Thursday, February 28, 2008
Experts tell us that it takes 21 days to turn something into a habit. That applies to our eating and fitness behavior. I have a "diet" calendar on my fridge, where I mark how many weeks I have been exercising and dieting consistently for the year. So far, I'm on Week Seven. That means for 49 days, I have been following WW and my new exercise regiment. It's come to the point where exercise is second nature. I don't even question whether I should work out or not. I know the benefits I'm getting from doing the cardio and weight training. That doesn't mean that some days, I cut my workouts shorter than on other days. But at the same time, I don't know how I never took the time to do something HEALTHY for myself. My time exercising gives me an hour where I don't think about anything but sweating and working my body. No students, no grading, no chasing the tenure clock, no "geez I really need to get that article out to the journal." Just me and the TV (and hopefully when the weather gets nicer the Rail Trail).
Same thing goes for eating healthy. I've blogged before about how hard it has been to change my BAD eating habits. But planning ahead really helps. I keep track of the proteins that I have in my freezer (ground turkey, tilapia, chicken breasts, shrimp, and salmon) and plan my weekly meals around it. It's much easier than coming home every night and getting frustrated trying to figure out what to eat. I've also made grocery shopping a habit. Every Sunday after mass, I head off to Giant Eagle or Kroger and do my weekly shopping. That allows me to buy the produce and other things to get me through the week. I allow myself to buy one "healthy" munchy snack (one bag of soy chips) and the rest of it focuses around veggies, fruits, and proteins. Planning ahead helps you stay on track!
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
In moving into my own place, I was hesitant to cook for myself. First off, I'd obviously have to cut back on recipes in order to make just enough for myself. Second, I bought a lot of veggie burgers/chix patties/etc..... and we know how I feel about those now!! Third, I didn't think I'd have the time to make dinner for myself since I had rededicated myself to my career. Anyway, don't all busy single career girls eat Chinese take out all the time a la Miranda in Sex and the City? The answer to that is NO.
There are quick and simple meals that you can make for yourself and enjoy the leftovers the night after. Many tasty meals that you can make can be done in less than 30 minutes. In fact, I made my dinner last night, popped it in the oven, and did an exercise video while it cooked! Some of the easiest meals I've made since eating healthy is stir fry. Stir fry chicken, stir fry shrimp... I sound like a version of Bubba from Forrest Gump! But it's easy and simple: heat up a tablespoon of olive oil; throw your meat in (if you're cooking shrimp, I usually save that for last) and cook until it's almost done; throw some veggies in (my favorites are broccoli, cauliflower, and mushrooms); shake in some soy sauce when everything's almost done, and VOILA!!! You have a 4 point stirfry. AWESOME. Other quick and simple meals I make are TBLTs (made with turkey bacon cooked in the microwave on a whole wheat bun... three points!); veggie omlettes with egg beaters (2 points with just the egg beaters, 4 points if you add some low fat cheese in); low-point soup (2 points) and a turkey sandwich on light bread (another 2 points).
There is seriously no reason for you to think that "cooking" involves being the Barefoot Contessa every night. Quite honestly, my everyday cooking style leans more towards Rachael Ray: quick and easy, done in 30 minutes. While I may expose my Barefoot Contessa when I have guests, it's okay to cook in a wham bam thank you ma'am style after a long day at the office. And that way, you have no excuse to go to Chili's again for the second time in 10 days.
Monday, February 25, 2008
I think everyone knows that, to lose weight, there has to be more calories burned than the amount of calories coming in. Makes sense, right? The more you exercise, the more you lose... simple, right? Not always. For some of us who haven't moved in a while, it's hard to get back on track with exercising. I'm on a tight budget myself, so a gym membership just isn't an option right now. So, it's me and my exercise tapes. What's funny is that I've really built up a collection over the years, but in moving three times over the past two years... I had kind of given up on losing weight or ever working out. I had gotten into this frame of mind that I was "too busy" taking classes, then writing my dissertation, and finally chasing tenure than I didn't have time to work out. I ended up giving away most of my exercise DVDs to the Goodwill, and the rest were sold on Ebay (another epiphanic moment where I could kick myself in the butt!!).
So, I started rebuilding. I bought Biggest Loser Volume 1, which has served as the corner stone for my workouts since I get both cardio and strength exercises out of it. I also bought the Jillian Michaels super-tough Cardio Kickboxing, which I do once a week to change things up. I also do Leslie Sansone's Walk Away The Pounds on the weekends when I can't get outside to go walking. You need to do exercises that make you happy. I love kickboxing (I have a bit of pent up aggression...) and walking with my friends, since it allows us to chat while exercising. You need to do something that makes YOU happy, because then you'll keep doing it.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Their first had to do with changing your attitude towards weight loss. I think y'all have witnessed that over the course of the past six weeks. We all have our ups and downs, but as long as we maintain a positive attitude towards weight loss, we CAN do it. I know that one thing that has really helped me is focusing on small parts of my weight loss, 25 pounds at a time.
WW's second piece of advice is a kitchen makeover.... making it over to be a healthy kitchen. I've been doing this little by little. I started by not buying junk food that I like and can't control my portions. For instance, I looooove Pringles. I especially love Pringles when they are only $1. You might be thinking, hey, you can count out 17 Pringles (which is one serving).... BUT reality is that I pop open the tube and eat and eat and eat until I say, Oh, there are only 10 Pringles left. I might as well just finish them off. Not having junk food at home helps. I've allowed myself to buy one bag of psuedo-junk a week: Soy Chips. They are fantastic. I like the cheddar flavor and the barbeque flavor (seriously, they taste just like BBQ chips!). They go well on those nights were I just make sandwiches or if I'm feeling a bit snacky. Count out a serving, and munch munch munch!
Another part of my kitchen renovations is building my spice rack. When I lived with X, I used to have a TON of spices... but didn't bring anything with me. For the past six months, I've been the proud owner of four or five spices: onion and garlic powder (I'm Italian, it comes with the territory), dried parsley, lemon pepper for my tilapia, and salt and pepper (does that count?). Wow... pathetic. On my shopping list for today are a bunch of other spices that have been popping up in healthy recipes that look great to me, but then end up being put aside because I think "Well, I can't make that because I don't have X Y and Z spices." Not anymore :) Well, at least, not anymore after I visit Giant Eagle today!
Finally, explore new recipes. I'm pretty adventurous when it comes to food, so if I see a recipe in a magazine that I like, I rip it out. If I see something online, or if a friend sends me a recipe, I print it out. I actually have a pile of untested recipes sitting on my bookshelf right now, waiting to be tried out. I also have a three ring binder with clear plastic page holders where I put recipes that I've tried out and really like and want to make again. Therefore, all these loose papers that can be floating around are all in one place. Granted, it's not as organize as it could be, but it's only a matter of seconds flipping through the binder to find my new favorite recipe rather than searching for a loose page of paper.
I tried a new recipe out last night that I found on 3 Fat Chicks on a Diet (http://www.3fatchicks.com/-- thanks for the suggestion R!). It's for garlic shrimp, which almost tastes like a scampi, but without all the buttery fat associated with it. For you WWs out there, one serving is only 3 points. Since yesterday was my treat day (Saturdays after weigh in usually are), I made some risotto along with it... another four points. I love that I can eat what I want as long as I pay attention to portions :) Anyway, here's the recipe courtesy of 3fatchicks:
MEGAN'S GARLIC SHRIMP (makes four servings, 3 points a piece)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
Directions: Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pepper, garlic, and bay leaf; saute for a few seconds (I sauted it until my garlic started to *lightly* brown). Add shrimp and salt; saute for about 3-4 minutes (until shrimp are pink and cooked). Remove shrimp from skillet. Add wine, parsley, and thyme; bring to a boil, and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 1 minute-- It didn't take that long for me at all!). Return shrimp to skillet; toss to coat. Discard bay leaf and serve.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
But.....the best news this week is that I'm finally FINALLY under 200 pounds! If you could see me right now, I am grinning from ear to ear. I have not been under 200 pounds since I graduated college almost six years ago. That fall after my college graduation, I started graduate school where 95% of my classmates were male. And to be included to lunches, that meant that I had to go eat where they wanted to: wings, beer, pizza, burger joints, sports bars, etc. Not exactly the healthiest fare.
I remember when I moved from being a size sixteen throughout most of my college career to being a size eighteen in graduate school. I actually remember myself being in my first apartment, trying on a pair of jeans that fit so easily a few months ago (sidenote, I had moved to Florida... not much jeans wearing going on there!). Hard to believe, but I wrote it off to having a heavy lunch (I think it was wings and beer that day after a long statistics seminar). I went out that weekend and bought a few pairs of size 18s at Old Navy and went with the flow. I can seriously smack myself now for giving myself permission to get bigger jeans instead of saying, Hey! What the HECK are you doing?? Lose that weight now!!!!
That was Fall 2001. When I graduated with my PhD in April 2007, I was barely fitting into my size 20Ws. How embarressing is that? I've been trying to pick out some pics to serve as my "before" pictures (trust me, there's no lacking in that area!) and they all seem to be coming from graduation last year, which was me at my biggest. I actually remember going shopping for a graduation outfit and feeling uncomfortable trying on the clothes. I ended up getting a pair of dressy Bermuda shorts and a twinset from Talbot's Woman (who the hell at age 27 wants to be shopping in the WOMEN'S section of any store? I know I didn't). I remember how uncomfortable and swollen my feet got from being in strappy sandals the night of graduation because they had to support 230 pounds of PhD in them? We fat girls don't like to admit it, but there are tons of "beauty is pain" things we put up with-- like mangling our feet in pretty shoes that were not made to support our weight, chub rub under cute dresses and skirts, stuffing ourselves into "foundation garments" like Spanx. No way, no more for me.
And now, I'm back to fitting into a size 16. A REGULAR size 16, not a PLUS size 16. I LOVE IT. I can't believe I'm back to where I was six years ago. There has been a lot of talk on my favorite discussion board about motivation in the past few days. My motivation is to not be a fat girl anymore, to be able to walk into ANY store and fit in pants or shirts, to not bemoan the fact that the closest Lane Bryant is an hour away but rather have options at my own local mall, and finally to not have chub rub (oh, a girl can only dream of this!!!). One thing that I can say is that I've always had high self-esteem, even during my heaviest times (call me stuck up or narcissistic, but if you don't love yourself, who ELSE is going to do it??), but I can see now that I am looking GOOD. And I'm going to look even BETTER as the numbers on the scale keep moving down. Sure, health plays into this, but the BIGGEST side benefit is being able to shop at the Gap whenever I want and not have to worry if I can fit into those clothes or not.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Well, back to my points issue... instead of panicking and worrying about "starvation", I'm looking at it as another challenge, another evolution in my weight loss journey. It's taken me a while to get used to the options I provide myself in this point allotment. And it's going to take me a bit to figure out what to eat as I move down and through this one as well. I'll use it as an opportunity to browse through some of the many WW/weight loss blogs with recipes and try some new things. It should be seen as a new adventure, not deprivation.
So... if you have any favorite healthy or WW themed blogs, please post them in the comments! I'd love to hear from you. I've already discovered http://hungry-girl.com/ and Roni's Weight Watchen blog (http://weightwatchen.com/index.htm). Any others that I should be looking at?
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
It is extremely difficult to lose weight as an individual if you are surrounded by people who are unsupportive. I experienced this first hand in my own relationship when I did WW the first time around. My X felt as though I was starving him with the food I was making (even though I made plenty). X abhorred fruits and veggies; he was a meat and potatoes kind of guy. When we went to the store, he made sure that his stash of junk was replenished, while I was having difficulty staying away from junk if it was in my face. Because I didn't have someone supportive, I ended up losing 20 pounds and regaining 25. I ended up heavier than I was before. It was a cycle that I definitely wanted to break as I started out new on my own. And luckily, I have surrounded myself with supportive people at work, in my network of family and friends, and online here with my blog and the message board I frequent.
An inspiration to me is my good friend R and her boyfriend J who are doing WW TOGETHER. They encourage each other to exercise and to eat the right way. They are making this life change together, as a couple. I think it's beautiful. And, as much as people might hate Jay and Mark on BL, they are the prime example of a "couple" who is working together as a team, pushing each other to the next level. We should all want that encouargement from family, a significant other, or a friend! Just like Jay and Mark, I love when someone praises me when I deserve it and gets my butt in gear when necessary. That honesty is truly love.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
No, dear readers, that is not me!! I read this article on cnn.com about this 30 year old elementary school teacher who lost 120 pounds! Doesn't she look amazing? It took her about three years to lose the weight, but I think we sometimes have to be reminded that we didn't put all this weight on in ten days, and it's not going to come off in a short amount of time either.
First off, I'm glad that CNN has taken to profiling its readers who have lost a significant amount of weight. I think it shows people like me that it CAN be done. My favorite part about Shape magazine is where they profile readers who took matters into their own hands and changed their lives. Second, what I really liked about this article is that Tracey (the teacher) gave some good tips about getting started on dieting that I want to share with you:
1. Keep a food diary. Write down everything you eat and drink. Calculate total calories at the end of the day. Be consistent in your diet.
2. Be consistent in your exercise. Create a set gym/workout schedule. Vary only when absolutely necessary.
3. Find a gym that accommodates your lifestyle (hours of operation, day care options, equipment, classes offered, etc.).
4. Change your outlook on food. Instead of equating food with happiness or enjoyment, view it as purely as nourishment or fuel for your body to function.
5. Be realistic in your goals and program. Know that it will take time to make considerable change, and don't give up!
6. Stop making excuses and make it happen! Make YOUR health a PRIORITY in your life.
What an inspiration. If you want to read more about Tracey, here's the link to the article: http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/diet.fitness/02/14/weightloss.tracey.wygal/index.html
Sunday, February 17, 2008
BTW, I caved today and finally bought a new TV. Therefore, my usual Wednesday Biggest Loser blog will be back :)
Saturday, February 16, 2008
I got a lot of emails about my last post, that maybe I was being too hard on myself. After all, I've lost 28.8 pounds since the end of September. I'm more than a quarter of the way to my goal weight. I think it's just frustrating that when you are at the weight that I am at, when you have to lose about 100 pounds, that goal just seems like a heck of a ways off. That's why I adjusted my weight loss ticker at the top of the page. I decide that even though my long term goal of 100 pounds seems almost undoable at times (and I admit that is the reason why it has taken me so long to become committed to diet and exercise), I need to visualize it in attainable goals. So, I'm breaking it down into quarters. I've already lost 25 pounds; my next short term goal is to lose another 25 on top of that. Therefore, my ticker is set at 50 pounds, with 28.8 of them already gone. At the rate I'm going, that will bring me to the beginning of the summer. I shouldn't get upset over how I'm not losing as fast as some other people, how I have so much weight to lose, etc. What I should be POSITIVE about is the fact that I'm making progress towards those goals. I just need to remind myself that slow and steady does indeed win the race!
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
I'm even happier about my shopping trip that I took this weekend. I went to visit my mom, and I told her that I was in desperate need of bras. I had had these bras since forever (I seriously can't even remember when I bought them) and they were huge. I was a DD. Over the past few weeks, I've become annoyed at how these bras were fitting me. They were big, I wasn't filling them out, and quite honestly, I could have used the help of a chicken cutlet in them! So, Saturday, Mom and I went shopping... and I'm a C cup! I never thought I'd see the day when I was only a C cup, since I've been a DD since high school. I know, lots of people who aren't as "blessed" as I am in the rack department would hate to lose two cup sizes, but when you have girls as big as mine, you're definitely happy :)
Yesterday before I took the long drive back to Motown, I watched a bit of Good Morning America (gotta get all that tv watching in before I come back to broken tv land!). They profiled an interesting study for those of you who are diet soda or artificial sweetener addicts. I've posted the link below: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/OnCall/story?id=4271246&page=1 It's interesting, because I've moved from putting four equal packets into a cup of coffee (I know! I know! Don't nag!) to ONE packet. I'd like to get to the point where I don't put anything in my coffee. And I rarely drink diet soda, let alone any soda at all. Just some food (LOL) for thought!
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Lately, I've been trying to up my cardio. First off, I don't want to end up on another plateau because I wasn't pushing myself hard enough. Second, damn... cardio just feels GOOD. After a long day at work, it's great to come home and just sweat it out, not worry about students or colleagues or any other drama... it's just me, my body, and the beat. Who ever thought they'd hear this fat girl say that?
One thing I've been noticing is that I like sweating. This evening, I did 20 minutes of Biggest Loser High Intensity Cardio, and then 30 minutes of Jillian Michaels' kickboxing. At first, I almost quit. I thought there was no way I could get through Jillian's workout. But you know what? I kept going. And as I kept going, I started to feel the sweat just come out of my pores. I imagined fat just oozing out of my body as I continued to punch and kick and jump my way through the workout. At the end, as I savored a cool bottle of water, I felt great. I used to tell myself that at this weight, I would never be able to do the things that I did in high school when I was an active dancer, when I used to weigh fifty pounds less than I do now. But you know what?
I did. And I'm going to do it again tomorrow!!!
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Things I Like:
1) Soy chips: I get some crazy cravings revolving around potato chips, cheetos, doritos, etc. So, last weekend, instead of picking up a tube of Pringles, I shopped around Giant Eagle's healthy/organic section and picked up a bag of cheddar cheese soy chips. They kind of look like mini rice cakes, but they are packed full of flavor and a bit more dense. They're the perfect option to a non-guilty crunchy snack, packed with protein.
2) Kashi Heart-to-Heart: many of the healthier cereals I tried are packed with calories. However, Kashi Heart to Heart is about 100 calories per serving (2 points for you WW-ers!) and reminds me of honey nut cheerios. Honestly, the first mouthful I had reminded me of maple syrup. I was in heaven, and glad that my cold cereal craving had an ally!
3) Luna Bars: These are my go-to snack as well as breakfast in a rush. They taste great with flavors like Caramel Nut Brownie, Peanut Butter Cookie, and Smores and they range from 3-4 points. A fabulous re-energizer in a cute little packet!
Things I HATE:
1) Low Fat Cottage Cheese: Actually... any low fat cheese for that matter. The cottage cheese is especially heinous. For one more point, I could be enjoying a not-so-gnarly snack. Instead, I opt for the 2% CC, and get a bit of unwanted tartness in every bite. An not-so-honorable mention: Babybel Light Cheese Wheels. EW.... this is what I imagine hockey pucks to taste like before they are painted BLACK.
2) Veggie patties: When I first started watching what I ate, I read somewhere that we should try to replace as many "animal" proteins with alternative proteins. I took this to mean, I should try to eat like a vegetarian. Well, if it means eating gross things such as veggie burgers and CHIX patties, no thank you. I'll continue to be happy with my turkey bacon, thank you VERY much.
Okay, well maybe not so much on the hate side, but in starting a healthier lifestyle, we have to try new thing out and not feel so guilty about not liking them. What's funny is that I could list a ton of other products that I've tried and enjoyed, but can't really think of too many that I really wouldn't force on an al-Qaeda prisoner of war. So, be adventurous! Try something! What's the worst that could happen?
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Last week, R. sent me a Weight Watcher friendly recipe for eggplant rollatini, which sounded to die for. Unfortunately, yours truly can't keep up with ingredients, so after a quick trip to Kroger, I found myself in possession of one fabulous looking eggplant, some shredded skim mozzerella, and jarred tomato sauce. A few more looks around my pantry, and I came up with a makeshift recipe for eggplant parm. What separates this one from the stuff that you get at Olive Garden is that it's made with healthy ingredients, and there is no deep frying required!!
Heart Healthy Eggplant Parm
1 eggplant, washed and cut width-wise into half inch wide disks
1/2 cup of Egg Beaters
3/4 cup of Italian bread crumbs
1 cup of mozzerella
1/2 jar of tomato sauce (I used about 12 oz. of a 24 oz. jar of Bertolli Vineyard Marinara)
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup.
I put a half cup of egg beaters in a small shallow bowl, and about a 3/4 cup of Italian bread crumbs in another bowl. First I dunked the eggplant in the egg beaters, and then lightly coated them with the bread crumbs on each side. (By lightly, I mean that you can probably still see the eggplant through the coating of crumbs.) Chances are, you are not going to use all the egg beaters or the bread crumbs. Place them in rows on the cookie sheet. Bake on one side for 8-10 minutes, then flip them. Bake for another 8-10 minutes. At this point, the eggplant should be tender, and yet have a crisp coating.
Lower the temperature of your oven to 375 degrees.
Spray Pam onto casserole dish (I used a round 1.5 quart one). Put a bit of sauce on the bottom of the dish and swish it around to "line" the pan. Then, start layering the eggplant into the dish. Before adding another layer, pour some sauce on top and sprinkle some mozzerella. Continue doing this until all the baked eggplant are in the casserole dish. Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
I estimate that this meal can serve 2-3 people, based on their appetites as well as the size of your eggplant. I used a normal sized eggplant (about a foot long, pretty thick around the middle) and was able to get three servings out of it. At this rate, each serving is about 5 WW points. And it definitely quenched my craving for eggplant parm :)
Saturday, February 2, 2008
On another note... my television died yesterday. Yes, I'm pouting. What really got me was that I was about to pop in an exercise DVD when it happened. Lucky for me, my computer has a DVD drive which means I can work out in my bedroom until my TV is replaced (yeah, the repair guy said it is officially kaput, but good for me, I have a warranty for its replacement). Guess I'll be able to catch up on my reading, my exercise via computer, and of course, that pesky thing called work :)
Hope you all are enjoying your weekend so far!!!