I can, and I do, and I will

I have reached a point where people in my office are starting to notice my weight loss. Folks that I haven't shared anything about it with them on a personal level. It seems a sticky wicket to ask someone about weight loss. Especially in my conservative office, but it is nice to know that people can tell a difference. Most of them are encouraging, although one woman said to me "You're like a normal sized girl, now." Hmm. I suppose that is a compliment, and I do want to be a healthy weight and a smaller size, but normal felt weird. (although I do confess to have referred to the under 14 section of a department store as the normal section.)

The most common question I get is "What are you eating?" and that comes from people who want to lose weight. (Healthy weight people will ask "What are you doing?") I think most people want to hear "Oh, just lemons and wheat grass, every day. And a little eye of newt if I'm feeling really decadent." and then they can say "Oh, well, I couldn't do that." and further feel as though weight loss is futile, a mysterious goal they can never achieve. So when I reveal that I am eating less, exercising more, and bonding with an online community for support, they sort of look disappointed. There's the part of them that was also hoping that I would reveal a new drug or that I merely eat a half a grapefruit before every meal. I know because I have been that person.

I have watched other people in my life lose weight, and there is a feeling of no longer being part of the same team. My best friend through grade school was always overweight with me. We were two peas in a pod, and then she lost her weight in junior high. I was so envious, because she kept it off, and has kept it off til this day. I felt insecure then that maybe she could no longer really be my friend. Or that she might be ashamed of being seen with me. None of that ever came true, of course. I've also spent my entire life being overweight and thinking about losing weight. I know it must be different for people who put on weight later in life. They don't understand why their body is betraying them like this. I have had a completely different experience. My weight is my shadow, literally. It has always been here, and has always been at the back of my mind. The one item on my to-do list that I couldn't cross off. To now become the woman who exercises on vacation, who is tracking calories and who has lost 60 pounds, and is determined to lose 80 more, is beyond significant for me.

So now that I am having snack issues again, and the scale is moving up, and the stress in my life keeps piling up, I feel I'm backsliding. I had been losing an average of 3-5 pounds a month pretty consistently, but now, not so much. I find myself feeling wistful as I did years ago - wondering if the "thin life" was ever really going to happen for me, or just a pipe dream. What if I never see a number under 200? I truly do feel like I have come too far to give up, and that new my reduced fat, increased exercise lifestyle is good for me, is improving my heart, lung, bone and mental health, and that is very important too. It's more important than the number on the scale, but I can't help but crave that tangible reward. This makes it all the more easy for me to identify with my overweight coworkers. I know that feeling of doom, that it just isn't possible to lose weight without feeling deprived, and that no matter what I do, nothing will change. The truth is that undoing a lifetime of bad habits is hard. And that's what I'm doing. Saying no to a second portion, choosing to exercise rather than collapse in front of the television, convincing myself to walk away from the bagels, counting every stupid calorie that goes down, all of it is hard work. And it will lead to a healthier lifestyle, a longer life, a smaller size, a boost in confidence, and a body that is strong and powerful.

I'm still guilty of wanting a quick fix, of feeling so impatient with my progress or lack thereof. So this post is to help me remember that I've come a long way, and it wasn't easy getting here, and so I shouldn't expect it to get easier now. But there's no way I'm going back to 290. Never. So there.


HYC Check In Week 17

Up, up, up and away this morning. Today the scale saw 226.6. I am frustrated and I am disappointed in myself. There's the half of me that remembers that I am eating well and exercising well overall, and then there's the other half of me that chides my snacky ways of last week.

Last week was carbo-licious for me, and I found myself feeling ravenous and craving all sorts of foods in the evenings. And I gave in. And then I wouldn't measure and I would think well, hell, I screwed it up now. Picture dipping pretzels in peanut butter - and not counting how many. Not the worst thing I could eat, but not the best. So in an effort to curb this behavior, I prepared myself high protein and high fiber breakfasts and lunches to take to work.

Crust-less Spinach breakfast quiche
2 servings of fruit
Turkey burger on whole-wheat bun
Asparagus and red pepper salad

For dinner we're having succotash (sans bacon) and probably some grilled item.

I'm also considering that I need to shake up my exercise plan. There are new machines at the YMCA that I have yet to be introduced to, so maybe an appointment with my trainer is in order.

I can only keep going, keep living this healthier life and trust that what needs to happen will happen. Hope everyone had a successful week and an even better one ahead of them.


my new friend Raab

I ordered Broccoli Raab (pronounced rob) from my produce box people this week, and was a little stumped on what to do with it. Finding recipes proved to be tricky because it operates under a number of aliases as well. Rapini, Broccoli Rabe, broccoletti di rape, broccoletto, broccoli di foglia, cime de rape, or rape, or Chinese broccoli or Chinese flowering cabbage. Yeesh.

Here's what it looks like, fresh from the salad spinner: Purple and leafy, and firm. I found a couple of ways to use it, but settled on tweaking this recipe from Allrecipes.com. Whole wheat pasta, chicken sausage instead of pork and no 1 cup of Parmesan. The key to using this stuff is boiling and then dunking in ice water, to stop the cooking process. This removes the bitterness of greens, and it tastes like broccoli!

Has anyone else discovered chicken sausage? It is brilliant. It has the texture of sausage, but way less fat, and if you get an Italian flavor, you really don't feel as though you are missing out. Such a great thing! Basically, its ground chicken with spices. Neat. According to the package I bought, has only 100 calories per link, and 3 grams of fat. Yippee! I made a double batch, to freeze some, so you can cut this recipe in half if you don't want to eat this for a week..

Sara's Pasta with Greens and Sausage
2 bunches raab, cut into 2 inch pieces
1.5 lbs hot Italian chicken sausage
12 oz whole wheat penne
1 TBS olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1 large shallot, diced
28 oz quartered artichoke hearts
28 oz roasted peppers (I used canned)
8 oz sundried tomato halves - not packed in oil - reconstituted in hot water
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp Parmesan cheese per serving
  1. Pour hot water over your sundried tomatoes just enough to cover them, and soften. Set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  3. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice cubes and water to make a water bath. (More ice than water). Set aside.
  4. When the water is boiling, add the broccoli raab, stir and boil for about 4 minutes. Drain, and plunge into the ice water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
  5. Bring another large pot of water to a boil - keep hot until you are ready to cook the penne.
  6. In a large skillet, squeeze the sausage out of its casings into the skillet over medium heat. This will brown quickly, and not leave a lot of fat. Remove from pan, set aside.
  7. Add olive oil to the hot pan, and saute the onion and shallots until they brown a little - about 5 minutes.
  8. Add the penne to the boiling water, cook until al dente, about 7 minutes
  9. Add artichokes, roasted peppers, broccoli raab, drained tomatoes and sausage to the pan, heating through, for about 4 minutes. There is a lot of water in the veggies, so I like to let them sweat out their liquid.
  10. When everyone is sweated out, add the garlic, thyme, basil and oregano.
  11. Stir in the penne, and sprinkle with parmesan.

DELISH! This seems sort of labor intensive, but it really is just a lot of ingredients. I think it would be good with just the sausage and greens, but I love artichokes and sundried tomatoes together too. It is sooo good - I have yet to work out the nutritional information, so I am entering it on FitDay as pasta with meat sauce, about .5 per serving, just because even though I heap 1 cup, it is more veggies than meat, and I have to find a way to represent that in FitDay.

Here's what it looks like when finished: Happy Eating!


Are you reading Half-Assed?

PastaQueen's book arrived at my house today! I have already read the first few pages, flipped to the end to see photos, read the about the author page, so all of my usual new book rituals are complete. I am so excited to read about this woman's transformation and journey. Her blog is always a source of inspiration and the way she honestly recounts the struggles and joys of weight loss make me feel like she's been hiding under my bed. I also hope to see myself in the pages of her book- the fat kid, fat adult and then seeing what it is like to break through to the other side of a healthy weight. Let's have a book club and talk about it!

HYC Check In Week 16

Good morning all - this Tuesday the scale saw 224.8. I am pleased to show a loss this week, after indulging, but I'm having a hard time, as I was a pound less than that a week ago, and I feel like I am working so hard. However, I did eat my weight in beef on Sunday, but I don't think I can show the effects of that so soon. I know the scale is only one way to measure, so I think I'll stop my pity party and beating myself up.

Last night I really struggled with staying out of the kitchen. I have been journaling seriously for a couple of days now, (good girl!) and I think I found myself feeling deprived. I know myself that when I write it down, it makes such a difference in how closely I watch what I eat. And why does hummus have so many calories? Arrgh! I'm determined to stick with my 1500 calorie plan, for one more week, and see if I get more of the results I am looking for. In good news, I did all my work outs this week, and even did Mountain Climbers of my own volition. I am a crazy woman.

I have some lovely recipes to share. For my lunch this week, I made Elise's Spinach and Orzo salad, but I substituted bulgur wheat instead of orzo pasta. More fiber, and more nutrition, and I won't get that 3 pm sleepy pasta head. With hummus and baby carrots on the side. I'm experimenting with a new veggie, and I'll post the recipe this week.

Hope everyone else is having a great week!


Chateaubriand with Derek Jeter*

At the risk of getting kicked out of the HYC 08, I will confess that we're celebrating with food over here. Mr. Black got a job!! The job he wanted, back at his former employer, a company he loves second only to LucasFilm. In a surprise to us all, it came with a signing bonus. I am so proud of him, thrilled and relieved. He ALWAYS lands on his feet - if I quit my job with no contingency plan, I would be moving in to my Mom's garage after a year, I'm sure of it. I'm lucky that I get to share in his good fortune.

But on to the food part. Mr. Black told me on Friday that he got the job and that to celebrate, he wanted to take me to El Gaucho. I just about fell over, because while I think going out for an expensive meal is money well spent, Mr. Black doesn't usually agree. He'd rather buy tickets to an event, collect action figures, or buy some electronic gadgets. I love celebrating with food. (Have you seen my thighs? Of course I do.) But going out to a "fine dining" establishment is so much more than the food. We had such a night at El Gaucho. Scallops in lemon beurre blanc (lemon butter), Roquefort salad with shrimp, and Chateaubriand. This is an exquisite cut of beef, a tender fillet meant for 2-3 people. And before slicing into it, they slather it with butter, sprinkle with dry mustard, douse it in Cabernet, au jus and a dash of worcestershire, to make its own sauce as the slice it, then pour over the pieces. Heaven. combined with perfectly tender asparagus, grilled mushroom caps and then southwest scalloped potatoes. I think I spent my 1500 calories and then some there. The service is exceptional. Our server chatted us up, asked us what we were celebrating, was excited to share our first time with us, and made us feel even more so that we were in a spectacular place. That's the other aspect of fine dining that appeals to me. I love that royal treatment, and the luxury of ordering something to eat that costs as much as my monthly gym membership, just for one night.

I don't think I'll ever stop celebrating with food. I definitely have given up the "I made it through a hard day, I deserve this cookie." stage in my life, but birthdays, anniversaries and promotions deserve a night out of special treatment, and a I choose to also involve a special meal. Its something I wholeheartedly enjoy, both as an eater, and also as someone who loves to cook and try new things. So today I'm getting back on the planned meal bus. I'm moving past the leftovers in the fridge, and walking the dog on my exercise rest day, because I'm determined to enjoy myself and still lose weight. That's the whole point of this life.

* The joke here is that I assume that Derek Jeter got a signing bonus. My husband was pretending that my calling him Derek all weekend wasn't all that funny. But I know that it was.


suck it up!

Okay blogland - quick question for you

Do you suck it in at the gym?

I grew up as an overweight kid/teen/adult so my whole life I have learned to hold my tummy in whether I am getting dressed, walking around, flossing, making copies, you name it, I am always sucking it in. And then I caught myself doing it at the gym. The place where I walk around with sweaty red face, frizzy hair, sports bra induced uni-boob, and baggy gym clothes, but I am holding in my gut? Once I noticed it, I didn't stop, because I can't! And so I checked with my work out buddy, she does too.

So tell me, do you?


HYC Check In

Happy Tuesday morning everyone! I'm at the tail end of TOM - and the scale is 3 pounds higher than it was yesterday. So frustrating to me! So, I report in at 226 today. I better see some serious number drop next week, I tell you what. Secretly, I hope that these 3 additional pounds are pure muscle from all my squat and "mountain climber" work this weekend. Alas, I think it is my less glamorous but always effective culprit, retaining water.

My week in review:
I skipped all my work outs this week due to physical and emotional duress.
I ate well, and even though I was in full-throttle TOM, I avoided my usual comfort foods. Except I did eat some french fries while visiting my friend. They were great.

I have a 1500 calorie plan - painful as it may be, I think it is going to work. Back to the gym, back to focus! And please forgive my absence again at your blogs - I will truly make good on my promise this week.


hitting refresh

Today my quads are screaming at me. My biceps and maybe some other ceps or toids in my upper arms are also joining in the fray like when I exert my powerful strength to open a 10 ounce bottle of orange juice. I am fierce! My weekend was relaxing, but also challenging.

Last week I reached Thursday emotionally and physically drained. I'm really trying to not sound like an 80 year old woman who complains about her ailments, so I'll spare you the gory details. But I have to give a short summary: Exhibit A: searing pain shooting from one tooth up into my eye socket and ears, combined with chest and sinus congestion. I skipped all my work outs this week because most of the time I felt like punching someone, or was tired and coughing, and visiting doctors and dentists. (tooth is on the mend!) Then there were the emotional strains. Exhibit B: At the office - I'm flying solo again, (long story) and was asked to help confront/talk to/soothe another woman who has been really passive aggressive and not helping out much around the office. Super fun on a Friday afternoon! Exhibit C: The icing on the cake was the toll of an unemployed husband who was spending more time with his Xbox than I thought was healthy. Oh, I was a cranky butt.

So I escaped. Luckily I have a friend who lives on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and I hadn't been out to her place in a long time. I called her and she was thrilled and said of course I could come visit. It was the perfect weekend to go. Our first decent weather in 180 days, temperatures in the city reaching over 80, so out on the water, it was perfect. Sunny, breezy and gorgeous. Walking on the beach, hiking on Cape Flattery, and talking about whatever I felt like (or didn't) was just rejuvenation I needed. But on to the screaming muscles, we also worked out. My friend and I marveled that we were the same women who met 16 years ago in college. In those days, we would eat a pint of Ben & Jerry's in one sitting, (our mini-fridge freezers were too small, we HAD to, really!) and hide from our suite mate who would knock on our doors at 6 am for an aerobics class. But here we are, I go for a relaxing weekend away and we're both looking forward to exercise. I am so proud to be this kind of woman now.

My friend works in a small town and so there are a handful of her co-workers who pay one personal trainer to work out with them 5 days a week, so I got to join one of their workouts. On Saturday it was a series of strength training and cardio activities. I think my undoing were the "Mountain Climbers." Actually they should be called Miserable Activity That Will Hurt For 2 Days Later series. Here, you try! Feet, hip-width apart. Bend at the waist, putting your hands on the floor a few feet in front of you, so that you are in a ^ position. Now, move your legs like you're climbing a mountain. It is almost like running in place, you bring your foot up toward your hands, while bending your knee, then back in place, and bring your left up. When you've done both legs, that's one. We did 45 of those jobbies, and spent Sunday saying "Ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow" when we tried to sit down. And then jump squats. Do you know how hard it is to do a squat and then jump at the end? Launching 225 pounds into the air ain't easy, baby. And then, The Plank. Oh this is not easy. Trying something new is a great way for me to challenge my body, and in this case, it also made me feel like all that work I had been doing in Pilates was for naught. The Plank is hard, my friends. Hard. But I did it! (for about 20 seconds, 3 times, but I did it!)

After our work out I was treated to a traditional native american sweat lodge. It was more like a garden shed sauna, but I was grateful to be invited. Just letting myself be, is hard for me. I always like to be active, but this was perfect. I listened while they talked about work, and focused on how my body was feeling, and meditated on things I want to change or work on, and thought about all the good things in my life. They told me that it would make my skin glow, and clear out toxins. Boy howdy, they were right. I returned home and my husband remarked that my skin looked "moisturized" even though he thought that wasn't the right word. It really was glowing, I think.

I also returned home to find that our yard which had been looking pretty Sanford & Son was mowed, weed-whacked and my tulips were blooming! And our bedroom that was also headed toward Sanford & Son territory was cleaned, sorted, dusted and vacuumed. I can see the carpet, I can fit my books on my nightstand, and can see the photos in frames. I took pictures, because, Wow. I don't think the Xbox even came on this weekend. Hubby said he thought if he was busy, the weekend would go by much faster and I would be home sooner. Awww, shucks. Perfect to come home to.

So there was my weekend - now I am back to work and although my tooth is still tender, and I still have a bit of a cough, I am emotionally rejuvenated. And that's the best part! Time to hunker down and work out those calories, get back to the gym and get to that 70 pound mark. I know I will get there.


HYC Check in

Quick like a bunny this morning -
  • Scale saw 225 on the nose this morning - a relief after all I've been indulging in that it was only 1 pound up
  • I felt like I did well on exercise this week - I may have missed one workout due to work
  • Chubby Chick linked to my birthday photos as inspiration to her - that was incredible! To go from a 290 pound non-exercising woman to a 225 pound inspiration - I am flying high.

Goals for this week

  • Really need to work on logging calories, as I wanted to cut back to 1500 for the next few months. Scary! Picture my fingers clinging to the plate, while being sucked down a vortex and screaming "noooo.... don't take away my calories" this should be fun.
  • Get out to more blogs and leave comments. I gotta!


twenty-nine and five

Who's the worst blogger? Oh, I think it's me. I talked up my dress and then never showed anyone nuthin. I had the most wonderful birthday week. It was last Monday the 31st, and I've just had a nutty week ever since.

For my party, I made a reservation at a local pizza place because a) who doesn't like pizza? and b) it is affordable, and c) I don't have to do the dishes. Its a very casual place, but I was all dolled up. I started to feel insecure about it. Really irrational thoughts. What if all of my loving and caring friends walk in and see me trying to look pretty and they scoff and say well who the hell does she think she is? This is a jeans kind of night. So I decided to kick that doubt to curb, and my husband helped talk me down. Because if I'm turning 34, and I've worked very hard to lose 66 pounds, I have a right to wear a nice dress and snappy shoes on my birthday - even if the chances are high that I'll spill marinara all over them.

So without further ado...

I love, love, love that dress more than I can tell you. My hips aren't that narrow, they just appear to be, as my friend Spanx helped me out that night.

And look, my shoes match my red eyes!

I love these shoes! Ever the gracious hostess, I met every guest with a hug and then I would squeal "Look at my shoes!" It is interesting how I was nervous about calling attention to myself. I wanted to look hot, I wanted to feel pretty, and I did, but weird how even though I was walking into a room of love, I started having those second-guessing thoughts, as though I didn't deserve to look that way. Maybe it was just because I was at a casual place? Dunno, but my doubts were washed away soon enough. And I realize that posting these photos may be screaming "Compliment me!" "Tell me I look pretty!" - and you don't have to. I am proud of my losses so far, and I am proud of how I looked that night, and that's enough. You may however, compliment the shoes, because they are shiny patent leather and sassy!

I do regret that I drank a gluttonous amount of wine. For calorie sake, and for coherence sake. I woke up with a headache the next day. But I didn't embarrass myself (or so I've been told). However, I don't regret eating the birthday cake that one of my friends made me. Chocolate, with a dark chocolate and cognac buttercream. To. Die. For. It was so delicious!

On Sunday, my Mom took Mr. Black and I to the Glass Museum where we got to watch glass blowers in action - very cool. Then we had a fabulous meal at an Argentinian steak place. It was heavenly. The week prior to my birthday, my consultants wanted me to work on the weekend. Both days. I told them that Sunday was out of the question, and if they wanted me Saturday, I would be there in hot rollers, and fairly surly. I begged a co-worker of mine to fill in and she did. Phew! I had wanted to take the afternoon off on Monday, but we had major deadlines so I couldn't. I had joked that I wanted a parade if I was working on my birthday. (Yes, I am obnoxious about my birthday - it is my favorite day of the year) And then I felt like a jerk when one of my consultants brought in a balloon bouquet and hats and noisemakers, and arranged my team to parade past my desk. Oh, it was hilarious to see my nerdy math people being silly and so kind to me. I then felt terrible about complaining about working. Suffice it to say, I was spoiled rotten on Monday. I am a lucky, lucky girl. That evening I had dinner at a famed french restaurant, that was part of a promotion serving 3 courses for $30. And we ordered a separate starter, pomme frites a la canard - that's potatoes fried in duck fat, and served with aioli. It was fantastic, and worth every ounce I gained this week. I finished with my favorite dessert, creme brulee.

I came, I saw, I ate. I missed the HYC check in due to some other conflicts. And I haven't been commenting on other blogs as much as I would like to. Don't give up on me yet! I'm still in this thing. This week I'm having tabbouleh, pan-seared falafel and green salad for lunch this week. No more duck fat for me. That's what this whole lifestyle thing is about, yes? You indulge one evening, (or 5) and then you get back on the plan, man. That's all we can do.