May 31, 2011

Fat Free Cream Cheese Creeps Me Out!

Just like every other female in America, I set out at the beginning of 2011 with the resolution to lose weight. Okay, so maybe not in that obsessive hydroxycut, Special K diet, join Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem sort of way. I think the conversation in my head went something like this. "Hey, it's a new year. Maybe my resolution should be to eat better, what if you gave up sugar, for a whole year! It can't be that hard. You could totally do it...ooh Yogurtland. Yah I'm gunna need some of that. Screw no sugar, that's just evil, I do what I want!"

When it comes to diets I am almost whole-heartedly opposed. Of course I believe in eating well, eating fresh fruits and veggies, keeping fried foods to a minimum, blah blah blah. I just don't believe eating cereal two times a day for two weeks will give me lasting results in the waistline category. I was making toast today *gasp* "aren't carbs supposed to be off limits when trying to lose weight??" when I decided to put a small amount of butter and jam on my toast. Probably no more than one teaspoon of each, and I got to thinking. I recently watched the movie Food Inc which has inspired me to be more conscious of where the food I buy is coming from but also to be aware of what my food is made of.

In this diet-crazed world it seems that every product at the grocery store has a "light" version. Fat-Free cream cheese, Sugar-Free fruit juice, butter substitutes, and Non-Fat chocolate pudding. Although I am all for watching our weight and keeping an overall low fat and sugar diet, when does consuming all the chemicals to make such products as sugar-free Hershey bars become more of a hindrance to our bodies than if we just ate the full fat alternative made of ingredients we can actually pronounce? Not to mention who wants to eat sugar free Hersheys? It tastes like cardboard! I am guilty of using non-calorie sweeteners such as Splenda or Equal in my coffee. But that's mostly because I like LOTS of sugar in my coffee and if I used the real stuff it would probably be enough to bake a small cookie or keep a toddler bouncing off the walls for a minimum of 2 hours.

I digress. The question I guess I am posing is this; if used in moderation, is putting one teaspoon of real, organic butter on my toast really worse for me than the "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" Spray that boasts only 20 calories per 25 sprays, made of who knows what? I am in no way advocating always using butter, or whole milk (ew!) but rather asking where is the right place to draw the line with all these chemicals. At least with real fats, like the ones found in that damn almond butter I love so much, my body can recognize what it is digesting. The fats from nuts are found naturally in the environment unlike ingredients such as Carrageenan, Potassium Sorbate, and Calcium Propionate all found in Fat Free cream cheese. I recently bought "light" cranberry juice thinking I was being smart in avoiding some of the sugar and calories but I almost immediately regretted the decision. First of all, it tasted like hyper-sweet cough syrup, and secondly because every time I drank it I got a stomach ache. Something in this hybrid juice really didn't get along with my tummy.

So which is the lesser of the two evils? Does having a diet reliant on diet-versions of my favorite foods really help me lose weight? Or can we learn to moderate ourselves. Let's be honest, if I am going to eat a cookie I'd rather it be made from scratch and just deal with the fact that I am choosing to consume some extra calories. Not to mention baked goods made with things like Splenda and margarine really freak me out. Am I right? Am I right?

May 10, 2011

Early Mornings

Good morning early risers!

It is a beautiful day in Los Angeles and in rare fashion I am wide awake and enjoying the morning calm. While living and working in San Diego I often found myself up extremely early (like, before the sun comes up early) which is no easy task, but not always entirely unpleasant. With the exception of the few days I woke up with massive headaches from one too many glasses of wine the night before...but that's a story for another time.
While waking up at the ungodly hours I was never able to really relax and enjoy the morning. As soon as I was able to peel myself out from under the covers it was into the shower and onto my morning routine of vocal warmups (sorry neighbors) and lots of coffee. Generally by 7am we were in the van on our way to which ever school was our destination of the day. And by the time our performances for the day were done it was afternoon. The mornings seemed to fly by without notice while we unloaded our set in an array of locations which by the third week all seemed to blur together.

My reason for being up this morning is a temporary gig as nanny/driver for a family while the mother recovers from surgery. Gotta love that day job eh? Hi, my name is Cami. I'm a professional dancer slash performer slash nanny. Yikes. Lets hope I can drop that last title soon and replace it with something a little more awesome like broadway diva, or rising star, or superhero... I went too far again didn't I? Anyhoozles, I figured after my long two-audition day yesterday that getting up and staying up after dropping the kids would be torture. But I guess the sunshine and fresh air is luring me to stay awake and present for this morning. Or maybe it's the two cups of coffee I drank. My money's on the rays of sunlight pouring into my room. It feels like a frickin Disney movie in here I swear, all I need is some singing birds to come help with my dishes. Wouldn't that be nice.

All in all, real life is progressing as always. I had the pleasure of spending the weekend with my mom to celebrate mother's day and we had all kinds of wonderful chats. Exchanging new discoveries each of us is making on this never ending journey. The constant changes, ebbing and flowing through anything life throws at us even when we think it's all too much. I admire my mom a lot more than I probably let her know, but I gotta brag a bit and say she is one fantastic lady. To think she is still reinventing herself after two kids and a whole lotta living is inspiring. Just reminds me that life is really not about reaching a destination. We often think "once I have this I'll really be happy" or "After I reach this point in my career, work with this person, make this movie I'll be set" But that's just the thing, those sort of destinations, and clean cut milestones don't really exist. Except maybe in retrospect when we can look back and say, "ah yes, that's when I really started believing in myself as an actress" or "That's when I realized this relationship wasn't going to work" that "this school really was the right choice for me". But we can never make these realizations when we are in the middle of it, trudging through the mud of whatever today brings us because we are too busy learning and experiencing to notice or care.

Now I can look back on my time at school and pinpoint so many personal shifts within me. But at the time, I was just living. Going parties and classes, trying to survive 8am Tai Chi, and rehearsal every night. I'll be interested to see how the rest of this year plays out as I become more and more of a "real person". I'm sure it will continue to be a wild and bumpy ride!

May 3, 2011

Happy May

I am taking some time on this delicious day to write to you in the vain of a recent blog post. Here though, I have traded in the crowded Coffee Bean full of awkward first dates for a more serene, outdoor patio at my neighborhood favorite Coral Tree Cafe. Instead of hearing the sounds of stunted date conversations, blenders grinding out frothy coffee treats, and overplayed top 20 radio hits I am surrounded by a sound scape of world music, little chatter, and surprisingly no car horns! Maybe I just jinxed myself, we’ll see if that holds true through the end of this post.

In my first hour of time here I was sharing the patio with only two other women  who seemed to be writing something together. One had out a laptop, the other an ipad, and they were spitting out phrases like “what stanza was that?” “Do you think we’ve left her alone for too long?” “No, the last time we heard from Jenny she was 36, so she can’t be in this part.” Very interesting stuff indeed. I began fantasizing about them needing a young actress to give life to their characters, choosing the cute girl on the patio who eventually stars in their hit movie, wins an Oscar and takes the world by storm...Too far? Too soon? Eh, a girl can dream can’t she?

Most other people at the cafe this gorgeous afternoon are glued to laptops with earbuds in apparently studying or researching for something. As I walked through the seating area I saw many a word document open, sitting idly while the writer searched through pages of notes and textbooks. Ahhh the joys of school. Reinforces for me how happy I am to be done studying for tests I could care less about. Yes I am talking to you Native American Studies, Air Pollution, and Linguistics, don’t act like I forgot how much your exams made me want to kill myself. This past week I had the immense pleasure of seeing so many of my friends and peers in UCLA’s production of Rent. The show was truly wonderful and I couldn’t help but feel like a proud mama seeing all the younger TFT Bruins coming into their own as actors and performers. Especially those who I’ve known since they were itty bitty freshman. Walking away from the show I was struck for the first time by nostalgia for my time in school. It was the first time in the last year since I’ve been graduated (yes, it’s been almost a year, yikes!) that I missed being in school. The camaraderie, being in shows with ALL of your closest friends, working on seven thousand projects, scenes, shows, etc at once, working yourself to the bone just to finish all your theater and GE homework, avoiding getting sick like it’s the plague even though you know your roommate’s already caught the cold and it’s only a matter of time until you start hacking up a lung in voice and speech class...wait come to think of it, maybe I don’t miss that crazy grind.

In all seriousness though, it was such an amazing experience. One that could never be duplicated and will most likely never be matched in my lifetime. Sure I missed it, but when push comes to shove I love my new quasi-adult life I’m living. (I don’t think I’m allowed to call myself a grown up until I stop sleeping with my stuffed pig --What? Another over-share? Damnit.) It’s fun, tiring, silly, and completely unpredictable. What’s next life? I can only guess.

Here we go, Happy May everyone!