Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Alcohol and Weight Loss

Something I don’t see discussed much on weight-loss blogs is alcohol. I’m not talking about the crazy weekends or vacations in which copious amounts of umbrella drinks and garbage can free-for-alls are consumed. I’m talking about the everyday kind of drinking. A glass or two of wine with dinner, a beer after a long day, maybe a Manhattan with a maraschino cherry. What about those things?

Alcohol is a part of my life. It always has been to varying degrees. I used to do the hard stuff – vodka, Southern Comfort, Wild Turkey, schnapps of every flavor – but my last shot of tequila was in 1994 and I haven’t had the hard stuff since. These days I stick to wine.

When I joined Weight Watchers in 2005, I was prepared to give up wine in exchange for weight loss. Then when I “got it”, as in realized this was a lifestyle change and not just a diet, I learned to incorporate my wine into my daily diet. I used what some people use as food points for liquid points and it was not a sacrifice. I drank wine all the way down the scale, and I still do today. Not garbage-can copious amounts, but I like a glass or two most evenings.

What about you? Do you incorporate alcohol in your weight loss/weigh maintenance? How do you account (or not account) for it? I’m curious about this since so little is written about it. This can’t be taboo, can it!? Leave a comment or send me an email.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Let's Talk Couscous, Baby

Can we talk about couscous for a second? (Whole wheat, of course.) It is one of my favorite foods in the world. It’s on my list of comfort foods.

Some nights (like tonight!), all I want are peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, garlic and spinach sautéed in a little oil or just in cooking spray, sprinkled with a dash of balsamic vinegar and about a half-teaspoon of basil (or use 1 T of fresh basil if you’ve got it. Totally makes the meal). I throw in a few grape tomatoes at the end along with ¼ C of vegetable broth (you can use meat-based broth if you prefer) and 2 T of couscous, stir it up, and let it sit for five minutes. I know most couscous boxes say that ¼ to 1/3 cup is a serving, but seriously, that’s a LOT of couscous. Two tablespoons seems to be more than enough.

I want your couscous recipes! I especially like the ones that call for veggies so I can make it a meal. If you’ve got some, please share. Post them in a comment or send me an email.

Below is one of my favorite couscous recipes. It’s from the Weight Watchers site. I skip the raisins (gag me) and I often substitute carrots for the frozen peas. WW says it serves four, but I easily get six servings out of it.

I think we need to discuss brown rice soon, too. For a woman who hasn’t had her period in 15 months, I’m sure craving carbs this weekend. Hmm….. Could it be I’ll finally be a woman again soon? One can only hope.

Orange-Scented Couscous

1 1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup golden seedless raisins
3/4 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup uncooked couscous
1 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion(s), chopped
2 medium garlic clove(s), minced
2 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch (1.25cm) wedges
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
2 Tbsp slivered almonds
1 tsp orange zest, grated

In a medium saucepan, combine orange juice, raisins, 1/2 tsp salt, the cumin, ginger, 1/8 tsp pepper and the cinnamon. Bring to a boil.
Add couscous and stir. Cover, remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat oil. Sauté onion and garlic until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes.
Add zucchini and cook until vegetables begin to brown, about 3 minutes.
Stir in peas, almonds and remaining salt and pepper. Heat to serving temperature, about 1 minute.
Transfer couscous to a bowl and fluff with fork. Add vegetables and orange zest. Toss to combine.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Exercising Through the Aches

I woke up this morning feeling down and sore, cold in my joints, just a bit off normal. It was cloudy, and the air was chilly in my room. I thought about popping a couple of Advil (which I haven’t done in months) and not work out since I promised myself that I’d listen to my body more closely in relation to how I exercise.

I had the last of the synovial fluid injections in my knees on Monday. Tuesday morning I walked to the polling place to vote and walked back home again. It was no more than an easy 10-minute walk max. I did no cardio Tuesday, but by noon, my knees were swollen like balloons. They didn’t really hurt, but they felt hot like they do when there’s fluid in there. It had to be due to the injections, but I didn’t understand the delayed reaction. I swear my knees have a mind of their own.


My knees (and a bit of my inner thigh skin – yummy! LOL). They’re ugly, but they’re all I’ve got.

I get sad when my knees swell up because I know eventually they need to be replaced. When they get swollen I wonder, “Is this it? Is this the beginning of the end of their natural life?”

When I’m sad, I’m more prone to pain, particularly overall joint pain. I don’t know what it is with arthritis and sadness, but man, when I’m sad, I ache. It’s a bitter catch-22.

What helps get me out of sadness most of the time? Exercise. I decided to not take Advil and to give the elliptical a try. Unlike walking, the elliptical is fairly easy on my knees. I started out slow, but surprisingly my knees didn’t hurt at all. I upped the intensity a little more, then a little more and a little more still until I was at my usual workout pace and I stayed there for 30 minutes. About halfway through, my mood completely changed and I felt happy again, mostly because my knees weren’t as screwed up as I thought. It’s now a few hours later and they’re still swollen, but they don’t hurt. Neither do my shoulders or feet or wrists. Exercise did what Advil would have done only without the stomach upset, the raised blood pressure and the water retention.

We all have achy days, physically and emotionally, when exercise is the LAST thing we want to do. So how do you challenge yourself to do it anyway? And does exercise help ease those symptoms? I hope I’m not the only one!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hungry as a Bear. Literally.

Near as I can tell, we had a bear in our yard last night. Here’s the evidence: This morning, our fence is bent, the pole the sunflower seed feeder dangles from is bent nearly to the ground, and the feeder itself is 20 feet away in my neighbor’s yard and has a perch broken off, the same perch that faces the fence. Our fence is four feet high so a black bear, on his hind legs, could easily reach over and grab that feeder. Our dogs were restless around 9:30 last night, whining, whimpering, so that’s probably when he was out there.

When I fetched the feeder out of the neighbor’s yard this morning, I noticed all the seeds were intact. The type of feeder we have makes it nearly impossible for anything but birds to get them out so that bear must have been pretty frustrated. Sorry, bud!

I put the feeder back up since this is the first time we’ve ever had a problem. If it happens again, I’ll move it. I don’t want to encourage bears to seek food in my back yard, but he and I had similar issues this weekend.

I was “bear hungry” this weekend, willing to bend over high fences to reach for something not on my regular diet. Like the bear, I didn’t get what I wanted, but unlike the bear, I didn’t get it because I chose not to get it rather than give up in frustration.

I have a lot of writing to do. Lots of assignments, deadlines, that sort of thing. My writing angst, as I call it, causes me to do two things: clean and eat. I can’t stand a dusty desk when I’m on deadline. I straighten pictures on the wall if they’re crooked, empty the trash can, clean the phone, set the clock if it’s off by a minute, you name it, anything that distracts me (which is almost everything) gets fixed or cleaned.

Then there’s the food. I used to slam down bags of M&Ms and sunflower seeds, my munchies of choice back in the day. These days, I try to eat a couple of Werther’s hard candies or a bag of popcorn, but they don’t satisfy that “need” like M&Ms and sunflower seeds. And while I know I can have a “few” M&Ms and sunflower seeds, a few doesn’t cut it when I’m in that frame of mind.

A couple of blogs ago I talked about binging and comfort foods and I said that I was not a binger, at least not in the way most people mean – binging to sate a deep seated emotional need. So I started thinking yesterday, as I was writing and fighting the urge to eat, if maybe binging is the term to use for that restless eating I used to do and want to do even now. Eating M&Ms and sunflower seeds kept my mouth busy while my hands worked. It satisfied some craving, some emotional urge, like scratching an itch deep in my brain. Eating didn’t help me write any better, but it distracted me or fed that feeling inside. It’s hard to describe.

I still have that feeling when I write. Just because I’m eating differently, that never went away. And it’s only going to get worse as more deadlines approach and bigger writing projects demand my time. It’s an all-over feeling of urgency and frustration as I try to piece together every word into every sentence into every paragraph into every story. I place such high expectations on myself that I can’t escape the stress, so eating M&Ms and sunflower seeds helped ease that stress. Now I’m left to deal with the stress without those crutches. And let me tell ya, it ain’t easy.

So yesterday, while I wrote intensely for four hours, I got up several times to wipe down the kitchen counters, straighten the tennis shoes in the foyer, hang a mirror, and pace the living room. I wanted to eat M&Ms and sunflower seeds. But I didn’t. And I won’t. But that doesn’t make the need go away.

It just proves what I’ve said since I got to goal: your life doesn’t suddenly get perfect just because you lose weight.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Random Thoughts on the Arc Trainer

There are days when even 30 minutes of cardio feels like an eternity.

Yesterday, after fighting a sore butt for three days, I got on the arc trainer at the gym for 45 minutes. I was determined. 45 minutes or bust.

My butt (technically, my glutes) hurt because I added a squat while I do three sets of 20 bicep curls during my strength training workout. I lift weights slowly so I’m in that position for a good minute each set. My butt revolted the next day and I was so stiff and so sore I could barely get in and out of my car on Tuesday. Hmmm…guess I should have started a little slower. Anyway, by Thursday I was tired of my sore butt muscles and so I worked them out again, same regimen as Monday, and they loosened up a bit. With the help of my massage therapist, I felt even better by Thursday night. I had no excuse not to do a regular cardio workout Friday.

I walked to the gym then hopped on the arc trainer with the moveable arms. I strapped on my iPod, plugged in 45 minutes on the machine, set the incline to 5 and the intensity to 25 and started my warm-up. Here’s a bit of my inner dialogue over the ensuing workout:

“I can do this, no problem.

I’m bored. Music? No, wait, I haven’t listened to ‘Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me’ yet. That’ll distract me.

I’m not going to work out very hard. Nope. Gonna go easy. OK, it’s ten to eight. I’ll be done a little after 8:30. Increase to 30. Yeah, that’s it. No problem.

The chick next to you is bouncing around at only 20. What a wimp! She can’t be more than 19 years old and she can’t take more than a 20 intensity? Wait, maybe she’s sick or is just getting back into exercise. What a bitch you’re being, Lynn. But crank it up anyway. 45. Yeah. 45. You want to sweat, Lynn. Show her. Come on, show her what you can do.

OK, back off to 40. I can’t breathe.

How many more minutes left? 35? Ugh. Everyone in here is so young and thin. Stop it, Lynn. You’re not old. I feel old. I’m sweating finally. Did my knee just pop?

This is going to take FOREVER. Why am I doing this? Because you want to stay thin. What if I just stopped now? 20 minutes is enough. No. It’s not. What should I make for dinner? I have to go to the grocery store.

Music. I need music. No, not that song. Not that song. I need to update this iPod. Not that song. There, ‘Back in Black’. That’ll work. I’m half done, thank god.

Hmmm….he’s kind of cute. Don’t stare, Lynn. He’s young enough to be your son. Shut your eyes. Listen to the music. Concentrate for a minute.

Crank it back up to 45. There, that’s good. My butt doesn’t feel too bad. How many more minutes? 18. I’ll do 45 for 2 minutes then 40 for a few then back to 45. Yeah. That’s what I’ll do.

The sun’s shining. Maybe I’ll take a walk today. I need mulch. Maybe I’ll go to WalMart. Did I leave the stove on? Crap, I think I did. I need to vacuum. And call the groomer. And pick up Cooper’s doggie medicine. I have to write a blog. What will I say?

How many more minutes? This is taking forever. What time is it? 8:27. Good. Almost done. Is that girl getting on the stepper now? Man, she just did a half hour on the elliptical. I wish I had that stamina. Wait, she’s not sweating. I’m dripping like I just got out of the shower. Does that mean she’s not working as hard as me or that I’m just prone to sweating? Is my underwear showing?

Oh no, I forgot deodorant. Try to keep your arms down. Man you smell, Lynn! Will there be a bench available in the weight room when I’m done? Or do I want to do my abs at home? No, do them here. Wait, do them at home. No, because if I decide to do them at home I’ll get distracted and busy and not do them at all. Do them here.

Two minutes to go. Cool down. No, one more minute at 45, then a 1-minute cool down. That’s all you need.

I feel pretty good. I don’t have to do this again for 24 hours. Maybe I’ll like it tomorrow. Maybe I’ll want to do it tomorrow. At least I did it today. What’s for breakfast? 3-2-1…FINALLY! I’m done.”

Here I sit, 24 hours later, getting ready to face 30 minutes on the elliptical I have here at home as well as 50-60 minutes of strength training and ab work. I can already feel that squat. My butt will NOT be happy.

But afterwards? That’s the best feeling in the world.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Comfort Foods vs Too Tasty Foods

I stared down my inner carnivore the other day and won. I so badly wanted the roasted chicken I was tearing off the carcass and putting in soup to bring to a friend, but I didn’t eat any. Didn’t even lick my fingers. But there’s no denying how tasty it looked.

It got me thinking about comfort food eating versus eating because something tastes good. I think there’s a difference.

I first need to clarify how I define binging. I don’t consider myself a binger, at least not in terms of eating uncontrollably or out of a need to satisfy some deep emotional need or pain. There are times when I eat for comfort, more food than I should have back in the day, but I don’t consider that “binging” because I know people who binge and they tell me binging is much more complex than simply needing a cup of mashed potatoes to soothe a bad day.

So there’s comfort eating, as I define it for myself, and eating because something tastes really good. I knew that chicken I was putting in the soup would taste good and I knew I could eat a lot of it, at least I used to be able to do that. Not sure I could eat much of it now without feeling sick, but the point is, I knew it would taste good. I had to consciously not eat it. I had to talk to myself about the reasons I didn’t eat chicken anymore, particularly store-roasted chicken with all its fat and salt. I had to get all “mom” on myself and say, “No, Lynn, you may not have that chicken.” I pouted a little, but I got over it because I knew it was the right thing to do.

That kind of chicken is what I call a “trigger food.” The term “trigger foods” means different things to different people. Bingers have trigger foods as do comfort eaters and people who eat something because it tastes good. The chicken I was cutting was something I used to eat in mass quantities because it tasted good. And when I say “eat in mass quantities,” I mean eating with the full realization that I’m eating, and enjoying every last bite, unlike binging in which the taste doesn’t matter and the binger often “wakes up” after eating mass quantities of food. This is how I make the distinction.

Ergo, the chicken incident reminded me that there are some foods I simply choose not to be around or have to be very careful when handling.

Kraft Macaroni ‘N Cheese, for instance. I LOVE the stuff. I don’t need it to comfort me, I just like the way it tastes. I especially like it reheated the next day. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. My stepsons made a batch of it the other day and I had to leave the room after it was made because it still is, after three years, a huge temptation for me. People on Weight Watchers, or most any “diet” plan, will say it’s “allowed,” that I can still eat mac ‘n cheese and stay within my points. True enough, but having a little mac ‘n cheese is like faking an orgasm. I either get the whole thing or what’s the point? It’s why I choose to stay away from the stuff (mac ‘n cheese, that is).

On the other hand, I find comfort in mashed potatoes and I continue to eat them because I have no problem limiting the amount I eat. Same is true with chocolate. Get me near Thanksgiving stuffing – and I’m talking about the REAL stuff with REAL butter, not the “fake” kind I make these days with chicken broth – and I’m out of control. I love the taste of real stuffing and I love eating it, but I can’t face limiting myself and so I choose not to eat it.

I’m finding the same thing happening with my new vegetarian/almost vegan diet, too. I LOVE the vegan sloppy joes I make. I could probably eat the entire 4 servings I make at one time. I seriously have to adjust the recipe to make one serving and see if that helps. I don’t want to not eat it. I don’t want to relegate it to the same “hands off” food as mac ‘n cheese and Thanksgiving stuffing. But I will if I have to.

I love food. I sometimes love some foods too much. These foods are my friends, though, for they teach me discipline. God help me, but they do.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Journaling and a Few Recipes

More than a few people have asked me the following question and I thought now, realizing it’s been awhile since I’ve written in my own personal journal, would be a good time to answer it: “You mention journaling as the key to conquering overeating. I have bought a journal but I wonder: What did you write that you found so helpful? Did you keep track of what you eat, or how you felt while eating, or just write about what's happening in your day? I'm not sure how you use the journaling.”

I spent a lot of time in my life gaining and losing weight. I never stayed at any one goal weight because I never took the time to understand why I gained weight in the first place. By journaling, I was (and still am) able to figure out what my eating triggers are, what my trigger foods are, and what emotional lows are going on that might cause me to engage in behaviors that do nothing to resolve the problem.

Journaling also helps me collect my thoughts. I often consider the questions “What went right today?” “What made me happy today?” “What am I grateful for today?” “What would I change about today if I could?” when I journal before bedtime. If I journal in the morning, I ask myself what my goals are for the day. It’s like writing down a life strategy.

No one needs to see your journal. I have a private one at home as well as the journals I keep online here and at Lynn’s Journey and The Bering Blog. Remember, blogs are nothing more than public journals.

I find freewriting most effective, too. With a blank piece of paper or a blank screen, I just start writing and don’t stop. It doesn’t have to make sense, but what most often happens is that a theme emerges and the problem I was having becomes more concrete. It has form, and when it has form, I can deal with it. How many times have you said, “I have NO idea what’s bothering me, but something’s making me sad (or mad or irritated or nervous).” Freewriting or by asking yourself specific questions and writing down your answers can often untie that knot in your head and help you see what’s really going on.

Journaling also keeps your hands busy. More than once I’ve grabbed my journal or sat down at my computer when all I could think to do was grab a handful of peanuts or graze on pudding or leftovers. One of my favorite sayings is “If hunger isn’t the question, food isn’t the answer.” If I feel the need to eat, I ask, “Am I hungry?” If the answer is no, then it’s time to reach for my journal or to at least sit and think for a bit about why I want to stuff some food in my mouth.

I hope this answers the journaling question.
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What to do with lentils, that was another question that came up this week. Here are two recipes – one vegetarian and one for you meat lovers.

Hearty Lentil Spaghetti
(Via my friend Sharon who got it from Cooking Light and modified it a bit)
Makes a buttload (8-10 servings)

¾ C chopped onion
2 garlic gloves, minced
1 T olive oil
1 ½ C dried lentils, rinsed
4 C vegetable broth
½ t pepper
¼ t cayenne pepper
1 can (14 ½ oz) Italian diced tomatoes
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 t white vinegar
1 ½ t dried basil
1 ½ t dried oregano

In a large saucepan coated with nonstick cooking spray, cook onion and garlic in oil until tender. Stir in lentils, broth, pepper and cayenne. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until lentils are tender.

Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar, basil and oregano. Return to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 40-45 minutes.

Serve over whole wheat spaghetti or spaghetti squash.

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Slow Cooker Lentils and Sausage
Serves 8-10

1 (16 ounce) package dry lentils
1 (16 ounce) diced tomatoes, undrained (use tomatoes with green chilies if you like your food spicy)
2 (14 ounce) cans beef broth
3 cups water
3 carrots, sliced or chopped
2-3 stalks celery, diced
1 C onion, chopped
1 14-ounce package Healthy Choice Turkey Kielbasa or other turkey sausage, cubed and browned
1 tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes, if desired (I only use this if I use regular tomatoes and not the kind with green chilies)

Rinse and drain lentils. In slow cooker, stir together all ingredients. Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours.

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A BIG thank you to those of you who post recipes in the comments! I really appreciate it, as do other readers. Keep ‘em coming.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Home From the Grocery Stores

I just returned from another hunting/gathering trip to Pittsburgh. It’s 60 miles to the nearest Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods so I stock up on the “staples”.

At Trader Joe’s I buy light parmesan ranch salad dressing and cilantro salad dressing, horseradish hummus and my new favorite – sun-dried tomato and basil hummus, fresh salsa, corn tortilla crackers (or as I like to call them CRACKers because they’re so freaking addicting), ahi tuna (I’ve decided to go vegan with a twist – I will eat fish because I love it and I’m not trying to impress anyone or make a political statement) and sole, Cabot 75% reduced fat cheddar cheese, flax cereal, organic fruit spread, and the dark chocolate thingies with creamy mint stuff in the middle (1 WW point for two melt-in-your-mouth pieces of heaven).

Whole Foods feels more pretentious than Trader Joe’s, but I don’t know why because the staff is really friendly and the customers tend to be courteous (especially the hot guy today in the tea aisle…oh my). Maybe it’s the prices. I have to be very careful with the foods I choose at Whole Foods or I’ll blow my entire week’s food budget on a free-range slab of beef for my husband and a quart of cut-up fruit.

Anyway, they were out of my favorite organic roasted garlic salad dressing (if you didn’t know this about me, I’m all about salad dressings, both homemade and store-bought), but I bought a new kind of balsamic that I’m hoping will make me happy. I checked out the tempeh and seitan they had for sale and all I can say is HOLY CRAP! Fat and sodium out the wazooo. I’ll stick to the tempeh I buy at my local natural food store (2 grams of fat per serving and almost no sodium) and I’ll make my own seitan. I didn’t realize eating vegan is difficult when you want to eat low-fat AND low-sodium.

I managed to find some pizza sauce and marinara sauce that was sodium-friendly, a nice bulb of fennel, whole wheat/yolkless egg noodles (yes, I know, NOT vegan), and tofu shitake noodles that I will put in a soup. Being the cracker addict I am, I found two new crackers: Skinny Dippers and Bible Bread. The Skinny Dippers I bought are the flax and honey grain and they come in at 50 calories, 1 gram of fat and 1 gram of fiber. The Bible Bread crackers are the oregano and sesame and they are 80 calories, .6 grams of fat and 2.5 grams of fiber. As I put away my groceries, I ate a serving of Skinny Dippers with the Trader Joe’s sun-dried tomato and basil hummus and it was so so SO very delicious and very distracting. I put the miso (which is supposed to be refrigerated) in with the cereal and the organic pinto beans almost ended up in the freezer.

I’ll supplement my grocery shopping on Friday with a trip to WalMart and our local grocery store called Comet. I hate that my grocery shopping is so complicated, but living in this small town and living on a limited budget, I have to find the best food for my dollar. It’s a game I play. What can I buy that is healthy, suits my dietary needs AND won’t break the bank?

I don’t want to give the impression that I eat nothing but crackers and organic fennel from Whole Foods. We eat a lot of dried beans, soup, and meals with soy burger crumbles around here. I’m determined to prove that it really is possible to eat healthy on a budget. It just takes some planning. Yes, I know, planning takes time, and extra time is a rare commodity for most of us. But when something as important as our health is at stake – I mean, we have to eat to survive, right? – then finding time to plan meals should be as important as sleeping, bathing, and time with family.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Biking and Salads and Volume

BIKING

After months of really awful winter weather and so much time spent inside, all I want to do is be outside. Know what I mean?

My vacation to California could have been just a warm-weather tease, but thankfully the nice weather followed me home. Well, sort of. Fifty-five degrees is hardly California standard, but it's not 25 anymore, thank God.

To celebrate the sunshine, my husband and I went on our first bike ride of the season . We drove to one of our favorite rails-to-trails routes along the Allegheny River near Franklin and rode 12 miles. A good start to the season considering we haven't been on our bikes in 5 months. My thighs will protest tomorrow, but I don't care. My face will protest because of the wind burn, but I don't care. Sixty minutes on my bike is worth it all.

What activity do you like to do now that winter is over? What do you look forward to doing in the warmer weather?

Because tomorrow promises to be even warmer, I'll do some gardening. My flower beds are a mess and yet green shoots are popping up all over the place. I just wish I could remember what I planted everywhere. I hate when I forget to keep the little plastic tag from the pot after I replant. Oh well. I like surprises.

SALAD

I didn't realize what a salad junkie I am until I went to a friend’s house yesterday. I packed a salad to eat. I asked her for a big bowl. She gave me a large cereal bowl. I said no, I need a mixing bowl. She looked at me funny and handed me a small mixing bowl. Again I said no, I mean a BIG mixing bowl. She laughed and showed me her collection of large bowls to choose from. I grabbed a big green plastic Tupperware bowl and dumped in the contents of my Ziploc bags.

When I pack a salad, I pack a salad. Half a bag of lettuce, half a bag of spinach, a cup of shredded carrots, 10 cherry tomatoes, 1.5 ounces of low-fat cheddar and three whole-grain crackers. Mix that with my homemade balsamic dressing and I graze for at least 20 minutes. I thought everyone ate big ass salads like that, but apparently not. I admit I'm a little embarrassed.

But I really love volume eating.

When I got home from biking today, I roasted 12 ounces of asparagus in some lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. I ate it all. Tonight for dinner, I made lentil spaghetti sauce and served it with spaghetti squash and broccoli. I ate a ton of broccoli, a ton of squash and just a small amount of sauce. While it looked like a lot of food on my plate, it didn't equal a lot of calories. I ate it all and yet feel satisfied, not full. Again, volume eating.

Do any of you eat this way? If so, what kinds of food do you pack in? And no, chocolate doesn't count - LOL! I wish.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

No Gains, Sore Thighs

My hamstrings are wishing I'd stayed in California. So are my obliques. They aren't super sore, but they're letting me know this morning that they are NOT happy that I "abused" them again yesterday. I think they liked the week off.

No gains! At least nothing substantial. I stepped on the scale this morning and it said 129. I was 127.8 a day before vacation. Just a little water weight, probably.

So how are you all doing? Eating well? Working out? Yes? No? Thinking about it?

One of the comfort foods I missed while I was on vacation was this pumpkin/pudding concoction I discovered over at Hungry-Girl.com. Mix 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin, a container of Jell-O sugar-free vanilla pudding, a packet of stevia (or Splenda) and 1/2 t. of cinnamon. You get a LOT of creamy yumminess for your calories. And a lot of fiber, too. Very filling. I bought my weekly can of pumpkin yesterday and a six-pack of pudding and I'm good to go for awhile.

Catching up on my blog reading, I found a great article link at The Skinny the other day. "10 Best Foods For Women" talks about, well, the kinds of foods women should eat to stay healthy. I thought I was all smart and stuff until I got to the part about kale. Kale? I've not seen much written about the health benefits of kale. Spinach, yes, but kale? So I bought some kale yesterday. Any of you have it before? How do you cook it? I was going to saute some in onions and garlic and serve it with the tempeh that's currently in my freezer.

Also included in the article is a recipe for Pistou Vegetable Soup which includes kale. I'll "vegetarianize" it (it calls for chicken broth) and try it this weekend.

I was a little ticked this morning when I discovered the calcium supplement I bought has gelatin in it. My vitamin D levels are low so my doctor put me on it. Considering we haven't had any sun in four months, no wonder my levels are low! Unfortunately I already opened the package so I can't return it. Now I'm on the hunt for vegetarian calcium supplements. I'm sure it won't be too hard to find, but really. Gelatin? Is that really necessary in calcium?

It's good to be home again, but I really loved California. I'm also not afraid to take time off from my workout schedule anymore. Not that I want to take a week off again anytime soon, but always in the back of my head was that worry that I'd gain all 168 pounds back. In a week. Irrational, I know, but that's how my head works sometimes.

I updated my 2008 page on my Lynn's Journey site with some photos from California. Click here to go there.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Home Again

What a week! I'm home and not sure what time it is. I've had two hours of sleep in 36 hours so I'm pretty sure I'm not on Pacific time anymore, not that I ever was.

The plane ride home last night was rough, thanks to the cold front marching across the plains. I'm not a fan of turbulence. I kept looking around the dark plane for other people slightly freaking out as I was (you know, restless, moving around, stuck in the middle and needing to walk the aisle). But everyone seemed so cool. I wasn't about to be the passenger who freaked out, so I put on my iPod and just breathed.

It all worked out well. I'm home and detoxing. Not that I had a lot to detox from, but I haven't exercised in a week and I ate a few more carb-based products than I usually do. I'm not beating myself up for any of it. I had a great time in California, stayed aware of my food intake, but I wasn't obsessed about it. That's new for me. Since getting to goal over a year ago, I've been a chronic obsessor. I guess this means I'm maturing! LOL

Today I've eaten lots of raw veggies and fewer carbs. Tonight I'll eat a little later than usual (eastern time) to accommodate my Pacific time body clock. On the menu is roasted sweet potatoes, asparagus and cauliflower - my triple-play comfort foods. Nothing a little pepper and garlic won't fix. Oh, and Parmesan cheese, too, for the cauliflower.

Tomorrow I'll hit the elliptical for at least 30 minutes and strength train for 45 minutes. I won't hit it hard. I want to ease my body back into the routine. It's only been a week, but why abuse the body that was in perfect performance mode this week? I walked and walked and climbed stairs and more stairs....all without losing my breath or feeling weak. It's times like this, when you're on vacation, that you can truly appreciate the hard work you've put into exercising your body. We don't work out just to work out. We work out for the purpose of moving smoother, without stiffness and being out of breath. My muscles are still there, even though I haven't formally worked them out in a week. They won't let me down. I know they won't be real happy with me around 9:30 tomorrow morning, but they'll fall back into place in no time.

So this next part has nothing to do with weight loss, but I had to post a photo of my adorable grandbaby Claire in her onesie and jelly shoes and sunglasses I bought her from Beverly Hills yesterday. She's destined for stardom, I know she is!