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


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...


Sunday, February 16, 2014


Consistency is better than rare moments of greatness.

Consistency is challenging for me. I'm more of a sprinter than a long distance runner. I start out strong, maintain and then lose momentum somewhere around the last 10%. This is due to a couple of traits...

I've never actually been tested for being attention deficit but I know it's there because I tend to get bored easily.  I like to switch things up so they are different and new. I love the planning stages of getting something up and running...developing concepts, brainstorming ideas, finding the "soul" and making it happen.  For me the satisfaction comes more from the road getting there than from the finished product. Once the product has been defined and all aspects are put in place, I'm mentally on to the next thing... 
Discipline. I think a lot of discipline stems from the ability to place yourself in situations that are supportive of what you strive to accomplish. Chances are I'm not going to cut calories by going to McDonalds. I try to be aware of "potential downfall" situations and avoid them.  But the real test of discipline is being able to deal effectively with the numerous situations outside of our control... called life. Being able to maintain a focus on our goals in spite of what's taking place in our surrounding. Possessing a clarity of purpose that allows us to acknowledge and transcend our downfalls. Realizing that failure is essential for reaching success.
There's a lot to be said for going the distance and finishing what you start. Working around my short comings, I've come to learn that the best chance I have at going the distance is to break it up into a series of sprints instead of one long haul. Accomplishing goals on a smaller consistent, (the key word here), basis are just more do-able for me. If I can break the distance down into manageable "sprints" then the long haul becomes much more attainable.
I want to develop a consistent routine that supports my efforts. This means defining a pattern that keeps me focused. Eating at regular intervals, getting the sleep and physical activity I need. Focusing on the here and now and not letting distractions take president. Developing more of a daily routine that's going to support my weight loss over the long haul by being consistent.
Carry On...

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Eating Light

My absolute favorite thing to eat are fresh Vietnamese spring rolls. I never get tired of them. They are light, flavorful and the combination of fillings are endless. The best thing is that they are very low in calories, so you can eat a lot of them. Most of the calories will come from the dipping sauce so I try to use it sparingly and keep the sauce on the lighter side. I love the flavors of fresh mint and basil. I grow my own mint just so I can always have plenty on hand.

I love using fresh lettuce, mint and vegetables cut into thin lengths and marinated in rice vinegar layered together with slices of avocados, shrimp and vermicelli noodles. This is pretty much my go to filling combo. Other ingredients like grilled tofu, marinated fresh carrots, daikon radish, red peppers and mung bean sprouts also work well as fillings.

Todd Porter and Diane Cu's web site, White on Rice Couple , has a fantastic tutorial on how to assemble these spring rolls. There is definitely a learning curve to making these. They’re not hard to make but it does take some practice to properly handle the wrapping. I have all the filling ingredients laid out and ready to go so that the softened wrapper can be assembled and rolled quickly. It’s important not to overfill the wrapper. It takes practice to know how much of the filling to layer so that it will roll up neatly.
I use the Three Ladies Brand of rice wrapper because it tends to hold up better and not tear as easily as some of the other brands. For the dipping sauce, I use a light combination of hoisin sauce, (or tamari), mixed with some sweet chili sauce. Peanut dipping sauce is also good. Rice vinegar mixed with a little tamari is very light and good also.

The only drawback for these rolls is that they do not store well at all. They have to be made fresh and eaten within a 3-5 hours. It’s not the thing to make ahead and store in the refrigerator. In fact getting the wrapper cold drastically changes its composition. It becomes tough, rubbery and basically inedible. They are best eaten fresh... right after being made.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Staying Motivated

There is something very motivational about achieving a goal, no matter how small it is. The fact that you set out to accomplish something and succeeded is such a lift any way you look at it.

Last week I set out to get back on track with my weight loss, set a goal to lose 4 lbs. by Sat. and in fact lost 5 lbs. It was a hard week for me. I had to re-adjust my mind set to be aware of keeping my calorie intake in check. I'm not one to count calories and I know intuitively when I'm going over the limit.  It's really a matter of developing the mind set to break away from old habits. Changing my thought process and staying accountable to my goal was what motivated me through the week.

I honestly feel like we all know inside ourselves what we need to change to lose weight. With me it involves portion control, eating late at night, and being conscious of what I eat. For instance when I stop for gas, frequently I will go inside the station and buy a small bag of chips, or an ice cream bar. I realize that it is not wrong to buy something to eat, just make it something that is not going to put on the extra pounds. So now I buy a bottle of water and a pack of gum, or some pistachios. I've become much more conscious of what I eat in between meals, in addition to the meals themselves.

For me... staying motivated involves meeting goals and having things to look forward to. The sense of accomplishment drives me to stick with it while having things to look forward to propels me forward. They both work hand in hand. It's a mindset that allows you to stay focused and accept new behaviors into your psyche.


Routines can help us to stay motivated. Friends and support groups can be very motivational. I think it is good to use outside support systems to develop our inner strengths. Being connected to a group can give us new insights into how we relate to food and provide a stable support system. The connections we make can help us lift each other towards achieving our goals and provide accountability. This is true for all aspects of our lives and not just for weight loss.

I ate tons of the Southwest chicken lime soup! OMG it is the easiest, best recipe and I just never get tired of it. I also ate lots of my fresh Asian rolls which have vermicelli rice noodles, mint, shrimp, avocado, pickled vegetables and lettuce. They are so fresh, light and low calorie. I'll post my recipe for these later in the week...

Next week starts the 2-1/2 lbs. per week weight loss. 236.5 by next Sunday.