Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Week 4 - You Get Out What You Put In

So here I am, four weeks later and no real pounds lost. I weigh myself every day and I'm down two pounds and back up two pounds. I'm going nowhere. However, I can note one major change and improvement - no headaches! I usually get about 1-2 migraines a month and a bevy of smaller headaches. Is it the decrease in chemicals flowing through my veins? Maybe so. I've eliminated a lot of them and tried to make a real effort to cook cleaner with more raw ingredients, but I've got a lot more work to do. But this is one side effect I can actually live with - at this point the weight loss is secondary, as long as I don't get debilitating headaches.

Remember that old adage, "you are what you eat?" It's SO true! If you eat a bag of Doritos laden with MSG, hydrogenated oils and other nasty preservatives, you're body doesn't know what to do with all that crap. It fights back, your liver is struggling to soak up the nastiness and your blood vessels start to dilate and cause intense pain in your skull. On the other hand, eat an apple and piece of string cheese and you're full from the fiber and protein.
I have actual proof that chemicals and sugary bad foods alter behavior in children. I never give my kids sugary drinks or soda, in fact at five years of age, I still water down my daughter's juice glass. I buy only 100% organic juice. Yesterday, my 3 1/2 year old was playing at a neighbor's house. They helped themselves to their fridge and drank a large Sunny D squirt bottle. Thirty minutes later my daughter was a total screamy mess, throwing herself on the ground for no apparent reason. I hadn't told her no to anything or scolder her, she was just unable to control her emotions all of the sudden. She complained her legs hurt and she couldn't walk. She screamed for over half an hour. Now my daughter can be fairly headstrong and determined, like most 3-year olds, but this was over the top, out of her normal range of tantrums. I am blaming the corn syrup solids, canola oil, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives in this bottle 'o nastiness. You get out what you put in.
One more thing to add to this week's post. The Basement Bootcamp started yesterday! I had a couple of friends come over and I led an aerobic exercise class for 47 minutes in my basement.  I used to teach classes eons ago, so I just put together a routine and off we went. I felt great during and after the class. I can't really get motivated to exercise and push my limits by myself. So, I thought getting a group together would be the best way to get me moving and motivated. It's working!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Week 3 - The Myth of Martha

I was watching a television show last night where a popular stylist wanted to cook the perfect Passover Seder for her family and friends. She wanted it all to be like Martha Stewart - perfectly polished silver, warm comforting foods served in mix and match coordinating dinnerware, and a spic & span house. She pulled it off, but is that reality television? What did they hide from us - what was not shown??  I mean, she has make-up and hair stylists, house cleaners, a personal assistant and a bevy of other people standing at her beck and call to perform any inane duty should she ask.
The reality of it is, that kind of crap makes all of us feel inferior and sets the bar too high for the rest of us "normal" folk to achieve. When we can't pull off something like that or even something remotely similar, are we failing? I'm just trying to lose weight and eat healthier - a daunting enough task on its own. I don't really care if I have a pile of dishes in my sink, dog hair dust bunnies in the corners of every room and if it's just another paper plate-kind-of-night. That's reality. Of course, probably not good television, but perhaps it could be. Maybe it's time for America to get real and stop with the "Martha Stewart fantasy."

Some would say I'm trying to cook like her, but I'm not. I'm just wanting easy, real food to come together on my plate in a palate-pleasing kind of way. It's time for us to stop using pre-packaged dinners, convenience foods and boxed-this and bottled-that and get real. Believe me, I know it's hard. I have a pantry full of those items that I'm slowing moving through and throwing out. I'm glad that I've made small changes and I hope more will come. I'm loving the bevy of healthy eating blogs I've found complete with hundreds of recipes using only REAL food. Some ingredients still mystify me, like spelt flour. What is it and why should I be eating it? That's my next investigation. I'd love to try baking my own bread. I'm going to experiment this weekend. I'm headed to two farms in two days. I'll report back on what I bought and what I learned - down on the farm.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Day ?? - I'm not sure - lost track!

OK, bad me. I fell off the writing wagon for a week. However, that doesn't mean I went back to my old ways. I've still been eating fairly well (minus a couple emotional eating infractions) and I even started exercising. My oldest daughter started Kindergarten and it was heart-wrenching. Then, my youngest was an absolute terror under my feet all week. I had to find constant activities to keep her busy. She was sad too. Luckily, I only ate bad one day. You have to treat yourself once and awhile or we'd all go crazy!

So - on to the good things. I'm starting up a little exercise boot-camp in my basement. Years ago, I used to be a personal trainer and taught aerobics classes. I majored in Health & Physical Education. I wanted to teach people how to keep in shape and what they needed to eat to stay healthy. Boy have I strayed from that! But I'm back on track now. So, starting September 21, I'll be sweating it out with the neighborhood gals in my basement-turned exercise studio! I can't wait.

Meals have been pretty good. My new go-to sandwich for lunch is turkey, cheese, baby spinach leaves and cucumber with a smidgen of light mayo and lots of mustard. Tonight we had Chicken Tacos - grilled chicken with sauteed yellow and red bell peppers with black beans. I saute the peppers with a little cumin, garlic, salt and pepper and do the same with the chicken. We stuff that with the black beans into a corn tortilla topped with the homemade salsa I canned a few weeks ago! Yummy!

My canning experiment went pretty well. I had never canned anything in my life, but I wanted to try. I had a huge bag of hot peppers from my Mom's garden, a 45-lb box of tomatoes from the Farmer's Market, along with cilantro, onions, sweet peppers, garlic and a little green onion. I also made tomato sauce and Raspberry jam, using berries from my neighbor's yard. (I was lucky enough to house sit for them while on vacation. Somebody had to pick the berries or they would all have gone to waste!). I did share my bounty with them. I also froze several pounds of fresh green beans. Frozen veggies are really much better than canned, so I blanched and packaged up several for this winter when green beans are more expensive and not local. You should try it next summer. Hell - if I can do it - anyone can!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Days 6, 7 & 8 - Weekend of Challenges

My holiday weekend started off with a 3-hr shopping trip to Target. UGH! I was armed with my wad of coupons and ready to cut yuck from my life. I read every label. I was surprised to find High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) in a lot of my favorite foods. It's even in Special K cereal! Isn't that supposed to be a "healthy" variety? I purchased natural peanut butter, organic tortilla chips and found some yummy chips called "Food Should Taste Good." I bought the Sweet Potato variety and boy did they go fast! They are gluten free, low sodium, low-fat, and trans fat free, yet tasted awesome!
I bought light mayo (without HFCS), organic yogurt, deli cheese (instead of processed slices), low sugar granola bars for my kids,  and whole grain breads and cereals. I still, however, splurged on a few things like Pop-Tarts - a girl has to have her fun somehow!
Overall, it was a successful trip. I saved $85 with coupons and now have some favorite organic brands to choose from. Target's selection is growing and that's great for all of us! I think my organic selections cost me about $10 more than regular brands, but that's nothing compared to the benefits!
On Sunday, our family took a trip to Williamsburg, VA. We went to Busch Gardens where I was tempted with all kinds of indulgent treats. I, however, did not partake! YEAH for me!! We did eat a calorie-laden plate of spaghetti and chicken parmesan, but the portions were smaller and I feel I may have walked it off! I was tempted to grab one of those gigantic ice cream cones, but I felt an obligation to stick to my guns and this program.
On a side note, if you're ever traveling to the area, I recommend The Historic Powhatan Resort. We got a 2-bedroom suite for $87 night. It was perfect for my girls. They slept in one room and we had another king bedroom and even a living room, kitchen and balcony. It's perfect for families - I wish we had more time to spend there.
Today, we are off to a Labor Day BBQ. Wish me luck! I'm hoping to use my newly acquired skill of stopping when I'm full. Here's hoping!
P.S. It's 9:34pm - I'm stuffed with BBQ! I tried really hard not to eat that much. I even turned down a second helping of Banana Nilla Wafer Pudding (my childhood fave). It's so hard to eat well in the company of others!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Day 5 - Recipes & Holiday Weekends

It's Labor Day weekend - a holiday that is celebrated as summer's last hurrah. Everyone is firing up the grill and squeezing in those last trips to the pool and beach. Remember my eating tips - stop when you're full! I'm finally going grocery shopping. Yippee! (I say with a sarcastic voice.)  So, that means I'll be reading labels and looking for organic, natural products to try. I've never been a fan of the gloppy look and oily taste of natural peanut butter, but it's time to give it another try. I'm so used to the taste of fat-free, low-sugar products. I have been so afraid of eating foods that contained fat, that I was actually increasing my sugar intake. If you look at the label of a regular full-fat item, like Jif Peanut Butter and then the label of their low-fat version, so will see the sugar content is increased. Now, it's only 1 gram of sugar, but that's just one example of the myriad low-fat foods I've been consuming over the years. Of course, you could make your own peanut butter with roasted peanuts, oil, salt and sugar. Perhaps I will try that next weekend if I can find some good peanuts around here.
My girls wanted pancakes this morning, so here's my recipe for whole wheat pancakes. (Since whole wheat flour isn't something I use all the time, I store mine in a ziploc bag in the freezer. It keeps much longer that way and you don't get those creepy little bugs.)
Whole Wheat Pancakes:
3/4 cup whole wheat flour and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
heavy dash of cinnamon
Whisk in 1 1/4 cups skim milk, 1/2 stick melted butter or Promise, 2 eggs, and a dash of vanilla. Mix until combined.  Ladle onto hot buttered skillet and flip when bubbly. I add slices of banana or blueberries right on top of the batter on the skillet for an infusion of fresh fruit. To add more protein and calcium, top with Greek Yogurt and honey. No syrup. Makes about 8-12 regular-size pancakes.
Try it and let me know what you think.
Lunch was turkey and cheese on foccacia bread. Dinner was shrimp with angel hair pasta, tossed with a chili pepper, garlic, white wine, diced tomato, scallion, basil, lemon zest and juice. Takes 10 min and it's healthy and delicious!
Now, I'm off to Mom's Night Out. Let's see how good I can be. I already had 1/2 a glass of white wine with dinner. Ciao!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Day 4 - Day of Emotions

Today was Kindergarten orientation for my oldest. What a roller coaster of emotions! I'm truly not ready for her to be gone all day, every day. As I sat listening to the Principal's welcoming speech, my mind drifted off. "How can I postpone this? How can I get her to stay home? Can I really home school?" Ha! My Dad would chuckle at that last thought. I was terrible in math! All that weeping and sadness made me want to hide in the closet and eat a bag of cookies! You may laugh, but I have done that before. Raising two children close in age (mine are 19 months apart) was the biggest challenge of my life.
Emotional eating is one of the main reasons a lot of us are overweight. As we get older, we lose that ability to eat only when we are hungry and we don't stop when we are full. My children know to stop when they are full. But I occasionally find myself saying, "just two more bites" or "finish your chicken." I grew up with the FYPC - better known as the Finish Your Plate Club. I was always told that "children are starving in Ethiopia." You too? Well, it's time to get back to listening to our bodies. I'm going to start tonight. When I'm full, I will stop eating and pack up what is left. This is going to be a tough change for me. When I eat something so yummy that I can't stop, it's like a frenzy of emotions. My senses do a happy dance and I don't care that my pants button is about to pop off. Ok, so that's your homework for today - eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full. Easy, right? I know, don't give me that face. It's going to be tough - believe me!
Food today - cereal for breakfast, Subway Turkey sandwich for lunch, cashews for snack, grilled pork chops and baby spinach salad for dinner. I'm down 2 lbs! 28 more to go! Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Day 3 = Cheating!

Ok, so I did well this morning. I had 2 eggs, a piece of toast with homemade raspberry jam and milk. However, nothing was organic. I have yet to make it to the grocery store to buy my new rations. Lunch was where I cheated, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. I took my girls to Chick-fil-A. Any parent knows that this place rocks for kids. They have real chicken chunks for nuggets, cater to your every whim and the best part - the kids can play while you chat it up with mommy friends. I ate the Chargrilled Chicken Wrap with Fat-free honey mustard. The girls left behind some of their nuggets, so I sampled a few. Cheat!
I did not buy fries - never do. I did not buy ice cream. I buy their Fruit Cup to go with their lunch and they are just as happy!
Another cheat came in the form of a tiny slice of Grand Marnier cake from a neighbor who makes and sells cakes. I was taste-testing. Someones gotta do it! But she knows of my journey to lose this weight, so she truly only brought over a small piece. I was very grateful and thankful for that, 'cause it was SO good!! I would have eaten more if it was front of me. That's my main problem with food. If it's there, I'll eat it. I have NO self-control. I won't buy the bad foods at the grocery store, but if I'm at a party or buffet - watch out! Hmmm, something to work on.
Dinner is going to be a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and some steamed zucchini. Not very advenurous tonight - hubby is getting home late, so I've lost my motivation to cook a big meal. Plus, it's ridiculously hot out and turning on my stove is the last thing I want to do.
One green thing I did today  - bought green cleaners to use in the kitchen and bath. No more chemicals in my cleaning supplies! They work just as well and smell much better. I love the smell of the Green Works Toilet bowl cleaner - smells like mint! I'm just saying...