Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year End Weigh-In and Happy Anniversary!

New Year's Eve has always been my very favorite day of the year and the fact that today is our 8th wedding anniversary makes it all the more special. Rob and I are spending the day together, brunch at my favorite French patisserie just off Marietta square where they have the most wonderful café au lait and delectable breakfast dishes. I've got a special bottle of Champagne for us to toast the next year of marriage as well as the New Year. I'm making roast beef for dinner with asparagus, Brussels and Yorkshire pudding, of course. Topping off the meal will be torrone, a lovely Italian wedding candy that was always part of our holiday celebrations growing up. My mother surprised me with a box to serve at our wedding. We have had them every anniversary since and they continue to be my favorite celebration confection.

What have you got planned, how will you ring in 2010?

2009 has been an amazing year and as excited I am about 2010, I'm a little sad to see it go. I learned so much this year, so much about myself and how wonderful life can be by letting go of the demons and by grabbing on to joy. If 2009 hasn't been the year you found your joy, you have a clean slate, a fresh new opportunity to do so in 2010.

I'm finishing out 2009 with 186.5 pounds reading on the scale, 3 pounds of holiday bloat joining me into the New Year. But all in all the year was a smashing success. I've never felt better, never enjoyed living more. I plan on carrying that joy right into a whole new decade and can't wait to keep sharing that joy with each and every one of you. Thank you for coming on this journey with me, I'll see you in the New Year. Have a wonderful celebration!

Cheers everyone, Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Get Back to Nature

I've finally found a fitness activity that I love, and the huge bonus is that it doesn't feel like exercise at all. Ever since my husband and I hiked up Kennesaw Mountain for the first time I've become enamored with hiking or trail walking. Yesterday we ventured further and longer than we ever have before. It's hard to believe that Red Top Mountain is just 20 miles from our house. It is a beautiful mountain and lake area full of trees with Lake Allatoona as it's glittering centerpiece. We did a 5.5 mile trail in just 2 hours.

If you've never ventured out of your comfort zone for a nature walk, give it a try. I'm by no means "nature girl." I'm not a fan of camping, mud or woodland creatures but there is something so amazing about a walk in the trees with nothing but the sounds of nature and your own breathing to keep you company. Check out the websites Trails or Local Hikes for walking trails in your area. Call a friend (don't hike alone if you're inexperienced or are going to an isolated area,) pack a bottle a water, put on your walking shoes and get back to nature.

Here is a bit of video footage I took yesterday (please try and control yourselves at the site of the super hot guy in the red jacket!)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Lovely Fizzy Drink

I've blogged about how unhealthy both diet and regular soda is before and it's not gotten any healthier since then. I used to drink lots of soda and diet soda but it was one of the first things to go when I started making changes. I haven't had diet soda since sometime in 2008 and only indulged in regular soda on a special occasion earlier this year. The Sci-Fi theater restaurant at Disney does a wonderful fountain vanilla Coke (not the horrible canned stuff) so it was a planned indulgence. If you're addicted to soda, now is the perfect time to phase it out. It would make a great New Year's resolution. It's specific and something completely attainable.

Both my husband and I love a fizzy drink every now and again so I had to find a delicious alternative to all the crap Big Soda puts out there. It had to be refreshing, a little sweet and very fizzy so I bought some fizzy water and some juice and played with the combinations and came up with our favorite spritzer. It's about 20 calories with no artificial sweeteners or colors, corn syrup or other nasty stuff. It's really simple, really tasty and really refreshing.

Lovely Fizzy Drink
Fill a tall glass with ice, pour in one ounce Acai Blueberry Bom Dia then fill the glass with Syfo tangerine orange seltzer. Stir with a straw and slurp!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

All We Have

It's the very last week of 2009, the very last week of the decade! Are you bloated and feeling lazy after the Christmas weekend vowing that 2010 will be different as you reach for another cookie or are you all fired up to finish the year strong and keep the momentum going into the New Year?

I'm definitely bloated as it is my PMS week and I've been quite liberal with wine and salty foods, although sweets haven't been a big issue for me this year which is totally crazy but great. But I have been kicking butt in my fitness routine. I'm out walking the neighborhood, Rob and I did the mountain yesterday afternoon, I'm just back from the gym after a really good abs/arms strength session. I may finish the year a little bit up on the scale but it won't be from laying on the couch reaching for more cookies.

You know, in this one life all we really have is our health. No matter how much money we have, how many friends, how many presents we got at Christmas, none of it is worth anything without good health. Good health is without a doubt our most valuable commodity. Don't let another New Year's Day go by making the same old resolution to lose weight and then find yourself pounding boxes of chocolates by Valentine's Day. Make this week the start of a whole new life, a healthy life. Make this your very last New Year's resolution to lose weight. Choose health and fitness now and keep it going for life. All we have is our health, embrace it, nourish it and reap the rewards of it in 2010 and beyond!

My First Vlog!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Weigh-In

Happy Christmas Eve! We're just back from a vigorous walk up/jog down the mountain and I'm feeling great. I'm up just one bloat pound this morning, which isn't bad considering Tuesday was my husband's birthday and we drank a bottle of Champagne and I made a very rich, traditional English meal. It was delicious! We also broke out the annual bottle of port last night, we just couldn't wait. :)

I'm just out of the shower and the coffee is on. I'm making us scrambled eggs and turkey bacon for brunch and then supper is a rather small Feast of Seven Fishes. It's just one fish, really, Dreamfield's linguine with tuna, wine and garlic sauce. It's one of my absolute favorite of my Mother's dishes since forever and I thought Christmas Eve would be the perfect occasion to have it. We have a few cookies and chocolates around if we want a sweet treat, but no formal dessert is planned. I'll limit the wine as I have to be up at 6am tomorrow for work. Blargh!

Have a joyous and safe holiday weekend, Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Baking!

I've been baking on and off since last Friday.  But I haven't been greedy about eating all of it, in fact, I'm very proud of how moderate I've been while enjoying the fruits of my labor.  I was up early and at the gym by 8am and got in a good hour and a half and now I have a completely free day, no errands or chores, just me in my kitchen.

I'm a cook and a foodie but I'm definitely not a baker. Normally I hate baking, it's just too damn precise. You've all seen my recipes, they're more like science experiments from Dr. Bunsen Honeydew. But there is something about the holidays that unleashes my inner love child of Betty Crocker and the Pillsbury Dough Boy.  So, what I have I made so far...

Have you ever had panettone?  It's a classic Italian Christmas bread.  I did some reading on it and applied what I've learned from the Bread Machine Magic book and ended up with a stellar recipe.  It turned out moist and fluffy and slightly sweet with vanilla and almond essence and scented with fresh orange rind studded with slivered almonds, candied citron and craisins.  I have another in the bread oven right now. 

I always bake and ship holiday goodies to my friends and family who don't live in the area.  My nephew PJ is a gluten free/dairy free child so I wanted to make him something special.  I made a batch of Flourless Double Chocolate Pecan cookies.  I followed the directions to the letter and ended up with 15 ginormous cookies but only 14 made it to the mail box.  Very easy and very moreish, they should be called Chocolate Goes Nuts because they are insane!  My only advice is to be very careful when moving them from the parchment to the cooling racks as they are extremely fragile until they are cooled.

Saturday morning I made Mint Witchies.  My sister and I made with with our Mom as kids and they are without question most delicious cookie in the entire Universe (when I hear myself saying that in my head, it has a really cool sci-fi echo sound effect.)  Two crisp-chewy chocolate cookies sandwiching a melty thin mint.  It wasn't the same baking them without my sister, but I hope she enjoys them when she gets her package.

I tried my hand at biscotti.  The flavor was good but the texture was all wrong.  Way good crumbly.  I don't think I'd make them again.

I also made up an experimental shortbread with polenta, anise seeds and almond essence.  Now these are a keeper!  Very good for dunking, unlike the biscotti.

And because my husband can't have Christmas without mini-mince pies, we're going to make them tomorrow.  I'm even going to try my hand at homemade pie crust.  That's all for now.  I'll be back tomorrow for a Thursday weigh-in.  I unfortunately have to work Christmas morning but will be home by 3pm to enjoy the rest of the day with my husband.

Monday, December 21, 2009

But How Did You Do It?

When you lose a lot of weight people start to notice. And then come the questions..."But how did you do it?" One person at work asked me about it and before I could even open my mouth she followed with "You have to give up fat and carbs, right?" Um, no. People have so many preconceived (and often wacky) ideas about what is healthy and how to lose weight that it's often tough to explain how I changed my life and lost 93 pounds in the process.

My unhealthy lifestyle and weight gain wasn't caused by just one thing so it would be unreasonable to think that there is just one thing that helped me lose weight. Looking back over what I've done over the past 14 months one always comes to mind, I've taken time to learn about health and nutrition. There is some great information out there. I've gleaned what I found the most useful and applied them to my life. Because "rules" sound so rigid, I like to call them "strategies." This is how...

1. My juicer.
My juicer is the cornerstone of my healthy lifestyle. It's hard to eat the amount fresh vegetables and fruit required to keep the body strong and healthy but my juicer makes it so easy. I get all the nutrients and goodness of fresh, raw veggies with a bit of fruit each morning, any other produce I eat the rest of the day is gravy.

2. You can't change everything all at once.
I didn't gain my unhealthy habits overnight, so trying to change my entire lifestyle in one fell swoop would be completely unreasonable. Making small changes one or two-at-a-time and working on them until they become habits is a fairly painless way to living a healthier lifestyle.

3. Don't diet!
I've said it before, I'll say it again: THERE IS NO MAGIC BULLET! Diets that encourage pills, powders, giant cookies with a water chaser or giving up entire food groups may work in the short term but inevitably lead to the ugly cycle of deprivation, binge, weight gain, guilt, new fad diet and so it goes again. After years of the ugly diet cycle, a sane and balanced approach to eating was the only way for me to go. Whether you utilize portion control or calorie counting, eating a wide variety of delicious and nutritious unprocessed foods will help you feel great and keep you interested long term. Diets promote an all or nothing mentality, an on-again/off-again cycle that is unhealthy and frustrating. Which brings me to...

Learning this one was a major epiphany, click the link above to read more.

5. Learn to deal with emotional issues/stress/anger in a non-food way.
The weight of emotional overeating is two-fold, excess weight on the spirit and excess weight on the body. Learning to deal with my emotional issues in a non-food way was the first step in lightening this burden to my spirit and my body. I've learned to eat slowly and thoughtfully as not to fall into the trap of mindless eating. It's something that I will always have to be vigilant about because I don't want to relapse into using food as a crutch. Don't bury your feelings under a mountain of food, feel the feelings, process them and let them go.

6. Listen to your body.
After years of abusing food, I had no idea what real physical hunger felt like nor did I know what actual comfortable full felt like. The Four Golden Rules are a fantastic tool to start learning about your body's signals. It's also important to learn your body's signals especially when you start adding exercise into the mix. Your body will tell you when to slow down and when it is ready to do more. Which brings me to...

7. Exercise is non-negotiable for a strong, healthy body.
You know the title of the blog but I've learned to embrace the benefits of a good workout. My posture is better, I'm stronger, I have more endurance and don't even get me started on those lovely endorphins. Just 30 minutes a day, three times a week is all it takes to get started. Click the above link to read more about wonderful benefits of exercise. Make it a priority, put it on your calendar, "just do it."

Take some time to think about what it means to be accountable. For me, it means that I am the one in charge of my health. I can most likely prevent a future full of depression and disease by taking care of myself now, by treating my body with respect and love and nourishing it with healthful things, plenty of water and giving it lots of rest.

9. Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
Whether it's making sure I have a healthy snack at the ready at all times or batch cooking to stock the fridge and freezer, it's really important that I don't let myself get hungry or get caught without something delicious and nutritious to eat. This keeps me out of the drive-thru or having to call for take out.

10. The numbers on the scale only tell part of the story.
I'm living the life of a fit, healthy person and with each passing day, that fit and healthy person emerges a little bit more. I feel happy, energetic and stronger than ever. Feeling lighter, feeling freer, meeting and exceeding closet goals? Yes, yes and yes! While it's a good gauge of progress, I am not defined by the numbers on a bathroom scale.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Goodbye Pookalu

We got some sad news that our dear friends Donna and Jeff's beloved pooch, Luke, passed away today. I've never known an animal so loved, so pampered that you could actually be jealous! Luke was a sweet, sweet baby with an amazing sense of humor. Whenever I'd visit, he'd slip past me pretending to walk by but he'd always lick my knee. It would gross me out but make me laugh because I fell for it every time. Rest in peace, Luke, you will be sadly missed.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Joy of Citrus

If you're going whole hog this season, be sure to pepper your indulgences with something good for you. 'Tis the season for citrus! The nutrition and portability make citrus the perfect snack. I've been eating clementines out of hand, making grapefruit and orange supremes for breakfast, zesting lemons and oranges for baking and of course, putting citrus in my juicer. The aroma is a sunny pick me up on cold, winter days, too.

Here's a great lesson on making citrus supremes courtesy of the delectable Ming Tsai...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Weigh-In

In response to my recent Expectations post Seattlerunnergirl asked~"How'd you get from the place where you could let go of the way others' reactions to your actions didn't drive your behaviors anymore?"

Really good question but one that's not so easy. For me it's been part of the process. Before I could make any changes I had to come to terms with the underlying reasons for my emotional overeating. I had to learn new coping skills and at the same time accept that while the underlying causes were not my fault, the responsibility for letting myself get to 277 pounds was my own.

It's hard to explain. I still get annoyed with my father during the 5-minute bi-monthly phone call but putting fork to mouth would have no impact on him whatsoever. NONE! I've realized that it is my choice how I react in these situations. I can choose to binge or I can choose to feel it, process it and let it go. Accepting responsibility for my actions with food has made what other people think mean so much less. I think this is part of the reason why the incident with the cake was something to laugh off and not something I'd have to work off on the treadmill the next day. I hope this made sense and thanks for the great question!

On to the weigh-in...drum roll please: 183.5 half a pound gone just in time for the holidays. Speaking of which I'm not that worried about gaining any fat pounds during the holidays. I know that there will be a jump on the scale due to bloat from carbs and Champagne but if I keep up with my juicing and exercise the impact will minimal and short lived. With everything, I'm trying to keep a balanced approach. Don't over do it, but still enjoy it!

I've got the girls coming over for a pre-holiday brunch in about an hour so I better get to it. I hope you all have a beautiful weekend and be safe out there.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Let me talk for a moment about expectations. Not the ones we hold for ourselves but the kind that comes from others. Yesterday a family member brought in a beautiful cake to thank the staff for taking such good care of her mother. It was a beautifully decorated homemade cake. She brought it at change of shift and the day supervisor was cutting up small squares for the off going and on coming staff to enjoy.

I picked up a plate with a two-inch square of cake to enjoy (though I admit I picked the corner because the frosting is the best part. I've always said that cake is really just a frosting delivery system.) Well, you would have thought that I had ripped off all my clothes and started doing patient care buck ass naked, such were the looks I got from several of my co-workers. This isn't me being paranoid, one of the looks was even accompanied by a naughty finger wag!

There was time when this would have enraged me enough to justify eating five pieces of cake, but it's different now, I'm different now. I had a laugh to myself, savored my cake and went to work. My co-workers seem to think that I only eat carrots and apples like a quarter horse, after all, how else have I managed to lose weight. HA! My journey to health and fitness isn't one of deprivation and white-knuckle moments. It was a small piece of cake, I don't eat it every day but I will be honest, I would never have been able to lose 93 pounds if had been told to do so that I would never be able to eat cake again.

Many times over the years have expectations from external sources kept me from losing weight or keeping it off. But I realize now that it was just another excuse to carry on in my old habits. My health is my responsibility and no one else's. The only expectation I have now is that this journey is for life. Life that will include carrots and apples, roast chickens and fresh juice, long walks and yes, even the occasional piece of cake.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Procrastination Motivation

Unless we're lucky like Mrs. Brady and have Alice to do the dirty work, we all have chores and housecleaning to do. I like a clean, organized house and I'm a task master by nature so the day to day tidying is no problem for me. House cleaning is where I run into procrastination problems.

I like to play what I call "The Race Against the Kitchen Timer Game." I carve out a block of time for house cleaning in advance, in fact I put it on the calendar. I set the timer in the kitchen for 99minutes and 99seconds and I go balls out to see how much I can get done before the timer beeps. I work fast and I work hard, I count it as a workout for the day because I get my whole body involved and get my heart rate up. I promise myself a 15 minute break when the timer beeps and I always have a "prize" lined up for when I finish. Sometimes I finish before the clock runs out and other times I'm so close to being done when the timer beeps, I just carry on the last few minutes until I'm done. And then I get my prize!

Yesterday after shopping was my scheduled house cleaning time. While I was out I picked up a tub of fresh face mask from LUSH and when I "won the game" I got my prize. I applied my mask and put my feet up with Food and Wine magazine and some Christmas music. Lovely!

How do you motivate yourself to get chores done?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Weigh-In

Happy Friday everyone! I'm just back from doing the last of my holiday errands. I got out early expecting an angry horde of shoppers but the roads, parking lots, shops and the mall were pretty mellow quiet considering it's just two weeks until Christmas. A bit more food and wine shopping next week and Shady Dame will be all set for The Holidays 2009!

I had a very good week eating and workout wise. I'm quite sore all over from a great workout yesterday. Lisa and I were doing an ab set at the end yesterday's gym session (running and hill sprints and a killer leg set) and I was lamenting about how hard side plank looks but decided to try it anyway. I actually managed to do side plank, 10 seconds on each side!

Despite the great week I weighed-in at 184 yet again this morning. Three weeks does not a plateau make so I'll call it a holding pattern. I try not to get frustrated by the number on the scale but I'm not made of stone, sometimes seeing the scale not budge gives me the redass. I will continue working on not letting it wind me up, I know what to do and will keep on keeping on. I will enjoy my holidays and definitely reach my goal sometime in 2010.

Now on to some fun stuff, what is your favorite holiday song? I love Christmas music so much, it's on in the car and in the house from the day after Thanksgiving until New Year's Day. My most favorite song is the amazing Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy mash up by Bing Crosby and David Bowie. I just light up every time it comes on. I love any and all holiday music by Robert Goulet, anything by The Carpenters, especially What are You Doing New Year's Eve? because that's our wedding anniversary it makes me melt every time. I love anything by Dean Martin especially his version of Baby It's Cold Outside. Another song that's close to my heart is one you may not have heard. It's called Dominic The Donkey by the wonderful Lou Monte. Have a listen...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Happy Durings

I used to fantasize about being thin. Not just once in a while, but all the time. I would fantasize how perfect everything would be if my Fairy Godmother would just wave her magic wand and make me thin. Being thin would be my happily ever after. I wasted so much time on fantasies and yet the numbers on the scale kept going up and my self worth kept going down.

But then I started to realize that thinness wasn't really what I was after and what I truly wanted was to feel good about myself and feel strong and healthy all the time. Not someday but NOW. Then I realized that I could be my own fairy godmother, that I was the one holding the magic wand. I have had more contentment, happiness and moment of pure joy since I started this journey then I ever have before. And you can experience it, too! You have the power to feel strong, healthy and happy right now. You can be your own fairy godmother, grab hold of your magic wand and start waving it around!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Case of the Mondays

That saying always makes me laugh. Mondays aren't so bad, it's just means we're one day closer to another weekend! My knee is feeling much better and I was able to push myself quite hard at the gym this morning, I feel like I can start making some headway in that department again.

I'm happy to report that the turkey stock was a success. It came out rich and flavorful. It's tucked away in containers in the freezer for holiday cooking. Making stock really is easy. I did nothing more than put frozen turkey bones and frozen vegetable refuse like peels and cuttings (onions, carrots, celery, leeks, mushrooms, squash) in a pan, fill the pot with filtered water and set it to boil. I added some salt, ground pepper and peppercorns along with a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce and let it simmer for about 5 hours. I strained it and put the pan in the fridge overnight so I could skim off the fat layer. Time consuming, yes, but difficult, no!

When I have a bit more time I'm going to do a recipe index for 2008 and for 2009 and link to them on the side bar. I hope that makes it easier to find a recipe you might like to try. It's time for juice now and then to work. I hope you all had a splendid weekend and that your case of the Mondays is short lived.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Holiday Therapy

This may be the season of giving but it can be very stressful across the board. So as an antidote to the holiday rush, Lisa had an inspired idea for a girl's night IN. Forget getting dressed up, we donned our comfiest pajamas and slippers...

brought along a bit of food and drink and settled in for an evening of girl talk, hand massages and face masks.

It was relaxing, pampering and so much fun. We talked about everything and had more than a few good laughs. We look ridiculous but who cares!

We left Lisa's feeling rejuvenated, ready to tackle the holiday season. No matter how busy this time of year gets, be sure to schedule some "me time" whether it's with your friends or just an hour alone in a hot bath tub with a good book. You'll enjoy it all the more if you give yourself a bit of down time amid all the merry making.

This is the season of giving, so what are you giving yourself?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cooking, Cooking, Cooking!

Oh, I wish you had smell-o-vision on your monitors so you could have a sniff of my kitchen right now. The turkey stock has been simmering away for hours and I just finished a batch of Pumpkin Pie Porridge. It smells like my mother's house on Thanksgiving Day when I was a child. Mmmmm! The flavor of the stock has really surprised me. It needs a bit longer but I think it's going to be delicious. Either way, I set myself a goal of making stock this year and I'm proud that I did it. It may not have been the loftiest of goals but no matter what goals you set for yourself, it feels really good to follow through.

Tom Turkey Stock

The sausage and lentil soup is cooling on the stove, it might just make me a lentil convert. I altered the recipe that I linked in my previous post just a bit. I used a can of diced tomatoes in their juice rather than a diced tomato, though I wished I put two cans. I added lots of sliced carrots in addition to the minced carrots that went in with the onions and the garlic along with a huge bag of chopped mustard greens. And because I put greens I had to add hot sauce and vinegar. That's something I learned since moving to the south and it's key to bringing out the best flavor of the greens. Here's a tip when sauteing sausage meat removed from the casing or any other ground meat, use a potato masher to smash it down into the pan then stir it up. It makes perfect crumbles.

I also toasted up a batch of squash seeds reserved from last night's acorn squash. Have you ever done that? If you haven't, you must! They are the easiest and most delicious snack. Just rinse them to remove the excess squash threads, spread them out on a foil-lined baking sheet and toss with a teaspoon of olive oil.

Acorn Squash Seeds

Put them in a 325 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, stirring every so often so they don't stick. They are done when they start to pop and are lightly golden, crunchy and gorgeous.


Toss with a bit of kosher salt and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container, but I assure you they won't last that long because they are so tasty and really satisfy the need for a crunchy, salty snack.

I mentioned setting goals a minute ago, another I set for myself was to eat a more plant based diet and it's been fun and challenging coming up with delicious meatless meals. Squash and beans and grains and greens along with lots of other tasty vegetables have played starring roles in many a supper this year. Even Rob has enjoyed them. Last evening's meal was a keeper...

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Beans and Greens

This supper is as easy as it is tasty and filling. You won't miss the meat. Cut open an acorn squash, clean out the inside (save the seeds) and pop in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes until the squash is tender. Meanwhile, saute one chopped onion and two cloves minced garlic in olive oil until fragrant and tender but not browned. Add one bunch of greens, washed and chopped. I used red Swiss chard but any green will work. Saute until they start to shrink down. Season well with salt and pepper, add hot sauce to taste, a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and then add a cup of water, a can of rinsed white cannellini beans and a couple of handfuls of Harvest Grain blend from Trader Joe's. You can use Israeli couscous or another tiny pasta or just omit. Bring to boil, cover and simmer until the liquid is almost all absorbed and the grains are tender. Scoop mixture into the cavity of the squash. Devour!

I'll leave you with a bit more food porn and me mugging for the camera on Thanksgiving Day. If you want any of the recipes, let me know. As always, click on the photos if you want to see more food detail.

Two turkeys, one about to go in the oven



Dressing, green bean casserole made with homemade mushroom sauce and Alexia onion snacks, Vichy carrots, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, gravy, cranberries and of course, wine. We never did have dessert. The apples that I bought to make the Tarte Tatin went into the juice packs. We ate early but neither of us fancied an elaborate dessert after such a wonderful meal. This is one of the lessons I've learned this year, one of my favorites. I can have dessert anytime but it is completely okay to *not* want it!

Friday Weigh-In

Thank you for all your eloquent comments about will power. I felt that I wasn't clear and concise enough when I went back to reread my post but you all seemed to have gotten my point. Getting healthy and losing the excess fat that may be holding us back from living the happy, energetic life we want shouldn't be so hard that we feel deprived and miserable all the time. The notion that "dieting" and "will power" is the only way to get there is like giving yourself permission to fail. Reader Michelle encapsulated it just perfectly:

"I think the concept of will power goes along with the concept of guilt. If you learn to take it one step at a time, make healthy choices whenever you can, and allow yourself to splurge sometimes, the concepts of will power and guilt stop meaning as much as they once did. Learning to embrace a healthy lifestyle and avoiding the "all or nothing" mentality of dieting is key."

As for my weigh-in, still holding at 184, which is fine considering it's PMS week and I've not been able to workout as often and as intense as I would have liked because my right knee is playing up. I felt it pull at work on Tuesday evening (standing up from the chair at the desk, of all things) and now it's twinging whenever I walk. I did ride the elliptical for a half hour yesterday which seemed to be okay but I don't want to push it until I know it's back to normal. It's frustrating but things happen in life and you just have to roll with it.

I've got a day of cooking planned. I'm finally going to make my stock! I was going to make vegetable stock but since I have a bag of beautiful turkey bones along with all my veggie scraps in the freezer, I'm going to make turkey stock. I'm also going to make a big batch of sausage and lentil soup that my sister was raving about. It's based on a soup from Carrabba's Italian Restaurant. I've only been there once and didn't have that soup but the recipe sounds quite tasty. I'm going to add in a huge bag of greens to up the veggie content. I'll let you know how it turns out.

I made a lovely vegetarian dish last night, I'll post pics and recipe later today while my soup and stock are simmering. For now, I have to get some green tea in me and get my juice packs ready for the next 7 days. Even my day off isn't a day off, laundry needs doing, too. Mrs. Brady was so lucky to have Alice.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Will Power

Last evening at work, one of my co-workers commented on how well I've done losing weight and then followed up with, "I just don't have the will power that you do." That got me thinking. Have I managed to gain my health and fitness back while losing 93 pounds simply because I have more will power than another person? I'm pretty sure the answer to that is NO.

I've used the lack of will power excuse to carry on living an unhealthy lifestyle for more years than I'd like to remember and then I wised up. It doesn't take will power to buy yogurt, berries and granola instead of Frosted Flakes. It doesn't take will power to cook with olive oil rather than butter. It doesn't take will power to buy a bag of apples and eat one each day. It doesn't take will power to park far away from the store to get in a bit of extra walking. Finding solutions that work in your every day life isn't hard, it isn't expensive, it's just a matter of taking one step at a time and building from there.

Will power is a concept that goes along with crash dieting, it's archaic and only temporarily effective at best when it comes to health and fitness. I'm 13 months into this journey with no signs of going back, will power has nothing to do with that. Embracing good health is a matter of working at small digestible changes until they become permanent habits. Add a bit of planning to the mix and you're on your way to good health, vibrant energy and, yes, weight loss. Once you get a dose of that sweet freedom that comes with taking charge of your health, the momentum takes on a life of its own.

What are your thoughts on will power?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Business as Usual

How did you all survive Thanksgiving 2009? We had a wonderful time but I'm quite pleased that it's Monday and business as usual. I got on the scale this morning to find just a couple of pounds of bloat to work off this week. Not bad at all! All the leftovers are packed away in containers in the freezer for a Sunday dinner in late December. No junk hanging around, the fridge has the usual delicious and nutritious suspects at the ready for healthy eating.

Just back from a great workout with Lisa, almost an hour of cardio and a great upper body circuit x3. I'm up to 48 pounds on the upper body cable machines now and I'm pretty excited about that. Inspired by Lori of Finding Radiance, I'm a handful of chapters into The New Rules of Lifting for Women. Once I read it through, I'm going to start the workouts. I'll be sure to post my progress and thoughts.

After a quick shower I'm going to juice, have a cup of green tea and a parfait. Then it's off to work, truly business as usual. Have a great Monday!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

We Won!

Good morning! I am all in after the past few days of cooking and celebrating but I'm happy as can be. All the food last night was amazing, one dish better than the next and boy am I bloated today. But it was worth it, we had so much fun and our Crazy Coconut Curry won the competition. Tracy and I along with the help of our husbands, took first place in the fabulous music trivia contest that Lisa and Bill put together.

Team Bindi for the Win!

We never did make it up the mountain yesterday and this is the reason.

Tunnel of Fudge

This bloody cake took all day to make. It was a long and involved process, Martha Stewart complicated. I'd love to say that it was the absolute best cake that I ever tasted. It was moist and fudgy for sure, it got a handful of votes in the dessert contest and we came home with only a very small chunk leftover but it really missed the mark for me. The effort did not match the outcome and that, for me, is a total letdown when it comes to cooking. Next time I'll stick with my tried and true Strawberry Cream Trifle where the trifle bowl always gets licked clean.

Here's my favorite photo of the weekend. I enjoyed that turkey dinner so much. What was your favorite dish of the holiday? I've got more Thanksgiving food porn and recipes to share but now it's time for me to turn back into a pumpkin, I want to have my morning juice and get going on the laundry. Have a beautiful day and enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday Weigh-In

I hope you all had a fantastic day yesterday. We had a wonderful relaxing day. It started off with a nice, long walk then coffee and a light breakfast, then we got the turkey in the oven. We had Champagne and watched the parade. The meal was delicious! I have lots of recipes and food porn to post but not today. I'm still in holiday mode and don't want to spend much time sitting in front of this screen. I weighed-in yesterday morning at 184, so no change. I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing and eventually the scale catches up, not worth stressing about on this gorgeous day.

When Rob wakes up and it warms up a little we're going to go up the mountain. Then it's time to make the Tunnel of Fudge cake. We're going to a Curry Cook-off this evening that our friends Bill and Lisa hold every year. I made a really tasty curry using up a good portion of the leftover turkey. As for the cake, I've been dying to try it since I saw them make it on Cook's Country from America's Test Kitchen. It serves 14 people, so this party is the best way for me to have my cake and eat it too. One serving, no leftovers! I haven't had Indian food in awhile so I'm really looking forward to it.

Are you going to brave the stores today? Did you set the alarm for 3am to hit the door busters? I'm not a fan of crowds so I'll be avoiding the shops for the most part this weekend. If you're shopping this weekend, have fun and be safe! Enjoy the weekend and I'll be seeing you soon.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

My shopping is done, my menus are planned and only one shift later today stands between me and spending the day in the kitchen doing what I love most. Since it's just the two of us, there isn't a huge menu but I'm getting all the prep work done tomorrow so that Thursday is just about Rob, The Turkey, The Parade, The Champagne and me.

I'm going to take a moment to count my blessings, since it's definitely the week for that. I'm thankful for my newly gained health and energy, for my loving and supportive husband, for the fact that we both have jobs and a roof over our heads and food on the table. I'm thankful for my family and friends, though many of them are far away from me, they are always in my heart and my thoughts.

Have a beautiful and safe week and happy, happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Strategy Review: Planned Indulgences

With Thanksgiving Day less than a week away, The holiday season is upon us. As I've written before, "The Holiday Season" is a marketing tool. It's about getting you out to the shops to buy things you don't need, about getting you to buy lots of fattening food and cooking yourself into a state of exhaustion, about eating and eating and eating so that "Big Diet" can come along and take what's left in your wallet on January 1st.

Boy, that sounded so Grinchy, didn't it? Well, that's not my intention, I love this time of year as much as anyone. I get the biggest thrill when the first food magazine arrives with that glossy cover photo of a golden brown and delicious turkey. And don't get me started on the magazines featuring Christmas Cookies (squee!) I even did a happy dance at Trader Joe's on Thursday morning as I was picking out my own turkey. But I wanted to take a moment to remind myself and my awesome readers that the actual holidays are really just a few special days scattered through a five week period.

I don't want to wake up on January 1st feeling like I derailed any of the progress I've made this year so I'm digging into my bag of strategies and dusting off "planned indulgences." I'm earmarking the actual holidays and a couple of other much anticipated social engagements as my planned indulgences this year. Every other day in between is going to be business as usual complete with healthy eating, juicing, portion control and exercise. Even on the planned indulgence days I'm going to be juicing and starting the day with some sort of physical activity. In fact, I'm really looking forward to the four day Thanksgiving weekend when my husband and I can take long walks together each morning on the beautiful walking trails we have here in Marietta.

Have you planned your holiday strategy yet? The food and wine is always so fun and festive this time of year, but it's only one part of the equation. Spending time with friends and family, not turkey and pie, should take center stage. There is so much this season has to offer other than watching the numbers on the scale go up. It's about curling up next to a cozy fire with a glass of hot cider. It's about sights (lights!) and sounds (Baby, It's Cold Outside) and smells (oranges studded with cloves) not just tastes. It's about watching Flick stick his tongue to a frozen flagpole in response to the sinister triple dog-dare. It's about laughing at old jokes and meeting new friends. It's about looking back at a year gone by and looking ahead to all the promises of a fresh new one. This "holiday season" I'm going to count my blessings, balance activity with proper rest and enjoy time with my husband and friends. I'm going to raise a glass to my good health and to yours and enjoy the rest of 2009 on a light and happy note. Cheers!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Elements and Artifacts

My friend Alicia is the creator the most beautiful and unique wearable art available anywhere. I just purchased the most fabulous pendant for myself, the Filigree Sapphire Snowflake...

I would be remiss if I didn't share her site with all of you. If you're after a one-of-a kind gift for a special person in your life or something to make your holiday party dress really dazzle take a peek at Alicia's Etsy shop. It's no wonder they call her stardust.

Elements and Artifacts
by Alicia Stardust

Friday Weigh-In

Happy Friday and what a gorgeous day it is! I was up early and got the house scrubbed clean, worked up a really good sweat while I was at it and definitely counted that as my Friday workout. According to The Fitness Partner's excellent activity calculator, I burned over 400 calories whilst housecleaning. The weigh-in was good, another pound down for a total of 93 pounds gone, 184. The bad news is my husband lost two pounds out of nowhere so I'm still one pound heavier than he is. The nerve of that guy! Oh, well, next week maybe. Speaking of which, I will be doing my next weigh-in on Thursday morning. Although I'm going to eat sensible portions on Thanksgiving Day, it is a planned indulgence day. I'm not going to annoy myself by getting on the scale Friday morning and see the wine and dessert bloat. I know I'm going to stay balanced and on track during "The Holiday Season" no matter what! I have a strategy review post coming soon, so watch this space.

In other news, after not being able to wear my rings for so long, I made it a priority to have my engagement ring sized. It was a total squee moment when I found out my ring finger is now a size 5! I just picked it up this morning. The jeweler made the perfect size, tightened the prongs, dipped and polished the mounting and cleaned the stones and oh my goodness, it looks so beautiful, just like new. It feels so good to wear it again.

Phew! It's been a crazy busy month, I feel like I've spent more time at work or in my car than at home. But I'm all caught up and have the rest of today to myself (and Grey's Anatomy and the Project Runway finale) and the whole weekend to spend with my husband instead of working or doing "to do" things. I'm going to make a cup of ruby red chai and put my feet up. I hope you are enjoying the day and taking good care of yourself.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Photo Tutorial: Risotto

I remember the first time I had risotto. It was many years ago at a little Italian place in my hometown of Revere, MA. It was a classic risotto that had thin slices of tenderloin and sprinkles of rich Gorgonzola cheese over the top of the creamy rice. So delicious. Then I watched Todd English make it on one of his early cooking shows. This was long before we had Food Network available in our area and only had cooking shows on PBS. He made it look easy and in fact, risotto is very easy to make. It just takes a little time and attention but it's well worth it.

Risotto has many applications, it can be sweet or savory. It can be vegetarian or rich, meaty and cheesy. Simple or elaborate just based on what additions you want to make. I made mine a mushroom risotto and it was delicious!

Triple Mushroom Risotto

olive oil
salt and freshly cracked white and/or black pepper (I used both)
1 tablespoon butter
8 ounces each of shiitake, cremini and white button mushrooms cleaned and sliced
1 large leek, quartered and thinly sliced
12 ounces arborio rice
1 cup of good dry white wine
4 cups of low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Set pot of stock to simmer on burner behind the skillet in which you'll be making the risotto. Saute the mushrooms in butter over medium-high heat.

As the mushrooms cook down and release all their delicious juices, season with salt and pepper. When the mushrooms are ready, transfer them to a bowl and set aside.

Add some olive oil to the pan and saute the leeks until tender.

Stir in the rice and saute for a few minutes. The rice should start to get a bit translucent.

Pour in the wine and stir until the wine is absorbed. Now it's time to start adding the stock. Add the warm stock 1/2 cup at a time (use a small ladle.) Stirring until each addition gets absorbed. Keep the heat at medium to medium-high. The rice and stock should be at a simmer/gentle boil. Season with salt and pepper.

The stirring and slow addition of the stock is what causes the rice to release all its starch and give up that creamy consistency that makes risotto so wonderful. Keep adding the stock and stirring until its thick and creamy but the rice is toothsome, not mushy. If the rice is still too firm after all the stock has been added, you can add some hot water and stir until it's absorbed and the rice reaches the right consistency.

Now it's time to stir in the mushrooms and check the seasoning.

Serve in your favorite bowl, topped with freshly grated cheese. Devour!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy Sunday!

I hope you are all enjoying this gorgeous Sunday. The weather is so amazing here that I can't even believe it, November 15th, all the windows open and 73 sunny degrees. I've just completed my weekend work obligation for another month so I'm happy. I do have three more shifts coming up, so I probably won't be too busy around the blog this week. I made a fabulous Mushroom Risotto on Friday night and took pictures of all the steps, so if anyone is interested in a step-by-step risotto photo tutorial, let me know and I'll get that going.

I'm feeling much better and will be embarking on my first official post-cold workout in the morning. I'm really looking forward to it, I have missed my walks so much. I'm not dying to get back in the gym with the weights but I will be doing that this week, regardless.

I had a fun moment of squee this afternoon when I realized that I can wrap my fingers around my own wrist and have my thumb and middle finger touch. I haven't been able to do that for years, my hands are so small and now apparently my wrists are, too. Hee! I'm off to enjoy the rest of this lovely day with my husband. Enjoy!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Weigh-In and Pumpkin Pie

With not feeling well enough to workout I've been in maintenance mode so I was extra excited to see a half pound loss this morning! 185 straight up, 92 pounds gone. This cough is lingering but I'm heading out to a few shops this morning to get some fresh air and move around a bit. I have a $10 coupon from Kohl's that's burning a hole in my pocket. I'm hoping to be up for a formal workout or at least a walk up the mountain by Monday or Tuesday.

This time of year I love hot breakfast and since I've been craving pumpkin pie, I thought combining the two into a delicious and nutritious breakfast-y bowlful would be a great idea. You can make this with oatmeal but I much prefer the texture of the Kashi seven-grain pilaf so that's what I used. This isn't a quick recipe but it makes 6 one-cup servings. I don't like standing over the stove for just one breakfast. Just portion it out into containers, pop them in the fridge or freezer and breakfast for the week is ready. It reheats a treat!

Pumpkin Pie Porridge

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat stir until combined and bring to a boil~
2 cups water
1 cup 2% milk
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
the zest of one clementine (eat the clementine while you wait)
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup (I like grade B)
1 can pumpkin (not pie filling, just 100% pure pumpkin)

Then add one packet of Kashi seven-grain pilaf and a quarter cup of flax meal, bring back to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until done, stirring occasionally for about an hour. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt, a drizzle of raw honey and a few raw pecans sprinkled over the top. Devour!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Getting My Zen Back

I'm still here! This lingering cough is annoying but not even the seasonal plague can keep me out of the kitchen. I spent the better part of the day yesterday doing some batch cooking. I made two beautiful pans of soup and marinated the country ribs in rosemary, garlic, lemon zest and honey brown ale that just went into the slow cooker this morning with golden potatoes, diced rutabaga, ruby red radishes and baby carrots. I never cooked with radishes before but I'm always up for something new so I look forward to seeing how they taste.

As for the soup, I made homemade Minestrone that I added a piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano rind that flavors the soup like nothing else can. This is how it looked when it was just starting to simmer.

The color deepens as the vegetables cook and release all their wonderful goodness. I used a mix of fresh and frozen veggies. Fresh organic delicata squash, zucchini, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, radish greens (from the radishes,) and frozen organic super sweet white corn and cut green beans. It came out so rich and delicious. I'm going to make a loaf of homemade Italian bread to serve for Sunday dinner. The rest is in single serving containers in the freezer for warming winter lunches.

This one is the most amazing Beef and Barley Soup in the Entire Universe. It's my mother's recipe and mine will never be as good as when Mom makes it but it's still pretty tasty. Whole Foods had grass fed bone-in beef shank from a local Georgia farm for a great price. I didn't like grass fed beef the first time I had it (sirloin steak on the grill) but I took a chance on it for the soup and it paid off. You have to have bones to make this soup. The collagen from the bones and the barley make the broth so rich and thick, I can't wait for Saturday night! I'm working day shifts this weekend so I don't have to worry about cooking when I get home.

I didn't make the homemade stock for the Minestrone but look...

I saved all the scraps and they are waiting for me in the freezer. I will be making veggie stock before 2010 draws to a close. It's my last chance victory so watch this space!

Not only is eating homemade soup medicine, making homemade soup is like making magic. You cut up all these wonderful things that came from the ground, put them in a pot with some liquid, add some heat and poof! you have this nutritious and delicious elixir that with one mouthful can make even the worst of days fall away. I love to cook but when life gets busy it can seem like a chore. In trying to relax and rejuvenate these past few days, I really focused on how much joy there is in spending time in my kitchen making delicious and nutritious meals for us. Our kitchen is my absolute favorite room in the house, we have a fireplace and a lovely view of our tree filled back yard. It's a wonderful spot to enjoy a cup of tea.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I wanted to get back to that simple pleasure of making and enjoying a cup of tea without all the other distractions so I've made that a priority this week. Being married to an Englishman, there's no way around having tea as part of daily life. Our electric tea kettle is one of the most used appliances in the house. I also love teapots and loose tea, I have a Brown Betty that Rob and I use to make pots of tea on the weekends and I even have an adorable pink tea cozy that my dear friend Margaret sent me from England, but busy lives take over and tea bags become the rule of the day. But not today. This morning I got out my teapot for one that I bought on one of my first trips to England along with my very favorite loose tea, Kusmi Prince Vladimir tea which is a mixture of black tea from China flavored with natural essences of citrus, vanilla and spices. I mix it with a bit of honey and a splash of milk. Not only is the tea delicious but the whole process is very centering. Boiling the kettle, warming the pot and the teacup with hot water, measuring the loose tea into the pot while enjoying the fragrance of the spices and vanilla. Pouring the hot water and stirring the leaves watching the color go from clear to a rich golden brown. It's even soothing writing about it.

I stood at the back door and watched the brightly colored leaves fall in the breeze while I sipped my tea. It may be a few more days before this cold is completely gone but I'm starting to get my Zen back and it feels so nice. I can hear my pumpkin pie porridge bubbling away so I better get to stirring. I'll be sure to share the recipe next time. Have a beautiful day!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Out of Commission

I'm down with a bit of a cold. I knew last week that I wasn't getting enough rest and sure enough I went to bed Saturday night with a sore throat. That's my body's way of telling me to slow the heck down but I didn't listen soon enough. Anxiety, also, has a big role in how run-down I've gotten. I've been dealing with the symptoms of this recent anxiety with exercise and deep-breathing but unless I address the root it will continue to cause me problems in winding down and getting the good quality sleep my body (and my husband) requires. Poor Rob has had to deal with me waking up screaming and swinging in the night three times in the past two weeks. This anxiety is giving me night-terrors, which I'm not quite sure how to deal with.

I've been mulling it over trying to figure out exactly what is making me so anxious. I feel like I've wasted so much of my life being fat, in a fog of emotional over eating and the freedom I'm feeling now is making me overcompensate. I'm going at a hundred-miles an hour in ten different directions because suddenly, I can. My inner-overachiever has been released and she won't let up. I'm lighter on my feet and have more energy that I don't want to sit still and feel like if I slow down I'm going to miss something. I've become a task-master, always doing and always going and when I'm not, I'm thinking of doing and going. It's tough to admit but it's putting a strain on me.

Even though I feel emotionally and physically stronger that I did at 25, I have to remember that I'm 40, have to admit that I'm not Super Woman and that means that I need more rest now, more time to decompress, more time being serene. To gently remind myself to enjoy being present in the moment. To take the time for more cups of tea where I just sit and enjoy sipping the tea and rather than putting pressure on myself to figure out what needs to be done next. Just slow down and live in the now and know that everything will get done when it's meant to get done.

It will probably be quiet here until I'm feeling better. I'm going to rest today, drink lots of echinacea tea and ginger-laden juice. Until next time, take a moment with a cup of tea and just be. That's what I'm going to (try) to do.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Try Something New: Monkfish

Do you remember the Battle Anglerfish episode on Iron Chef? I'm talking the original Iron Chef here, not the mamby-pamby American version. I was horrified when The Chairman unveiled the secret ingredient. That fish was about the ugliest thing I've ever seen. I'm talking scary ugly! Although I could not look away as the masters set about breaking down the whole fish and using just about every part of it.

Fast forward a few years. I was having our friends Donna and Jeff over for dinner and wasn't sure what to cook. I always get a bit intimidated when cooking for Donna and Jeff as they are both quite fabulous cooks and well versed in the Atlanta dining scene. I wanted to make something that wouldn't stress me out but that would have real wow factor. I found this beautiful chowder recipe in Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine which called for bacon and crab, two of Donna's favorite things. But I'm not a big fan of crab so I needed an alternative. I went to the fish counter at Harry's Farmer's Market and spoke with the fishmonger. He suggested monkfish fillets. He said it was very similar in flavor and texture to lobster and absolutely delicious. He had me at lobster so I bought up a few fillets and got cooking. It was a huge hit! Monkfish does indeed have a similar taste and texture of lobster tails, it's sweet, juicy and meaty. No wonder it's called "the poor man's lobster."

I made the monkfish stew again for a family gathering at my sister's house. My brother-in-law Jason, whom we call "Nature Boy," told me that monkfish was also known as anglerfish...

ACK! I had an Iron Chef flashback and would have been completely freaked out if I wasn't already addicted to that sweet lobster-y taste. They don't always have monkfish at Harry's but they had some beautiful fillets Wednesday so I bought one for that evening's supper. I cooked it simply, lightly dredging it in flour seasoned with salt, white pepper and Old Bay seasoning. I then sauteed it in olive oil and a bit of butter in my new cast iron skillet. I served the fish with delicata squash and Brussels sprouts that I roasted in the oven until golden and delicately caramelized. This was my favorite preparation yet, simple and absolutely delicious.

Click here to watch Battle Anglerfish.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Weigh-In

Happy Friday! How have you handled the time change? It seems with each passing time change it gets tougher and tougher for me and I need that extra bit of sleep and rest for a couple of weeks until I adjust. I took a couple of extra rest days from working out this week because I can't forgo sleep/rest in favor of exercise when my body is telling me I need to slow down. That's the difference between living a healthy lifestyle and learning to really listen to my body's signals vs. living an unhealthy lifestyle.

When I was living the life of a fat, unhealthy person it was all about avoidance, denial. I never listened to my body, I only listened to that pleasure center of my brain that wanted to live on an endless stream of Twinkies, French fries and M&Ms. I was completely disconnected. Rather than face my mad/sad/stressed/tired feelings and deal with them in a healthy way, I only wanted to be on a serotonin high.

Over the past year I've learned what my body really needs to be healthy and vibrant. You can do it, too! It's not selfish to take the time to put your health first and get to know your body again. Your body is an amazing machine, treat it with respect and it will take you anywhere you want to go.

On to the weigh-in, good week 2.5 pounds gone. Finally broke that 90 pound mark for 185.5/91.5 pounds total gone. I'm insanely excited about the fact that I'm just one pound away from weighing less than my husband for the first time ever!

With that I'm off to Publix, it's not my regular shopping day but I forgot to get the ricotta cheese for tomorrow's dinner and they are having the Kashi meals on special buy one get one free. Yay, BOGO! Have a great Friday and take special care of yourselves this weekend.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bread Machine Magic

Bread Machine Magic, Revised Edition: 138 Exciting Recipes Created Especially for Use in All Types of Bread Machines Bread Machine Magic, Revised Edition: 138 Exciting Recipes Created Especially for Use in All Types of Bread Machines by Linda Rehberg

After multiple unsuccessful attempts at making a decent loaf of bread in my bread machine, I put it on the shelf where it has stayed for eons collecting dust and mocking me. That all changed when I was browsing Amazon and came across Linda Rehberg's Bread Machine Magic. The reviews said to not give up on your automatic bread maker until you give the recipes in this book a try.

I've only tried two recipes so far but the Heavenly Bread has become a staple, an instant classic. This loaf is, indeed, heavenly and unlike any whole grain bread I've ever tried. It's light with the most wonderful flavor and texture. It uses 2/3 whole grain flour and 1/3 bread flour which makes it the perfect combination of delicious and nutritious. I love knowing exactly what is going into each and every loaf. Buying good quality ingredients in bulk works out much cheaper than the $4 loaves that the supermarkets are selling. And it's so easy. Just dump the ingredients into the machine in the order listed, set the maker to the suggested cycle and press start. Sunday afternoon I make a large loaf and Rob has the absolute best quality bread for his weekday lunch sandwiches. I'm going to try an apple breakfast bread this weekend!

Bread used to be a big problem for me but with portion control I've been able to handle it well and really enjoy it. It hasn't triggered any issues for me, but if you're just starting out trying to get emotional overeating or binge disorder under control, I suggest that you wait on breaking out the bread machine. If you're well into living a healthy lifestyle, though, give this book a try.

The smell of fresh bread baking in the house is pure joy. I'm so happy that I listened to the reviewers because even if I only ever make the Heavenly Bread recipe over and over, I feel like I got my money's worth.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dump It in a Pot Soup

This recipe reminds me of back when I was a "Campbell's Cook." You know all those recipes from Campbell's soup, open a bunch of cans, dump them in a pot with some chicken and rice and dinner is served. Those days of cooking with lots of processed garbage are well over for me but sometimes I want something that is as quick and easy as dumping stuff in a pot. I made this really yummy soup on Monday night and I look forward to eating the leftovers.

Spicy Dumpling Soup

Makes 4 servings

Pour a 32-ounce container of low sodium chicken stock in a stock pot. Add a drizzle of sesame oil, a couple of glugs each of rice wine vinegar and low sodium tamari and a generous sprinkle of crushed red pepper. Then grate in some fresh ginger root (about a two inch knob) and toss in three sliced scallions (white and green parts) and a bag of ready-shredded three color cole slaw. Bring it to a boil then add a 1 pound bag of frozen Asian style dumplings/potstickers. You can use vegetable, chicken, pork...whatever you like. I used the Thai shrimp gyoza from Trader Joe's. Simmer until the dumplings are tender and heated through. Garnish with a bunch of chopped fresh cilantro. Devour!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Try Something New: Chicken Posole

Posole is a traditional Mexican soup or stew and when I saw this recipe in Real Simple, I just had to try it. I followed the recipe closely but did add a can of rinsed and drained organic black beans when I added the hominy. I had never had hominy before and all I have to say is humina humina hominy, that stuff is delectable. This recipe is fast, easy and delicious. The soup is rich, hearty and spicy. Don't leave off squeezing the lime juice in it, it's the perfect finish.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Knock Me Over With A Feather

Yesterday after I finished posting, I did indeed go for a long, vigorous walk. I put on my iPod and queued up Fat 2 Fit radio #78. I almost fell over when I heard my name and my blog in my ears! Awhile back I made mention of Fat 2 Fit in my Retraining the Fat Brain post. The Fat 2 Fit guys must have found that post and decided to mention it in their most recent podcast. This is very exciting because I LOVE that podcast (even though they did mispronounce my name.) If you haven't started listening give it a try. Russ and Jeff wade through all the hype of the weight loss industry and present thoughtful and sane health, fitness and weight loss information. This podcast is a great companion on walks and workouts.

Another knock me over moment occurred during my Sunday walk. I realized that with each walk and workout I hate exercise a little bit less and start to find the joy in it a bit more. I've decided to embrace that joy. Watching my fitness increase has been pretty great, my legs are getting faster, my arms and my core are getting stronger. I can even wear high-heeled shoes now because my balance has improved so much through strength training. That's a huge deal for this klutz who in the past would risk a broken ankle if the shoe was more than an inch off the ground. That's reason enough for me to carry on. Here's a link to a great article with 21 other powerful reasons to exercise. Give it a read and get moving.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New Goodie: Bob's Red Mill Organic High Fiber Whole Grain Pancake Mix

Happy Sunday! I hope your weekend is going well and that you didn't succumb too badly to the call of the mini-Twix and Snickers last evening. We went out for a lovely meal with dear friends because there was no way I having that garbage in my house. I had a planned indulgence cocktail and some Chardonnay which is much more fun.

Rob has been hankering for blueberry pancakes. I just love them and because no food is forbidden in my delicious and nutritious lifestyle, I thought I'd treat us this morning. But how to make them delicious and nutritious? I bought a bag of Bob's Red Mill Organic High Fiber Whole Grain pancake mix!

I've tried healthy/whole grain mixes before and they just never satisfy. The texture is always wrong but not with this mix. They were light and fluffy with a beautiful flavor and texture, not at all what I was expecting. I added a bag of Cascadian Farms organic blueberries that were so fat and plump and juicy which not only made the pancakes even more delicious, they upped the nutrition factor even higher. I served the pancakes with a thin pat of organic unsalted butter and a light drizzle of pure grade B maple syrup. These pancakes were so nice they didn't need much tarting up.

Eating healthfully and losing weight can include your favorite things if you plan for them thoughtfully. I had a sensible portion and will be heading out for a walk on this sunny Sunday morning as soon as I finish this post. If you love pancakes like we do, I highly recommend you giving this mix a try. Have a beautiful Sunday!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Weigh-In

Another pound gone this week, 188 for a total of 89 pounds gone. I've been keeping very closely to my exercise goals and I feel really good if a bit sore from Tuesday's training session. Not much else to report at the moment so I'll leave you with something delicious...

Savory Vegetable Bread Pudding

I had completely forgotten about this recipe until I mentioned it in yesterday's post, don't know why, though, because it was an absolutely delectable dish. This is Marian's Savory Vegetable Bread Pudding from the September, 2009 issue of Southern Living magazine. I didn't make many changes to the recipe other than using a whole wheat rustic loaf that I purchased at Whole Foods and I added lots more veggies. In addition to what the recipe called for I added double mushrooms, lots of thinly sliced Brussels sprouts and two medium zucchini that I roughly chopped. I added the bread cubes to all the sauteed vegetables and mixed well to allow the bread to soak up all the lovely vegetable juices left in the pan, then transferred the mixture to the baking dish and poured over the egg, milk and cheese mixture. I let it sit for 15 minutes before popping it in the oven. This recipe made 6 very filling servings and was fantastic left over.