Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday Weigh-In

Woo-hoo! Those intervals are really paying off, I'm down to 221.5 this morning. I got on and off that scale about 7 times just to make sure I wasn't still asleep and dreaming. So it was a good week, I ate some really delectable food, got in some great workouts and knocked 3 and half pounds off my ass!

I ordered a bunch of new uniforms last week, size x-large. All the pretty tops arrived but I'm still waiting on the pants. I can't wait to shove all my 3x uniforms in a bag and get rid of them and start wearing my new smaller ones. I'll be stalking the postman all week.

The recipe I posted yesterday is a keeper, dinner was so delicious. I'll definitely tinker the sauce a bit next time, though. I thought it needed a bit more heat and lot more vinegar (I topped mine with hot pickled peppers) and Rob felt it needed more tomato so I would up the amount of tomato paste next time. The cole slaw was a winner, wouldn't change a thing except to make two bags next time.

That's all for now, thanks for reading and have a fantastic Monday!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Musings

The rain finally stopped although it's still gray outside but the azaleas are in full bloom at the front of the house, an explosion of pink and red that are pure joy for the eyes. It's amazing that the ugliest shrub in the Universe 50 weeks of the year can one of the loveliest sights for a fleeting two weeks.

This morning when we woke up, Rob said to me, "I really want to have a McDonald's breakfast, do you mind?" I answered no immediately and then thought about it a bit. Was I being polite or did I really not want it? I thought about the sweet and savory deliciousness of a McGriddle but then thought about the grease and chemicals and how ill I would feel after I ate it and no really meant no. What I really wanted was soft boiled eggs (the kind that when sliced open look just like a Cadbury creme egg) on buttered cinnamon raisin Ezekiel toast. This made me think about food cravings and wondering to what extent food cravings are psychological or physiological.

I'm not a doctor nor do I play one on TV but I'm thinking that, for the most part, the body craves healthy food but the mind craves what is unhealthy. Granted, if you have yeast overgrowth the yeast will make you crave sugar but once the yeast is killed off by a cleanse and kept at bay by limiting sugar and bad carbs, the body just doesn't want it. The mind, on the other hand, where the binge monster hides out waiting to pounce, can tell you it wants junk. Anyhoo, I was drinking my fresh juice while my husband truly enjoyed his McDonald's breakfast and I thought it would be hard for me. But it really wasn't, I'm pretty happy about that.

I've got the crock-pot going with Sunday dinner and it smells so good. I've got chicken breasts and thighs going in a homemade BBQ sauce, which will be shredded up in the manner of pulled pork and served with tangy coleslaw. If you haven't been to the Eating Well website, you're definitely missing out on a fantastic resource for delicious and nutritious recipes. Check out the Barbecue Pulled Chicken and cole slaw recipes.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend (they come and go so fast) and I'll see you at the weigh-in tomorrow.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Try Something New: Other Nut Butters

Happy Friday everyone, it's the weekend, yay! I did the food shopping and despite the fact that it's been raining nonstop since Tuesday I feel happy and content. I didn't think it would happen but I'm finally starting to get the soothing mental/emotional benefits from working out. I'm calm and unflappable (which is weird because I'm always flapped), even joyful despite the gloomy weather. Although I've taken today as a rest day from the gym but will probably do a bit of yoga when I finish putting the groceries away. It's been pretty quiet around the blog lately, I hope I've not bored you to tears. Comments are always welcome, I'd love to hear from you and hear how you're all doing. Now let's talk about nut butter.

Sure, I like peanut butter but it's a little boring especially when it's not Jif or smothered in milk chocolate. So I tried almond butter and cashew butter and oh my goodness, they are in a totally different league to the humble peanut butter. Cashew and almond butters are best freshly ground into containers from Whole Foods or a farmer's market, but Trader Joe's carries some delicious jarred versions as well.

If you've never had toasted cinnamon raisin Ezekiel bread smeared with fresh almond butter and topped with slices of crisp Cameo apple for breakfast or lunch, you're definitely missing out. It's filling, delicious and almost decadent for something so healthful.

Here is an article about all the great health bennies of nuts/nut butters. I'm definitely going to be on the lookout for Brazil nut and pistachio butters.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Weeknight Food

I love to cook and it's no surprise that I love cooking shows and food magazines. One of my favorite foodie shows is America's Test Kitchen. I download every recipe they make available because they are only free during the current season.

You'll need to register at the America's Test Kitchen website in order to access the recipes, but it's free and the content, while it is available is well worth the few moments it takes to register. I was really excited about the Hearty Tuscan Bean Stew that they made on a recent episode so I planned to make it for last night's supper.

WOW! I can't recommend it highly enough, absolutely delicious and though a bit time consuming, really easy to prepare. Those test kitchen folks are definitely on to something with soaking the beans in salt water. It keeps the beans perfectly intact with a creamy, yet, toothsome texture. It made a large amount, so we have supper for another night this week when I'm working and more in the freezer.

I never used to like beans but I've really come to appreciate them and with this new method of preparation, I can't wait to stock my pantry with all sorts of the fiber-rich jewels and get cooking.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Goodie: La Tortilla Factory Wraps

I have become a huge fan of the wrap but finding a delicious and nutritious wrap has been a bit of a challenge. Some wraps have good ingredients but taste nasty, some wraps taste good but have sugar or HFCS and/or other preservatives, others have terrible texture. If it's not going to hold up to being stuffed full of lunchable goodness, why bother?

I did not like the Flatout wraps, they had an artificial flavor about them and the flabby texture was gross. They ripped like tissue paper. I have not been able to find Ezekiel wraps in my area but I hit the jackpot when I noticed these beauties in the tortilla section of my Publix. High in fiber, delicious taste and excellent, hearty texture, Smart and Delicious wraps have become my lunchtime ritual. At 10 inches around, they make a very satisfying lunch for the bargain price of 100 calories. If you can find these wraps in your area, give them a try, they are awesome!

Building the perfect wrap...
I start out by warming my wrap on the stove top, directly on the burner for a few seconds. Then I spread a tablespoon of hummus or olive tapenade. Then I pile on arugula. And I mean pile. Then comes the hot peppers, hot pickled pepper rings, lots of them. Then I lay on two thin slices of Alpine Lace Swiss cheese and 4 thin slices of Boar's Head lunch meat (depending what I bought that week.) I can't think if a more filling and energizing lunch!

What do you like to fill your wrap with? How many more times can I say wrap? Wrap.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday Weigh-In

225 squee! Last week was a tough week for me, I was exhausted and was light on my workouts but still managed to drop 1.5 pounds, which is cool. One-derland is inching ever closer.

Today is the first day of the BPAL Get Fit for Summer Challenge on introPLAY. I'm joined by 37 women from my favorite place on all the internet,, participating in a 3 month fitness challenge. So excited, I just got back from the gym and logged my workout. Mondays are great at the gym, so quiet.

I finally got my measurements marked down, I had been kicking myself for not doing it back in October but seeing the numbers yesterday made me rethink that, perhaps it's better that I don't know.

Here goes, as of Sunday March 22 my measurements are...
neck~ 14.5 inches
chest (upper)~ 41.25
chest (bra strap)~ 40.5
waist~ 39
hips~ 50.5
thigh~ 30
calf~ 20
flappy bingo arm~ 16.25
forearm~ 11
wrist 6.5

I'm going to measure every 30 days during the challenge to check my progress.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Catch Up

This sad little blog must be feeling neglected, but I'm still here. I've been feeling rundown since last Sunday, like someone unplugged me from my power source. I even took a sick day from work Tuesday which I haven't done in over a year. It's extremely frustrating because I'm eating well, (no junk, no backsliding) sleeping plenty (in fact, I can't seem to get enough), exercising, juicing and vitamins, blah-blah-blah. Today is the first day that I feel like the fog is lifting, so I'm hopeful for the week ahead. I have a new goodie to talk about, so I will try and get to that this week. Are there any issues or subjects anyone of you would like to see addressed here? I'm always looking for tips, suggestions or interesting subjects to think and chat about.

I hope you all had a better week than I and I'll see you back for the weigh-in tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Try Something New: Halibut Steaks

My husband and I don't like salmon. Actually, we hate it so I'm widening the net, so to speak, to try and incorporate other fish into our menus. Trader Joe's carries a nice variety of frozen fish fillets that I'm trying to work my way through. Last visit I picked up some halibut steaks to try. A little on the pricey side, but worth every penny. Inspired by the Greek Fish Packet recipe in the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home cookbook, I give you...

Fennel and Dill Halibut with Tomato and Arugula Salad

Serves 2
Oven to 450 degrees

For the marinade/dressing
1/2 cup evoo
juice of one large lemon
tablespoon of Dijon mustard
handful of fresh dill, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

2 halibut steaks, about 6-8 ounces each

Prepare the marinade/dressing by mixing lemon juice, mustard, dill and salt and pepper in a mixing jug then whisking in olive oil until it's emulsified. Rinse and pat dry halibut steaks and remove any skin and bones. Pour about half of the marinade over the fish, coating well on both sides and let sit while you prepare the other ingredients as follows~

1/2 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 large red onion, thinly sliced
12 grape tomatoes, halved

Place fennel and red onion in a pile on the center of a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil and place both halibut steaks on top and then pile the tomatoes on top of the fish. Drizzle over a bit more marinade, reserving enough for the salad. Wrap the fish and veggies up tightly and place on a baking sheet. Put baking sheet in 450 oven for 20 minutes. Remove and let stand while you toss the salad.

For the salad, place in a large bowl~
1 bag of washed arugula
a couple of generous handfuls of grape tomatoes, halved
4 ounces of crumbled reduced fat feta cheese
1/4 large red onion, thinly sliced
a handful of Greek olives

Toss salad with remaining dressing and portion out into two wide, shallow bowls. Carefully open foil, try to avoid burning yourself with the steam. Place fish alongside the salad in the bowls and top with the veggies and sauce from the packets. Inhale!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Monday Weigh-In

226.5 this morning, which I'm delighted about because Thursday and Friday were delectably liberal to say the least. I'm still kicking myself for not having had my husband take my measurements way back when because it would give me a better gauge at how my body is reacting to all this exercise. I did measure my waist back in October and it was a disturbing 51 inches. This morning, 39 inches! I was reading that a good goal is to have a waist less than half your height in inches. For me that would be less than 31 inches, so I'm aiming for 30.

I just got back from the gym and I'm sweaty and tired. My towels just finished drying so I'm hitting the shower right now. Have a great day everyone and please consider joining IntroPLAY so we can get a league going.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mambo Sprouts

If you're finding trying to eat as cleanly as possible a bit tough on the wallet, there's finally a site to help make it easier. Mambo Sprouts is an interesting site full of information on living a healthy lifestyle as well as access to coupons for organic/healthful food and green-minded products. You can also sign up for a free coupon book to come in the mail. Sunday paper coupons can be a minefield of processed junk, so Mambo Sprouts is a refreshing change.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Feel the Burn

I'm no Jane Fonda but I made that treadmill my bitch today! I rode that thing for just over an hour, three miles while doing running sprints and uphill sprints, it was both dreadful and awesome. I started cheering and jumping up and down when I finished and the other sweaty people made faces at me. I did strength training four days this week so I laid off today and am taking a day off tomorrow.

One thing that has really motivated me was joining introPLAY which was kindly recommended to me by one of the lovely readers, thew8losschick. I can't thank her enough for sharing such a fabulous site.

I have been tracking every minute of exercise completed as well as hours slept, mood, soreness, stress levels, and hours worked. I love charts and graphs and I even "won" a couple of trophies (one for most hours of exercise on one week, one for the most introPoints in one week) and I'm working toward a milestone. I even got up the nerve to join an introLeague called "Fit and 40." Open to the public, we have group of 7 people on the verge of turning 40. The league is broken up into two teams and all the workouts entered makes up the rankings of each team and the players therein. I've been jumping between 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in my team (which is in 1st place) and it's really motivated me to do more and more each workout. The league runs for 31 days, so I'm going to keep at it.

I'm thinking of starting a Loves to Eat, Hate to Exercise League for the readers of this blog. We could run it for a month and challenge each other to get a leg up on summer fitness. What say you? If you're interested, please leave a comment to this post with your user name on introPLAY and when we have enough people, I will get the League going.

Last night's meal at Flip Burger Boutique was amazing, if you're in the Metro Atlanta area, I highly recommend it. The Turf and Earth burger (which was actually a patty made from mushrooms) and beet and goat cheese salad was the favorite of the night for me. My friends and I ordered 5 different burgers and 5 different sides so we could have a little sample of everything. The burgers are smallish, a bit larger than sliders, so it was enough food without going overboard. I've got my friend coming this evening and I'm really looking forward to it. I made my favorite shrimp dish of all time, Shrimp with Lemon Garlic Aioli which is so delish, I hope you all will try it.

Andra's Shrimp Salad with Lemon Garlic Aioli

One pound cleaned, peeled medium shrimp

In a bowl mix~ the zest of two lemons

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2T finely chopped sweet onion

a generous handful of chopped fresh parsley

1-2 tablespoons Old Bay (to taste)

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1T Coleman's English dry mustard

1/2 cup light mayo

Add shrimp and stir gently to combine. Add a bit more mayo, a tablespoon at a time if it's not saucy enough. Serve on a bed of fresh, crisp Boston lettuce and garnish with lemon wedges for squeezing. Keep chilled before serving.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Planned Indulgences

While trying to eat healthfully and exercise to get healthy *and* lose weight, I have had to cut out things that I have a hard time moderating like fresh, crusty white bread slathered with Lurpak , sweet baked goods, most restaurant food, all fast food, fried foods, pizza, various chocolates and my beloved Chardonnay. But to balance that out, I have made it a priority to plan certain indulgences so I don't ever feel deprived. I've talked about how being too restrictive or depriving myself will be a one way ticket to Binge City.

My "planned indulgences" are something that I really look forward to, usually plotted for holidays/special occasions or long weekends. I choose them carefully based on what I really want, because I allow myself to have whatever I like just not all of them at the same time (this was a tough lesson for me) and I eat accordingly (as in light overall but heavier on veggies, lean protein and water) before and after, so there won't be any "I blew my diet so I may as well just eat the house" mentality going on.

Today our friend Val is coming to visit from New York, she's staying with Donna and we have an outing planned for tomorrow evening and I have a bunch of girls coming for a meal on Friday evening. Tomorrow we're going to Richard Blais' new burger place called Flip and I'm really looking forward to it. And while the meal I have planned for Friday isn't unhealthy or heavy, there will be wine and a special dessert. I've been to the gym Sun/Tue and today and have Thursday and Friday inked in, as well! I've focused on eating lighter this week as well as on the weekend.

Whether the scale will still be stuck on Monday, I don't know and honestly, I can't worry too much about it. I'm gaining a healthy attitude while learning new, healthy habits regarding food and fitness. I feel proud of my accomplishments so far and I really can't wait to celebrate with my dear friends later this week.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fat % Update

I haven't done this in awhile because it needs to be done toward the end of the day when the body is fully hydrated in order to get the most accurate reading. Apparently, I'm down to 40% body fat from 51%. I'm quite pleased. My next goal is 30%, who knows how long that will take but I'll keep aiming!

My sister said something to me on the phone the other day when we were plotting out some details of our late summer Disney family reunion trip, "Girlie, you have the be the Fast Pass runner!" I asked her why and she said, "Because you're in training." This made me laugh out loud but it really made me think. Yes, I am in training and I will think of it as Disney Training every time I hit the gym. It might make it more pleasurable for me to have a Disney spin on my working out.

What thoughts get you moving?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Book Review: The Flat Belly Diet

Prevention Flat Belly Diet Prevention Flat Belly Diet by Liz Vacariello

rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you need structure to eat a healthy, balanced diet and lose weight than I would definitely recommend The Flat Belly Diet. The main focus of this plan is eating a measured portion of foods that are high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs like olives, oils, nuts and seeds, avocados or dark chocolate) at every meal. The first four days are a very restrictive anti-bloat plan followed by 28 days of three 400-calorie meals and one 400-calorie snack pack to be eaten as and when you like.

The book is full of pages citing studies that prove why MUFAs are healthy and can help to reduce body fat, especially "visceral fat" which is the fat that accumulates around our organs and cause a variety of diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and liver function problems. It's a bit of a dry read and to be honest, I glazed over a more than a few times and had to go back and re-read the information.

Unlike other diet books, The Flat Belly Diet stresses how important exercise is to weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. It also talks about conquering emotional eating and that in order to lose weight you can't let yourself get hungry, which means never going more than 4 hours without eating. The meal plan seems well thought out, though that much structure takes the fun out of the kitchen for me. I will be copying down some of the breakfast ideas (which sound fantastic) before I return the book to the library.

I liked the chapters that talked about how the low-fat craze sparked an obesity epidemic and how good fats are the key to healthy weight loss. I will be more conscious of adding a MUFA to every meal and I can't wait to make up a batch of "Sassy Water" for my fridge. The Flat Belly Diet is definitely worth reading for the information, even if you don't want to follow the plan to the letter. Fat equals flavor and fullness and that's one point that I can heartily agree with.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday Weigh-In

Despite lots of cardio and strength-training this week, the scale hasn't budged. I think my body has gone into some sort of emergency lock down mode because it has no idea what is going on with all this extra activity. I certainly haven't changed my food, I'm still eating sensible portions of freshly prepared whole foods with lots of veggies and water. I wasn't as thrilled to see "227" on the scale this morning as I was last week, but I soldiered on got my self to the gym for some good old sweating and huffing and puffing.

I made my hot breakfasts for the week as well as got the juice packets done, I even made my chai for tomorrow morning because I'm not going to be all that happy when the alarm clock rings at 5am tomorrow. I've made very good use of my Sunday so far, I won't feel guilty when I gotsit outside with a magazine later to make some vitamin D. It's a gorgeous day and I'm going to enjoy it, I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Insert Clever Title Here

I am so sore today. I did the full circuit of weight training machines yesterday, like I did Monday, but I did two sets of 15 reps as recommended by the gym trainer. I'm feeling muscles that have been hibernating under blubber for many years and they are angry at being woken up. I'm feeling drained, too. I'm waiting for that big energizing burst that's supposed to happen when one starts exercising. I'm sure it will come but I sure could have used it today.

Let's break it down, I've been to the gym 5 of the last 7 days (Th, F, M, T, W.) I did at least 30 minutes of cardio (treadmill/elliptical) on all 5 days and did strength training on 3 days. I took today off because I could barely drag myself out of bed, let alone go and operate machinery. Not that I stayed in bed all day like I wanted to. I got up and did everything on my to-do list, which seemed a mile long today. I'm so beat right now, I just want a nap.

So it's back to the gym tomorrow, I'm not loving it but at least I'm going. I will most likely do the weigh-in on Sunday because I picked up a morning shift on Monday. I must go make up the bed with the clean linens now so until Sunday, be safe!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Physical Hunger vs. Emotional Hunger

I just finished reading The Flat Belly Diet but have to go back and re-read a few sections before submitting my review. I sort of glazed over last night while reading, it was that sort of book. But there was something that struck me as so important I wanted to share it with you straight away. The book highlights some information that was posted on the University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Center web site about the differences between physical hunger and emotional hunger. I couldn't find it on said web site now but it is publicly posted on several other sites including Web MD.

This little list is gold, Jerry, gold!

1. Emotional hunger comes on suddenly; physical hunger occurs gradually.

2. When you are eating to fill a void that isn't related to an empty stomach, you crave a specific food, such as pizza or ice cream, and only that food will meet your need. When you eat because you are actually hungry, you're open to options.

3. Emotional hunger feels like it needs to be satisfied instantly with the food you crave; physical hunger can wait.

4. Even when you are full, if you're eating to satisfy an emotional need, you're more likely to keep eating. When you're eating because you're hungry, you're more likely to stop when you're full.

5. Emotional eating can leave behind feelings of guilt; eating when you are physically hungry does not.

This information just might be the 5th Golden Rule. What are your thoughts?

New Goodie: Kashi 7-Grain Pilaf

Since becoming a true believer in eating a satisfying and healthy breakfast every day, I've been looking for ways to make it more interesting. I was poking around the "greenwise" section of my local Publix the other week and noticed a box of Kashi 7-Grain Pilaf. It's just grains, no seasonings or flavorings so it's appropriate for any time of day.

Containing no sugar, additives and other unwanteds, the pilaf is simply minimally processed raw grains and sesame and it is absolutely delicious. Each packet makes four 1/2 cup servings, though I bulked it up with some flax meal and raisins. I made it with almond milk, vanilla and cinnamon. The texture is so much more interesting than oatmeal. It's really toothsome and totally satisfying. It reheats like a dream, too. It got me full and out the door to the gym right quick on Thursday and Friday. I made up a batch Sunday afternoon to have at the ready during the week. When it's as hard as it is for me to get up the initiative to work out, the fewer excuses the better.

I bet chopped apple and walnuts mixed in would make a really tasty breakfast combo. I haven't tried it made up savory for supper yet, but I definitely will. If you're bored with your basic breakfast, give the Kashi pilaf a go. You won't be disappointed!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Monday Weigh-In

I was so shocked to see this number on the scale this morning that I weighed myself three times and then ran for the camera. Pardon me while I hit caps lock: I LOST FIFTY POUNDS! This is a very good day. I'm actually starting to believe that in the not too distant future that number on the scale will say "199."

I wanted to come and post this straight away but I had to get to the gym. I feel like I have a bit of momentum going and I don't want to break it. I did 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer and then had an orientation on all the strength training machines. I did a set of 15 on each one and the trainer marked a card with all the settings and weights so that I can refer back to them next time. I'm heading back tomorrow for more cardio and a set on the leg machines.

We had snow here in Georgia yesterday, it was cold and wet and miserable. My poor daffodils and hellebore are pretty much devastated. Regardless of the snow, I still made Spring Barley Risotto for Sunday dinner as planned. This recipe is a keeper! I added lemon juice with the wine and lemon zest with the mint at the end, but otherwise I followed the recipe to the letter. You must try it, barley makes the most delicious risotto and it's so easy because it doesn't require the same tending that traditional dishes using arborio rice does. The recipe makes four servings but I'm lucky that I got one portion put aside for my supper at work Wednesday. So, so moreish.

I'm off to make sweet, sweet love to my juicer now. Have a fabulous Monday!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Revisiting Lentils

I've always been an adventurous eater and I'm willing to try anything once, with a few caveats, gelatinous textured food and anything served on Fear Factor. Although there are a few things that I just don't like. One of them is lentils, I've hated them since I was a kid and it has always bugged me that everyone in my family loves them. But now I'm older and tastes change (as a child, I used to scrape the cheese off pizza) so I thought I'd give lentils another chance.

50 Great Curries of India, Tenth Anniversary Edition I wasn't sure what to do with them so I got out my favorite Indian cookbook 50 Great Curries of India, Tenth Anniversary Edition by Camellia Panjabi to look for dal recipes. I was already planning palak paneer (spinach with curd cheese) and naan, so I figured a lentil dish would round out the meal. I decided on the moong dal, dry style. It's prepared almost like a rice dish, just simmered until tender and then seasoned with turmeric, cumin, coriander, chili powder and some butter. I was very excited about this dish. The spinach dish came out wonderful but unfortunately, I still hate lentils. I would use the method again, but using another grain. The seasoning was wonderful but it was totally ruined by the flavor and texture of the lentils.

I love to cook, so for me, there is great disappointment in preparing a meal that comes out other than I expected. Rob hated the lentils to. We ate the naan and the spinach but Rob ended up making us a platter of apples, nuts and cheese to fill us up. Bless his heart, he even washed up because the delicate genius was so upset about ruining dinner.

I am happy that I gave lentils a try and this won't keep from trying new things, even things I think that I don't like. Eating a wide variety of delicious and nutritious food is one of life's greatest pleasures.