Sunday, March 22, 2015

Going green- Simple lunch salad.

It takes very little for one to realize that they have let themselves go. What one does with that realization, is another matter. 

Here is my 6-month journey against extra baggage accumulated unknowingly. My moment of realization was pictures of our summer trip to Disneyland posted by extended family on Facebook. I couldn't believe what I saw of myself in those pictures. I have always had body image issues; but this photo was beyond my wildest dreams. My clothes appeared to be stretched thin. My mommy-waist had definitely grown some new, and pronounced, bulging additions. Earlier that month, at my doctor’s, the scales had tipped at 12 lbs. higher than my normal weight- but I had chosen to dismiss that. The doctor had advised me to get “more active”; but I had convinced myself that “I had no time”. 

I went to Facebook and looked at that photograph every day for at least a week before making my mid-year resolution …. I started small- the goal was to lose 5 lbs before the end of the year 2014 (this was sometime in August). The means were ambitious- I was going to diet (no big deal for me…) AND Exercise (way huge of a commitment…..). The reason was not just vanity – agreed that I wanted to look better, but I also wanted to feel healthier. My kids are growing up, and are fairly independent. So " I have no time" didn't quite  cut it. Why should I not be able to steal away an hour a day for myself? I told myself (repeatedly, I must add) that I deserve that hour, that I wasn't taking away my “quality-child-time” by doing this and that the world wouldn't stop if I didn't finish all the chores on my to-do-list. 

Diet, as I said, comes more easily to me. I started with documenting everything I ate, and then cutting down a the serving sizes slightly. After a couple of weeks, I realized it wasn't taking me anywhere. That is when I got on the the exercise routine. The two together, and I lost 2 lbs. in the first month- doesn't sound like a big deal; but it was to me. After a few weeks of keeping up with my regime, I brought in a "carb-free lunching" rule. Essentially, I gave up just the roti (or rice) from my lunch, just ate the dal or vegetable and salad,. A couple more pounds of motivation later; and that evolved into a only salad lunch routine - one that I am sticking to even now.

As I made friends in my new work place, my meat-less salads evoked a lot of genuine interest. By this time, I had started mixing it up for variety. A colleague asked for me to share all the variations I did. Considering that salads are never a main meal on an Indian table, I figured, why not! So here it is: my everyday Lunch salad, with the variations I have tried so far.

Greens & Vegetables
Mixed salad greens
Lettuce (iceberg or romaine)
Steamed Broccoli
Frozen options

Green Beans
Pickles/ Jarred food
Harvard Beets
Heart of Palm
Artichoke hearts
Beans and legumes

Red Kidney beans
Black-eyed peas
Navy beans
Seeds & Nuts
Almonds (whole)
Brazil nuts
Goji berry
Flax seeds
Sesame seeds
Dress it up
Lemon juice, salt and pepper
Balsamic Vinaigrette
Olive oil
Light Italian Dressing
Raspberry Vinaigrette
Sweet & Sour dipping sauce

My two cents: 10 lbs and 13 inches later, I can look back and say I made the right decision. I am currently at my "happy weight"- the one which my body likes and maintains. To be at my "ideal weight", I have to lose another 5 lbs. And I will keep working on it. But after these 6 months, I am actually proud that not only did I make myself a healthier routine, but I also stuck with it. I realize that vegetarian salads are not as filling. But alter the protein options to suit your needs. Tofu, Paneer, other cheeses (I like feta especially go well as salads. And dress it up as you like it.

Equally important, that I stuck to the exercise routine. I think that was what brought on the most dramatic results.

So here it is for all of you who asked me what a vegetarian salad was made of! Trust me, a salad can be a meal- you just have to get used to it.