Month: January 2011

Facts About Quinoa

With trying to eat healthier, we are trying to broaden our diet. One thing we tried recently was quinoa (pronounced, at least by us, sorta as KEEN-wa). It’s a type of grain, which is good to expand into since nearly every grain we eat is wheat. Wheat is great and all, but it’s not the only grain in town.

Diana tried a black bean/salsa/quinoa recipe that even all of the kids loved, and we’ll definitely be adding it into the rotation to have again soon. Great stuff!

A few quick facts about quinoa for those who haven’t heard of it:

  • It is very high in proteins.
  • In fact, with soy, it is one of the only complete proteins among plants (i.e. it has all of the essential amino acids our body can’t make), and is therefore great for vegetarians. Otherwise vegetarians need to combine, say rice and beans, in order to get complete protein.
  • Also high in fiber, magnesium, and iron.
  • It is easy to prepare. You can cook it just like rice, for example.
  • Easy to digest and, according to Wikipedia, NASA is even considering it for long duration missions.
  • When your cat chews open a bag in the middle of the night, it makes a mess that you would not believe. The grains are so small that it is impossible for any broom known to get them all. Plus, being so small they don’t even stick to bare feet, but sort of embed into your skin and need to be picked out.
  • Quinoa originates from South America.

3 of these facts, I learned recently from our weight loss class. 3 more I learned from Wikipedia. And one I had the joy of learning this morning. Any one guess which?


The Start of Teaching

Three weeks down and I can finally get around to taking stock of how it has been. Technically, I started taking stock last week, but this week I can finally get around to writing about it. 😉

A lot of my focus has obviously been the class I am teaching on my own up at Alma. However, I need to watch out and maintain a balance with the class I am assisting with here at MSU. It’s all too easy to shift my attention too much in one direction.

With the Alma course, two things surprised me the most right from the start. Number 1 – planning a course is a heck of a lot of work!! I mean A LOT. I knew going in that it would take quite a bit of effort, but it is one of those areas that the deeper you go, the more you realize really needs to be done. I definitely understand why some professors like to teach the same class again, because a lot of the prep work is already done.

Second thing to surprise me was my comfort. The first day I was in a panic about having to fill 90 minutes twice a week and having a clue what I was doing. So far, however, I have regularly been either covering my material within a few minutes of the end of class, or having a couple small bits left when time runs out. My plans have been fitting with the timing just fine.

Now, I’m certainly not an awesome teacher by any stretch of the imagination, but I was worried I would be starting off much worse. Thankfully, right from the start I’m comfortable enough not to freak out (but worried enough not to coast), and am actually able to start “meta-thinking” during and between classes. In other words, not just trying to teach the material, but looking at my teaching itself and how to do it better. Am I addressing all of the students? Am I holding interest? Are there better ways to present this material? etc. I figured I wouldn’t be able to reflect on my teaching (especially while teaching) until later on. Since I can do it from the start, hopefully I can improve things quickly and make the class worthwhile.

One fun story is from when Samantha gave me some teaching advice. I mentioned after one class that I asked the students about the first article they were supposed to read, and a lot of people chimed in with comments. But when I asked about the second and third… crickets chirped. So it felt like they mostly read the first article and skipped the rest. Samantha suggested that maybe I should give them planners so that they can track their reading and make sure they do it all.

Her other piece of advice was not to turn around and look at the board too much. “That’s when they pass notes,” she said. I told her that I hope she doesn’t know that from personal experience, but I would certainly keep it in mind. Now when next I teach, I will try to add in amongst the other tips I try to keep track of to make sure not to turn my back too much so they can pass notes. If nothing else, I’ll think of her teaching advice and then I won’t need to remember the tip to keep smiling.

Weight Loss – Not with a Bang but with a Whoops!

Final weigh in!! And the results are…

Gained a pound. Whoops!

Ah well, 11 straight weeks of loss, I was bound to screw up at some point. 🙂 But it was a combination of no longer walking to work now that I’m teaching (some of my old co-workers joked about how it would be quite a walk to work teaching in Alma!), and overeating at a couple meals. I knew I was over-doing it, and now I can see what happened.

But I’m not distraught or anything. I knew I goofed, and it showed. I’ve never really beat myself up over eating, and considering how much I lost, I won’t start now! Besides, with Diana’s loss (she lost a pound – I figured she gave it to me, she’s so kind), we are tied for overall weight loss on the program!

Although, I hesitate to say that the program is over. Technically, we still have our Maintenance Prep tomorrow morning, 2 classes to make up, and then we plan on going to classes for maintenance (they recommend 26 out of the next year to earn “lifetime membership” to their facility). But it was our last weigh-in, so it definitely feels like a big transition.

I feel better than I have felt in years. I keep wanting to slip into eating some junk or over-eating when we have something really yummy, but I’m better about going easy on it. (Maybe we need to have fewer meals that taste good!) I’m still amazed at my blood pressure, which is a nice clear number to track, going from “talking about medication” to “spot-on normal”. Also, final week blood work came back with everything in the normal range.

So, it was definitely worth it, but it is only the beginning. The program didn’t get us totally healthy, but it jump started us in that direction, and that is probably better in the long run. If we can only lose weight while in the program, that doesn’t bode well. We need to be able to continue our weight loss (and more importantly overall healthy improvement) while outside of the program, in our everyday decisions. That’s one of the reasons I never got into journaling (the other reason being because I’m too lazy). I know myself enough, and have had enough past experience to know that journaling does help me to not overeat, but I never keep it up. I need to be able to eat healthier as a habit, not by doing daily math. Hopefully, I’m well on that track now.

Either way, I know I wouldn’t be able to survive the hectic semester without feeling as good as I do, so the immediate benefit has been nice. I can also walk up the 2.5 flights of stairs to 3rd floor of the Academic Center where my office is in Alma without getting winded. It’s the little things that are subtly better, but add up to a great difference.

From here on, I’ll keep updating the weight page – maybe weekly, at least monthly. Plus if anything health-wise pops into my head to discuss, I probably will. Heck, food is a whole lot more complex if you try to eat healthy rather than “off-the-shelf American”. But thanks for listening in through the major first step!