Tag Archives: Fitness

Adventures with Coby

CobyHi, Sweetie Pies! I’m just gearing up for the work week, and counting the minutes until tonight’s episode of Mad Men. How about you? Are you ready for Monday? Some people don’t seem bothered by Mondays, but I am NOT one of those people. Ugh. I have too much fun on the weekend. 

Speaking of fun, I went biking today, with my bike, Coby, on the Mount Vernon Trail. I rode about 25 miles round trip. It was such a nice and sunny day. In fact, it was so nice and sunny that everyone and their dog (literally) had the same idea. The bigger part of me is thrilled to see so many people out, enjoying the trail and being active. It’s great to see families walking or biking together, and it’s so nice to see people enjoying themselves. However, a part of me also gets frustrated because the trail isn’t all that wide and it has a number of hills and curves. It can be hard to enjoy the ride when you’re constantly worried about passing walkers or runners safely so that you have room to build momentum to climb the next hill, or trying not to run into people who don’t pay attention to the dotted yellow line separating the paved trail into a little two-way highway. I used to walk and run on the trail, and I hated worrying about whether I was going to get hit by a biker. It just gets too crowded for comfort for everyone!

I was reminded of why I’ve kind of avoided the Mount Vernon Trail this summer in favor of some trails that tend to be a bit less traveled. Last Saturday, I set out for a 30 mile trek from my place to Great Falls, MD and back home. It took just under four hours, but it was a fun trip. I was satisfyingly worn out by the time I got back home. Aaah. I love that feeling! To get to the falls, I got on the towpath along the C&O Canal in Georgetown, and rode the gravelly trail between the canal and the Potomac. To get back, I took a paved road, McArthur Boulevard, that had an awesome bike path. I thought I’d share a few photos.

One thing I love about riding on the towpath is the opportunity to see things like this:

BirdmanIt is a bit more secluded and much farther from the highway than the MVT, and that’s a plus. I saw this guy (or girl? not sure…) as well as a few big turtles and some tiny blue lizards. I was busy riding, so I didn’t stop to snap photos of them, but they made me smile. I love that I can enjoy nature so close to my apartment and to the city. You just have to know where to look!

There are lots of old lock houses all along the canal. It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like when the canal was really in use. Here’s the sign on the front of one of the lock houses:

Lock House

After about 15 miles of riding, I made it to the bridge with a view of the falls, and I had to leave Coby behind. Why leave Coby?

No Bikes!Fair enough. Coby waited patiently. In case you have forgotten, “Coby” is short for cobalt, the color of Coby’s frame.

Waiting Coby

This was my view from the bridge:

Great FallsNo visit to a scenic overlook would be complete without a cheesy self portrait (nerdy but absolutely necessary helmet included). 🙂 

Self PortraitThe smile is big because the 15 miles it took for me to get to the falls seemed sort of endless at times. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of markers on the towpath, so it was hard to gauge just how close (or far) I was from the falls. I was so happy to finally be there!! I was also super glad that I had snacks to fuel my ride home! 🙂 

Biking is one of my favorite “exercises that don’t really seem like exercise.” With all of the beautiful scenery and fresh air, it’s easy to forget that I’m getting a workout. My heart rate monitor/calorie counter is my only proof! Do you have a favorite “exercise that doesn’t seem like exercise?” What did you do this weekend? I hope you had a great one!! 

Now, I’m going to make a bowl of oatmeal and get ready to watch Mad Men. Oatmeal seems to be my favorite evening snack lately. I love the flavor, and I really love how well it fills me up. Perfect! Have a good week, Sweetie Pies. Ciao for now! 🙂

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Filed under Arlington, Fitness, Great Falls, Mount Vernon Trail, Weight Loss Success Story

New Perspectives

Hi, Sweeties! Remember those photos I promised you of my ziplining adventure in Alaska? Well, get ready because here they come. They actually are a pretty good illustration for some of the points of today’s post, so I thought it would be quite appropriate. Also, I’m sorry I’ve been away for so long. This post should explain my absence. 

I was excited about ziplining in Ketchikan, Alaska, but I didn’t know what to expect. Before taking the leap off of the platform, the instructor made sure I had the proper gear and an understanding of how to use it. I was harnessed up and the trolley attached to the harness was clipped to the line. The instructor explained how I should use my hand to steer the trolley if  I found myself spinning off to the side and needed to straighten back up. He also explained how to press down on the top, which works like a friction brake, when it was time to stop. Stopping proved to be the challenging part.

Geared UpEach leap into weight loss started with gathering gear and trying to understand how to use it properly. If you want to read about my journey in greater detail, please check out this page. Just to briefly summarize, you might recall that my experience went something like this:

Date: 2000 Weight: 340 pounds Gear: knowledge of fat content in the foods I ate, a well stocked kitchen and good walking shoes

Results: Loss of 110 pounds and gall bladder problems due to, according to my doctor, the restriction of fat in my diet

In 2001, I started law school, had to have my gallbladder removed, discovered that I didn’t have time to make all of my own food, and got out of my walking habit. I gained back 60 of the pounds I’d lost and ended up weighing about 280 pounds.

Date: 2005 Weight: 280 pounds Gear: Weight Watcher’s On-line tools, fancy food scale and all sorts of exercise gear, including a heart rate monitor to measure calories burned during exercise

Results: I lost 120 pounds and gained the ability to rattle off the points values for food like a superstar. I learned to really enjoy all sorts of exercises and discovered that my body was strong and capable. I also hit a plateau and became frustrated when my meticulous counting wasn’t providing results on the scale. 

I started this blog in January of this year and by March, I decided that I was sick of counting points and I was tired of beating myself up when the scale refused to budge. I decided that a change would be a good thing, so I switched to counting calories and started using the Sparkpeople on-line tracker in place of my ww on-line tracker. I thought that the new approach would be a bit more flexible and would shake things up a bit. I viewed it as a sort of transition to something that was less of a diet, and more like normal life. WW claims not to be a diet, but I never totally bought that idea. For a short time, I did revel in the flexibility of calories versus points. Calories are calories, and I didn’t need to use a calculator to convert things into points. That was somewhat liberating. The scale immediately dropped from 160 to 153 in reaction to the changes in my eating, and I started thinking about whether it was time to stop trying to lose and to start trying to maintain. That brings me to this:

Zipping AlongOnce you leap off of the platform and start zipping along, you build up speed and just sort of fly through the air. It’s a bit like cruise control. I think that dieting can be very similar. You just kind of zip along, counting your points or calories or whatever, and then you decide for one reason or another that it might be time to stop. That’s where things got tricky during ziplining, and that’s where things have gotten tricky for me with my weight loss. Here’s a photo of me getting ready to land. 

StoppingTo stop yourself, you have to use the friction brake. If you press down too early, you may have to use your hands to drag yourself along the line to the platform. If you press down too late, and the friendly instructor doesn’t use the back up brake, you could find yourself pulling a “George of the Jungle” and crashing into a tree. Each platform is actually built around a tree, kind of like a tree house. If you stop too early, you will make it to the platform eventually. Stopping too late has a worse consequence.

Unfortunately, the ultimate weight loss stopping point isn’t always clearly defined like the strong and sturdy tree. Yes, I set a goal weight for myself, once upon a time, and I haven’t reached it. However, I was basing it on a BMI chart that doesn’t know how much muscle I have in my 160 pound make-up. It also doesn’t know how much deflated skin I have. Yes. I do have some. I don’t think it’s possible to lose more than half of your body weight without that unwelcome side effect. 

I think my bottom line this year has been that I’m not unhappy at my current weight. Sure, I wouldn’t mind losing more, but I could be happy right here. Rather than letting the scale determine whether it’s time to stop, I’ve started looking at other factors too. I’ve realized a few things.

1) I’m sick of counting points/calories and of weighing my food. This was becoming a bit of an unhealthy obsession for me, and I’ve only become more obsessed and frustrated as the scale has stayed steady despite my best efforts. To quote the old saying, it might have been “like beating a dead horse.” 

2) Despite allowing myself treats along the way, I’m definitely suffering from diet deprivation and the backlash eating it can cause. I ate like nobody’s business on my Alaskan cruise. I ate until I was sick on more than one occasion. I had the feeling that I’d been freed from prison for one week in order to eat everything that wasn’t on the menu in the prison cafeteria. It wasn’t a pretty sight to see, and that’s when the scale jumped back into the 160s where it has been ever since.

3) While I have certainly felt deprived of certain foods, I think the bigger sense of deprivation was coming from the inability to go out with friends and to do things spontaneously. I spent a lot of time and energy wondering if there would be anything I could eat within my rules when I found myself out with friends. Often, I would just stay home. Sometimes I would find something that would work. Other times, I would toss my rules out the window only to feel guilty later about breaking them. 

4) My perfectionist tendencies have been making me crazy. By giving myself a set of strict rules or limits, I drive myself to stay within the framework I’ve created in order to avoid feeling that I’ve failed and to feel that I’ve succeeded. I was to the point of weighing the lettuce in my salad so that I could calculate the calories and subtract them from my daily allowance. Lettuce!? Did the scale budge thanks to those efforts? No. Did my frustration level grow? You betcha. 

5) I can’t spend the rest of my life weighing everything and counting calories or points if I want to stay sane, happy and avoid smacking into the tree of endless dieting despair.

6) I like sanity and happiness.

7) I need to figure out a way to “stop” that is not a restrictive diet but that will keep me from reverting to my old habits. As funny as it sounds, I need to learn to eat.

That brings me to the last three weeks and my absence. I’d been reading about intuitive eating throughout the blogosphere for some time now, and I had a vague idea of what it meant to eat intuitively. I decided it was time for me to check out some of the literature on the subject. Forever the student, I picked up a few of the more well known IE books. The two most useful ones I’ve read so far are: Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works by Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D., and Elyse Resch, M.S., R.D., F.A.D.A. and The Rules of Normal Eating: A Commonsense Approach for Dieters, Overeaters Undereaters, Emotional Eaters, and Everyone in Between by Karen R. Koenig, ICSW, M. ED. A useful website that lists the 10 principles found in the book by Tribole and Resch can be found here.

Both of these books really resonated with me. I think the basic idea is quite simple. You should eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied/full. If you are already an intuitive eater, that might sound quite obvious to you, but my eating was not typically driven by hunger or fullness. Aside from, perhaps, being driven by an effort to avoid hunger completely. IE is a more novel concept for me. Back in the heavier days, my eating was likely driven by emotions or boredom. In recent years, it has been driven by the external rules and limits I’ve imposed on myself. I’ve watched plenty of my friends use this “eat when you are hungry method” in their daily lives, with positive results. It makes a lot of sense to me, and it seems like a natural way of giving your body what it wants and needs.  

The books go beyond that basic idea with a number of other very useful principles. One of these principles involves legalizing foods that you have forbidden yourself. Vani had an excellent forbidden foods challenge sometime back, and I happily participated. I think I’m just beginning to understand why this is so important. It’s human nature to sometimes want the very thing you can’t have. If you know that you can have those forbidden foods, their power is greatly diminished. I’ve been experimenting with some of these foods over the past few weeks, and the funny thing is, many of the things I’ve really been sad to pass up over the past few years aren’t even that great. I had a pretty lousy cupcake from the store yesterday, for example. It looked pretty, but it wasn’t all that good. When I really concentrated on the taste and texture while savoring it, I realized that the frosting was too sweet. I think that’s the first time I have EVER determined that something was too sweet. Apparently, “Just Sweet Enough” has an even greater meaning than I had realized. 🙂 I’ve been amazed at the things that I have built up into some sort of mega treat in my mind only to find that they really aren’t that amazing after all. 

So, basically, I haven’t been cooking as much lately as I’ve started working through the principles in these books. I’m not sure what the scale is doing, but I do know that my pants still fit after three weeks. I’m trying to spend less time, energy and focus on food and the scale, and that has resulted in less blogging. I haven’t been sure how to explain what I’m up to, and I’m not sure this really does a great job. I would never want to discourage anyone from the path they’ve chosen, but I do think it’s important for me to tell you about my experience. I’m still not certain how IE will work for me, but my stress level around food and eating has already decreased by about a zillion percent. That’s right. A zillion percent. Math was never my strong suit. 🙂 That, to me, has made this effort worthwhile. I think it is also a good experiment to try to get a new perspective on eating, and I’ve been pleased with the results so far.

I’m not going away, but, at this point, I do not plan to post full days of eats anymore. I find that putting that much attention on the things I eat is not a good thing for me. I do plan to share plenty of recipes and reviews with you, as well as updates on how this IE process is going. I just hope you will understand why I’ll be posting less frequently and why my recipes may not all be “light” ones. I know that my body prefers healthy and nutritious foods, and there will certainly be plenty of that in the days to come. I do plan, however, to keep experimenting with previously forbidden foods, which could lead to some interesting kitchen experiments. 

This blog has been so useful for me during the past 7 months as I’ve tried to find a way to stop my diet merry-go-round and find a comfortable resting spot, and all of the supportive comments from my wonderful readers have really made all the difference. The ultimate goal, after all, is not to fit into a certain pair of pants but rather to be happy in life. That might look something like my post-ziplining mug:

HappySince one of my favorite things about this blog has been the opportunity to learn from many of you, I just have to ask: Have you had a period in your life where you counted calories/points/fat grams/whatever and then decided that there was a better way to find balance? What’s your story? Are you still counting? Do you have an exit strategy for when you get where you’re going? 

As always, I wish you all the best wherever you may be in your life’s journey. 

Before I go, I want to send a few birthday wishes. My little brother turned 30 on Tuesday. I can’t believe it!!! It’s really hard to believe that he just turned 30 since our mother is just turning 28 today. 😉 Here’s a photo of my mom and me during the Christmas holidays:

Mom and MeHappy birthday to both of you and lots of love! XOXO 

Now, I’m off to have an air conditioned work out in the gym. It’s a scorcher of a day, and I’m glad to have an indoor option. Ciao for now, sweeties and have a great week! 🙂

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Filed under Alaska, diet, Fitness, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

Zucchini-Feta Gratin from Cooking Light

Zucchini-Feta Gratin

It seems like I haven’t made a new recipe in ages. I may be exaggerating a bit, but I’ve just sort of been making a little of this and that. I haven’t made a “big batch” recipe in weeks! With the warmer weather, I’m just happy putting fresh things together and calling it a meal. I ended my little kitchen hiatus today by making a Zucchini-Feta Gratin using this recipe from Cooking Light Magazine. 

This was an easy recipe, and it resulted in a dish that could be a great choice for entertaining too. I love dishes that look more complicated than they really are. Mwa ha ha ha. Tricky. 

I followed the recipe with only a couple of tweaks.

  • I grilled my squash on the griddler instead of steaming it. Extra flavor? Yes, please!
  • I used a mix of yellow squash and zucchini for a more colorful dish. Plus… that’s what I had in the crisper.
  • I used fresh mint from the pot on the balcony instead of using dried mint as directed in the recipe. Why use dried when I have fresh out on the balcony?!

Let me show you how easy it was:

First, I layered the rice and feta mixture in my pie plate, after spraying the plate well with cooking spray:

Rice CrustI made extra rice this morning when I was cooking the rice for this recipe, and I had one of my favorite little breakfasts– rice, sugar, almond breeze and berries. I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving rice, milk and sugar. YUM! It was a favorite when I was a kid, and it has stood the test of time for me.

Brekkie BreakOk. Back to the recipe. Sorry about that! I love my milky sweet rice! After I had the rice crust in the pie dish, I grilled my squash on the Griddler. Y’all know I love my Griddler. Here he is:

Griddle me This...While the veggies were getting tanned, I chopped up some balcony pot mint:

Minty Fresh GoodnessThe mint went into a bowl along with some freshly ground nutmeg. Nutmeg and eggs are a match made in heaven! I bought some lovely brown eggs at the farmer’s market yesterday (along with the squash and the feta!!) This was a farmer’s market dish for sure!

Eggs

I love pretty brown eggs! 

Once the veggies were grilled, I mixed them with the other half of the feta, the salt and the pepper, and then filled my little rice crust. I sort of used my fingers to spread the veggies around in a nice even layer before I poured the egg mixture on top. After I added the egg mixture, I gave the dish a little tilt–this way and that– to make sure the egg mixture made its way all around the dish.

Ready To BakeIt went into the oven, and forty -five minutes later, I enjoyed a nice wedge of gratin with some TJ’s turkey meatballs (my answer to quickie “meatloaf” for one), and some sliced fresh tomato.

Lunchy LunchWhen I was a kid, I remember how my parents and grandparents would cover a whole plate with fresh tomatoes from the garden after a big dinner. They would add a little salt and then tear into them. It was kind of like the salad course. Me? Did I appreciate the gorgeous, red, homegrown Arkansas tomatoes? Nope. I hated them. What was I thinking??? Crazy.

I got the tomatoes on my lunch plate at the farmer’s market yesterday from some Hanover, VA farmers. They were SO good and very flavorful! I just added a little salt. I wonder where I got that idea? Ha! I think my tomato experience is a good example of why you should try foods that you might have hated as a kid! 

The gratin had a nice flavor, and I love that the edges of the rice crust got a little crispy and browned. I loved the flavor of the fresh mint contrasted with the salty feta. YUM!! I’m sure this would be great made with brown rice, but I’m trying to use up some things from the pantry. This seemed like  great time to use some white rice that has been around for awhile. I’m sure this would be good with steamed veggies, as directed in the recipe, but I’d encourage grilling them if possible. It was delicious, and I can’t wait to have it on my dinner plate over the next few days.

Now that I’ve had a nice lunch, I think I’ll take my bicycle out for another spin. I don’t believe I’ve introduced you. Meet Coby:

CobyYou can’t tell in this photo, but he is sort of a Cobalt blue color– hence the name: Coby. Coby and I went out yesterday for a ride, and it was not smooth sailing. I can’t believe it, but it was our first trip out this summer. Time is getting away from me! Before we left, I aired up the tires using a new pump I bought awhile back. Before I was even a mile from home… the front tire blew out. Ugh! We’d barely gotten started.

Feeling the need to take care of the problem ASAP, I walked Coby to a nearby bike shop. While there, they repaired the tire, and they also adjusted the derailleur because I mentioned that the chain always pops off when I try to shift down into first. I live in an area with some pretty big hills, and downshifting definitely makes them easier to tackle. Forty minutes later, thinking all was well, I hopped back on and resumed my trek. I couldn’t wait to shift down into first. I just knew it was going to make the hills much more tolerable. Feeling confident on the first big hill I came to, I clicked my little gear shifter and… the chain popped off again. Aargh!

I put the chain back on, wiped my greasy paws on some bright green grass, and then enjoyed a pretty nice ride. I did not try to change gears again, but I’m sure that just made me burn more calories on the dastardly hills. 

I bought Coby last summer after being passed by bikers while walking/running on the local trails. It looked like fun! How about you? Do you have a bicycle? Do you ride to work?… for fun?… as a serious athletic endeavor? Does your bicycle have a name? 🙂 I like to go on long rides on the weekends for a bit of a break in my cardio routine. I also love riding down to Old Town Alexandria and having a little picnic by the water. Riding to places that always seemed far away certainly made my world feel smaller. I kind of like that feeling sometimes!

Oh, I almost forgot! I had another Coconut Cream Pie Holey Donut yesterday before my ride. I promised to try to take a photo since the last couple of tries have failed. Here it is:

Coconut Cream PieThis one is my favorite, favorite, FAVORITE of all of the flavors I’ve tried. I’m enamoured.

Speaking of my being enamoured… don’t forget that you still have a few days to save on hottie Jay Robb’s products using a promotion code especially for Just Sweet Enough readers. Check out the bottom of this post for more info.

Now, I’m going to pack a snack and take Coby out for another spin. Wish me luck!

I hope you are having a stellar weekend! I also hope you’ll try the yummy Cooking Light gratin recipe if you are looking for something new to do with summer squash. If you have a garden (or a neighbor with a garden), a bumper crop (or a big bag of squash left on your doorstep in the dead of night) is always a possibility. I know you will want to have this recipe up your sleeve! Ciao for now, y’all! 🙂

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Filed under cooking, Cooking Light, diet, Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetarian Recipes, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Mr. Banana Man and Random Portion Size Reminders

Hi!! I hope everyone is having a good week. Tomorrow is Friday, you know. Woo hoo!!! As usual, I’m ready for the weekend. How about you? Any big plans? 

My big plans today included a big bowl of breakfast. I had oat bran, 5 grain cereal, Jay Robb’s vanilla whey protein powder, agave nectar, a baby banana, and some Trader Joe’s Peanuts, Berries and Almonds ((PB&A)) in the bowl. So good!! Baby banana, Sweetie Pie? Just wait. You’ll see….

Baby Nanners

The baby nanners are super yellow, and super good!

For lunch, I grilled a Trader Joe’s Chile Chicken Lime burger, and used it to make a quick taco salad.

Another Big BowlI put lettuce, red bell pepper and corn in the bowl along with some crunched up light Tostitos and some little cubes of Cabot 75% reduced fat cheddar. I topped it with the chopped up burger, and then added salsa, Greek yogurt and a bit of Tostitos Bean and Cheese Dip on the top. I love salads like this one! I don’t want to discuss the ingredients in the Tostitos dip. I’m sure it isn’t the greatest. Speaking of Tostitos products in jars, I have to confess that I love their cheese dip more than I should. Seriously. It’s perfect when I need a Taco Bell type powdered cheese fix. Sometimes it really hits the spot.

Following my big salad….

Mr. Banana ManIntroducing: Mr. Banana Man!! I bought this huge bunch of baby bananas at the international food grocery store last weekend, and I can’t seem to make a dent in them. I love baby bananas because of their smaller portion size. They’re also really cute! I have a feeling some of these babies are about to get frozen and dipped in some chocolate, since I have so many, but, um… I’m ok with that! I couldn’t resist playing with my food a bit. Mr. Banana Man has vanilla wafer features, a banana mouth and a PB& Company Cinnamon Raisin Swirl PB goatee. alternatively, he has a PB mouth and a big banana ‘stache. I’m not sure which it is. What do you think?

Later in the day, I sliced up a pretty pink lady apple, and then made a very tasty dip.

Hey, Pretty Lady!I mixed 2 Tablespoons of PB2 with a Tablespoon of Greek yogurt and half a Tablespoon of berry jam. It was vaguely cheesecakey, and totally delicious!! This might be my favorite use for PB2 so far. Too bad I’m out of apples. 😦 Luckily, I’m sure it would taste great on a baby banana, and goodness knows I have plenty of those!

Closer to dinner time, I had a little snack bowl.

Snickitty SnackI often have this mix in the evening, but I really wanted it for an afternoon snack today. I think this bowl is a great example of how quickly little bites of things can add up caloriewise. I put about half a serving of Quaker Essentials Crunchy Corn Bran squares, one fifth of a serving of Zoe’s honey almond granola and one third of a serving of Reese’s peanut butter chips in the bowl. This added up to 115 calories despite being little bits of this and that. That’s certainly not a bad total for a snack, but seeing the total is a great reminder of how the little bites add up!

For dinner, I was feeling the urge to use something out of the pantry. I had so much success with my little freezer clean out project, that I’m now trying to clean out the pantry. It was cool and rainy most of today, so it seemed like the perfect day for a bowl of Trader Joe’s turkey chili with beans.

TJ's Bowl of GoodnessThere is some roasted cauliflower hiding under there, and a couple of blocks of Cabot 75% reduced fat cheddar on top. Sometimes a simple dinner from a can is a nice thing. Finding a meal in the pantry is sort of like finding change in the couch cushions. I love a hidden treasure!

For dessert, I had a serving of the Breyer’s All Natural Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream that we bought while my parents were here.

Chocolate Minty GoodnessMint chocolate chip is such a perfect combo! There is a lesson in this bowl too. In case you haven’t noticed, I have ice cream almost every night. I love it!! I always weigh out a serving because it saves me from having a dirty measuring cup, and I know I get a more accurate serving. The other thing I always do is put it in a small bowl. Tonight, I grabbed a regular sized bowl, and I couldn’t believe how empty it looked! Using a little bowl really does make your brain think you are having more ice cream. This also is a good reminder of what a serving of ice cream looks like. The next time I find myself in front of a huge bowl, I should keep this in mind!

After my little dessert, I went to work out with my trainer and do some cardio. I loved reading about your favorite stretches in the comments on my last post! It sounds like the old classics rate pretty high with y’all. They do with me too! Sadly, I was still a bit sore from all of the Tuesday night lunges when I got to class tonight. Of course, there was more lunging. Ugh! I feel like both of my strength training work outs were really good this week, but I suspect that I have another day or two of soreness in my future. What’s that saying? “Pain is weakness leaving the body?” Well, I think I’m leaving a trail of weakness behind me. 🙂

After my work out, I treated some strawberries, 1/2 a cup of unsweetened vanilla almond breeze and 1/2 a packet of Weight Watcher’s Chocolate Smoothie Mix to a little spin in the magic bullet. Yum!! I think this would be an interesting color for nail polish:

SmoothI love chocolate and berries together. Strangely enough, I’m still hungry. I think it’s time for a few almonds and then I’m off to bed. I’ve had a hard time falling asleep this week, so I’m going to have a nice cup of chamomile tea along with my almonds and I hope that will do the trick. 

Before I go, I wanted to tell you that Lucky Taste Buds is hosting a massive giveaway, so be sure to check it out. LTB is always a fun blog to read, and I’ve learned about a number of interesting eats from her site. I highly recommend a visit to Lucky Taste Buds!

Ciao for now, y’all and I hope you have a great Friday!

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Filed under Bananas, diet, Fitness, Food, Greek Yogurt, Salad, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Bacon Chocolate and a Day of Healthy Eats

Today has been a pretty typical day, and I decided it was a good day to do a food journal post. I’m trying to really get my eats back in order. I’m up a few pounds, some from the cruise and a little from last week’s treats, and I know it’s time to buckle down and get back on the healthy train. Today went well!

I started off in a rather usual way:

Gritsy Bran!I had a big bowl of “gritsy bran” (half grits and half oat bran) with some vanilla Jay Robb’s whey protein powder and honey mixed in. I topped it off with a lovely banana and a few grams of my new favorite Trader Joe’s snack: PB&A. Peanuts and almonds coated in a berry vanilla coating…. YUM!!! The PB&A combo was a great addition to my bowl, and gave it a little bit of crunch. Lovely!

For lunch, I had a picnic in my lunch bag. On Saturday night, I went to Wolf Trap with some friends to see the Gipsy Kings in concert. This was our fourth year in a row to sit on the lawn and enjoy the GKs, and, as usual, we had quite a picnic! I ended up with some leftover cheese, and I have a ton of fruit in the fridge so a picnic style lunch seemed like a great idea!

Picnic!I had a piece of Iberico cheese and a bit of Danish blue along with some berries, cherries, grapes and a hardboiled egg for an additional hit of protein. I loved nibbling on this lunch!

Speaking of our little Gipsy Kings feast, I found an interesting chocolate bar on Friday, and I knew that my bacon loving friends and I needed to try it. We’ve been amused by all of the interesting bacon products popping up these days including bacon salt, bacon vodka and bacon flavored dental floss. I couldn’t resist adding this to the picnic basket:

Bacon Chocolate?I love chocolate, and I love bacon. I didn’t really think this would be disgusting, but I was certainly skeptical that it would be good. I was expecting chocolate that had a hint of bacon taste, but nothing too dramatic. I was so surprised to discover that this bar actually has crispy pieces of bacon in the chocolate! No joke! Weird? Perhaps. Good? Well, um… yeah. I cannot tell a lie. It actually was really good. Perhaps I need to get over my skepticism about the crazy bacon products and invest in some bacon dental floss next! 😉

Getting back to my lunch, I decided to finish the meal off with a low-fat cinnamon graham cracker topped with 1/2 tablespoon of Bee’s Knees peanut butter.

Mmmm....Who needs a sandwich when you can nibble your way through eats like these??

Mid-afternoon, I decided to have a peanut butter fudge vitatop. I almost always pick one of the chips off before tossing my vitatop in the micro, which explains the empty little chip crater over on the side. 🙂

Vita LoveLater, I had a bowl of Greek yogurt with strawberries and berry jam. 

Greek Berry YoI got some really sweet little berries at the farmer’s market on Saturday, and I’m glad I got two containers instead of one. They are SO good! I love the pink shade they give to the yogurt too. 🙂

I had a camera shy bag of 100 calorie popcorn before heading home to dinner. We got a new microwave in our kitchen at work a few months ago, and I actually go to a different kitchen to make popcorn just because the new microwave turns my popcorn to cinders every time. I stand there. I listen. I still burn the popcorn. It’s worth a stroll up the hallway just to avoid the burnt pieces, and… the burnt smell. Yuck! Today’s bag was just right!

When I got home, I decided to make a quick egg beater omelette, filled with cheddar and ham, and I had some roasted cauliflower and roasted carrots on the side. The melted cheese (that you can’t see in the photo) was the very best part! 

Weird pictureSorry about the unappetizing photo. I promise that it tasted better than it looks in this picture!

I ended my meal with a bowl of Laloo’s Vanilla Snowflake goat’s milk ice cream topped with some more PB&A. Trader Joe, I love you!!! PB&A on top of my favorite vanilla ice cream in the whole wide world made for a fantastic treat.

So Good!!I just finished doing 35 minutes of cardio in the gym following a class with my trainer. Tonight involved a LOT of lunges, and I suspect I’m going to be feeling them tomorrow. Honestly, I’m already feeling the aftermath of the lunges tonight! I think I’m going to go and do a bit of additional stretching before I head off to bed. Extra stretching usually helps, and it certainly can’t hurt!

Do you have a favorite stretch? I love the basic hamstring stretch where you cross one foot over the other, and then bend down and try to put your palms on the floor. I seem to have tight hammies fairly often, and that stretch always makes me feel so much better!! I’ve also enjoyed seeing the increase in my flexibility. There was a time when I could really only touch my fingertips to the floor during this stretch. Now, I can almost put both palms on the floor. Yay!!! Sometimes the little things really do make me feel good. 🙂

I guess I’d better get to the stretching and move away from the computer. Ciao for now, y’all! If you see bacon chocolate at your local store, keep an open mind. 🙂 I’m just sayin’.

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Filed under cooking, diet, Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Greek Yogurt, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

If you like Pina Coladas… and Getting Caught in the Rain…

Hi, y’all! You know that song, right? It seemed like a good title for this post. You will see why in a bit.

Well, I’m not doing very well with keeping up with my blogging lately. That’s for sure! Other things seem to be taking a bit of priority, but I’m hoping that everything will settle down soon, and I’ll get back in the kitchen. I haven’t been cooking much lately either, and I’m missing my kitchen therapy time! Cooking is so relaxing! I’m sure that many of you would agree. 🙂

I thought I’d do a quick “two fer” of a post– two days for the price of one post. I’m not going to post all of my eats from yesterday and today, but I am going to give you some highlights.

I’ve had the same breakfast the last two days:

Gritsy BranI love my “gritsy bran!!” I have really been enjoying it with some vanilla whey Jay Robb’s protein powder, agave nectar, almonds and a crisp pink lady apple on top. I mentioned this before, but I realized, during my cruise, that I really like crisp apple or pear on top of my bowl even more than when I cook the fruit in with the oats. It’s kind of like gritsy bran apple dip! Yum!!

Yesterday’s lunch and today’s lunch have a component in common: Refried beans. I opened the can the other night when I made a frittata to feed a craving for Mexican, and I’ve been enjoying the rest of the can over the last couple of days. Yesterday’s lunch:

Lunch #1I topped a bowl of beans with some feta and salsa, and had a quick salad made of cucumbers, tomatoes and fresh basil from the pot on my balcony. I topped it with salt, pepper and rice wine vinegar. Basically… I was out of lettuce, and needed some veggies in my lunch bag. This salad was quick, easy and fresh!

I also tried yet another Clif bar, my third this week, and the Chocolate Chip bar was yummy! You might recall that I tried the Carrot Cake bar a couple of days ago, and I had the Maple Nut bar on Tuesday. If this was a race, Carrot Cake would be winning. It is still my favorite so far. 

Today’s lunch:

Bean BowlI cooked  a big batch of brown rice this morning, and topped a serving with the leftover veggies from frittata night. I sauteed twice as many as I needed on Tuesday, thinking that I’d make another frittata. Instead, I made a bowl with brown rice, veggies, refried beans, feta and salsa. I added a dash of chipotle Tabasco too for a little more flavor. Yum!

Yesterday’s snacks included a bowl of Greek yogurt with berry jam and strawberries as well as a bowl of afternoon instant oatmeal. I think you know what they look like by now. 🙂 Today’s snacks, however, were a bit more interesting. I tried two new things, and I also had a smoothie in the mix. 

SmoothSmoothie: half a pack of chocolate Weight Watchers smoothie mix, 3/4 cup of milk, strawberries and two ice cubes. 

New thing #1:

MojoI liked this Clif Mojo Peanut Butter Pretzel bar! It was a little bit salty and a little bit sweet. The best part was the peanut butter chips! Chippy goodness aside, it also packed a nice amount of protein, and made for a satisfying snack.

New thing #2:

Pop Goes the ChipI’ve been trying new salty snacks lately, partly because I’ve been trying not to eat so many sugary snacks. I tried the barbecue flavor of Pop Chips the other night while I was watching my movie. Today, I decided to try the Parmesan Garlic flavor. My opinion? These were good, but the barbecue flavor was better. These had more garlic flavor and less parmesan taste than I was hoping for. They were good, but they probably won’t be my first choice the next time I’m at the store. I do think they make for an interesting photograph!

Now, hopping back to yesterday (I really hope I’m not making you dizzy going back and forth!), I had dinner at a new place and loved it!! I met up with my friends AW and JB to grab a bit of dinner before heading to a reception for alumni of our law school. AW suggested Sandella’s, which is a cool new flat bread place at 19th and I. She mentioned that they have their nutritional information on-line. Score! I checked it out, and it looked amazing! I decided to order the Brazilian Chicken Grilled Flatbread– grilled chicken and mozzarella on top of a Brazilian sauce. Now, I know where I’ll be going if I have a craving for pizza!

Sandella's LoveI had already eaten about 2/3 of my flatbread before I remembered to snap a photo. I was having too much fun talking to AW and JB. Oops!

I’m not a fan of really thick pizza crust, so a grilled flatbread is perfect for me. Yes, I eat my pizza for the toppings. I’ve been known to just pick the cheese and other yummies off the top and leave the bread alone. Do you like your pizza crust thick and doughy or thin and crispy? 

This flatbread was thin and chewy, and the Brazilian sauce was sweet and spicy. The cheese was perfectly melted, and the chicken was nice and tender. For 459 calories, it might be a little heftier than a dinner at home, but it is certainly a better choice than many other pizza options I could choose. Plus, I got to eat the whole thing! JB got the Aloha flatbread, and when I saw the pineapple, I knew what I’d be having on my next visit. I kind of wanted to steal his, but I restrained myself. 🙂

After dinner, we started walking to the reception and got caught in a major rainstorm. AW and JB were both in suits and serious lawyer shoes, and I was wearing a silk dress and sandals. Running clothes and rain panchos would have been preferable. We found ourselves trying to huddle under a tree at one point, because we were in a park near the White House with no building for shelter, but this rain was no joke and no match for a tree. Just imagine a wall of wind and water. Umbrellas were no use, so we finally just made a run for it. Unfortunately, there was a fatality:

R.I.P.I borrowed this book from Inga’s mom and dad, and it is demolished! Ugh! Getting caught in the rain while trekking around the city is a definite hazard of city life. My work papers are all crinkly and weird too.

Getting caught in the rain was an unexpected twist to the day, which might be part of the reason it made me laugh. I’m not sure that my friends would agree, but it was actually… kind of… fun. I splashed in some puddles, and laughed and squealed as the water soaked me through. It isn’t every day that I show up to an event with the ability to wring water out of my hair, my sweater, my dress and my book. There were no pina coladas, but I had definitely earned a bit of wine. I don’t have any photos, so just imagine a plastic cup full of sauvignon blanc and you will have the picture. If you imagine me looking as if I’ve had a bucket of water poured over my head, you will have an even better idea of the scene. 🙂

Tonight’s dinner wasn’t followed by a frolic through the rain, although, it has been raining all day. I’m hoping that the rain will be over by the time my parents come to visit. Sometimes I really do like the rain, but sunshine is much better for playing tourist! I had a simple salad with grilled chicken and feta. I also whipped up a quick dressing with mustard, honey and lime juice. I got a veggie box last night so I have lettuce in the fridge again. 

SaladI had a little bowl of gelato for dessert after that. Then, I made the executive decision not to work out tonight. I made a deal with myself that I will go to the gym tomorrow night, and I’m sure I will unless last minute cleaning preempts it. Fridays are usually a night off, but it is always good to know that I have Friday in case I do need a back up day.  

I just didn’t feel like going tonight. That’s all I can say about it. My upper body, and especially my shoulders, are still quite sore from Tuesday night’s work out. I also feel sort of tired today. Going to the gym sounded like torture, and, uncharacteristically, I just didn’t go. I know I mentioned my bad workout on Tuesday night, and the fact that I don’t think I always allow time to recover properly between workouts. I’m hoping that I will feel awesome tomorrow, and I suspect I will have a better workout after another rest day anyway. 

So that’s about it for me. I’m tired and need to get to bed. I’m so glad that tomorrow is Friday! I hope to post regularly while my fam is visiting, but I guess we’ll see what happens. I can at least say with certainty that I’ll be able to spend some time in the kitchen. I’m looking forward to it!!

Here’s wishing you all a great Friday and an awesome weekend. Ciao for now, y’all!

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Filed under Beans, D.C., diet, Fitness, Food, Washington, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Introducing: “Gritsy Bran”

Hi, y’all! I hope this post finds everyone well. My work week is going much better after having wrapped up several things on Friday. I’m breathing a sigh of relief! My big news this week is that my parents are arriving on Saturday to spend a week hanging out at Chez Sweetie Pie. It’s always fun when they come to visit from Arkansas, and I’m looking forward to seeing them. I’m also looking forward to cooking all sorts of things. I love having people to feed! 🙂

Today, I’ve been busy feeding myself. I got creative this morning, and had an interesting mix in my breakfast bowl.

Gritsy BranI love grits, and I love oat bran. I decided to try the two together. They make an awesome couple! Who knew? I really like the taste and texture of “Gritsy Bran.” It’s unique, and half a serving of grits plus half a serving of oat bran made for a hefty and delicious bowl. I also added some Jay Robb’s protein powder, as usual, along with a bit of agave nectar. Then I topped it off with an apple and some chopped almonds. You can expect to see more “Gritsy Bran” in my breakfast bowls. I lurved it!

Lunch today looks much like yesterday’s lunch– complete with the picnic blanket. Yay!!

LunchI had a salad with light Italian dressing, and topped it with an Amy’s Texas Veggie Burger with melted cheddar. It was good yesterday, and it was good today!

I wanted to say a quick thanks to those of you who told me about the salad dressings you enjoy. I do love straight vinegar, and I often make my own concoctions involving mustard, vinegar, hummus, salsa, Greek yogurt, lemon juice and other things of that nature. I just think it might be fun, now that we are entering “salad season,” to buy one already made for me. I’m very much out of the loop, so it was great to hear about some of the products you enjoy. I plan to invest in some dressing on my next grocery shopping trip!!

The new item on today’s blanket is the Maple Nut Clif Bar. I loved the Carrot Cake Clif Bar I tried yesterday, and I was excited to try another flavor. I’d always avoided these because they are high in calories (and points), but they work well to round out a light lunch by serving as a protein packed “dessert.” I liked the Carrot Cake bar the best so far, but Maple Nut wasn’t too shabby!

I lunched with a couple of friends again today, and my friend, Miss C and I decided to take a quick stroll over to Tangy Sweet. I needed second dessert! I might be am totally hooked on Tangy Sweet! It’s close enough to the office to be dangerous! Today, I had a small chocolate fro yo topped with teddy grahams.

Still Tangy, Still SweetI counted the Teddy Grahams (16) so that I could figure out the calories when I got back to my computer. I might be a little nutty, but I like to know what I’m working with caloriewise so that I can adjust the rest of my eats if need be. It was good, but I actually think I like the chocolate fro yo better with strawberries. Good to know! 

Later in the afternoon, I felt a bit snackish so I  had a bowl of Blue Ridge Dairy Greek yogurt mixed with berry jam and strawberries from the farmer’s market.

Yo!!I didn’t snack much this afternoon since I had the bonus fro yo with lunch, but then, I wasn’t particularly hungry. Funny how that happens when I eat a bigger lunch! In addition to the Greek yogurt, I had the half serving of Snikiddy Pizza Puffs that I’d tossed in my lunch bag when it was close to time to head home.

Puffs!I’m loving this little snack for its crunch factor. Substance wise, of course, it’s kind of like eating air– tasty, tasty air! 

I was really craving Mexican this evening, so, while riding the metro home, I was thinking about what I had on hand that I could turn into a Mexican-esque dinner. I liked my final creation, and it was nice to use what I had on hand. Check it out!

Tex Mex FrittataIt looks a little weird, but it tasted awesome! I seasoned half a chopped onion, half a chopped red bell pepper and some spinach with a bit of Adobo and gave it a quick saute in a bit of cooking spray. When the veggies were soft, I poured 1/2 cup of egg beaters over the top of the veggies and let the mix cook in the skillet until the egg was nearly set up. Then, I put 1/2 cup of fat free green chili refried beans on the top, sprinkled an ounce of feta on the beans, and put it under the broiler just to finish setting up the eggs and to brown the cheese a bit. After it was done, I added some salsa and chowed down.

I had tortillas in the fridge, and I considered making bean tacos. I decided that I wanted more protein, and the tortillas got replaced by egg beaters. Eggs/egg beaters really are a “go to” food for me when I want more protein on the menu. I’m constantly amazed at how versatile they are.  This frittata was filling, had the flavors I wanted and really hit the spot! 

I followed it up with a bit of Dark Chocolate Dreams PB on Multi-grain bread.

Bread and ChocolateYou can’t go wrong with bread and chocolate, and when you add a PB twist… yum.

After my little dessert, I went to class with my trainer. Tonight’s workout was AWFUL! 😦 I’m not sure what the problem was, but I suspect I should have rested last night instead of doing cardio.

I struggled through the ab workout, and had to do easier versions of some moves that are usually not a problem. When it came to lifting, I reached failure sooner than usual, and I had to use some lighter weights. It was frustrating! I felt so weak and wimpy. Ugh! These sorts of workouts happen on occasion, and I just hope the next class will be better! 

I usually rest on Mondays and Fridays, but my workout schedule has been sort of screwy lately. After vacation, I returned to find that my trainer was in the midst of a project that has caused several cancellations. Glitches in her schedule are the reason I haven’t been back to kickboxing. In addition, I have a reception to attend tomorrow night, so I decided to trade my Monday night off for a Wednesday night off this week. That means that I didn’t take a rest day between my Sunday and Tuesday strength training workouts. I’m really looking forward to getting things back to normal. I think it makes a big difference!

I liked reading your comments about how you incorporate strength training into your lives, and now I’m wondering how you incorporate rest and recovery. How many workout days do you shoot for each week? Do you place great importance on recovery time? Can you tell when you haven’t recovered properly? 

After my disaster of a work out (I still burned 500 calories, but I struggled through every one!!), I had the interesting sensation of knowing exactly what I wanted for dessert. The bread and chocolate, well, that was a teaser! 😉 It is rare that I crave something specific, and even weirder when it is some sort of junk food. It seemed like I should honor my craving.

I’ve never mentioned this before, but there is a convenience store located in my building. That means that I can hop in the elevator and grab any old junk food I might be craving with very little effort. The store actually has some pretty gourmet choices too, and it’s great if I’m out of milk or looking for an emergency jar of salsa. It’s also perfect if I happen to have a specific craving for….

Oreos…. Oreos! I’m not sure why these were on my mind, but there was a mention of them in the book I’m currently reading, Underworld. Did that cause it? I don’t know. What I do know is that I really wanted Oreos, and I took advantage of the store downstairs by going down and snagging a single serving package. I enjoyed every bite! Although, I’m glad I opted for the single serving pack. I could have schnarfed tons of these little junk food gems. Instead, I savored my little packet. I wish it was always so easy to know exactly what will hit the spot, and I’m going to try to do a better job of responding when the answer is clear. 

With that, I’m going to bid you a goodnight. I need to empty the dishwasher, program the coffee maker, and put a load of clothes in the dryer. Fun fun fun!!! I also need to make sure I have a nice big bowl ready for some “Gritsy Bran” in the morning!

I hope you have a great humpday! Ciao for now, y’all. 🙂

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Filed under Beans, D.C., diet, Fitness, Frozen Yogurt, Greek Yogurt, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story