Monday, January 30, 2012

Week 4 Scorecard

One month down. This week presented different challenges than the previous ones -- not necessarily bad ones -- so I think I'll score it a little differently...

Tracked food - yes, and started again doing both WW and Sparkpeople. Time consuming! But I was hungry quite a few times, and figured out that my calories on WW were hitting below 1000 -- no freaking wonder I was hungry! This is when I get frustrated by points - and probably why I've given up so many times before.

Exercise -- four times. Twice running outside (2.45 miles, and 2.81 miles) and twice on elliptical (45 and 40 minutes, doing rolling hills). Added better stretching to all of those.

Planned food -- yes! And it worked out great when we had unexpected company one night and I just made a little more of what I was already cooking. Of course, I did make a ridiculously good bread, but I didn't eat very much of it.

The unexpected - we went out to hear a friend's band play on Friday night. Didn't eat, did have a glass of wine. Went out to eat for lunch on Saturday, had fish instead of enchiladas. Based on points, never came close to exceeding what I should have eaten. Wanted the entire bowl of chips, but resisted.

I really, really wanted to hit 10 pounds down in the month. And on Friday, I was close for about 3 minutes. That's the problem with weighing most mornings but only recording it on Mondays - you see all kinds of numbers. Anyway, drumroll please...

Minus 1.4! Total so far = 8.5

So after a month, I'm making a few revisions. I'm going to use Sparkpeople for the next several weeks, in addition to WW, because I really think I need to begin the switch to calorie watching instead of points. There are just some artificial "penalties" I think with WW. Foods that I know are good/better choices still cost too much - quinoa, for instance, is basically the same point cost as pasta, when it is a significantly better nutritional choice from an overall perspective. But it also means those handfuls of berries have to be tracked, so I might regret it.

On to Week 5!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Randomness.

I've got three posts started and none ready to go. My brain is overloaded at the moment. Gotta put all that somewhere...

I made this on Thursday:
Bloomin' Onion Bread
Bread. Cheese. Onions. Butter. I did not eat it. Well, I only ate a little corner of it and there was hardly any cheese on that piece. Yay, me. I guess. There's still some on the counter. It's currently whispering "you know you want to" from the other room.



Last night we went out. [I'll wait while those of you who know me pick yourself up off the floor.]... Yes, we got out of the house voluntarily and went to see a friend's band in their inaugural public performance. They were really good! I also had my first glass of wine this year. One and only one glass - a very nice Merlot, which was a little surprising considering this was "Moose Bar & Grill" out in the middle of Nowhere, TX. (or Lewisville. Same thing.)


This morning we went to a memorial service for a dear friend's father. My heart just breaks for her and the family. I so clearly remember that same time in my life and wish for her comfort and peace. Her father was an excellent musician, and they had the service in a church with a huge pipe organ. The organist played some of his favorite pieces and one of our other friends sang The Lord's Prayer. Chills and tears. [Non sequitur: The vocalist was also in the band last night. We both kinda grinned about that. He was great both times.]


Here are the blog posts I'm working on now: Cheese, Glorious Cheese; Haystacks recipe; Homemade banana/chocolate/PB2 ice cream; Look at the fat girl run...And whatever else I come up with...



Whew. I needed to get all that out of my head. Now I need a nap. OH, and I'm rearranging my bathroom cabinets today. The party never stops.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Go here. Quickly.

You need to go here.
In Fort Worth, it's in the Stockyards. They are also online, but you miss the smelling part. So find a store and go.

Here's why. They have this:
Rows and rows of jars filled with EVERY possible herb and spice you could ever need, and several you may never have heard of. You can take off the lids and sniff until your nose can't take it any more.

They also have this:

The table in front is hard to pass up -- little crocks on top to hold your favorite spices, with adorable sterling silver spoons. I have the small white one on the right. But look behind the table: BLENDS. Very smart, very spice-knowledgeable people have done the hard work. They've created amazing blends of spices for everything from steak to fish to vegetables and lined them all up.

You can fill little packets and take your favorite spices home to be your very own. Here are some of my favorites.

Seafood Blackening, Salmon Tea Rub,
Backwoods Hickory, Southwest Seasoning,
California Blend, Vik's Garlic Fix

The best part is that the blends make seasoning foods basically foolproof. Find a scent/flavor you like, and it's a pretty good bet you'll like the taste on your food. And notice the labels; they have hints for what the spice will work well on. That Garlic Fix? I used it on the potato chips I made here. The label recommends it for shrimp scampi - mix it with the melted butter. Yum.

But here's the real reason I have to make trips to this store:

I buy so much of this stuff I had to get a jar. Smoked sea salt is absolutely my go-to spice for everything - salmon, chicken, steak, veggies. It works on everything. The thing about smoked salt is it adds a lot of flavor without a lot of sodium - sounds like a contradiction, but it just works. These two, applewood and alderwood smoked, have a wonderful taste that will add to but not overpower whatever I put it on. I also have a chardonnay salt that is great for topping chocolate! I think that's a different post.

Anyway, if you've wanted to try spicing up your food differently, this is a great place to start. The people there are extremely helpful. Wander by there if you're in the Stockyards!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Week 3 Scorecard.



This was a bit of an odd week. I cooked some new stuff, and I tracked calories as well as WW points. I was hungrier on several days than I have been.

Goal: Track food - stayed in points and in calories. Was a little low on protein some days, low on carbs others. Probably had something to do with feeling hungry.

Goal: Workout 4-5 times -- only got three in. They were good ones -- a 2.5 and a 2 mile walk/jog outside, 45 min/4.3 miles on elliptical. It's time to start adding weight training here.

Goal: Plan meals -- did this kind of last minute a few times, and depended on salads a little too much.

Result: -1.6 pounds! Total 7.1 down

I have planned this week's dinner menu, and found some great side dishes I want to try. Roasting vegetables has become my new favorite thing.

Monday: Lasagna rollups with salad
Tuesday: Crock pot chicken chowder
Wednesday: leftovers :-)
Thursday: Smoked pork loin with roasted vegetables
Friday: Grilled chicken, assuming the weather cooperates, with roasted red potatoes
Saturday: Herbed lentil and bulgar salad

The end of this week is basically a month. I really want to hit 10 pounds down, or pretty close to it, so it'll take a lot of work. Wish me luck.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Determining motivation.

from tumblr.com

I read a great post this week - so great I wish I'd written it. The author lost about 125 pounds over a period of 16 months or so and has kept an awesome online record of her journey. It was really interesting to me that I just found her site but I'm already doing several things she mentions worked for her. The post that has had me thinking was specifically about motivation versus determination. Here's the whole post.

Here's what I've come up with based on that post, my own opinion, and doing a little other research. Basically, I think motivation is what we often call "will power" -- and many times it's what we depend on when we're trying to do (or not do) something. I may look for the motivation to work out, to plan my meals, to order the right thing off the menu. The motivation may be a smaller size, a pending weigh-in, or an event. The problem is when the motivation for doing the right thing isn't stronger than the motivation for the other thing. Notice I didn't say for the "wrong" thing -- this isn't always a right/wrong situation. Ordering what you want from a menu, for instance, isn't wrong; it's a choice, and it will have consequences. For me, the actual workout itself is very seldom a strong enough reason to get out of bed or off the couch.

Determination, however, is a different thing to me. Determination doesn't depend on motivation. It is present at a much deeper level and is less concerned with what I "feel" like doing. I may not be motivated to get on the elliptical, but if I am determined to lose weight/get fit, I will do it anyway, regardless of what I feel like or want to do instead.

I'm only three weeks into this "new year, new determination" and it's very scary to write out that I'm determined. There are so many times when my mouth really wants something I should pass on, and I've missed workouts. How can I be sure that whatever I'm choosing to do this time around is going to be enough to work? Why don't I keep my big mouth shut, so that if I suddenly fall off the health wagon, no one will notice?

Because I've got to have enough faith in myself this time to put this on "paper" and not be afraid that a year from now I'll be disappointed. I know what to do, I know how to do it. I know how important this is and I know that I want it.

What about you? Does any of this make sense? Am I making this more complicated than it really is?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Smoothies are my life, apparently.

Third smoothie entry of the week -- how long am I going to keep this up?

Today's is a variation on my go-to smoothie, made primarily with fruit. I started with the same basic base of yogurt and fruit, but tweaked it a little.

I had honey Greek yogurt on hand, so I used that instead of the usual fruit-flavored regular yogurt. Honey yogurt isn't as sweet to start with, but that works for me.  Because Greek yogurt is thicker, I also added a splash of milk, to enable the blender to mix it up.


I used frozen berries and banana, and my usual cutie. It took a while to blend. Thicker yogurt means it doesn't get down to the blade as easily, so I did quite a bit of stirring and shaking to get it all together. Once that was done, I added 1/4 cup of quick oats -- not the flavored kind, and just the oats, not actual oatmeal. It added some texture and a little fiber.

Overall, I liked it. It was tart - the bananas were the sweetest thing in the mix, so if you prefer your smoothies sweet, add a little sugar or Splenda as needed. I'm not sure I'd always add the oats, but it definitely didn't lower my enjoyment factor.

Calories = 350ish (the oats added 75 calories, so only use them if you really like them!)
5 WW points

Follow up to yesterday's smoothie recipe: The protein hit from the PB2 made that smoothie last a full 3 hours before I was hungry again! Nice.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Smoothie week, part 2

You have a front row seat to a smoothie experiment. I already showed my current favorite smoothie here. Today I branched out. The cast of characters:

A cup of 1% milk, about 1 1/2 frozen bananas, 1 tbsp instant jello pudding mix (if you have protein powder you like, use that - I didn't), and 2 tbsp PB2. Have you discovered PB2 yet? I'll have to do a whole post on it sometime, but basically it's powdered peanut butter! You mix it with almost anything to reconstitute it -- honey, syrup, milk, oatmeal, or just blend it like I'm about to do. It has 45 calories for 2 tbsp, compared to 190 in regular PB. Anyway, this is my first smoothie with it, so let's see what happens.

Once all that was in the blender, I added about 6 ice cubes. I like my smoothies really slushy, so that plus the frozen bananas should give it a good consistency. Add more or less to suit your preference. Okay, here we go....

......blending.....
......shaking......
......tasting.....

YUM. Peanut buttery, banana-y, creamy. I'll definitely be making this one again.

Running the numbers: This one is higher than the pure fruit-based one from earlier. Looks something like this:
1% milk = 110 calories (3WW pts)
Pudding mix = 50 calories (1WW pt) - protein powder would change this
Banana = 125 calories (0WW pt)
PB2 = 45 calories (1WW pt)
Total = 330 calories (5WW pts)

There are so many variations - yogurt (banana!) instead of milk, real PB instead of the powdered....I'll be interested to see how this one compares to my usual mix in how long before I'm hungry again. It's got a higher protein hit, so maybe it will last, and offset the higher calorie/point count.

Try it! Let me know what variations you come up with.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It's smoothie week!

I got a new toy.
This is an Oster My Blend - personal blender. It's perfect for smoothies. So I hereby declare it smoothie week!

I'm not a big Jamba Juice or Smoothie King person. Usually those are too big or too sweet for me, and quite honestly, cost more than I'm willing to spend. I also don't use mixes. Here's my personal favorite blend for a breakfast smoothie. It holds hunger at bay for a couple of hours if I have one in the morning.

All of my smoothies start with yogurt. I don't care what flavor, because I'm going to add lots of fruit anyway. This one happens to be peach. I do recommend at least a 6 oz container. If you have the small 4 oz ones, you might want to add a little milk to make sure it has enough liquid.

I try to keep frozen bananas all the time. I've always got a few about to turn, so I peel them and stick them in a ziploc in the freezer. They are great for this (as well as for other recipes). The berries here are a mix of frozen and fresh. I use somewhere around a cup of berries.

What may be unusual for some is the "cutie" - I love the citrus! And we all know I love cuties! And finally, fresh spinach. I swear you can't taste it, and it really does add nutrients I need. Throw in a handful without the stems.

I'm still experimenting with the best way to put the ingredients in this particular blender, but this seems to work. Yogurt goes in first, so that it adds the moisture as it runs down to the bottom. If the berries are completely frozen, I'll need to shake it a few times during blending to get everything down to the blade. I put the cutie in last, again to add moisture where the blade is. Screw on top, flip it upside down to put it on the base, and blend away!

Neat feature of this blender is the travel cap. Just remove the blade and replace with the flip top lid and drink straight from the same container.

The $30 base model just has one bottle, but you can get extras on Amazon for about $12. Once we've had it a while and continue to use it, I could see us having one each, and everyone makes exactly the smoothie he/she wants.

If I was a big-time blogger, this would be the point where I announce a contest to give one of these away, but alas, not gonna happen ... yet. :-) I have enjoyed it for the last few days though, so if you've been in the market, take this input for what it's worth.

More smoothie recipes to come! BTW, the WW point total for the above recipe is TWO POINTS! That's it! Calories are around 250.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Food review: Kellogg's Fiber Plus

I love me some cereal. Always have. Whether it's the traditional way in milk, or by the handful, or mixed with yogurt, I love it. And I tend to stick with a particular kind/flavor until I find something I like as much or better. Here's my current something better.

This was mentioned in "Eat This, Not That" and it looked interesting. I was almost out of my current fave, Special K vanilla almond, so I grabbed a box. Oh my. There are little yogurt covered granola thingies, and berries, and the flakes are crunchy. I don't usually like the dried-ish fruit in cereals, but this smells and tastes great. Here's the best part:
You get an entire CUP for the nutrition values shown here. In WW world, it's 4 points for the entire cup. With a cup of 1% milk, that's 7 points. When I use yogurt (2-3 points), I only use 1/2 cup of cereal, so 4-5 points. For calories, it's very filling. It gets a good rating from the "ET,NT" people in part because of the the fiber hit.

If you're a cereal person, give it a try. Hubs and I very seldom agree on cereal, and he even likes this one!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Week 2 Scorecard

Wow, this was one of those non-standard weeks that makes it easy to remember how hard a routine can be. We had stuff going on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights, and then decided to redo the flooring in my office on Sunday. Nothing like that to throw off a workout or eating plan. Anyway...

Goal: Track all food - done 7 days. Stayed in points. Made a couple of new recipes.

Goal: Work out -- Monday 50 minutes, Wednesday 30 minutes, Friday 30 minutes, Saturday 60 minutes, Sunday was flooring day so lots of movement but not formal

Goal: Plan menu -- totally blew this one this week. I didn't eat out, but there was a lot of last-minute scrambling, especially for dinner. This is when not being home in the evenings makes me crazy.

Goal: Blog daily - not even close. Four entries total, one was pretty long. Interesting to see how that keeps up. I have lots of ideas for upcoming stuff, though!

Result: minus 2.5 pounds! [total so far = 5.5 lbs]

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Running the numbers.

I am not a nutritionist. I am not a dietitian. I am just someone who's been overweight to varying degrees most of her life, who has tried most types of eating plans, and who continues to try to get to a healthy weight. At the moment, tracking my food on Weight Watchers tells me I get somewhere around 1000 and 1200 calories a day. What does that look like in food?

A few notes first:
  • I don't drink soft drinks. I used to drink Diet Coke, but I've cut that out, too. I drink water, and I have two mugs (which equates to 4 cups) of coffee in the morning, before 11am. I've added a cup of green tea most afternoons, with one packet of splenda and some lemon. Basically, my liquid is water, since I've eliminated wine from the menu for the foreseeable future. (*sob) I measure out my half-gallon of water every morning and refill my water bottle from that.
  • If you're familiar with WW points, there's a bank of points for the week to be used for splurges. I try to avoid that bank at all costs. I will tap my activity points during the week, but I try not to deplete those either.
  • I tend to want salt more than sugar. That means my weakness is chips over chocolate.
  • I have to force myself to eat breakfast. It's just not when I'm hungry, but I know it's important. I don't usually eat until around 9:30am.
  • I work from home. That means making an actual lunch is an option. Snacking through the day can be a blessing or a curse, depending on what's in the house.
All this is to say that the following notes on using daily calories work for me, and may give you ideas. But it's really important to know what will satisfy you, or you'll just spend your day obsessing about what you can't have, instead of finding appropriate ways to use the calories/points you have.

Anyway, assume you're spending about 1200 calories a day. One option is to roughly divide that into three meals, skimming a little off each for a snack at some point. Maybe 350 for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and 150 for snack(s).

For me, I know that breakfast is costing me 60 calories for coffee creamer, right off the top. It's worth it to me. Most of the time I keep breakfast under 300 calories, because it's just not really my thing.
Breakfast Example #1
Instant Oatmeal packet, lower sugar, with a tsp of honey = 140 cal
1/2 Grapefruit = 40 cal
Creamer = 60 cal
TOTAL = 240 calories (6WW points)
Tradeoff: I know I'll need a midmorning snack, probably fruit, before lunch.

Breakfast Example #2
Jimmy Dean Breakfast Bowl (see review here) = 230 cal
Creamer = 60 cal
TOTAL = 290 calories (8WW points)

Breakfast Example #3
Greek yogurt (5-6 oz depending on flavor) = 100 cal
Special K cereal - 1/3 to 1/2 cup mixed with the yogurt = 50-100 cal
Fruit of some sort = average 60 cal
TOTAL = 210 - 260 cal (4-5WW points, depending on cereal)

I am a carb junkie, so I try to not eat just carbs. Example 3 is when I'm really feeling carb-deprived. That one is also one of my favorite end of day snacks - I just keep the cereal amount down.

I usually base my lunch on how hungry I am and on what I have going on the rest of the day. If I've got a workout before dinner, or if dinner will be late, I'll often try to spread lunch out -- have a little at noon, then a little more at 2...sort of like snacking, but with less thought required. Often lunch will start with leftovers from dinner - if we grill chicken, for example, we always grill extra so I can have it in a salad or as my protein for lunch. Soups and stews make great leftovers, too. The WW vegetable soup is the best way I know to jump start any plan and fill you up for little or no point/calorie hit.

Lunch Example #1
Tuna, canned in water, 5 oz can = 165 cal
Mayo, 1 tbsp Light = 35 cal
Dill pickles = 5 cal
Pita bread = 60 cal
Cheese, 1 oz = 110 cal (optional)
TOTAL = 375 cal including cheese (8WW points with cheese, 5 without)
This is one of my favorite lunches, especially when I'm really hungry. The entire 5 oz can of tuna makes two hefty pita halves, or a seriously loaded sandwich on regular bread (adjust calories accordingly). Add some lettuce, cucumber, whatever veggies you like, and put it on a salad if you want to skip the bread altogether. This is an easy one to eat half at noon, and the other half a couple hours later.

Lunch Example #2
Salad variations, depending on how many points I want to use:
Romaine lettuce, at least a cup = 10 cal
Carrots, cucumber, celery, whatever is handy, at least a cup = maybe 30 cal
Cheese, feta is my choice, but an ounce of any cheese is roughly 75 - 100 = 100 cal
Croutons, about 1/4 cup = 90 cal
Deli sliced turkey, 1 oz = 60 cal
Dressing, 2 tbsp (light, adjust for yours) = 50 cal
TOTAL = around 350 cal (5WW points)
There is obviously a lot of variation here. Sometimes I skip croutons or cheese, as those have point values. If I have grilled chicken, I'll use that instead of deli meat. Sometimes I'll add a boiled egg (70 cal, 2 points). Just be aware of any additions that have calorie impacts, and measure your dressing - it's really easy to use more than you think.

I think this post has gone on forever. I think I'll do dinner another time. Hopefully there are some ideas here that give you ideas on how to break up calories or points so that you don't spend all day thinking you're starving!  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I just wanted some Cheetos.

I hate cravings. I don't have overwhelming ones a lot, but today there were Cheetos calling to me. "Why on earth do you have Cheetos in your house when you have no self-control?" you may ask. Because the stupid Frito Lay people put them in the assortment packs we buy for the kid's lunch. They were there, and I wanted them. For about three hours, I used grapes, blackberries, and grapefruit to distract myself. Then it was dinner time and I had to do something. I decided to make my own chips. I had no idea if this would work.

I grabbed a potato and my handy-dandy mandoline slicer. [Is it "man-do-LEEN" or "man-do-Lin"? Anyone know?] I set it on the narrowest slice - 1/32 and came up with a whole pile o'taters out of one. Nice.

I put those into a Ziploc and grabbed some spices: kosher salt, paprika, pepper, of course. That packet you see in front is a garlic mix I got at the Tea and Spice shop in the Stockyards - if you haven't been, you must go! Then, because I need to be Weight Watchers friendly, I got the Pam instead of the olive oil.  Spray the bag, toss in the spices until it looks/smells/feels right...


Then spread it on the pan. I got a little concerned here. Maybe I needed a single layer to make them crispy, maybe the foil was a bad idea...but I was committed, so into the oven they went. I also wandered to the pantry to stare at the bag of Cheetos, but I did NOT open them.

I started them at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes, then turned/mixed them a bit. They were soft, so I made a better effort to separate them and get that single layer, and I turned the oven up to 450. After about 8 minutes, I removed the ones around the edges that were crispiest (we had to try them!) and turned on the broiler. Five more minutes and we had...


crispy potato chips! Garlicky, salty, crunchy! It worked! Who needs Cheetos!?!

Food review: Joseph's Pita Bread

You have to get this bread.


If you're counting carbs or adding fiber...these pitas will save your sanity. I'm a carb addict from way back, and trying to keep my carb count down just depresses me. I love sandwiches, but it's hard to justify the points (or the carbs) for slices of bread. And I really don't like the skinny slices that allow you to get two slices for the price of one.

Anyway, THIS is a great solution. Check out the details:

Calories: 60 for the whole pita
Fat: 1.5g
Carbs: 10 for the WHOLE pita - TEN!
Fiber: 5g
(that means that your net carbs are really just FIVE!)
Protein: 7g
WW Points: 2, as shown by my handy sharpie note on the package :-)

I generally eat mine as a sandwich pocket, with cold stuff. But I've also tried it as a pizza crust - sauce, little light cheese, some ground turkey or canadian bacon -- and it works great. They are not pre-sliced.

I've only found these in the deli at Wal-Mart. I've looked at Kroger and at Albertson's. I don't think I've ever looked at Target, but will be doing that soon. I'll let you know. [Shout out to Samantha who told me about these in the first place!]

Let me know if you've tried them!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Week 1 Scorecard


One week down, and here are the results:

Goal: Track all food -- done 7 days

Goal: Work out 5 times, minimum of 45 minutes - giving myself a 4 out of 5 on this one. Two days were short on time, but activity done

Goal: Drink 1/2 gallon of water daily - done 7 days

Goal: Blog daily - 7 entries, but had multiples on a couple of days. Will give this a yes, but try to spread them out so I get online most days

Goal: Plan menu - done, and made a few changes as the week went on

Result: minus 3 pounds!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Calories and Weight Watchers.

What I've never understand about the Weight Watchers program (in any version, and I've done them all) is that it does not count calories. Anyone who has ever dieted has memorized the "calories in/calories out" mantra, but here's a hugely popular and successful program that completely ignores the calorie count of food. How can that even work?

[For anyone who has not tried or read about WW, the current system counts fat, carbs, fiber, and protein, and assigns a point value to the serving of food. You're given a set number of points to use per day, with additional ones for activity minutes, and a bonus bank for the week. Stay within your points, and you'll lose weight.]

So I tried an experiment. For about a week, I tracked my food on WW and on sparkpeople (dot) com -- an awesome FREE site that I highly recommend. I entered the same foods, the same quantities in order to see what, if any, correlation there might be.

WW gives 26 points a day. Sparkpeople recommends about 1200-1500 calories a day for my goals, and also tracks fat, protein, and carbs based on the food entered.

Without exception, if I stayed within my WW points, the calorie count for the day was within or below the range. If it was a day I used my points stupidly (say, for cake or wine), I'd be at the top end of the calorie range, but did not go over. On WW, fruits and veggies are basically "free" -- Sparkpeople would record the calories, but even then, the range was wide enough to cover all of that.

I'm not sure if this is a scientific experiment, but it did convince me that at least to start this journey, I would use WW as a base. It's not for everyone, and I think it is important to know calorie values. But it satisfied my curiousity about how a program can ignore THE measurement that's common to any eating plan, and still work.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Stuff to eat.

I threw a little something together for lunch today - turned out pretty tasty!
I "fried" the corn tortilla with a little spray butter to get it warm. Topped it with some lettuce, cucumber, feta cheese, and chopped turkey deli meat. I almost put salsa on it, but decided it wouldn't work with the feta. The boiled egg was for more protein. I had a "cutie" with it, but it didn't make it into the picture. Grand total of 5 WW points. [I was too lazy to get the carrots and celery out, but that would have been good, too.]

Sidenote: If you haven't discovered cuties, please do so. Best. Snack. Ever.

Tonight was pasta night. I love pasta - all kinds, topped with all things. What I have never embraced is whole wheat pasta. The taste is meh, but the texture is really what stops me from using it if I have the option. I had been hearing that food companies are getting better at it, so I bought some more - Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Grain. It hasn't changed my mind, but check out what I did to it. 

Tonight, I made pasta primavera. This is one of my all time favorite Weight Watcher meeting recipes. At least, that's where the base comes from and I've kind of played around with it for years.

Put a little olive oil and fresh garlic in a pan to begin heating. I love zucchini, so I slice that up and throw it in first and stir it around. The easy part is using frozen veggies - I like California Blend, and I don't bother to thaw them first. They'll steam right in the pan.

Add kosher salt, ground pepper, and ground thyme. Toss them around to get the olive oil and seasonings mixed, then put a lid on the pan. They'll steam without getting too soft. I let them cook while the pasta is cooking.

Just before serving, throw in a handful of chopped pepperoni or salami - whatever you have. I had turkey pepperoni, and it worked great. An ounce of that is a lot, and only 2 points. Regular pepperoni is about 3 points, and worth it! I also added 1/2 ounce of fresh parmesan. It takes just a couple of minutes to warm up.


Finally, for tonight, I added pasta sauce. It's great without it, but I was in the mood. This is a large bowl -- there's 1/2 cup of pasta buried under there. The entire thing was 7 points. And it's about three vegetable servings!

And yes, all the toppings sort of covered the texture of the wheat pasta. I'll keep working on that part.


No coincidences.

I've been in a bit of a funk today. Not anything to do with food or exercise, just more about life and work and what I'd like to change. A couple of things happened that started my brain swirling and it's just been downhill from there.

About three minutes ago, I opened a box of cards sent to me by a friend for Christmas. They're called self-care cards, and the author says she "created these cards to serve as a daily reminder to take special care of your precious Self" and she suggests just picking out a random message every day. The one I pulled out was "Achievement." Hm. Great, on a day when I'm not sure I've achieved anything, this is what I get. Fine, I'll see what it says..."Chase your dreams. You may be surprised by where they lead you."

Chase my dreams. I feel like my brain's been pushing me there all day...and now I see it in writing. There are no coincidences, there is only an invisible plan. An hour ago, I'd talked to a friend about some creative ideas, and now this.

I get it. Chasing to commence.
from piccsy.com

Ouch.


This is me.
*snort* Okay, I'm less delusional now.

Found this on Pinterest, where all things live now, and decided I'd try it. Wednesdays are my rest day, mostly because I've got church at night and little time to do anything. Figured this would be a good little 15 minutes or so just to get the blood moving. Riiiigggghhhhhtttt.

#1. Mountain climbers are deceptively exhausting. Keeping my butt up in the air is a full workout in itself. If you don't know what they are, check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KI8u58hPam4

#2. I don't know how burpees got their name, because they should be called "hellonearth" at least for someone in my current shape. This calls for 7 (twice!), which feels like 400. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_Dq_NCzj8M

On the plus side, it makes regular pushups, sit ups, and jumping jacks feel like a vacation.

So just 15 minutes (two rounds) of this and today my upper body wants to know why I hate it. I have a new measurement though -- how long before I can do those two moves without dying?

Wednesday scorecard: stayed in points/calories - check; drank water - check; exercise - technically rest day, but 15 minutes done; blog entry - check.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sweet.

I didn't like sweet potatoes until maybe last year. Something about putting brown sugar on a vegetable just didn't work for me. I'd make them for Thanksgiving but wouldn't eat them. Now I've found something I love.

Tuesday we were going to have pasta for dinner, but hubs was in the mood to smoke something. He'd bought chicken breasts with skin on (unusual for us) because they retain the moisture. I went for my walk and he started cooking. I was about a mile into my walk when I started thinking about what to have with the chicken. Salad, of course...hey, I think we have a couple of sweet potatoes. Oh boy, I'll make those. I got home and discovered great minds think alike, or at least they do when they've been married almost 24 years. He'd already peeled and cut up the potatoes. Love when that happens.

Anyway, here's what you do. Line a baking sheet with foil and drizzle a little olive oil on it. Cut your potatoes into relatively even-sized chunks and toss them on the pan. Cut up an onion - not a small dice, maybe inch-size pieces or so -- and toss it with the potatoes. [I also saw an idea of putting carrots in with this, but I haven't done that.] Mix them around on the pan until they've all touched the olive oil - I'm trying to keep the amount down, so it was maybe a couple tablespoons of oil for the three small potatoes we had. Sprinkle with kosher salt and a little pepper. Bake in a 425degree oven for about 20 minutes, toss them again, and give it about 5 more minutes.

I've also sprinkled them with fresh rosemary or thyme (but I was in a hurry) which adds an extra kick. They're still naturally sweet, but the salt and onion gives it a kick that suits me for a side dish. It went great with the smoked chicken. Give it a try!

Tuesday Scorecard: stayed in points/calories - check; workout 45 minutes - check (walked 2.45 miles outside with dog pulling me); tracked all food - check; drank 2 quarts of water - check.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Food Review: Breakfast bowl

I struggle to eat breakfast. I know it's important, but I am just not hungry for a couple of hours after I get up. So when I saw a recommendation in "Eat This, Not That" for the Jimmy Dean D-Lights, I thought I'd give it a try.

The Details:
  • D-Lights Turkey Sausage bowl -- egg, turkey sausage, potatoes, and light cheese
  • 230 calories, 7 grams fat, 19 carbs, 2 grams fiber, 23 grams protein = 6 WW points
  • 710 mg sodium and 25 mg cholesterol
The Verdict:
It was really tasty. The potatoes were a pleasant surprise (I should read labels). I added salsa and a little pepper, but it didn't need much. I'm seeing how long it is before I'm hungry today. The protein hit should help - that's the first thing I sacrifice because I'm much more of a carb girl, so having a good portion of my daily protein can't hurt.

They have several types of breakfasts in this series, but I haven't seen how the nutritional info matches up. They're all supposed to be below 300 calories though.

I'd buy it again.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Day one done.

Hooray, all the Christmas decorations are put up! Well, partial hooray -- they're all in boxes waiting to go to the attic. Oh, and the nativity still has to get put in its box, but other than that, I'm done!

Completely ridiculous move today - went out for a walk without paying the least bit of attention to the weather and almost froze. Why didn't I turn back around? I'll warm up once I get going. Seriously, I said that in my head. And kept walking. Passed a guy in shorts - see his lips move (earbuds in) and yep, he says, "It's cold," as I pass him. Apparently I wasn't the only one surprised. I made it 30 minutes and headed home...quickly. So I'm behind by 15 minutes.

I did make it to the grocery store. Why do I ever think I can start eating better without going there first? I'm obviously delusional. Anyway, $200 later, I have what I need for a bit. I hope. A few of the interesting purchases: quinoa - I've eaten it before, but can't remember ever cooking it myself; chard - used it in the soup I made tonight, pretty good; Jimmy Dean breakfast bowl (turkey sausage) - I struggle with breakfast, and this one got good reviews.

And I'm pretty sure I got hit on by a woman shopping in the organic section. She was pretty helpful.

The week's menu, as it currently stands:
  • Today was a salad for lunch, then WW vegetable soup. I also browned up a chicken, spinach and feta sausage link (4 pts) and dropped it in my bowl of soup. Pretty yum.
  • Tuesday: Lunch will be a salad, possibly with tuna. Pasta for dinner: whole wheat spaghetti, tomato & basil sauce, then, depending on whether I snack or not, maybe a couple of meatballs.
  • Wednesday: Probably something cold for dinner - church night. Soup for sure.
  • Thursday: Lunch will be something easy. Smoked chicken with green beans for dinner.
  • Friday: Leftovers!
  • Saturday: I don't know for sure but it will NOT be ordered in or eaten out!
It really feels like I'm forgetting something I'm supposed to do this week. Hope it comes to me at some point.

So, the scorecard: Staying within points/calories - check. Exercise - partial check, for 30 minutes. Going to bed early, trying to get that habit started again - check.

The rules.

To get where I'm going:
  1. Plan meals, then track my food: Every day, even weekends (especially weekends). If I cheat, track it anyway.
  2. Cut out the booze. No more wine, at least for a long time. Even one glass just gives me an excuse not to do something else - not walk, not get off the couch, whatever. So, stop it.
  3. Move. Elliptical, walking, workout videos - whatever I'm in the mood for - no fewer than 4 days a week for a minimum of 45 minutes. Weights on two of those days, plus one more. That's 5 days - FIVE. Quit whining.
  4. Related to #3, wear the pedometer. It doesn't lie.
  5. Eating out -- no more than once a week. It's expensive in calories and dollars, and my food's better anyway.
  6. Limit computer/TV time -- obviously not during work hours, and I get to watch shows if I'm on the elliptical. But no more just vegging for hours after work.
  7. Try to blog daily. But if blogging keeps me from moving, it gets skipped. I can catch up the next day.
Okay, seven's the number of perfection, right? So I'll stop there. Anything else and I'll just forget them anyway.

This is my last day of holiday break, so it's time to do #1 for the week. Then #3...