Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Staying in shape

I walk (BRISKLY!!) with several women, ideally twice a week, in an attempt to stay in shape.

We talk as we walk (hold your snotty comments here please), which makes the exercise more aerobic, at least for one of us at a time.

One of my friends in this group eventually busted me for my strategy of consistently asking her a leading question just as we'd approach the one really steep hill on our route.

This generally saved me having to try to hill climb and talk simultaneously. I've discovered I can make interested noises and/or appreciative faces without requiring any extra aerobic effort. As the elder stateswoman of the bunch, I figured I was due the free pass on that one hill, anyway.

"Stay in shape" is one of those mindless phrases we throw around. We ARE already some shape or another. When I say "stay in shape", I mean, stay in "good shape".

What is a "good" shape for me varies according to a complex equation. I will not reveal the entire algorithm but it involves factors including if I am having a good hair day, my decade of life, the barometic pressure, relative wind velocity, heat index, and the precise phase of the moon. There are other variables including whatever has been my most recent grocery store experience.

You know the scenario. The checker fails to stifle a snicker when the wine rings up triggering the computer prompt on the screen to "check for ID if customer appears under 30". This might be followed by some earnest baby faced sacker all but taking my arm and calling me "ma'am" while being a bit too assertive about offering me "help" to my car.*******sigh*******

So yes, just like everybody else, I am already in shape.

Pear shape.

Which is why I walk. I really don't mess around with weighing in, or tracking my percentage of body fat. I had an unfortunate run-in with the Atkins diet years ago, a regime that doesn't mesh so well with obsessive types like me. I got slender, yes, TOO thin. I lost all the body fat that distinguished me from an 11 year old version of myself. It is not weight or fat distribution I concern myself with, as long as the resulting SHAPE is pleasing.

Personally I am still holding out hope I can grow 2-3 inches taller in order to give my current weight a slightly more stretched shape. And yes, I am aware, all trends point towards us all getting shorter as we age, but I can at least try to stay as tall as I (think I) am. Exercise helps. Which brings us back to walking.

The women who walk with me have all heard me express remorse at the unfortunate inverse relationship between my declining metabolic rate, increased access to better ingredients, and the time to prepare them deliciously.

By way of saying, when I could "eat anything I wanted" and not gain weight? Most of what I could afford was junk food. Now that I've hit the stage of life where I can periodically splurge on fine ingredients and wine? Every calorie I consume seems to want to reappear around my midsection within seconds of swallowing.

As I was explaining to my fellow walkers, part of that is also due to my unfortunate tendency to offset time spent walking with hours lost to the internet.

Day before yesterday, for example, besides getting caught up in taxonomic subtleties trying to identify a snake I snapped photos of in our back yard Sunday, (Texas patch nosed snake, salvadora grahamiae, thanks for wondering), I also ran across a blog on the New York Times lauding Tyra Banks for making ANTM a "no smoking" show.

For the uninitiated, ANTM is "America's Next Top Model", one of several "reality" shows I readily admit a fascination with. The blog noted that a lot of young women watch the series so featuring shots of the models smoking unfortunately glamorized the habit to a vulnerable group. Comments posted in response raised the question of whether or not smoking was more a risk than eating disorders.

The models are in shape too, you see. Plank shape. They are not much more than a pout on legs. Long, thin legs.

I'll leave the rest of the debate to Moms of middle school aged daughters as to which is worse - the lurking threat of eating disorders or smoking. They are both real problems and to focus on one to the exclusion of the other makes no sense to me. But other people's blogs...whatcha gonna do?

I also used my time on the internet to seek out several recipes to prepare the two ahi tuna steaks we had defrosting. I wanted to find a more healthful way than our original (delicious) plan of grilling them topped with toasted macadamia nuts and lime beurre blanc sauce.

I ended up combining the best elements of three recipes. I let the steaks shake off the refrigerator's chills under a coating of olive oil, lemon zest, peppercorns, and finished them with a little lemon juice/tamari wash. The ahi was then pan seared for about a minute on either side, and served on a little bed of chopped toasted almonds.

Bottom line was a delicious presentation done in a much healthier style. Fewer calories, happy palates.

I paired the seared ahi with a delightful Pinot Gris - a 2005 Concannon Limited Release. Grocery store wine, nothing hard to find or expensive, but just right for a nice Friday dinner at home. According to their labeling they ferment using "Burgundian" techniques which I am presuming involves oak barrels, yeast introduction and some stirring. Whatever they are doing, it worked beautifully with the food, supporting without overwhelming the flavors of our dinner.

Now- back to shapes. The pan seared tuna was just one attempt of many to stave off the gradual shift towards pear shapedness for me and my husband. Although the heaviness in the midsection may be inevitable, I do have one more strategic weapon in my arsenal which I freely share here with you.

The ultimate defense against the battle of the bulge?

E-l-a-s-t-i-c waists

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