Tuesday, June 24, 2014

PRT Progress Report

So all my months of lackluster training compounded by illness certainly set me back in regards to my PRT training. (I wrote about my Physical Readiness Training Challenge (PRT) here).   I am not giving up by any means but I am going to have to work very hard to hit my goals.  They are ambitious goals for someone who needs to drop about 60 pounds, but I do believe they are reachable.  I will push hard until my July 31 deadline and then I will know if I need to push the deadline out few months.  It's the way of the warrior, right? Seven times down,  8 times up.

Today, I ran a half mile in 8.25.  It gets worse as I go farther.  I need to go 38% faster. That is a lot faster. Today I ate breakfast too close to my workout. I'm sure that did not help! I'm not sure if I can run that much faster but I am working toward that perfection in the half mile. Hence forth, I will finish running my goal distance later in my workout at an easier speed for me. Once I get my half-mile time under control, I'll step up to 3/4 mile.

I am up to 3 sets of 10 high incline wall push-ups. Tomorrow I graduate to the arm of the sofa. It's an intimidating prospect because last time I tried it I could not -- do -- it--at -- all.

My goal for my curl-ups was 17 by now, but I can do 12. I am happy to celebrate that progress because imagine my shock (and disgust) when I started all this and realized I could not do any of them in the way the Navy prescribes.

Finally, the swimming. I can fairly easily swim half the distance required but I have not had anyone officially time me. That's "on the list" for next week.  The younger children have been really good about entertaining themselves in the shallow end while I swim my laps which has made this less painful then I thought it would be. Next week I'll be ready for a time check.

So how about you? Are you PRT ready?  

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Warrior's Way

It's been a bit since we've spoken. In those four weeks I've managed to witness the graduation of my oldest, host a lovely Smorga-salads-bord for 24, get 3 more kids out of school and into camps and summer home-life, almost quit my job . . . and gain 5 pounds.

That last is an estimate; I'm avoiding the scale until my Weight Watchers weigh-in Wednesday night. I didn't eat terribly during these weeks nor did I fail to exercise, but I let go of my disciplines regarding refined carbs, particularly sugar, and every calorie I ate seemed to stick to my gut. Whoopsie.

Such is the Warrior's way:  Fall down, stand up, get knocked down, stand up, retreat, advance . . . keep going. I refuse to give up on myself. I am worth every minute of work and struggle. Hence, I'm back at it again.

I have been working on a meal time regime in which I eat a serving of whole grain foods or sweet potatoes (etc.) at one meal each day and the rest of my meals and snacks are primarily protein. I am using a lot of the Dukan principles mixed with Trim, Healthy Mama principles.  This hybrid plan also fits well with an anti-SIBO diet in case I need to be doing that!  I've written about Dukan before but Trim Healthy Mama tweaks the science in this way:

All meals center around protein. If you are eating a meal higher in fat, then your carbs must be very low. If you are eating a meal higher in carbs, then your fat must be minimal (i.e, lean meats and only 1 tsp. per meal of added fat). They have many other guidelines but I like the idea that you can just start with this simple principal.  It's a pretty harmless principal too, so  . . . why not?

If it seems like lately I am constantly tweaking my eating plan . . . you are correct. It has become very clear that straight Weight Watchers or calorie counting does not result in net loss for me over time. I did very well years ago on a medical weight loss -- aka protein shake -- diet and that is the last thing that has really worked.  So . . . I am now working to find a plan that will result in a net loss over time . . . but is sustainable for the rest of my life. I want a plan that can move to maintenance and can just be how I eat.  That explains, I hope, my need to marry Dukan to the Trim Healthy Mamas. (Sorry husbands of those two Mamas!)  Dukan is too rigid for my life; I have a husband, 5 kids and a job. Mama cannot eat a different meal than everyone else!

So far, so good. I am not hungry, I feel balanced, I am not having sugar-swings; I'm happy. I sub in some "zoodles" or cauliflower rice for the grains I serve my peeps and don't even miss the grains. I am also committed to trying new recipes and refining old ones to keep my cooking self satisfied. Today I made Tomato Soup with inspiration from Zesty Zucchini Soup. It was so lovely I am sharing it here with you. Happy supping!

Cream of Tomato Soup - Speedy

This is a speedy soup for waistline watchers! It has tons of goodness for very little in the way of calories. It is suitable for most higher protein plans. It is a bit high in sodium but you could drastically change that by buying low sodium tomato sauce.

4 hearty servings, 5 or 6 for a starter.

1 pint chicken broth, 99% fat free, low sodium
1 pint tomato sauce
1 tsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp minced basil
4 oz. Neufchatel cheese
2 packets Truvia
(Sea salt, if desired)
(Pepper if desiered)

Parmesan cheese or hot sauce for garnish

Combine chicken broth and tomato sauce in saucepan. Heat to a simmer.
Meanwhile, warm the olive oil and garlic together in the microwave, just until you can smell the garlic.
Whisk into the soup. When soup is simmering well around the edges, turn off the heat.
Set aside the basil.
Place the Neufchatel cheese and Truvia into a blender
When the soup is hot, transfer about 1 cup to the blender.
Remember to leave the center lid ajar, and be careful!
Blend on medium until no chunks of cheese remain. Pour back into saucepan and whisk to combine.
Stir in the basil.

Top with Parmesan cheese or hot sauce, as desired.

If the soup is too acidic for you, try whisking in 1/2 to 1 tsp. baking soda near the end of cooking time. You can also replace the Truvia with sugar if you are not watching your sugar intake. It will take 1 tablespoon or more.

You can also replace the Neufchatel Cheese with 3 Tbsp. heavy cream for a more authentic tasting cream soup.  You lose calories and fat but also protein; I opt for the higher protein version for a meal.  The adjusted nutritional values are listed below.

Estimated Nutritional Values for 4 Servings:
4 Weight Watcher's Points Plus
139.25 kc
7.9 g fat
1.8 g fiber
10.9 g carbs
759.8 sodium
4.8 g protein

Estimated Nutritional Values for 4 Servings with Cream Substituted:
4 Weight Watcher's Points Plus
108.25 kc
5.8 g fat
10.65 g carbs
658.55 sodium
2.8 g protein

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Methane, Hydrogen, My Gut & Yours?

Every once in a while I get on a research thread and just can't stop myself! This affliction was made worse by the fact that I am currently incapacitated by another episode of diverticulitis.

Guess what? Methane production is not just for cattle anymore! It all started with this innocuous Fooducate post on higher levels of methane gas present in obese humans. The post was a little too terse so I started researching. I found a number of studies on a disorder called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) Sydrome. (Links to several of these studies appear at the bottom of the post).

Interestingly, several of the causative factors for SIBO-- or at least "appearing alongside" actors -- apply to me. Issues of note were diverticulitis, intestinal adhesions, Fibromyalgia, (three things in my medical portfolio) and several things I don't suffer from like Chrone's Disease, Pancreatitis, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  Let me state at the get-go that I have not been diagnosed with SIBO nor am I a medical professional of any sort. Nonetheless, I learned some interesting things that may help me in my dual quest to lose weight and reduce the frequency of my diverticulitis attacks.

The treatment for SIBO is two fold: Treat with a particular antibiotic, Rifaxin, and  make dietary changes until the issue is resolved. The next step in treatment is to slowly add back in the foods that had been held off to tolerance. Most of the literature agreed in the temporary restriction of these foods:

Lactose, sugars, and starches, such as:

High-fructose corn syrup, agave syrup, honey, apples, pears (Foods high in Fructose)
Milk and yogurt (hard cheeses will be okay)
Wheat, barley, rye, onions, garlic
Legumes (ironically I've been eating a lot of freeze-dried peas)
Sugar alcohols (common in gum and other "sugar free" foods)
Mushrooms, cauliflower, avocados, and stone fruits

In addition, a couple of studies (including the one sited in Fooducate) saw some correlation between obesity and SIBO. More studies need to be done on this possible link.

Finally, the small intestine has a "cleansing wave" every 90 to 120 minutes. Optimally, one needs to be not digesting food when this wave occurs. Therefore, people suffering from SIBO are instructed to space their meals 3 to 5 hours apart.  I have developed a habit of healthy snacking to prevent eating too much because by the time I eat, I'm starving. So I am going to go for 4 to 5 hours between meals and see if it helps.

Here's my thinking: there is no reason for me not to eliminate or severely restrict these foods right now to see if it helps. I can easily meet all my food needs through other sources and it seems like a good opportunity to get some relief.

Don't worry; I am going to run it all by my internist when I see him or her (I have two!) early in the week. I will ask about the possibility of SIBO and if Rifaxin could be an effective treatment for diverticulitis so we can get two for one!

It's food for thought. I'm putting it out here in case it rings a bell for someone else. Happy Memorial Day.

Links to studies:

Monday, May 19, 2014

At the Intersection of Love, Loss and Weight

Last week a dark cloud slowly pulled over my world. It started subtly, just a bit of gray at the edges, slowly gathering up until, by Friday, a full blown storm blew through with gale force winds, lightening, rain, and booming thunder. There are some years I stand in the storm and dance. This was not that year.

Friday was the 8th anniversary of the fatal heart event that eventually took the life of someone close to me. It snuck up on me this year and it wasn't until I was into my fried chicken (! Yes, I said it!) after a hamburger and ice cream earlier on Saturday that I realized what was up. From a practical point of view it makes no sense to eat for comfort but I am fighting primal, biological urges and when I'm unaware, I lose!

I never forget the loss of one so dear. I have constant mindtalk that I didn't have a chance to say goodbye. Instead, I can trust in the fact that earlier that day, I had spoken with her, I had said, "I love you," I had ended the call with goodbye. While neither of us knew it was "that" goodbye or "that I love you," it was there, present, nonetheless.

Here is what I know for sure. That one, that dear one, would never ever want me to give up my principals of healthy eating "in her name." Instead, she would definitely want me to conquer this beast. She is pulling for me from somewhere, I can feel it.

We have had a lot of life-giving events in our family since then, and Saturday, her beautiful daughter graduated from college. My own amazing, lovely daughter graduates from high school on the anniversary of the day that we had to finally let her go. That day was one of the sweetest, saddest and holiest days of my life and though her hearing was long since gone, I did, in fact, get to say goodbye and witness her passage to the world of saints and angels. As a wise one told me back then, she reached the natural end of her life and did it as painlessly, quickly and quietly as one could ever ask.

So much beauty and sweetness and light is in our world and in it all, I sense her presence. So I am here to say to you, dear hearts, that from now on I am honoring that sweet sister's memory by not caving into the storm but instead, dancing in it.  "My head's underwater, but I'm breathing fine." (John Legend)

For the next two weeks, I will cry my tears when they come. It's a "Yes" to the tears. I will also sing my songs and dance my dances and trust myself the height and breadth and depth of my ability to embrace all that is beautiful, holy and wholly right in my world. All is well on God's green earth.

Take heart friends. Whatever your storm this week, say "Yes" to your true emotions, your anger, your joys, your sorrow, your triumphs and defeats. Use it for fuel to meet your goals and trust in all that is beautiful and holy and right in you.  Here's a song to guide you on.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Fast Food, not FAT Food: It's Menu Plan Monday!

Good Monday!

For the next few weeks, I will be posting our dinner plans for fast, healthy meals. We are in the throes of ball season so I am focusing on foods I can fix fast or slow-cook so that we can do less eating out.  It is possible to provide a healthy, wholesome meal for your family in a short time frame.  

All meals this week will be accompanied by our lovely fresh vegetables from our CSA box. This week we got lots of greens, beets and parsnips, a rare treat in central Texas.


Lighter Baked Ziti (recipe here), Green salad, dressing. Prep the ziti the night before so you only have the baking to do. I use whole-wheat penne instead of ziti, I like the smaller pasta.

Meatball SubsI am using my Lean Meat Mix combined with my Meatball/Meatloaf add-ins to make a mighty batch of meatballs, meatloaf and salisbury steak. For meatball sandwiches: Heat meatballs in a small amount of marinara sauce (about 2 cups). Meanwhile, split hoagie rolls lengthwise.  Split an ounces of mozzarella cheese on each side of bread. Top with 5 meatballs, Close and wrap in foil. Place wrapped sandwiches on cookie sheet and heat at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. 

Sesame Ginger Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry

I will serve this simple stir fry with edamame and Better-for-You-Deviled-Eggs. I will also make seasoned spinach to go along. My kids love this recipe.  [Stir-fry: 370 kc, 7 g fat, 33 g protein, 42 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 1003 mg sodium] [ Deviled Eggs for 2 halves: 124 kc, 9g fat, 9 g protein, 1 gram carbs, 0 g fiber, 260 mg sodium]

Shrimp Souffle

This is a recipe from Family Circle back from 2003. I will be serving it with salad (with fresh dill) and fruit. [360 kc, 25 g fat, 22 g protein, 11 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber. 697 mg sodium]

Shepherd's Pie, aka Hamburger Pie

This is a family favorite. I use my lean meat mix and add extra green beans to boast the nutrient quotient.  It can also be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to bake; used instant or ready-made mashed potatoes to speed it up even more.  Since this is an all-inclusive recipe, my only side will be fresh fruit and possibly a salad.

As usual, I am linking up with OrgJunkie.org for her Menu Plan MondayHave a wonderful week!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Liquids, Protein and a New Way Forward

Good Monday, friends!

I apologize for the "radio silence." On March 26th in the midst of a very busy day, I became very ill and was in terrible pain. I soon learned it was an attack of diverticulitis, not entirely unprecedented since I knew I was susceptible to it, but unexpected nonetheless. Long story shortened, I spent the next week on a clear liquid diet and am just finishing the course of two antibiotics and a "bland" diet. I feel great now, but it certainly did throw a wrench in the works.

One thing became abundantly clear to me: I do have will power. I have often accused myself of not having it because I struggle so to stay "in the box" with my eating plan. I can't have that excuse any more; it simply isn't true. In fact, I did learn a few things during the week of clear liquids:

  1. Drinking a lot of fluids really does help that "full factor."  During the entire week, I was only "stomach hungry" once.
  2. I am capable of following my plan 100% when I know there is a good reason for it.
  3. There is a good reason for my plan! Despite my "fit but fat" status, research shows that otherwise healthy people who are obese still have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and early death.
  4. I need to just put my big girl pants on and do whatever it takes to get this excess weight off once and for all.
Today I am cleared for both exercise and "normal" diet. What this means is that today I go back to my "physical readiness training" program of exercise. The long break made my feet feel better and since my cardiologist took me off warfarin after a nasty drug interaction with my antibiotics, I get my ibuprofen back too! It's been a long year of exercise without ibuprofen. It's a brand new day!

Food plan wise, I am going to try a protein week quick start, followed by a few weeks of getting most of my calories from protein and vegetables and strictly avoiding refined carbs (noodles, sugar) while still enjoying fruit in a limited way.  I realize this is a departure from my normal "whole foods, restricted calories" plan, but I got some advice from my doctor who thought this might be a good way to shake up my metabolism. It is pretty clear now that a regular "whole eating" plan is simply not going to work. This is not a "Paleo" plan nor a "Low-Carb" plan in the traditional sense. It's closest to a modified Dukan diet. I hope it works.

There are risks, of course. One risk is a lack of potassium; I am mitigating that by including enough higher potassium foods every day to make sure I get by full dose of this heart-guarding nutrient. I have a list of best foods (including sweet potatoes and beet greens). Another risk is ketosis; that's why I am only staying on the strictest form of low-carb for one week and then will be adding in more and more foods with carbs over the next many weeks, so that I will only be completely avoiding foods with refined flour and sugar. Naturally occurring sugars will be part of my plan. I will be writing more about this in weeks to come; sorry if it's a bit murky here.

That's the weight loss forecast from here. What's new in your world of "fight the fat?"

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Meat/Blood Pressure Equation, Fitness Trackers, and a Crazy Workout: Friday Tips, Tricks and Inspiration

Happy Friday Fit Friends!!

It's time for your weekly dose of Tips, Tricks and Inspiration to cheer you into your weekend. How has your week been?

I have had some physical challenges this week and had to employ the strategy of rest to heal up my right foot once again. I am finally fed up with this ongoing right foot issue and have committed to myself to go to the podiatrist the next time it starts acting up. I'm no doctor but my best guess is it's a stress fracture. I am on my feet all day at work so I have to take good care of them. I also finally got fed up with a pair of my work shoes that seem to exacerbate the issue and have ordered replacements. I'm sticking with Reikers, by far the best fitting, most pain-free shoes I've ever owned!

Finding the Right Fitness Tracker

Good equipment is paramount, isn't it? Sometimes it's worth paying a bit more to get the thing that really is a good "fit" for you. My tip this week is to consider purchasing a fitness tracker to help you in your health goals. I personally love my Fitbit One because it not only counts my steps and other activity with it's accelerometer, it also differentiates between light, moderate and "very active" activity. This motivates me to pick it up as the day nears an end. Don't take my word for it though, here is a helpful review of several different fitness products. Not included in this review are the Weight Watcher's ActiveLink product which is surprisingly much lower priced than most of its competitors and can be even used in the pool! Also not included is the BodyMedia armband, offspring of the once-popular BodyBugg, made famous by the show, Biggest Loser. I believe both these last two products do require subscriptions to access their measurements. Check it out for yourself and consider treating yourself to a very useful step up from a simple pedometer.

Why You Might Want to Eat Less Meat

Are you or someone you know suffering from high blood pressure? Here's a simple trick to lower that number In my wellness reading recently I came across this JAMA paper review on Obesity Panacea that shows eating less meat can help lower blood pressure. Having been raised in a rural area, I am from the meat-eater ancestral pool. I have been vegetarian for several months at a time but it is not a way of life that is sustainable for me personally. Nonetheless, "Meatless Monday" and "Fish Friday" have helped me reduce the amount of meat our family eats and we also have meatless lunches at least half our days. Take a look at the article for yourself and see if there are some practical changes you can make.

Bookend Your Weekend Days with Workouts

Finally, a little inspiration for your weekend. If you tend to overdo on the weekends, try book-ending each day with a couple of workouts. Research shows that working out on the weekends makes us more mindful not only of what we are consuming but also of the work it takes to burn off the excess.  I tried out this SparkPeople video recently and it gave me a good run for my money! It's an all-over toning plus cardio piece that runs 28 minutes total. Give it a shot and let me have your thoughts! My commitment for the weekend (Friday through Sunday) is to break my workout into two pieces - morning and evening - so I'm less tempted to overdo on the snacks and alcohol. If you have some other inspiring weekend motivators for us, please share them in the comments.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

PRT Warrior Throw-Down: Half Dead in Texas

 I had my second PRT Warrior training today. Have you started training yet?

I managed to run the whole mile and a half. You are waiting for the "but" right? Yes I ran the whole mile and a half but it took 27 minutes. Oh goodness that is way too much. By way of explanation, I am having some weird heart issues: I am throwing pvcs almost constantly and alternating between (harmless BTW) bradycardia and tachycardia. It plays havoc with my heart monitor so I am not really able to monitor my heart rate much at all. Apparently I really got my heart rate up though because my family kept commenting on my very red face. On several occasions I wondered if I am fighting the fat or the fat is fighting me . . . and winning!

All of that is to say I "got 'er done" people. I did. I did my 2 minutes of sofa back push-ups. I'm going to work up to 20 reps then graduate to sofa arm push-ups. The curl-ups almost did me in, my abs are so sore from Thursday. I got them done but there was a lot of moaning and complaining involved. Thank goodness for my sweet Sunshine who held my feet!

I'm capping off the evening's work with the movie, Rocky. Nothing like a few raw eggs and flights of stairs to brace you for the fight.  Hibernate the computer and get to work now, people. Fight the good fight. You got this!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Shoes and The Old Ways: It's Fit Friday - Tips Tricks and Inspiration!

Hello Co-Warriors!

If you haven't already, please take a minute to read my PRT throw-down challenge posted yesterday. I am looking for some Warriors to join me in this fitness challenge that will finish up on July 31.

Find your "Sole-Mate"

How long has it been since you replaced your exercise shoes?  If your feet, ankles or knees are troubling you more than they used to, turn those shoes over and take a look.  Most running shoes will last about 500 miles as a benchmark. For some tips on determining if your shoes are worn out, I found this article by Mizuna helpful. If you aren't sure what to look for in a shoe, check out these tips by SparkPeople (How to Find Your Sole Mate!). I have already chosen my new shoes and will be hunting them down this weekend.

Good News for Mediterranean Diet Followers

We all know there is no magic to losing weight but some eating plans do seem to do the trick better than others. The Mediterranean diet is rich in fish, nuts, vegetable and fruits, as well as healthy oils. Web MD reported recently on yet another study that shows how helpful this traditional diet truly is. Our family is definitely moving closer to this way of eating but fish is still hard for me to incorporate. Lent is a good springboard for us as we eat fish every Friday and I think I will have a goal of moving to twice-a-week fish beginning Easter. Sometimes the old ways are the best!

Speaking of the Old Ways . . .

I found a very interesting to site for inspiration this week. It's called Old Ways.  Their mission is to "guide people to health through the old ways." This just suits me! It's a combination of "back to basics" and new spins on old favorites. My philosophy is to keep refining my eating and to allow myself to be inspired by other ways of improving health. This site had some wonderful recipes and help on two fronts: 1) Making clear the Mediterranean way of eating and, (2) African Heritage Health forums and recipes. Both of these are well suited to my family so we have several of these recipes and practices coming soon to our table. Have a look at for yourself and let me know your thoughts.

That's all for today folks! Have a fit Friday and a Work-Out (or Work-Outside!) Weekend.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

PRT - Am I Ready? Are YOU?

I'm from a military ancestry. I grew up patriotic, disciplined and yes, obedient. That's not a bad thing, people!

I harbor a natural fascination for all things military. Some time back, I coached a young woman in the Navy Reserves who was worried about passing her annual PRT - Physical Readiness Test. We set up a plan for her to incrementally work toward her goals and face her test with confidence.

I have been thinking about the test ever since. It is "stuck in my craw" as my Grandma would say. It's not because I think the Physical Readiness Test is wrong, not at all. If someone is defending my country, it's nice to know they're physically ready to do so!  No, what bothers me about the test is that I know I couldn't pass it and not just because of my girth. I am not fit, no matter how much the label "fat but fit" is pasted on me.

I am not joining the Armed Forces, fear not. Even they are not ready for the likes of me! But it occurs to me that I have 3 very active [read "normal"] young children at a stage in my life where my friends have grown grandchildren. I want to be "physically ready" to defend them, or at least knock them out of harm's way. So . . . I have decided to prepare for the test.

Yes, this is a little nutty, but it is also a quite revealing.  Today I discovered that while I certainly can run 1.5 miles, I need to run them almost twice as fast as I did today. Twice as fast. That has quite a ring, doesn't it? The Navy expects a woman my age to run 1.5 miles in 16 minutes or faster. Today I ran a mile in 16. Oops.

There are push-ups and curl-ups too. Oh, yes. Guess what? I actually can't do either of these. Yikes. I can do a curl up, but I have to use my arms to get the momentum to leave the floor and I was able to do 26 of these modified curl-ups in 2 minutes, but the Navy says 26-81 regular ones would qualify me. Push-ups? 2 to 30.  I can't do even one, but I did manage a 30 second plank 3 times, so that's where I'm starting. I think if I can build enough strength to plank for 2 minutes, then I will be able to do at least one push up.

There is also a swimming component but I am a fair-weather-friend to swimming, so I am putting that off until June. In case you care, though, I'll need to be able to swim 500 yds in 15:50 or less.  I built up some good swimming skills a couple of years ago so I think this will be my easiest component, followed by running, then sit-ups, and finally push-ups.

I know this sounds a little kooky but it seems like a practical, coach-myself, fitness goal to work toward, don't you think? What do you think, actually? I have quite a few readers on Feedspot and a handful on Facebook and elsewhere but it's so quiet here.

Therefore, I'm issuing a challenge. Below are the links to the tables for the main US Armed Forces Branches. Pick one and join me. Let's set a date, say July 31. Who will be ready to join me in  a PRT on 7/31?  I can't HEAR YOU!  Step up, recruit, and be counted! (In the comments, if you please!)

United States Navy Physical Readiness Test for females and for males

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Braveheart: Fight like Wallace

A year ago I found myself unexpectedly in a hospital bed for many days due to an extremely rapid heart rate the doctors could not get regulated. At that point I weighed roughly what I do right now. That's a sobering fact in itself. The doctors told me two things over and over: 1) I have a healthy heart with a weird rhythm, and (2) I have that healthy heart because of years of regular exercise and a heart-healthy diet. At that time, I had to face the reality that my prolonged effort toward a healthful life had in fact delivered the exact results I desired even though they had not resulted in the weight loss I also wanted. 

Because I have never before had 9 days of bed-rest, I had a lot of time to take a look at my life. A few facts stood out for me:
1) I do not lose weight easily. Not at all. I can follow any program of calorie restriction or reduction and I will lose weight some weeks only to gain it back the next. 
2) No one said it should be easy
3) Therefore, if I want to lose weight and keep it off I must (a) find a way to increase my metabolism and (b) Recognize that all changes to my diet must be ongoing (with no days "off") and permanent.

These were valuable insights but the most important one has come slowly in the last few months: This is a spiritual issue. I start making progress and then get thrown off track by a life-shock or a hard week and I give up. A few poor food choices later and all my hard work is out the window because I gain weight super easily. 

Around New Year's the movie Rocky came to my mind. I have it on my actions step to watch it again. It's the story of kid who wants to become a championship boxer and on his way to fame, he has to grapple with his mind and train himself to fight for what he wants. 

"You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you're hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done! Now if you know what you're worth then go out and get what you're worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits" (Rocky Balboa)

He realizes he has to "go the distance for his self-respect." (IMDB)  I realize this is what I have to do if I want to lose this weight. I have to fight hard every day, every day. I've proven it's not going to be easy. It's time to let go of that once and for all and deal with my spiritual issues. I need that fight in me.

Last week I noticed that Braveheart was coming on t.v. I taped it to watch with the girls because it is a great story. I did not realize it was just the tonic I needed. At one point, William Wallace is accused of being angry. He said that he was in fact angry and he used his anger to fuel his fight for freedom. He did not stop fighting. He saw what he had to do and even when it wasn't how he thought it should be, he kep fighting. In fact, he fought harder.

I am angry too. I think it should be easy. I think a gal who has a healthy heart should also be thin. I don't want to be "fit and fat," I want to be fit looking. I've worked hard for ten years and I should have the body to show for it. I think if I follow my program - or any program - I should lose weight and it shouldn't fly back on by one cheeseburger. So many "shoulds." 

I'm mad. I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more. I am going to focus on finding my own brave heart and I am going to fight like Wallace. I'm going to keep fighting until I win this cursed battle because my freedom is worth it. 

Who's in?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Yummy Recipes Compiled on a Soggy Sunday

This is less a menu plan and more a brainstorm. We are still "eating down the larder" and it's easier to go day by day.  That said, we did have some wonderful food last week that I will share to inspire you on your own Menu Plan Monday! (Check out some more ideas on Org Junkie's link-up)

Eating down our larder makes me more creative. Here is one night's meal:

This was bacon (obviously) with creamy polenta topped with ratatouille and fresh bell pepper, and zoodles (zucchini "noodles). Since the ratatouille was from the freezer, the bell pepper perked it up prettily.

We have a lean meatloaf we love. Here is the formula. For the vegetables, I was able to use the leftover ratatouille and zucchini from the night before. The kids don't even notice the vegetables in this yummy meat loaf. Try it this week!

Master Meat Loaf

Serves 8 or more. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2# lean ground beef or lean meat mix
2 eggs
2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup tomato sauce
2 cups cooked vegetables - almost anything works
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce

1/2 cup ketchup
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. brown sugar
Pinch salt

Mix all the meatloaf ingredients together. It's faster if you use your hands. Then press them all into a large loaf pan and un-mold onto the rack of a roasting pan. If you don't have a roasting pan, then put a cake rack over a jelly roll or 9x13 pan. It's important to let the drippings drain off to keep the fat down.

 These vegetables all but disappear when you cook it. Not once have any of my kids mentioned the vegetables in the meatloaf.

Mix the sauce ingredients together and slather them on the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 60-75 minutes until done. I look for it to be 175 degrees in the center.

Slice and serve!

I used to make a rustic, round loaf but it was too hard to turn the leftovers into sandwiches. We love the leftovers.

Blueberry Make-Ahead French Toast

This week I found a yummy sounding recipe on SparkPeople. If you're not familiar with the site, it is an amazing weight loss, calorie tracking and exercise site. It's free. You can't get a better price than that!

So here is the link to the blueberry french toast. I can't wait to try it on my peeps.  Any breakfast I can make the night before is a winner in my book and since they are usually very high on calories, this one looks even better. At 344 calories and only 6 grams of fat, this sounds like a winner! The site claims zero fiber but I'm sure that's because fiber varies by loaf in whole-grain bread. Use your bread label to determine your fiber for this dish. I have whole grain English Muffins in the freezer that are going to form the basis for this dish for us.

Dinner Menus

Fantastic Fish Pie

  • We'll be having Surprise Chili with beans this week because I have lots of beans and a lovely
    chili grind from my grassfed beef; I'm sure some purple coleslaw will be on the menu that day.
  • We'll have homemade bread and navy beans on Wednesday for Ash Wednesday
  • I love beef stew and we are having a spate of cooler weather. We are getting lovely stewing vegetables in our CSA box so beef stew is on the horizon.
  • That sounds like a too soupy week so tonight will be pork loin and quinoa with tiny diced beets and sweet potatoes. We'll be having rainbow chard too.
  • Chicken thighs, cheese grits, collard greens and sweet potatoes sound good!
  • Fantastic Fish Pie with salad or greens is in the works for the first Friday of Lent. (We will subbing in skim milk for most of the cream and not adding much at all to the potatoes when we mash them. Outside of Lent, we love to add chopped dried chorizo to the pie.)

Braised Chicken Thighs
That's a wrap! Have a healthy, fun week!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Stop Sugar Now! Seriously! It's Friday so it's Tips, Tricks and Inspiration.

 Here's your tip:  eat local and eat seasonal when possible. I am believer in local foods. Not only does eating locally keep diversity in our food supply and preserving the environment, I think it has to be better for us. Have you ever noticed a craving for root vegetables in winter? I never crave them in summer! Seasonal foods have nutrients we need in those seasons. I make it easy on myself by getting a CSA box. We still buy produce at the grocery, but it is my purpose to eat as much seasonal, local food as we can. There are some great aids to help us. Here is a cool seasonal foods poster from the UK.  I also offer this pretty poster, put up monthly for that month's seasonal foods.  Sine we're enjoying all these cool kitchen print outs, I'm throwing in this very handy kitchen chart that covers all the questions I have on a continuing basis! I found all these amazing printouts (and many more) on Oh, the Lovely Things blog.

Is your eye tricking you? There is no better way to ensure you are eating the calories you think you then by weighing and measuring your portions. I made a pact with my good buddy Gina to weigh and measure everything through the weekend. I call it "Weigh and Measure Weekend." Isn't that original? The trick here is that over time, our ability to gauge our portions slips. Weighing and measuring ensures that we are eating what we think we are. My cereal bowl gets fuller over time and this morning I discovered my cup of milk is closer to 3/4 of a cup. It's particularly important to measure those calorie dense things like oils, alcohol and sugar.

To help me remember, I removed everything from my island except my scale, measuring cup and spoons. For on-the-go measuring, these collapsible measuring cups are cool. What's really good is to learn to eyeball your measurements. I can count an ounce of cheese very accurately because I do it all the time. Here is a helpful selection of tips to remember what a serving looks like of meat, pasta, dressing and etc. The importance of Weigh and Measure Weekend is to verify that your "eye" is still on the mark. The more you practice, the better you will get at it. Join us for Weigh and Measure Weekend!

I usually try to make my inspiration paragraph all about the inspiration: the joy, the results, the person we all want to emulate. Today, however, it's a bit of reverse inspiration. The more I read this article about the likely link between sugar and heart disease the more inspired I am to move sugar way, way into the corners of my life. This article is a must read -- must read. It's pretty startling. To quote directly:

"Over the course of the 15-year study, participants who took in 25% or more of their daily calories as sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those whose diets included less than 10% added sugar."

And it's not just overweight people who are in danger here, it's everyone who seriously loves the sugar rush. Here's a guideline from the article:

"(Dr Fung) supports the American Heart Association’s recommendation that women consume less than 100 calories of added sugar per day (about 6 teaspoons) and men consume less than 150 per day (about 9 teaspoons)."

That's not much when you consider that a soda contains 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of sugar per ounce of drink. The gig's up, folks. Read it for yourself, please.  

(Web MD also has also parsed the study in case you'd like another read.)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Breakfast Tostadas, You Won't Miss the Meat Chili and other YUM! Menu Plan Monday!

Yep, it's been a while! Life here has been c-r-a-a-a-a-z-y for the past two weeks! On the 13th my youngest had a "simple" tonsillectomy that has been anything but simple and wow - am I behind on everything!

It's Monday, though, and time to get back to basics. This week we will be eating down our larder as the pantry and freezers are full to overflowing. We also may have a camping night so portable food is part of the plan:

Steel Cut Oats
Grits with poached eggs and veggies
Cereal day
Breakfast egg and avocado tostadas (recipe below)
Toast, bacon and boiled eggs
Baked orange rind muffins - we make ours with spice cake and use the juice from the oranges for some of the water

This week I'll be putting the contents of the snack box into plastic Easter eggs inside this carton so they won't slide around when the kids hold it by the handle.  They are really egg-cited about these snack boxes!
Leftovers Day
Chicken teriyaki, brown rice, purple carrots, spinach knots (bento)
Meatball subs, oranges, grape tomatoes
Mason jar salads (little kids salad goes in plastic!)
Build your own subway sandwich, purple coleslaw, fruit (camping food)

Skinny Meatloaf, roasted beets and sweet potatoes, green beans (meatloaf: I do half ground turkey breast, half ground beef)
Chicken breast, farro salad, something green (this is a summer recipe and I don't care! So tired of winter food!)
Swiss steak, noodles, sauteed cabbage
Baked white fish, quinoa with tiny veg, green salad

Breakfast Tostadas Recipe - a Fast and Fun breakfast
6 Servings (7 WW Points Plus)

(Prep all vegetables first)
1 zucchini, finely diced
2  large tomatoes diced
1 avocado, diced
6 egg whites
3 whole eggs, beaten with egg whites
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
6 ounces low fat, shredded Mexican cheese blend or Monterrey jack cheese
6 corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 375
Place corn tortillas on rack on jelly roll pan, bake 5 minutes then turn over and bake 3 more; watch carefully to make sure they do not burn.
Remove from oven.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan. Add the zucchini and saute 3 minutes, stirring as you go. Add the tomatoes and cook until most of the liquid is cooked away. Remove to plate.  

Wipe skillet with paper towels.

Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil
Soft scramble the eggs. When the eggs are nearly done, add the vegetables and cook until eggs reach desired consistency.

Remove from heat. Stir in half the cheese.
Top tostadas with egg mixture. Sprinkle with avocados. Top with remaining cheese.
Serve with salsa on the side, if desired.

I'm linking up to OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday; check out all the great menus! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Love Week - Menu Plan Monday

Happy Valentine's Week!

This will be the first year since we've had kids that I've worked on Valentines Day! It's always been a bona fide holiday around here. As a result, I don't have any big food plans for our day, but I will be making "snack plate" lunches and I am sure some things will be heart shaped!

My favorite this week is the snack plate. I found a cute and fun way to make them portable and I am so pleased that they worked out just as I envisioned.

Valentine's Day Dinner will be a quick shrimp salad because we plan to continue our tradition of Valentine's Bowling after I finally get home from work. I'm sure it will be a beautiful Love Day nonetheless and we have healthy plans for the whole week:

Steel Cut Oats
Cinnamon WW Pancakes, baked apples
Cheesy Eggs, tortillas
Cereal day
French toast and bacon

I purchased these camping egg cartons to make finger-food snack boxes. They are so cute and the Littles love, love, LOVE them. I have a row each of starches, vegetables, protein and fruit. Not that it matters but this one is oyster crackers, pretzels, and whole grain cheezits; grape tomatoes, carrot flowers and broccoli; white cheddar, pepperoni, and cheddar: blackberries, grapes and blueberries.  Some future ones will contain goldfish, edamame, peas, baby pickle slices, ham or turkey cubes, tamagayoki, and raisins; the possibilities are endless!

Lemony hummus goat cheese pitas, Napa cabbage slaw, apple slices
Egg crate snack plate
Leftovers Day
Egg Salad with greens, bread slices and orange slices
Soboro Bento with turkey, carrots, egg and green beans (Our favorite bento)

Roast Turkey Breast, Gravy, Mashed Potatoes and Peas (Sunday dinner)
Cheese grits, blindfolded eggs, zucchini ribbons or zoodles, fresh fruit.
Pasta Thursday - spaghetti with meat sauce, broccoli, fruit for dessert 
Shrimp salad, toast and Mamaw's homemade jam
Weight Watchers Homemade Mac-n-Cheese (6), sliced tomato salad
Slow Cooker Brisket, (9)  coleslaw, whole wheat buns, homemade barbecue sauce

Linking up to OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday; check out all the great menus!  The "real food" low-fat menus are hard to come by but I get tons of inspiration from what other people eat.