Refinements

Does anybody else do this?  I walk around all day thinking about great new blog topics.  They usually revolve around some food/diet/exercise/maintenance victory I have had, and I think I must share that.  It might help someone else. And then I have an extremely non-victorious day.  And it all goes out the window.  What right do I have to tell anyone else how it is done?  I can’t do anything right myself. That’s what happened Friday.  As I explained to good blog buddy Jill:

Ugh.  That’s what I say about this weather today.  About today in general.  It was supposed to snow, but instead it snowed just enough during the night to put the electricity out, which turned the porch light off, which gave the raccoon the go-ahead to get into the dog food, which made Noah bark non-stop, which made me get up and bring in the two giant cans of dog food off the porch.  Problem solved.  Until I woke up to smoky smell in the house.  I HATE THAT!

Oh, and then I decided to make a batch of homemade yogurt this morning.  All excited about that.  I heat the milk in the microwave for 13 minutes, and then after it cools down a bit, I add some yogurt to it.  Oh.  Except I forgot to get some yogurt at the store.  Got dressed and down to the local store in the rain to get yogurt and a few other things.  All before 8:30am.  Sigh.

Oh. So then, because I ate a crappy pancake for bfast (didn ‘t have my cottage cheese for protein pancakes) I felt too full.  So I remedied that by eating some walnuts, then some more walnuts and raisins, and then some of those ginger cookies.  Ah, its good to have my eating under control AFTER SIX STINKING YEARS OF WORKING ON THIS!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, before that I was thinking about sharing about how I make little refinements in the way I eat or interact with food.  I think sometimes these little changes can add up to major ‘lifestyle’ changes.  Here’s a few refinements I’ve made in the past month or so.

  • Gum and sunflower seeds.  For quite a long time I kept a hefty supply of Eclipse gum on  hand.  Same thing with the reduced sodium sunflower seeds.  Then for a while I kept the sunflower seeds in the car all the time.  Of course, the gum was always in my purse.  So pretty much most of the time I was in the car I was munching on sunflower seeds or chewing gum.  Pretty soon it became apparent that I could not drive anywhere without something in my mouth.  Sometimes on the way home from work I would chew a whole pack of gum (I don’t like to chew one piece for very long.)  And in between I was munching on the sunflower seeds.  Now, neither of these things have that many calories in them.  Still, a whole pack of Eclipse gum is 60 calories.  And by my unofficial count, I can eat about 100 calories of sunflower seeds in one hour.  Anyway, one day I decided that this was more about having something in  my mouth all the time.  And that maybe it would be a good thing to practice spending time without food in my mouth, especially in the car.  So I stopped buying the gum.  And I stopped keeping the sunflower seeds in the car.  I kind of make a game of setting an hour or two without amusing myself with food in the car.
  • Taking food to bed.  I got into quite the habit of taking a little cup of ‘homemade trail mix’ (walnuts, raisins, and chocolate chips) to bed with me, not every night, but quite a few nights.  This had nothing to do with hunger.  More to do with just having a treat.  So sometimes I substituted grapes, and then I mostly just stopped.  Really, its too many calories for a treat (on top of the dessert I already had earlier in the evening.)
  • Salt.  I’m not always 100% with this.  But usually, I try to eat vegetables and meat without adding extra salt.  Sometimes I just move the salt shaker off the table, and then I am too lazy to go and get it.  Just trying to learn to enjoy the food without extra salt.
  • Spackle 2.0.  My newest obsession.  It is a very healthy breakfast, and I love how it keeps me full for a very long time.  But really, at 500 calories, it is more than I need for breakfast, and in fact, I am too full after I ate it.  Half the recipe would not be quite enough for me, so I came up with a smaller version that comes in at 320 calories that I am very happy with.  It will be just right, I am sure.  And if I get hungry mid-morning, I can have a piece of fruit.  Which I really enjoy also.
  • The no-dairy challenge.  That went pretty well. I only went 6 days instead of seven.   The main thing I need to do is to NOT keep so much dairy in the house that I feel pressured to eat more of it than necessary.  Most days I only eat two small servings (1/2 cup) which is not that much.  I enjoy it, and it is good for me.  And I don’t like taking calcium supplements, so I should be eating it regularly.
  • I’ve been switching around my workout at the gym.  Adding in more free weights, doing more circuit-type routines, adding in the PLANK.  Hey, can a plank be an aerobic exercise?  Man, I was just huffing and puffing and my heart was pounding after the last one I did (55 whole seconds LOL)

In spite of these refinements, I have not lost the six pounds I gained over the holidays.  It is tough to change your regular patterns of eating.  It is extremely frustrating to me that I still struggle with this  SIX YEARS after starting the weight loss journey.  But today I am content that I am continuing on, making healthy choices, eating wonderful satisfying delicious food.  Working on portion control, and not eating when I am not hungry.  That’s okay once in a while, but its not okay as a way of life (if I want to maintain a lower weight.)

Lori wrote a wonderful blog today, about enjoying food that was also nourishing to your body, and that those two things were not mutually exclusive.  That is pretty much what I am always working on.  Tonight I had a meal that was just that.  I picked up some strawberries at a farm stand today, and I had some of my most favorite cottage cheese in the fridge (thank you, Safeway, for bringing back your 1% cottage cheese) and then I had a piece of previously  cooked chicken because I was feeling the need for meat, and had the little carrots because I was too tired to cook anything.  Oh, and some of that Chevy’s salsa to dip the carrots in–yumm!

Friday, when I was in such a fowl temper pretty much all day long, I was finally snapped out of it when I was laying on the couch in  the evening, watching a movie.  Noah was sound asleep on the floor, and Sophie was on my lap under the quilt I was working on.  Mr. Monk was in his usual position, on top of the sofa cushions, and I heard his soft, even snoring.  And I thought, this is pretty nice.  Imagine that.  A whole silly day in  a bad mood, and a snoring dog is the solution.  Who knew?

Hey, while I was writing this, a news flash came up on my screen–The Kings Speech won the Academy Award for best movie!  Good choice!

Much Ado About Food

Had some ideas about tweaking recipes and today was the day to try them.  First up is Spackle 2.0 .  Oh yes, I do believe I love this stuff enough  to add it to my recipe page.  I kept thinking about how I could make it a little more cookie-dough-ish and yet not decrease its nutritional value.  The missing ingredient?  Eggs!  You know you all eat raw eggs when you sneak that cookie dough.  But I realized that if I used egg beaters or one of those other egg white products, they would be pasteurized and you wouldn’t have to worry about the raw eggs.  My only criticism of this is that it is almost too filling.  Maybe I could eat half a recipe with a piece of fruit and save the other half to take to work.  Recipe’s over on the other blog.

Next up:  the cauliflower pizza.  I kept thinking about that crust.  And then when I made some protein pancakes I got the idea to use the blender to mix the cauliflower, egg whites, and cheese–it might make it more dough-like.  I even threw in one tablespoon of oatmeal to help it out.  Looks good, doesn’t it?

This time it tasted like baked mashed cauliflower.  Not a bad thing.  But not pizza crust.  I’m just laughing at myself, because when Wendz explained how she jazzed up the W.W. pizza, I said it was too much work.  Ha.  The toppings on this were fabulous–TJ’s pizza sauce, onions, mushrooms, spinach, and mozzarella cheese.  Next time I get the urge for pizza, I will:

  • Use a flat out wrap for a crust,
  • Try ‘pizza in a bowl’–just heat the toppings in a bowl, skip the crust,
  • or, go out for pizza.

Next up:  Fat free ginger cookies, courtesy of Roz. These are simply fabulous.  Only about 50 calories each (I made 40 cookies instead of 48 like the recipe said.)  The only other substitution I made was using spelt flour instead of wheat flour, and I substituted 1/4 cup of flaxseed meal for 1/4 cup of the flour.  These are too sweet for me (as in, I might want to keep eating them. )  I will probably take them to work with me on Saturday.  For now, they are safely in the freezer.  I might experiment a bit to try to decrease the sugar.  I think when you do that, though, you sacrifice a little on the texture.  I could also see that this recipe might be a good base for chocolate crinkle cookies.

This little plate of cookies is waiting for me to finish writing this blog.  I will have them with a cup of tea.

Dinner tonight was very satisfying, and is a good option when you are too tired to cook.  Pretty low in calories too.  Crabmeat cocktail (crab was frozen in serving size baggies in the freezer.  Just thaw under cold running water,) corn on the cob (wrap in a wet paper towel, 3 minutes in the microwave,) and an artichoke (same wet paper towel treatment, usually 5 minutes in the microwave.)  Total calories, about 300.

Noah was enjoying his landscaping efforts today.  I usually put his pillow back in his ‘dog room,’ but I forgot to do that the other day.

 

 

He’s a very sweet boy.  And he has taught me to become a dog whisperer!  Literally.  I usually talk to him in a whisper.

That’s all for now.  Have a great day tomorrow.

 

Its Been A While

RRRRRUUUUUFFF! Harro, my peeps and tweets!  Finally!  I’ve been bugging the lady to let me have a go at the blog for a few weeks now.  As my new friend, Mr. Taylor, says, we canines have a need to blog–just gotta get some stuff off our chests once in a while.

Anyways, as you all know, I do a superb job of guarding the house and the yard.  Why, just the other night I alerted the lady to a marauding raccoon on the back porch.  She was ever so grateful to be saved from such a dangerous predator.  (Editor’s note:  must get raccoon-proof containers for the dog food.)

But you know, for a skilled guardian like me, there’s only so much guarding that needs to be done.  Lately, I’ve had a lot of extra time on my paws.  And I’ve taken up a new hobby that I’d like to share with you all–LANDSCAPING!  RRRRUUUUUFFF!!!

In this shot you can see some of my skilled use of waste plastic and drip irrigation hose.  I think the hose looks much better over here than where it was originally.  Also, I love the placement of a large cushion in the middle of the yard instead of inside the doggie room.  Gotta think outside the box, you know?

At this time of year, sticks are at a premium.  Still, I have managed to find a number of different types of sticks to use in my landscaping efforts.

Ah yes, plastic milk jugs.  One of my favorite toys.  Great to add some interest to the garden after I have demolished them.

The old man shows off a particularly interesting stick display.  An artful arrangement of young branches, old twigs, and bamboo stakes.

I think the old geezer approves of my work!

Surveying his kingdom:

(editor’s note:  hope all y’all had a great holiday Monday.  I watched the movie Shine with Geoffrey Rush (from The King’s Speech.)  Such an inspirational and true story.  Here’s a link to the real pianist that Rush portrays.

Back to work tomorrow.  Countdown:  33 shifts left!!

Good Stuff

I was so excited about this last night.  I made walnut butter! Whee!  What took me so long?

Yesterday was a work day.  I was completely out of any kind of nut butter, and I knew I wanted to have spackle for breakfast this morning. Because of the ‘no dairy’ challenge this week.  So I thought about going to Whole Foods to get some of that wonderful Justin’s Chocolate Almond Butter.  But I knew a trip to Whole Foods after work, when I am so tired and have no reserves, would result in me buying some foods that I really didn’t need to have around.  Including a chocolate chip bar.  Which I am not banning from my life forever, but I am choosing not to eat at the present moment when I am trying to take a few pounds off.  Besides, I am unbelievably tired after work and this would make me get home even later.  Well, I could try to find the almond butter at Raley’s or at the local health food store the next morning.  And then it dawned on me: I could make walnut butter!! If you can believe it, all these thoughts went through my head in about five minutes as I left the parking lot and had to decide which direction to head in.

So it only took a few minutes to turn some walnuts into walnut butter.  Who knew?!  Dumped them in the mini-food processor and turned it on.  How wonderful.  I will probably never buy nut butter again!  Now I can make my own and know exactly what is in it.  I tasted this halfway through the blending, and thought it was pretty bland, so I added just a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of agave nectar.  Perfection!

Ever since I had the goal to eat more vegetables, I have been eating a lot more salads than usual!  I figure one big salad is at least three servings of vegetables.  Today’s salad was, well to repeat myself, it was perfection.  I had gotten two big containers of Chevy’s salsa (thanks, Costco) so you have to be a little creative to figure out ways to eat a lot of salsa without eating it on chips.  Salad is a great way to use it.  And there is no need for salad dressing if you use salsa.  Most salsa is very innocent, containing only vegetables (sometimes fruits) and spices.

I cooked four ounces of ground sirloin, and then added just a sprinkle of taco seasoning and a bit of water to make taco meat.  I used half of the meat on this salad and saved the other half for another day.

The rest of the salad contained:  romaine lettuce, avocado, jicama, tomatoes, carrots, and roasted pepitos.  Really wonderful, and quite filling.

Tonight’s dinner was another of my strange combinations, but it was exactly what I wanted, and was very satisfying.  Some roasted cauliflower, half of a pear, and a small bowl of raisin bran with almond milk.

I was talking about the book “Thin  for Life” the other day and wanted to add a few thoughts.  This book was written in the nineties, and its main focus is low-fat food and cooking.  It doesn’t say that is the only way to lose weight and keep it off.  In fact it makes the point that there are numerous ways that people have lost weight, and numerous ways that they have kept it off.  But it has a definite bias in that direction.  Now I think this is interesting, mostly because it shows another successful way of maintaining weight loss besides some of the current prejudice against carbs that I see being bantied about the blog world.  But I also think it is important to read this book (and any book, for that matter) and keep in mind that you can take some of the wisdom from it and personalize it so that it is useful in your particular life.  As we are coming to realize, there is more than one reason that people are overweight, and so it stands to reason that there would be more than one way to lose the weight and keep it off. In fact, here is a quote from the book that says basically the same thing:

More often than no the masters [that’s what she calls the people who have maintained a weight loss]  lose weight by coming up with their own personal plans, which vary from person to person.

I am going through this book again, both for the helpful information and the encouragement that it provides.  I’ll probably be sharing a bit from it in the next few weeks.  (P.S.  I changed my blog theme because, frankly, it was too hard for me to read my own blog LOL!  Ah, its great to get older.)

I’ll end with another candid Monk shot:  Mr. Monk couldn’t quite get comfortable.

Snow Days

I guess this comes under the heading of ‘turn about’s fair play,’ or some such thing.  After weeks of no ‘weather’ we have hit the bigtime.  Three days of on and off snow.  Heavy and wet stuff, evidently.  Enough to make the power go out overnight.  QUELLE HORREUR! You know I like my routines, and one of the chief routines is the well-worn path from my bed straight to the coffeemaker EVERY MORNING.  No exceptions.

One of my very most favorite Larsen cartoons.  Oh how I wish Sophie would get the hang of this!

So this morning I tried to make the best of it.  Made a list of things I could do without electricity.  There were a LOT of things I could do.  I just didn’t wanna do them.  It was kind of dark and dreary, and darn it, I was sleepy without my coffee.  So I made a plan to escape.  Just as I finished dressing, the electricity came on.  You never saw a person make coffee so fast!  Because, as usual, the electricity cut off again about 15 minutes later.  But I felt MUCH BETTER with some coffee in me, and I set off to the gym.

Man, did I have a good workout.  I wasn’t in a hurry to get done, since I didn’t want to go home until the electricity went on.  I made up a circuit, and did these exercises in the little studio:

  • arm curls and overhead lifts, 10#, 10 reps each arm, standing on the bosu ball
  • ball crunches, 15 reps
  • bench push-ups, 10-12 reps
  • pliet squat, 30#, 10 reps
  • front shoulder raise, 5#, 10 reps each arm
  • lunges, 20#, 10 reps each leg

I repeated this circuit three times and then I went out to the big room.  And I did another mini-circuit:

  • pec-dec machine, 35# 10 reps
  • deadlift, 55#, 10 reps
  • vertical press machine, 40#, 40 reps

Only this one I did the deadlifts each time between the other two exercises, so did 5 sets of deadlifts, and 3 sets of each of the other two.  Most of the time I like to challenge myself and lift heavier, but sometimes I choose lower weights and more reps on purpose for a different kind of challenge.

I ended with some leg presses: 100#, 40 reps times two, and 140#, 15 reps time one.  And for those of you who are interested, I WAS sweating by the end of this workout.  I ended back in the little studio for a little stretching.  And, I finally tried something I had been meaning to add back in for a while:  did one plank for 50 seconds.

This morning I ate the last of the Fage greek yogurt, so tomorrow will be the first day of my no dairy experiment. Which, for me  means no yogurt, no milk, and no cottage cheese.  I will probably have a little cheese here and there on salads and such.  As I said, its mostly a challenge to try other foods.

I finished the ‘Rethinking Thin’ book, which was interesting, but a little discouraging (the main premise being that it is very difficult for anyone to maintain a large weight loss.)  So I got out my ‘Thin for Life’ book this morning, which is  VERY encouraging.  She uses a group of 160 people who have lost at least 20 pounds and kept it off for at least 3 years.  Many of them have lost a lot more than that, and kept it off for a lot longer than that.  A lot of her book is personal stories of their successes and struggles, and it is a ‘glass half-full’ kind of book.  I thoroughly recommend it.

One of the funny things in the ‘Rethinking Thin’ book was a guy named Fletcher, who, in 1889, made a name for himself by promoting very thorough chewing as a way to lose weight.  I remember this being talked about in the 70’s as a tool in weight loss.  And what I thought when I read this was, yeah. It’s not the fact of chewing the food into miniscule pieces that makes you lose weight.  If you take more time to chew your food, you will probably not consume as much volume before you start to feel full. That is something I try to be mindful of most of the time. Recently I noticed I was swallowing some food before even chewing it much and I corrected that (before I read this book.)

One sentence in the ‘Thin for Life’ book jumped out at me.  It is quite a sobering thought.  I believe it is true.

After studying successful maintainers, Drs. Colvin and Olson drew the following conclusion:  “Weight loss is not an end in itself; it is the means to an end….It is a mans to more important goals.” In fact , they suggest that weight loss as a goal in itself is a guarantee for failure.

Now, you might start out with weight loss as your only goal, but if that doesn’t change along the way, I don’t see that it is a big enough motivator to do the difficult job of maintaining that loss.  That’s just my cheap opinion, of course.

So, changing the subject rapidly, sometimes when I don’t have much time left in the day I will do just a little tiny bit of creating.  This is enough to encourage me and keep me moving forward.  Yesterday evening I sewed together these little squares (that were left over from another project.)

 

And then I put together another group of little squares to sew together tonight:

Gotta work tomorrow, so better sign off and get ready to go.  Have a great weekend!

 

Sometimes My Life is not ALL about the Food

Yeah.  Can you believe it?  I’m sure some of you are willing to go back and survey all my posts from the past year, and by percentages prove that yes, indeed, my life does seem to be all about the food.

Well, today is the last day of a whole week of continuous days off.  (Not a vacation, just the way the schedule was made.)  Its been wonderful.  I purposely did not over-commit  this week.  Wanted to try and see if I could be creative.  So look what I did:

NO.  I did not create this whole quilt top in a week.  The central portion* has actually been finished for a couple of years.  Then I got tired of working on it (recurring theme…)  Then I didn’t want to do the original border that was planned.  Then I thought of some alternate borders I could do.   Then I started thirty other projects and I forgot about it for a while.  Periodically I would think about it, come up with various borders that might work.  It is one of the prettiest (and most difficult) quilts I have ever made, so I really did not want to leave it unfinished.

ANYWAY, I got a new tool on my most recent quilt shopping trip.  I thought I might use it to make little stars to go around the border.  First day off this past week I spent cutting up little pieces of fabric.  I made one star with the tool, and knew immediately that it was NOT the look I wanted.  I remembered a different way to make little stars (that I had thought about two years ago) and tried that.  Yes, that was the look I wanted!

Those are the little 'liberated stars' that I chose to do in the border.

Long story short, I have laughingly told myself this week that quilting is no way to make money.  Pretty much it took 4 days to completely finish the border.  We won’t talk about how long the center took.  And now it is only partly through.  Still have to make the quilt sandwich, machine quilt it, and put the binding on.  No mind.  This one’s for me.

This is actually one block of the central part of the quilt.

Also this week I’ve been looking at a book called “The Artist’s Way” which encourages you to journal three pages every morning.  So I’ve dutifully been journaling three pages every morning.  Then I started a new book that I am loving, called “Journey with Jesus.” This book is a workbook on prayer and meditation and yes, JOURNALING is included.  The first week is all about understanding how much I am loved by God.  Quite wonderful.  Then I’ve been blogging quite a bit.  Which is, yes, another form of journaling!

Hey, did everyone see that I won one of the prizes on Lori’s challenge? Did everyone get a big laugh out of the 56 YEAR OLD WOMAN getting the jumping rope?  Never you mind, I am up for the challenge!  You probably won’t see a video of it any time soon…

Honestly, doing that challenge was one of the most fun, most fulfilling things I did this week.  Along with hitting the gym pretty hard a couple of days, I am feeling…well, besides feeling really sore, I FEEL GOOD!

Last night and tonight was the annual neighbor’s get together for the Westminster Dog Show.  Those of you who are long-time readers might remember that it is quite the food extravaganza, which has caused me quite a bit of angst in past years.  This year I just decided to go with it.  And while I was sitting there eating too much, I thought about how this was the sixth year since I started losing weight that I have had to deal with this event.  And yeah, I’ve managed to lose or maintain all those years just fine.

Back to work tomorrow.  The countdown has begun:  35 shifts left!!!

*Forgot to give credit to the pattern-maker of the center of the quilt.  It is a Karen Stone design–all paper-pieced.  I did not create it, but I did choose every fabric for every piece (which is my favorite part of quilting.)  It is called a New York Beauties quilt.

Funny Food

I tried a new recipe today.  The picture of it looked so good and cheesy that I could hardly wait.  It sounded like a sure winner to me.  After all, I am a big fan of the cauliflower mashed potatoes, right?

So right after church I rushed home to make my cauliflower pizza.  Wait.  Before you scoff, go over to Lyn’s blog and look at that picture.  Deliciousness, right?  And that Lyn is one who KNOWS good food.  I have tried quite a few of her recipes, and they have all been good.

So here’s my version of the cauliflower pizza.  I put mushrooms and onions and fresh tomatoes on top and used fresh mozarella cheese (because that’s all I had.)  I grated some mild cheddar for the crust (because that’s all I had.)

Looks good, huh?  Okay, all I’m saying is this.  Sometimes (okay, most of the time) when we make substitutions to make food healthier or less calories, its not gonna taste like the original.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  You just have to suspend your expectations when you try this new food, or you might be disappointed and reject it before you actually realize that Hey, it tastes pretty good. So after I took the first bite, and I rethought the ingredients list for the ‘crust,’ (cauliflower,  egg whites, and cheese,) I realized it tasted just like what I should have expected it to taste like:  a pizza omelette.  It was pretty darn good!  Just not what I was expecting.

Think about some of the other things we (I) eat.  ‘Custard’ oats.  C’mon, its OATMEAL.  Its not that cool smooth creamy concoction that we all know as custard.  Hey, I’m not being critical.  I LOVE my custard oats.  I’m just saying that if someone new goes to try our custard oats, and is thinking CUSTARD, they are likely to be disappointed.

Another example:  spackle.  Well actually, that one has a pretty descriptive name.  But I seem to recall that I compared it to cookie dough.  I actually think it is as good as cookie dough.  But if someone new decides to try my spackle, and is expecting that sugary-buttery-salty concoction commonly known as cookie crack dough, they might not like my spackle.

Anyway, I think this might be an important concept for  anyone intent on changing their diet to healthier food choices.   SUSPEND YOUR EXPECTATIONS.  Like with the cauliflower pizza.  Who said pizza always had to be served on a bread crust?  (Oh, I can hear the comments already.)

I’m feeling pretty chipper after my victorious hike yesterday.  Followed up by a strong workout at the gym before going to church this morning!  Yes indeedy.  And my weight is heading in the right direction, thank you very much.  I’ll let you know the minute I hit 168 again.