Monday, February 27, 2012

Week 8 Scorecard

Another non-standard week (I'm beginning to believe that is the standard), but an overall decent eating and exercise one. I tracked almost exclusively calories (not WW points) to see how that went.

I also upped my elliptical workouts. I use one of the hills programs, and took the resistance from 2 to 4 for the baseline. It bumped the calorie burn from around 450 to over 600 in the same 45 minutes! My thighs cuss at me regularly, but it's worth it!

I finally did the math. If the elliptical reads the calories right, that means that more than half my food calories are being burned in one workout. I've been staying below 1200 calories a day pretty regularly.

Result: down 1.8 pounds! Whoot! That's the most in one week since the first two weeks.
Total so far: 12.9 pounds

The 5k I'm doing is March 24th - a little over three weeks away. My max distance so far (outside in the real world) is 1.75 miles without a break. This week I'm setting a 2 mile goal (do it twice), then 2.25, 2.5, 2.75 in the following 10 days. Then I'd have a week to get to 3.1 miles before the 5k. I have absolutely no idea if my body will stand for this, but I'm pretty stubborn.


I made some changes to the blog -- I finally figured out the tabs at the top. So now finding recipes is easy.

We've got a big gathering coming up this weekend - Italian food for about 40. Planning parties is still my favorite part, but this time I'm letting others bring the dessert. I'm not sure I could control myself if I had an excuse to bake again!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Awesome Oatmeal.

I have a Pinteresting problem.

I love to cook. I love to eat. I love to see what other people are cooking and eating. Enter Pinterest and you have a recipe (get it? recipe?) for disaster.

I have to be very careful when I go out there now -- all the "friends" I follow seem to have absolutely no problem with eating whatever they want. (I'm looking at you, Dee.) And they happily go around posting all the stuff that immediately makes me drool.

No, I see absolutely no irony in the fact that until this year's resolution to get this weight off kicked in, I was the one accused of posting my own food pictures and creating problems for others. Shut up.

So now, when I do browse pictures, I try to stick with ones I can actually make and feel good about. This is such a recipe. Click here for the source recipe/site.

ohsheglows' Sweet Potato Oatmeal Breakfast Casserole

I've never been much of an oatmeal eater -- something about the texture, I think. As an adult, I've kind of made myself eat it because it's good for me, filling, etc.

And if you've read any of the postings here, you'll know that sweet potatoes have only recently been added to my food repertoire. So why on earth would this recipe appeal to me?

Honestly, it started because we were having overnight guests during the week, and I wanted something different to serve. I wanted something healthy that I could also eat, and that I could make ahead.

I won't lie -- this takes some work. I did all except for the baking the day before, then baked it that morning. Our guests liked it enough to ask for the recipe, so it must have been good!

The original recipe is vegan -- I used regular milk, so mine was not, but I may try almond milk next time to cut down on the calories. Also, ohsheglows must really like oatmeal - she called this four servings - we got at least six out of it. A rough shot at putting the ingredients into the recipe builder puts it at about 4-5 WW points IF you get at least 6 servings. Her site shows about 200 calories a serving.

When you've got some time, give it a try. It makes a great dessert, too!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Week 7 scorecard. And other stuff.

I started this post earlier, but now I'll just wrap it into my Monday scorecard.

I did it. I took my before pictures. It's 6 weeks in, but I just couldn't make myself do it before. I don't like having my picture taken when I'm trying to hide my size - so taking them on purpose to show my size just goes against everything I believe. So after my run Sunday, I got the hubs to take pics.

No, I'm not posting them. Yet.

Sorry, I know you were waiting with bated breath.

But I took them, and now, when I have "after" pictures -- ones that actually show a difference, that encourage me to keep going when I hit that wall -- I'm sure I'll be fine with posting them. Right? Right.

Speaking of wall, I am coming up on my usual plateau - the one that I've hit more times than I can count. I'm hoping to just sneak up and pass it before it even knows I'm here.


This week was a little different. I didn't do any postings after the weekly scorecard -- just didn't have anything to say. No sense boring anyone else!

I also did a really crappy job of formally tracking my food. I found myself looking up specific things - pork chop, oatmeal - but didn't really fill out my food journal every day like I have been. Add to that outings on Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon, and it was all just shaping up to be a disaster of a weigh-in today.

This was dinner on Saturday:
Pepper-crusted beef tenderloin in a bourbon sauce, chipotle mashed potatoes, fresh vegetables

But, because I knew all this stuff was coming up, I did manage to get all 5 workouts done this week! One Zumba (ouch), three ellipticals -- 45 minutes, 4.3 miles, 600+ calories each -- and a 2 mile run outside (managed to get 1.2 running, walked the rest before breathing the cold became too painful).

The result? Down one pound! Total lost 11.1 pounds.

I don't think I'm at all ready to be casual about tracking food, but I'm very encouraged that ramping up the exercise seemed to cover potential calorie overages.

So another week down on my quest to lose 60+. I've set a target end date of December 15 -- that may be too aggressive, but we'll see how it goes.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Week 6 scorecard

Finally. I'm trying really hard to be patient, but good Lord, it's taken me forever, it seems. But, this week...

I just passed 10 pounds lost!  Whoop! Down 1.6 pounds this week.

That's 1/6th of my overall goal (more or less) and a little over a pound a week.

I must be crazy, though. I made chocolate chip and iced sugar cookies this weekend. They all have a destination, but still. Chocolate chip cookie dough in the fridge for a day is just wrong.


I tried Zumba for the first time today. Thank goodness it was in the privacy of my own home. I used to be coordinated to some extent, but that was just scary. I chose to blame it on the Xbox Kinect not registering how perfectly I was doing the moves rather than my age-onset uncoordination. That's my story.


As soon as this insane weather (snow in Texas now?) calms down, it's serious outdoor training for the 5K at the end of March. So far, my longest run without stopping is 1.75 miles, so I'm a little over halfway there. We've got a good neighborhood route with a few hills, so it should be pretty good for preparing for the real thing.

Scorecard complete for this week. My goal is to stay off the scale until next Monday!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Cheese, glorious cheese.

I totally love cheese. On stuff. By itself. Any kind (except Limburger, of course). Melted, cubed, sliced, crumbled. If it weren't for cheese (oh, and bacon) I could probably be vegan. But anyway...

If you've been on many diets, and especially if you've done Weight Watchers, you already know that cheese is not exactly friendly to most point-counting or calorie-watching plans. It does have an offset with protein and calcium, but I realized it's probably worth a little research.

First, a visual. This is one ounce of each of these cheeses. Generally, an ounce is a serving size - a sandwich slice, a string cheese stick, those single serve snacks in a bag -- most of those are one ounce. It's a little hard to tell in a picture, but the "bars" like Gouda and Havarti look like about the same amount in an ounce, but parmesan looks like a much more when it's piled up like this.

Lesson #1: All cheese is not created equal. It's hard to tell by looking how much a serving is. Read the package, or err on the side of caution, and go for less if you aren't where you can measure.

Next, the facts.

 [The cheese didn't change color - it was hard to get the chalk to show up!]

Lesson #2: If you're counting calories, your best bets are mozzarella, goat, and cheddar. Same for counting fat, with mozzarella winning by a gram. I didn't have feta on the tray, but it matches up pretty well wtih goat cheese.

There is another measure to consider, depending on what you're working toward. Which of these do you think has the highest protein count per ounce? I was surprised to learn that it's parmesan, at 9 grams per ounce. And in second place? The Gouda has 7 grams of protein.

Another point about the higher count Havarti and Gouda: these are cheeses with strong flavors, which means you will most likely need less to add flavor.

My first thought when I looked at this - I know there have been times when standing by a tray of cheese cubes, I'd pop five or six (or thirteen) of them without a second thought. At around 80 calories each, those little "nibbles" added up to an entire hamburger's worth of calories. That's not counting the crackers that went with them.

Here's a quick reference:

I didn't include any of the reduced fat cheeses in this. I use reduced-fat cheddar and feta regularly at home, but in restaurants and at gatherings, they aren't likely to be on the menu.

I know I will never give up cheese. But maybe I'll be able to make choices that don't derail me just because I'm not paying attention.

And that concludes today's salute to cheese!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I have to do something.

I don't want to, but I have to. Just suck it up and do it.

It's time for pictures.

Before pictures.

I do not like taking my picture or having it taken or whatever. I never really have. I'm trying to convince myself that taking them now will be worth it later when I need encouragement or to show them to Ellen or Dr. Oz or something.

But right now, I hate the idea. Figuring out how, and how many, and how close up, blah blah. What to wear, how to stand, where to stand...Arrrrgggggghhhhh.

I get weirded out by the strangest things.

I'd much rather just post this and claim it as me.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Week 5 scorecard

I have not been looking forward to this weigh in! I said before that because I'm a scale addict, I seeing numbers all over the place all week, then going through a celebrating weekend makes a Monday morning weigh-in a complete guess. Up, down, what will happen!

Result: Stayed the same! Still 8.5 pounds down.

I'll take it. And I did have a few highlights I need to remember to keep from getting discouraged or beating myself up.
  • I did my personal best run on Friday. We have a 3.2 mile route mapped out, and I ran 2.5 miles of it in 32 minutes, and finished the 3.2 miles in about 46 minutes.
  • Saturday morning, before we left for our anniversary getaway, I did 3.5 miles of rolling hills on the elliptical and burned over 500 calories.
The food choices made while we were gone were actually not bad at all. I had chicken fajitas with borracho beans and jalapeno rice - only about 1/2 cup each -- and used corn instead of flour tortillas. I did NOT eat the entire bowl of chips! Total of three glasses of wine over the entire evening.

I did try the new Subway breakfast on Sunday - we slept in, and decided to just head out instead of eating at the hotel. I had the Subway English muffin with egg whites, turkey, cheese, and fresh spinach. Pretty tasty!

I think the week set me up to be okay after a day or so of more indulgence than normal. I want to hit 10 pounds down next week, so I'll have to crank it up this week. What are YOUR plans for the week?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

An anniversary weekend.

This weekend my husband and I will celebrate 24 years of marriage. [Obviously we got married when I was 10.] We're going down the road to a lovely hotel with great restaurants, wine, entertainment, wine, and an excuse to wear my new boots. I might have a glass of wine.

I'm not a big proponent of "cheat days" or "it's a celebration - do what you want" kind of thinking when committed to healthy living. That sort of thing has derailed me more times than I can count. If you've been following this blog for the last month, you'll see that there haven't been splurges for the most part - a couple of unexpected outings, but nothing unmanageable. I think it's because I've known this weekend was coming.

Even though it's not a "free" weekend, I have every intention of enjoying myself fully while we're gone. I've scoped out the restaurants, and know where we're going and what I'm going to have. It will be somewhat more calories than I have been consuming in a day, but it won't be a ridiculous overage. Oh, and did I mention there will very probably be a glass (or three) of wine in my future? I'm sure I'll be tracking some form of points in my head, but it's not my primary focus.

There will always be celebrations, events, and just ordinary meals where I will want something that's not "on plan" -- if I always say no, that's a pretty depressing existence. If I always say yes with abandon, then I might as well resign myself to being overweight and unhealthy, which is just as depressing. I know there is a happy medium -- a mental (and physical) place that allows me to sit with my guy enjoying food we love while reminiscing about 24 years together. A place where food is not balanced on a "good" or "bad" scale - where portion control and exercise make the difference.

I keep reminding myself that I'm doing this for LIFE, not for months. I'm committed to changing unhealthy habits, but it won't do me any good to only do things that I have no intention of continuing. There's no way I'll never have dessert, or chips, or wine again, so learning to live making balanced choices is the important part of this journey. Yes, to get to my goal, I need to be strict on myself. But it's definitely worth not losing a pound this week to get to celebrate with the love of my life.

How's that for a mushy anniversary post? I'll do that when we get back!
from Pinterest

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Recipe: Haystacks

By request, here's one of my family's favorite sweet snacks. You may have had this years ago with chow mein noodles, but this update uses Fiber One Cereal. Easy to make, and lots of variations keep it interesting.

The cast of characters:
Fiber One cereal comes with two bags in each box - this recipe uses only one of the bags.
Chips -- one small bag (11 or 12 oz usually) of whatever chips you like. I'm splitting this recipe and making a half-batch of white chocolate and a half-batch of milk chocolate with a secret ingredient. I've made them mixing chocolate and peanut butter chips in one bowl -- yum. Just get about 12 oz of chips and one bag of cereal and you're set. This will make about 48 haystacks.

This recipe comes together really fast, so you have to be ready. Get cookie sheets out and line them with parchment paper or foil.
Put the chips into a microwave-safe bowl. It needs to be large enough to be able to stir the cereal in.
Because I'm making two different flavors, I measured out half of my chips.

[Do you have one of these scales yet? Hubby surprised me with one last week and I can't live without it now. Absolutely awesome.]

Note: Also, because I'm splitting mine into two batches, I had to split my cereal -- do this before you start!
Here's how the math works: A box of Fiber one is 16.2 oz. so each bag is 8.1 oz. I'm using 1/2 a bag for each flavor, so I needed 4 oz. Or you can eyeball it if you don't have control issues like me.

From this point on, you'll be working pretty fast.
  • Put the bowl of chips in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir; the chips won't feel very melted, but stir them anyway.
  • Put them back in for another 30 seconds. This time when you stir, they will probably be almost all the way melted. Resist the urge to let a few lumps stay in the chocolate.
  • In my microwave, another 10 seconds is all it takes to get the last few completely smooth. Practice with yours and watch it like a hawk. You want it to look like this, only without the weird color that a blue bowl gives it:

Pour in the cereal and stir gently so you don't crush it. Get to the bottom of the bowl so that the cereal is really mixed through the chocolate.
This is about halfway mixed - see that lump of white chocolate on the left?
Grab your cookie sheet and start making your haystacks. This 1/2 batch will make 24 haystacks -- yes, really.
They are about a heaping tablespoon in size. I usually start out a little small, and then go back to those first ones when I get all 24 laid out -- just like you probably do with cookie dough.

Remember this is just a half batch so far! You'll get 48 out of a full batch.

Now pop the tray into the fridge or freezer for at least 15 minutes to set.

Some very important notes to consider while these are setting:
  1. The Fiber One people are not kidding around -- we may be disguising the taste of their cereal, but the fiber is in there. I don't recommend eating more than 2-3 of these in a day.
  2. On a related note, these may not be the best snacks to just let your kids eat whenever they want. Good for them, yes. In moderation. {grin}
  3. For you WW-ers, one haystack is one point. Two haystacks is three points. Go figure that one out and get back to me. I just spread it out when I eat two in a day and count it a point each time.
  4. For calorie counters, since the size can vary, the calorie count is probably between 40-50 per haystack. Carbs are about 7-8g.
  5. I store mine in a ziploc in the fridge; it makes me think of crunchy ice cream. They can get hard, though, so if you have sensitive teeth, on the counter might be better.
Here's the finished product, in white chocolate:

[Does my hand really look like that???]

It's set, and about the size of a tablespoon.

So what about my other batch? What was the secret ingredient with my milk chocolate chips?
My new favorite thing:

I added about 2 tablespoons of PB2 to the melted chocolate chips! It won't significantly change the point or calorie count (45 calories spread over 24 haystacks!) but should add that peanut buttery taste the family loves!

They have so many kinds of chips now, the possibilities are endless. This is a great snack that is filling without completely destroying your healthy eating plan. And a little chocolate hit is always a good thing, right?