eating · food · health

Sam Tries Cauliflower Crust Pizza and Doesn’t Die

Image description: A Cadbury creme egg against a blue background. There is text which reads, “Does anyone have a recipe for these using cauliflower?”

Making things with cauliflower as a substitute for various carbs is a thing. I think I first encountered it with cauliflower rice but since then it’s spread.

It’s especially hot with those following high fat, low carb diets. It’s also often taken to extremes, see the Cadbury creme egg joke above mocking the trend. And for those reasons I’ve avoided it.

Are you like that all? When people give reasons for a thing that you don’t agree with, you ignore the thing even if there are other reasons for trying it that might speak to you? I often have that reaction to food associated with extreme diets even if they’re foods I might actually like for reasons of taste and eating more veggies.

Sometimes however ignoring a thing because others like it for reasons you don’t agree with means missing out on something good.

I came across cauliflower crust pizza in the frozen pizza section of the grocery store. On sale. So I bought two. Verdict? Yum. I liked it. My mother liked it. Would definitely buy more. But the thing is it’s still grocery store frozen pizza. There’s only so good it can taste and only so good for you it can be.

Image description: pizza box which reads “pizza your favorite vegetable.”

It didn’t taste the same as crust made with flour but it was pretty yummy. I like cauliflower. I might even try making one at home. See the great picture below.

Here’s a recipe for a vegan version.

Have you tried it? What did you think of cauliflower pizza?

Image description: a Cauliflower Crust pizza with rainbow vegetables
fitness

Sam’s audio book winner giveaway announced!

Photo from Unsplash

Drum roll please….

Ba DumTsss!

Kim Goddard and Dianne Hill.

Please send me (samanthajbrennan@gmail.com) your emails and I’ll send you a code for a free copy of our audio book.

Enjoy!

body image · fitness

A tale of two bodies, or how (clothing) fit is a feminist issue

Content warning: first two paragraphs talk about weight loss. The rest of this post does not; instead it celebrates different size bodies. Yay!

Last Wednesday I blogged about losing a few pounds due to mild pancreatitis– I was off food for several days, only taking in clear liquids, then graduating to noodle soup and rice with broth. Now I’m feeling much much better, but eating a low-fat diet for a while, as my pancreas “needs to rest” (according to several doctors). Okay. But then my sickness-induced temporary weight loss provoked an instant “yay!” from me, followed by “hmmm, maybe now I’ll actually lose (fill in the blank) much weight.”

NO. This is my continued struggle with body image and self-acceptance talking. I wrote more about it here, and a number of you responded with lovely and supportive comments and similar stories of your own. I thank you all. It is so nice to know and feel that we are all in this together. Becoming aware of the self-defeating nature of such weight-loss-aspirational talk and naming it thusly helps a lot.

But just today, I thought of another way to promote my own body acceptance.

Enter my friend Rachel. She’s a lawyer, bike racer and dear friend of mine. Say hi to Rachel.

Rachel, with newly-highlighted light brown hair, wearing a black shirt with white and yellow stars, a black pleather skirt, black tights and black boots.

It turns out that she and I both own this exact outfit. Here’s me in mine.

Catherine, with dark brown hair, wearing a black shirt with white and yellow stars, a black pleather skirt, black tights and black boots.
Catherine, with dark brown hair, wearing a black shirt with white and yellow stars, a black pleather skirt, black tights and black boots.

The back story of the twin-outfits is that we both went to a clothing party (kind of like tupperware, but with clothing instead), and we ended up buying some of the same items. Our friend Michele has the pleather skirt too, but she was unavailable for the photo shoot.

I decided it might be fun to compare our two bodies in the same outfit, different sizes. I wear a size Extra Large, and Rachel wears a size Medium. Here we are together– don’t we look cute?

I think we look even cuter here, mugging for the camera (thanks Steph for taking these photos!)

Of course we need some cheesecake shots:

Last set of shots: we posed against a wall, affecting some emotion (or trying):

Here’s why I am showing all these pictures: Rachel and I have different bodies, and the same clothing fits us in different ways. I happen to think we both look smashing in our pleather skirts and starry shirts (with obligatory black tights and boots).

Different bodies, different fit, different sizes– both cute and fun and maybe-sexy and happy and comfortable. When I’m feeling bad about my body, maybe I should remember these pictures, and maybe even go to my closet and rock that pleather skirt. Because I do rock it. As does Rachel.

fitness

TRIUMPH! Christine H’s Perseverance Pays Off.

The short version of this post is: I did it!

As of February 10, 2019, after intense practice, training and effort, I earned my 3rd dan black belt in ITF Taekwondo.

At any given time, I may doubt any of my TKD skills but I never doubt my perseverance.

If I am struggling with something, I will keep trying. I will keep exploring different ways to learn it. I will ask other people to break down how they do it. I will find a way to figure it out.

Even if I give up *for today* I don’t give up over all. Giving up for today is just me using a mental reaction force, moving backwards to add power to my next attempt.

In the last 18 months, I have had so many obstacles between me and this test and my perseverance was the only thing that kept me working at it.

That February Sunday was a long time coming.

*****

I’m nervous for TKD tests in a way that I am never nervous about anything else.

The night before my test, I wrote:

“It’s 10:55pm and i have been filled with nervous anticipation all day. It’s not that I don’t think I can do this, it’s that it is so very important to me. It feels kind of  like I am going on a trip and I have to pay attention to a lot of details and some aspects might be out of my control. I can *almost* convince myself that it’s excitement instead of nervousness.”

The author, a woman in her mid-forties with light brown shoulder length hair, is wearing glasses,  a black coat, and a white shirt. She is standing in front of a blue door and she looks nervous.
I was just a little nervous on my way out the door.

I woke up early on the morning of the test (the test at 2pm) and tried to fill my time with preparation and a little practice. I meditated and I visualized myself doing my patterns and breaking my boards.

By test time, I was both excited and nervous, there was no need to distinguish the two feelings. I tried not to overthink things* and I tried to just let my body do what it knew.

My patterns went pretty well.

I did overthink though and that caused my eyes to reflexively dart to the person next to me to ensure that I was doing the right move. Doing that makes me more nervous and I’ll be working on breaking that habit before my next test.

My individual pattern step-by-step went okay, too. Master D selected my most recent pattern (Juche). It’s a challenging one and even 6th dan black belts wince when they mention it.

Even though it’s a hard pattern, I’m glad she chose it because I knew there was no chance I would do it perfectly. Oddly, that freed me from my own expectations so, while I was still nervous, I wasn’t overthinking it as much as I would have been with an ‘easier’ pattern. (I wouldn’t be surprised if that was part of her reasoning for choosing that one.)

So, I couldn’t always pull up the name for each move right away but I worked most of them out. And I think I demonstrated a good understanding of the purpose and method of each one.

My drills and self-defense went okay and then we came to what I consider my real triumphs of this test: the board breaking.

When it comes to board breaks, I do okay with kicks that involve stepping in and I do okay with elbow or side-fist hand strikes. When the kicks or hand techniques involve choreography (i.e. multiple preparatory steps), I can get a bit tangled.

For my 1st and 2nd dan belt tests, I struggled with my spinning hook kick, my flying side kick, and my 360 back kick. We practice those in class but there is a psychological difference in kicking a pad and kicking a board and sometimes I haven’t been able to overcome that. Sometimes my kicks have been modified and sometimes I have done the right technique but at the wrong speed and just didn’t break the board.

This time, however, I did all three!

I am so very proud of myself for finally nailing those techniques. It took a lot of work and a lot of very specific practice and some personal adaptation (For example, I didn’t run up to the jump for the flying sidekick because I get my step pattern confused. So I moved slowly to the jump point and put my speed into the lift-off and kick. That meant that I couldn’t use the momentum of running to add to my power but I’ll work that in for next time.)

The author, in her white martial arts uniform, lands on a blue mat with her left foot as her right foot breaks a board held at hip height by two people in white uniforms.
This is the key point in my flying side kick, as my foot goes through the board. A second before this, I was in the air!

The only disappointing part of my test is that I didn’t break the boards for my hand technique. That technique called for me to jump up and forward and punch and break one board that is being held high and one being held about six inches below it before my feet landed back on the ground.

My punch is not my strongest technique and the practice I did was not close enough to the testing conditions, so I got distracted and didn’t apply my knowledge and skills properly. On my second attempt, I smashed my knuckles into the board and we didn’t want me to risk a serious injury.

Luckily, a failed board break is not a failed test. It happens to everyone.

I was disappointed in that one aspect but really pleased with my test overall. I had brought everything I had to it and no matter if I passed or failed at that point, I had done everything that I could.

I spoilered this at the beginning but just to say it again:  I passed and was promoted to 3rd dan.

Three people stand in a gym, there is a black banner hanging on the wall behind them that reads 'Downey's Taekwon-Do' and features a graphic of a martial artist. 

All three people are white, one man and one woman are wearing suits and they are standing on either side of a woman in a white martial arts uniform.
Here I am after my test with my instructors, Master Scott Downey and Master Cathy Downey.
A group of martial artists are posing for a photo.  A man and a woman wearing suits are seated on chairs in front and one man and four women in white martial arts uniforms are standing behind them. There is a black banner hanging on the wall behind them that reads 'Downey's Taekwon-Do' and features a graphic of a martial artist.
This is my testing group and my instructors. Master Scott Downey and Master Cathy Downey are seated in front. In the back we have (l-r) Barry Dyer (promoted to 5th dan), Joanne Collins (promoted to 6th dan), me (promoted to 3rd dan), Cathy Reid (my cousin!) (promoted to 6th dan) and Heather Zurel (promoted to 4th dan).

I borrowed this photo from facebook, I have no control over the stars.
I love a good star though!

Now, I feel a little like when Santa returns to his workshop in the movie ELF and announces what a great Christmas this was and that it is time to start preparations for next year. The elves shout for joy and get back to the work they love.

The author, a woman in her mid-forties, sits in the front passenger seat of a car. She has her brown hair back in a green bandana, she is wearing glasses and a black winter jacket, and she is smirking and looking pleased with herself.







Here I am in the car on the way home. A lot sweatier and pretty pleased with myself.

So, for the past two weeks, I have been simultaneously celebrating my successful test AND getting back to the work I love so I can prepare for my 4th dan.

I have three years to train for that test. Let’s see how much better I can get!

KIYA!

*I had limited success with this. Overthinking is a well-honed skill for me.

fitness · You Ask

You Ask, Fit Feminists Answer: What books would you recommend about getting older and standing up for oneself?

We have a thing here that we do from time to time, and that’s “you ask, fit feminists answer.” It goes like this — you ask, we answer (as best we can). In this case I’m turning to you, our wonderful community, to help answer. Please chime in!

Dear readers,

Please help a fellow reader out. She writes, “I’m having a really deep issue when it comes to strength (in all forms) and my relationships.

So firstly, short version, I’d like to request from any of you if there are books I should be reading about getting older, standing up for myself, and not hurting men’s egos? I have absolutely no skill in making these two things mutually agreeable. When I do stand up for myself, I give no flying rats about how it sounds or whom I hurt, because my strength has to be on my terms. Has anyone had this issue?

Long version, I am fairly recently divorced, having left an extremely controlling marriage where I was unable to make the most basic decisions for myself without it needing to be a “group” decision. Much of my identity formation as a woman of this generation (43), and as a mother trying to raise a strong girl who takes no b.s., is to be able to call b.s. when I see it. I am also extremely reactive to my boyfriend trying to 1. Make decisions for us, and 2. Not letting me finish my thoughts when we argue.

My fitness journey all fits into this because when I am running, stepping, or lifting, I am in the most pure take-no-b.s.-even-from-myself mode, but I can’t seem to translate this into my roles as mother/girlfriend without hurting people’s feelings.

Is there a book out there (or podcast, or guru) that deals with trying to soothe the savage bitch? I thought the way forward was to embrace her, but no one else around me wants to :(”

Looking forward to your responses.

Image description: Graffiti cat on garage door. Photo from Unsplash

fitness

Sam’s big audio book give away!


Our book Fit at Midlife: A Feminist Fitness Journey now available in audiobook format!
You can buy your copy and listen to sample here.
Tracy and Sam Photo by Ruthless Images

But you can also win a copy! I have three access codes to give away to three winning readers of this blog.

What do you have to do to be eligible?

You can help us publicize the new version of the book. Please like/share and comment on this post either here or on our Facebook page between now and Monday 9 am EST. I’ll draw three names and let the winners know.
femalestrength · fit at mid-life · fitness · Martha's Musings · motivation · training · weight lifting

Fostering resilience through fitness

By MarthaFitat55

jenelle-hayes-4397-unsplash
Image shows a small fire surrounded by stones in the woods. In the background, a person wearing jeans and a plaid shirt holds a small branch. Photo by Jenelle Hayes on Unsplash

Every day I find myself using something I learned in my almost ten years with the Guiding movement.

While I might not ever go camping in the woods again by choice, should I land there, I know how to build shelter and fire and how to find water. I use my map reading and orienteering skills when I travel; I am conscious of my footprint on the earth and what I need to do to take care of it.

With my Brownie pack and my Girl Guide company, I learned to be part of a team, to solve problems jointly, and to respect others and their gifts. I learned to set goals, to acquire new skills, and to cultivate resilience and strength in myself and others.

I am grateful to the fabulous women who gave their time to support us girls in growing up to become competent, committed, and engaged members of our society.

Today is Thinking Day and I am reminded of what a great space for girls and young women the Guiding world is to learn some practical skills. And this reminds me that I have found or built other spaces where I can continue to grow and develop.

Like the gym. Not the gym of my childhood though. That place was fraught with stress and fear, the kind that is negative and immobilizing. While I know my gym of today can sometimes cause me stress (hello, wonky hip) and a little fear (goodbye Jacob’s ladder), it’s the good kind of stress and fear.

Photo by Meghan Holmes on Unsplash
Image shows a gym with green carpet and grey tile. In the background, a person moves ropes while another does pushups. Photo by Meghan Holmes on Unsplash

The gym is a place for me where I can build the skills that will make me strong, and I hope, keep me that way for a very long time.

The gym is a place where I can push myself to try new things. And it’s a place, when things don’t work, I can try again, or figure out a way to do it differently.

The gym is a place where I learn how marvelous our bodies are: for the things they do naturally and the things they don’t and the things we may need to re-learn how to do all over again.

For me, the gym has become a place of opportunity and a place where I value physical strength, in the same way being in Guides developed and supported others kinds of strength.

How about you? What does the gym mean to you (if you go to one)? What are the other places where you grow and support resilience and strength through fitness?

MarthaFitat55 is a writer lifting all the things, physical and mental.