Tuesday, August 30, 2011


During this past work week, I ate whole vegetables, "low-flavor" baked chicken, cereal and milk, and some snacks while at work. But for dinner, because I was working during the daytime for that week only, I sort of cooked. I baked a very healthy pizza. Today I'm making some low-carb stuffed red peppers. So I thought I should share. 

But I give you fair warning: the points values I give are based on what's in the WWPP book. I'm still losing weight on ballpark figures, and I'm just starting out, so I know I'm not accurately counting some of it. Substitute healthier options when you can, like wheat pizza crust instead of regular. Also, leftovers are your friend!


(Not low carb, really, but it is very easy to make. It yields 8 slices at only 5 WW Points per slice!)

3-4 oz Leftover baked or grilled chicken, plain, crumbled or diced
1/2 cup prepared pizza sauce
1 pkg pizza crust mix
2 tablespoons Real Bacon bits, or three slices bacon, crumbled
1 fresh banana pepper, large, cut into rings(or a serving of the jarred stuff)
3 spring or green onions, washed, trimmed and diced on the bias (or a half of a yellow onion, diced)
8 oz mozzarella cheese slices (or shredded)
2 tbs olive oil
Italian Herb Seasoning

Preheat oven to crust mix package directions for regular pizza. Prepare crust according to package directions, usually by frantically stirring in 1/2 cup hot water and using your hands to ball the dough up and press in all the remaining powder, like picking up bits of Play-Doh. Roll it into a ball, smear a tbs of olive oil over all the surface with your hands, and cover. Let it sit for 5 minutes.

While you're dirty, smear the remaining olive oil all over the surface of your pizza pan. Twiddle your thumbs for the remaining 5 minutes, or cut up your veggies if you haven't already. Now take your dough ball, splat it in the middle of your pie pan, and pinch and knead it out to the edges of your pizza pan. The oil on the outside of the dough makes this easier. Try to keep the thickness uniform. 

Now add toppings. Pour half the sauce in the center and smear over surface with a spoon. Leave at least a quarter inch of dough so you can see when you've burnt it! :) Add three slices of mozzarella on top of this, sorta like a pinwheel. Anal-retentively place the chicken all over the surface of the sauce, then drizzle remaining sauce. Then add the banana peppers, then the onions. Sprinkle bacon evenly over the thing. Tear up the mozzarella into squares and arrange on top of this. Finish with a sprinkling of Italian seasoning, and perhaps a smattering of Parmesan. 

Bake until exposed crust is crispy, almost burnt (seriously) and cheese is melted. Cut into eight slices. Pig out at 5 points per slice. It also tastes dreamy cold. 

(If they're gonna sucker me into eating more vegetables by making them all zero points, then I deserve to enjoy it! Red peppers on sale, so looks like my vegetable o' the week now! These are all half-measurements because I made spaghetti and meat sauce with the other half of the meat and onions mixture. Each serving will be between 9 and 12 points, depending on prep and ingredients.)

1/2 lb chuck or mostly lean ground beef
1/4 roll of Italian sausage (the WW Points wild card. Didn't factor this into the points.)
1/2 yellow or sweet onion, diced
1/2 banana pepper (still have one more fresh one left for pizza number 2!)
1/2 can spaghetti sauce (get healthy stuff if you want, but I didn't discriminate!)
2 medium to large red peppers
Olive oil
Italian seasoning and garlic powder
Mozzarella cheese slices, 4
Parmesan cheese for sprinklies! 

Brown all meat. Drain if needed (mine was very lean). Add onion and banana pepper. Stir on low-medium heat until onions are translucent. Add seasoning, garlic, and sauce. Stir and simmer until ready to use. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice red peppers in two vertically, carefully cutting around the stem. Remove membrane and seeds, rinse thoroughly and pat dry. Line dark pan with aluminum foil, or oil glass dish, and place pepper halves side-by-side, skin side down. Pour a small amount of oil in each pepper "cup" and smear around inside. Bake at 400 degrees for 7-10 minutes until soft. Remove from oven and fill according to below:

Place a half slice of mozzarella into bottom of each pepper cup. Divide meat mixture into four portions and fill pepper cups. Place remaining half-slice of mozzarella on top of meat mixture. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. 

Style Note: If your red (or green or yellow or orange or purple) peppers are small and globe-shaped, you would use a whole pepper for each serving and just cut off the cap instead of slicing vertically. I just bought these large peppers on sale and they were not the "ideal" pepper shape. They wouldn't have set upright. Also, the mozzarella on top browned into a crust of sorts. If you don't like the crusty cheese on pizza, I would suggest that you wait until the last five minutes of cooking to add it.

Other Note: This is not my usual stuffed pepper, which consists of using a whole green pepper vertically and filling with my meatloaf mixture and way more tomato sauce, ketchup and crushed crackers. Nor did I use rice like I've read in other recipes, even though it's tasty too. I wanted a lower-carb, meaty version and this is what I came up with. It's deceptive. It looks really yummy and bad for me! :)

Both of these meals cost me 5 or 6 dollars each to make, and that's for all servings, not just per serving. In the case of the pizza, I even have leftover sauce, bacon, chicken, and banana pepper to go toward making it again! So I just bought a few more packs of the crust mix on sale for 40 cents a piece. For the stuffed peppers at the same price, I doubled the meat mixture for use as spaghetti sauce. I prepared some wheat pasta I already had and there's another couple of meals to eat for pennies more. 


I just realized that I ate lunch at work all week for less than about 3 dollars a day, and that's for baked chicken, applesauce, celery, Ranch dressing, fat-free pudding cup, and cereal and milk. Pretty snazzy. And if I buy the non-produce stuff when it's grouped and on sale, I save even more. But that's math, and well, ya know...

On a full late-shift work schedule, I can also eat breakfast, a pre-work snack, a first break snack, lunch (the veggies and chicken), a 2nd break snack, and something small when I get home. That's the six meals I was going for to keep me from slipping into hypoglycemia. Hmmm. Worked out without me realizing it!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

End of Week 6: A Little Early, But...

I thought I'd write a bit early for week 6, since I start working my late, late shift tomorrow. My weigh-in today hovers between 275 and 274 pounds. I shaved off just under 6 pounds since starting Weight Watchers Points Plus this past Monday. I know it's all water weight, but I can't help but be excited!

Six days in a row of work, plus limited food access and following the diet according to my prior specifications, helped me to force some progress.

When you're tethered to a headset taking calls, you can't run out for food or even a bathroom break without permission. It's like being attached to a ball and chain in a prison yard. But the hardest part of working is the sitting. I spent the last couple of jobs in a fairly active environment, if nothing else. Teachers-- at least the hard-working ones-- don't have time to sit during class. Other than trying to avoid carpal tunnel, I'm going to have to work on a lot more standing-while-working, if I can get away with it. I just can't stand the numb-or-sore-from-sitting butt. This means I'll have to be extra-active outside work. I did strength training every day this week. I'll update on that later.

I mentioned ages ago that my key to effective eating habits is repetition. I had celery (0 points) with Ranch dressing, plus Cheerios and milk for lunch. For a snack, I'd have a fat-free pudding cup or a serving of no-sugar-added applesauce. I'm drinking Diet Rite, water, and the occasional energy-water additive. I'm on a chicken kick this week. I even made an awesome homemade chicken pizza with fresh vegetables at 5 points per slice. I ate within my points at a couple restaurants, too.

Here's the quick how: I only count 29 points. I am not officially counting overage points that are permitted. Occasionally, I have gone over by a few points. But I know my threshold is so much higher at my current weight that I don't count them. (So there is where my overage points are coming in. I'm just tricking myself into thinking I'm cheating just a bit... Man, I can be dumb sometimes!) The "cheating" I'm doing has to be my list of approved foods. None of Brandon's skinny-kid-who-eats-what-he-wants food...

As I lose more weight, I'll stick closer and closer to the 29 points. But honestly, I don't think I went over 35 or 40 on my really rough day. (Did I mention that pizza was GOOD???) Now, I'm fasting for Brandon's Mom's chicken and dumplings this afternoon, finally. :) Yum!

Monday, August 22, 2011

End of Week 5: A Thoughtful Retraction

I haven't made it into ketosis. I stopped trying mid-week, when my body rejected the attempt with a veritable landslide of various physiological "opinions." I did weigh in, and I'm back at 280. While I don't feel so hot about that, I am going to follow my own advice. I will try something else. My Weight Watchers Points Plus books have to earn their keep, as I don't want to use them as doorstops anymore.

Today was my first day of work since May, at a non-teaching job. Now that I'm back at a full time job, my day will have a lot more structure and a lot less snack access. I spent all day at work and ate the following:

Three pieces of deli ham (now I'm out...) for breakfast

Lunch was 1.5 Cups Honey Nut Cheerios and a cup of whole milk, plus a fat free pudding cup.

Then there was the experimental dinner: I made miso soup, broccoli with soy sauce, and three smoked salmon-and-avocado rolls wrapped in nori sheets for dinner. The nori sheets quickly became rubbery, as they are wont to do in the presence of moisture. And the smoked salmon was too salty and, perhaps because of the combination with the rubber-seaweed, had a gross, squishy texture. (Blah! The remaining pouch of smoked salmon will be doled out in some real sushi rolls later this week. I can't stomach another mess like today's!)

Plus, I drank two Diet Rites and a Diet Dr. Pepper. Now I'm chugging water.

Since I can't get the Weight Watchers Points Plus Calculator (don't wanna talk about it), I'm doing the following with WW's glorified calorie diet:

I'm starting at the base points value: 29. It's the only set number in the weight loss process. Theoretically, no one goes below this number, even those with a lot to lose. My initial starting point for Points Plus was in the 40s. If I can get through the hunger part, then starting at a lower value should give me some short-term (a few months instead of years) results without any ill-received reactions from my body. And should I get closer to my goal weight and still maintain the number 29, the weight loss will slow naturally.

I'm sick of breaking promises to myself, so I'm taking this one day at a time. All that food today, and I still have a few points left for some applesauce later! :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

End of Week 4: Ketosis Reboot Underway!

Yesterday, I posted a supplemental log once I realized why my body wasn't in ketosis. Or at least, some theories regarding why. That means all of the new week 4 was a bust, as far as weight loss progress goes. I, the whiny stickler for how simple the Atkins approach should be, was messing up on the basic foundation of Induction!

So I'm sorry: I'll privately record my lack of progress and spare you the numbers this week. Starting today, I'm trying the right, carb-controlled way to make this happen. By next Monday, the first day of my new CSR job, I should be in ketosis. If not, I've either messed up again or become resistant. That latter one would require a different approach, though.

I will intentionally break one of the Atkins Induction rules, though. I'm going to exercise this week, weakness and all. It'll be the last week I can afford to be foggy-headed or very tired. (Except for the chunks of time I spend on finishing the novel. I'll just do that before I exercise.)

I still have onions, and even a few avocados. These need to be eaten. But I'll just limit them. No problem, right? Right? :D

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tama's Log, Supplemental: Where I Screwed Up on Atkins

I dug around today and I think I've figured it out.

At least, in part...

1. ONIONS: I was eating too many carbs in the form of onions. Every time I ate tuna salad, I would eat maybe a half-cup of onions in it. Plus, I ate onion slices on the hamburgers I ate and chopped onions in the taco salad I made. I incorrectly looked at net carbs instead of whole carbs and miscalculated. 1/4 cup of onion is 2.8g NET carbs, and over 4 full carbs! I was eating about an onion a day, at around 14 carbs!!

2. RANCH DRESSING: Because I thought I was doing so well on my carb count, I also splurged on Ranch at 1 carb per tablespoon. And a few tablespoons later, plus my onion binge, and I was over 20 carbs on just those two items.

3. OLIVES: Olives have some un-displayed carb content, and I ate ten at a time. Their sodium content would have affected me as well.

4. UNMEASURED STUFF: If I'm still eating a lot of calories, it doesn't matter how low my carbs are in the first few days. I didn't measure mayo or meat portion sizes or butter. I ate more eggs than I needed. This probably didn't help.

5. DELI SLICES AND CHEESE: Okay, okay, Doc Atkins. Zero displayed carbs doesn't mean zero impact on blood sugar and ketosis induction. Gotcha. I'll quit the first and limit the second.

6. ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS: Splenda in my Diet Rite may have little impact on my blood sugar, but it does keep me accustomed to the taste of "sugar". Maybe this makes me more prone to eat bad things.

This is all I can think of now. I'll take it into consideration when I jump into Monday morning.

Tama's Log, Supplemental: The Definition of Experiment

After my sneak-weigh-in, I know I'm not making much of an improvement on Monday's official weigh-in. But I wanted to grab my shoulders and shake myself because of this whole bottoming out thing I do when I don't make progress (which is more often than not lately!).

Things I know, in compulsive list form:

1. I must experiment with different approaches to see what works for my body.
2. The nature of experimentation is that it DOES NOT guarantee expected results.
3. Not sticking with each approach for at least a week skews results.
4. I'm getting discouraged, not with the approaches, but with my lack of adherence to my own simple rules!
5. I know that although I tout the Atkins approach that it is not a fast-and-easy magic device.
6. I'd rather shoot myself in the foot rather than give up again.
7. I'm open to suggestions that are not simply "Just do a calorie diet" or "Just move around more." These suggestions both nauseate and discourage me, as nothing about my experiences has involved the word "just" as if something is simple.

About this week, a confessional:

I fasted the first two days, unintentionally. Just got busy. I know... very stupid. Days three and four were restaurant days. I think I just ate once on each day. Yesterday I worked in Mom's basement and they got pizza for me, which tasted awesome. I also ate chocolate. Didn't fathom counting calories this day. Today, I've eaten two sandwiches, some chocolate, and some spaghetti. So how Sunday could turn the week around, I don't know.

I feel like I'm falling back into old patterns, and I'm not going to call this "getting back on track" or a "reboot" or anything so cliche. It's just a struggle. I wonder if I'm fighting myself or something else. I don't feel any particular addiction to food, except for the occasional emotional episode. I can live off of a little or a lot.

So I'll continue struggling, and when I hit the stride of continual progress, I'll be content. Until then, until then.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mid-Week 4: Ketosis Fizzle

I've been pretty Atkins-strict for a week until yesterday. I ate a Brandon's-Momma meal of mostly carbs, but expected my ketosis to carry me through to the next day, when I jumped back on the strictness again. This is how it has worked before for me. You eat bad foods on Atkins, you have serious temporary, ah, consequences for tipping a very fragile balance. :)

I even weighed in yesterday morning a few days early and have lost another pound! I'm at 175 now! If yesterday didn't hurt me a lot. (No scales til next week!) So the letdown of the day is that I tested for ketosis, which I was pretty sure would be super-obviously-chuggin'-along after a week. But I got nothing. Nada. Zilch. And other words that mean the same.

A negative for ketosis after a week of Atkins means the strips aren't workin', or more probably that I'm doing something wrong. Barring faulty testing strips or hormonal barriers, I should be in ketosis. At almost thirty, my physiology may be changing. I may not be calculating my carbs right. I don't count just net carbs, I count ALL carbs. And I may just be eating too many calories, which I've never experienced on Atkins. But I coulda messed up. Dunno. Don't really care about my body's excuse. Gonna try harder.

So I'm just going to grind to a halt-- like my metabolism-- and do a reboot today. I revised my charts and will dive right in again. This is what I'm going to change to get into ketosis. Seems simple enough:

  1. Control Portions
  2. Measure ALL Carbs
  3. Cut out Deli
  4. Strength and Cardio EVERY DAY
  5. Eat mostly MEAT, EGGS
  6. VERY few veggies

Here's my new chart, with things I can eat, water and exercise tickers, and a place to count carbs:












So there it is. An oops of a week. I was trying, and somehow sorta losing weight. Hopefully this will get me into ketosis so that I can jumpstart my weight loss. I'll let you know how it goes.

NOTE: A quarter of my goal weight loss since January is pretty good, no? But I can't dwell on past tiny victories with the big victory looming another 75 pounds down the road. I said no bull crap, right? Well, now I've got the anger to back up the focus. Stupid body, not doin' what it is told!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

End of Week 3: Franken-Fast!

My diet survived the Lexington trip with Ryan and Melody yesterday! The "HOT!" light was on at Krispy Kreme as we drove by, and though I faltered, Ryan did not pull over. A definite save! But I finished up most of my wedding shopping. Now all I gotta buy are odds and ends, like cups...

At home, I'm sticking pretty close to the Franken-Fast plan I laid out a few weeks ago. But the diet is taking on increasingly Atkins leanings. I'm just doing a mostly-lean-meat-and-veggies Atkins diet. I haven't had any of the broth-based soups, though they're permissible. I've been limiting my cheese. My carb counts have stayed below 10g a day when I'm home and 20 if I leave the house.

For breakfast, I ate an order of eggs and a couple sausage slices from McD's. I ate lunch at a roadhouse/steakhouse place. I ordered an 8oz sirloin steak cooked medium-well that came with a tiny grilled lobster tail. For my sides, I had two grilled vegetable skewers and, of course, lobster-dippin' butter. (Like I said, Atkins dieting...) I'm not a steak-eating girl, but this stuff was really good! I coulda done with more lobster (size-wise it was about as big as a tiger prawn) but I'll wait until I end up at a more coastal place to eat it again. Meh. Felt kinda guilty eating so "well", but Ryan reminded me that I'm doing Atkins. :) I guiltily ate all of my food plus one bite of the rice pilaf. Bleh. Plus, I drank 2 large diet drinks and water all day. I didn't feel much of the caffeine effects. Maybe I was running it off while shopping? Lunch lasted until 1am this morning. The whole hunger-suppression thing plus a big meal, I guess. 

Oh! I'm keeping you from my progress report! My weight is now 276 (bordering on 277. Time to buy a digital scale!). That's about 4lb down from last week, which is awesome! Half of my measurements dropped less than an inch, and the other half did not change. 

I don't feel drained or tired. I'm sleeping well and waking earlier. I am generally not hungry and don't feel the feed-me! headache until I've just waited too long to eat. I'm drinking plenty of water and Diet Rite. I still have some psychological cravings, but few if any physical cravings for food. So I've mostly broke my carb habit. With my new real-world-non-teaching job starting a week earlier than I expected, I'm getting the new habits in place early on. 

I need to pick up my exercise again, though, since I've slacked. And my yard work efforts have resulted in a smattering of poison ivy allergy here and there, which is uncomfortable but tolerable. This has nothing to do with my eating habits. I'm just angry at the stuff. The splotchy calamine-d look and random itching does not impress me. 

My goals are to gear up for exercise now and to effect an even larger weight loss next week. (More water weight to lose!) I'm giving myself permission to eat multiple servings of lean meat if I need it and tightly controlling my carb intake. Melody and Ryan may even start Atkins after this week, which will be fun.

There I am, healthier bit by bit. It's a long road ahead, but the progress week by week (and day by day!) makes it worthwhile. Things like declining the super-brownie from Little Debbie are mini-victories, and Brandon has been duly scolded about offering such devil food! :D Can't wait to update here next week!