Good Morning

Hi all!  I gotta write fast–I am off for another grueling six hour workday–HA!  Thanks for all the nice comments.  To answer one question–I still will have to work some 12  hour shifts.  And of course, this will mean that I have to commute more days per week.  But for now, I think it is worth a trial run to have more of my life be a regular rhythm.

Yesterday I met a friend for lunch.  We had a plan.  Share a salad (BBQ chicken, Lori!) and then go for a frozen yogurt!  In between we stopped at the thrift store where I scored a brand new jacket and two springtime tops.  I like checking the thrift store to see if my size has changed–a cheap way to get a little treat for my hard work.  The yogurt place had my favorite ‘original tart.’  This stuff is only 60 calories per half cup!  Yes, I had more than 1/2 a cup.  My toppings were walnuts and carob chips–simple and classic.  Only thing was, we sat and talked so long, we decided to get seconds.  Oops.  Fun, though.  And I was not that hungry for dinner, so just had some eggies mixed into that cauliflower-potato bake (this is EXCELLENT, BTW) and a small piece of pineapple.

After the yogurt, I hit the gym before going home.  And this is mostly what I wanted to write about.  I tried the ‘super slow lifting’ that Miz wrote about the other day. Hey, this stuff is hard.  But in a good way.  I wasn’t sure, but I chose to go about 10 pounds lighter than I usually do on the machines and did two sets.  The second set was always less than 10.  And I am sore today.  But good sore.  It was a little hard to make myself go that slow.  One man commented that I had ‘done that well.’  I don’t know if he had heard of the super slow or not.  But at least he didn’t think I was crazy.

I’d better run.  Gonna try to get in a little walk with Noah before I leave.   I am getting plenty of exercise these days, trying to walk Noah twice a day to make up for his lack of ‘house time.’

Heaven

Is this what it feels like to work regular hours?  Its 9pm, and I would usually just be arriving home, exhausted and depressed, having left my house at 5:15am.  Today I started something new–splitting one 12 hour shift into two 6 hour shifts.  So I got up this morning at 6am WITHOUT an alarm clock, enjoyed a nice cup of coffee and breakfast, and a little quiet time, and left for work before 7:30.  I was in the parking lot and on my way home by 3:20.  HEAVEN!!  I came straight home, and got in a really long walk/run with Noah (he’s getting faster!) and still had energy for a little house work.  I fixed a real dinner, watched an episode of Monk, and checked out a few blogs.  Now I’m tired, but NORMAL tired.  Not feeling like the world is going to end tomorrow tired.  Not shaking my legs to stay awake because they are insisting on going to sleep (does anyone else experience this?  It is the weirdest feeling–like your body is going to go to sleep no matter what your mind tries to tell it to do.)

Oh, and to get back to the normal topic of this blog–food–here is another little bit of heaven.  I try to make most of my ‘desserts’ healthy mini-meals.  Have I told you guys about this combo?  Just take about 1/2 cup of your favorite yogurt and 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries and stir them together until the yogurt is a little frosty and the blueberries are a little softened.  I add in about 50 calories worth of walnuts–HEAVEN in a bowl!

Recipes

Hi all!  Hope you had a good weekend.  Work was hard for me this week–mentally and physically.  What’s new.  I did run a little more on the way from the parking lot to the unit and back out, and I even got in a good run when I had to take some stat labwork to the other side of the hospital  (its a BIG hospital, and I know which floors are mostly empty!)  AND,  ta-da!  Today I checked my 10-minute mile challenge time, and I came in at 11 minutes flat!  I was really so excited.  Because every time I start out, I think,  Oh, today will not be a good day.  Its cold.  My knee hurts.  I am really tired from yesterday.  I shouldn’t have worked out at the gym before I checked my run time.  How far is that telephone pole*–I’ll never make it.  I’m gonna have to walk.  Etc. etc. etc. (*telephone pole is at the quarter mile mark.)

Okay.  On to the good stuff.  Recipe news!  First, here is a picture of the roasted tomato soup.  This is when I added rice to it.  You can see that it is pretty thick and chunky, which I like.  But you could make it smoother by processing it more in the blender.  I might do this next time.  That is the ham and cheese breakfast muffin next to it.  Those are as good as they look.  They are a great addition to lunch or breakfast!  I think this recipe was originally Lori’s.  Thanks, Lori!

Next up is the quinoa breakfast recipe.  Sorry I didn’t take a picture of this.  But it was absolutely delicious, and quite decadent.  I ate it three mornings.  The first two mornings it really held me for 3-4 hours, but the next morning, I was hungry after two hours.  Don’t know that its the quinoa’s fault…anyway, keep in mind that you can make a serving any size you want.  If 330 calories sounds like a bit too much for you, then split the recipe into 4 servings and it will be about 250 calories/serving.

Next is the Pumpkin Oat dessert.  If you look at the ingredient list, this would also make a very nice breakfast snack.  I am not 100% sold on this recipe.  But I keep eating it, so I guess that is a good recommendation.  I like it enough to share with you.  I’ll be interested to hear if any of you try it.  The part I am not sure about is the ‘oatmeal effect.’  I added the oatmeal on purpose to bulk it up.  But with the high liquid content in this recipe, the oatmeal turned into…well, oatmeal.  I think you can even see this in the picture.  It also is not super sweet.  As you can see, I am trying to use real sweeteners (agave and maple syrup) and depart from my dependence on splenda.  And also challenge myself to be satisfied with something that is lightly sweet.  Anyways, there you have it.  It needs a better name.

Today I tried a recipe that has been hanging around the house forever–a Cauliflower-potato bake.  Do you guys do that?  Cut out a recipe from a magazine or whatever, and then have that paper floating around in the kitchen/bathroom/bedroom?  You really want to try it but are missing one ingredient?  Well, I finally remembered to get the one missing ingredient–a red bell pepper!  I am not a fan of green bell peppers (I will pick every last minute shred of green bell pepper off of a slice of combo pizza.)  And so that hate transferred over to the poor red peppers.  But I have noticed recently that I like the red peppers okay in certain foods that I have tried–they add a nice flavor.

The recipe was one that came in a flyer from my health insurance company!  I followed the recipe exactly, and it was just scrumptious!  So scrumptious that I had a second serving for my dinner tonight!  And yes indeed, that is a steak on the plate there.  I probably have one steak every 3 months or so.  It was just wonderful.  BTW, at our local market, if you buy a whole filet, they only charge $6/lb instead of the normal $12-15/lb that we see around here.  So even though I am only one person, I will buy this once in a while, and then slice it into just the size steaks that I want, and wrap and freeze them.

BTW, I plan to use some of the leftover cauilflower-potato bake in an eggie scramble.  Doesn’t that sound delicious?  I love re-purposing foods!

I was looking around the blogs tonight, and Sybil linked to this new recipe blog, and her first recipe sounds fascinating and quite worthy, especially for some of you vegetarians–Garlic and Rosemary Roasted Cannellini Beans!  Doesn’t that sound fascinating?  And healthy.  She says they are crunchy and taste like crispy garlic bread croutons–great for salads, eh?

And finally, the Noah shot.  He is getting almost too heavy for me to pick up!  Unbelievable.

Just a Tidbit

Rain.  Rain.  More rain.  I know.  Shut up you stupid spoiled Californians.  Will you never be satisfied?  You cry because there is not enough rain, and then you complain when it finally does rain.  Hmmm. Reminds me of a certain group of people in the desert who didn’t like eating manna any more.  Which, BTW, I have always wanted to try.  It just seems like it would be so yummy.

Well.  That was not what I intended to say.  I have been experimenting with food today.  And I think I have come up with two new recipes that are blogworthy.  I wish some of you lived close by so I could have you test them out and let me know if my sense of taste is still on target.  I guess I’ll eat them again tomorrow and then post them.  One is a quinoa breakfast blend.  I did get the idea from this blogger, but I made mine a little differently.  And the other was a pumpkin dessert–a heartier healthier version of my pumpkin custard.

In spite of all this rain, I have really done well in the exercise department.  I got out this morning for a walk with Noah and then a run by myself before the rain started.  I was pretty pleased with myself that I got out there before the rain because I do still have the tendency to procrastinate when it comes to the exercise.

In less than 3 weeks, Noah has gone from 23 pounds to 35 pounds!  Yikes.  Kind of reminds me of ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog.’  Did Clifford chew on EVERYTHING in his line of sight?  We have a LONG time to go before the teething/chewing thing is over.  Maybe I’ll lose some weight chasing after him…

A day like today is so interesting to me.  Because I ate really heavy early in the day.  So at 4pm, when I took a planned break and had some coffee and lobars, I was not hungry, and in fact I was too full to eat the second lobar.  THEN I was not hungry for dinner.  At 7pm I finally had another small piece of salmon and some broccoli.  Of course I saved room to try my pumpkin dessert.  I really thought I was going to go over my calorie allotment today, but I came in at 1305.  Having a big breakfast really does decrease your total intake for the day.

If any of you are still wondering about yogurt making, Vickie has written a wonderful post about her experience in making yogurt.  Quite scientific, and full of wonderful pictures.  She makes all of her yogurt Greek yogurt.  I am still quite enamored of yogurt making, and am finding more and more ways of using it.  It really works well in a lot of recipes.

I can’t remember if I updated you on my car thing.  The insurance company approved the repairs.  I was afraid they were going to say it was totaled.  So I am quite happy that I will get my car back.  I will appreciate it a lot more from now on.  In the meantime, this little Kia that they gave me is not all that fun to drive in stormy weather. But it does the job.

Have a great weekend.  I am back to work.

P.S.  I keep forgetting to ask:  has anyone tried those MBT shoes?  I am very interested in them.  But a little reluctant to spend a lot of money on them if they are not going to be comfortable.

Still

Just so ya know…

  • I still wanted to buy a package of M&M’s when I was in the store today.  “Just in case…”  I still like M&M’s with popcorn.  And I can easily split the package into two servings (yes, by counting out the pieces.)
  • I still struggled at dinner with the ‘tiny’ piece of salmon I had planned to eat.  “Just thaw out both pieces.  Its not that much.”  (5 ounces instead of the 2 ounces I had planned.)
  • I still pick up ‘junk food’ when its sitting around and its free.  Like yesterday at sewing day.  A handful of trail mix, and a brownie.
  • I still am intimidated at the gym.  If guys are in the free weights room, I might skip what I want to do there.  If somebody comes in the studio to work out, I will usually stop what I am doing and act like I was done and go on to something else.  If somebody is in the spa, I will skip it, even though I was really looking forward to it after my swim.  And, if you can believe it, I’ve belonged to this gym for 6 months and have never set foot on a treadmill.  Granted, I prefer to walk outside.  But its been raining…
  • I still have a hard time stopping eating.  I chew Eclipse gum to stop, or as a substitute for food, or instead of dessert, or as a psychological prop.  I don’t even know why sometimes.  I do know I should take out stock in Eclipse gum…
  • I still struggle with the vision part–wanting it to be physical ‘perfection’ vs. physical health.  Man, I’d love to look like I feel (firm and slender) on my best days.
  • I still eat when I am not hungry.  Because I have planned to eat that food and/or because there are calories left at the end of the day.
  • I still use Splenda.
  • I still drink diet coke.
  • I still use half and half in my coffee.

Just so ya know.

A lot of my posts are about good choices I make.  Good foods I eat.  Good exercise I have done.  I am not trying to be deceptive.  I mostly want to encourage people that change is possible.  But sometimes I am encouraged when someone admits a fault or a struggle.  I often learn best from my mistakes.  So I thought it might be helpful to list the things that I still struggle with.  After five years, and countless changes, some of the same old things are still a problem.

Here’s how I dealt with each of those problem areas.

  • I passed on the M&M’s.  I thought about Vickie’s wise advice–if its in the house, it will get eaten.  And I made myself think about all the healthy dessert type things I had in my house right now.  And I made myself admit that if I had the M&M’s, I would eat them with the high calorie microwave popcorn.
  • I only thawed out the two ounce piece of salmon.  And yes, I know it was two ounces because I made myself weigh it.  But dinner was absolutely delicious.  The salmon was cooked to perfection, and each bite was a treat.  And it was enough.  (If you’re interested, I had it with roasted cauliflower (tossed with salt, pepper, garlic, and olive oil) and a wonderful Comice pear.
  • I tried to make myself stop eating the brownie and throw it out the window.  But I couldn’t make myself stop, even though it wasn’t that good of a brownie.  Only redeeming value was that it was small.
  • I have a plan to ask the nice girl who works at the gym on Sundays if she will give me a little intro to the treadmills.  Then maybe I will start to use them instead of just looking wistfully in their direction.  If there is only one guy in the free weights room, I will go in there and do what I want to do.
  • I work really hard some days at not eating until I am hungry.
  • Some days I wear form fitting clothes to the gym and I make myself look in the mirror to watch my form.  I work at ‘being content in whatever state I am in.’  I pay attention to how strong and sure footed I am.
  • I tried to let myself run out of Splenda.  But I just can’t give it up yet.  I have bought agave syrup, and I am slowly learning how to add a little bit of it into certain recipes.  I also eat my yogurt without adding splenda sometimes.  Work on just trying to enjoy the natural flavor of things.
  • Diet coke is not leaving any time soon.  But I only have one a day usually.  And I usually don’t have one at all on the days I work.
  • I try periodically to give up half and half in my coffee.  I usually end up adding the same amount of calories of whatever I am substituting so that it will taste more like half and half.  Coffee is just not worthy without half and half.  So for now, it stays.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to go and have a cup of tea and a pumpkin chocolate chip bar.  Not because I am hungry.  But because I have planned for it and I have enough calories left and because I have been a good girl today.

Perfect Pairings

Does anybody remember the Ben & Jerry ice cream type characters on the movie ‘City Slickers?’  They prided themselves on pairing the perfect ice cream with any meal.

I really related to that scene.  I love to think up food combos that go together really well.  And now, if it is nutritious, filling, and low calorie….well, WOOF!  I love it.  Last night I came up with such a pair.  I tried a new recipe.  It sounded really good, and it seemed a little adventurous to me because 1) it was soup (I don’t eat or make soup that much) and 2) it seemed to have more ‘fat’ in the recipe than I am use to adding.  I found the recipe on Dineen’s newsletter.  Dineen is the gal who paired up with Miz to do a teleconference class on Jumpstart Healthy Living 2010.  I can’t find the recipe on her website (I got it in an email) so I will post it in my sidebar–Dineen’s Roasted Tomato Soup. I thought about what would go good with this soup.  The obvious answers were crackers, or a slice of really great bread.  Neither of which I had in my house.  Then I remembered the ham and cheese breakfast muffins in the freezer.  S. C. O. R. E.!!!  These things freeze really well.  I warmed it up in the toaster oven, which takes longer, but is definitely worth it.  It was nice and crisp on the outside, and moist and wonderfully gooey on the inside.  The PERFECT compliment to my homemade tomato soup.  Added a side of brocolli, just for volume, and that was a great dinner.  And you get that wonderful feeling of eating a really nutritious low-calorie meal to boot.  Plenty of calories left over to enjoy a dessert later in the evening of cherries and homemade yogurt with a sprinkling of  granola on top, along with one square of dark chocolate (another perfect pairing, in my humble opinion :))  )

The ham and cheese muffins reminded me of another favorite recipe that I haven’t made for a long time, and since I had some fresh cherries, I decided to make some cherry popovers this morning.

Really good.  Have quite a bit of protein, and very low cal.  The other day on Vicky’s blog, talking about protein, and how I don’t like to eat eggs for breakfast, I joked that ‘I guess I could just eat a hunk of meat.’  And then I thought, why not?  I have a ton of leftover ham in the freezer.  Ham is a ‘breakfast meat.’  So I’ve done that a couple of times recently.  A pretty low cal way to add protein to your breakfast.

Yesterday was a really good day all around.  I took Noah for a walk before the storm hit–it was just really windy.  He is really getting good at the walking already.  And he is growing by leaps and bounds!

V.I.M.

This is a post I have wanted to write for over a year, and now, since it will do double duty for both of my blogs, I am finally taking the time to do it.  I think that this is such an important principle that I was a little reluctant to try and get the point across.  But its worth a try.

Dallas Willard, a brilliant professor of philosophy from USC (and my most favorite author) uses this acrostic to explain how spiritual formation can occur in a person’s life.  But it applies to really anything you want to do in life.  The initials stand for:

  • V  –  Vision
  • I  –  Intention
  • M  –  Means

I will try to explain this the way it made sense to me.  Dr. Willard used the illustration of learning a foreign language.  In the United States we have plenty of means for learning a foreign language–foreign language tapes, community college courses, and of course, it is part of the curriculum in most public schools.  But very few people actually carry through and learn a foreign language because they don’t really have a vision for learning the language, much less the intention to carry on and do  the hard work necessary to succeed at learning a foreign language.  However, all around the world, people successfully learn to speak the English language because they have a vision of how speaking English can improve the quality of their lives.

The intention part of the plan is a bit trickier to explain, because I think we misuse the word ‘intend’ a lot.  We say “I ‘intend’ to lose weight.”  Or, “I intended to go to the store, but it just never happened.”  Intention here means we actually decide to do it. To quote Dr. Willard–

“an intention is brought to completion only by a decision to fulfill or carry  through with the intention.”

And finally, means is usually what we have plenty of in this country.  Means are the various actions, programs, or instrumentalities that allow you to achieve the vision.  Using the example of learning a foreign language, the various means might include signing up for language courses, listening to recordings, buying books, associating with people who speak that language, maybe even visiting that country, and of course, practice, practice, practice.

This V.I.M. pattern of transformation applies so very well to the area of successful weight loss and especially maintenance.  In fact, Dr. Willard points out that this is similar to the general pattern of personal transformation that is used by Alcoholics Anonymous.

So many people skip over the vision and intention and go directly to the means.  We do have a plethora of means for weight loss here in the United States.  Weight loss programs, exercise programs, gastric bypass surgery, aisles of weight loss products at the grocery store.  Books about how to do it.  Books by people who have done it.  Magazines, magazines, magazines.  Exercise equipment.  You can spend a fortune ‘trying’ to lose weight without ever having a vision and an intention to lose it.  If you can believe it, one of my most favorite things to do was to get the new ‘Shape’ magazine and read the inspirational stories while eating a big brownie and drinking a Classic Coke.    We Try to eat less.  We buy low-fat this or that.  We sign up for Weight Watchers in January.  Pay for a gym membership.

Some people do have a vision of sorts.  “I want to look like ________.”  (Fill in movie star of choice.)  Or “I want to lose 30 pounds in two months so I will be able to eat whatever I want on that cruise.”  Now, sometimes that is how successful losers/maintainers have started.  But somewhere along the way, they have to develop a bigger vision of what they want.  “I want to be fit and healthy into my old age.”  “I want to live life every day as optimally as possible.”  “I want to move easily without pain and have sustained energy for the busy life that I enjoy living.”

Most people never truly intend to lose the weight.  Oh, they might say, ‘I want to lose this weight with all of my heart.’  But when they consider the difficult life changes that must take place, no true decision (intention) is ever made.

For myself, I do think I had a hazy, kind of deeply buried vision when I joined weight watchers.  I was pretty weak on the intention, and pretty skeptical about the means.  It took quite a long while for a firm vision to form in my mind, and the intention was actually a process too.  But they are there now, and they are firm.  The vision I have talked about a lot.  I want to live as healthy a life as is possible as I age.  I don’t want to take medications, especially to control blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.  Watching others aging less than optimally has firmed up the intention that I have.  And means.  I have means up the ying yang.  Seeking information, and insisting that I know the truth about what food and exercise do for you have really helped to keep the vision firmly in place.  For example, reading and knowing that eating one hamburger and fries can do considerable harm to my blood vessels makes me think twice when I am tempted to stop for a hamburger.  It has taken a long time, but the information (followed closely by personal experience) that eating sugar will just make me want more sugar really does make me think twice about eating anything with sugar, no matter how many calories I have available that day.

What is your vision regarding your life and weight loss?  If you have started this journey and never thought much about it, don’t panic.  LIke I said, most times I believe this is a process.  But a clear vision and a firm intention will keep you going when the means become boring or difficult.