version said. But… if I remember, I think the most I said about weight loss was that if it happened, hooray, but that first and foremost, I wanted to stop hating my body.
I’ve been sitting here, worrying that I’m not worried enough about not losing weight, but essentially I’m meeting my goals. I mean, of course I’d love to lose some more weight. But my bridesmaid dress for my sister’s wedding came the other day, and it needs to be taken in. I pass myself in the mirror and I think “hey, not bad, lady” instead of “ugh, gross.” I pay pretty good attention to what I’m eating, and I know I’m eating much better than I used to. And I certainly haven’t gained any weight back. If I haven’t lost any more weight in a few months, that’s hardly a tragedy, right?
Anyway, this week is all about reexamining my goals and reassessing where I am with this whole thing. Get ready!
So, in looking back on this as I was drawing it, I kept thinking, wow, I really FEEL like I ate a lot more than this. I guess it’s possible I’ve forgotten some things, but I’m fairly certain this is accurate. It’s certainly accurate for today. Niles had off work, so we had a rare wonderful day together, we went to the farmer’s market, to the Boulangerie, we had a leisurely lunch and a pleasant dinner – for both meals I perused the menu for AGES before deciding that a salad was the tastiest sounding thing, so that’s a good sign. And now I’m finishing up this comic while he plays Tales of Vesperia. And I really want to watch him play that, so I’ll keep this short.
I ate a giant plate of gyro meat for lunch on Friday, which I think skewed me for the whole weekend. I cooked my first spaghetti squash this weekend. I roasted a bunch of cubed acorn squash with garlic and truffle oil, and I plan on having it in a salad with some blue cheese crumbles and walnuts later on this week. Probably with the fresh spinach we bought at the market today. I’ve also taken some more scallops out of the freezer and I think I’ll have them for dinner tomorrow.
I do want to spend this next week sort of re-examining my goals for Sauceome, but in the meantime, one thing is true: I REALLY LOVE FOOD. I probably love it even more than I did when I started this project. Among the awesome things in our kitchen right now are: lamb cured and smoked like bacon, white AND black truffle oils, brussels sprouts, romanesco, celery root, unagi, and many other wondrous things, and I can’t wait to cook and eat each one of them.