Friday, August 27, 2010

The $13.35 fast food dinner

This has been another rough week exercise wise ! Between the back to school routine ( with doing things in a very different way this year) and the constant wild cards with house stuff, I feel like I am living in a blender or something, waiting for things to stop - or at least slow down enough to grab onto the walls and get my bearings ! I finally got out for a short walk this morning, and it has been the only "exercise" I have been able to get in. There has been a whole lot of movement in the form of obsessive house cleaning, but no "you are moving for a certain time simply to move so you burn calories and rev up your metabolism " kind of stuff. With good reason !

Since we made the discovery that we were dealing with ringworm that we most likely got from the hotel swimming pool, I have been a little creeped out. First about the idea that a swimming pool can have such a nasty thing in it, and second the fact that we had no idea what this was for like a month and it that time it has most likely spread to every surface of our home and gone unchecked. I am not a germaphobe, but this made me one ! My course of action was to wash and disinfect every surface, the rug, the mattresses, the shoes and more. Nick has been a huge help, and we have been working our butts off. Cleaning the carpet ( Nick and I go through here barefoot most of the time so who knows how much stuff got transferred to the rug) has occured over the last two days , and for some reason running the machine and the ten thousand bends to retrieve the fur balls it spits out everywhere kills my back. By yesterday afternoon I was wiped out and my back was too sore to make our planned meal , so I asked Bob to stop to pick up dinner. One of the chains here, Portillos, has a grilled tuna salad and fruit smoothies that we have wanted to try, so I suggested he get these. Bob is a very good shopper- he understands exactly why we buy certain things, why we avoid others and uses his head to come up with acceptable alternatives when things need to be changed. He stopped and noticed that the grilled tuna salad was a Grilled Tuna Cesar salad, and Cesar salad dressing often contains anchovies ( so does some forms of BBQ Sauce, steak sauce and a few other things). He has gotten used to the rules when I had the fish allergy and is adapting to the new fish is okay but shelfish is not rules, and the poor guy could not remeber if anchovies were fish or shellfish ! He rationalized that we wanted the fish, needed the veggies and onion rings will not count, so here is what he brought home

Grilled yellow fin tuna sandwich on a bun with lettuce and onion, side salad (HUGE) and a pina colada smoothie. I was starving, it was delicious, other than the size of the salad a darned healthy choice. But the price - GASP !!! Dinner for 3 ( we all had the same thing) was close to 40 dollars. For fast food ! I really cringed about this, but he assured me that it was fine, I was worth it and next time we will figure out a way to do things less expensive.

It makes Subway look very attractive ! I wish they had a fish option that was not tuna or moc crab in a ton of mayo sauce ! It also makes me wish that Subway would instruct their employees about the recipe for their offerings ! It drives me crazy when I go in to order a Veggie delight sub and they ask me what kind of meat I want on it ( this has happened to me at least 4 times). Perhaps it is a regional problem . Portillos has been the only fast food chain where you always get exactly what you order . Our local McDonalds seems to have a problem with complicated orders, such as ones requesting 2 cokes and a coffee. It's always like Christmas when you drive through to the window where you pick up your order. Will it be drinks ? Fries ? a Sherpa ? It all seems to depend on the person taking the order's ability to understand electronically muffled speech - a tricky thing it seems.

I really dislike fast food for these reasons. However, sometimes it is a necessary evil , and I am thankful for healthy options. Even if they wind up costing $13.35 per person !

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

BBC NEWS | Health | Eating at night myth 'exploded'

Interesting study. Findings show that your body processes food in exactly the same way no matter what time you eat it,and that hormones do indeed have a big impact on weight. Decrease in estrogen and progesterone increases the production of Leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells , which influences food intake. ( Other studies have shown that leptin increases the hormone cortoisol, which makes you gain weight in the middle, causes your skin to age and much more)

BBC NEWS | Health | Eating at night myth 'exploded'

Perhaps a personal goal

Another busy day here ! With extra housekeeping activities to rid the house of any traces of our little friend , I have been hopping. Hopping, moving, scrubbing but not officially exercising . I get up at 4 am to start my day and stay flying till after dinner, where I struggle to keep my eyes open and make my back stop hurting. All this bending, shifting, scrubbing is murder on it !

A thought came to me today while I was changing the reservoir tank on the carpet shampooer. I have been really hesitant in the past to set a definite weight loss goal for myself , simply because I am working with different issues. I do not struggle with emotional eating, bad choices or so forth, but hormonal issues. It seems that these cooperate when I eat fish (something I have not been able to eat due to an allergy till recently). If I have another good loss this week ( last week was not a stellar week for exercise either and I had a very nice loss) , I am going to set my first ever personal goal- to be in One-derland by this Thanksgiving. This would be a 42 lb loss in roughly 14 weeks. That is 3 lbs per week, and possible . I would not beat myself up over it if I lost, but if I could archive it, this would be the fulfillment of a goal that has been 20 years in the making ! Perhaps with this in my sights it might tell the universe to stop tossing so many wild cards my way for a while because I have other uses for me for a while.

The thought makes me feel very optimistic !

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Monday brings memories

Mondays are such busy days here ! Between slightly heavier school load and the weekly housecleaning, time can be the most precious commodity of all ! When extra things get tossed in, it gets a little crazy ! There is one very bright spot in Mondays this year though. I have included a mandatory reading time on Mondays and Fridays for my son, with the instructions that it has to be a chapter type book. He really dislikes this kind of reading, but he desperately needs it to help with his own communication abilities . In order to write and peak intelligently, you need to see and hear examples of how it is done ,IMHO. A miracle has happened this year- Nick actually LIKES reading these kinds of books. I caught him while he was doing his reading :

( note- he is wearing shorts but you cannot see them past his shoulders !)

Enjoyment brings cooperation, and this makes a more productive , peaceful school day ! It also makes our lunch breaks a lot nicer- when no one feels like they have been through the wringer, it's easier to feel restored after a meal. If that meal sort of looks fun, it's even better

We made something I call Monkey Tails ( peanut butter and banana rolled up in a high fiber flat bread ) and had it with a salad we made from the leftover bits of Saturday's Sushi making. Celery, carrots, avocado, moc crab, little bit of rice and nori tossed with rice wine vinegar and a couple drops of sesame oil. These were joined by five baby plum tomatoes- a new variety to me. It seems almost illegal NOT to eat tomatoes at least once a day at this time of year- they are so darned plentiful !

We had a late visit from the Cable company for some necessary work , and dinner was late. I decided to try a different brand of salmon burgers- these from Sam's Club

These are 10 calories more that the Aldi's brand and slightly higher in sodium. The cost is also about 15 cents per serving higher, but we wanted to try all of the possible options. I served these with sweet potato fries an the Healthy Life buns

The verdict ? We actually like the Aldi's brand more. However , if Aldis stops carrying these, it is nice to know that we can get them at Sams.

For some reason I was totally wiped out after dinner. Okay, there was a reason. 20 years ago on this day my first son was born dead. Yes it is a distant event and so much more of life has happened since then, but you never forget a child. Mothers bond with their babies the minute they suspect their presence, and nothing removes that bond. No matter if they are in existence for minutes or years, the emotional connection remains. Before birth , only the mother perceives something about the soul that is attached to the physical creation that is her child. When a child is lost before birth , one of the most profound emotions that comes with the experience is feeling that you are the only one who actually knew the life lost. When there is no grave , you feel pressured to keep their memory alive , or they simply cease to exist.And at the same time nothing can remove the memory of their existence from your mind.Children change the depth, breath and quality of your soul- part of you is never really born until you conceive a child. Sometimes this feeling becomes a burden that you do not dare put down and other times it can feel like it will smother you. Anniversaries , no matter how distant, bring a new or renewed sense of experiencing this sacred burden, and a flood of questions. If they had survived they would have been __ yrs old and most likely doing ___. When you encounter others who would have been the same age, you automatically compare. Because it was the 20th birthday ( anything ending with a zero seems so much more important) , I was feeling all of these things more deeply. Not guilt or even loss , but just a physical reaction to some deep seated memories. I was achy. I was tired. I really just wanted to find a cave to spend 24 hours in. A good night's sleep was in order and much appreciated. It's a brand new day, and I am blessed with the responsibility of raising Adam's younger brother and continuing to share a happy life with his father. Life does indeed go on.

Monday, August 23, 2010

There's a new bun in town

Move over Arnolds Thins, there is a new kid in town ! This one is lower in calories and an actual bun !! Healthy Life now makes a wheat bun that looks like a hamburger bun, tastes like a hamburger bun, but comes in at a skinny 80 calories ! That is a mere 10 calories above an average slice of bread, but for a whole bun !

Here is the nutritional information ( sorry for the bad photo !)

For those following a Weight Watchers points program ,these come in at one point per bun- Better than Arnolds ! They are also cheaper per package. I found these in our market and really wanted to give them a try. I have bough other Healthy Life breads in the past and was very happy with the quality. To see that they now also have buns in my market was a happy thing ! Yesterday for lunch we had these with an Aldi's find- Salmon burgers ( I hope it is not a seasonal item !)
Here is the nutritional information for these tasty little guys
Click on it to "embiggen"- lables seem to be ard for my camera to capture . These two finds met, liked each other and were married in order to form a tasty, healy lunch that came in at 310 calories for the whole shebang

I am very thankful that it is not required for me to dress up like a clown and stand under an arch to get my family to like a burger type lunch ! I think those big shoes would be a hazard to my health .

Sunday, August 22, 2010

New friends...yeah, that's how to veiw it !

It seems that the ability to eat fish again is not only making me VERY happy, but seems to get the scale moving in the right direction once again. It's a win win kind of thing. Fish has always been my favorite food , and when the allergy came into existence , I felt like I had been removed from a big part of myself !

Yesterday was our usual "run to do grocery shopping" round, followed by chopping and then singing at the 4 pm service for Bob. We began the day with the new breakfast favorite ( eaten 7 days a week) , Overnight oats. Here is how I make it :

Overnight Oats

1/3 cup rolled oats
1 cup soy milk
1/3 pint fresh blueberries ( or can use chopped apple)
2 tsp Splenda
1 T cinnamon

Before bed combine all ingredients in a container. Place in the refrigerator
overnight. In the morning , stir and eat.

A note about Splenda- a lot of people , in an attempt to eat healthy and lose weight will start out using things like Splenda or Nutrasweet and then dump it in favor of things like agave syrup, Stevia or sweetening with fruit because it is perceived as healthier. Truth is agave is a HIGHLY refined product, and both it and fruit affect your blood sugars, plus add calories. Splenda and other artificial non caloric sweeteners do not. Using these can reduce the caloric count of your serving by 25-50 calories. And, if you have any reason to watch your blood sugars, they are an even more intelligent choice . This last issue became clear shortly after breakfast !

We had gone to Gatlinburg for vacation a few weeks back , and when we came back we started noticing odd rash things on us. The complex sent out a notice that we were being sprayed for bedbugs, but none of these bites looked anything like bedbug bites , and we had seen no evidence of bedbugs. Several of the "bites" had rings around them, and I have been vacuuming like crazy, looking for ticks, bedbugs, spiders or anything that could possibly be biting us. Also watching for any sign of fever or Lyme disease. It has been very nerve wracking to say the least. After we finished breakfast we were talking about the plans for the day and I looked down at Bob's foot and saw a water blister on his toe, and offered to put some antibiotic cream and a band aid on it for him. While treating his toe I noticed that he had Athletes Foot between the toes, so we added a stop to get some spray for it to the list. Bob has had a problem in the past with athletes foot and other things , and as a result has to wear certain kinds of shoes and socks. I noticed he had a lot of these ring bite things around his ankles, and I was concerned about an allergy to whatever had been biting us. While we were at the store I picked up a can of Lotrimin spray , was reading and the words "also affective on ringworm" literally jumped off the label and screamed at me. It dawned on me that we might be dealing with ringworm ! It's one of those things that you hear about , but never really watch for. Once we got home from shopping I did some research, and sure enough it seems we are dealing with ringworm, and most likely got it from the swiming pool at the motel. A generous souvenir if you will . So here we go with creams, a round of grapefruit seed extract internally and replacing the towels. We have gotten into a very bad habit of using the same towel over and over between the three of us ( air drying between uses) , and this has made the fungus spread like wildfire. We were also eating a lot of melons and high sugar fruits, so basically we made ourselves and our home a four star resort for the beasties. Low sugar or sugar free will be the way to go now.

Ringworm, incidentally, is not a worm at all, but a fungus. It got it's name from the ring like appearance of the eruptions. You can pick it up from animals, any damp surface, swimming pools, tanning beds and any place where infected human skin has touched. It can surface on just about every part of your body. Ringworm...bedbugs...urban life of today is nothing like urban life when I was younger !

While it sounds disgusting, there is great satisfaction in at long last knowing what you are dealing with and how to proceed. There is resolve, and progress can be made. By lunchtime I was feeling empowered !

Lunch was a grilled yellow fin tuna sandwich from one of our favorite sandwich places, Portillios. They have great burgers and sausages, but they also make this grilled tuna sandwich that is one of my favorite things to eat ! They serve it on a bun with lettuce, tomato, red onion and a thin coating of mayo. Not sure of the calorie count because they do not post the nutritional info, and to be honest I do not care ! This sandwich is to die for ! I also got an order of onion rings ( one splurge for the week) , and ate it with about 10 baby carrots, a pint of blueberries and a diet green ice tea. Yummy !

The afternoon was spent washing and cutting veggies and other kitchen duties. Dinner was going to be a combo of my two favorite things- fish and oriental food ! One of my favorite styles of cooking is oriental, and it has been a while since I had gotten to play. One of the things I love to make ( and the guys love to eat) is California Rolls- or sushi as my son calls it. Now that fish is no longer a problem, we can have it at home . Nick and I worked together to construct dinner- California rolls and Beansprout salad with Garlic and fortune cookies. Here is my plate, and I went back for seconds on the sushi !

Bean Sprout Salad With Garlic

2 tablespoons Black sesame seeds
3/4 pound fresh bean sprouts thoroughly washed- and drained
1/4 pound fresh Chinese pea pods thoroughly washed and drained
3 medium garlic cloves peeled and minced
2 medium scallions -- trimmed & minced
1 inch cube ginger root, fresh, minced
2 tablespoons oriental sesame oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Fresh bean sprouts are a must for this recipe . The canned variety don't have the
requisite crispness. Place the bean sprouts and pea pods in a large heatproof bowl and set it aside.
In a medium-size skillet set over moderately low heat, stir-fry the garlic, scallions
and ginger in the oil for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are limp.

Add all the remaining ingredients, increase the heat to moderate, then boil the mixture,
uncovered, for 1 minute to slightly reduce the liquid. Pour the boiling dressing over
the bean sprouts, toss well, then cover the bowl and chill the salad for several hours.
Toss again before serving.

California Roll

1 pk Nori sheets
2 cups brown rice
5 cups water
3 T rice wine vinegar
1 tsp Splenda
1 pk mock crab
1 avocado
2 or 3 carrots
2 or 3 ribs of celery

Cook the rice and water according to package directions. You want more water to make
a sticky rice. Remove from heat, stir in rice wine vinegar and splenda and let cool.
Cut Avocado, celery, carrots and crab into thin strips. To assemble, lay a sheet of nori on
a cutting board, pile on rice, wet your hands and press down to a thin layer so it covers
the nori sheet. Place strips of the above ingredients down the middle and roll up in a tight roll
and press all over to insure it sticks. Cut into 8 slices and put on a plate. Chill and serve.

We sat eating , talking and laughing at the fortunes ! It cost 89 cents for a bag of fortune cookies , and it may be the cheapest entertainment of all. We interpreted the meanings of the fortunes with a kind of dark , comedic twist and laughed. One that my husband got we decided was just a sign that the creator of the fortunes was just plain overworked

" Ask not what your fortune cookie can do for you, but what you can do for your fortune cookie "

Later we had dessert- homemade coconut ice cream ! I have been experimenting in the past with creating good home made ice cream. This one was inspired by something Culvers was offering for the flavor of the day a while back. The flavor is right , but it cures way too hard in the freezer.

Coconut Ice Cream

2 cans coconut milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup coconut
3/4 c splenda

Blend in a blender and then freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturers directions

Ice cream eaten in proper portion size will never hurt you. Proper portion size is 1/2 cup. It is only when you begin to treat a pint or a half gallon as a serving that you will get into trouble !

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Weigh in, and a light at the end of the tunnel

Just a quick post - busy day today ! However, it is weigh in day, and time to see how eating fish works...or does not. We simply switched to eating fish instead of any other kind of meat this week.

Me- DOWN 4.8
Nick - DOWN 3.4
Bob - DOWN 1.8

Fish does indeed work ! Not shellfish like shrimp, lobster or real crab but things like cod, flounder, turbot, salmon and so forth. One reason may be that it is naturally lower in calories than other meats. Another may be that it is high quality protein , and in the case of ocean fish contain a higher level of iodine. This nutrient supports the thyroid, which if it is sluggish , can make weight loss very difficult. One of our primary sources of iodine is iodized salt ( NOT sea salt) , and when you start cutting salt from your diet, you also rob your body of iodine. It's a catch 22 situation.

Obviously going to continue doing the same this week , and I will get back to posting meals and pictures. I wanted to wait to see if this indeed worked !

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Forbidden fruit - no longer applies !

Take a look at the above picture- crab spaghetti . Made with a jar or marinara sauce, a package of moc crab and whole wheat capellini noodles.Simple, inexpensive and delicious. However, for the last 7 years, this has been a meal that would have thrown me into an allergic reaction, and so it was forbidden. I would make it on special occasions for the guys, taking great care to wash my hands, use separate cooking utensils and more. I would serve it to them and drool as they ate it because while I could not eat it, I still LOVED the memory of the taste of fish in just about all forms. For reasons that I do not totally understand, fish is no longer a problem for me. I do know that peri-menopause can sometimes aggravate or even create allergies because of the affects of shifting hormones in your body. I don't know for sure why my allergy has disappeared, but I say GOOD RIDDANCE !!!!! I have eaten fish 3 times since Saturday and I have had no adverse reaction, so swimmy guys, GET IN MY BELLY !!!! And the good news is that fish is naturally lower in calories, contains so many health benefits, that being able to eat this again is simply a win win situation. Life is good !

Exercise this week however has been BEYOND terrible !!! It is back to school and this year things are a little different in focus. I am not going to beat myself up about it- a week to adjust to the new rhythm so that I can get a feel for the flow is a reasonable thing. The important thing, I think, is to not stress about what is not being done and celebrate the good that is happening. No guilt, no shame, just keep swimming !

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How to fail

We weight loss bloggers are a plucky lot ! We do our best to inspire each other, encourage and try to gently point out the error in someone's program if we can spot it. We are helpful people ! We share our food logs, food pictures, calories burned data, new food finds, non scale victories and a lot more.

One thing few of us share is how we got in this predicament in the first place. We may make blanket statements like “I turned to food for comfort” or “I spent too much time eating out “ or so forth, but never really get into the motivating reasons behind these behaviors. Perhaps it is simply to raw and too painful , perhaps we are still trying to discover just what they were. I was reading someone else s blog the other day and I remembered my own reasons for failing at the weight loss journey, and it served to remind me of some of the most important skills I learned , and reminded myself never to get to that place again. Perhaps in sharing, it will remind another to draw from their own deepest learned skills.

I have been overweight my whole life because of something called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It was undiagnosed for most of my life, and when I was 30 the truth was discovered. PCOS can also make fertility very difficult to achieve, and at the time it was believed that the best course of action to increase fertility was through weight loss. A 10 percent drop in weight could increase fertility , and so I was instructed to eat on a plan that featured limited starches and fruits, protein and unlimited non starchy vegetables and servings of dairy every day. 20 months later and a lot of work on mind ,body and spirit, and I was 110 pounds lighter, and had experienced a pregnancy, stillbirth, emergency surgery to remove my right ovary in that same span of time. A definite wild ride ! The day I reached 200 lbs ( literally) I conceived our son. All was well for the first 8 weeks of pregnancy , and then I began having a long succession of problems that landed me on total bedrest for 5 months of the pregnancy. It was a time of fear, hope, nerves, anticipation, and a lot of eating ! There was little else I could do and as a child I had been taught that “good eaters “ were strong people, so food has always meant strength to me, and I needed all the strength I could get ! Main reason for the need was that EVERY SINGLE obstetrical visit to my OB was begun with the words “I want to remind you not to get too attached to this baby”. They were followed by “Your levels look odd, so I want you to go for this test/specialist/procedure”, and the visits ended with “I want you to treat your body like a glass egg”. Interestingly enough, a few months after I delivered my son the doctor was brought up on charges for ordering unnecessary tests on his patients.

Thankfully all worked out for the best and I at long last had my son. Life was good. We were at last a family, my husband had a good job, he was also studying for the ministry, we had both been active in church, and we were very compatible together. I admit, because of his involvement in the church I tried my very best to walk a Christian pathway, but it simply was not for me. Our son was healthy, VERY active, and we were doing all the things that good parents were supposed to do- involve him in the world, do routine well baby care and so forth. At 4 months old Nick went from rolling to pulling himself up and standing. At 6 months he was walking, and then climbing. At 7 months old , something happened. He began cutting teeth and developed a non stop ear infection for 18 months. He was still bright and bubbly till he was 15 months old, and then changes happened. He would sit fixated with anything that spins for hours. He started walking on his toes. He was not making any babbling noises, let alone speaking any words. Thus began a round of evaluations to figure out what was wrong, with no conclusive findings. Meanwhile, Bob finished his ministry training, became a deacon, and was away from home more and more. The pressures of being a first time mom are one thing. Add a differently abled child, it's another. Add Ministry demands to that, and then financial woes because of increasing medical bills and baby expenses, and something comes close to snapping.

Because of all of these factors, I felt I really needed strength ! Be it some idiotic pronouncement from our Pediatrician ( who labeled me as a nervous mother because I questioned the fact that while I was nursing on demand my newborn son was only producing 3 wet diapers in 24 hrs), some new demand on my husband's limited time for continuing education for the Ministry ( It is logical that ministers serving in a church with no youth program and no plans to EVER have one be required to take a course over 6 weekends to learn how to deal with the problems of Youth Ministry), or a new demand/criticism from a well meaning member of the congregation who disliked the way we dressed/ate/where we lived/where we shopped/what we did or did not participate in, or the calls from bill collectors or the COMPLETE alienation from both of our families . We were obviously some kind of weird holy rollers who did not know how to parent and we were just throwing away our money on wild parties (and extravagant possessions like diapers and yet another round of medications and Doctor's visits). I really needed strength! I was seeing Bob less and less, my siblings were wrapped up in their own dramas, my parents were seemingly in outer space, and I had this little boy who had a problem that no one could identify, let alone solve. Somehow, through all of that, all of my life skills failed me, or left town. I was in survival mode , and through it I gained back 80 pounds.

One day, a bench broke under the weight of myself and my son, and it was the snap heard round the world. Or at least the snap that changed our world. I woke up. I realized that while food does give you strength, when you take it to a place where you will need Hercules to push the resulting body that has ingested all this strength, you have gone too far. I remembered the skills I learned and added some new ones along the way. Along with the eat nutritionally dense good for you food in moderation, move more and breathe, here are a few “mantras” that I have added . They come from Wayne Dyer, whom I think may be one of the wisest men on the planet at this time. These have served me very well when the going gets tough .

1.My destiny is mine to control
2.Others people's opinions ...are none of my business !
3.I release the need to determine how things “should”be
4.I release all feelings of worry and guilt
5.I forgive everyone , including myself
6.I meditate everyday to nurture my soul
7.I align myself with people who support my growth
8.I work on my problems, and then I release them.
9.I answer to myself and no one else
10.I appreciate all that I am and all that I have.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Rag soup down, 179 to go ! Today was our first day back to school, and once again I think i learn as much as Nick does in the process. Gotta love it !

Something new we are trying this year, as a result of a discovery over the weekend. It turns out Nick has been getting up in the middle of the night and snacking on spoonfuls of peanut butter, handfuls of nuts and fruit. Now while these are healthy snack alternatives, they are still snacks eaten at a time when your body is not at it's most efficient to digest, eaten mindlessly and more calories than are needed for your day. Worse is this seems to be a trend began when he had the terrible toothache, and my telling him the kitchen is off limits after diner or so forth is not working. He is Mister Literal, and numbers speak louder than mom does. One of his assignments is to keep a food log that includes calorie count for everything he eats. Instead of finding this to be a chore, he thinks it is a great toy at the moment. He actually loves typing in what he ate, going online to look up the calorie count and total it up for the end of the day. I am really encouraged because after all is said and done, he is going to have to take responsibility for his own health, body, weight loss and so much more. Very good things !

Meanwhile, we wound up not going out for dinner last night. Biggest reason is that we realized we would have to eat out tonight with grocery shopping, so better to stay at home and save the coins and calories. Nick and I made something called Strattchatelli soup- a simple soup made with chicken broth, orzo , eggs and parm cheese. The word strachatelli means stretched out rags. and that is what the soup looks like ( sorry- forgot to take a picture !)

Strachatelli Soup

6 cups fat free chicken stock
1/2 cup orzo
2 eggs
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
nutmeg and pepper to taste

In a large pot bring the stock to a boil. Add the Orzo and cook 6 minutes, or till aldente. Meanwhile , break eggs into a bowl and whisk with the cheese and parsley. Pour into the boiling stock with a slow stirring motion to create strings of cooked egg. Let simmer for 3 minutes and serve. Good with a simple side salad

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The productive conniption fit

It finally happened. Mommy had a conniption fit. It was totally allowed !

I have to admit, it takes a lot to get there, and when they happen , big changes happen . Last time I had one was a few years back. We were shopping, having problems walking, sat down on a park bench and it cracked. The conniption fit came in the form of the entire family being put instantly on a diet to change our life. While 2 yr olds have unproductive ones, mine seem to be very productive. I think my Guardian Angel/Spirit Guide leads me to these in order to save my life.

How did it happen ? The across the board bad weigh in was the icing on a pretty nasty cake. First off is the back to school issue. We homeschool, Nick is in 12th grade, and I am feeling INCREDIBLE pressure to get him to , at long last grasp some of the things that just seem to fly right over his head. Many of these things are challenges that most Autistic children face, but I have been operating and hoping that with a lot of one on one attention through homeschooling he could at least begin to master these. Something about knowing it is the last year is sending me into a panic mode. Wisdom borne from 14 years of homeschooling ( we began in early intervention type preschool), is telling me to relax and he will get it, but it is definitely easier said than done. Next on the agenda has been high heat and humidity, acompanied with the discovery of West Nile Virus mosquitos in a collection site very close to our home. This on top of a record level of swamp mosquitoes. It is so bad right now that if you simply step outside the door you get bit. Insect repellent in all forms simply acts as basting sauce.Third, construction. We are blessed with being the recipient of a lot of federal money for the increase in jobs programs , but someone forgot that people actually have to travel these roads in order to get to other jobs that pay taxes to get the idea. In order to go anywhere from the grocery store to the library at the moment, it is through construction. Next, the menu planing that winds up having to get changed at the last minute because of ....( fill in the blank). This gets accelerated by the weight loss struggle. Then the final straw was having a heat index of 105 and the elevator out once again ( it's a problem related to the humidity) AND needing to go grocery shopping again , battling the traffic and then carting boxes of produce , which is not seeming to do anything for us, up 3 flights of stairs where I get to wash, chop and try to fit it all in the fridge once again...I snapped. Worst off, this weekend we were supposed to be celebrating our 29th anniversary and not having to live like the cast of Survivor !

I must confess- I LOVE my husband, I love being married, our relationship is absolutly healthy and wonderful, but I HATE celebrating anniversaries. I don't get it at all. Isn't life together supposed to be the celebration ? And anniversary gifts strike me as employee recognition awards, and when you factor in that the relationship between you involves sex, my mind starts asking what is the difference between marriage and prostitution if these gifts are included. I think too much about it, and end result is that I get very stressed about HAVING an anniversary. It takes me more energy to figure out how we should celebrate without me being led to weird dilemmas than anything else, and if it goes wrong I get a little anxious. Okay, a lot anxious. We were going to celebrate by staying home and making dinner together, but now....

So I started having a verbal hissy fit , stating that the simplest solution was to never eat again , and Bob made some suggestions. It was decided we skip grocery shopping for the weekend, spend all weekend eating out to celebrate and go do some fun shopping, just for the heck of it. I snapped out of it , agreed and off we went. We decided to go to Golden Corral because they had the best salad bar choices, as well as a lot of veggie options.

Once there I was still feeling really stressed out, and decided to just let my body tell me what to eat. I was not feeling salad at all. Green veggies were just one of the problems in my life at the moment. I got some Asian green beans, some pot roast with veggies and a strip of Bourbon Street Chicken. I smelled the steak that they were grilling and decided to get some and watermelon. I was starting to feel bratty, and walked up to the desert buffet. I looked, but absolutely nothing was saying eat me. I glanced over at one of the other stations and saw something that made my mouth absolutely water and scream at me like a Siren on the rocks, and I decided to throw all caution to the wind and eat it.

What was this temptress ?? Baked Fish !

I need to explain. I have an allergy to fish and shellfish. Did not have it as a child, and it only manifested after being injected with Ionic XRay dye for a medical procedure. First time it happened I broke out in full body hives, and then nothing. Then another time I had to be injected with the dye and my throat closed. Long time nothing and then one day I broke out in hives after eating crab, and then I ate tuna and my throat began to feel very tight. SoI have been avoiding all fish and shellfish, and anything that cmes in contact with it like nori, kelp and sea vegetables. In doing so, I have kept myelf from m absolute favorite foods and many things that could help my arthritis. This fish, for whatever reason, looked so good and screamed so loud I decided to risk it.

20 minutes- no reaction. All day loing- no sign of reaction. This morning, no reaction. I think it is safe to assume that I can eat fish again ( shellfish is still a no no). This opens up a world of possibility for general eating, as well as weight loss. When I lost my 110 lbs I was eating fish every day for lunch and 3 times a week at dinner. I adore things like salmon, tuna, calimari and cod. Knowing that I can once again eat it is sort of like being given a large chunck of my life back. I am thrilled ! I am hoping that this will be the thing that kicks stuff into gear again.

Tonight I am going to enjoy grilled tuna for the first time in 7 years. I am so looking forward to it ! I think it might be the best way to celebrate our actual anniversary.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Grabbing a pole and looking for a white flag

This weeks weigh in, changes made were eating bacon and eggs for breakfast and substituting coconut oil for olive oil, getting 30 minutes of exercise 6 days a week and keeping the rest of the eating plan the same.

Me- UP 0.4
Nick- UP 1.2
Bob- - 0.4

I will be honest. After 3 and a half years of working at this and seeing little or no results for ANY efforts made, I am getting ready to totally throw in the towel. Rather than lose, in the last year I have GAINED 10 lbs. No amount of exercise, calorie counting, nutritional shifting does any good it seems. Not going to try pills as that creates other problems. Not going to do surgical methods because I have seen several friends die or wind up with serious health problems because of it. Been down the road of Weight Watchers, Atkins, South Beach, Jenny and countless other ways that have worked for millions. I seem to be the one that is in the remedial program.

I don't know what I am going to do at this point. No matter WHAT I do, I gain. Short of selling my entire endocrine system on Ebay, I have no ideas at the moment.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Perimenopause weight gain — causes and solutions

It is promoting their program, but first presents sound information. Truth is, when you become perimenopausal or menopausal , your body does not work the same way it did in your younger years. Perimenopause can begin 10 years before menopause, and in some women the changes begin as early as 30.
Perimenopause weight gain — causes and solutions

Chronic pain can be 'paralyzing' for women -

Chronic pain can be 'paralyzing' for women -

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A smile can hide such evil !!!!

It started easy enough, but I have come to believe that Bob Harper may kill me in the end. How , you may ask, did this happen ?

I am on Twitter, and while I do not tweet very often , I like to read the tweets of others. Twitter is a social network that likes to connect people of what they see as a similar interest according to tweets, and one day because I mentioned something about exercise, it started suggesting I follow people like Jillian Michaels. No thanks for her, but when Bob Harper came up, I decided to follow him. ( if I was ever on The Biggest Loser and got to pick a trainer it would be Bob because i think his methods are more holistic). He has been talking about core strength exercises, and posting links to videos for simple and effective ones. Yesterday he talked about a plank challenge, and I remembered how much I like planks. There was no set number of repetitions to do, so I came up with a fun personal plan. Drink my usual gallon of water for the day , and every time I got up to go to the bathroom, do a 20 second plank. Simple, easy and would allow me to do the other things I had to do. Like be trapped at the computer planing next weeks menu and grocery shopping list, factoring in back to school, too hot to run the oven and our 29th anniversary on Sunday. ( I seem to have less brain cells to devote to a lot of variables these days)

It felt really good - at first! I was noticing that doing planks not only made my lower back feel really good, but for some reason i was needing to run to the bathroom less often ( I think it might have been psychosomatic ). The only problem was that I was getting slight rug burns on my forearms from these. A chair cushion on the floor under my arms remedied this. I was working, I was getting in water and I was sneaking in exercise - a good thing ! These planks felt like nothing, so it was easy do do lots of them.

When we sat down to dinner, I was suddenly feeling like something beat me about the shoulders and upper back. Then the pain continued to develop in my upper abdominal muscles, and by the end of dinner I was feeling like even my hair was going to be hurting . At first I was a little worried about the pain, but then I realized that planks exercise all of your deep muscles and not just your abdominal s. What I was feeling was a sign that this innocent little nothing was really doing something, and if I was smart I would continue doing these at least a couple of days a week.

By bedtime I was really sore and thinking that Bob Harper may be like that friendly stranger in a black sedan , who lures you in with a smile and candy. Sure- looks tempting , but evil lies inside ! Okay, not evil, but effective moves for transformation. This morning the pain is gone, but I feel like my muscles are more...stable ? functional ? I am not sure, but it is an improvement for sure.

Today i am going to do some re-arranging of our school room/diningroom, and I will continue with my plan to do a 20 second plank every time I go potty. And remind myself that Bob Harper is really not trying to kill me.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Long Monday

Kind of a busy day with getting back into the routine of planing for school again. That bad kind of busy where you get forced to spend a lot of time sitting, digging for necessary things. I think I spent 4 hours just pouring through my files trying to find a notebook form that we will be using every week in the coming school year ! I hate when that happens, and as a result I felt like I was in serious danger of developing butt callouses ! Good news is that the forms were finally found, the first week of school is planned, and now I can find a new groove to fall into for the year.

Thought I would photo journal what the new way of eating looks like. Trying to get the right mix of fat, fiber, protein and all of those good nutrients for our bodies.

Breakfast consisted of 2 eggs with mushroom, green onion, zucchini , Mexican blend cheese accompanied with 3 slices turkey bacon, two slices of Santa Clause melon and 4 big cherry tomatoes.

Lunch was Boar's Head corned beef and a slice of Swiss on an Earth Grains Multi grain roll and joined by 2 cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, celery and sliced roast red and yellow beets. To make the beets I roasted them with the skins on at 350 till fork tender, cooled, peeled and sliced. Nothing else on them, and they are almost like candy !

For dinner, I played with another oddball sort of vegetable- Long Beans !

These are also sometimes called snake beans or longevity beans. In Chinese folk custom they believe that serving these helps to bring a long life. Perhaps it does, but in the mean time they are kind of fun to toss in the cart ! They taste like slightly tough , chewy green beans, and to cook you wash, ,tip and tail them, cut them into bite sized portions and proceed with any fresh green bean recipe. They wound up being served with crock pot honey chicken and coconut rice

Honey Chicken serves 4

1 lb chicken breasts, no skin, no bone ( or boneless skinless thighs)
1/4 tsp. Curry powder
1 tsp. Cinnamon
½ cup diced onion
3 T. coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4tsp. Powdered ginger
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Pepper
1/4 tsp. Paprika
½ cup water

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Toss well to coat the chicken evenly.
Place the mixture in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.
If desired, serve over rice or orzo (rice-shaped pasta)

Coconut Rice
1 cup brown rice
2 cups tap water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut

In a 2-quart pot bring the water and salt to a boil. Stir in the dry rice and the coconut.
Stir and return the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible flame.
Place the lid on the pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not peak while the rice is cooking.
OR place in rice cooker

Szechuan style green beans

1 pound Chinese longbeans (also called yardlong beans or just longbeans)
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
2 scallions (spring onions, green onions)
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons coconut oil for stir-frying, or as needed

Wash the longbeans, drain thoroughly, and trim the tops and bottoms.
Cut the longbeans on the diagonal into slices approximately 2 inches long.
Chop the garlic, ginger and scallions.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the longbeans and stir-fry until they start to
shrivel or "pucker" and turn brown (5 - 7 minutes). Remove the long beans and drain in a
colander or on paper towels.Heat 1 tablespoon oil on high heat. Add the garlic, ginger and scallions. Stir-fry for a few seconds stir-fry for a few more seconds
until aromatic. Add the longbeans and the remaining ingredients. Mix together and serve.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fat is Phat

This week we are trying to switch things up in the food department. It has been said, the definition of insanity is continuing to do what you have always done and expecting different results, and I am not insane. Yet.

In the past I have done the calorie counting thing, the lo carb thing, the high fiber low fat thing, the Weight Watchers/South Beach/Zone/Atkins thing. They all work for a week or two , but then something goes hay-wire in my body. After reading new article about the benefit of eating a high fat breakfast and comparing my own experience, I think it may be on to something here. Fat is far from the evil, horrible beast painted by the mainstream medical community. The body needs fat to assimilate several vitamins and minerals, the central nervous system desperately needs some forms of it and more. If it was not for fat ( in the form of essential fatty acids) , Nick would have never made the improvements he has in regards to Autism. I cannot believe that fat is the villain.I also know that eating high fiber and low fat makes me very constipated- low carb does as well, so I think there is something about the ratio of fat and fiber that answers the problem.

The new plan we are going to follow is simple- replace low fat cottage cheese with full fat, replace the oatmeal breakfasts with bacon and eggs on the weekdays, add avocado to our hummus sandwiches and include coconut oil in a couple of dishes. Keep the whole grains, the wide variety of fruits and veggies, the meat, the beans and continue to eat these in basic, clean ways . Along with this will be our 30 minutes of exercise 6 days a week, water, supplements and energy routines.

Should be interesting to see if this does change things.

Calories burned per hour

Here's a handy calculator that tells you calories burned with a variety of different activities. Calculates by body weight- pretty handy

Calories burned per hour

A high-fat breakfast of bacon and eggs may be the healthiest start to the day, report shows - Telegraph

A high-fat breakfast of bacon and eggs may be the healthiest start to the day, report shows - Telegraph

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Low-carb, low-fat diets comparable for weight loss in study. |

Low-carb, low-fat diets comparable for weight loss in study. |

Post veggie week weigh in

Week of eating low fat, mostly veggies

Me- UP 2.4
Nick - UP 2.0
Bob - UP 0.4

I read something last week about new research showing a breakfast of mainly fat, like bacon and eggs, speeds the metabolism and helps weight loss. Going to give this a try, because low fat, high fiber is DEFINITELY not working. For any of us.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Non scale victory..sideways

Eating healthy has many advantages- improved health, weight loss, disease prevention and so forth. There is another that is not discussed often, and that is the ability to isolate the affects of bad for you things. Such was the case here this morning.

Nick is autistic. Not so severe that he will ultimately need to be institutionalized, but to a level that makes his life rather atypical. Personally I choose to see it as being differently abled instead of cursed. One very big "thing" with Nick's particular gift is a totally abnormal reaction to textures- and this was the biggest factor in his weight problem. For years the only things he would eat was plain white pasta, white bread with crusts removed and peanut butter. While these substances are far from balanced nutrition, in his body they also converted to chemical compounds called opiates. The affect was keeping him in a drugged like state, and it was a great challenge. I was able to break the cycle with essential fatty acid supplements, THEN a strict diet that included a wide variety of foods , probiotics, cheleation, energy medicine and more. Result has been a nearly normal kid who is thriving. Years before this, we had heard of The Feingold Diet , tried it and noticed that anything with red or yellow dyes seemed to set off different odd behaviors. Red dyes were avoided, and between this , the diet and other practices, things have been so normal that you can easily forget the rules.

With the recent episode of the killer tooth ache, it was discovered that chewing gum helped ease the pain. Same with popsicles. So being good parents, we bought them and it helped to get through that episode. Gum has been one of Nick's favorite weight loss aids- a good thing. But....

Over the last few days I have been noticing different problematic things returning. One was a sudden declaration that certain veggies were yucky ( including his beloved cherry tomatoes) and "stimmy" behaviors. Not good. Yesterday evening I set out an institutional pack of Trident Layers gum- strawberry, his favorite. This morning we woke to find that he had eaten six packs. Wrappers and all. And he was acting really odd. His clothes seams were bothering him, his fabric comforter was "too itchy", his toenails were annoying and he tried to pull them off, he started smacking his head, waving his arms like a flapping bird ( a stim) and more. The ONLY thing that he ate was the darned gum. I grabbed the empty box and saw the culprit- loads of red dye ( not to mention whatever dyes were used on the individual stick wrappers) and several other chemicals for flavor and so forth. Kicking myself for not even thinking about this !

Then I realized something- our diet has been so clean for so long, it was very easy to identify the problem . Much better than years earlier when we were just overwhelmed with the challenges of having a Nick, too little money with too much month and feeling completely alone with all of this . We had heard that we were just bad parents, ,irresponsible, dreamers and so many things that we simply stopped looking for support outside of each other. Because I accidentally read about essential fatty acids and autisim, change became possible, life became so much better and we are healthier. Because of all of this, a minor setback was easily identified. Nick will be fine- certain detox procedures will happen, we will all be more vigilant about those things you never think about, and things will be better in a while.

The scale may not be moving down in a rapid pace, but life is better, healthier and greatly improved. To me , that is worth infinitely more than any number.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Opo Squash

I almost forgot to post an entry ! We have been in the middle of some before school cleaning and playing silly games on facebook here. Walks between the rainstorms , moving of furniture to vacuum , getting some final details ready for this years homeschool ( our last one- I cannot believe it) , and turning the waiting time with some silly facebook games into creative exercise. You would be surprised how many wall push ups and weight lifting reps you can do while waiting for espresso on Cafe Life !

Dinner last night was a new to me veggie- Opo squash.

It goes by several other names I believe ( Asian Squash for one) , and it tastes something like a cross between a cucumber and a zucchini meeting a refreshing lemon ice. I saw it advertised in the store flier, did some recipe digging on line and bought a couple to try. To really experience what this veggie tasted like, I decided to serve it like Zuchini Carpacio- sliced raw, lightly salted and peppered, drizzled with olive oil , fresh lemon juice and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. Simple, seasonal and very yummy ! We had this with a Tomato Caprise Salad on Earth Grain Deli Thins and a salad made with romaine, arugala, melon, tomatoes and a sprinkling of rosemary roasted nuts. Simple, easy and delicious !

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Salads , which appear to be healthy, can be a bigger calorie hit then a cheeseburger and fries.One reason is the inclusion of high fat cheeses and so forth in an attempt to give them flavor. Problem is, fat does not bring out flavor, but instead bully all other flavors in a dish with a heaviness and salt. They bring a lot of extra calories to the party in the process. The addition of cheese and other such things is a time saving move to bring on the flavor. If you decide to take a little extra time, you can bring out the flavor of simple vegetables through roasting , and when placed warm on a bed of lettuce, you never miss things like cheese !

One favorite meal here lately is Grilled Meat and Roast vegetable salad

I took a zucchini, a white eggplant, fennel, leeks, asparagus, mushrooms, assorted peppers and placed them on a cookie sheet, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and roasted them at 375 or 40 minutes. When they were almost done I grilled a sirloin steak ( any meat, fish or tofu would work- I imagine this would be awesome with grilled salmon) and sliced it into strips. On each plate I placed a handful of cut romaine /arugula mix, topped with a portion of roast veggies and
grilled meat. A yummy, healthy and low fat meal .

Monday, August 2, 2010

The first harvest

I mentioned that I was going to need to decorate with produce, and yesterday that happened ! I do not garden right now, but when the flood of seasonal produce happens, I get kind of giddy! Call me weird, but I absolutely love the smell and look of the produce department when it is filled with so many fresh, vibrant things. Then if you add the nuddgings of a spiritual tradition that celebrates the rhythms of the earth through it's plantings and harvests, it becomes a lost cause. Yesterday I figured if it was good enough for Van Gough, it was good enough for my table. May I present my centerpiece, called Still Life with Eggplant

It actually serves a couple of purposed- it looks pretty, it holds the overflow that will not fit in the fridge at the moment and it will save me a few steps. I have no kitchen table, so all food prep( and school work, craft work, eating and what not) happens on our dining room table.

Yesterday was a holiday, and the activity focus was to connect with the earth, celebrate accomplishments and spend time as a family. Your family is your primary community, your children are your harvest, and to get out into nature is the best way to connect with it. We went for a walk in the woods- I finally got to use my trekking poles there and both Bob and I got to wear our Trim Fit shoes. ( I am not buying a pair for Nick- he has some foot issues and I am afraid he will roll off of these and break an ankle). Lots of heavy growth this time of year- right between berries and fall leaves.


Giant Ragweed - the Hay Fever sufferer's friend

We walked till the mosquitos noticed our presence and decided we were their holiday meal. Both Bob and Nick have an allergy to these beasts and every bite swells up to the size of a lemon, and makes for several days of unpleasantness. We have tried all kinds of insect repelents, chemical and herbal, but they still get bit, so in the mosquito months we have to limit our outdoor activities to not so buggy times. Happily , Nick's reactions to the beasts are getting much better.

We shifted our walking to indoors for a while and then came home to play rounds of Wii Sports.More games of skill, and lots of laughter ! Eventually the day rolled around to dinner- which was one of the simplest and most seasonal kinds of meals you could think of

Tomato salad with fresh mozzarella and Parmesan Garlic Bread. The salad was so simple , it did not even need a recipe ! Take a mess of tomatoes , assorted kinds if possible, cut into wedges, sprinkle with salt to make em sweat. Then add fresh chopped basil, fresh chopped oregano, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar glaze. Toss and eat. With the fresh mozzarella and bread, it becomes like a de- constructed pizza. We served it with a glass of Sangria - I rarely ever drink because both beer and wine give me instant heartburn. The meal was extremely simple , but so good we all just relished it. It does not get better than this ! If you have an abundance of tomatoes, give this one a try! The combination of tomato, basil and balsamic is better than candy !