Friday, December 30, 2011

RECIPE: Chicken and Pasta Soup

This is an update to my Chicken Soup recipe. I made it right this time, which is to say that my noodles didn't disintegrate. My inspiration? Waking up sick and having to stay home from work Thursday. I expect this soup to be miraculous. :) 


POWER FOODS CHICKEN AND PASTA SOUP


It ain't pretty, but it's tasty!
4 Chicken Breasts
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1 box wheat pasta (I picked rotini)
Pepper, Ginger Powder, Italian Seasoning, Salt, Garlic Powder and Onion Powder

In slow cooker, cover chicken breasts with water (a few inches from the top of the cooker) and cook on HIGH until chicken is done. (It will sorta float!) This is the leave it until you smell it phase. I fished out the white squishy blobbies (technical term, folks!) with a fork. Tear apart chicken with two forks while still in broth. Or dirty a plate if you must. Add spices to taste, in the order they're listed, stirring chicken and broth. (I hold off on the salt as much as possible. I add a lot of pepper to cut through the cold. :D) Stir thoroughly. Add pasta and stir. Cook for about a half hour, stirring occasionally, until pasta can be easily cut with your stirring spoon but before it's gooey mush.


NOTE: I added Ginger on a whim, for it's good-health properties. And I can't really taste it much (can't taste much of anything at the moment) but it has added some extra good spiciness. I will add it to my broths from now on as the "What the heck is that good flavor?" ingredient. 


STYLE NOTE: Add celery and carrots if you must, early in the cooking process. I just didn't have any today. And other than aesthetics, the veggies don't entice me at all. With my cold, it's all about the chicken and broth. The noodles are just healthy carb filler. Adding anything else is just sneaky! :)


Sniffle-cough Cuddles,


Tamara, who gets frustrated when sick and does things like this instead of dosing up and sleeping

Thursday, December 29, 2011

HOLIDAY DAMAGES: Week 4

A little late on this week's post. Today, I woke up with a cold, and feel bad, so you get the short, short version.

I weigh 279.4 today. Up about 6 pounds. Probably half water-weight, half new lard. :)

I ate sooo many good things that were bad for me. So many chocolate and peanut butter candies of different types! I did eat in moderation until the three day span of Christmas Eve, Day, and Day after, when I ate, ummm, heartily. The eating tapered off in the days hence, as the leftovers ran out.

Sick of junk food and holiday food. Making Power Foods meals for the rest of the week and beyond.

And here I am, eating chicken noodle soup. Sore throat. Runny nose. Lost voice. Hoping to feel like making some feel-good chicken and noodles later, as well as some salsa chicken with refried beans, rice and sour cream.

Cuddles,

Tamara

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

RECIPES: Venison

Now I should say I'm not a big fan of venison. The taste of wild deer, even when cooked "right" isn't my favorite thing. And I've eaten this critter in several forms-- jerky, steak, burger, AND stir fry. But it is very lean, therefore good for you, and if you disguise it just right... :D If you're brave, try my simple, very similar recipes and let me know how it goes! Don't worry. Bambi will forgive you!

VENISON BURGERS WITH PEPPERS AND ONIONS:
Skilleted!
4 Venison burgers (buy the meat, or get some FRESH from your father-in-law's recent kill!)
1/2 Green pepper, sliced
1/2 Sweet onion, sliced
Seasoning of choice (I chose Grippo's powder!)

Drain the burgers (lean meat = blood. Just sayin'!). Cook in skillet on low-medium heat until halfway cooked. (Just a few minutes, but I'm no expert!) Flip burgers. Dump in veggies among the cooked, ah, fat and juices (*grins awkwardly talking about blood again*). Stir fry veggies in and around the meat until onions gain some transparency. :) Turn up the heat. Flip the burgers. Liberally season one side and flip. Season remaining side and season vegetables. Flip burger. (Searing the sides a bit, to avoid the "boiled hamburger in the lunchline" look!) Move burgers to outside of pan to continue cooking. (I'd rather overcook a venison burger than under-cook it. Because it's ground meat, it doesn't become shoe leather like a steak!) Stir fry vegetables in center of pan until tender. Serve immediately. Tastes like... venison.
Plated!
NOTE: Venison has a distinctive smell when you add heat. It's the "game-y" smell that only goes away with the addition of onions and peppers, in my experience. My hubby says that onion "draws the wild out of it." I think you're covering it up with another smell, and they're cancelling each other out. Almost as soon as the onions heat up, the smell will dissipate.

VENISON STIR-FRY

4 small venison steaks, cut into thin strips

1/2 Green pepper, sliced
1/2 Sweet onion, sliced
Teriyaki sauce
Soy sauce
Sesame oil
Rice wine vinegar
Sesame seeds
Prepared brown rice, optional

Rinse meat in water. Drain. Heat sesame oil in wok or skillet. Add venison and stir fry on medium-high heat. Add vegetables and stir fry until onions gain some translucency. Lower heat to medium. Add equal parts teriyaki and soy sauce to skillet (enough to thoroughly coat venison and vegetables, but not until there's standing liquid in the pan!). Stir until coated. Add a splash of vinegar to help deglaze the pan. Stir over medium heat until sauce thickens. It will incorporate with pan drippings to make a yummy thing! Sprinkle some sesame seeds over the whole thing. Serve over brown rice!

NOTE: Don't have a pic yet. But I like this recipe because you can insert your meat of choice and it'll turn out great! I usually make chicken this way, and have made pork and beef as well.

Cuddles,

Tamara

PROGRESS: Week 3, 100th Post!

Today I celebrate my 100th post with some positive progress and a little story about The Scale and I! Considering this is the week before Christmas and I've been making candy like crazy-- and only sampling tiny amounts-- it's a miracle I've gotten anywhere with it! But the period of time I'm calling "damage control" has yielded results:

Weight Last Week: 275.2
Weight This Week: 273.4

That's a difference of 1.8 pounds! With eating some of the candies for the babies of the peoples!

Good things I ate this week:

1. More turkey thin-bread sandwiches for lunch. Now I'm out of the bread, so I won't buy more.

2. Baked salmon for lunch once, breakfast a couple or three times. (Because the stink of it heating up for lunch that one time may have killed a few coworkers! :D So I made different lunches to replace those.) Pure protein goodness!

3. Power Foods Texas Hash from my recipes. With refried beans and melted Pepperjack cheese.

4. Stuffed peppers: cleared out my stock of frozen peppers so I didn't have to cook. Now will have to cook!

5. String cheese as snacks at work

6. A couple days of oatmeal with Sweet N Low and cinnamon. Meh. :)

Here are some things I did:


1. Avoided added salt.

2. Cooked Texas Hash and Salmon in advance.

3. Made sandwiches fresh each morning.

4. Measured portions for almost everything!

5. Snacked on candies in EXTREME moderation!

6. Kept busy with work or cleaning or creative pursuits. No time to idly eat!

Here are some things I plan to change this week:


1. Eat Christmas food on the day before, day of and day after, but not beyond. (No infinite leftovers!)

2. Pay more attention to the "full" feeling. Cut regular portion sizes accordingly.

3. A few rounds with an exercise video or two. Helps with health AND stress!

THE SCALE AND I-- TAMA SAYS:

Back in the day, in fifth grade, the teacher did weigh-ins in front of class. Not officially public, but may as well have been. My number (on the first digital scale I ever remember seeing) was 188. I looked at her and her assistant. They looked at me. Some kids snickered. Forget the fact that I was the tallest, strongest kid in class, an Amazon in comparison to the little boys. That was the first time I saw my weight as a health problem.

Sure, I got picked on before that day for being the poor kid, the smart kid, the shy kid, the tall kid AND the fat kid in class. But Mamaw always told me, "It's just baby fat. You'll grow up and it'll all be gone." In almost the same breath she'd comment on how so-and-so was "as big as you are, Tamara!" or "even bigger than you!" (A practice she continued-- among other unsavory ones-- until I just vacated her presence a couple years ago. Permanently. With little regret. And only the briefest meetings since.)

Regardless of the other things she said which I knew were instigating crap, I was gullible. I believed that bit about baby fat until I saw 188 on the scale. Then the struggle started. But when you're not paying the bills, you eat what you're given, which was sufficient. I hit a growth spurt after this, too. I outgrew my long hair, which "shrank" from my hips up to my bra strap. Big Macs went on sale around that time. I'd eat two in a sitting, with fries and a shake. I can't do that now! But I was literally a growing young girl.

By eight grade, I was fatter, but the weight was stretched out on a longer frame (I ended up at 6ft eventually). After a few diets-- the Grapefruit diet (blech!) and Atkins, to name a couple-- I was still overweight. Going into high school, I weighed 212 pounds. Going into college, I weighed 223-ish. (I didn't gain the Freshman 15 because I walked everywhere. I may have lost weight...) Coming out of 5 years on my butt in customer service, I weighed 275. And coming out of my one and only year of full time teaching, during which I was sick for most of it, I weighed 300 pounds. And by the time I started this blog... ummm Monday, December 27, 2010, to be exact... I was fully unemployed for the first time in my adult life and down to 291 lb. And I was finally ready to take control of at least one area of my crumbly future: my weight!

I get different comments now when people ask my weight. "You don't look like you weigh that much." "You carry it well." I don't mind these as much. And if people know you're on a diet, they'll comment on how much weight you've lost. :) Even when you haven't. It's an attempt at encouragement that I would never discourage. Most people KNOW how hard it is to lose weight.

I can't see a weight change yet. Even in ten pounds, I may not notice. But I finally remembered why owning a digital scale made me feel a grain of hesitation, why it was so ingrained in me to buy one. A digital scale is where it all started-- the downfall and the climb back up. The number 188. I think I'll set that as Major Goal Number 2 when I knock off this 100 pounds. If I do that, I'll have come full circle. :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

RECIPE: Simple Texas Hash

As a former Atkins dieter, I'm wrapping my head around this one slowly. It's got potatoes, for cryin' out loud! The no-no food of the low carb world is scary. But WW Power Foods include potatoes as a permitted "free food" vegetable. (And I have to cook the leftover potatoes I have, or they'll go to waste!) Lunch at school this week will alternate between this recipe, and my baked salmon recipe. Let's see if I can lose weight this week, under the influence of the evil potato!

SIMPLE TEXAS HASH:
This is before the meal is cooked completely, but it only got prettier!

1 lb lean ground beef
1 onion, sliced in slivers
3 medium to small potatoes, thinly sliced or diced
1 can Rotel tomatoes and chilis. Do not drain.
1 can tomato sauce
Salt, Pepper, Garlic to taste
Seasoned salt
Olive oil

Optional:
Pepperjack Cheese, sliced thinly
Beans- Kidney or otherwise, drained
Fat free refried beans
Fat free sour cream

Brown lean beef over medium heat in a large pan. (Lean beef means you don't have to drain anything!) Move beef to outside of skillet and put some olive oil in center of pan. Sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic in the oil. Dump in onions and stir until hot and aromatic. Pile in potatoes. Sprinkle them with seasoned salt. Cover and heat through. Stir the whole mess together. Add Rotel, liquid and all (this may have been a mistake, since I don't like my food TOO spicy-hot!). Stir into the mess. Add tomato sauce, stirring again. Simmer on low, covered, stirring occasionally until potatoes are tender. I let it go for about forty minutes without a problem. (I forgot it a lot, too!)

Serve topped with a slice of Pepperjack cheese, with refried beans and sour cream on the side... Or stirred in.

NOTE: My taste-test said this was spicy hot, a little more so than I go for usually. But other than the heat, it's pretty bland. Feel free to play with the spices and let me know how it goes!

STYLE NOTE: I have noticed that when eating only Power Foods, I like to make meals with chunky ingredients to keep it texturally interesting. You could dice the potatoes really small so they'd cook faster and look more like traditional hash, but you'll lose the visual appeal! :)

MY WORK MEAL LINEUP:

Top: Slabs of baked salmon, Bottom: Simple Texas Hash, beans and cheese!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

PROGRESS: Week 2

PROGRESS AND NUMBERS: 

I skipped out on that doctor consultation today. Sleep has been too rare, almost as rare as my desire to pay the guy a copay to tell me what I already knew. :)

So I did my own weigh-in today. I'm at 275.2 lb today, which means it's holding steady, and that's just fine by me for this week. I checked my blood pressure the other day, and all numbers were within healthy ranges. I even got a 70-something on my diastolic number (if that's the bottom one).  

I didn't lose weight this week, probably because of my little novel-finishing celebration of Wendy's chili, a garden salad... and a small chocolate Frosty! I've also eaten chocolate every day this week, and one Arby's breakfast involving ice water, tater-hash-brown things, and a MUCH larger breakfast wrap than I expected (two servings-- breakfast and breaktime!). I also made Chicken and Dumplings for Brandon (clearly not permitted as Power Foods) and ate that for dinner for a couple days. Add a McDouble dressed like a Mac and a McChicken, plus one large sweet tea at some point, and that just about rounds out my week!
UPDATE PIC: My Celebration Meal

Here are some good things I ate this week:
UPDATE PIC: Those weird sandwiches. I ate two. I was really hungry!

1. Lunch at Work: Teriyaki Chicken (just add soy, teriyaki, and sesame seeds to chicken breast cooked in sesame oil) and Chicken Parmesan (I just made the stuffing for my Chicken Parmesan Peppers). Less than one and a half cups per serving. Three pounds of chicken spread over five servings. Around 6 bucks. 

2. Snacks at work: Materne GoGoSqueez AppleCinnamon Applesauce, to which I am addicted but intentionally ran out. And light string cheese sticks. Mmmm...

3. Fat Free deli Turkey on low-fat, thin wheat sandwich rounds. Added some thinly sliced pepperjack cheese, onion, and lite mayo.

4. A baked potato with fat-free cream cheese, lite butter spray (blech!), and Grippo's powder spice, AKA ambrosia of the gods.

5. Fat free milk over Kashi GoLean Crunch, of which I have no more.

Here are some things I did:

1. Exercise bands at work, between calls, a couple days.

2. Avoided salt, except for a few pickle slices and olives. And the Grippo's powder.

3. Cooked and prepared all lunches from work in advance for the entire week.

Here are some things I plan to change this week:

1. Eat oatmeal with Sweet-N-Low and cinnamon instead of the Kashi cereal. Even if I do a double helping, it'll cut my breakfast calories and carbs significantly.

2. Polish off those last four sandwich rounds, and probably not get more! :D

3. Keep string cheese as a snack; avoid buying the crack known as GoGoSqueez applesauce! 

In doing the above, I'm cutting sugary carbs and upping protein. I didn't have much of a problem with low blood sugar like last week, so it's time to start reducing my carb intake as well. 

THE SECRET:

After acknowledging the many ironies in my life here, http://tamarahensonstudios.blogspot.com/2011/12/180-degrees.html, I realized that I've finally developed the right mentality for becoming a healthier person. The big secret? I have promised myself to try AND do. Trying doesn't get you anywhere unless accomplishing follows. Or as Yoda says, "Do or do not, there is no try!" So what do I do when I have a snack or off-plan meal? I just barrel ahead, forgetting my failures and picking up where I left off at the next meal or snack. Obvious, right? But it's not always been easy for me. But here's why it BECAME easy:

If the Almighty Creator God of the entire universe can forgive me and erase my many sins from the face of all existence, then I must 1) forgive myself a slip up AND 2) try not to make it worse. In all areas, including my Health Overhaul. That's it! It got personal and spiritual. Letting go of the do-it-all attitude is hard to do. But I'm practicing not drowning, one meal at a time!

Cuddles,

Tamara

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

PROGRESS: A New Week 1

Last time, I said that I'd just restart my weeks-counting, since I'm technically rebooting my program this week anyway. So here goes: I'll just post new progress posts under shiny new week headings... again! At first I was discouraged with having to do a new start. Then a good, cuddly friend of mine reminded me that it's not going under water that drowns you, it's STAYING under water. So as long as I keep resurfacing, I'm okay! :)

Now, the progress part: 

I had a routine exam today, and I'll have the doctor consultation/progress check next week.

NUMBERS LAST WEEK:
Blood Pressure: 139/106 
Heart Rate: 81 bpm
In-Office Weight: 284.4
At-Home Weight: 280

NUMBERS THIS WEEK: 
Blood Pressure: 139/90 (Down more, but not enough yet)
Heart Rate: 71 bpm (Pretty good)
In-Office Weight: 279.2
At-Home Weight: 275 point something

RESULTS:
BP and Heart Rate are lower, which is good. No wrath-of-the-nurse fell upon my head!
I've lost 4-ish pounds in a week, which is good for my morale.

WHAT I DID ALL WEEK:

1. Stuck close to the Simply Filling program. My previous post's peppers have served me well as lunch at work! I ate a boiled egg with some salt for my first break, and my Materne GoGoSqueez Apple Sauce with Cinnamon on 2nd break, cuz I'm a big kid now. :D My blood sugar bottomed out the first couple days at work because I guess I cut out too much too quickly, so I dosed with Cheez-its and extra applesauce until I felt better. I also bought low-fat thin-buns that are whole wheat as vehicles for my fat-free deli meats. 

2. Deviated intelligently, when possible. I ate some chocolate every day. Plus Cheez-its. I ate Wendy's chili on a garden salad with a baked chive-and-sour-cream potato. All but the chili is "allowed". After the blood sugar drop, I picked up some Kashi Go Lean Crunch to replace my leftover Crunch Berries. 

3. Focused on lean protein, fat-free dairy, some veggies and some fruit. Didn't do the full-on veggie bake side dish to go with my peppers at work. 

4. Measured portions with actual measuring utensils. Or used pre-measured portions (like the applesauce). No eyeballin' here! Moderation only works for me when I just don't put it on my plate!

5. Light exercise. I took my exercise bands to work and got in some light stretching and strength training to all my major muscle groups over the course of 2 hours or so-- in between calls-- the first day! :) I noticed a mood improvement. I was calmer, less antsy, more relaxed and less easily irritated. I wasn't as likely to yawn, either. I felt more alert. The second day, I did my short 15lb weights routine on my arms, chest, back and legs before work, and some abs/cardio with the bands at work. (Hey! I was by myself, and it was kinda slow going! I had to amuse myself...) Chair exercises are comical, but they get the job done!

6. Used very little salt and paid attention to when my blood pressure spiked. (At work, stressful callers, annoying coworker habits, etc.) And then I tried to calm it down instead of let it fester. Deep breathing and such!

7. Drank tons of water, while at work. When I've got nothing better to do, I should be drinking water, I decided. 

CONCLUSIONS: I've felt better for longer this week. I've subconsciously and consciously leaned toward healthier food choices. I've shopped intelligently. I have some type of permitted food on hand at all times so I don't stray. It feels easier this time...

Cuddles,
Tamara

Saturday, December 3, 2011

RECIPES: Chicken Parmesan Peppers and Tomato Beef Peppers

I'll confess: I'm addicted to the stuffed pepper dinner (or lunch, or breakfast) for a variety of reasons. Other than yumminess, I love the portion-sized convenience of it. I love a ready-made container that I can eat. I love that, with few exceptions, I can make them with all Power Foods. I love that they're freezable and nuke-able and that I can make them in large batches that will last for days. They're cheap to make for the number of servings I get. And that I sneak in vegetables without minding all that much! I'm even thinking about some venison peppers later on. (Brandon's dad sent fresh venison our way this hunting-holiday season!) Also considering making some deer jerky, if I can bring myself to it. :) Don't know how the leanest meat in KY will taste in a stuffed pepper, but I should be able to come up with something...

CHICKEN PARMESAN STUFFED PEPPERS:
UPDATE: A pic, in my lunch container!

2 Red (or other color) Bell Peppers, prepared and slit vertically
1 lb Chicken Breast, cut into 1in cubes
1 c Pizza sauce (low sodium, if you can)
1/4 to 1 whole small onion, sliced vertically into thin strips
2 tbs Olive oil
Italian Seasoning, Garlic Powder
4 slices Mozzarella cheese, fat free or low fat
Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup chopped pepperoni (optional, depending on points allowances)

Preheat oven to 350. Gut and rinse Bell Pepper halves and arrange in casserole dish. If you don't use glass, line the pan with foil. If your peppers won't stand up, prop them with small rolls of aluminum foil. Cram 1 slice fat free mozzarella cheese or 1/4 cup shredded cheese in pepper. Heat oil in pan on medium heat. Cover chicken in pan until sizzling. Pan fry chicken in olive oil, stirring frequently after the first few minutes. When chicken is done, add pizza sauce and stir. Then throw in onion, pepperoni and spices, stir. When sauce is hot and thickened, turn off heat. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Spoon high into peppers, pressing down with the back of the spoon. Pour in water bath halfway up the sides of the pepper for even baking. Add some salt to the water bath. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour at 350. When peppers wrinkle at the tops, they're soft and done!

NOTE: I didn't freeze these. They were just too good. Plus, I didn't know how the chicken and sauce would hold up in the freezer. I didn't want to mess up the texture. If you try freezing them, maybe add more sauce to keep the chicken from drying out in the process.

UPDATE: Unfrozen, just nuke for 4 minutes. Sprinkle some Parmesan on top first.

NOTE 2: Points, spread across 4 servings, are negligible.

TOMATO BEEF STUFFED PEPPERS

4 Bell Peppers, cleaned and halved as above
1 lb lean ground beef
1 can Rotel, drained (mild to hot... whatever you want!)
1 can Tomato sauce
1 small onion, roughly chopped
Italian seasoning and seasoned salt
1/2 cup crushed crackers
3 tbs ketchup
Salt

Preheat oven to 350. Gut and rinse Bell Pepper halves and arrange in casserole dish. If you don't use glass, line the pan with foil. If your peppers won't stand up, prop them with small rolls of aluminum foil. Cram 1 slice fat free mozzarella cheese or 1/4 cup shredded cheese in pepper. Combine all other ingredients with your hands in a large bowl, making sure that beef is thoroughly broken up and integrated. Mixture will be very soupy compared to my other recipes because of the amount of tomato products. Split beef mixture among all peppers, pressing into all nooks and crannies. I just used my already-icky hands. Pour in water bath halfway up the sides of the pepper for even baking. Add some salt to the water bath. Bake for 1.5 hours at 350. Pepper edges should be wrinkly and cut easily with a fork.

NOTE: FREEZING: I didn't freeze these, because they're lunch for work this week. But if you do... Remove from water bath and cool at room temperature. Wrap completely in aluminum foil. Then refrigerate for an hour or more. Place in freezer bags and freeze. I can place several peppers in a gallon-sized bag and just grab what I need. REHEATING: If frozen, microwave on HIGH for 5-7 minutes. If not frozen, microwave on HIGH 3-4 minutes.

NOTE 2: Points, spread across 8 servings, are negligible. I actually only made four pepper halves out of this recipe, intended to buy more peppers and didn't, and ended up wasting a little under half the mixture. Shame on me!



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dress Progression... Fun!

First time I tried on the dress, in February or March 2011, I think. What a nice picture someone took, showcasing the dress size and everything! The zipper is crying. At least the lady didn't use those industrial clamps. Means I wasn't the biggest big girl to stroll in that day, I guess...
 At the end of the reception on the wedding day, 11-11-11. Or as some nerds call it, "The Day Skyrim Was Released"...
Now, I will not pretend that I'm not squeezed into the dress in the latter picture. I am. I can breathe, but just barely. And you can see some muffin-top of my back fat. But that baby zipped up, with a bit of effort. Maybe less effort if we all hadn't gotten our nails done.

Twenty pounds made a world of difference. From the scary 300 I started with, down to the 291 I started my blog with, down and up again to 284... It's scary to think I have so much more to lose. Especially when 20 lb doesn't seem like a whole lot to have lost. That's crazy! With most people, that's a sixth of their weight! That's a fourteenth of my weight! And now my daily quota of math has been reached. I'll kick this thing like a bad habit, though. Not dying is a significant goal of mine!

Bloodwork and the Numbers Game

I decided that waiting to do cholesterol bloodwork was a bad idea. Y'know-- since I'm sick, miserable and overweight NOW!

Since I was already in for a checkup (Yay! Insurance!) I had them draw blood for a full blood-analysis-doohickey. I get the results tomorrow. I will know how truly unhealthy I am in the morning and do a quick update here. The not-too-promising stats from today kind of nauseated me:

Height: 6'00" (Okay... I already knew this one!)
Weight: 284.4 lb (Hey! I was wearing clothes and shoes and carrying my cell phone...)
Body Mass Index: 38.6 (Morbidly obese, I think...)
Temperature: 97.7 (Not dead)
Blood Pressure: 139/106 (Dying a bit, due to stress at work or something else)
Pulse: 81 bpm (Not dead)

UPDATE: My in-home weigh-in right after the doctor and before I ate and in my drawas says 280. I'm gonna keep that one.

UPDATE AGAIN: 12/2/11: My in-home weigh-in after a day of swearing off Pepsi, caffeine, excess sugar, and sticking pretty closely to the Weight Watchers Simply Filling program (except for a small Wendy's chili and a Little Debbie brownie, which will be counted as weekly points deductions) is:

276 lb. point-something-I-forgot

Preliminary discussion:

1. I am VERY overweight, but for my height and bone structure, NP says my weight would probably be good at around 200 lb, which is my Major Goal One.

2. I am to monitor my blood pressure regularly and report back if it gets worse or doesn't significantly improve. (*sigh* Killing myself with food really sucks! This is the first time my blood pressure has registered that high at the doctor! I think I bragged before about having stable blood pressure and a healthy heart for a big 'un. Well, it's a slippery slope right now!)

3. Weight Watchers Simply Filling menu has been approved. Atkins has not been approved... But if I eat mostly Power Foods I'll be on Atkins! In short, I am to stop eating junk. With the NP's and doctor's stern faces firmly in mind.

4. I am also to exercise, no matter how cruddy it looks outside. In the best interests of not dying, I will make an earnest attempt. Cue Eye of the Tiger! This girl's gonna get movin'!

5. The Clincher: They force-scheduled me for my annual consultation with the doctor in 2 weeks, to officially check for improvements in my BP and stuff. You know what that means? A deadline! Two weeks to get somewhere or risk Doc's scary face!

Not REALLY scared of the guy, but his scary face has my best interests at heart. He would like to keep my business. I would like to live a longer, healthier life. There are mutually beneficial payouts to be had. Since my progress in weight loss has reversed, I think I'll start a NEW new week 1, in light of my mean-face-imposed deadline. Not that the week numbers really matter. Just helps me track things. But in honor of my umpteenth restart, I might as well. Tuesdays it is. :)

UPDATE-- BLOODWORK RESULTS:

Apparently, the numbers aren't worth posting. Because they're all within normal ranges except a couple that won't kill me. My bad cholesterol is only slightly elevated and not enough to warrant medical action. NP says to watch my fats and sodium intake. Which I'm doing. My calcium is a couple points below the expected range. Big whoop. I'm drinking fat free milk now, so that should fix that.

I feel silly for being slightly disappointed in the numbers. I mean, I don't have anything I can significantly reduce other than my weight, which is my only major risk factor for disease later on (according to the bloodwork numbers). But because of the blood pressure scare, I will be cutting out a lot of salt in my diet, which will help me shed water weight, anyway.

Someone close to me-- a relative-- was just diagnosed with diabetes. The kind that is controlled with pills "for now." I'm going to drag this person along on my Health Overhaul, hoping that significant improvements can be made there as well. This is another strong push to succeed. I guess this brings me back to my original point: I'm generally healthy for now. I just so happen to be overweight by 80 lb. I do NOT want an existing medical condition to force my weight loss. So here I go...

Cuddles,

Tamara


Monday, November 21, 2011

Week 16, 17, 18 & 19: One, Two, Skip A Few...

Quadruple Whammies! When I hit a rut, I really hit hard!

Week 16 was the week after the Halloween party. Didn't have company after Wednesday, and back to work that week. Good company still equals bad eating, though, for both Susan and myself. I laced my Power Foods with junk food and party leftovers and fast food.

Week 17 led up to my wedding, with a household shower and no hope of eating intelligently. Susan came back to be all Maid of Honor-y. :) The wedding went well, by the way. Only a few fat-tuck issues with the pictures. I'm a wife now, which is a weird feeling!

Week 18 was the week after my wedding, during which I subsisted solely on cheeseball and leftover red velvet wedding cake.

Week 19 is Thanksgiving week, during which I know I will eat heavily on three different days, with leftovers. I still want to try some of the Power Foods replacement meals for Thanksgiving. But poor Brandon wants "real" food. And he'll "waste away" on what I eat. :)

My weigh in will not happen until the end of Week 20. I know it's bad. I just can't do it this week.

So what's the plan? All joking aside... Well, first I briefly considered bulimia. Then I realized how hard of a time I have setting up routines, how much I hate to waste things, and how much I hate throwing up. Then I considered liposuction, zip-zap, all done. Then I realized I am essentially poor and that lipo is not a viable option at this time.

So I decided the following instead:

I'll give myself until Week 20 to eat bad-for-me stuff. That's next Monday. I will try to sneak in a few healthful meals between now and then, and try to lean toward the good for me stuff. Then on Monday morning, I'll weigh in. And probably cry. I'll dive into the Weight Watchers Power Foods Simply Filling program again. It'll be all damage control until Christmas, when I'll pare down my holiday food intake even more, perhaps not even breaking the program this time. Then it's more damage control until the New Year.

At that time, I'll take my progress (or lack thereof) to the doctor and get a full cholesterol and bloodwork profile made. We'll discuss what I'm trying and what's working or not, and see what he can do for me in the way of support or maybe even meds, short of stapling my stomach. It'll be interesting to see where this goes...

And then, depending on the outcome and suggestions that arise from that, I'm going to do something drastic. I'll do a fast of some type. Perhaps that nasty juice fast I tried. Depends on my activity level at the time. I'll do it for a week, two weeks, a month... However long it takes to get my body ready to process fat, and how long it takes me to get over the silly cravings of addiction. Don't worry, I said "drastic", not "stupid." I'll not do anything that would hurt me more than help.

See you at the end of Week 20!

Cuddles,

Tamara

Monday, October 31, 2011

RECIPES: Susan's Spaghetti Chicken with Brown Rice AND Chicken Soup

SUSAN'S SPAGHETTI CHICKEN WITH BROWN RICE:

(no pic. It's ugly, but delicious!)

3 Chicken Breasts
1 Can Spaghetti Sauce
2 Cups Leftover Brown Rice
1 small Onion, chopped
1 Celery stalk, sliced
Some Vegetable Oil
Onion Salt
Garlic Powder
Pepper
Italian Seasoning

Cube chicken. Heat oil in a skillet. Add spices. Add chicken and pepper it. Cook chicken until mostly done. Add celery and onions and cook until onion is translucent. Add spaghetti sauce. Stir. Add Italian Seasoning to mixture to taste. Add rice. Stir. Simmer for 10 minutes. Eat. Yum!

Note: Count WW Points for oil if you're on the Simply Filling option. Otherwise, this is basically an all Power-Foods meal! :)

POWER FOODS CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

(no pic. Looks like Campbell's Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup. Except better and with wheat rotini.)

4 Chicken Breasts, chopped into medium cubes
1.5 cup sliced celery
1.5 cup sliced baby carrots
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 box wheat pasta (I picked rotini)
Italian Seasoning, Pepper, Garlic Salt

Pile all this in the slow cooker: in the order of vegetables, chicken, bouillon, spices and pasta, bottom to top. Fill with water to within an inch of top. Cook forever. Til the chicken's done. I don't know how long yet. It's still cooking!

Note: This is my attempt to get back on task. From what I can tell, the only difference between Campbell's and this is the wheat pasta. :) All Power Foods. Again, yum!

Week 15: Party Week Anti-Progress

I gained 2lb this week. I'm at 270. I had good food and great company, though! But I ate very yummy bad-for-me things all week.

Food Sins List, Abbreviated:

1. My homemade super awesome cheeseball recipe and crackers
2. Veggie Pizza: pizza crust, ranch cream cheese, carrots
3. Cheesecake
4. Grippos
5. Real Pepsi and Dr. Pepper and Root Beer
6. Chips for WW-Friendly Bean Dip
7. Baby Fingers: Lil Smokies wrapped in Bacon cooked in Brown Sugar... but only a few! :)
8. Dreamsicle Punch: (Diet) Orange Soda and regular vanilla ice cream
9. Other things that were equally good...

Also, a few healthy WW Points Plus recipes forthcoming...

Cuddles,

Tamara

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

RECIPE: Beef & Bean-tastic Chili

BEEF & BEAN-TASTIC CHILI
 In the pot, ready to simmer....
... and in the bowl, with cheese, on the chili-covered counter!

1.5 lb lean ground beef
1 medium- large onion, diced
1 can light red kidney beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
1 big can Bush's seasoned pinto chili beans
1 can Rotel chili-fixins seasoned diced tomatoes
1 medium can tomato sauce
1 tsp Mexene chili powder
1 tsp Ground cayenne pepper
1/4 cup fat free shredded cheddar
Crackers if you're splurgin' (count the points!)

Combine everything but onion, beef, cheddar and crackers in a medium sized slow cooker and stir well. Season to taste and to the desired heat. Turn on slow cooker to "high" setting and replace lid. 

Brown beef in a large skillet on medium heat. Do not drain if you use lean beef... not enough fat to bother! Push the beef to the outside of the pan and dump diced onion in center. Use the tiny amount of fat from the beef to cook the onions until just translucent. Dump it all into the slow cooker and stir thoroughly. Simmer on High for an hour, stir, turn down on low and cook for two more hours. Stir occasionally. 

Dip into bowl and sprinkle on cheese. Devour!

Note: This is a mostly-Power-Foods recipe, but some seasonings in the prepared beans and tomatoes should be noted as costing points. I'm experimenting to see if the cost is negligible. So I'm officially saying a cup of this stuff, with fat free cheese and no crackers is made of all Power Foods and shouldn't be much of a "cheat". Now, seconds and thirds are a different story... :)

Note 2: COST-- For a 3.5 quart slow cooker full of chili, it cost about $13, which is a splurge for my budget all at once. But considering for a moment that, if I didn't have company, 3.5 quarts of chili would last all week, it's a pretty sound investment...

Note 3: This stuff could probably freeze really well, in meal sized portions!

Style Note: If you're a spaghetti-in-your-chili person (weird to me, but tasty, I guess...), then cook some whole wheat pasta and throw it in there. Or pour your chili over it. Or whatever you guys do... :D

Style Note 2: I made a very mild chili with a lot of good flavor. Plus, I cheated by using pre-made, pre-seasoned ingredients. If you pay close attention to your Power Foods list, you can make it all from base ingredients instead. You'll end up with a more true-to-Simply-Filling result by controlling all ingredients. I could have cooked dried beans and painstakingly seasoned them in measured portions, diced real tomatoes, pureed them and made a sauce. Like I'd do that on a Tuesday. Bah! ;)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Week 14: Progress Again

My weigh-in today put me at 268.4lb, my lowest weight so far. That's down about 3lb from my lowest weight a couple weeks ago. I'm very excited about this, and feel like I've accomplished it by the seat of my pants, or skin of my teeth, or something along those lines. I really haven't cheated these past few days, but the beginning of the week had some rough spots. 

Maybe I cut the weight because I'm sick with a cold-thing and have no appetite? My meals have been mostly some tuna, eggs, vegetables, apples, and Campbell's Healthy Request chunky chicken noodle soup. While the latter isn't strictly on my diet, if it's all I ate for a meal and it's mostly broth it seems to have made little negative impact on my metabolism. If I could have tasted it, I'm sure it would have been stupendous!

My cravings-button is off on most days. The only things I occasionally want that are horrible for me are the McDonald's McRib, Wendy's chili (not horrible, Points-wise), BBQ Grippos, and some chocolate things. All of these things, I will have on occasion. I just avoided the McRib for weigh-in, though! :) I keep plenty of apples and baby carrots on hand for snack emergencies and make lunch for work in advance. These precautions are the reasons I don't eat bad-for-me things more often. I'm also keeping my late dinners light, when possible, so I don't go to sleep with a belly full of foods with fat-conversion potential. 

The exercise thing didn't happen this week, mostly because I was sickly and had no energy. Leastly, because I worked on wedding and costume stuff and played on the internet to placate myself. I'm not a pitiful sick person. Being sick frustrates me. I get angry. There. The truth comes out! This is why, as long as I'm not horribly contagious, I'll not usually call in to work. If I can't be productive at home when I'm sick, I might as well get paid at work! Creative logic at work! :) 

Also, yay! Weight loss! Gonna spend my drive to work and back home avoiding the McRib. Dunno how I'll do, but hey, tomorrow's the beginning of my Health Overhaul week! I can play catch-up the rest of the week...

LIST OF PROGRESS-SMASHERS FOR NEXT WEEK"
1. McRib :D
2. H'ween Party Sunday= Homemade Party Foods. Will probably weigh-in pre-food! :)
3. McRib...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dress Update!

In the course of wedding prep, Mom and Tiffany came today to help with making the last half of my candles. Which means I had some help to squeeze into the wedding dress again. I was worried about it since it's been about August since I was brave enough to try it on, and though Melody had it zipped, I really couldn't breathe. 

Today, I stepped into it and, with very little tugging and squeezing, I could wear the thing. I didn't feel suffocated. I could actually take breaths! The front waist area is where I got the extra room, plus a little extra around my shoulder blades. I still have the back overspill that I'd like to be rid of and the manly broad shoulders I can't be rid of. But the veil and my hairstyle will cover the former, and some focused weight lifting will at least tone-up the latter. If you gotta have linebacker shoulders, then make them worthy of showing off!

My pre-wedding plan is mostly weight lifting and some workout videos. It's finally turned wintry, so I'm not much for walking in the bleariness. I feel like I can get more done in less time when I work out indoors.

I still have much of my weight loss mini-goal to complete before the wedding day. I'm working on that, too, so if I reach that goal between now and then, I'd have much better morale going into the second mini-goal. :)

Weddingy-things aside, I have noticed that I've picked up food habits like reaching for an apple instead of a brownie (or was that "reaching for an apple because there are no brownies") and in restaurants, I try to lean toward better choices. I have a smaller appetite. And, secretly, I enjoy the simplified restriction of a diet involving basic, natural foods. :D

Monday, October 17, 2011

Week 13: Down Again

Since last week's gurgle-splat-twitch, better known as the death of my metabolism, I have managed to get back down to 272.2. It's still a pound higher than my last official weigh-in. However, it's over 2 pounds lighter than my cheater panicky weigh-in a few days ago. So I'll take it as re-progress. :)

I may have weighed less if Brandon hadn't gotten off work early and taken me to dinner when I got off work. I don't wanna talk about it except to say how I doubt anything I ate was remotely Power Foods. And it was a late dinner the night before weigh-in. And it wasn't even the elusive McRib. Not casting stones at Brandon. He can't help it that he has the metabolism of a marathon runner. And he is cute. But he has been informed that I am to eat a salad or something of a similar nature if we go to a restaurant again between now and the wedding.

My blockades to success this week: My new friend Brandi's wedding; the McRib is rumored to have returned.

Blockades next week: Susan visits; Amped up wedding-prep stress; The Halloween Party!

I gotta prep costumes and Halloween party stuff, make two flower girl dresses, another throwing bouquet, 14 or so goblet candles, garters, favor bags, place cards and signs, cake toppers, and a dozen other things. I can only do two or three of those things with help from others. So I'll be the recluse for a while. Which should help me with the whole dieting thing. :) We'll see. Maybe I'll drop a few stress pounds as well! (Wait, I shouldn't rejoice in that, right?)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Mess Up, A Word of Encouragement

A MESS UP:
In my sneak weigh-in today, I've gained a few pounds. Which means I've messed up somewhere this week. I've had an 80/20 kinda week, with 20% being the on-task on-diet portion. And I've been eating at the house, with one restaurant exception. So it's a combination of portion and food choice. And inactivity. :*(

I will post my weight this Monday, I'll just suck it up and update my Tickers with a higher number if needed. Again. Trying not to get discouraged, but I get so mad at myself for just "not caring" once or twice. It throws the whole week out the window when I do that.

The good thing is that the Simply Filling option of Weight Watchers Points Plus really works, when I stay on it. And I feel stronger and healthier. It's almost identical to the South Beach Diet and the Atkins Lifetime Maintenance Diet, and works for the same reasons.

AWESOME STORY:

I talked to a woman at work recently who I noticed had lost a lot of weight. She was eating a very whole-foods-and-lean-protein lunch. She said she started about a year ago upon some very stringent doctor instructions due to an intolerance to certain foods. She used the South Beach Diet, and lost something like 60lb the first 2 months. As of our discussion, she has lost OVER 130 POUNDS in just under a year!!! That's a whole adult woman, or two hefty kids, or one skinny guy! Holy crap!

There, a Tamara Wake Up Call if ever I heard one! I want to do this BEFORE it turns into a doctor's order, before I'm sick with diabetes and killing myself with eating. And before I have 130 more pounds to lose. I know if I can get down to 200, my risk of EVERYTHING will be lowered by ridiculous percentages. And 74-ish pounds is NOTHING compared to what this woman has done with willpower alone! Goal, here I come!

Monday, October 10, 2011

End of Week 12: Content in Disaster

This week, I hosted some great friends, one of which I hadn't seen in a year due to his deployment overseas. So due to good company, hormonal fluctuation, and way too many non-Power Foods, I feel confident that I made zero progress this week, perhaps even negative progress. In order to curb the morale degradation that I would experience in such a case, I've decided not to post a weigh-in this week.

I have plenty of acceptable foods already prepped and ready to eat. I'm shooting for all Power Foods, all week. Mainly, I just haven't purchased any non-Power Foods for this week. I found a weight-control prepackaged Quaker oatmeal that I'm trying, with no real sugar. Then when I run out of that, I have a canister of the plain stuff. And I'll be making that one with fat-free milk, cinnamon and a bit o' fake sweetener. I have a few weeks worth of oatmeal stocked, I realize. I'm thinking about phasing out of oatmeal after I run out, and shifting to eggs for breakfast. This will cut my carb intake and up my protein, pushing me toward a more protein-and-vegetable diet through the winter.

Also, if I scare myself with a wedding countdown, I'm sure I can get my butt in gear to start exercising as well.

A Note on Spring: I'm excited about Spring because I am planning a garden, starting an orchard (results in 3-5 years, LOL) AND maybe even making a chicken coop to buy some Araucana chickens, which lay green and blue eggs. I figure since I'm pretty much grounded until I'm blessed with doing a book tour, I'd better be productive with it. I loved my fresh garden vegetables so much, I'd be tempted to go vegetarian throughout summer and fall! For those who know me, that's a bold claim. :)

Cuddles,

Tamara

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

RECIPE: Baked Salmon and Avocado Salad

BAKED SALMON AND AVOCADO SALAD:
Behold! The yummy things that await you... (Also, the healing burn from my last photo post!)

1 Haas avocado
1 Baked salmon fillet, seasoned with Cajun Seasoning (See below if you don't have one lying around!)
Cilantro
Lime Juice
Cajun Seasoning

Microwave salmon fillet 1-2 minutes, until hot. Cut Avocado into chunks. Use a fork and knife to tear salmon into chunks. Pile avocado chunks on salmon chunks. Sprinkle with cilantro and a couple splashes of lime juice. Enjoy!

My Avocado Technique: Cut along longest side all around circumference, all the way to the pit. Remove the pit by digging the edge of your knife into the side and prying it out. Take your (dull) knife and slice into exposed fruit to the rind, vertically and then horizontally. Use a spoon to scoop out chunks. Or just invert the rind to pop out the flesh. If you're a worry wort or super-clumsy, scoop out the avocado first, then chunk it up. :)

How to Bake Salmon: Place skinless salmon fillet in glass dish or on aluminum foil in a pan. Sprinkle with Cajun seasoning and lemon juice. Top with a couple pats of butter. Bake at 350 degrees for around thirty minutes.

*Note: This dish is great because the fish is warm and a bit salty, and the avocado has a cooling effect that is a nice flavor contrast as well. It's tastes very light, but fills you up with double the good fatty acids!

*Note 2: Good girls would split this up into half an avocado and half the salmon fillet. I am no such girl. :) I CAN believe that I ate the whole thing! I've been waiting to make this forever!

*Style Note: I guess you could ruin it with lettuce if you had to... But, why would you do that?

Monday, October 3, 2011

20 Pounds Gone = A New Pic!

When I ran out of clean jeans and begrudgingly resorted to an old pair that's a size smaller than I've had to wear for the last two years, AND THEY FIT VERY WELL!!!, I decided that it was time to update Ye Olde Picture. I'm pretty sure that original picture is less of 291 and more toward 300, when I think about it, but it does show a little difference between that one and the new one. I'm wearing the old, skinnier jeans in the updated picture. Kinda cool.

Also, pay no attention to all my nerd-dom on the bookcases behind me. Or do pay attention, if you're a nerd. :)

Cuddles,

Tamara

Sunday, October 2, 2011

End of Week 11: A Shiny Sunday

WEIGH IN AND WEIGHT OUT:

I weighed early today instead of tomorrow because, well, I was very nosy. I weighed in at 271.2 lb. This may be the lowest I've weighed in a long time. That's down 3.6-ish from last week. I also lost 1.5 inches off my hips, which explains the sliding pants issue I've been having.

I'm not overly concerned with this high initial weight loss, because I'd only successfully managed the diet for three days last week. I'm considering it water-weight. This week, I have or will manage a full seven days. So besides being happy about having some weight loss success, I feel great about a whole week of healthier foods. My overall nutrition has improved. Veggies and fruit, lean meat, fat free dairy, and whole grains are simple enough to manage. And this is the first time that I've done what's right for my body.

I've decided if I ever lose more than 4 pounds a week, I need to take in more food. If I lose less than 2 pounds, I need to take in less. At least until I get closer to my goal, when my weight loss will slow naturally. Eventually, I'll get around to upping the exercise to include more than yard work, too!

After my solid weigh-in, re-weigh, then acceptance procedure, I updated my Tickers' chart. Not the best chart, but my little weigh in dot is lower than ever!

Weight Chart

THE SUPER SECRETS OF SUCCESS:

Ready for the super-secrets of this week's success?

1. Don't eat fast food. You don't want it that much, after all, and the points are too high to justify "just a bite." You will binge and then feel like crap.

2. Save your weekly points for the last day or two of the week. Don't squander those points on something you don't really crave! I had a brownie and some Grippos yesterday, and homemade sushi and fried rice earlier in the week. Those were my cravings. And saving the points gives you something to look forward to.

3. Eat whole foods when possible. I still have 10-ish applesauce pouches for emergencies. But I bought two bags of golden and red delicious apples. No bananas this week, just small apples. Two a day at work.

4. Buy frozen or fresh vegetables and fruit and justify eating the fresh ones first because you want to minimize waste. I have a head of lettuce that I bought to use on the refried beans and rice salad. I have bypassed Taco Bell at least twice because 1) I didn't wanna waste the lettuce, for which I'm often guilty and 2) My salad tastes better and is all Power Foods (zero guilt).

5. Limit your variety, but still have variety. I had baked veggies and chicken OR salmon, plus two apples, at work. At home, I ate oatmeal made with fat free milk for breakfast and the refried beans and rice salad OR the frozen stuffed pepper for late dinner. So it's more variety than the prior week and I feel better.

NOTE: I just realized that half the time or more, I accidentally ate a vegetarian meal: the refried beans and rice salad. I guess that helps, too! Hmmm. Suckered myself into that one, which is impressive, considering how glued to the Atkins diet I have been!

Next week, my challenge includes food at the Daniel Boone Festival, which had a rich heritage of celebration and old ladies dressing in cute pioneer costumes. Now, it's a silly carnival with "horrible" carnival food. I am trying to hold all my weekly points for a blooming onion and a funnel cake. Perhaps a gyro, as Susan insists. I doubt I can psychologically manage the baby sheep one, though...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Power Foods Sushi A No-Go

Brandon made the brown rice for me with extra water as I requested for yesterday's experiment. But there was by no means enough starch to even pretend the stuff could stick together enough to make sushi rolls, let alone stand up to slicing and arranging. So I made regular sushi for all of us yesterday and counted off my portion on my points (almost 10 points for two small rolls). I also took a healthy points hit with the fried rice I made (10 points! Ouch!). This meal took the rest of the day to eat, so it was okay. I guess my stomach has shrunk, because after one roll, I was full-ish. The fried rice had to wait until dinner.

I have decided that I could probably do some nice sushi cones using the seaweed and the brown rice with veggies and other yummy stuff. Next time, maybe!

The upside is that I have enough brown rice to spread out in a few meals over a few days. I'll probably make the imitation crab stir fry at some point. 

I've gone five or more days within my daily and weekly food goals, and I feel pretty good about that. I'm weighing myself daily, but I'll only post on Monday mornings. With the shiny digital scale, weigh-in isn't as frustrating and vague. I look forward to Monday's progress report. Just a few days to make some headway!

Monday, September 26, 2011

End of Week 10: Weigh In!

Enter the digital scale and a much less hit-or-miss approach to weighing in! I did lose 0.2 pounds last week, down to 274.8 lb. The previous weight was on the Dial-o-Scale, and my current weight is digital. I may have lost more or less because of the discrepancy between the two, and subsequent lack of accuracy. But the numbers should be more accurate from here on out. About that, I am excited!

My success rate for eating Power Foods last week was only 3 days out of 7, or 43% of the week. Not promising numbers, but bound to improve. I realized that every off-task day puts me a few days behind in my attempt to get the fat furnace burning. This does not bode well for any long term mental or physical success. The fact that I feel better emotionally and physically after a proper day spent on the Simply Filling plan should serve to keep me focused this week. Or rather, I shouldn't have trouble NOT eating what I haven't put in the house or brought to work with me! :)

Yesterday, I realized that I had actually made more progress than I thought since the year's beginning. My awesome discontinued wedding dress (the one I bought in February or March) had a 6 or 8 inch gap in the back when I first tried it on in the store. Or should I say, the zipper was 6 or 8 inches from closing. When I tried on my dress a couple weeks before Melody and Ryan's wedding, we could get it zipped without damaging the dress. Granted, I couldn't breathe much, but I've made my point. I feel better now...

So that's why there's another ticker on the blog now. With a little bride walking to her doom, ahem, I mean walking to her goal. I figure I can realistically and with little health risk lose 16 pounds by the wedding. In so doing, the dress would fit like a dream instead of a vise. So there's my short term goal. 0.2 lb down, 15.8 to go!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

RECIPE: BAKED SALMON

Sorry for the flurry of posts lately. I've just been cooking and baking-- albeit simply-- so much recently that I want to share it all. I'm feeling all domestic today, since I've also washed dishes and done laundry. Today, I baked next week's dinners, with some baked salmon for lunch. So yes, I still baked 3lb of chicken and Baked Veggies, but I also baked two full fillets of salmon, splitting them into four servings. And I'm enjoying a very yummy pre-work lunch today!

BAKED SALMON
(What? Carrots and fat-free Ranch dip don't go with fancy baked salmon? You hush! It was good! My burning mouth says this one's Cajun. If you look closely at my hand, there's a red streak that runs horizontal. It is now a red-rimmed white burn, with a smaller, matching one on the other hand. My first cooking burns since I moved to this house and bought the new oven! I'm very proud of myself, considering my relative clumsiness.)

2 Frozen Wild Caught Salmon Fillets, thawed (OR fresh, if you can get it that way!)
Cajun seasoning
Garlic Salt
Ginger Powder
Lemon Juice
4 Pats of butter or margarine or other fake replacement (I don't count it since the fat addition is nominal and runs into the bottom of the pan anyway.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a glass casserole dish since salmon won't stick to it. My salmon doesn't come with skin, but the skin will slip right off if you bake it skin side down. Cut each fillet in two, or smaller if you prefer, and arrange in dish. Sprinkle Cajun seasoning on two fillets and rub Ginger Powder and Garlic Salt onto the other two. Drizzle a bit of lemon juice on each fillet, and top with halved pats of butter. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until salmon is slightly flaky.

Note: Half a fillet is a serving, says WWPointsPlus, which is about the size of a pack and a half of regular playing cards, or one Rook deck. :D

P.S. I may do a points-splurge on an avocado for tomorrow's dinner so I can get some pictures of the salmon and avocado salad in my meals list. Also, so I can eat it all. Sooo yummy!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

LAZY RECIPE: MEXICAN RICE AND REFRIED BEANS

Easiest protein-rich salad ever, made with leftovers, canned stuff and on-hand things... And even better, it's ALL POWER FOODS! No counting points or messing up for me!

MEXICAN RICE AND REFRIED BEANS:

1/2-1 cup cooked brown rice (leftover from yesterday's stuffed peppers!)
1/2-2/3 cup canned fat-free refried beans
1-2 cups shredded lettuce
1-2 dollops fat-free sour cream 
1 slice fat-free cheese or an ounce shredded fat-free cheese
Seasoning: Chili powder, garlic salt, onion powder, cumin and cilantro
Splash of lime juice, optional (mostly because I set it out and forgot to use it!)

Place beans and rice side by side on a plate or in a medium sized bowl. Leave room for lettuce. Sprinkle both of these with cumin powder and garlic salt. Sprinkle only beans with chili powder and onion powder. Stir beans and mash down. Sprinkle only rice with cilantro. (Not too heavy handed with any of these spices, mind you! Measurements? Silly! Don't you know me better than that?) Cover beans with cheese slice. Microwave for 2-2.5 minutes, or until hot and cheese is melted. 

Splash lime juice on rice and lettuce. 

Pile lettuce on plate or in bowl and add sour cream dollops. 

Dig in! I incorporated lettuce into every bite. Made me feel less naughty. Odd, since every ingredient was a Power Food, and therefore permitted. But it tastes just like the same items in a Mexican restaurant!

Note: If you're making this as a side plate to a meal, you may wanna decrease the amounts. I ate this as a meal. And I ate all of it. With great enjoyment. I'd say my beans portion was double what it should have been, and so was the sour cream. But it was my third meal of the day, dinner if you will. 

Style Note: This could be all artfully arranged and pretty. But I was hungry, and you don't get pictures because it was not pretty. I basically made a fat-free version of the side of rice and beans that comes with fajitas in the local Mexican restaurants. The only thing missing is the pico de gallo. And, as I said, I was hungry, so no fanciness from me this late at night!

NON-RECIPE PROGRESS:

This meal ends a full day without cheating on the diet! No brownies, no Kashi GoLean, no using up non-existent points on fast food, no "Just a bite of this or that", no excuses! It feels good. I think I've only had two days this week that I can truly say this about. I am doing better at making healthier choices, regardless of my frequent faltering. It doesn't hurt that some of my choices are also delicious! 

I bought a digital scale today. If it doesn't cry out in pain and say "one at a time, please", it may work better than the dial-a-scale I've been using. At least it'll be more consistent and precise. I won't be able to adjust my posture and gain or lose pounds with this one! :D 

So, weight loss or no come Monday morning, I've gotten... somewhere. I don't know where yet, but I think it's good for my lifelong change more than my short-term weight loss.

Cuddles,
Tamara

Friday, September 23, 2011

RECIPE: BROWN RICE AND BEEF STUFFED PEPPERS

BROWN RICE AND BEEF STUFFED PEPPERS





4 Red Bell Peppers
4 Green Bell Peppers
1-2 lb Lean Ground Beef
1 can tomato sauce
1 can Rotello, your choice of heat
1 yellow onion, diced
Pepper trimmings, diced (see below)
Italian seasoning, Cajun seasoning, Seasoned Salt, Garlic, Pepper
5-6 cups cooked brown rice
6-8 slices or 8oz shredded fat-free cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut off tops of all bell peppers, remove membranes and seeds, trim pepper strips off of pepper caps and dice those (a habit I picked up to avoid being a wasty-waster), dry bell peppers with a paper towel and invert on another paper towel to drain inside.

Dump all ingredients except beef, whole peppers, cheese and rice into a bowl and mix. Season this mixture to taste with above seasonings. (I make mine a bit too hot, pre-rice and pre-meat, so it turns out just right with those things added in!) Stir in two cups of rice. Reserve half of this mixture in a freezer bag and use it next time you make this dish.

Add beef to remaining tomato base, combining thoroughly with your hands (like meatloaf, without the bread products) and set aside. (Hands too dirty for pic. Ewww!)

Arrange your bell peppers in the baking dish(es) so that they are sitting fairly level. Roll up aluminum foil as a prop if your peppers will not sit up on their own. Add 1/2-1 slice of cheese (or 1 oz shredded) to the bottom of each bell pepper.

Top with 1/3 cup brown rice. Press down firmly with a spoon or your fingers. Divide meat mixture into 8 portions and press into peppers. If you're a measurer, it was about 2/3 of a cup of meat mixture for each pepper, because I have large meal-sized peppers.

(With brown rice added and a whole slice of fat free Mozzarella wrapped around the inside. See the nifty foil ring?)
(With the meat mixture crammed in. Added a green pepper strip. Yes, I made a worm in the apple reference. But it was cute until it burnt in the cooking process.)

Pour a water bath halfway up your baking container or halfway up the side of your dish, whichever is shallower. This will help the peppers cook, keep them from sticking (much) and keep everything moist and un-burnt.

(Ha! Action pic!)

Bake FOREVER!!! I time it at an hour and check 15 minutes after that. After an hour and 15 minutes, the meat was fully cooked (the part that can make you sick) but the peppers were still more crisp than I would like. (But I had to head out to work! Done is good!) You'll know it's close to being finished when the meat mixture pulls away from the pepper and expands upward. And when the pepper gets wrinkly.

Note: Even if you make this with non-Power Foods, it would still only be 9 WWPointsPlus Points. But if you're doing the Simply Filling option and use all Power Foods, and stick to one of this recipe's huge peppers as your meal, then you don't even count the points!

Note 2: These also freeze and nuke exceptionally well. I made a pouch out of aluminum foil and placed the wrapped pepper in a freezer bag after it was completely cool. When you want one, just unwrap it and pop it in the microwave. My half-pepper nuke time was around 5 minutes, so these whole peppers will definitely take longer.

Style Note: I accidentally on purpose used a half-slice of Pepper Jack in each of the green peppers. I'll just count it as a couple extra weekly points when I eat those. Trust me, if these are yummy as they smell, it'll be worth it! My eyes are burning out from the baking of so many peppers.

Style Note 2: When I make "normal" stuffed peppers (not the ones I've made for WW), I use crackers and ketchup in the meat mixture, plus instead of a water bath, they get tomato sauce with a tiny bit of water mixed in. And I periodically dump this mixture over the baking (or stovetop cooking) peppers.

Style Note 3: Avoid putting any cheese ON TOP of the peppers while they're baking. It'll burn. Wait til the end. Yes, I know, "DUH!". But I have moments, too. Don't place any cheese on top if you plan on freezing, either. That'll just form a partially-edible leather shield between you and the food you wanna eat. :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Zero-Out Kinda Day

The SORTA BAD BUT ACCEPTABLE news:

Brandon and I celebrated our 9 year dating anniversary-- a couple days late-- yesterday. We ate Japanese food. And I didn't go all Power Foods. But the damage is done. 

6 Lobster Rangoon 6pts + 
Miso Soup 2pts
Salad with very little dressing 2pts
Hibachi Chicken 2pts
Vegetables 3pts
Fried Rice 6pts +
Spring roll 5pts

...and a Blizzard from Dairy Queen. 15 +

I just busted my weekly points in celebration. I had to deduct Power Foods amounts from other ingredients to get the right numbers. Everything I ate totaled around 41 points. Even though it took me all day to eat this stuff, I'm still kicking myself. If I hadn't had the Blizzard, for instance, I wouldn't have gone over my weekly points at all. But I'm going to live with it. There's no weight-loss seppuku in my future. I'm proud of myself for not despairing and throwing in the towel this time. There's just no benefit to a negative mentality. I'm not just on a diet, I'm changing my lifestyle. And that takes time to get right.

The GOOD news:

Since my work week starts today, and I won't be shopping, dining out, or socializing for at least a week, I don't detect any threats to my diet until then. By then, I'll have my points back. :) Theoretically, I can eat all Power Foods from now through at least Monday. I'll just replace my morning Kashi GoLean (1 unopened box left) with oatmeal for the remainder of this week. Yum. (Kashi GoLean was on sale for 2.99 at Kroger. I almost re-stocked. But since it's not a Power Food, I'm cutting it out for now, since relegating it to "occasional snack" would render it stale. So after this one box, I'm finished!)

I also replaced my dressing with fat-free sour cream, a Power Food. I used a low calorie Ranch powder packet in the sour cream and bought baby carrots, which I split into serving-size snack bags. In case you're wondering, a three-ounce serving of baby carrots is almost precisely 8 baby carrots. It's not that I'm OCD. I just read the bag, noted the servings contained, got out the 10 snack bags and started separating carrots one by one into the bags. And ended up with 8 in each bag plus three. That's not all that obsessive, I think. :D

I bought some great red and green bell peppers on the cheap, so Power Foods stuffed peppers are in the future. These freeze and nuke exceedingly well, so I may stockpile them. I'm also breakin' out the salmon for a Cajun bake this weekend. I have lettuce and bought fat-free refried beans for later on, to try my shell-less "Faux-Taco" salad. Very exciting stuff!

Cuddles,
Tamara


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

WW SIMPLY FILLING RECIPE LIST

After posting that monster list of Power Foods the other day, I realized that I had quite a few meal possibilities. So I doodled another list yesterday-- a list of potential meals. I made an informal, long-term meal plan which should be fairly foolproof. We'll see. As I make these things, I'll post some pictures and recipes.

  1. Fish, imitation crab, or meat & teriyaki/soy sauce stir fry with brown rice and veggies.
  2. Baked or grilled fish or meat & grilled or baked veggies.
  3. Sushi prepped with only Power Foods. (This one will be experimental!)
  4. Pinto beans and onions with sauerkraut and greens. (The stay outta the office meal!)
  5. Refried beans on salad with tomato, perhaps avocado, and a dollop of fat-free sour cream.
  6. Salads with veggies, fat free cheese and zero dressing.
  7. Baked or grilled or seared wild-caught salmon & avocado chunks tossed salad with cilantro and lime juice. (This is sooo good, and very simple!)
  8. Tuna salad with mayo, avocado salad, or salad with fat-free deli meats.
  9. Chicken or lean beef stuffed peppers with brown rice
  10. Lean meatloaf with brown rice.
  11. Spaghetti meatloaf casserole (Sounds horrible for healthy eating, but I’ll healthify it!)
  12. Spaghetti & meat sauce with fat-free parmesan cheese. Or simple parmesan pasta.
  13. Baked green beans, carrots, and any other veggie I can throw together!
  14. Eggs: boiled, deviled, fried, with salsa & sour cream…
  15. Oatmeal prepared with fat free milk and cinnamon.
  16. Less simple snacks: Sour cream dip with veggies, baked apple with cinnamon, grilled banana in milk, carrots—fried and sweetish.
  17. Kashi GoLean with fat-free milk and banana. Mmmm…
  18. Of course, the ever-simple grab-n-go fruit, vegetable or piece of cooked meat. 
 I don't think I'll feel too deprived with this list backing up my resolve. :) Many of the meals can be made cheaply in large batches and components can be frozen. Some components can make several different meals at once or over a few days. And other options are ready-made or quick to make. This'll save time, money and my wavering resolve as I drive past Taco Bell on the way home to waiting food.

I'm down to two fast-food meals I can lean on if I must eat fast-food: Wendy's chili and a side salad (and a dab of fat-free sour cream!), or McDonald's grilled chicken and a side salad (maybe I'll make some fat-free sour cream Ranch for this, too.).

I am still only partly joking about planning a week of eating only watermelon. (Cuz it's a Power Food!) It may kill me, but what a way to go!

A Little (AWESOME) Victory

As of that last bite of post-work, midnight oatmeal, I made it through one day of the WW Simply Filling program WITHOUT CHEATING!!! And I feel pretty dang good about it, too. :)

I ate Kashi and fat-free milk, a side salad and piece of grilled chicken from McD's, baked chicken and veggies for lunch at work, two applesauces, 1 Diet Rite, 1 fake-sweetened powder pouch and water, oatmeal made with fat-free milk, and all kinds of water.

Points-wise, I guess it rounds out at about 30, which is well below my previous level of WW messing up. As I bring in more variety, it'll be a challenge. But for now, I'll stick with what I know I can manage. So far today, I've declined Brandon's snacks, bologna, nasty Teddy Grahams, a real Mtn Dew from the machine, and the Taco Bell drive-thru. Pretty snazzy!

I think the secret will be in measuring portion sizes of each item I can eat. At work, I can only eat what I bring, which averaged out to about 4 ounces of chicken and a cup and a half or less of cooked veggies. And I was satiated. For at-home meals, I can do the same thing: break up all my cooking (immediately) into serving-size containers. Tomorrow... I buy more containers!

Such a small accomplishment has made my day!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

End of Week 9: WW Simply Filling

I had a Weight Watchers-unfriendly breakfast of epic homemade-gravy-biscuit-bacon proportions in celebration of my 275 lb weigh in. Three pounds up, and I know it was the half-hearted dieting attempt of this past week. So today, I am eating the delicious breakfast of shame. Now I'm out of White Lily flour, and with no reason to buy more, I can start the Simply Filling option of Weight Watchers that I discussed in my supplemental log.

As over-full of heavy food as I am right now, I think that it'll be refreshing to eat simply next week. I'll still keep my food journal, and I'll count points for my non-Power Foods. I may even count points daily of the food I eat, to see how the restrictions impact my daily points intake. I'm sure I can eat until I'm satisfied on fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and fat-free dairy and take in less than 50-100 carbs per day and stay under 29 daily points total. (I'm suspicious that, by design, this reminds me of Atkins Lifetime Maintenance. But as I said before, effective is effective, no matter the name!)

Plus, I've got 5 days worth of lunch-at-work meals left that consist of baked chicken breast and roasted broccoli & onions. And I'm prepped to make more, maybe even throw in some baked Cajun salmon and pork tenderloin stir fry next time I cook.

I'm planning on eggs for breakfast for the protein, a fruit and some applesauce plus the baked chicken lunch at work, and probably some type of veggies and protein for late-dinner. I may have to finish off the Kashi GoLean cereal in early morning, have a light fried egg "lunch", eat at work, and skip the late-dinner (since I often work until 10pm or later). It's bad to eat late at night, anyway. I think it's just compulsive to eat "dinner" when one gets home from work.

Also, I hate yogurt. No gettin' around it. I tried the healthy options. It's a textural thing. And a taste thing. And a cultured-milk-product thing. And my stomach has the what-the-heck reaction it often reserves for Mexican and Chinese entrees. I'd rather take a horse-pill probiotic than eat that crap.

I went through my book and listed the Power Foods I'd most likely eat, leaving out the rest. And what I came up with was a pretty extensive list of readily-available things I can buy locally or order at the Japanese place. (Mmmmm... white tuna sashimi!) And if I commit to the simplicity of my meal plan, leaning on stir fry, baking, and the like, I'll still have a huge number of meal combinations I can do. Likely, I'll have a "meat and vegetable combo of the week" and make enough food to last 7 meals. I'm okay with that. My "variety" is probably eventual, and much different from your "variety"! :)

Here's the list. I can eat all of these things:


  1. LEAN PROTEIN:
    1. Egg
    2. Beef, trimmed or lean
    3. Chicken breast
    4. Pintos
    5. Wild-caught Salmon
    6. Tuna, canned or steak
    7. Lean Ham
    8. Pork
    9. Imitation crab
    10. Scallops
    11. Turkey
    12. Venison
    13. Sashimi: no Mackerel or Salmon
  2. NON-FAT DAIRY:
    1. Fat-free cheese
    2. Fat-free sour cream
    3. Fat-free milk
  3. ALL FRUIT:
    1. Apples
    2. Applesauce, unsweetened
    3. Watermelon
    4. Banana
  4. VEGGIES:
    1. Green beans
    2. Broccoli
    3. Carrots
    4. Celery
    5. Cucumber
    6. Hominy
    7. Lettuce
    8. Mushrooms
    9. Onion
    10. Peppers
    11. Tomatoes and tomato pastes/purees/canned
    12. Zucchini
  5. GRAINS:
    1. Oatmeal
    2. Brown rice
    3. Whole wheat pasta

NOT POWER FOODS 49 weekly points allocated for: Kashi GoLean cereal, Avocados, Dressings & Condiments, including Mayo, Puddin’ and Chocolatey things, Grippos, Prepared Foods, Most Fast-food. Use Points daily or save for special meal!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tama's-Log, Supplemental: Things I Learned

Apparently, unsweetened applesauce is zero points. My kiddie applesauce ingredient list is "Apples, Apple Juice" or "Apples, Cinnamon". No refined sugar in there! Therefore, my applesauce now falls in the zero points category with bananas. :)

Also, I read up on the Simply Filling option for Weight Watchers Points Plus. This option limits my food options considerably to 1. Fat-free dairy, 2. Lean Protein, and 3. Fruits and Veggies, plus low-fat whole wheat bread, the latter of which doesn't interest me. For any foods not in this category, I would deduct those point values from my weekly overage allowance of 49 points.

The concept is that, other than the vitamins and minerals crap, all the lean protein stabilizes your blood glucose, keeping you full longer, and the other stuff is filling and provides fiber, which, uh, does what fiber does. :D And you eventually eat less and less because you stop when you're full, so your smaller body will need less and less.

Sounds a lot like South Beach Diet or Atkins' Lifetime Maintenance to me, which is fine. A healthier lifestyle by any name is still a healthier lifestyle. With the exception of my Kashi Go Lean (not a Power Food), when I'm not screwin' up, I'm pretty much only eating Power Foods anyway. So maybe I'm complicating a simple concept. If the only points I have to count are Kashi GoLean, and the occasional Ranch dressing, I may switch my plan and just do Simply Filling.

I may try it next week to gauge my likelihood of success. :)

Also, my next weight-loss mini goal is 13lb, 5% down from 272 lb. 72 pounds just looked a little large to me, so I'm breakin' it down for now. That means my weigh-in goal is 259 lb. I can't really remember the last time I was in the 250 range, so this is an exciting checkpoint to attempt. I'd like to reach this one before my wedding on 11-11-11, a little under two months from now.

Opinions are appreciated!

Cuddles,

Tamara