Sunday, February 26, 2012

15 pounds gone!

Today I "officially" weighed in (as I do on Sundays.) I've lost a total of 15 lbs since January 1st! I'm pretty excited about that. I usually lose a few pounds in the first week just due to water weight and such, but I'm glad it stuck.

Today is my dad's birthday and I was looking for a picture of the two of us to put up as my facebook picture, and we really don't have any together recently, so I went way back and found pictures from my high school graduation. I was so incredibly ashamed of my body then, and though I was overweight, I was only about 20 lbs overweight as opposed to 70. Isn't it amazing how you can think you are SUCH an ugly person and then look back and realize that you were at least somewhat cute? It's too bad that I was so racked with self-image issues that I just sort of hid. If I had been more confident, I would have done more, I think. Before my senior year of high school I'd lost 30 pounds on Weight Watchers (well, I wasn't an official member, but I learned the points system very quickly) but I still felt like the scared fat girl.

Anyway, the whole point of that paragraph was that I feel motivated. I've never been stuck in quite the rut I feel I'm in now (it's sort of hard to be at your first real, full-time job ... as opposed to the constant change of school, classes, internships, student jobs, groups, friends, etc.) but looking at those old pictures was a really strong motivator of why I want to do this. This is super dorky but as SparkPeople had suggested when I first set up an account, I'd taken a couple pics from my freshman year of college and put them on the back of my bathroom door next to my full-length mirror as motivation.

So I don't know, I just felt good today, especially after seeing the lowest weight I've hit since the beginning of the year. 15.2  lbs gone... 61.8 lbs before I reach my first goal weight! (a whopping 81.8 lbs before I reach my ULTIMATE goal weight... but I'd be happy at my first goal weight, too.)

Fiddler on the Roof today was great. We went to dinner afterwards. I did get the grilled chicken fajita salad. I managed to limit myself to just a couple chips from the basket, though we were all starving since we hadn't eaten since breakfast. I'm sure the salad I ate wasn't less caloric than a lot of items offered, but at least I got some nutrition in there. The amount of grilled chicken on the salad was massive, probably at least two servings of chicken, and there was  a good sprinkling of cheese and a couple tablespoons of guacamole (which I used instead of the dressing it came with), not to mention a couple of those little fried triangle things they stick in salads to purposely make them calorie-laden. Could I have set them aside? Yeah, I could've. But I didn't. And you know what? I don't care.

I very rarely go out to eat (well, unless you count Jimmy John's every Friday, but at least I can calculate the nutritional info for that accurately rather than trying to guess, and I can plan my fat/calories/sodium around that) and the last few times that I've done so, I have been trying to order food that at least packs a nutritional punch, even if it is full of fat and calories. I guarantee you my salad had more calories than a Big Mac, but at least I knew that I was getting a ton of mixed greens, veggies, real cheese as opposed to that processed American cheese crap, good fats from the guacamole, and not as much saturated or trans fat.

It's really been a change for me to not "blow it" completely when I go out to eat. Normally I would say "Well, I guess this will just be one of those screw up days." And I'd make no effort. I'd order the heaviest cheeseburger I could with fries, and probably get an appetizer too. Now, I feel like every single time I've gone out to eat this year, I've made a healthier choice, even if it's not under 500 calories.

Anyway, that's all. Back to work tomorrow. I move into my mom's house for a couple weeks starting tomorrow to house-sit (mostly cat-sit) for her, so I've been busy packing (while watching The Oscars, of course.) I'm a little nervous about working out -- I use my Wii so often and I won't have it. I mean, my mom lives 15 minutes away from me so it's not like I can't come here, but I like to just come right home after work and she lives closer to my work than I do, so I'd like not to make too many trips to my condo. I'm bringing 5 exercise DVDs and I'm hoping we have a couple nice-ish days so I can go for a walk/jog (she lives in a much better neighborhood for this than I do - I live in a nice place but there aren't many sidewalks and there's a lot of traffic). Also bringing weights and my resistance band. We'll see!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Start of week 9

It's been another up-and-down week. Mostly I didn't do horribly. I felt exhausted and pretty awful in the middle of the week, and I ended up skipping my workout two days in a row. Luckily, I made up one of the workouts on Friday when i was planning on having a rest day. 

I did have one day where I went way over my calories, but was within range every other day, so…

Weight-wise I'm not sure. I think I'm at a little bit of a standstill. Sort of just doing that fluctuating thing I did last week. It's that time of the month though and I feel bloated sooo I'm hoping I'm weighing in heavier than I normally would be. In total I've lost 13.2 lbs since the beginning of 2012. My lowest weight this year would mean that I've lost 15 lbs, and i weighed in at that weight yesterday, so… we'll see. YES, I said in my last entry that I needed to hide the scale, but … whatever.

I got a couple new workouts from Amazon for my Wii and I'm really sad to say that I really hate both of them. I'm going to try again, but egh. I got a Zumba workout that comes with a belt you wear to put the Wii remote in. Seriously, the screen is ridiculous… it's basically a silhouette you have to follow, and it flashes all these neon colors… it's pretty irritating. The other thing is they have all these "tutorials" where you can learn the Zumba steps, and because I'm so uncoordinated I started there first. Maybe someone more familiar with dance or someone coordinated would be able to figure it out, but it's not even a tutorial. It goes super fast and the Wii remote doesn't measure your moves accurately in the belt, so it kept thinking I was doing the moves correctly when really I was just flailing around. I also got a "Just Dance" workout. This one you just hold the remote in your hand, but it STILL doesn't register when I actually do it. So… pretty aggravating. Lastly, my friend gave me her Wii Active because she wasn't using it, but again, just not working. I guess a lot of this has to do with the Wii. The Wii Active has a band you put around your upper leg. And again, just not registering right. I try to do squats and it won't let me because it already thinks I'm squatting too low even when I'm standing.
So maybe I should blame the Wii instead of the games themselves. I did replace the batteries in my remote and they're full, so not sure what the issue is.

I do still love my Gold's Gym Cardio Workout though! That's what I ended up doing today after failing at the other workouts. USUALLY registers my moves. I just think that the WIi is better suited for workouts that have you hold the remote in your hand rather than trying to put it in a pocket or on a strap of some kind.

Tomorrow I think I'm taking a rest day from working out since I'll be pretty busy. I'm going to go see Fiddler on The Roof - I bought tickets for my dad's birthday. We're also going out to dinner at Abuelo's. I'm trying to find something on the menu that might be healthy-ish, but I'm going to be careful the rest of the day. I will probably get the grilled chicken fajita salad and go light on the cheese and guac. 

Oh, I got a couple great new cookbooks! I finished browsing Martha Stewart's Everyday Food Light and put a bunch of the recipes into my MacGourmet. I'm still at the beginning of America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook and I think it's going to be great. On that note, here's my menu plan for the week:

Vegetable Meat(less) Loaf

Dinner @ Abuelo's (probably grilled chicken salad)

Portobello mushroom burgers with peaches and sweet potato fries

Thai chicken and noodle salad

"Steakhouse side" mac and cheese with broccoli 


Jimmy John's vegetarian sub

Every single recipe I'm making this week is a new one! I usually don't do that, but I'm feeling adventurous. My friend and I made the vegetable meat loaf tonight. It's a Cooking Light recipe. Not bad, but really not worth the time it took to make it (there are a LOT of steps.) I liked the idea, though - most vegetarian meatloafs have something other than veggies as the meat replacement (like lentils, or tofu) but this is made mostly of vegetables. The "meatiness" comes from two pounds of cremini mushrooms. Those were pricy! I felt there were too many walnuts. But anyway. I digress.

Going to start a fire and have some tea!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Start of week 8, junk food substitutions, happiness, spring, and the scale

I think I need to stop weighing myself. It's really aggravating! I've weighed myself every day for quite a long time, and part of me likes to do that (as opposed to once a week, so I can notice fluctuations so if I happen to weigh in on Sunday and I'm appalled, I can sort of know if it's a fluke or not.) I know a lot of people have said that they just stopped weighing themselves, or did it very infrequently (like once a month) and that it was quite "freeing". And I know, logically, that I need to be focusing on how I feel, how my clothes fit, my energy level, etc. rather than a stupid number. I know all that. But it's hard to let go! 

Two days ago, for example, I was down another pound and thrilled - I weighed in this morning with a gain of over 2 pounds. Which I know is completely NORMAL… but still somewhat aggravating. I know I've mentioned that I use SparkPeople for all my food/exercise/weight tracking, and SP sets a "goal line" for you based on how much weight you want to lose in a time period, and I am now above that line (meaning, I am not on track to reach my goal in the time period that I want.) Anyway, again, I know this isn't a big deal. It's easy to get obsessive, isn't it?

Anyhow, we'll see if I can let go of the scale. Or at least make me stop caring about it. 

Eating-wise I did pretty well week 7 except for Friday. Stuck to my menu plan completely. But Friday, ugh. I hang out with my dad on Fridays and I always get a Jimmy John's vegetarian sub (high fat and high cal but I make sure it fits into my calorie goals for the day) but then I always end up having a drink or two and my dad doesn't exactly eat healthily… so i ended up eating a good handful of M&Ms he'd bought(and I'm not even really a huge fan of milk chocolate so I'm surprised, but you know) and, anyway, that might explain the gain (salt + alcohol + chocolate… hmm.)

Stuck to my workout plan almost perfectly, except that I ended up having to take a rest day on one of the days that I planned to do a long workout because I was just so unbelievably sore. I had another rest day planned for Friday since, again, I hang out with my dad, but I got to leave work early (I'm hourly and had worked late a couple days that week) so I played around on the Wii Fit for a half hour. Didn't burn many calories (180, according to my heart rate monitor) but at least it's something. 

Anyway, here's my menu plan for week 8:

Veggie sandwich (mini kaiser roll with with reduced-fat swiss, avocado, alfalfa sprouts, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, and light mayo) with a side of baby carrots

Blackened tilapia baja tacos with avocado and tomato with a side of broccoli (this is a Cooking Light recipe. I made it once ages ago, but I had a TERRIBLE pan and the fish stuck horribly, but i figured I should try it again as I am trying to eat more fish - I'm not a huge fan but I do like blackened, mild-flavored fish!)

Bruschetta-stuffed portobello mushrooms (a SparkPeople recipe  I haven't made before)


Chicken Floss Curry w/ Roasted Vegetables (from Crepes of Wrath - haven't made this one before)


Jimmy John's vegetarian sub

Hmm, what else…there was a discussion on SparkPeople the other day about good substitutes for junk food. I thought I'd share one of my favorites. (Don't worry, I'm not lucky enough to get paid plugging products ;)) I'm really in love with the Food Should Taste Good brand of tortilla chips. Now, I realize this is still junk food. But it really, really helps when I want something salty/crunchy. I generally don't crave sweets too much - I keep a bar of 70% dark chocolate around and eat a square of it when I want, but I'm generally able to control myself - but salty snacks are usually what I crave. I've found these chips at a couple major grocery stores around here though the flavors are pretty limited. I've tried the multigrain (like them a lot - extra crunch from flaxseeds), The Works (I didn't like these, there is some type of spice in there that I don't care for - tarragon maybe?) and the Sweet Potato. The Sweet Potato are by far my favorite. It's a good thing I have a food scale because I think I would eat the whole bag in one sitting if I didn't properly measure out my portions. And there are only six ingredients! 

On occasion I make my own tortilla chips. I get just plain corn tortillas (but you gotta read the ingredients list - some have nothing but corn and lime juice and water, but others have tons of ridiculous stuff in them) and cut them up, spray with olive oil (I have a Misto) and bake them. I usually use these as a base for nachos (beans, tomatoes, avocado, and cheese usually.) 

 I also like air-popped popcorn. It would be super cheap to make my own, but I'm lazy and don't want to get a special popper; Trader Joe's sells it in bags and it's super addictive. Their popcorn with olive oil is incredible (high-calorie for popcorn, but delicious.)

I mentioned dark chocolate; I also have a weakness for Trader Joe's espresso pillows (chocolate-covered coffee beans… omg.) 

I'm really, really looking forward to spring. I have noticed myself getting a LOT happier as of the last week or so… the sun has been out and it's been warming up. I live in Wisconsin, so I know better than to think that spring is coming really soon - it really doesn't feel like spring until May here… but still excited. I'm hoping to grow some herbs on my patio, as I can never understand why they are so expensive in the store. 

Other good news is that my job has changed somewhat. We're in a pretty big state of transition. I think I've whined about my job quite a bit in here - it really has been a gigantic stressor in my life that has made me unhappy for quite a long time, but I didn't want to quit - mainly because it took me ten months to find this job, and I've only been there a year and a half, and I really liked my coworkers. Also, with my anxiety, starting a new job is horrifying. Plus, for my degree (a BA in psychology) and for working at a non-profit, I get paid enough to live fairly comfortably - I don't buy anything luxurious, but I have enough for the basics, and enough to buy high-quality food (this is where I splurge the most, I think.) Anyway, we've hired a couple people and I actually get my own office for the first time ever (well, I do share it, but not being on the front lines is an amazing feeling.) For the first time at work, I feel a lot calmer, and I'm so far liking my job duties. I'm still missing my old coworkers like crazy (they moved us from my small, loving office to our main, huge building) but I'm no longer feeling like I have to quit this job in order to just stay sane. It's still going to be chaotic, but I'm hoping the change in my job duties will allow me to stay at this job longer than I anticipated. 

I'm going to lay down and watch a little bit of TV - I did my hardest workout today (my hour-long step aerobics which kicks my ass every single time) and now I'm EXHAUSTED! Worth the 687 calories I burned. It was extra-hard today, not sure why… I really felt like I was going to puke a couple times… TMI, sorry. 

I just checked the weather and it's 42 degrees outside… that is downright balmy for Madison! I should probably try to get outside today for longer than just going to the clubhouse to check my mail.a

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A fluke, a recipe, soreness, and a Target shopping spree.

I was lucky - I think my weight gain on the scale was indeed a fluke. Not that I should have cared that much… but when i weighed in the following day I was half a pound lighter than I was when I left for vacation. Victory in my book! 

I wanted to share a delicious recipe I made tonight. Typically I don't share recipes from cookbooks, but I tweaked this one a little and it was so good that I couldn't not share it. I mean, it's not the most incredible meal I've ever made, but it's very quick, vegetarian (and easily veganized if need be) and easily made on a weeknight. This is adapted from The Rodale Whole Foods Cookbook, which I highly recommend. Everything I've made from it has been something special. 

These are not your ordinary stuffed peppers. The filling is nothing super special, but the sauce makes these amazing. 
Forgive my photo - I am certainly no food photographer, and my only camera is my iPhone! And yes, I know that it looks like the pepper took a crap on the plate. Oops.

Bean-Stuffed Peppers with Fontina

2 large bell peppers of your choosing (I used one red and one yellow), halved and seeded
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno (optional - and amount that you use will vary on how spicy you want your sauce)
2 cups cooked canary beans or cannellini beans (You can use canned for this if you're lazy like me, but it's cheaper and healthier to do it this way. if you get cans, you'll need about 1.5 15-oz cans.)
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp. sesame seeds (I didn't have these so left them out, but I recall them being quite tasty when I made this a while back)
1.5 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1.5 cups canned crushed tomatoes (or you can crush your own. I used a 15oz can of diced tomatoes and it was roughly 1.5 cups.)
½ cup raisins (optional - I omitted them)
4 oz. cheese of your choice (original recipe calls for manchego, but I used fontina), shredded

First, steam or slightly cook your peppers. You can do this any way that you want - in a steamer basket, or you can grill them. I have a little contraption for the microwave that steams veggies, so I used that. You want them to still hold their form but want them to be cooked enough that you don't bite into something really crunchy.

Chop your onion. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. When hot, add chopped onion and garlic and let cook for about 5-10 minutes, until they are golden, stirring frequently. If you are using jalapeno, chop it into small pieces and saute it with the onions and garlic. How much jalapeno you use depends on how spicy you want the sauce. The original recipe doesn't call for anything spicy, but I thought it needed something a little hot. Alternatively, you can use a garlic chili sauce (this is what I used - just a teaspoon or so), some sriracha, or some chili flakes. Or, if you don't like any spice, just omit it altogether.

Make the filling for the peppers. Combine the cooked beans, the tomato paste, and 1/4 cup of the onion mixture in a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher or a fork. It's fine to have some unmashed beans.

Lastly, make the sauce. Add the sesame seeds (if using), cocoa powder, oregano, cinnamon, and salt to the onion/garlic mixture. Cook for about a minute and then add the crushed/diced tomatoes. Cover and let simmer for a few minutes to let the flavors combine. While it simmers, grate your cheese of choice and divide into 4 roughly equal portions.

Pour your onion mixture into a blender or food processor (if using your blender, be sure to take the plastic cap out of the center of the top, and cover with a towel while blending so that steam can escape.) Puree until smooth. 

Pour the sauce back into the skillet. Place the four pepper halves, cut side up, in the pan and evenly distribute the filling among the peppers. Spoon a little bit of sauce on top of the peppers, and then top with the cheese. Cover again and let simmer for a couple minutes to allow the cheese to melt.

There'll be a lot of sauce, so scoop a generous portion onto a plate and top with the stuffed pepper. 

Makes four servings. I clearly served mine along with some steamed broccoli.

My nutritional calculations (keeping in mind that I omitted the sesame seeds and raisins:) 
324 calories
36 g carbs
14 g fat
17 g protein

In other news, I'm realllllly sore. I intended to work out tonight, but I can barely sit down. It's my own fault - I didn't stretch properly after my last workout, and I honestly am having pain even walking. I hate it when I don't properly stretch! I'm actually bummed to be missing a workout. My arms are killing me too (it was my Gold's Gym cardio workout that involves boxing/punching and a lot of ducking, which is why my legs are so sore.) 

I went to Target yesterday intending to buy some dishwasher soap, and I ended up spending a fortune! I got a cute new pair of workout shorts, and then I also bought myself a dry-erase board. I've been trying to find a good way to quickly reference my week's menu plan and workout plan. There were plenty of calendar-like boards but I opted to get a medium-size one. It's too bad my handwriting is so bad, but I like the idea. I just bought some little day-of-the-week magnets and then wrote down my week's dinners (so I can quickly look at them in the kitchen) as well as my exercise plan, and some health-related "to do" and "to buy" lists. It's working pretty well so far.

Hope everyone has a great Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Start of week 7

I'm a little annoyed that I gained weight over vacation. I gained over two pounds. I'm hoping it's just one of those fluky things, that I just ate too much salt or something. And I also know that small fluctuations are normal and that I should not be angry about a 2+ lb weight gain. But it's frustrating to not weigh yourself for over a week… and eat well and work out a lot, and then gain 2 pounds. Blah. Oh well, nothing to do but to keep on doing what I'm doing.

Went to Trader Joe's yesterday and spent $80! I was really out of food after being on vacation for a week. Here's my dinner menu plan for the week:

Zesty Garlic Chicken Wraps with tomatoes and spinach (I've posted the link to this recipe before, from Crepes of Wrath. It has more calories than I normally like at dinner - if you add cheese, about 500 total - but is sooooo delicious. Everything I've made from her site has been delicious, actually. Link is here.) 

Truffled Whole Wheat Mac & Cheese with a side of steamed broccoli (Cooking Light recipe - this turned out quite well even though I didn't have truffle oil which sort of defeated the purpose. Recipe is here.


Bean-stuffed bell peppers with Manchego (a really interesting recipe from the Rodale Whole Foods Cookbook. Bell peppers stuffed with onion, garlic, beans, and an odd but delicious sauce that is almost like a mole sauce - has unsweetened cocoa powder in it.) 


Pinto Bean Nachos (I made this almost every week for quite some time. Homemade tortilla chips topped with mashed pinto beans and whatever toppings you'd like - I usually use some spinach, tomato, avocado, sometimes bell pepper if I have some. Recipe is here.

Jimmy John's (my night with my Dad)

Today's workout was my Gold's Gym Wii game… so much fun. Did it for 45 minutes and burned 450 calories per my heart rate monitor. Not too shabby. I'm glad I did it before dinner and not after because I am realllllly full after that mac and cheese. Sort of a heavier dish even though you get less than 1 oz of cheese per serving - way to go, Cooking Light. If I make it again I think I'll throw some broccoli in there instead of having it on the side because I think there was enough sauce to cover everything. 

I go back to work on Tuesday and am having quite a few anxieties about it. I got a new boss while I was on vacation and I'm really curious to know how that's going… maybe I'll do some Wii Yoga tonight to try to relax. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Week... something? I'm in Florida!

I said I'd update on January 31st, but I never got around to it. I was busy prepping for vacation and then I got sick. I actually left work 15 minutes early on my last day before vacation because I was throwing up. Ick. 

I've been in Florida since Friday and it's been pretty nice. The weather hasn't been great - the first day we luckily had a lot of sun, but it's been cloudy ever since. I've still managed to get sunburned since I am really, really pale (and incapable of tanning - literally.) Also, there is some family drama. But anything is better than work!

 I have been pretty good health-wise, though. Since I've been here I've racked up 200 minutes of exercise, and burned lots of calories. I've also been eating very healthfully, lots of greens and fruits and veggies. Actually, I'm eating almost entirely vegetarian since my sister is vegetarian and we've been making our meals together. The only thing was that I did drink quite a bit so far on the first three days, but I decided yesterday to cut that out for the rest of the vacation. It's hard because my sister drinks every night, and I do want to give myself a break because I'm on vacation, but to fully enjoy the vacation I think I need to have a lot of energy and get up early. 

I did have one splurge when we went out to eat (we went grocery shopping so have been cooking all our own food for the most part.) I got blackened chicken tacos, and they were DELICIOUS. I think it was worth it, and I didn't feel weighed down or disgusting after I ate them, so I count it as a positive. They were served pretty harmlessly, actually - sour cream on the side (I only had a little tiny bit) and a fruity salsa. I definitely scarfed down the beans and rice they came with, though. I'm still pretty sure I stayed within my calories that day, though (had to estimate the tacos based on other restaurants' dishes) and that was also the day that I'd burned 700-something calories walking on the beach so I'm not viewing it as a bad thing.

So far my main form of exercise has been walking on the beach. My sister and I did about 3.6 miles today (it took us an hour and 25 minutes!) and according to my heart rate monitor, I burned 830 calories. Yikes! Trekking through that sand barefoot is a challenge. Best form of exercise if I've ever seen it… nothing really beats walking on the beach. I've also been swimming a little, but I'm staying at my grandma's condo and it's basically a retirement community so there are lots of people at the pool all the time and very little room to do real swimming. I LOVE to swim, it's too bad I'm so self-conscious in my bathing suit. 

I think I've lost weight. I feel lighter and my clothes fit better. I don't have the scale I normally use, though, so I'm not going to weigh in until I get back. My grandma's scale is very forgiving. Anyway, I know it's not about the weight or the scale, but it's always nice to have numbers.

I'll be updating when I get back to freezing Wisconsin... I'll need to make a menu plan and go shopping. I'll definitely be sad  - it's so odd never having once been cold at all since I got here!