Sunday, August 29, 2010

Freedom vs. Restriction

If you've ever read anything from the fat acceptance people, you may have read something that looks like this..."A "healthy lifestyle" is still a diet, it's restrictive, you'll gain your weight back so why bother, just accept your fat blah blah blah..."

Carrying around a negative attitude of that size must be exhausting, but I digress. Sure, sometimes I do have to tell myself no to a second helping at dinner when I feel like I still want to keep eating and no, I can't allow myself to buy peanut M&Ms because they are a trigger for me.

But the flip side to that is the wonderful feeling of freedom that comes from no longer being a slave to overeating, a prisoner to a morbidly obese body. Case in point...

Last Sunday evening Rob and I were hanging around the house and I felt the urge to get out of the house for a walk or something. So off we went to Acworth Lake. I was immediately drawn to the playground, not having been on a swing for years. It was SO MUCH FUN!

Fat Andra would never have gotten off the couch to go the lake just to go for a walk, never mind attempting to get on a child's swing set at a playground. Freedom is the payoff for not keeping 2 pound bags of peanut M&Ms in the couch cushions. I made the right choice, don't you think?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Magazine Review: Cooking Light

I was never a fan of Cooking Light magazine. Flavorless fat free recipes were not something I was ever interested in, even when I was "on a diet." I hadn't bought an issue in years but the cover of the Jan/Feb 2010 issue caught my eye. "Eat Right in 2010, our new rules and tips make healthy eating simple."

Some of those "new rules" are Try Something New (sound familiar?), Be Portion Aware, Choose Healthy Fats, Cook More Often, Eat More Whole Foods, Indulge Adventurously, hmmmmmm, promising. I took the magazine home and read it cover to cover.

To my delight, Cooking Light has completely overhauled their concept and ideas to a non-diet approach of enjoyable yet healthy eating; seasonal, local, whole foods, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, small amounts of big flavor items like bacon and butter and sensible treats, even wine and cocktails. I quickly subscribed and found the recipes to be wonderful. Easy, approachable, flavorful. They have fit in perfectly with my delicious and nutritious way of eating.

Here are some recipe reviews and photos from the August issue...

First up is Summer Squash and Corn Chowder (click for recipe)

This was fast, easy and full of delicious summer flavors. The best thing was the trick of blending some of the corn with milk until smooth. This made the soup rich and creamy without adding any flour, butter or cream!

Next up is Chicken and Rice Casserole, which we made ahead of time. Oh, this is a keeper! I doubled the recipe and we ate from it all week. It reheated beautifully. I'd like to try it with quinoa instead of rice and will double the veggies next time. This recipe can easily be adapted for seasonal produce, too. Winter squash and mushrooms for fall or mint, asparagus and peas for spring.

The doubled recipe made 8 very satisfying servings.

Finally, Prosciutto and Melon Pasta Salad

I omitted the pasta and swapped the shallots for chives and WOW, what a fantastic salad. I'm a big fan of sweet and savory. The salty, meaty prosciutto melting in your mouth with sweet, juicy melon is heaven! I paired it with marinated grass fed London broil.

Cooking Light's website also has some really good content on making healthy and delicious food choices. For those of you who enjoy eating entree salad in restaurants, there's a great article about the best choices in restaurant salads. Have a look.

Here is the recipe index for the August issue, give some of them a try and let me know what you think. As Julia would say, "bon apetit!" or should I say Cooking Light. ;)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Donna!

Today is my dear friend Donna's birthday. We've just returned from a lovely outing that started off with brunch at Docoeur De France, a browse in all the antique shops Marietta Square has to offer, a cupcake at Miss Mamie's and a visit to the little British shop where we fell in love with the Welsh shopkeeper. She was a hoot! I came away with some English back bacon and Cumberland sausage that is going to have Rob shouting from the rooftops with joy.

Here are some photos...

Turns out that Marietta has *lots* of bakeries, this is dangerous knowledge!

I love the old brick buildings around the square

Can't swing a cat without hitting a Baptist church round these parts,
this one is particularly lovely, though

The fountain on the square

Decisions, decisions

One is never too old for candles!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday Motivation

I had an entirely different post planned for today but what I'm about to share with you had such an impact on me, I couldn't let it wait.

Yesterday, I mentioned that we were watching Gordon Ramsay traveling around India. In the final episode, he visited an ashram in Kerala, southern India, where the majority of the residents are vegetarian. Gordon meets with the guru of the ashram to share a meal and discuss the vegetarianism. Gordon mentions the perhaps false morality of vegetarianism to which the guru replied...

"Food is not a morality,
it is a question of well being."

Wow! That hit me like a ton of bricks. Not so much in the context of vegetarianism versus eating meat but in the context of the perception of good and bad often comes up when one is "dieting" or trying to lose weight.

Have you ever said something like this to yourself?~ "I was so good today, I ate oatmeal and apples and brown rice and chicken..." Or "I was bad today, I ate a piece of cake at work and only did half my workout." I know I have and never to a positive outcome.

So, when I stared focusing on my health or "well being" as the guru so beautifully put it, I wanted my life to be well rounded, balanced. I want my body and mind to be fit and healthy by feeding it quality whole foods and giving it movement but I also want my pleasure center to be satisfied. This may mean the occasional day off from a workout when I'm feeling like I need it and a cupcake or come chocolate ice cream or an Indian meal complete with a tasty beer. None of this makes me good or bad. I'm promoting my well being, all aspects of it and making a happy life for myself in the process.

"Food is not a morality,
it is a question of well being."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The End of the Rainbow

6:30pm Saturday~I had just popped the chicken and rice casserole that Rob and I put together earlier in the day into the oven, we sat down to watch the second episode of the three episode mini-series Gordon Ramsay's Great Escape (which is Gordon eating his way through India.) Rob turned to me and said, "Get changed, we're going for a curry!"

You may not know this about me but I am not what you would call a spontaneous. kind of girl. I plan everything. What can I say? I'm a Virgo, through and through. Spontaneous for me is swapping Wednesday's menu for Thursday's. But who says no to Indian food?

Not this girl!

Apparently, spontaneous outings make me forgetful and I left the camera behind. Oops! Rob took these photos with his Blackberry.

It started raining right before we left the house and on the way down to the restaurant we saw this amazing rainbow.

It was so huge and vivid you could see all the colors. I don't know that I've ever seen the purple stripe of a rainbow so well. There wasn't a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, rather a really good meal.

Rob selected a couple of interesting and delectable appetizers...

Lamb samosas scented with cinnamon and clove

chilli pakora

It's been two weeks since I've indulged in any wine but when I'm at an Indian restaurant, I have to have Kingfisher Lager. You won't often see me drinking beer, but it's just not a trip to a curry house without it.


I wasn't in the mood for a rich curry, so I opted for a tandoori mixed grill. Heavily spiced chunks of chicken breast, fish, prawns, lamb and a chicken leg and thigh quarter. That plate was sizzling hot!

Rob opted for chicken tikka masala with basmati rice. So creamy and buttery, I though perhaps Paula Deen was working in the kitchen. I dipped a bit of naan in the sauce, I couldn't resist.

Butter, y'all!

Rob usually isn't spontaneous either, but sometimes he really surprises me and it was delightful all around. Happy and full.

(When did I become a bobble head?)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Farm Friday

Visiting My Dad and Me Family Farm every Friday is always a highlight of my week. I saw the calves, piglets and happy chickens running freely on a pasture. It's a big job, a tough job, my hat goes off to the Hammonds every time I visit and I am so lucky to have access to their wonderful products.

I picked up a gallon of cow juice, freshly squeezed this morning, half of which is going toward making homemade yogurt this weekend. I also picked up another dozen pastured eggs. I can't get enough of these eggs, in fact, I haven't purchased eggs other than the Hammond's pastured eggs since I first visited the farm back in April. The recent news of the factory egg recall due to salmonella makes me feel even more sure about my choices. Check out Eat Wild and Local Harvest for local farms in your area.

Here are some links about past farm posts for any new readers...

Operation: Moonbeam, my first trip to the farm
A Paean to Sonja Henie, about our first pastured chicken experience
Pastured farm eggs vs. supermarket eggs

It's been a good week, albeit a long one. Perhaps it only feels that way because I'm going on barely 6 hours of sleep. I've got 4 workouts under my belt so far and Rob and I have a mountain walk planned for tomorrow morning. I'm taking a rest day today, if you can call it a rest day when you have a mountain of laundry to do. Rob packed so much stuff for his trip, he must have been channeling me when he packed.

I'm going to leave you with this post from fellow blogger Miz Fit. (See link below.) I found it fascinating because yes, I feel that when one is blogging for an audience especially about health/fitness/weight issues I think there is a certain responsibility that goes with it. A responsibility to provide something positive and motivating at least some of the time. Perhaps also a responsibility to be honest and encouraging because even on days when I'm feeling down in the mouth and unmotivated, blogging about it then trying to put a positive spin on it helps me just as much as it may help you. What do you think?

Are bloggers role models?

Have a fantastic Friday, a beautiful day!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Orange and Mustard Glazed Chicken Thighs

It's more of a sauce than a glaze but glaze just sounds tastier. I found this recipe in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thursday food edition. It's a recipe revised from an old Bon Appetit recipe. It's just too good and too easy to keep to myself.

You could use any type of meat with this, pork chops or tenderloin, chicken breast or thighs, or even wings and drummettes baked in a hot oven until the skin is crisp and tossed in this glaze.

This is my adaptation of a revision.

Orange and Mustard Glazed Chicken Thighs

4 servings

1 to 1 1/2 (I used 1 and 1/4) pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or any of the meat mentioned above
8 ounces low sodium chicken stock
1 cup orange juice (I used Simply Orange)
1/3 cup Dijon mustard (I used Maille)
2 tablespoons honey

Rinse and pat dry the chicken and season with pepper. Don't salt them, there is plenty of salt in the mustard to make it very flavorful. Brown chicken on both sides in a lightly oiled hot skillet, 5 minutes per side. Add stock and juice, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove the meat to a plate and keep warm. Stir in mustard and honey. Boil until the mixture is thick and can coat the back of a spoon. This will take a good 10-15 minutes. Slice the meat and return to the pan to glaze it and heat through. Devour! Which we did because it was so good.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

All's Right With the World

I worked last night but was up quite early this morning despite going to bed late. I was feeling tired when I woke up but I headed to the gym anyway. My workout was half-assed, but half an ass at the gym beats a whole ass on the couch any day. You can quote me on that.

I've been out shopping this afternoon all ready to pillage the summer clearance but found that other, more eager shoppers had beat me to it. I did manage to get some great new pillows for the guest room on sale at Kohl's for $5 each and with the $10 coupon they sent me in the mail they were free.

I'm making corn and zucchini chowder with mustard and orange glazed chicken thighs for supper and I'm drooling just thinking about it.

I don't have too much else to say other than Rob is home, safe and sound, and all is right with the world.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Formula 409

I skipped the pool this morning in favor of some deep house cleaning. Which can be a fantastic workout, if you work fast, do not stop and get your whole body involved. According to the Fitness Partner Activity Calculator, I burned 409 calories during my 100 minutes of fast and energetic cleaning. The added bonus of having a sparkling clean house at the end is fabulous. Try doing rocking horse jumps while vacuuming. That'll get your heart rate going for sure.

Speaking of cleaning house, I am loving my Seventh Generation Free and Clear glass and surface cleaner and the foaming bathroom cleaner. I love that I'm cleaning and sanitizing without having to asphyxiate myself in the process. The glass cleaner works a treat, no smudges or streaks left behind. Sounding a little like a 1950's housewife now, better move on.

I seem to have gotten my eating back under control. Talking it out with Rob and blogging about it really helped. It's easy to get caught up in guilt and shame but that would only have hurt me in the long run. Being upfront with my issue and talking it out with someone I trust is a great strategy.

Rob will be home sometime on Wednesday so I'm going to do a big stock up shopping tomorrow morning before work. He's been eating in restaurants for well over a week now and he's going to need some delicious and nutritious home cooking and fresh juice when he gets home. The August issue of Cooking Light has some gorgeous recipes in it, so I've selected a few to prepare later this week and at the weekend. I'll be sure to photograph and review them if they are winners.

Since I'm still wishing for fall, I have a candy corn scented wax tart warming in the kitchen and it smells so good. My pumpkin earrings arrived, here I am modeling them along with my freshly cut pixie 'do, which am loving.

That's all for now. I'm going to have a big glass of ice water now and prepare some lunch. I hope your week is off to a wonderful start.

Friday, August 13, 2010

No-Weigh Friday

It's been a tough week eating wise, I won't lie to you. I don't do well with no one to cook for, so it's been a little emotional/boredom overeating and a lot grazing and snacking. I've reeled it in pretty well yesterday and today (so far) and will be at work all weekend so I won't be alone with my pantry. I had a big salad for lunch, which was delicious and there isn't any junk or sweets in the house so I'm not too worried about the rest of the day. Once Rob gets home I will be back in the kitchen cooking up some lovely meals and will have lots of food porn to share with you.

My exercise motivation, on the other hand, is off the chain! I've done 5 great workouts again this week and look forward to my next workout, which will be Sunday morning. My strength is back and my stamina is building. I'm where I left off in New Rules, so two more workouts and I can advance to "the final cut" which is six fierce looking workouts that will either kill me or make me stronger. I will let you know which. I did aqua aerobics again today, a good 75 minutes plus the walk to and from the pool. I may have to investigate gyms with pools next year because it's a killer workout that is lots of fun.

It's pretty quiet around here, not a lot going on. I think summer hibernation mode has set in, which happens when the heat and humidity go on as if they will never end. I made a wish for fall earlier this week and bought some gorgeous pumpkin earrings from Elements and Artifacts. I can't wait until they arrive.


Now that the laundry is done, I'm going to watch Summertime which is one of my favorite old movies. Katharine Hepburn and Rossano Brazzi having a romance in Venice, it gets no better. Seeing that my namesake is a late 50's B-movie actress, it's no surprise that I adore old movies, black and white classics as well as screwball rom-coms from the 1960's, especially the ones starring Sandra Dee. Getting lost in a time when the world was very different from the one in which we live today is, well, just dreamy!

Are you a fan of old movies? If so, I'd love to hear which ones!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Happiness as a Choice

Fantasizing about how life could be (if I was thinner, smarter, richer, prettier, could juggle chainsaws) is something we have all engaged in at one time or another. There isn't anything inherently wrong with fantasizing about winning the lottery or having no cellulite but getting lost in it can cause you to become discontented with your lot in life.

Life isn't always easy or perfect for any of us. Sure, some people seem to have it made but you never really know what it is to be in someone else's life until you have lived it. Instead of worrying about the other guy take a moment and think about your life and everything that you have.

I had some separation anxiety when my husband left on this most recent trip but instead of sitting home wallowing in my loneliness and being miserable, I'm making the best of my alone time working, working out, reading and catching up on my guilty pleasure television. We are very fortunate that we have jobs that keep the roof over our heads and healthy food on the table and I don't for one minute forget that.

We can't control circumstances or the actions of others but we can choose our thoughts and our reactions to them. Abraham Lincoln said it best...

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.

Could it be that simple? Could it be that we can be happy if we just choose to be? Yes, I believe that it is.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Fun in the Water

One of the local fitness centers had to close their pool for maintenance so they are having aqua aerobics at our pool three times a week for the next couple of weeks and it's open to the residents of our neighborhood. It was an offer I couldn't refuse.

So much harder than I thought it would be, I'm wiped out and sore. I walked to the pool and swam and water jogged for a half hour before the class arrived and then we worked out for an hour and then I walked home. I never thought it was possible to work up a sweat whilst submerged in water, but I did. I may not have gotten my heart rate up as high as doing running intervals but the effort put forth in doing aerobics in the water is deceptively major. If you've never done it, I highly recommend. It's fun, refreshing and a total body killer.

Have you ever done Aqua Aerobics?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday Mash Up

It's Sunday and Rob left this morning on a rather long business trip which sent me into an emotional tailspin. After I had a proper meltdown, I wiped the snot from my nose and put on my workout gear. I'm just back from an hour of lifting heavy and treadmill walking. I feel a million miles better than I did a couple of hours ago. Endorphins are so much better than a box of Twinkies when you're feeling low.

Speaking of Twinkies, I had a dream that I was eating a giant cream filled ball of chocolate cake the size of a cantaloupe. I don't often dream of food, so that's a little weird for me. And what is it about cream filling, is the allure real or is it just good marketing? Hrmmm...cream filling is pretty great, I must admit. LOL!

Let me address a few reader comments that I let pile up (sorry.) Thanks to Sheila at Reforming U for the lovely blog award. Sheila has a fabulous fitness site, so please check it out.

I want to welcome new reader Orange Sprout. Thanks for the slow cooker lentil dal recipe, it sounds really good. I'm going to have to try it out once the weather cools down.

And finally, welcome to new reader Andrea, who found the blog through the story in Experience Life magazine. She is just starting her journey and has issues with making too big or too many goals. I know exactly how you feel, Andrea! If you have time to read my early posts, you will see that that was always my problem. Check out this post called "But how did you do it?" It's a rundown of my best strategies that helped me get my health and food issues back into balance. Best of luck!

I haven't posted a before and after for a long time. Here's a picture I took of a souvenir picture we got made at the Georgia Aquarium in July 2007...

Bonus points for counting how many chins I have and finding my neck.

And here is me in July 2010, 100 pounds lighter...

I don't know what I was thinking when I got dressed that evening, but I will take a bad outfit with my one chin and skinny neck any day!

The Indian inspired meal from last evening was excellent. The highlight was the mango cucumber raita. I mixed Greek yogurt with diced English cucumber and diced mango along with chopped cilantro, two hot green chiles that I de-seeded and diced very finely, a pinch of salt and a pinch of garam masala. I mixed the left over chicken meat with the rest of the raita which made the most unusual and delectable chicken salad that I just ate for a post workout snack. Yum!

I guess that's all for my Sunday mash up. I will leave you with some food porn before I hit the shower. Have a beautiful Sunday!

mango cucumber raita

Indian spice rubbed chicken rotisserie style

Quite possibly my favorite meal of all time~ sausages roasted with peppers, mushrooms, potatoes with a splash of balsamic vinegar before serving

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Sound of Silence

The new windows are in! It was supposed to take two days but the gents worked until they were done, which was just before 8pm last evening. The house is cool and silent, so silent that Rob is still blissfully sleeping. The birds and blowers aren't going to wake my Bunny this morning.

I just put the coffee on, Joe's Diner Blend from Trader Joe's. It's a lovely smooth coffee, mild, bright and sweet. A nice change from the dark, heavy stuff we usually have. I filled my breakfast bowl with 4 ounces of cottage cheese, 4 ounces of big, fat blueberries topped with cinnamon and a 13 gram (1/4 cup) sprinkle of crunchy Kashi cereal. It's a generous breakfast for a mere 199 calories. I've done well with measuring (and tracking on Spark) my food this week and I feel the bloat is starting to recede. I don't like to have to track all the time, but sometimes it's a necessity to check yourself in order to reach your goals.

We've got some work to do today in setting the house to rights and then some work in the garden. I have a lovely dinner planned, pastured chicken (Jamie Oliver) rubbed with Indian spices and cooked low and slow on the rotisserie. I'm going to make a mango and cucumber raita to dip and my new favorite Indian vegetable dish, Punjabi Gobi. That's cauliflower sauteed in a hot skillet with fresh ginger, garlic, cumin seeds with a pinch of garam masala and hot chili flakes. It is so delicious. I'm excited for Indian flavors but without all the heaviness of thick curry sauce, rice and naan.

Coffee if calling, have a beautiful Saturday!

Friday, August 6, 2010

No-Weigh Friday

Just a quickie as it's chaos central here at Shady Dame. We are having our new windows installed and the place is noisy and upside down. Rob took this pic while I was at the gym...the first of the new windows is installed in the kitchen.

I am going to miss my beautiful wood trimmed windows but I won't miss the high heating bills. As far as replacement windows go they are good quality, energy efficient and quite good looking. But it changes the whole look of my warm, wood kitchen. I'm wondering how long I will be able to last before I have to redecorate.

I'm happy to report that my 5 days of exercise for the week is complete for the second week in a row. I have not seen my husband for more than an hour since Sunday night and since he's working from home while he oversees the project it would have been so easy for me to not go to the gym this morning so I could spend some time with him. But I made a commitment and I stuck to it. Yay, me!

I have not had a chance to read comments yet, but once things settle down here I'll be able to catch up on comments and blogging. Have a great weekend and get out there and move your body!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Reader Recipe: Apple Dip

Reader Bethany shared this recipe. It's a dip for apples but I bet it would be delicious on pears and bananas as well.

Mix the following ingredients...
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup non-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon of honey (more or less depending on your taste)

I did the nutritional breakdown of this on Spark's recipe calculator.

A two tablespoon serving contains
110 calories
8 grams fat
6 grams carbs
5 grams protein

This dip looks like a fantastic way to get the flavor of peanut butter while cutting some of the fat and calories. I'm going to add a pinch of cinnamon when I make this as soon as the crisp, local apples come back into season.

Thanks Bethany!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

August Goals

I had the best night's sleep, just over NINE undisturbed blissful hours. Rob is away so his alarm didn't wake me. Good sleep makes me feel like I can take on the world! I didn't take on the world but I walked longer and farther than I had planned this morning, 90 minutes- nearly 9,000 steps with some running intervals, too. Don't skimp on sleep! I promise you when you are well rested everything else comes so much easier.

Onto my goals. Why make goals (specifically health and fitness goals)? Personally, it gives me something to plan for because prior preparation prevents piss poor performance! Plus, it feels so good to achieve goals that I've set for myself. And the long term health benefits are gravy on top of that. My fitness goals for August~lots and lots of exercise. I am aiming for 5 days of exercise per week throughout the month.

Eating goals are going to be a bit trickier. Self-indulgence got me fat so it's tough love time, I have been getting lax at the weekends. I eat healthy and balanced all week but come the weekend it's been too much wine and too many carbs. So I will have to be mindful of that throughout the month of August and go back to my planned indulgence strategy. If I keep indulging every weekend, I will never get to see how I look and feel at 150 pounds.

Have you planned out your August health and fitness goals?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Monthly Weigh-In: August 1st

I weighed in yesterday, as I do "officially" on the last day of the month. I knew I would be up a couple of pounds and I am, PMS plus Friday night wine equals bloat. But I'm doing pretty well with eating and had a great exercise week so I'm feeling quite good. I'm going to commit to another 5 day workout week, so I'm looking forward to next week. I have three days of weight lifting and two walks on the calendar. Scheduling my workouts like I do everything else works well keeping me on track.

I've got more garden drama to share with you thanks to these nasty little buggers...

They've already done a number on the garden boxes but now they have set their sights on my tomato plants. They stripped my purple basil to twigs and my Mr. Stripey tomato plant now looks like this...

Those tomatoes that you see are from the neighboring plant. Mr. Stripey has been just about stripped bare and he didn't even have a chance to give up one pretty striped fruit. These caterpillars do nothing but eat and eat and eat.

I'm out checking the tomato plants 5-6 times a day to hand pick them off, it's starting to freak me out. They are immune to soap spray and the organic pesticide I keep for emergencies so I have to resort to other methods, squashing them under my garden Crocs. They look like Flukeman but have green blood like a Romulan. UGH!

Aside from the pest unpleasantness, it's been a lovely weekend despite the relentless heat. Only 7 more weeks of summer, yay!