Saturday, August 16, 2014

Letting Go


 
What happens when life overwhelms you? You learn to let go. I can't even begin to pick up the pieces where I last left off so I'm letting it go... completely. I'm letting it go and starting fresh. A new beginning with a new outlook and new goals based on what I now know about myself that I didn't before.
 
What I now know:
  • Staying the course will get you to where you want to be.
  • Changing life long patterns is a life long commitment
  • Beets, carrots and watermelon are low in calories but high on the glycemic index.
  • Counting calories will throw me under the bus.
In A Nutshell:
 
A lot has happened since April 17th. I lost more weight and gained it all back and more. I have decided to start fresh with my goal to lose 100 lbs. I'm not going to beat myself up over getting off track. I've learned A LOT about how I eat and why many of the foods I've been using to lose weight with are not good choices for this. I only weigh myself once a week. Getting a support system is a good thing.
 
And Last But Not Least:
 
Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
 
 
 
 
 
 


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Behold... glorious carrot soup

Growing up I pretty much hated eating carrots, with the exception of carrot cake. They were so dull and uninspired. My mom served them steamed in a big bowl with butter and nothing else. She would sometimes cut them up in a salad of iceberg lettuce and French dressing and because of this, it wasn't until much later in life that I even considered eating carrots at all.


It all started with the rabbits. Before my son I had rabbits. Lots of them. All my friends had rabbits because of me and we would set play dates for our bunnies to get together and make even more rabbits. Being the doting "mom", I always had plenty of carrots around. The local stores would save the trimmings from the vegetables for me to pick up weekly. This included things like older carrots, carrot tops, outer leaves of lettuce, imperfect apples and strawberries.  Due to all the carrots around, I started eating them myself. I usually ate them raw and pickled in rice vinegar with other vegetables. I love this! That was about the time I started to make carrot soup. I'd had some at a restaurant in San Francisco that was absolutely fabulous and began to use the carrots to make the occasional carrot soup. Then I discovered different varieties of carrots at the farmers market and started buying carrots just for the soup. The Nelson variety is the one to get. They are noticeably sweeter with a finer texture than super market carrots, although super market carrots work fine also.


The smells of the carrots cooking with curry spices, bay leaves and chicken stock is so therapeutic. The bright orange color is gorgeous and the taste is divine. Even people who do not like carrots usually love this soup. Even kids love this soup. The combination of flavors change during cooking to meld into a unified taste all it's own. I've added things like cumin, turmeric, orange juice, potatoes and cayenne in the past for variations but honestly, the basic version of this recipe is still my favorite. I like it with just a few chunks and not all pureed so I remove about 1/2 cup of the vegetables to chop a little finer and re-add back into the pot after the vegetables have been pureed and before the milk and parsley are added. This soup pairs great with a side of crusty sourdough bread and butter. So healthy and flavorful. Yum!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Making Amends

Well no one ever said that losing weight was easy. We all know what it is that we need to do to lose weight but doing it so darn hard at times and have to admit that I have run astray! The thing is to get right back on track and don't beat yourself up over it...

Stay true to your goal and visualize. There are always going to be things thrown your way that make it difficult to diet but if we are really committed to our goals, we find a way to work around them. The most dangerous thing we can do is make excuses for why we can't stay the course. I've been in this mode for a couple of weeks now and I can see where it is time to get back on the program.


I've been in bread mode lately, which is not the best thing for a diet, but absolutely fascinating to me. It all started with my completely random discovery of Tartine bakery in San Francisco while looking for a place to park. I found a space conveniently located right in front of Tartine's and thought that I would eat lunch there after my meeting, (clueless as to the caliber of bread and pastries they produce). 

Tartine country bread is unsurpassed in flavor and texture. In fact the bread is so good that I have become completely obsessed with baking. It just so happened to coincide with my search for the perfect banh mi roll. I have this vision of what it should be and many come close but none are "it"...yet. Having fallen under the spell of sourdough, I've ventured into the world of wild yeast baking and am stuck with it for awhile. Don't think there's a wild yeast diet yet, but I'm working on that.

In honor of my fathers 86th birthday today, I'm adding this recipe for a tomato bread salad. He told me years ago that this was his favorite food to eat growing up. His mother was a fabulous cook and utilized a garden to feed her family. He talked about her home made ketchup and her cream pie also as being favorites. I remember thinking, how on earth could a tomato and bread salad be your favorite meal... until I tried it one day. The flavors of the warm, ripe tomatoes coupled with the homemade bread and additional ingredients is simply delicious! This does not keep well and should be eaten within the same day of making.



Tomato Bread Salad


Ingredients:

Ripe tomatoes, (one per person), cut into chunks, stale sourdough bread cut into chunks or torn into pieces, basil, garlic, champaigne vinegar, fruity olive oil, sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, sprinkle of sugar.

Directions:

Place cut tomatoes in large bowl and sprinkle with vinegar, a little sugar, salt and pepper. Add bread chunks and combine with tomatoes. Drizzle olive oil over mixture and add basil to taste. Cover bowl and set aside for at least one hour to allow flavors to develop and the bread to absorb the flavors. Adjust oil and seasonings and serve.




Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Missing Link

I've been struggling with my weight loss again. Not because I'm eating unhealthy, but because I've reached a point where it's becoming difficult to burn the fat through diet alone. I gained 4 lbs. over the past two weeks. The beauty of this blog is that it gives me a means to measure my progress and a format to hold me to my weight loss goals. I can see that there is something missing and that something is exercise.



There was a time when I used to work out at a gym 3-4 mornings a week heading off to my job. I mostly would spend 40 minutes on the elliptical machine, staying on until I burned 500 calories. It kept my weight down and I felt pretty good. There isn't a gym in my area that would be convenient for me to go to and honestly, I'm looking for other forms of getting exercise that don't require committing to a membership.

My favorite form of exercise by far is riding my bike. Up until a year ago, I rode my bike on average 40 miles per week. I've been on a number of bike rides since moving here but living in the mountains makes for some pretty strenuous hill climbs that can be really difficult. I haven't quite figured out how to fit bike riding into my schedule yet. I'm going to work on that...

All I know is that I need to get some exercise back into my life on a regular basis. I ordered a cute tank top from a company, Lola Getts, a couple of weeks ago. They manufacture a line of work out wear sized specifically for plus size women. I've been wanting to buy this cute top for a while and when I saw it go on sale, I jumped on it.

One of my co-workers gave me a body ball for my birthday years ago. Honestly I have not used it until now. I love it! It's great for stretches and is something I can utilize at home. There are a number of exercise videos on U-Tube for strength training with the body ball. They're all around 15 minutes long and so it makes for a very accessible workout. All I have to do is connect my lap top to my TV and I'm ready to roll.

Ready to get back with the program...

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Yogurt Up


There have been a number of new products surface in recent years that are fantastic. These reusable BNTO canning jar adapters from cuppow make it easy to put together your own healthy concoctions. They’re great for salads and flavored yogurts. They're fantastic for diets, so you can pack your own healthy food items on the go.


I absolutely love yogurt and eat it every day. It helps keep my digestive track in order and keeps my complexion clear and smooth. It’s loaded with protein, calcium and nutrients. The probiotics and B12 are beneficial to maintaining a healthy immune system.

Buying flavored commercial yogurt has become a circus. With a zillion varieties to choose from, there is a lot of competition and most of them are loaded with junk ingredients. There is so much added to them in the way of chemicals and artificial sweeteners that the commercial processing in many instances diminishes the benefits. I've taken to buying a good quality plain yogurt, (or making it myself), and adding my own flavors. I like adding homemade jams, chutneys, fresh fruits and granola for a much more nutritious and fresh taste.

My favorite way to make yogurt is in a crock-pot. It’s easy and economical. I use a good quality whole milk and save some from my previous batch to use for the culture. The first time you make it you can use some store bought yogurt for the starter culture. Just make sure the yogurt you use has active bacteria, (Nancy’s, Brown Cow or Mountain High are all good brands). The website Creative Simple Life has a great tutorial for this easy crock-pot method.

She mentions another interesting method in her blog using mason jars and a cooler. I have not tried this method but it looks easy. Either way you go, if you eat a lot of yogurt... homemade yogurt tastes great and is far more economical than anything you can buy.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Making Adjustments

Life would be so easy if everything went according to plan, but that is hardly the case. We are constantly having to adjust accordingly for unforeseen circumstances that are thrown our way.


As I become further immersed in my diet, I'm realizing that I need to make some adjustments that are going to help me achieve my weight loss goals. As I mentioned in a previous blog, my personal style is one more of a sprinter than a long distance runner. I'm driven by bursts of energy intermingled with moments to regroup... periods of pushing followed by time to reflect and make adjustments. It's hard for me to always be in the "push" mode. It just doesn't work out and I lose focus.

I've been experimenting with different eating patterns and what I've found to work best for me is to stick to a healthy food plan every day, but to have 1 day of the week that is more of a "push" day.

So what makes this one day different from the rest?  During the "push day", I only consume low calorie food in a liquid form. That can include smoothies, protein drinks, soup, tea... (it does not include alcohol or melted ice cream).  It does however include yogurt and sugar free Jello. For this one day, I generally will have a smoothie for breakfast, a protein shake, (or soup) for lunch and a hearty bowl of soup for dinner. In between meals I drink plenty of water intermingled with one or two glasses of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. I'll make ahead, (can 8 quarts at a time), any one of the soup recipies listed in this blog to always have on hand for these days. I also like the Progresso brand low calorie line of soups. They are really good! The other five days are still focused on keeping my calorie intake at around 1200 per day. Having that one push day a week provides the"sprint" that I need to break up the week, boost my metabolism and make some real headway into achieving my goal.  After a day of  limiting myself to a primarily liquid food diet, my regular diet seems like a banquet! The "push" I get from this one day provides the boost and discipline I need to stay on track both mentally and physically.


A note about commercial protein shakes...

I basically don't like them. They have a highly processed taste that I find repulsive. They are a quick fix and not geared towards developing healthy eating habits for any sort of long term weight loss program.  Most people love them because they "don’t have to think" about food, plan meals or buy expensive products. They do however have their place in a liquid diet plan as a meal replacement and there are a number of good recipes for homemade protein shakes that I love:

Fat-Burning Mocha Madness
  • In a blender, mix ½ cup of cold water, (or can use 2% or almond milk), you can add more or less depending on the consistency and taste you prefer.
  • Add 2 scoops of nutrient-rich chocolate-flavored protein powder.
  • Add 1 tsp. of granulated instant coffee.
  • Gradually add 5 ice cubes to thicken.
  • Blend on high for one minute (in a pinch, this shake can also be made by simply mixing ingredients together in a glass with a spoon).

Simply put, weight loss occurs when your metabolism gets moving and you put out more calories than you take in. If you were to replace a 750-calorie bagel and orange juice meal with a 155-calorie protein shake, you’d save 595 calories per day. That's a considerable cut that adds up in the long haul.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Beets

I have a special love for beets. They're the type of vegetable that people either love or hate. I never liked them as a child and didn't eat them at all until later on when I moved to Cincinnati. Summer time in Cincinnati can be unbearably hot and humid. I had a friend there who made fantastic borscht. She would make a hearty root vegetable based borscht in the winter and a lighter, ice cold chilled borscht version in the summer. I have many fond memories of hot summer evenings spent out on the balcony sipping ice cold borscht from a bowl while watching the lightning bugs.

 
 
Beets are amazing. I just cooked some that I had bought probably back in May of last year. They've been sitting in my refrigerator that whole time. I pulled them out last night and not too bad! A little moldy around the root and starting to sprout leaves, but all in all still quite edible.
 
 
The health benefits of beets are many . Beets are loaded with antioxidants and are an excellent source of iron, calcium, fiber and folic acid. Betacyanin is the pigment that gives beets their striking magenta color. It is absorbed into the blood and can increase the oxygen by up to 400%.
 
One of my favorite salads is just a wedge of iceberg lettuce with some dressing and pickled beets on top. So simple! Iceberg lettuce gets a bad rap for lack of nutrition, (which is not true). It is crisp, crunchy and the pickled beets together with the dressing give it so much flavor. See the picture below?... that whole salad is just under 100 calories. I buy cans of julienne beets, drain them and marinate them in rice vinegar with fresh mint, salt and pepper. I keep this in a jar for when I need to put together a quick salad. You just can't get any easier than that...