Sunday, November 5, 2017

From the Archives~ Holiday Strategies Review

I wanted to write a post about keeping on track during the holidays. But I don't think I could say it any better than I did in this old post from pre-Thanksgiving 2009. So much has changed since I wrote this, yet nothing is different. That time of year is upon us when Big Food and Big Holiday will work their hardest to part you from your money and make you gain fifteen pounds. I really want this year to be different. Re-reading this was so helpful to me! I know I'll be referring back to it again and again leading up to Thanksgiving weekend.

This post is from 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!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Seventy-Three Days

In case you haven't heard~ THE HOLIDAYS ARE COMING!!! The shops are trying to make us stuff our faces with Halloween candy and start buying winter holiday trimmings. I hate feeling rushed, like when people are clamoring for fall and Halloween in the middle of summer. The older I get, the more I like to slow down and enjoy things as they come, like the present moment. Maybe that's just me.

I was reading through some posts on a Facebook group that is mostly made up of Weight Watchers members, but it's basically a weight loss/fitness support group. One person was lamenting that they had already fallen face down in the Halloween candy and didn't know if they would be able to reign things in during the "holiday season." 

I know the feeling well. In year's past, the arrival of October would signal a free-for-all attitude of eat ALL the things for the next three months. My reply to this plea for support was that there are seventy-three days left in 2017, and the actual "holidays" account for exactly FIVE of them (give or take depending on exactly what an individual prefers to celebrate.) So, by all means, enjoy those special days, enjoy your friends, family, and food and drink traditions without guilt. 

But it's what you do with the other sixty-eight days is what can really make the difference. Stick to your healthy eating and purposeful movement plans on the remaining days of the year and end the year with a weight loss or fitness gain, instead of weight gain and remorse.

I have a small weight loss goal that I'd like to have completed before the calendar turns over to 2018. I'm posting here for accountability. I want to enjoy my holiday season, we're not traveling this year, we're going to be home at Shady Dame and spend time together with our Tally. Rob has been away for work quite a bit recently and it will be a time to reconnect. What I don't want is to derail all the progress I have made since mid March and hit the ground running into the new year. Not that I'm trying to rush it, though. ;)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Checking In

I just realized it's been nearly a month since I've written anything. We spent a long weekend in Savannah for my birthday in September. Rob was terribly sick with bronchitis and sinusitis while we were there but he's a trooper. We had a good time, some really good food, and an epic Old-Fashioned cocktail at the hotel lobby bar that I will remember fondly for years to come.

My back went out again, that long walk on the beach that did such good things for my spirit, sent my pelvis out of whack, which in turn, sent my back out in the shower while shaving my legs two weeks ago today. I'm still in a little pain, but a few trips to the Chiropractor has me mobile again, and I visited another Chiropractor who specializes in gua sha. I'm going for another session tomorrow. I got some decent pain relief for my Achilles' tendinitis. It hurts like hell during, but it feels great afterward!

I'm other news, I just booked tickets to see Matt Bellessai at Atlanta's City Winery in December. I love him and his brand of humor. I'm looking forward to that.

I'm still doing well with a whole foods, low grain, low sugar, dairy free Weight Watchers way of eating. I'm feeling pretty good, but want to be more active. The pain keeps getting in the way. I need to get out with Tally every morning for a walk, no excuses. And if I keep getting less pain in my heel, I'd love to get back on the rowing machine. Ugh, why couldn't I have been one of those people who just decides to go running when stressed, instead of running for the chocolate?


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Pain is NOT a Lifestyle!

I love Saturday but hate when Rob's away. He hasn't been away over a weekend in years. But it's the nature of the job and I'll have to get used to it again. I planned plenty of things to keep me occupied. I took Tally for a nice walk, did some cleaning, invited a friend for supper this evening, and tomorrow I'm meeting my BFF for lunch, when we'll go to the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Lunacy event. Then work on Monday. 

I tend to struggle a little with my eating habits when Rob is away. I was a mess early in the week. Loneliness snacking is the worst! But my WW meeting helped get me motivated and back on point and I've had a mostly a great week.

I'm still sticking to a mostly Paleo way of eating, along with sticking to my WW Smartpoints. It's pretty easy. Just spend points of protein and fats and eat vegetables and fruit to my heart's desire. My pain is managed best with this way of eating. That's the bottom line, letting food be my medicine. 

I'm making this Rachael Ray recipe for my company tonight. My sister made it and raved about it. Peaches, Vidalia Onion, and Sausage tray bake. I got some beautiful nectarines (the peaches were hard as rocks) at Sprouts Farmer's Market the other day and I'm excited. I love sweet and savory. 

We fared well in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irma, but the previous week had a giant tree limb fall on the roof. So dealing with that was a bit of ball ache. Still have to meet with the insurance adjuster, that's going to be fun.

I'm off to do more cleaning. Bulletproof coffee gives me more energy than I know what to do with.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Day 31, and DONE!

Day 31 and I'm doing the David Venable HAPPY DANCE!!!

Benefits of this round in order of happy dance-ness~ my pain levels are the lowest they have been in years. My skin looks fantastic. My anxiety and depression are locked in the dungeon with the sugar dragon. GIRL, BYE! My hunger signals are starting to make sense. I am sleeping like a champ. I feel energetic and have a mental clarity that I didn't know was possible at this age. MY PAIN LEVELS ARE THE LOWEST THEY HAVE BEEN IN YEARS!!! I lost six pounds.

The not so happy dance~ I have tremendous food boredom and I'm sick of being chained to the stove.

Going forward~ I'm going to stick with a Paleo-ish template within the WW plan, perhaps looking into the Simply Filling rather than the straight up points tracking. I haven't figured out my re-intro plan yet, though I"m pretty sure I want to stay wheat, sugar, and dairy free mostly because I need to keep the pain levels down.

We're going out to eat on Friday night. I'm going to have Pho, I'm craving urpy--slurpy-spicy noodles, we'll see how rice does me. And someone else gets to cook and clean up, SQUEE!!!

I'm off shopping and to treat myself to a pedicure.



Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Day 22~ Tiger Blood

Tiger blood, it is here, and I hope it stays. I FEEL AMAZING! (Don't tell the gremlins, please.)

I'm managing well with Weight Watchers and Whole 30. I had my meeting this morning, which is always my favorite hour of the week. Even getting on the scale every week isn't a problem. It's not triggering any issues for me, and I've been very pleased with my progress. Sure, the numbers are cool, but the non-scale victories are really a big boost for me. I've been, piece by piece, shopping in my closet adding smaller clothes into rotation. I laughed the other day when Rob asked "where's your butt gone?" And the best thing of all, I'm back into my gorgeous wedding ring. It's probably been four years since my fat finger busted out of it, and it feels heavenly to be wearing it again.

I'm feeling alert and energetic. Like crazy energetic. My pain is down. My Achilles, my right knee, and low back were great at work yesterday. I only started having some low level pain toward the end of my shift. And it was pretty busy of a shift. I'm feeling so good that I picked up a shift tomorrow as a favor. I hope I don't regret it, because the gremlins know when you are doing a favor and no good deed ever goes unpunished. Any nurses reading this will understand. But turning energy into money is always a good thing.

I've dialed in the eating quite a bit, as far as making sure my plates look like the Whole 30 template for all three meals. It definitely keeps me full and satisfied, and all the vegetable and protein make it easy to stay within my points. I haven't really been snacky at all. I think this is a fantastic template, generally, and would do well to replace the food pyramid. Yeah, right, and monkeys might fly out of my butt! (Pardon the expression, I recently watched Wayne's World again for the billionth time.) 




Sunday, August 6, 2017

Day 13~Feeling Good and mini book review of Food Freedom Forever

They mean business when they say days 10 and 11 are the worst! For me, day 10 was definitely bad, I felt rotten, cranky, tired, and hungry. Just so hungry. I feel like I ate my weight in cashew butter that day. Not recommended, not buying it again, I obviously cannot be trusted with it in the house.

By day 11 I was feeling much better. The raging hunger was gone, and I felt clearer and more energetic. I felt fantastic yesterday, very focused. And today, I'm feeling really good, too. My hunger is very minimal, which is to say, I'm hungry when I'm supposed to be. I'm also sleeping and pooping like a champ, and my pain level is down. I'll be interested to see how my low back fares at work tomorrow, since it's been feeling fantastic. My anxiety levels are super low, which feels amazing. (Anyone who tells you food doesn't affect mood is a damn, dirty liar.)

My focus is returning, which makes me so happy. I'm a reader, I love to read. I typically read 10-20 books a year, not as many as my friend Jen, who reads like 150 books a year, but, it's something I enjoy. This year, I have been so brain-fogged and unable to focus, that I haven't been able to get past chapter seven in any of the books I have started. Disappointing. It's not the books, it's me!

My copy of Food Freedom Forever, by Melissa Hartwig arrived yesterday. She's the co-founder of the Whole 30 program and this follow up book is worth the read. My focus is back, and I read a book! I read most of it yesterday, and just about finished it up this morning. I have a couple of chapters left. It focuses on the how to customize a "reset" if you don't want to go balls out with a Whole 30. I like the emphasis on the re-introduction phase and why it's important to do it carefully and calculated. Like if you go out for cocktails, and pizza, and ice cream on day 31 to celebrate the end of your 30 days. You wake up bloated, with diarrhea, a breakout, and joint pain. How will you know what caused which? Was it the alcohol, the sugar, the dairy, the gluten?

Melissa has chapters devoted to mental strategies on how to break the cycle of diet/binge/depression that comes with our attachment to certain types of food. I know I'll be referring to these chapters again and again, because it's a fresh approach, no-nonsense, and enough tough love to really make you look long and hard as to why we engage in certain food behaviors and why it's so hard to stop them.

I had epiphany yesterday while reading this book. While an elimination protocol as strict as the Whole 30 might seem like a exercise in self-torture, it's really doing the body and brain a kindness. Removing foods that give the brain and mouth pleasure is hard, and the rebellious reaction to it is very telling. Why are we so dependent on the things that we know harm us? Something worth thinking about, I suppose.

*This post contains Amazon Associate affiliate links

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Whole 30~ Day 6

Happy Sunday! It's been "unseasonably" hot here according to the weather people, and when they say that in Georgia in July, you know you're in trouble. Though today is much cooler, less humid, with a gentle breeze. It's beautiful, we even sat out on the front porch for a spell, which made a nice change from the artificially cooled air inside.

It's Day 6 of my Whole 30 and I'm feeling pretty good. The tiger blood hasn't kicked in yet, but the detox period, or "hangover" as they call it is over. It only lasted a day or so, it wasn't bad. I think because I had cleaned up my diet from a sugary junk standpoint quite a bit since joining Weight Watchers. Here's a neat infographic on what to expect on a Whole 30. 


I'm not tired, though. I fell asleep much later than usual and was up before it was even light out feeling energetic. I have noted decreased overall pain, and this makes me SO HAPPY. The best part is, I feel like my cravings are subsiding. Those sugar free Frankenfoods really mess with my palate!  I thought it would be tough sticking with my 30 daily and 42 weekly SmartPoints but I've been spot on most days and haven't needed to dip into my weeklies by much. 

What have I been eating? Pretty basic stuff, Cashewgurt with blueberries, leftover proteins from dinner, raw veggies and fruit, eggs, avocado, tuna stuffed into bell peppers (red and orange, never green.) I'm making a beautiful chicken curry tonight from Well Fed 2, and last week I made the most delicious fish dish sole meuniere, served with garlicky sauteed fresh spinach. It enjoyed every morsel.




Rob and I took Tally and hit the farmer's market yesterday and picked up a few things, then did a bulk shop at Costco. Oooof, it's scary in there on Saturday, but we got there at opening so it wasn't too bad. I'm making Italian marinated flank steak with fresh tomatoes and basil tomorrow,  spaghetti squash with meatballs and sauce on Tuesday. I have a few other nice dinners planned, I'll share them in another post. 

If you're considering doing a Whole 30, let me know, I'd love to hear about your experience. The Whole 30 website is a wealth of information and there are endless ideas on Pinterest. 

Thanks for reading and have a great week!













Wednesday, July 26, 2017

New Goodie~Forager Cashewgurt


Day 2 of my Whole 30 and it's going well. Here's I did a little video of a haul from Trader Joe's and Whole Foods with some Paleo/Whole 30 staples. Turn up the sound to hear my nasally voice.



My sister turned me on to Forager Cashewgurt, and I was able to find it at Whole Foods. Non-dairy yogurt can be tough to find, especially one with clean ingredients. The coconut stuff from So Delicious is pretty tasty but it's loaded with sugar and I was unable to find one without sugar. 

The cashewgurt fit the bill. Silly name, delicious taste. It's very tangy and you can really taste that mellow, sweet natural flavor of the cashew nut. It's creamy but it's not as thick as Greek style. But it definitely fit the bill because I like the convenience of yogurt and fruit as a snack or light breakfast, especially for work days. I also like that it's made without carrageenan, which is a no-no on Whole 30. Try it and let me know what you think!

I also found Forager Cashew milk at Sprouts Market yesterday, but I haven't opened it yet. I will let you know how it is when I try it.

I bought a beautiful T-bone steak to make tonight, I'll have mine with asparagus, and maybe a small sweet potato depending on my hunger level. One thing about Whole 30, you think you'll be hungry all the time, but you won't. Grains and sweeteners stimulate my appetite, so much so, that it's always a pleasant surprise to not be snacky between meals on this way of eating. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Whole 30

How has it been a whole month since I have posted? Time really gets away from me these days. We're in the dog days of summer here in GA. It's been hot, humid, and alternating between blazing sun and pouring rain. Thank goodness we get monthly mosquito treatments or it wouldn't be safe to leave the house. My knees are doing well, to my delight, and I don't want to jinx anything but my Achilles' may be feeling a bit better and I'm hoping to get back on the rower regularly again.

I've been carrying one well with WW. I hit my four month milestone with the program a couple of weeks ago. The meetings have been proven an invaluable source of support for me and I've made so many wonderful new friends. BUT...

Recently, I feel like I've started slipping into the bad habit of relying too much on sugar free, fat free Frankenfoods, and frankenly (snort) I don't like the way it makes me feel. So, I'm going to embark on a Whole 30, while following the framework of my Weight Watchers tracking. If you're a longtime reader of my blog, you know that I've done this a time or two before. It really strips back to basics the old eating habits and completely resets the palate. There isn't a whole lot of room to hide when you're partaking of protein, good fats, vegetables, and fruits only. I'm also hoping to kick out any remaining inflammation and hopefully wean myself off the meds.

I have plenty of Paleo cookbooks to keep it interesting and delicious at supper so Rob won't feel like I'm trying to starve him. My favorites are the Well Fed series by Melissa Joulwan.* I cook from them all the time because Melissa's flavor profiles are amazing. Her Bahn Mi meatballs are out of bounds delicious! Other resources I have on hand are Practical Paleo, by Diane Sanfillipo, Against all Grain, by Danielle Walker, and Nom Nom Paleo by Michelle Tam. All of these are solid, and the authors have blogs with tons of recipes and information available for free, but I have a thing for cookbooks and can't resist them. 

I'm not going to do a daily chronicle here, but I will be checking in periodically with how I've been feeling, what I've been eating, and how I'm making it work with WW. I'm starting on Tuesday. If you have any questions, as always, comment below and I will do my best to answer them.

Happy Sunday, and have a wonderful week!





*This post may contain affiliate links. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Home Again, and Thoughts on Being Away from My Routine

I love to travel, don't get me wrong, and seeing my family was WONDERFUL, but being away from my routine was difficult for me. Eating in restaurants really messed me up. I did really well making nutritious choices, careful splurges (the gnocchi with mushroom, black truffles, and crispy pork belly at Ballo was divine,) and staying within my daily and weekly points, but I still swelled up like a tick. And while I don't think I over-indulged in booze, the inflammation came back in full force! 

I went to a local Weight Watchers meeting at my regular time, Tuesday morning, to weigh in. The accountability is important to me.  I knew I would be up, and I was. I got my WW Weekly paper, but didn't stay for the meeting because I wasn't on my own time. I didn't spiral, and it didn't trigger the attitude of, "oh, well, I may as well eat whatever I want now." This is a major non-scale victory for me.

On the night before my flight home, I placed a grocery order with Instacart to deliver so my fridge would be stocked with nutritious foods when I arrived home. I stuck to plan on travel day, having the snacks I packed for breakfast and had almonds and diet soda and water on the plane ride. I cooked dinner when I got home and all was back to normal. At my WW meeting Tuesday, every ounce of my vacation bloat was off and I was back at my pre-vacation weight.

I can't express how wonderful it was being back at my meeting. I got so many hugs, it just made my day. 

I wore a dress to the Neil Diamond concert (which was great, btw!) I did a side by side photo, one of me on my 15th wedding anniversary in the dress I wore to the New Year's Eve party we went to in Italy with the photo of me in the dress before the concert...

I feel it more than I see it, but I'm pleased!


I'm starting to plan a mini-trip for my birthday in September. Rob and I are craving the beach. I'm thinking a condo, so I can cook some meals and not have to rely on restaurants as heavily as I normally would. I want to enjoy life, but going off plan isn't an option for me. I think I will be less stressed about it if I have a bit more control. It's a slippery slope and I can't ski.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

May Goals Review

I set myself two goals for May. First was to get "blue dot" days every day for the whole month. The second was to complete the Flat Abs challenge I posted about. One was a complete success, the other, was less so. 

I slept crazy one night last week and had a painful neck for DAYS. I couldn't even turn my head at one point, lest I got a shooting pain up into my head and down into my back. It was not fun. That means I didn't finish the last five days of the Flat Abs challenge. I am going to do the days that aren't checked off on my tracking sheet, though. I have one week before I leave for Boston and that will be the perfect time to complete it. I'm going to do the next day on the calendar as soon as I hit "publish."

What is a blue dot day? In my Weight Watchers tracker, there is a calendar that tracks your monthly progress for staying in my "healthy point range" which is three points below to seven points over my daily point target. 

This challenge proved to me that the Smartpoints plan is perfect for me. I don't obsess about calories, or cutting out whole food groups, I just focus on eating nutritious and delicious food in the appropriate portions. It's amazing how I'm never hungry when I'm not supposed to be. That means I'm getting enough food to keep me satisfied and energized. 

And I NAILED IT!





In other news, I have tendinitis in my Achilles' as diagnosed by my ortho. Ice and rest and no rowing until it heals. Poop! I miss rowing, but it hasn't impeded my progress at all, so that's good. I had my second set of injections in my knees. Holy merde! The second set hurt like a bastard, so bad that I am dreading the final set on Tuesday. The recovery time for this second set was a bit longer. I hope the final set doesn't impede me for my Boston trip.

Goals for June are a bit more loose. I'm traveling from the 8th through the 15th. I'm aiming for blue dot days but not going over my target of 31 points from today until the 7th. I'm going to be using weekly points while I'm away, which I'm typically stingy with. I sent up a bunch of my "on track" staples up before me so I can be on track all day and enjoy the restaurant meals we'll be having in the evening. My plan is to make nutritious choices and enjoy a dirty martini and a glass of wine here and there. 

We talked about "vacation mode" at our meeting last week. Our leader says that if you don't track or stay on plan while you're away, fine, we all have to live our lives, but to make a plan for the exact moment when you will be off vacation mode and stick to it, otherwise a weekend away will turn into a week or two of food indulgences and then it's even harder to bounce back. I love this! I have made my goal to be off vacation mode the morning I wake up to come home. I have a fairly early flight. I will arrange grocery delivery the evening before so I have no excuses for eating takeout, like I always do first day home after travel. I've got this!

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Power of Sleep

OMG, you guys! We have appointments! This is not a drill!

After months of shenanigans, stress, and pain, I have my three appointments set up for my SynVisc supplement injections. It's been a battle but the light at the end of the tunnel is switched on and is getting brighter and closer. First injection is next week and I'll have had all three by the time I leave for Boston to visit my people on June 8th.

I found out yesterday and my stress level dropped so nicely that I had the best night's sleep that I've had in months. You all know the power of great sleep. My pain level is down today, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, and I had the best workout. I shaved 20 seconds off my personal best 2000 meter time. I'm currently sitting ranked at 858 of 864. The more I practice the faster I'll get. The new rowing season started May first. I'm aiming to not be on the last page by the end of the season. 

When I think back to when I started rowing, I could barely do 3 minutes. Now I can do up to 30 minutes. It makes me proud to look at my progress. They have all sorts of challenges throughout the season, but I'm not up to that level yet. But next season, I plan on joining one.

I'm up to date on my flat abs challenge. I'm getting stronger with that workout, too. The leg lifts, which are so hard, I could only lift my legs maybe 30 degrees when I first started, I'm up to the full 90 degrees now and not having to rest after a full 11 of not lowering all the way to ground.

In other news, I hit my 5% weight loss goal at Weight Watchers the other week and got the prettiest little charm. I bought myself a charm bracelet to put it on as a reminder of my progress and keep me motivated. 


The other charm that came with the bracelet says, "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." I thought that was a nice sentiment. Looking forward to adding charms to it as I hit more goals.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Little Taste of Freedom

My dear friend Donna took me out for lunch yesterday. In fact, she treated me like I was Queen for a Day. We went to True Food Kitchen in Atlanta. We shared the crudite bowl. It was as beautiful as a bouquet of spring flowers. It was served with tzatziki and this amazing olive dip that was like if they had made hummus with olives instead of nasty beans. I spooned out my two tablespoons of each and enjoyed then with plenty of cold, crunchy vegetables. The watermelon radish was a revelation! I hope I can find them in the shop this summer, because they left me wanting more.



My entree was a poke bowl. A bed of quinoa, watermelon radishes, cucumbers, snow peas, avocado, these mushrooms that were chewy and crunchy at the edges and had so much umami flavor, and silky raw ahi tuna. The dressing was a lightly sweetened, spicy lime elixir that complimented all the flavors perfectly. I will dream of this until I can have it again. It was the perfect balance of nutritious and delicious.



I wasn't hungry to eat or cook supper when I got home. I called in a takeaway for Rob and I ate an apple, a pot of yogurt, and had plenty of points to spend on a cookie. It was two soft carrot cake cookies sandwiching sweet cream cheese icing. Oh, yeah, it was good! I savored it, as well as the fact that I had a day of not having to be chained to the stove. It didn't trigger me, and shockingly I didn't want another. I suppose knowing that I could have was enough for me. For the first time in way too long I feel like I'm in control again, like I've finally broken free of food controlling me. It was a very good day. That cookie was delicious, but the feeling of freedom is definitely sweeter!


Friday, May 5, 2017

Blogilates Challenge for May 2017

I updated the header to reflect some recent photos. One was from August of last year. We were in Florida and it was so hot, I was miserable, but I looked happy in the photo because we were in the cocktail lounge and I was deep in the Champagne cocktails by this time. The other photo is from Tuesday of this week. Not too bad for 47, I'd say!

I belong to a Facebook group called No Finish Line Nation. It's full of great motivation and support. They do monthly fitness challenges. This month's challenge is Blogilates 30 day flat abs. I have no illusions about ever having flat abs but the back doctor told me to strengthen my core in order to decrease back pain, so this seemed like a good challenge for me to take part in.


I started on May 1st and have been working on it each day. It's really working! I am noticing a decrease in my back pain, Doc is on to something. I'm going to commit to doing this every day until completed. Doing nine leg lifts after rowing 20 minutes was tough! I'm getting stronger, though, and that's the goal.

In other news, I'm still in a holding pattern with my knees. I called the insurance company to see what the hold up is in the approval process. Turns out, the doctor's office NEVER sent the pre-certification papers. I was so angry! I called the doctor's office and had a good rant. Nearly three weeks of waiting in pain 24/7, so much that it's disturbing my sleep, for nothing. I'm calling the insurance and the doctor's office again on Monday. And will keep pestering them until I get some relief. This is my life these people are playing with. I'll keep calling until I get some treatment. No matter what happens with health insurance in this country, you have to be your own advocate. Demand the care you deserve and are paying through the nose for!




Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The "20 Minute Rule"




If you're like me, then you've experienced the feeling of wanting to eat more food after you've finished eating. Especially if you're trying to eat in a more nutritious fashion. You don't get that same fullness associated with stuffing your face with a thick cheeseburger and hot, greasy fries as you do after finishing a plate of wine poached red snapper, a one cup serving of rice pilaf, and a big pile of balsamic roasted asparagus. (Dinner last night, it was delicious, by the way!)

During one of my Weight Watchers meetings, one of the members talked about this feeling of wanting to eat more. We all understood exactly what she was talking about. She explained to us that she started applying a "20 minute rule," that if after she finished her meal or snack, she'd wait 20 minutes to see if she really was truly still hungry. And if she was, she'd give herself guilt-free permission to have more food. But that she typically lost interest in eating more food after waiting the full 20 minutes. I think it has to do with the time it takes for your stomach and brain to coordinate signals that yes, we've eaten, yes we are satisfied, no we don't need to eat more food. Time to digest.

And you know what?  IT WORKS!!!  I've adopted this strategy after every meal and snack. Sometimes I even set a timer. And I have yet to go back for more food after the full 20 minutes as elapsed. I've already cleaned the kitchen up in that time, and my mind is on other things. This has really helped me learn that crucial difference between physical stomach hunger, and just wanted to stuff my face for no real reason than for the sake of eating. 

I wish I could remember which member is was, because I really want to thank her. I'm going to ask on my WW group's Facebook page because it was so valuable to me.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Week in Food~ Not Your Mother's Weight Watchers

I previously posted my new meal planner with menu plans filled in...(click image to see the details.)


Here's some food porn and recipe links from the finished meals. It was a satisfying, nutritious and delicious week!

Monday~ Epic Cobb Salad (10 Smartpoints)


This featured a bed of salad greens topped with spring onions, orange bell pepper, cucumber, snow peas, grape tomatoes, sweet crunchy apples, crumbled blue cheese, bacon, and grilled chicken. I used the new sprays that I bought at Aldi as the dressing. The chili oil was really nice, lots of flavor for the amount. I love the format of the balsamic spray, but I've been spoiled by the real thing, so the vinegar left me a little flat.

Tuesday~ Grilled Sirloin Steak with Grilled Caesar's Salad (14sp)


                         

I was dreaming about the taste of grilled beef, so this happened. I made homemade croutons and Caesar dressing from Gina's Skinnytaste website. I cut the lemon juice in the dressing with white balsamic vinegar because if it's too sour, Rob won't eat it. The dressing and the croutons were amazing!

Thursday~ Jerk Chicken Buddha Bowl (7sp)

                            

Oh, this was a bowl of deliciousness, look how pretty it is! It has a base of supergrain blend, which contains quinoa, a crunchy salad blend from Trader Joe's which has seven or eight different chopped vegetables in it, chopped red pepper, diced fresh pineapple, grilled chicken breast seasoned with jerk seasoning, I like the McCormick blend, it's super spicy. And a homemade dressing of a dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt, a splash of vinegar, and some sriracha. Whip up a Buddha bowl, the only limit is your imagination. I wish I had though to grill the pineapple. I won't forget next time.

This was made on one of those days, one of those terrible, no good, very bad days. The kind where you just want to order takeout and stress eat the day away. I shut those thoughts down immediately and threw this together. All that spice and crunch really put a smile on my face. That's what we call a Non-Scale Victory!

Wednesday~ Mahi Mahi Burgers and Lemony Cole Slaw with Apples (10sp)

No photo. Another Trader Joe's find from my last visit. Low point and delicious seasoned patties of mahi mahi. I cooked them off and put them on a couple of flatout flat breads each and a big heaping scoop of lemony cole slaw. The cole slaw is an official Weight Watchers recipe and it knocked my socks off, the lemony dressing was a revelation! We ate off that batch three times, it never got soggy, watery, or discolored. I think it's going to be my go-to summer slaw. 

Friday~ Fish and Chips with Chip Butty (17sp)


Rob was after me for fish and chips. How was I going to fit that into my plan? Trader Joe to the rescue!  They had frozen fish nuggets and Handsome Cut Fries. I scanned them with my handy app and saw that the points were far smaller than I had anticipated. I made sure I had enough points for a double serving of fish and a hearty 5 ounce serving of fries. I had enough for bread and butter, too, because one simply does not have fish and chips without a chip butty. This plate is about 17 points, which is a bit more than I typically like to have at one meal. I had eaten tons of raw veggies throughout the day to keep points low and to make sure I had my vegetables servings in. I don't like frozen fries, they always taste funky and fake, but not these, they tasted homemade. Highly recommended when you need that French fry fix.

Saturday~ Pizza Night (12sp)
We have Pizza Night every Friday at Shady Dame, but because Rob was craving fish and chips, I moved it to Saturday. I didn't snap a pic, I'll have to do it another time. It's very simple, Flatout Artisan Rosemary Olive Oil pizza crust. It is indeed flat. Flat as a slice of paper but it's quite tasty. I spray it with a bit of EVOO, bake it on a tray for five minutes, take it out and layer on crushed tomatoes, crushed red pepper, fresh basil, a sprinkling of Pecorino Romano cheese and two and a half ounces of shredded part skim mozzarella cheese. Back in the oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees F. I make one for me and two for Rob. It's a delicious 12 points. I pair it with a green salad if I need a bit more food in me. 

Easter Sunday~ Pork schnitzel, sage brown butter noodles, and Roman style artichoke hearts (16sp)


The whole point of the new Weight Watchers is to make the plan fit your life, and not the other way around. And hey, holidays happen, but it's not an excuse for me to go off the rails at this time in my life. I wanted a crispy, crunchy, fried pork cutlet with toothsome, buttery noodles. I made a few tweaks and got exactly what I wanted. I baked the cutlets and crisped them up with panko and EVOO spray (the organic Spanish one from Trader Joe's has amazing flavor and no propellants,) ditched the egg dip in favor of a light brushing of Dijon mustard and cut the butter back to just one tablespoon for 6 ounces of frozen noodles (which was two servings for us that day.) The artichokes are a spring tradition for me, I usually like them whole and stuffed with my Mother's Italian stuffing but I found this recipe and it was wonderful. Sauteed with a little broth, shallots, and lots of fresh mint, and splash of white wine vinegar and it fit the bill perfectly.


I can't have Easter without a Cadbury Egg. I got one of each, split them, and vacuumed sealed the other halves and hid them in the freezer. I savored this little bit of lovliness, and only had to dip into two of my weekly points. Win!

 As you can see, the new Weight Watchers isn't the same as in the old days with fat free Frakenfoods and boring chicken and steamed broccoli every night. I won't bore you with what I ate every week, but look for these posts from time to time. 

*disclaimer* All Smartpoints were calculated using the official Weight Watchers app using my specific ingredients. Always double check the recipe against your ingredients for the most accurated points count.
*Post contains affiliate links, see disclosure for more details*

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Results are in...

You are NOT the father!  (You read that in Maury's voice, didn't you?)

I recently had an MRI on my lumbar spine and bilateral knees. I saw both of my orthopedists this week to discuss the results.

I have herniated discs in my low back, along with fluid in my facet joint on the left side which is causing pain on that side. But the back doc said these will heal on their own eventually and to keep doing what I'm doing, which is the exercises the Physical Therapist gave me and going back to my Chiropractor regularly.

The knees are a bit more complicated. I have meniscus tears on both sides, along with severe arthritis in both knees, so basically bone on bone. I'm not surprised by this at all. And while I'm not happy about it, I feel validated to have an actual diagnosis and a solid treatment plan. It can be hard to get taken seriously by the medical community while being a woman, and fat. Women's pain complaints are often underestimated by medical professionals, and fat women get dismissed right at the start much of the time.

The weight loss over the past month has done a small amount of good in the pain and mobility department, but not enough that I can be as active as I want. I'm still out of work on leave. The knee doc said he wants to do a series of viscosupplement injections which will mimic synovial fluid between the bones and hopefully decrease pain. If this works, it will keep me out of having surgery at this point.

Think good thoughts that the insurance company approves this quickly! In the meanwhile, I'm going to keep on keeping on with Weight Watchers. I'm loving the program so much, I wish I had joined sooner. I'll do a more detailed post on it soon, with lots more gushing.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Recipe~ Overnight Oats with Chia and Berries

Have you tried overnight oats? They are also known as refrigerator oats, you mix oats, liquid, fruit, and flavorings then they sit in the fridge overnight. The oats absorb the liquid and get soft and flavorful from the fruit and whatever flavorings you add. They are quick, convenient, and perfect for a Sunday batch up. If you want a satisfying grab and go breakfast, this fits the bill.

Overnight Oats with Chia and Berries
Makes three servings
7 Smartpoints per serving, calculated by the official Weight Watchers recipe builder


Ingredients~
1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats, not instant, or steel cut
3 tablespoons chia seeds
3 servings of your favorite protein powder, I used eggwhite powder that I found at Trader Joe's
8 fluid ounces of the milk of your choice, I like unsweetened vanilla almond milk
8 fluid ounces of water
1 cup of fresh or frozen fruit, I used frozen cherry berry blend
pumpkin pie spice to taste
a packet of your favorite sweetener, I used one packet of stevia

Instructions~
Mix everything in a large bowl, divide the mixture evenly between three containers, I used pint mason jars. Place in fridge overnight. Breakfast is ready to devour the next morning!


This is completely customizable to your taste, you can add lemon zest, juice and add blueberries, you can add a ripe mashed banana, pineapple, peaches. Different flavors of protein powder can change it up, too. Just keep in mind that your point value will vary depending on the type of protein powder you use. To lower the points, you can omit the chia seeds, but I like the good fats, it helps keep me. If you come up with a great combination, come share it with me!


Sunday has also become meal planning day. This is a must for me in order to have a successful week. I got this fantastic planner from Amazon. I've tried all manner of planners over the years, but this is the one I would have designed myself had I any artistic ability. They have all sorts of covers available. I almost got the Wonder Woman cover until I saw the cupcakes.


I've got most of my meals planned out, including my reminders to exercise. My knees are feeling ever so slightly better so I'm going to bust out my Leslie Sansone Walk and Home DVDs and try out the one mile walk, as well as try to build up some stamina and strengthen my knees on the new rowing machine we just bought.


Have a wonderful week!


Disclaimer~This post contains affiliate links.



Thursday, April 6, 2017

Recipe~ Beef Stroganoff Bubble Up Featuring Kettle and Fire Beef Bone Broth


Broth is still beautiful! Even as I fell back into old eating habits, my habit of stashing bones and vegetable scraps to make bone broth never fell by the wayside. The health benefits are too good to overlook. My joints need all the help they can get, and bone broth is high in minerals and amino acids. I love to cook with it and sip it. It really helped Rob get over a horrible cold this winter. 

I've always hoped that I could find excellent quality beef broth that I could keep in the pantry for those times when I didn't have any beef bones in the freezer. Enter Kettle and Fire! They offer a shelf stable bone broth in vacuum sealed packs. They use bones from 100% organic, pasture-raised and grass-fed cattle. I'm featuring Kettle and Fire beef bone broth in my new recipe, Beef Stroganoff Bubble up.

What's a bubble up? Well, it's a casserole. Not sure why it's called a bubble up, but there are lots of them floating around the Weight Watchers recipe blogs. Think lightened up comfort food! I haven't tried any from the recipe blogs, because many of them require the use canned condensed soup. Ugh, nope! I can do better. Now this isn't a dump and stir recipe, it does require a little cooking in the kitchen, but it's worth it for something nutritious and delicious.

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Beef Stroganoff Bubble Up
Serving size 1/6 of the recipe
8 Smart points per serving

Ingredients~




1 pound of extra lean ground beef, cooked and drained well. Seasoned to taste. I used some of that amazing Everything but the Bagel seasoning from Trader Joe's. It's a savory flavor bomb!
1 whole cauliflower, cut into florets
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
8 ounces fresh cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced, and sauteed
8 ounces fresh cremini muhrooms, cleaned and left whole
4 tablespoons reduced fat sour cream
1 tablespoon of reduced sodium Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tablespoon of paprika
salt and pepper to taste
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1 ounce shredded part skim mozzarella cheese (I like to buy the block and shred it myself)
1 package of reduced fat crescent rolls whack-a-dough, don't unroll it, leave the roll whole, cut it into 8 even pieces crosswise then cut each circle into four pieces. I realize that it's not exactly a whole food, but I make it part of the 20% in the 80/20 template I try to follow. You could easily omit and top with homemade biscuits or pie crust. 



Sipping the rest of the broth while I was cooking. It has a rich mouth feel but tasted a bit bland, but low sodium broth allows you to control the sodium in your food. 

Instructions~
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Spray a 13x9 or similar sized casserole dish with cooking spray. I like the Spanish organic olive oil spray from Trader Joe's, really good flavor and no propellants.
Place a deep sided skillet over medium high heat, spray with cooking spray and add chopped onion and cook until softened. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour in bone broth and Worcestershire sauce and stir up any brown bits from the bottom. Add whole mushrooms and cauliflower. Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer to blender or food processor and purée until smooth. 




Transfer purée to bowl and stir in cooked beef, sour cream, and sliced, cooked mushrooms. Transfer mixture to prepared casserole dish, it will be loose, think beef pot pie filling. Place cut up crescent rolls evenly over the top and sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes until the rolls are golden brown and the casserole is all bubbly.  Devour!

This was a hit with my husband. It was filling and delicious. If you do weekend meal prep, you could toss this together on Sunday, cover it, stash it in the fridge and pop it in the oven for a busy weeknight dinner. 




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For those of you following the Weight Watchers Smartpoints plan, you can enjoy a full cup of a nutritious and delicious elixir for a whopping 1 Smartpoint!


Compare Kettle and Fire to the ingredients of popular national brands...




Canned Beef Broth~ Beef Broth (water, beef stock) Salt, Hydrolyzed protein (yeast, soy, corn, wheat,) Barley Yeast Extract, Monosodium Glutamate, Sugar, Detrise, Caramel, Flavor, Citric Acid, Spice Extracts. 

Reduced fat Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup~ Chicken Stock, Modified Food Starch, Wheat Flour, Cream (Milk), Chicken Meat, Contains Less Than 2% Of: Salt, Vegetable Oil, Mechanically Separated Chicken*, Monosodium Glutamate, Yeast Extract, Water, Soy Protein Concentrate, Flavoring, Chicken Fat, Vegetable Oil, Beta Carotene For Color, Soy Protein Isolate, Sodium Phosphate, Lactic Acid, Soy Lecithin, Celery Extract, Chicken*, Butter (Cream), Butter* (Cream, Salt), Cream* (Cream, Soy Lecithin), Sunflower Oil, Buttermilk, Enzyme Modified Butter, Butter (Cream, Annatto), Whey Protein Concentrate, Onion Extract, Nonfat Dry Milk, Enzyme Modified Butter Fat And Oil, Whey. *dehydrated

Reduced fat Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup~ Water, Mushrooms, Modified Food Starch, Wheat Flour, Contains Less Than 2% Of: Salt, Cream (Milk), Vegetable Oil (Corn, Canola, And/or Soybean), Monosodium Glutamate, Soy Protein Concentrate, Flavoring, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Water, Lactic Acid, Dehydrated Butter (Cream, Salt), Buttermilk, Enzyme Modified Butter, Skim Milk, Whey Protein Concentrate, Enzyme Modified Butter Fat And Oil, Whey, Soy Lecithin.

(Kettle and Fire provided me with samples of their product, but the opinions contained in this post are my own. This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosures for more details.)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Defining my Vision

In order to regain my mobility, in order to have long lasting success, I need to have a clear vision of WHY I have decided to do what amounts to starting over. I want to have this laid out clearly so I can keep it close to me when things get tough, when I get tired of tracking points, when I get frustrated by pain and just want to feed myself for comfort.

Rob and I went to Italy in December 2016 to celebrate Rob's 50th birthday, the winter holidays, and our 15th wedding anniversary. We returned to the hotel we stayed at the previous year, right in the heart of the Oltrarno neighborhood of Florence, the most beautiful city in the world. It was a dream come true. But my knees, my immobility stood in the way of my fully enjoying this vacation.

I could only walk for so long before having to sit down and rest. It was so frustrating and I was so disappointed in myself. My husband was so loving and supportive, though. He was my sherpa carrying everything when I couldn't, being patient with me when I had to slow down or rest. It was wonderful (OMG, the food and wine,) for the most part, but I can't shake the feeling of disappointment of how I let myself, and my husband down.

My vision is going back to Italy and having a chance to do it over again, this time with my legs and back feeling great, being able to walk for miles without resting, without having to wake up with swollen knees and wonder how I was going to get through the day. I have this vision clear in my mind, with a goal date in mind, my 50th birthday in September of 2019.

In case you wondering why I want to go back, here are some photos from our trip. This will help me to revisit my WHY when I need it, to help me define my vision.

The view of Ponte Santa Trinita from Ponte Vecchio over the Arno River

Birth of Venus, Botticelli in Uffizi Gallery

Meat and Cheeses from Signorvino. 
You've never tasted Prosciutto like this outside of Italy.

Madame with the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) in the background

Rare quiet morning in the city center


The Replica of David, where the original used to stand, in front of 
the Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria


The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, 
known the world over as The Duomo 

Santo Spirito Church

Basilica di Santa Croce, the final resting place of many famous 
Italians Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli

Il Porcellino, rub his nose to ensure your return to Florence. 
You bet I rubbed that snoot!

Oceanus by Giambologna in the Bargello Sculpture Museum

Crostini with different spreads from Le Volpe L'Uva, 
I miss those long wine lunches. We even sat outside late December.


Gaia's Fountain in Piazza del Campo, Siena

Duomo di Siena (Cathedral of Siena)

The Church in a square in San Gimignano 

Tuscan Countryside


Michelangelo's David at Accademia Gallery

The view over Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo

The Colosseum, Rome

Perseus with the head of Medusa, Cellini, outside the Loggia di Lanza
sculpture garden in Piazza della Signoria

Bianchi (my maiden name) bikes all over town

Pitti Palace Muse


Ponte Veccho by night

The giant Christmas Tree in front of the Duomo

At a New Year's Eve gala on our 15th Anniversary, 
what a fabulous night this was!

La Primavera by Botticelli, lesser known than 
Birth of Venus but more evocative IMO.

Duomo di Pisa

Piazza Navona, Rome

Neptune's Fountain, Piazza Navona