A Freakishly Delicious Smoothie

Hey, y’all!  I just made THE MOST DELICIOUS SMOOTHIE EVER,  and all natural ingredients!  I am so proud of myself.  I just got back from working out with Vicky (ouch) and she sent me home with some food.  She didn’t have any smoothies made, so she said, do you want some fresh carrot juice?  I put a fake smile on my face, and said, “Sure.”  Then asked her the calorie count–100 calories per cup.  I took a little sip of it on the way home, and it was good, a little sweet, but in my warped mind, not ‘worthy’ of 100 calories a cup.   Hmmm, I think they put this stuff in smoothies.  So because I have been ‘harvesting’ fruit the past few days (more on that later,) I had frozen mashed bananas and frozen strawberries in the freezer.  I added up the calories, and this smoothie recipe makes two smoothies for 250 calories each.  It was really, really good–perfect blend of sweetness, texture, and a little tang.  I usually prefer to eat my food rather than drink it.  But I noticed at work that the smoothies Vicky sends with me hold me for a good long time, and in this hot weather, it just hit the spot.  Plus I have one all ready to go for work tomorrow.  Here is the recipe:

1 cup carrot juice

2 frozen bananas

1 cup frozen strawberries

1/2 cup goat’s milk yogurt (obviously, you can substitute any kind of yogurt.)

Blend and enjoy.

Back to the fruit harvesting.  Another thing that my 100 Days of Weight Loss book pointed out is that maybe its more than just eating food that you enjoy.  Maybe its the experience around food that you enjoy.  And, of course, I noticed that that is exactly what I enjoy.  So I have made a point to enjoy the process of cooking, harvesting, etc. without always having to eat what I am working on.  This works so well in keeping your freezer stocked with the foods that are good for us.

I got a little carried away at the fruit stand the other day, so yesterday I was pitting cherries (if you don’t have a cherry pitter, I can’t say enough good words about this handy little tool) and mashing bananas to freeze for later use.  I tried putting the bananas in an ice cube tray to freeze, and it worked perfectly.  I just made sure the cherries were laying on a flat surface in the freezer so they would freeze separately.  Then today, I cut up a bunch of apricots to put in the freezer.  I foresee a lot of smoothies in my summer!  I had to laugh, because in the past I was loading my freezer with baked goods, and now it is full of frozen fruit.  But the experience was just as satisfying to me.  I did do a bit of ‘baking’ as well.  Used the mashed bananas to make some of Roni’s Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cups.  Apricots went into the Apricot Oatmeal Bars (original recipe from Lori.)  And, I had a surplus of blueberries, so made a batch of blueberry scones, using some of my goat’s milk yogurt for the liquid.  These tasted a little different, but with 2 cups of blueberries in the recipe, they are still delish to me.

A word about my goat’s milk yogurt.  I just wanted to try making something different.  So I got some goat’s milk at the store and used the same directions as I use to make my regular cow’s milk yogurt.  But it didn’t come out exactly right.  Kinda runny, a little sticky. So am mostly using it up in recipes.  In talking it over with Vicky, she mentioned that the molecules were smaller than cow’s milk, and I was pretty sure that was the answer.  Then I just looked it up on the internet, and sure enough, you don’t need to heat goat’s milk to 190 degrees like you do cow’s milk.  Oh, well, live and learn.  I have another batch of cow’s milk yogurt incubating right now.

I had a most delicious walk with the dogs this morning.  As I said, its been HOT here, and I have been going to the gym.  But I got out with the dogs at 7:30 this morning, and it was just beautiful.  There was a cool breeze blowing, and everything smelled wonderful.

Oh, yeah, wanted to give a shout out to Lynn and Vickie for giving me the final shove I needed to get started on clearing the clutter in my house.  Lynn wrote a great post about how ‘its up to you how you use your life.’  Lynn was mostly talking about how we are in control of what we put in our mouths and how we use our body.  Then Vickie commented ‘And I liked the little golden spade – to start on one edge of a REALLY big mess and dig.’   So that is what I did yesterday, finally.  I cleared out my old collection of VCR movies (don’t worry, I kept quite a few sentimental ones that I just couldn’t part with.)  And then, (cue trumpet blast) I started on the fabric.  Yes, Vickie, I attacked the stash!  And I am going to stop writing right now, and make another foray into the fabric pile!  Of course, Miz wrote about clearing out clutter a few weeks ago, but I am a little slow on the uptake…

Swim Time!

Well, I did it!  I’ve been in the pool twice this week!  Actual swimming going on here.  Okay, I need to back up.  I can’t remember what I’ve written in my own blog or just commented in other people’s blogs.  But since I started working out with Vicky at the local gym, I would look longingly at the big swimming pool that was always practically empty on my way in.  I hadn’t joined the gym, so I could only work out with Vicky in her studio.  But I really wanted to swim.

There was one little problem.  I didn’t want to wear my bathing suit in front of ANY person.  This is not a post about body image issues, so I will not go on about that, but I started looking around for a pair of swim shorts.  I finally found a pair that looked the way I wanted, and ordered them.  Then I joined the gym last week before my workout with Vicky, which was fun because she showed me how to work out on a few of the machines, and I have had fun challenging myself with them.

So Saturday I was off work, and coincidentally it was 107 degrees outside!   I headed off to the gym, did my weights workout, and headed to the pool.  I swam 10 laps!  Froggy style–that’s what I call it–is it breast stroke?  Because I can’t get my face in the water without a nose plug.  Whatever style it was, I felt like I had really had a good workout.  Then Monday I decided I would try the water aerobics class.  Fun, a little challenging.  I swam 2 laps afterward, and had done the weights workout before the class.

Twenty years of ‘no one can see me in a swimsuit’ have disappeared in two days.  This is a fun gym combination–working out on the weights and then hitting the pool.  I am hoping that swimming will be a new aerobic exercise that will jar my body into letting go of a wee bit of weight!

Cravings

There’s always lots of talk in blogland about cravings.  Why do I crave this?  Why can’t I stop eating that?  What exactly do I crave, and WHY do I crave it?  Is food ACTUALLY addictive, or am I just weak-willed?

Lately, I’ve been doing extremely well with food choices.  Not eating everything that shows up in the breakroom at work.  Not wanting something really bad and having to fight with myself to not eat it.  Not even wanting to stress eat, in spite of an overly stressful couple of weeks, combined with too much travel and not enough sleep.

Of course this topic really interests me, because having to fight cravings all the time is just pure torture.  I really don’t want to have to fight cravings every day for the rest of my life.  Of course, I’ve talked a lot about the ‘Vicky food’ lately (new readers:  Vicky is my personal trainer, and basically she prepares food that would be considered extremely ‘clean.’  But absolutely delicious, and really, it is gourmet food.  No preservatives, no artificial sweeteners, mostly organic, and a good combination of healthy carbs, healthy oils, and protein.)  Vicky believes that a lot of the chemicals and artificial sweeteners in our foods can lead to cravings.  IMO, the jury is still out on this, as I have not seen scientific backing yet.  But I have drastically cut back on my use of splenda, and cook most of my food from scratch, so no other chemical/preservative stuff.  But I think this is just one factor in the craving puzzle.

This guy wrote a book that I think I will order.  I watched the little video trailer and really thought he was right on about the food industry LAYERING sugar, fat, and salt to entice us, and that is what leads to such terrible cravings.  I really agree with this.  Its not JUST sugar, its not JUST fat.  I like the combination of both.  I had already identified that.  But then, when he said they layered salt, a bell rang in my mind!  EXACTLY!  That is what I love in food.  Even in baked goods, I know I like the bit of salt that ‘brings out the flavors.’

But yesterday, I read a very interesting article in a new magazine, ‘Clean Eating.‘  Can you believe they have a whole magazine about this?  Being the magazine junky that I am, I could not resist.  It is actually a very nice magazine full of pretty pictures and delicious sounding recipes.  Anyway, they had an article about controlling cravings.

This article had some of the tips we are familiar with (but they really do help–try them!):  

1.  Stay well nourished (try 6 small meals instead of 3 large ones.)  It really helps me to know I can eat something again in a few hours.

2.  Be well rested.  GO TO BED!!!

3.  Exercise.  Yawn….yes, we know this.

4.  Avoid food triggers and cues.  Avoid that aisle in the store, or just go to a different store!  This is something I have done, but always tended to think it was kind of a deficit in me, that I had to avoid a store to avoid eating a food.

But the most interesting part of the article was that we are ‘hooked on a feeling.’  Its not the actual food, but the sense of energy or calm, or excitement or peace that we crave.  Serotonin and dopamine are the chemicals in our brain that are responsible for those feelings.  You can boost serotonin by eating certain foods:  brown rice, turkey, yogurt, cashews, bananas, pumpkin seeds, avocados, and almonds are a few that they name. “Stress, poor nutrition and lack of sleep, exercise and sunlight can each deplete serotonin levels.”

But the information about dopamine was the most interesting to me.  “Dopamine plays a role in the complex pleasure-reward brain circuit that creates desire.  When you experience that excited feeling when you know something good is about to happen, that’s dopamine at work.”  And what they suggest is that you can get that feeling by planning a project that brings you a feeling of excitement and anticipation.  They say you don’t even have to complete the project.  Just working on it, getting excited about it, planning it can trigger the dopamine that might help curb your cravings!  And it brought to mind my decision to get a sewing table, working more concretely on my quilting as art, looking for the right chair, etc.  Most of this has been the planning/dreaming stuff.  Is it possible that this has contributed to my ability to control cravings in the past few weeks?

As always, food for thought…no calories or points involved–woohoo!!

Proud

Is proud a feeling?  That’s how I felt yesterday, after my second successful restaurant meal in as many days!  Sunday, my sister brought my Dad to Stockton (halfway meeting place) for a Father’s Day dinner.  He chose the Outback Steakhouse, which is a particularly difficult problem restaurant for me.  Oh, let’s face it.  Most restaurants have remained a problem area for me.  I have written about this before.  When I go to a restaurant, I want to enjoy all the good old foods I used to enjoy.  I don’t want to pay top dollar for a salad I could make better and for less calories at home.  So I fluctuate between just not going out, and throwing caution to the wind and eating whatever at the restaurant.  But when you need to go out to eat, for various reasons, on a fairly regular basis, AND you are trying to lose weight, the ‘throwing caution to the wind’ just does not work.

Since starting the ‘Vicky food’ and concentrating on food being for fuel and enjoying flavors (100 Days of Weight Loss book)  I have been able to make better choices at restaurants.  Back to the Outback.  I checked calorie counts of their foods before I left, and had a couple of choices in mind.  Stockton is also home to my beloved Yogelina (frozen yogurt) and I kept in mind that if I controlled myself for lunch, we could have Yogelina afterwards.  I got the grilled chicken (brought half home,) steamed veggies, and a salad.  The bread did not even tempt me, since I had noticed it was 200 calories per serving, and I did not deem it ‘worthy.’  I also had 2 of their coconut shrimp, which in my opinion, are divine, and most worthy.  Afterwards, we did go to Yogelina, and I got a small dish, and shared it with my Dad.  Yumm!!!

Then yesterday, another emergency trip to the Bay Area.  I was really distressed about my food because I had already planned my food for the day, and wanted to stay on track because weigh-in is today.  Well, I just rushed around and packed my food up, and even roasted some green beans to munch in the car.  But then my dad asked if we could go out for dinner, and I absolutely did not want to deny him that.  He chose Hick’ry Pit.  Yikes.  Another danger-filled restaurant for me.  We have been going there since I was a little girl, and my choice 99% of the time is exactly the same:  sliced beef with gravy/bbq sauce, french fries, and chocolate pie.  All absolutely delicious choices.  But because I have been reading a few blogs like this one that talk a lot about eating out, having small portions, and getting sauces on the side, I was able to order the beef with the sauce on the side, and a baked potato with the butter and sour cream on the side.  I ate about 2 ounces of the beef (weighed the leftovers when I got home) with the tiniest bit of sauce, and half of the baked potato with just a smear of butter and sour cream.  I didn’t even think about the pie until my sister reminded me on my drive home.  And for the first time, I thought, what am I feeling?  Proud.  Not deprived.  And to top it off, even though I was exhausted (driving WAY past my bedtime,) physically, I actually felt like taking a run when I got home (okay, maybe that was the big cup of Starbucks speaking.)  Anyways, to me, this was a real breakthrough.  I hope I will continue to be able to make choices like this AND be happy about it.

I was rewarded by my weight being stable this morning (only up 0.6 pounds–not bad for a travel day.)

P.S. Miz’s gentle prodding has also had a HUGE effect on how I regard restaurant food–’more about the them chopping-cooking-cleaning up’ and the ‘decadence list’ (non-food items.)  Where would we all be without Miz?

Too Good to be True?

Just a little this n’ that this morning.  A while ago I bought an Ian’s Pizza Kit at the health food store.  It purported to be hypoallergenic, but the real reason I bought it was because it was supposedly 50 calories per serving, prepared, for the crust and the sauce.  That seemed too good to be true.  I had some leftover veggies a couple days ago, so decided to make the pizza and use the veggies for topping.

When I made the dough, and spread it on the pan, I thought, these are pretty big servings.  I bet it tastes like #$%@* for only 50 calories.  With the veggies and a little mozzarella cheese, it came up to 150 calories per serving.  And it tasted REALLY great.  So of course the whole time I am eating it, I am re-reading the label to make sure I read it right, and researching on the internet to see if there is some report or recall on the labeling.  Nothing.  I even researched the calorie count on the first two ingredients:  white rice flour and potato starch.  I really think this is mislabeled.  Anybody have any information out there?  I even wrote to the company but so far no reply.

Today is Father’s Day.  Lynn wrote a beautiful blog about Father’s Day.  It reminded me of why I love my dad so much.  Dad had an amazingly busy life–Jr. High principal, plus he was always teaching a Bible study or two, and frequently preached on Sunday morning.  But that is not what I remember about my dad (I only think of those things now when I can’t seem to get as much done as I think I should.)  What I remember is walks to the park, trips to the zoo and the aquarium, swimming in the neighborhood pool in the summer, playing board games, being read to, and the proverbial ‘surprise bag.’  Yes, this was a bag of candy bars that we had to pick from without looking.  Guess who could identify the candy bar just by feel?

As I grew into an adult, he held firm to his belief that it was not helpful to give too much financial help.  I think this is why I am so independent today, and I believe that helping adult children too much is a big mistake that a lot of parents make.

As an adult, I have really enjoyed a great friendship with my dad.  He is reluctant to give advice, but will when pressed.  We enjoy discussing good books, and he doesn’t seem to mind too much when I disagree with him.  We have had some good debates over the years.

I wanted to include this today since recently I have frequently been bemoaning the fact that I am very like my dad.  Except for physically, I am very proud and honored that I am even a little bit like my dad.

Well, I got my sewing table!  And built it over the last two days.  I did the same thing I always do when I am building something.  I don’t think/prepare ahead.  So when it gets to the part where I need a power drill, I get the drill out, and of course it has no power.  So I have to stop what I am doing for several hours while I charge the power drill battery, and then I can continue on with the job.  If this illustration has any relevance to those of you having problems eating healthily, take it and run with it.  I don’t really think I have to get specific here, do I?

Anyways, the sewing table is eerily low.   It might even be too low, but I think it is because I am used to reaching my arms up to sew.  Today, if I have time, I am going to stop by Costco and get a good desk chair, and one of those plastic pads to put the chair on (so it will roll on carpet.)

I am managing to have a few more normal days at home.  Yesterday I bought plants for the garden for the first time this year.  I am keeping my food intake to 1300 calories, and if I make good choices, I am not very hungry.  I do find that when I am concentrating on limiting my food, I am more reluctant to exercise.  But I got in a great walk with the dogs yesterday, and managed an abbreviated weights workout in the early evening.

Did I tell you guys that I am TV-less?  I decided that when this digital thing happened, I wasn’t going to do anything about it for a while (the converter box doesn’t work up here in the hills.)  It is a little weird, but I think I have a lot more time.  My goal was to read more.  And I have done that.  Yesterday, because Jill linked to a link from my blog, she found a link to a free e-book.  I checked it out, and I read this free e-book in one day!  I really enjoyed it.

To any dads who might read this blog, have a Happy Father’s Day!  Now stop reading blogs and go read to your kids!

Thankful

That is how I feel this morning.  It started with Lori’s blog about her one year anniversary of losing 100 pounds!  And as I commented to congratulate her, of course I was thinking of my own journey (most of you know I have lost 100 pounds, gained back 8-13 depending on the day…so tired of saying that…)  And I realized that there is so much to be happy about.  In the dailyness of life, it is easy to get bogged down in the drudgery of ‘working at it’ and not see the bigger picture.  Here is my comment to Lori:

 Lori, isn’t it just wonderful? Its really a miracle. To have a different body. A different life. To still enjoy food. TO RIDE YOUR BIKE 26 MILES ROUND TRIP AND ENJOY A FROZEN YOGURT! It just lifts my spirits to think about it this way!

Then I spent WAY TOO MUCH TIME reading around in blogland.  Somewhere along the way, someone linked to a nice self-affirming, motivating video that I enjoyed.  At the end there was some music that sang about how nice it was to be near the ocean, then went into a chorus of ‘Allelujahs,’ and it made me think of Who I am thankful to.  And I watched this video which I just love.  That is Who I am thankful to.  For this life.  For the time to be able to sit for hours and read blogs, after two long hard days at work.  For the ability to still do a good job at that work.  For the friends that I have made on my computer, that I hope to meet someday in real life.  For a body that still works.  For Food, Glorious Food.  The food that can fuel my body AND taste good.

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This is my finished rug from last year’s camp.  I think I’ve posted it before, but thought I would share it again.  The sentiment from it comes from Jesus’ words in Matthew 6, of course.  And it reminds me always of what I am thankful for.

P.S.  Does anybody know what I did to change the spacing on my blog?  It is a mystery to me.

The Dog Rug

 

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                                                                                                      Rindy

 

 

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                                                                             Sophie, and 

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                                                                              Lainie, sleeping in the sun!

I am exhausted again today, girls.  Fighting with insurance companies is no fun, I’m here to tell you.

But I had a great workout with Vicky.  She really challenged me today.  And I think she was being kind by not weighing me today. And, she had two days worth of food ready for me to take to work the next two days.  I was really happy about that.  I have some new things to try, including one of those green smoothies I have been reading about, and a red bean and cabbage salad–that will be a challenge for me!

Food is right on again.  I am really glad that I seem to be having less problem staying on the straight and narrow.  Maybe Vicky is right about the chemical component of so many prepared foods causing our cravings…

I am going to go out for a quick walk to stretch my legs, and to be thankful for the beauty of nature, and then have a bowl of strawberries, take a shower, and go to bed!

Some Movie Reviews?

I am back again after yet another quick trip to the Bay Area.  I have so many things I want to tell you all, but am SO TIRED.  So I thought I’d share a couple of movies I saw recently that I found worthy.  

I rented ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ the other night and really enjoyed it.  Much more than some of the reviews I had heard.  I think its because I like period movies that span a long time period, and are a bit quirky. It kept my interest, and was really enjoyable to watch.  And it was almost 3 hours long.

Then last night in the hotel room, I watched ‘The Pursuit of Happiness.’  I had heard that this movie was a real downer.  But I had seen the real guy that the movie is about on Oprah, so I knew there was a happy ending, even if it wasn’t in the movie.  I really liked this movie too.  Excellent acting by Will Smith (I never have gotten why he is so popular, but I do find it fascinating that he seems to have a face that can completely change into different characters,) and his little boy did a good job too.  One thing I liked about this movie was how he just kept working doggedly, sometimes frantically to reach his goal.  It really reminded me of how many of us have to work on our health and fitness (different words for diet and exercise) goals.

Another thing that happened on this trip was once again, facing my possible future by seeing my dad, and his increasing frailty.  When I told him about joining this gym so that I could swim, he reminded me that he had belonged to a gym (Jack LaLayne!) when he was about my age.  I remember that well.  He was quite devoted to going to the gym.  So even the fact that I am working out so hard is no guarantee that I will not end up like him.  I was thinking about all this in my hotel room (and exercising, BTW!) when a news piece came on about George Bush Sr. celebrating his 85th birthday by skydiving!!!  Not that I want to skydive now or in the future.  But there is a different way to age!  It really gave me hope.

I also got in some great exercise today.  Checked out a walk to the Japanese gardens near where my dad lives, and then went and got him and took him over there in the wheelchair.  Even ran with the wheelchair a good bit of the time!  6 miles total today!

And because I know my sister will probably be checking my blog, I will tell you that I joined her at Cheesecake Factory for a late lunch.  But I had already eaten lunch, and so just got a piece of unbelievable cake.  I asked the server twice to bring the ‘to go’ box WITH the cake, so I could put most of it in the box, but alas, he delayed bringing the box.  I was able to stop myself after eating 1/3 of the cake, which I estimate is 400 calories, so actually, if I go to bed right after posting this, I will come in UNDER my calorie goals for the day.  Funny what a motivating factor a personal weigh-in in the morning can be.  And yes, I sent the rest of the unbelievable cake home with my sister.